If you can't say something nice, at least make it funny!

Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Tuesday, November 30

How NOT to do NanoWrimo

Yep. I am a NanoWrimo winner. It's official I just uploaded and verified my 52,500 word manuscript. I am a winner, but so is everyone who wrote 50K this month. I have to say, when I think of it like that, and I am tired, and I wrote more words today than the I did the past two weeks, it seems a bit anti-climactic.

No cash prizes, not even a t-shirt. I finished Nano and all I got was this stupid blog badge.

But at the same time, while this victory means basically nothing to anyone who doesn't know about Nano, it is a huge thing with a lot of people in the writing community and it is a huge, big deal to me personally. I set a goal and followed through with it which is a good habit and one I am trying to keep. I almost gave up, and said well 25K (which is where I was on Friday) is more than I had before, I am just going to quit and not worry about it. But I kept pushing.

As it turned out, I woke up today and wrote approximately 15,000 words. That's a lot to write in one day. If you ever do Nano, don't do that.
This is not the way to do nanowrimo. See all the blue lines the same height? Days I didn't write at all-bad idea. Because today I had 15000 words to catch up in 36 hours.

Friday, November 26

The Porch

Today's post is my entry into this week's 100 Word Challengehosted by Velvet Verbosity. The 100 Word Challenge is an exercise in which we write exactly 100 words in response to the weekly prompt word. Click the link to read the other entries–good stuff over there! 
This week's prompt was "unseemly"

They sat side by side for who knows how long. The sun set and it got dark, the air was damp and cold with promises of early fall frost. Their silence spoke volumes each of them lost in thought, each processing their own grief. Alone. But together. Kate would have said something, but the thought of speaking was unseemly. There were no words of comfort, no words would return life to normal. Words complicated things. But the silence felt good. She gave herself to the motion of the swing, letting the hypnotic rhythm transport her to another time and  place.

Thursday, November 25

Giving of Unconventional Thanks

This has been a wonderful and spectacular year for me, for a lot of reasons. I have achieved a small form of enlightenment on many subjects that I have been working on for years. I feel that personal power that has been eluding my grasp for so long. It is happening. Things are happening. And I am so grateful for all of them. I have worked hard to get where I am now, spiritually, mentally, physically–nothing was given to me.

One of the most influential people I have met this year I met online. Judy over at ZebraSounds always has phenomenally written posts, the likes of which I can only dream of creating at this point. She had a wonderful post this week that inspired me to "borrow" her idea and create a list of my own.

She challenged everyone over there to create a list of "other" things for which you're grateful. You know, everyone names the big stuff, family, friends, health, job. Dig down and think of little, crazy things that make you happy, or smile, or just make getting through life easier. So I challenge all of you, as well. Thanks j for letting me borrow your idea.

Here is my Unconventional Thanks list:

1. Mike & Ikes I. LOVE. THEM. soooo much. (But had to give them up for weight loss.)
2. Weight loss-80 pounds this summer, thankful for my 12 weeks of iron willpower.
3. My girlfriends, who fill in all my empty spaces.
4. All the people I have met this year, both in person and online, who have both knowingly and unknowingly helped me completely change my life, my outlook, and my attitudes about myself. (this includes you, ms .j)
5. Being able to pay our bills. Even when it is “just barely”. Which is every month these days.
6. Leaving eff-ing Pennsylvania after 4 years and moving back to the south.
7. The ampersand & all of its uses. &&&&&&&&& In the right font, it’s a thing of beauty.
8. My sweet kitty who loves nothing more than sitting in my lap and sleeping all day.
9. Literacy. Books to read. The skill to write and express my feelings. Ability to talk to people coherently about what is going on in the world. Not everyone has it.
10. The President. I have a little crush on him. And he’s so much better than, well, you know. (OK, it’s a lot of a crush.)
11. Knowing that the right way to spell y'all is y'all and spelling it wrong anyway, ya'll, just cause I always do.
12. Knowing and believing that sweet potatoes are the orange ones and yams are the white ones. And they are both different varieties of yams. Dammit.

So, come on, ya'll. List your Unconventional Thanks. It is fun, surprising, and interesting what everyone comes up with. Oh, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Honestly.

Tuesday, November 23

On the Next Episode of Cribs

So here's the deal. Hubby and I can be a bit lackadaisical about taking care of things around the house, or more specifically outside the house itself. We are the sort who, when it comes to weekends, are either going full steam and totally booked up (like we were all summer) or we do nothing. at all. We weren't always that way, and I am not sure when or why it changed.

