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2016 Goals

  • write to my grandmother every six weeks or so
  • call my moms every month or so
  • cook/eat better
  • clean out and organize my writng/craft room
  • re-institute the cleaning plan
  • publish six books by September 2017
  • reach 120 to 125 pounds
  • walk the dog three times a week

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Friday, January 29, 2016

TGIF


That is all...


...but only on the inside. :)

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

American Fun Facts!


Yeah, because I'm at a loss today. But this is actually state trivia and we're gonna start with Texas since that's where I live.

These facts come from this website: http://www.50states.com/facts/#.VqjMCk_w9sl

THE LONE STAR STATE

  1. The Alamo is located in San Antonio. It is where Texas defenders fell to Mexican General Santa Anna and the phrase Remember the Alamo originated. The Alamo is considered the cradle of Texas liberty and the state's most popular historic site.
  2. The lightning whelk is the official state shell.
  3. Texas is the only state to have the flags of 6 different nations fly over it. They are: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and the United States.
  4. Although six flags have flown over Texas, there have been eight changes of government: Spanish 1519-1685, French 1685-1690, Spanish 1690-1821, Mexican 1821-1836, Republic of Texas 1836-1845, United States 1845-1861, Confederate States 1861-1865, United States 1865-present
  5. The King Ranch in Texas is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.
  6. During the period of July 24-26, 1979, the Tropical Storm Claudette brought 45 inches of rain to an area near Alvin, Texas, contributing to more than $600 million in damages. Claudette produced the United States 24 hour rainfall record of 43 inches.
  7. More wool comes from the state of Texas than any other state in the United States.
  8. Edwards Plateau in west central Texas is the top sheep growing area in the country.
  9. Texas is the only state to enter the United States by treaty instead of territorial annexation.
  10. The state was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845.
  11. Texas boasts the nation's largest herd of whitetail deer.
  12. A coastal live oak located near Fulton is the oldest tree in the state. The tree has an estimated age of more than 1,500 years.
  13. Sam Houston, arguably the most famous Texan, was actually born in Virginia. Houston served as governor of Tennessee before coming to Texas.
  14. Caddo Lake is the only natural lake in the state.
  15. The first offensive action of the Texas Revolution occurred in Goliad on October 9, 1835 when local colonists captured the fort and town.
  16. On December 20, 1835 the first Declaration of Texas Independence was signed in Goliad and the first flag of Texas Independence was hoisted.
  17. The Hertzberg Circus Museum in San Antonio contains one of the largest assortments of circusana in the world.
  18. The capital city of Austin is located on the Colorado River in south-central Texas. The capitol building is made from Texas pink granite. It served as the capital of the Republic of Texas in 1840-1842.
  19. Austin is considered the live music capital of the world.
  20. Texas is home to Dell and Compaq computers and central Texas is often referred to as the Silicon Valley of the south.
  21. Professional sports teams include the Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Stars, Houston Astros, Houston Comets, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Texas Rangers.
  22. Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. The Dublin Dr Pepper, 85 miles west of Waco, still uses pure imperial cane sugar in its product. There is no period after the Dr in Dr Pepper.
  23. The first suspension bridge in the United States was the Waco Bridge. Built in 1870 and still in use today as a pedestrian crossing of the Brazos River.
  24. In 1836 five sites served as temporary capitals of Texas: Washington-on-the-Brazos: Harrisburg: Galveston: Velasco: and Columbia. Sam Houston moved the capital to Houston in 1837. In 1839 the capital was moved to the new town of Austin.
  25. The capitol in Austin opened May 16, 1888. The dome of the building stands seven feet higher than that of the nation's Capitol in Washington, D.C.
  26. Texas comes from the Hasinai Indian word tejas meaning friends or allies.
  27. The armadillo is the official state mammal.
  28. Texas has the first domed stadium in the country. The structure was built in Houston and opened in April 1965.
  29. The Houston Comets are the only team in the country to win four back-to-back WNBA championships. 1997-2000 Cynthia Cooper remains the only player to win the WNBA Championship MVP.
  30. The worst natural disaster in United States history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Over 8000 deaths were recorded.
  31. The first word spoken from the moon on July 20, 1969 was Houston.
  32. Texas' largest county is Brewster with 6,208 square miles.
  33. Texas possesses three of the top ten most populous cities in the United States. These towns are Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
  34. El Paso is closer to Needles, California than it is to Dallas.
  35. Texas includes 267,339 square miles, or 7.4% of the nation's total area.
  36. The state's cattle population is estimated to be near 16 million.
  37. More land is farmed in Texas than in any other state.
  38. More species of bats live in Texas than in any other part of the United States.
  39. Laredo is the world's largest inland port.
  40. Port Lavaca has the world's longest fishing pier. Originally part of the causeway connecting the two sides of Lavaca Bay, the center span of was destroyed by Hurricane Carla in 1961.
  41. The Tyler Municipal Rose Garden is the world's largest rose garden. It contains 38,000 rose bushes representing 500 varieties of roses set in a 22-acre garden.
  42. Amarillo has the world's largest helium well.
  43. The world's first rodeo was held in Pecos on July 4, 1883.
  44. The Flagship Hotel on Seawall Boulevard in Galveston is the only hotel in North America built entirely over the water.
  45. The Heisman trophy is named for John William Heisman the first full-time coach and athletic director at Rice University in Houston.
  46. Brazoria County has more species of birds than any other comparable area in North America.
  47. The Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America's only remaining flock of whooping cranes.
  48. Jalapeno pepper jelly originated in Lake Jackson and was first marketed in 1978. 
Monday, January 25, 2016

