Monday, October 31, 2011

Wild and Crazy Kathy

Most of you are too young to remember Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd, the Czech brothers, congratulating each other for being two wild and crazy guys. Not me - I remember, maybe a little too well. Thankfully, Red has seen the re-runs.

Red: You really were a little wild and crazy, you know? Still are.

Kathy: Not much anymore, I think.

Red: Really? Well, how about dressing up as a garden gnome last year for Halloween? That’s a little wild and putting it on your Facebook page – that’s definitely crazy!

Kathy: (shrugging) Hey, I was proud of that costume – I really looked like a garden gnome.

Red: Actually, like the Travelocity gnome. And let’s talk about when you raised pigs. Or how about your year of cab driving?

Kathy: Well, raising pigs (chickens and rabbits, too) was for survival back in the seventies. But cab driving was one of my great adventures. I absolutely loved it. And the TV show Taxi was a big hit so it was also hip.

Red: How about homesteading in Alaska? Or flying all over the U.S. in those Cessnas counting swimming pools?

Kathy: The homesteading actually was crazy. We would have ended up popsicles if we’d stayed. Thank God for the hunters who came along and told us so. But the flying around was just part of my job as Director of Real Estate…

Red: Okay, then let’s talk about how you quit that job – paid good from what I’ve seen – to become an entrepreneur – a consignment shop, wasn’t it?

Kathy: Yep, called Keepers – now that was fun! I met so many interesting people. Too bad I picked the wrong time to open it – right after 9/11. I swear I’d still be doing it if I had waited a couple of years. But then I never would have become a reporter and editor.

Red: Right! Life just keeps throwing you curve balls, but you keep hitting them anyway.

Kathy: (laughing) Yes, but they’re all pop flies to the infield! I’m waiting for a line-drive or even a homer.

Red: Hang in there, Kathy. I feel a grand slam coming on.

Kathy: Wouldn’t that be nice? I guess I have had a bit of a wild and crazy life though.

Red: I’d say so. Selling everything to live in an RV and write probably qualifies, too!

Kathy: (smiling to herself) Maybe I did achieve my big dream – living a wild and crazy life?

Note to readers - Red has been played here by the conversations I've had with friends and family members over the years. Just so you don't think I'm too full of myself.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What an Incredible Experience!

I’m going in for gallbladder surgery this morning. Yippee! The nasty old thing has shut down on me and been jabbing me rather sharply when she didn’t like something I ate or often just cuz'.

In order to have the surgery, I had to have a echo stress cardiac test. Yes, it did involve a treadmill, but that part didn’t last long at all and was absolutely no strain. The rest of the test was a complete trip and I loved it.

First the technician, an extremely fun guy named Mike, had me lie down on my left side and then began probing my left ribcage area with an ultra-sound wand while fuzzy, gray moving pictures began to appear on the monitor screen.

Soon, he had zoomed in on my heart, literally pounding away. I was immediately impressed. “Look at that thing go!” I thought. Instantly, a name jumped into my head, so I gave it to my heart - Frieda. I said this out loud and Mike laughed. He said that was a first for him – someone naming their heart.

You must understand that I name everything. My RV is called Wanda, my car Bebe and my computer is Toby (short for Toshiba).

We chuckled and chatted for another 15 minutes or so, as he pulled up various views of Frieda, just beating away. It’s funny, but I didn’t have a sense of the pictures being of me - or part of me - at all. No, instead, this was relative or friend of mine, whom I was inordinately proud of, having just met her.

We did the treadmill thing and then it was back to the table and the magic wand. At some point, Mike told me I had good velocity! That means my blood is moving through my heart at a good speed. I took that to be high praise, similar to being told I have nice eyes. Good old Frieda – not only was she doing an excellent job, but she was bringing me approval!

Eventually, the test was over and it was time to say goodbye to Mike. He had managed to make what could have been a “stressful” stress test into a wonderful learning experience and a personal introduction to my heart – now named Frieda. I had a good time and I’m grateful.