Now, we let things get out of control, I realize that. Our 2 car garage is full of our 3 scooters, lawnmower, tools, furniture for which I have big plans, miscellaneous things like everyone has I guess. Meanwhile our cars both sit in the driveway. So we've made it a custom, a sad sad tradition, that at least 2 times a year, fall and spring, we pull everything out, rearrange, reorganize, trash, donate, etc. anything that has accumulated in the previous months. There is always the futile hope that one car might fit when we're done. But I am sorry to say that almost never happens.

This weekend, with 70 degree days forecast, the day's plan on Saturday was the semi-annual garage purge. It was time. Our garage had begun to take on a strange odor and we just knew that something somewhere had been overlooked or fallen out of the trash and was causing it. We put on our grubbies and begin dragging everything out onto our driveway. This always causes a number of slow drive-bys especially on a Saturday when people are looking for garage sales. I swear, if anyone would just stop to ask, I'd make them a deal.... but I digress.

About half way through the ousting, with a large pile of "throw away" stuff already collected, I was cleaning off a shelf on which we had stored items for painting. I looked, and took a double look. "Please tell me this isn't what I think it is." I said wearily to hubby. Yep, he confirmed it was mouse droppings. And they were everywhere. I was outraged until I noticed the attraction for the mice. A couple of months ago I had spilled a bag of birdseed while trying to get to some flower pots stored in a cabinet. The birdseed was everywhere, I didn't take time to clean it up, and now the mice were enjoying a regular feast in our garage. And, to their benefit, it was warm and dry and had boxes of clothing left over from my October yard sale.

I wasn't even thinking by not cleaning it up I was inviting rodents in. "Oh, my gosh. Now what do we do? We have mice? How do we get rid of them? Poison? Mouse traps? What? What do we do? Awww gross! They have been everywhere!!!!" I was in full blown panic mode. Furious. Outraged at these rabies infested rodents. They must die!!!

"Yes, poison. Yes, traps. We'll pick some up today." Hubby, being a country boy, reassured me calmly. "Right now we need to get all this cleaned out, this corner is disgusting."

And so we begin pulling everything out of the front corner and then I realize that everything on the shelves needs to go or be cleaned. So I start with the bottom shelf. Two old pair of shoes left out from the yard sale. I pick them up and toss them out on the driveway. Suddenly I see it. Three dark spots had fallen from the shoes on to the pavement. I shrieked. And ran. (Ran? Why, they weren't chasing me...) "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! omygodomygodomygod.....what the??????"

Hubby says  "What?"in that "what now?" tone, looking over his shoulder. His patience with my mouse a phobia was wearing thin. I was standing there like a 2 year old doing the pee pee dance, one gloved hand pointing to the shoes on the cement garage floor. All I could say way "ogodogodogod" **shudder** "ogodogodogod" **shudder**, periodically turning my head away and then back again blocking my view with my hands.

It seems that one mother mousey had decided that an old shoe was a great place to raise a family, and I had dislodged three very small baby mice from the crib. (get it, crib?) Ya'll they were so little. Babies, their eyes weren't even open. They were all squirming around and one was on his back with his little mousey paws flailing up in the air. I just couldn't look at them. And I couldn't not look at them.

Hubby "Well, there's probably more in there" he said, banging the suspect shoe on the ground and yielding both another mousketeer and another yelp from me. By this time I am creeped out beyond belief, literally hopping up and down at the thought of those critters running up my pantleg or something. "omgodomgodomgod" I start saying again. "WHAT ARE WE GONNA DOOOOOOO??????" I say in a whiny, crybaby voice that surprised even me.

"Put them in the trash can" says my no-nonsense farm-raised husband, as he reaches for one.


"OH. MY. GOD.  You were just talking about putting out a trap to kill them, what is the difference?"

"But they're baaaabeeeees.....they'll dieeeeeee." I whined, being true to my emotional, bleeding heart liberal, Bambi loving, animals have feelings too, live and let live, hippie chick inner child.

"WHAT do you want me to do?" asks hubby, torn between being true to his sensible, pragmatic self and indulging my ridiculous notion of the value of the life of a baby mouse over a full grown mouse.

I just waved my hands in front of my face and ran into the house at top speed. I didn't want to know. I didn't want to decide. I didn't want to hear about their fate. He could do whatever. I just hated to see them lying there squirming.

After 30 minutes of freaking out inside the house, I finally got up the courage to go out and pitch in with finishing up the garage. I couldn't resist. "Are they gone?"(quietly) "Yes" "What did you do?"(hesitantly) "Let them loose in the yard." "They'll die out there!!!!"(whining) "Yeah, or be food for a bird or another animal."(matter of factly) "Oh, good, I hope that happens."(relief)
**eye roll** from the hubby.