A smart phone FTW!!!


So it took me a while to get on the smart phone train, and even then I had to be thrown on. DH forced me to upgrade for business reasons.


But I have one and I use it. It's bigger around than my old little slider and I can't work it one-handed without both eyes on my hand and the phone. So absolutely no driving/phone anything.

But other than that, it's a like having a personal assistant in your pocket. I can write notes or I can dictate notes!! I've downloaded a few apps, including a couple of games, as well as my favorite social media platform. Of course it lets me text the kiddos. I get weather alerts when something's going on within 25 miles of me. And I have access to all my email...

I don't have a lot of alerts turned on, so I'm not being barraged by sound every time something comes through--only text messages and the weather--and when I'm out with people, the phone is in my purse like it's always been. I never wanted to be that person, and I'll be vigilant to never becoming that person.

But at home, when I take the dog out in the yard...I can text my kids, or heck even TALK to them if I want, check email, surf the web, read a book, listen to music, or make notes about my plots and characters... I've fallen to the dark side. :)


Friday, January 22, 2016

221B Con is a GO...



  • Con registration bought & paid for...
  • Hotel reservation made...
  • Plane tickets bought...

Come April, I'll be winging my way to Atlanta--a city I've never been to. It's going to be a grand adventure.

I'm excited about going--passing up a chance to learn from one of the big names in writing conferences to do so.

But I'm nervous too. Walking into an event like this knowing no one is a bit daunting. On the other hand, there's obviously the reason we're all there--Sherlock Holmes.

Have you ever gone to a fan-type convention? If so, what for/what type?


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Agent Carter FTW!


So last night I tuned into actual live TV to watch the season premiere of Agent Carter.


Ms. Carter has been sent to Los Angeles because her boss in New York wants her out of his hair and wants the glory from the case she was working on. Of course, it backfires on him, and he loses the suspect and Peggy stumbles into something as equally sinister as what she left.

Is it completely realistic? Of course not--it's a comic book brought to life so there are fantastical elements, but that's what makes it fun. Peggy Carter, though, she looks like a 1940s woman should with all those lovely curves.

One of things I enjoy most about the show is the relationship between Peggy and Mr. Jarvis, her unlikely backup. James D'Arcy is fantastic as Tony Stark's prim and proper butler and right hand man. Peggy's free-spiritedness and independence and Mr. Jarvis's uptightness play well against each other.



Have you checked out this show? What do you think?


Monday, January 18, 2016

All of a sudden...


I feel like there's not enough time in a day...

I have things I *need* to do and things I *want* to do and things I *don't want* to do and I am at war.

When I feel overwhelmed, I rely more heavily than ever on my trusty TO DO list. I just have to make sure it's as complete as I can make it, and I have to ensure that if there are due dates, which there are for many things, that I keep them in mind as I pick and choose what to get done.


No matter how many things I have to do, I never fail to take down time to read. Of course, I have to be careful, because it's so easy to sink into the reading abyss and I have SOOOO may fics in my to-be-read folder that sound fantastic.

Several years ago, I was president of my writing group and of the band booster for about six months. That was a challenging six months, but I was also super productive because I prioritized every day the things that had to be completed that day or the next. And day by day I got things done and made it through. Of course, I hadn't discovered BBC Sherlock fan fic at the time, so it might have been much harder with all that ficcy goodness tantalizing me from the Internet.

How about you...how do you handle an overabundance of things to do?




Friday, January 15, 2016

Another death hits the U.K and the general entertainment industry...





Wednesday, January 13, 2016

There's a Starman Waiting in the Sky...



The world lost one of the most influential British musicians ever this past Sunday when David Bowie died after a secret 18-month battle with cancer. He released a final album Friday, January 8th--his 69th birthday.