When I got to work the next day, I told one of my co-workers about naming my heart Frieda. She just laughed, knowing well my habit of naming things. Together, she and I named my gallbladder – Cruella, as in DeVille.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why We Love DollarTree and the 99Cent Store

I had just come back from the local DollarTree with four bags of stuff I use everyday when Red appeared out of nowhere, excited and happy. She wanted to see what my purchases had been and then calculated my savings. She figured I had saved $17 on four bags and she was about right. Of course, this caused much celebration this morning as we sat on the Veranda, beachside, watching the waves roll in.

Kathy: This post is going to go one of two ways for our readers – “Ooooh, really?” or “OMG, me, too.”

Red: Yeah, I know. I don’t get it though. I see lots of Mercedes and Lexus’ at these two stores.

Kathy: My theory is people that have money know how to keep it. Then there’s the poor schmucks like me who love and actually need a bargain.

Red: I’m excited – let’s get busy with the bragging rights. That drain opener stuff you go last week – tell ‘em

Kathy: Yeah, exciting all right – cheapest at the grocery store was $3.98 – got a bottle of not-name-brand drain opener and it fixed me right up. Drain cleared up in about two hours. I get Palmolive or Ajax dish soap for $.99 always and my favorite brand of fabric softener sheets – ClingFree - are 40 sheets for a $1 and smell better than any of the other brands.

Red: I personally get turned on by the plastics. You know I’m an organizing freak, unlike my creator. We really did a number, last month, on the cupboards for less than $5.

Kathy: Yeah, really! Organization is a big thing in an RV. You do love those projects, don’t you? I have to say you get a little bossy when we take on an organizational task.

Red: What can I say? I like to know where your things are!

Kathy: DollarTree also has greeting cards 2 for $1. The local store even has American Greetings for $1 each. Do you know what that means?

Red: You send a helluva lot of cards?

Kathy: (laughing) Yes, that’s true. Just sent my grandkids Halloween cards. I do love to send cards.

Red: Okay, best bargain ever for taste and pure gladness?

Kathy: I know, I know. The Diet Snapples? Two for $1? Less than ½ price. Did we stock up or what?

Red: (chuckling) I’m still opening cupboards and finding some stashed away.

Kathy: You can’t beat it for a buck!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some of Our Favorite Movies

It was a beautiful sunny day so Red and I hung out at the beach house, out on the deck, watching the ocean ebb and flow back to us. We got into a conversation about our favorite movies. We went back and forth for hours, but here’s where we got down to it.

Red: One of the best movies I’ve ever seen was Saving Private Ryan.

Kathy: That was such a great movie, but it affected me so strongly I couldn’t speak for 45 minutes afterwards.

Red: The knife scene was really intense.

Kathy: Yeah – I could barely stand to watch it. Actually, for me the definition of a favorite movie is one I’ll watch over and over.

Red: Like The Quiet Man? Man, we’ve seen that one a bazillion times.

Kathy: Well, you can’t beat Maureen O’Hara for sass and it’s a great love story. Actually, there are a few other oldies I love. The African Queen with Bogart and Hepburn – now that’s a love story.

Red: (nodding appreciatively) Yeah, Bogie and Hepburn were pretty great together in that. I loved it when Bogie called her “Rosie, old girl.” She was a redhead in that, you know.

Kathy: (chuckling) I know, I know. Speaking of redheads – what about Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame! Love that old movie. I've secretly always wanted to be Mame! Shhh...don't tell anyone.

Red: Well, she was red in about a fourth of the film. Mame changed her hair color almost as often as her outfits (laughing outright)She was outrageous, wasn't she?

Kathy: She was, especially for the times. Then there’s the best movie ever for feeling good – Love Actually. I watch that movie three times a year at least. Great cast!

Red: Well, yeah, and you have to admit Hugh Grant was really cute in that one.

Kathy: He was – and I’m not even a big H.G. fan. Hey, let’s not forget the WOMAN films.

Red: You mean your “I will survive, because I am woman, hear me roar” movies?

Kathy: Yep, First Wives Club, Something’s Gotta Give

Red: Ever notice Diane Keaton is in both of those?

Kathy: Yeah, I’m pretty sure we have a lot in common. We’d probably be BFFs if we ever met.

Red: (rolling her eyes) Sure you would. Then, of course, let’s not forget our old romantic standby Under the Tuscan Sun

Kathy: Again, with the redheads – Diane Lane. Of course, for "pure fun" movie you can't beat Independence Day. I love Will Smith and Randy Quaid in that one. It always has me cheering in the end.