Ya'll? Why does he put up with me? Honestly...

Thursday, November 18

You've Got a Friend

Well, here we are on the 18th of November. I have posted a grand total of 4 entries to my blog this month. I am woefully behind on my NaNoWriMo project, at a smattering of 12,000 and some odd words when I should be around 28,000. There are already people planning celebratory events for NaNo being over, and I feel like I have only just gotten started. I have design work that is hanging out there, Thanksgiving is next week, my house is an utter wreck and the list of business phone calls I need to make grows longer by the day. This month is one of those times when I feel like an utter failure. I feel like I can't catch up. I feel like George Jetson. Where's my Jane to stop this crazy thing???

Two weeks ago, Amybestfriendsince8thgrade was going about her life as normal. A week ago today her husband underwent surgery to remove an aneurysm at the base of his skull. Once again I am reminded of how fragile and unpredictable life can be. Not that I should need a reminder, after what I went through with hubs in 2000. Read about it here if you like. I know all too well how she felt being in that hospital waiting room. Surrounded by family, but utterly alone without the person you love most in the world. It is a horrible feeling, a totally hopeless feeling. Although his entire family was there during the surgery, I showed up just so she would have someone there for "her". Someone whose primary concern was with her and for her.

Isn't that what friends are supposed to do? I have always had issues with the friend thing. I would never, ever expect anything from a friend that I wouldn't do for them. I told Amy that I would be there for her in any way I possibly could, and I meant it. I have walked her dogs, done her banking, cleaned out her refrigerator, eaten her delicious potato soup (It was just gonna spoil, ya'll, don't judge) and picked up any and every errand I could to help her during this time. I love her like she is my own blood.

But the thing is? I have been there. When hubby had his accident, I was so independent that I couldn't, physically couldn't, ask anyone to do anything for me. It just wasn't in me. Thank goodness my friends had the wherewithal to just say "we're cutting your grass for you and no you're not paying us", "give me your spare key, we're going to make sure your cats are cared for and fed" or "just leave, just get out of this hospital for an hour and come to lunch. You need a break."

Sometimes we all just need to be given something without having to ask. Sometimes we don't know what it is that we need. Sometimes we need our friends to do our thinking for us. And sometimes it just feels good to claim something; to say "I got your back, girlfriend" and do what needs to be done. Because you know what? Friends are so very precious. Whether they have been friends for a lifetime or no time at all. Our friends deserve our very best, and are willing to give it back to us. They know us better than anyone, sometimes even our spouses.

Even though friendships have an ebb and flow, and there may be times when you feel a bit disconnected, just remember that your friends have got your back when the chips are down. Remember that you have theirs, too. And there may be nothing at all in it for you, except for that friendship and love. What do y'all think? How does the relationship work with your friends, and how do you work to repair it when it isn't working?

Friends are the family we get to choose for ourselves. I love the family I have chosen!

Sunday, November 14


Today's post is a second entry into this week's 100 Word Challengehosted by Velvet Verbosity. The 100 Word Challenge is an exercise in which we write exactly 100 words in response to the weekly prompt word. Click the link to read the other entries–good stuff over there! This week's prompt was "pleasure".

Last night I dreamed you were making love to me.
We were there, under a large oak tree,
you lay beside me, breathing. 

Then, wrapping your arms around my waist
you whispered sweetly into my ear.
We didn’t seem to care who saw,
who we were, or who we are.

Now, as I rise and walk to the shower
I feel you with me, the pleasure through me.
Feel your hands, like the roots of that oak tree,
spread over my body.

See your eyes like the bluest skies
lying about the reality
of why we are here.

Friday, November 12


Today's post is my entry into this week's 100 Word Challengehosted by Velvet Verbosity. The 100 Word Challenge is an exercise in which we write exactly 100 words in response to the weekly prompt word. Click the link to read the other entries–good stuff over there! 
This week's prompt was "pleasure"

She closed her eyes, trying to remember the simple pleasures of life: the rich, full smell of freshly brewed coffee, the rough feel of a kitten's tongue on the back of her hand, the vivid colors of her mother's flower garden bordering the road, the warm velvety feel of a horse's muzzle, the sound of her boots crunching on gravel, the wind rustling leaves in the trees.

She was transported to a place where life was easier. Back then, everything was galvanized with simplified black and white opinions, no gray areas to complicate things. Could things still be that simple?