I wasn't a huge fan... That is to say I knew who he was and, as a teenager of the 80s, was familiar with a handful of his songs. You remember the red shoes silliness of a few months ago? Yeah, that was from David Bowie's 1983 release Let's Dance, and that's primarily why his death was a such a shock to me.

(This video, while strange, does not feature any sort of phallic symbols!)


Some may also recognize him as Jereth the Goblin King in the fantasy action film Labyrinth...


On a more personal note, though not quite as sad as David Bowie's death, I dropped Sonshine off at the airport yesterday afternoon as it was time for him to return to Seattle. It was a nice visit and while I wish he still lived at home/close to home, I'm also a bit glad that life is returning to normal. I like routine and I've gotten used to a quieter existence as well as a house that stays tidy for days on end as opposed to just a few hours. :)

Any David Bowie fans among my followers? Do you have a favorite song?

(The post title is a reference to a very early part of Bowie' career...) 

Monday, January 11, 2016

2016 Goals -- Appended


I've thought of a few more things to add to my list...

The most important one being to start writing to my grandma again. She lives in Denmark in an assisted living facility and I haven't seen her in years. I haven't written more than a note on the flower delivery card in years either, although fewer years than since I've seen her. And I feel guilty about that, so along with the phone calls to the moms is a monthly letter to Grandma.

(Image courtesy of FOTOSEARCH)


In addition to the writing group treasurer job, I am also paid to update the group's website. I'll admit I haven't been as diligent as I ought be about that, so...pledging to do better with that as well.

And as part of that weight loss line item, I'm adding "get healthy and well" back. Not so much emotionally, because I'm fine with that, but physically. I sit so much between work and home and my body just feels blah. It's hard to explain, but I know it's because (even though I walk on the treadmill) I don't use a lot of different parts of my body. All the other things I've planned on doing will help, but I'm adding the potty break calisthenics back in. For as little time as they take, they made a huge difference to me way back when I started this journey FOUR years ago. Going back to basics rarely hurts.

I'm glad to have the goals list a little fuller. It felt incomplete for some reason.

Time to get started!



Friday, January 8, 2016

The Abominable Bride - the BBC Sherlock special in the theater...



The much anticipated Sherlock special aired New Years Day in the late evening, was shown in theaters around the world on the 5th and 6th, and will be re-aired on PBS Sunday January 10th at 9pm locally. Check your PBS station for time if you're so inclined!

I watched it on New Year's Day, I saw it in the theater this past Tuesday, and I will be re-watching on Sunday. And chances are great that I'll be buying the digital copy through iTunes here in the very near future. Yes, I'm that fan. (Though not as *that fan* as some people I'm acquainted with online.)


The film was a one-off special taking Holmes and Watson back to their Victorian roots. Mostly. It wasn't supposed to have much to do with the contemporary plot lines of the series in general, but...it did. A bit.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie tremendously. While it had a lot of gothic-horror-type elements, it wasn't graphic and it was quite funny. The writers poked a lot of fun at their contemporary version and there was a reason for that.


There were two things I specifically didn't like, although one is attributed to the above-mentioned "reason" and I can accept that, though I don't like it any better. The second thing, while somewhat understandable, I just hate that the writers went there, and I think it was completely unnecessary. But I'm not Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffatt--two of the most prolific, popular, and successful writers for TV in Britain at the moment. So what do I know?

If you are a fan of the show and have seen the special--what did you think??


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Nothing New Under the Sun


My Sonshine came home for a visit last week and it's as if he hasn't been away for a year and a half. I still miss him dreadfully sometimes, but it has gotten easier.

The Brown Eyed Girl and her significant other came up from Houston this past weekend as did DD and we celebrated Christmas. Everyone seemed pleased with their gifties. I think the best loved gift was an elephant lamp given to the Brown Eyed Girl. My favorite gift was just having everyone all together for a while visiting and we even played a little Rock Band. (I do so miss that...maybe I should add that to my goal for the year.)

My Brown Eyed Girl has come a long way from just a few years ago and I'm so happy that she's happy and healthy and doing well for herself. She recently got a promotion into a supervisory position. Her boyfriend is a clean cut young man, very handsome, and sweet. (Man--I should have gotten a picture of them...)

(Okay, stolen from her Facebook page :)--more than one way to skin a cat...)
And here's Sonshine and my Brown Eyed Girl...

No pictures of DD because she rarely lets anyone take her picture.

It's sad sometimes to consider that all my babies are actual adults. But on the other hand, life is good.
 


Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy 2016!


Welcome to another new year! It's time to put the new goals out there for all the world to see...I usually try for ten, so let's see how many I can come up with. In no particular order...