Red: Any others?

Kathy: Oh, tons! Mamma Mia, Barefoot in the Park, It’s a Wonderful Life, Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes

It went on like that for a long, long time. What can I say, we both love movies! What are some of your favs?

Self-Pity – A Pathetic Waste of Time

I spent most of my Saturday on a ridiculous whirlwind of self-pity. The gall bladder surgery planned for this coming Tuesday had to be postponed for one more test. Granted, I had arranged everything from a ride to and from the hospital to my disability payments, but that was no reason whatsoever to feel so terribly sorry for myself.

Yet, I spent most of the day doing just that. I managed to depress myself fairly significantly. It was only after watching two weepy movies in a row and having a couple of good cries that I pulled myself out of it.

The thing is – I know better. I’ve just finished a fund drive for the Wounded Warriors Project so I’m completely aware that others have a real reason to feel self-pity – but don’t. My own father struggles every minute of every day just to breathe, and most of the time manages to do so with a smile.

How arrogant and self-important to get all in a funk over a schedule change. OMG – what is wrong in this brain that allowed me to magnify such a small thing into something so ginormous? Okay, I feel terribly guilty today for wasting precious time on self-pity but it has made me even more aware of how often we all fall prey to feeling sorry for ourselves.

I wish I knew the genesis of this feeling that somehow the world’s against us, that we are the only ones with problems and that our problems are so important. I’m generally an annoyingly positive person, so this slippage into the pit of despair truly troubles me. For me, I think it was the sense that nothing was really under my control – a lesson I’ve learned before but apparently still haven’t inscribed on my mind.

How can I avoid this happening again? I’ve decided to repeat the mantra below before I fall asleep and each morning when I wake up. Perhaps I’ll repeat it during a particularly tough day. Here goes:

“I am so lucky to be alive. I have so much to be thankful for. I will live in a place of gratitude, embrace the joy I’m surrounded by and see self-inflicted pain for what it is.”

I make a vow here and now – I will not waste another minute of my life involved in self-pity or negativity.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Veranda

As many of you know, Red and I frequently have our talks out on “The Veranda.” As others will realize, in truth, I live in an RV and Red lives in my mind. However, the veranda is an ever-changing necessity in our exchanges and here’s why.

Kathy: Let’s unleash the secrets of “The Veranda” for all our friends.

Red: I’m not sure what you mean? The secrets.

Kathy: The location…

Red: Locations, don’t you mean?

Kathy: Well, yeah. That’s definitely one of the special qualities of the veranda. Today, for instance, it’s raining…so we’re sitting under the roofed area.

Red: Yes, but in the piney woods or at the beach? I’m not getting a read on that from you.

Kathy: Hmmm…I guess I hadn’t looked beyond the mug of hot chocolate in my hands. The piney woods I think.

Red: Sounds good. A little too cold for the beach. So, that’s what you want to tell them? That we change our veranda on demand?

Kathy: Yes, for one thing. It’s nice having a happy place that can change in a flash.

Red: That’s right. I noticed when we’re in the mood for a barbeque we’re always at the beach, but if it’s a little on the gourmet side we’re definitely hanging out on deck among the pines, looking out at the little pond with the mallard ducks swimming around.

Kathy: Pretty much. Party-time at the beach house on the patio with the natural rock edge – instant seating for all of our guests. Reflective conversations are held on the deck overlooking the pond and woods.

Red: What about the terrace on Lake Como? We’ve done that one a time or two, when we really had something to celebrate.

Kathy: Oh, I love Lake Como…(gazing wistfully out at the pond but suddenly snapping out of it). There’s always water. Did you notice?

Red: Of course, the water’s essential to the mood. I imagine we’ll have a few other verandas pop up in the coming years.

Kathy: Definitely. Shall we tell them the other secret?

Red: Oh, sure. Why not?

Kathy: Well, when you visit us on the veranda…it can be anywhere you want it to be, too. So, please, feel free to indulge. Wherever you’re feeling like being at the moment…a porch, a terrace, a portico, a deck…your choice. It’s your veranda, too.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Approximate Royalties Calculated!