Thursday, November 11


My NaNo Writing Spot
This month I am working on a novel. No, I don't have a publisher, agent, or any clue yet what the H-E-doublehockeysticks I am doing. I am just writing. And trying to finish. Later I will worry about rewriting, editing, paring down, plot lines, continuity, and the like. I don't KNOW how to be a writer. I don't have the first clue. I just sit and write what I dream up in my head. I don't have outlines, I don't have structure, like I said I don't know what I am doing. Just recording the thoughts that come into my head.

All my life, at least since I can remember, I have wanted to write books. I took the practical route in college and rather than getting the English degree that I had always wanted I studied business instead. Which provided well for me during the first 20 years of my career, but I never knew a day of work that was pleasurable. I loved people that I worked with but never enjoyed going to work much.  Only in my late 30's when I indulged my passion for the arts, returning to school to study graphic design, did I begin to recognize what truly being happy, fulfilled and passionate about your profession could be like. I had a design job and I actually looked forward to going to work every day for the first time in my life. I loved what I was doing. Only a year later would I allow myself to say "I am a graphic designer" because I felt like an impostor. 

This year I have realized something about myself. I am a writer. I have always been a writer, and I always will be a writer. Whether I ever have anything published, whether my novel someday becomes a best seller or languishes in the $3.99 bin at Big Lots, at heart I am a writer and I always have been. I don't need classes or a degree to make me that. All my life, I have written. From elementary school stories about pigs and a rooster who are BFF's to a horrendous 8th grade story about a blonde girl, a candy apple red camaro and a lifeguard that my teacher embarrassed the heck out of me with by reading aloud in front of the class. From bad teen angst poetry to lyrical research papers on photographers, designers, and pieces of art.

I remember in high school we had an English class one year in which we had to write an original short story every week. I always knew exactly what to write every single week. My best friend was always freaking out and saying she had no idea what to write about and I would help her brainstorm. Later in our lives, imagine my surprise when she became a photojournalist, and eventually received her own weekly column in our hometown's paper in which she had to come up with something to write every week. See, when I was younger, I wanted to have a weekly column in the paper. Like Dave Barry. A column where I could write about life, co-workers, my thoughts and whatnot with introspection and humor and a common touch to which people would relate. I wanted to be Dave Barry. A nationally syndicated writer with a weekly humor page.

And this, my friends, is the irony of the internet. Here I sit today, having just been struck by the lightning bolt of realization that this blog? Is. My. Column. This is the chance I give myself, and that is why I have been doing this all these months. In the world that is now ours I, and millions like me, don't have to wait for someone to notice, don't have to beg for editor approval, don't have to sit around and wish for creative outlet. This is my weekly column. (Of course I also don't get paid, but...)

I do have the desire to learn more, how to be skilled in the fine art of story crafting, dialogue and exposition. I will soon take classes to help me fine tune my writing, and I do still dream of being published some day. But I just want to mention here that back in May I posted a that I had made a list of things to accomplish this year, and last week one of them came true. I wrote a freelance piece that was published in the local paper and I have another to write this week. Do NOT discount the power of writing down your goals. Even when they seem to be out of reach. They are out there, for the taking.

Friday, November 5


For those of you who may not know, in 2005 my husband and I moved from Nashville, TN to Pennsylvania after he accepted a new job as the IT Manager with a big-box bookseller (who shall remain nameless lest they receive any press from my enormously popular and world famous blog. Let me just say it rhymes with "hoarders" or should I say, "whore-ders" but I'm not bitter.) He loved his job, and was doing extremely well. Until, that is, he was unceremoniously "eliminated" in the fourth round of layoffs which had already cut his staff from 7 people to himself and 2 people. To cover 3 shifts at a distribution center.  Because of him getting laid off we got to move back to the South a year ago when he found a new job. So. Yay. Things work out. But I digress.

Just months after moving to Pennsylvania, we received a phone call as we were literally preparing for our first visit back home. The day before we were to leave we got the devastating news that Hubby's father had passed away. It was quite unexpected, and because of his business (farming), there was an enormous amount of... Well... Everything. To be sorted out. Equipment, possessions, land, homes, but also loans, debt and crops. While his 2 sisters lived in our hometown near his mom and assumed much more responsibility for assisting and supporting her in these tasks, hubby felt a certain responsibility to be here as much as possible.

We spent the next many months making many trips home, each of which was sadder than the first. I want to think we made somewhere close to 6 trips from PA to KY that year. Southwest loved us. So did long term parking at BWI. Each time we were home I would go visit his dad's grave, sometimes leaving flowers from my mom's beautiful garden. The death of my father-in-law sparked a lot of conversations between my parents and myself. Our parents were friends, and went to the same church. They always got along well, and my dad considered him to be a very good friend and confidant.

