December 31, 2007

Looking back at Christmas, 2007

Christmas, 2007

Christmas- This was the year my husband finally got enough lights on the tree to suit me. Lush, Northwest trees are very dark in the middle. Just the normal amount of tree lights won't do the job. Normally, we wrap the trunk of the tree in white lights, but this was a busy year, so my husband wrapped the lights around and around the outside of the tree until their brilliance blinded us. You know you have enough lights on the tree when you have to squint to look at it. The neighbor's cat hasn't been by to visit since we plugged the lights in. The tree gets better every year because the number of ornaments increases with my age. This year's tree was a stunner--some of the ornaments are close to sixty years old. I'm going to be sorry to see it go tomorrow, but a live tree needs to go as soon as it starts to dry out, unless you want to remodel.

All during Christmas, I've marveled at how easily the decorations went up. This morning I realized why: there are two more boxes of holiday trinkets on the top shelf of my office closet that I forgot about. Maybe I'll put them out for Easter...

Eagles-The lights didn't phase the eagles in the area. My neighbors tell me that two of the big birds perched in a tree near our yard and casually picked out their Christmas dinner from their chicken yard. My neighbor's clapping and shooing scared them away just as they sank their talons into a fat hen--making me think they must have been very young. I'm sorry I missed that, but I'm pretty sure that eagles and I don't keep the same schedule. If I'm up before eight it's because the stag deer in the neighborhood is whistling right under my window. I love that. He must be the world's best alarm clock, even if he is unreliable. I should mention that I don't live in the country. It's just that the increased housing has left the wilder creatures with no place to go. That's wrong. Just plain wrong, but it's too big of a subject for today.

Custer and His Naked Ladies- Read sample chapters of my new novel (and others) on my main website:

December 29, 2007

Spring is on the way!

Belle & Bud, Christmas, © Joyce Stevens, 2007
Poor Belle! I couldn't get out to find her a Christmas sweater. My buddy since childhood, Joyce Stevens, made her for me when my husband was out of town one time. The doll has a growing wardrobe, including red cowgirl boots, but no red sweater. She's a size two, so everything I put on her of mine just hangs. Bud is easier to dress because he's bigger. In the summer, Bud sports a red Hawaiian shirt. Bud was the first to arrive. Joyce brought him over to keep me company once when my husband was away for a month. He is always a big help when I'm stuck on a chapter!
It was a wonderful Christmas here, and I hope yours was too. I think my daughter has outdone me, as she is still celebrating and opening presents with her friends--giving a whole new meaning to The Twelve Days of Christmas.
Winter Solstice has come and gone, and I have to admit that I forgot about it after our tree was up. I keep checking the sunrise and sunset times and we seem to be going backwards so far. The process must be more complicated than I understand. For now, I have to console myself with my calendar that clearly states that the solstice has come and gone. Spring is on the way!
Speaking of calendars, I have a free day, thanks to my husband's insistence that I buy my 2008 calendar early this year. About now is when I usually start racing from store to store looking in vain for the style I prefer--usually ending up with a calendar with an awkward shape, unworkable format, and covered all over with some dorky design. One time, I even came home with a calendar that was designed for teachers--the year started in September! Good grief.
Custer and His Naked Ladies is doing nicely, even though there have been some snafus in distribution. If you want a copy, please order directly from iUniverse at (this link will take you directly to my page), or until the problem is resolved. Don't miss it. It's a hoot! iUniverse, $15.95.
Oh! You can also read sample chapters and order my novels on my main website:

December 18, 2007

3 days until Winter Solstice!

copyright 2007, JMH
3 days until Winter Solstice!
The photo above is my book Christmas card without the Merry Christmas copy on it. Just this part took me all day--I needed to get on a ladder for some height and I just couldn't get my wheelchair up those rungs!
Custer and His Naked Ladies- There's still time to order some copies for Christmas and Hanukkah gifts. Ya'll jump on it! $15.95, iUniverse.

December 16, 2007

5 days until Winter Solstice!

2003 (?) copyright, JMH
We got our tree today, but it is still too wet to decorate. Tomorrow. The last few years, I've been threatening to cut down on the decorations, but if I don't put up everything, the rest of the family digs until there's nothing at the bottom of the Christmas trunk except old newspaper, and they spread it all over the house like peanut butter on crackers. Joy to the world. At least someone has some sense.
But this year, it's going to be tough. I'm so far behind I can see my own back pockets. Whose idea was it to put out a new novel at Christmas, anyway? How crazy was that? I'm sure everyone has dropped everything to sit on the pile of their own Christmas rubble and read Custer and His Naked Ladies--not!
There's only one way to gain back some control. The writing offices of JMH are closed until the refrigerator is restocked with eggnog, and every string of lights is glittering on the tree. Of course, if anyone wants a book signed...

December 14, 2007

Seven days until Winter Solstice!

copyright 2006, JMH

7 days until Winter Solstice!

It's all coming back to me now. I think I got my winter blues from my mother, who was born and raised in the Southwest. Once, in the dread of winter, she wandered into our Tacoma living room and moaned, "I haven't seen the moon for 28 days!" It wasn't just the sun she missed.

Anyway, it's all down hill from here. Christmas is finally kicking in, and we plan to put up our tree tomorrow. By the time the 21st gets here, I may have forgotten all about the doom and gloom of a rainy winter in the Great Northwest...until next year.

Custer and His Naked Ladies- Mom was killed in a car accident before she ever got to read any of my stories about her and her sisters. I'll always regret that...