I visited my father this weekend and finally told him about the drive for Wounded Warriors. He was very touched and pleased. I also asked his permission to use his name. So, the donation was made in honor of Tully Bryant, former sailor who served on the USS Iowa. I thank you and so does he.

A couple of notes - a few people mentioned that they made direct donations from the link on the blog post. Several people sent Tweets or messages especially for my dad. Although, I think a month was way too long to do a fund drive, I still think the ultimate and best result was a building of awareness of the organization.

It’s time to give the approximate final numbers on the royalties generated by your generous purchases during last month. I didn’t realize that the royalty statement for the Kindle sales in September won’t be available for a couple of weeks. So I can’t post that, but I have been able to figure out approximately what I earned.

Here’s my breakdown:

19 Kindle copies of Red Mojo Mama @ $2.07 each = $39.33
1 Smashwords copy of Red Mojo Mama @ $2.27 = 2.27
4 personal paperback copies of Red Mojo Mama @ $1.50 = 6.00
6 Amazon paperback copies of Red Mojo Mama @ $1.40 = 8.40
8 Kindle copies of Her Heart @ $.35 = 2.80
12 Kindle copies of Tell Them You’re Fabulous @$.35 = 4.20
Total = $63.00

Below is the sales report from Amazon for the paperback copies. Member ID removed and a couple of irrelevant colums.

CreateSpace Sales Report

Start Date 1-Sep-11
End Date 30-Sep-11

Title Name Product Type Locale Sales Channel UPC/ISBN Title ID Quantity Royalty
Red Mojo Mama Book US Amazon 0615472303 3581488 6 8.4

Here is the donation confirmation (I removed my address). I added a couple of bucks just to be sure I covered the eventual total:

Your Confirmation Information

10/2/2011 10:58:42 PM
Wounded Warrior Project

Kathy Hall

Thank you for your generous donation to Wounded Warrior Project. Your gift enables us to provide comfort and aid to the wounded and families in need.

The following summarizes your contribution:
Payment Amount: $65.00
Reference ID: 1337XX (removed the last two digits just in case there's some weird way to get my personal info.)

Wounded Warrior Project contact information:
Email Address

Again, I can't thank you enough. Also, if you haven't already read this elsewhere - I'm going to be donating 10% of my royalties every month going forward and will have a much shorter fund drive again next year.

Red is the Color of Passion

My car is bright, true red. So are many of my clothes. I’m a redhead by choice. The classic black dress is wonderful, but a scarlet dress will always turn heads. I would probably paint my RV, Wanda, crimson except that she’d look like an emergency vehicle afterwards.

So, obviously red is my favorite color. It’s also Lydia “Red” Talbot’s signature color. Which made for a lively discussion.

Kathy: You know, my first favorite color, when I was a kid was green – forest green.

Red: That’s back in the day, before you had ever experienced passion, right?

Kathy: Well…yeah. What’s that got to do with it?

Red: Once you’ve had passion in your life – I’m not talking just love and sex – it’s hard not to express yourself with red – the color of passion. It stirs the soul.

Kathy: Wow, you’re sounding very literate.

Red: I’m channeling Christiane Amanpour again. But seriously, pastels are pretty but jewel tones are all full of fire, with red at the top of the list.

Kathy: (grinning widely) You woke up full of piss and vinegar this morning, didn’t you?

Red: (slightly sheepish) Joe took me out dancing last night. I wore my red chiffon dress and those red heels. I’m just saying, I think the dress and shoes had something to do with what a great time we had.

Kathy: (laughing out loud now) I’m pretty sure it was what was in those clothes that caused the merriment! You’re a hot potato in jeans and a t-shirt, too, you know.

Red: (shaking her head violently) No, no. It was the red! We were at Forelli’s – that place with the red tablecloths and red brocade walls. We couldn’t get away from red. The color of passion surrounded us on all sides. Joe was even wearing a red tie. We had to surrender to its power.

Kathy: Okay, okay. I give. I’m afraid - very afraid - to let you continue…so we’ll just agree that red is the best color in the whole wide world, okay?

Red: (shrugging as if it didn’t really matter to her at all) I’m just saying.