Now, I have certain opinions of what I want to happen when I am dead and gone. Cemeteries, caskets, funeral homes, I do not have any need for any of that. But when I would talk to my mom she always tried to impress upon me where she wanted to be, and how she wanted things done. One day I was kidding with her and I said, "Well, I hope you're gone by the time I die, because I don't want any of that. Just cremate me and spread the ashes to the wind!"

She. freaked. out. She couldn't believe she had raised a child to think it was OK to be cremated. "What will you do when you get to heaven????!" she asked of her agnostic daughter. I replied, as honestly as I could, "Mom, I seriously don't believe you'd want to be in heaven with this crappy old body. Arthritis and all broken down like you are? Really? I should think IF there's a heaven that you'd get something new anyway. And isn't it supposed to be about your soul? You know, leaving this earthly shell behind and all that?" I might not believe it myself, but I was raised in the church, I am no fool.

Her answer to me, true to her stubborn and controlling nature, was this. "I don't really care. I want what I want. I want my body buried in a good place and I would never let anyone cremate me." I had to laugh and jokingly say "Mom. Seriously. You'd be dead and gone, what would stop me really? You can't control that from beyond the grave." We went back and forth for a good long while, and I was seriously only joking with her, stirring the pot. Finally I said, "Well, if it is that big a deal, you'd better get the plans made now. Because once you're gone, it's all up to me. And who knows what I will do." Muwaaahaaahaa. I know I am mean. Teasing an old lady like that. I would never go against what she would have wanted done.

One day,  about 2 years later, I was in Giant. (like a Kroger to you Southerners) (actually, it is Kroger up there, because there is NO Kroger up there!! Can ya'll believe that?) I was shopping for groceries after being in class all day. I was exhausted and ready to get home when my cell rang. It was mom. The conversation covered all the usual things that she would update me on during our stay there. We usually talked on the phone once a week and she'd let me know about what was going on at church, who was dating whom, who had babies, or showers, or any family news. 

We talked about this and that the entire time I was in the store. It was late in the day and I was trying to wrap up the call after about 20 minutes. Which went something like this. 
Me: "Yes, mom, classes are going well." (olives, need olives)
Her: "Oh, so are you still keeping busy?
Me: "Yes, I really am, and I am tired and trying to get my shopping done so I can get home."(crap, all the way up here and I forgot cat food.)
Her: "Well, I won't keep you." 
Me: "OK, well, you guys take care now, and we'll talk soon." (half listening at this point, distracted by tabloids in the checkout line)
Her: "Oh, I also wanted to tell you that your aunt and uncle said hello and you need to see them next time you are home. And also your dad and I went and bought our cemetery plots and planned out our funerals, so that is all taken care of. Just thought I should tell you. We'll talk to you soon!"
Me: **dumbstruck** "WHAT????? What are you talking about?" (wheeling my cart out of the line)
Her: "Huh? What? What do you mean?"
Me: "YOU PLANNED YOUR FUNERAL?" (smiles at man in deli who is looking at me with fear in his eyes)
Her: "Oh, that, yes, we went and picked out our plots. We got a great spot in the corner right in the sun, and we're going to put a bench in and your brother is getting the plot right next to us too. And there are 2 plots either beside him or at the head of ours and you two can buy either of those and we'll all be there together. Well, I will let you go. I just wanted to tell you. Let me know if you want those plots though, they won't be there forever. Do you think you might want them?"
Me: (head in hands on cart) "I don't understand, is this a joke?"
Her: "No, if you don't want the plots that is fine, I was just offering."
Me: (thinking nothing is stranger than the thought of someone trying to control your child from beyond the grave) **sigh** "no, I mean, you seriously planned your funeral and everything? I mean, I think it is great really I do. I remember when we did it with grandma, but is there something I should know?"
Her: "Of course not, we are just being prepared and we want things a certain way and we thought this would be best. Our headstones will be placed in about 3 months, you'll have to come see them when they come in. They are being engraved."
Me: "HEADSTONES?! Are you kidding me? This is a joke, right?" **looking around for Allen Funt** or Ashton Kutcher**
Her: "What are you talking about?"
Me: "Do you mean to tell me you don't see anything creepy about that? I mean planning out what you want is one thing but having a headstone sitting there with your name on it, just waiting for you to die, that's just weird. and creepy. And all kinds of wrong."

It went on this way for a while. There I stood in the center aisle of the grocery store with a vision of my mom and dad, visiting their final resting place every day, and picturing me lying in the grave next to them. For all eternity. Honestly...