There's still plenty of time to order your copy of Custer. It makes a good gift for the women on your list!

Wow! I just heard a cuckoo bird. No lie! We're not even supposed to have them here, but they think a winter storm blew some in years ago, and they survived. I can't remember where they came from...maybe Japan?

December 13, 2007

8 days until Winter Solstice!

copyright 2006, JMH

8 more days!

Augh! It's not just the dreary skies, it's the quiet. If it weren't for the next door neighbor's rooster, there would be no sound at all in the morning. Oh, I'm sure the birds are singing somewhere (like maybe Arizona)--just not here. I haven't even seen a crow for days. No lie.

I have new Christmas ornaments, though. We're having some work done on our eaves, and they have discovered wasp nests. I think I'll spray them gold and put them on our tree.

Custer and His Naked Ladies-my new book is being very well received. There's still lots of time to order your copy. It's a good read. iUniverse, $15.95. I've posted sample chapters on my main site.

Well, off to get some light into this house. Maybe I should knock out the wall near my fireplace and put in a nice window overlooking my deserted birdbath (whine, whine, whine).

December 12, 2007

9 days until Winter Solstice!

copyright 2006, JMH

9 days until Winter Solstice!
The photo above is from one of last year's snowstorms. This year, we've had floods, and I didn't feel like photographing people's homes floating down the river, or their basements filled with mud. In the sixties, we had a TV weatherman who took a better job in California, but he didn't stay long. The weather there was too boring. Now, he might feel differently. They've got as many problems as we do.
Dreary days are good for getting a lot of work done. I'm well on the way with my new novel...before most of my readers have even read Custer and His Naked Ladies. (available for order at all Internet and walk-in bookstores).
Maybe we'll get the tree up this weekend. That should perk things up around here. I was hoping to get our new TV cabinet upstairs first, but it has been so cold in my husband's workshop, and the project is behind. It's been 35 degrees here, and his workshop is unheated. It's zero fun to run a saw when you can't feel your fingers from the wood.
My Christmas shopping is about done. Family members shopping for me are having a rough time--there's nothing I want this year. I'd rather send a check to the food bank, or the Save the Manatee fund. I just feel like I have all the stuff I need.
Our president looks like he's been rode hard and put away wet (a Western saying I'm throwing in for my readers in Europe.). Well, you reap what you sow. Hmmm...I wonder if Santa has new presidents in that sack he carries?

Quote du Jour:
"Careful, or you'll be in my next novel." Catalog humor (on a sweatshirt)

December 11, 2007

10 days to Winter Solstice...

copyright 1999, Dick Hooper

Countdown: 10 days!

Ten days until Winter Solstice! It's a big date for me, as I hate the dark winters. The only time I haven't was when I was a docent at The Anchorage Museum...where winters were the darkest. Every morning, I'd spring out of bed and race down the hill so I'd be at the museum in time for the first school bus to roll in. Before I left our apartment, I'd always tell my husband that I'd be back early enough to get our dinner cooked, but everyday, it seemed, I'd fly through the apartment door just before he did. I could go on and on about Alaska, but this is not the place. Maybe another time.

Now, in Washington, I am without my beloved museum, and it is just dark. I don't even bother to look for my coffeepot until eight o'clock. The only light bounces off my laptop screen when it flashes Yahoo!

Woo-hoo! I answer back. Saved for another day. Did I tell you there are only ten more days until Winter Solstice? I think I did.

Oh! The photo of the two moose was taken by my husband. He has a ton of them.

Custer and His Naked Ladies was written in the Southwest, and it's a good cure for winter darkness. The days must grow shorter, even down there, but I don't remember. I do remember being cold. In Alaska, I learned that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear." In Oklahoma, all of my gear was bad because I chose my wardrobe for looks. I guess I was trying to keep up with my peers. So I looked good--even if my skin was blue. As I write this, I'm wearing my sheepskin house slippers, so I have learned something...

December 09, 2007

The Sum Of All Fears

copyright JMH, 2007
My grandmother used to really get into her television shows. She'd sit right in front of her little eighteen inch black and white screen and yell at the characters to "Run!" "Get out of there!" "Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!"
I've been watching The Sum of All Fears while doing our Christmas cards, and when it came to my favorite part--the part when they have to get the president out of the football stadium because there's a nuclear bomb--I found myself shouting, "Go! Go! Go!" Just like my grandmother used to. I want to feel that way about our president again. Oh, well, maybe next time...

December 05, 2007

Thank goodness for my wicked stepmother!

Think Hanukkah & Christmas!

I finally got my laptop back--woo-hoo! I'm really behind in everything, but I wanted to take a moment to plug my book Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories. It makes a great stocking stuffer or hostess gift. iUniverse, $12.95. More info on my www site.

Of course, Custer and His Naked Ladies would also make a great gift. Both of these books have to be ordered (from all the usual places), so start early! I've posted a sample chapter on my regular website. iUniverse, $15.95

Ya'll enjoy your Christmas shopping. when I was a kid I could never please my stepmother with my Christmas gift to her, and she always let me know the minute she saw me. As a result, I was beginning to hate Christmas when I confided my problem to a friend. "Ha!" she scoffed. "I give people what I want to give them and what I can afford. If they don't like it, it's just too bad." I wish I could remember her name--she saved Christmas for me.

Thank goodness for my wicked stepmother--she was worth three books!

Quote du Jour:
"You don't have to have a good start to have a great finish!" Joyce Meyer