1) call my moms once a month, both of them -- Yeah, I was really horrible about keeping in touch and now that I'm getting older and my kids are gone, it's hitting home a little harder--also one of my moms complained. :)

2) write -- specifically finish the BBC Sherlock/highlander AU fic, polish and submit the cowboy romance I wrote last year, write a 10K to 15K word story for a Christmas box set my critique partners want to put out into the world next Christmas.

I don't know...should I break these out? I mean, will I not get to count this one as reached if I don't complete any one thing? Technically, yes, I suppose. Well, I'll make them A, B, and C...

--> 2A) finish the BBC Sherlock/highlander AU fic
--> 2B) polish and submit the cowboy romance I wrote last year
--> 2C) write a 10K to 15K word story for a Christmas box set my critique partners want to put out there next Christmas

3) read -- I blew last year's goal out of the water. Final word count was 13,612,336 read. My problem is, though, that I read so dad-gum fast, I rarely remember a fic once I've gotten two or three more under my belt. Only the truly remarkable ones stand out. So I think part of my goal is going to be to re-read some of what I read last year. There's no way to not read new stuff though. And I'm giving up on the official Goodreads challenge. I don't think I've technically won that challenge since I started trying. This year's goal will be easy to reach because I can't not read. But let's give it a number--five million new words and then whatever I re-read...

4) create pod fic -- What's pod fic you ask? Well, it's an audio "book" created for a fan fic. I've been wanting to give it a try as a way of forcing myself to slow down and really read and contemplate a fic (see the above item). I suppose one pod fic would render the goal reached, so let's say I have to create five of them. (Even if I choose really short fics...)

5) reach the 120lb. mark (for real this time) -- I got into the spirit of things again finally at the end of October, but there just wasn't enough time left to lose the last 20lbs. I made great progress, but I just waited too long.
I'm on a roll now, and I've got a new Wii Balance Board coming from Santa so that I can change up the treadmill with Wii aerobics. I'm also planning on (see #8) walking the dog three or four times a week.


6) keep crafting, do a wider variety of crafts -- I did a lot of cross stitching in 2015, which was fine. I enjoyed it, but at Christmas it seems as if I always branch out a little and try new things, so instead of waiting till next Christmas, I'm going to try random things throughout the year. I've got a couple of friends who were inspired by my various Christmas projects, so I may try crafting dates.

7) get my house clean -- Yeah, it needs a thorough cleaning and bad. I mean it's not crusty or anything, but the windows need cleaning, the door jambs and base boards need wiping down, the floors needs a good mopping. One room a month? Eh...I don't know. If I get the living room and kitchen done, I'll call it a win. :)


8) walk the dog, walk to the post office -- Rayna needs more exercise too and I need to add some variety to my routine. I'm shooting for three or four days a week. In addition, the walk to the P.O. box on the three days I work at the office helps me get outside and get some sunshine. I credit it with keeping me on the right side of the line back in 2010. I've gotten away from it, but I think I need to add it back in. Not because I'm riding any lines these days, but because it's a mood booster and healthy.

9) be a better treasurer/stay on top of treasurer duties for my writing group -- I did okay last year, but there's always room for improvement. So this means catching up paperwork on a monthly basis rather than every few months in a flurry.

10) er...

I usually shoot for ten. It's a nice number. I'm drawing a blank, however. I've given up on fixing up the yard for the time being. Money has just been too tight for too long and my hopes have been dashed. :)

I guess I'll stick with nine for now and if I think of something, we'll revisit!

How about you? Have you thought about what you'd like to accomplish in 2016?? Do share!!


Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year


Happy 2016 Friends! I hope your New Years Eve was everything you wanted it to be. Mine was as expected. :) I was at the fireworks store selling fireworks to the masses of central Texas!! It was special because Sonshine timed his visit home so he could go and work with his Dad and me.

Turns out we had a bang up sales day--exceeded expectations by a wide margin considering the sales on the 30th were pretty abysmal.

But today, for the first time in probably over twenty years, I watched the Rose Parade. It was a New Years Day tradition when I was growing up although Mom and I never actually went to one in person.








I remember loving the marching bands most of all as a kid and now I have even more reason to enjoy them. In fact the first band I saw upong turning on the TV was from Allen, Texas!

Anyone else out there, besides Mom, who's a Rose Parade watcher??


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Jen FitzGerald
Thanks for stopping by one of my little corners of the world wide web. So, a little about me...My husband and I have been married for twenty years and we have three adult children although our youngest is still in high school. We've lived in Texas for fifteen years and for the rest of the story, click here.
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Jen's Glossary of Terms

  • DH = my husband
  • my Brown Eyed Girl = my oldest daughter
  • DD = my Darling Daughter (the younger one)
  • Sonshine or Marching Band Boy = my son
  • NT = the North Texas chapter of RWA
  • RWA = Romance Writers of America