Friday, March 30, 2012

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five is:

Five cool things I saw at the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida.

1. Banyan trees. The picture above is of a banyan tree swallowing a cherub statue. Banyans grow roots off their tree limbs that descend toward the ground, attach, and then grow into a banyan tree trunk. They are bizarre, and we sure don't have anything like in Minnesota.

2. Ca' d'Zan (which means House of John) the Venice-style home of John and Maude Ringling of Ringling Bros. circus fame. The mansion sits right on the water, and it was beautiful and ornate and enormous.

3. The world's largest miniature museum. This picture doesn't do it justice, but this is just inside the big top. The entire miniature museum is enormous. Dozens of tents, hundreds of animals and people, cars, trains, lights, streets, trees, rivers, and so much more. I could've stayed and watched it for hours. Unfortunately, our experience was interrupted by a fire alarm and we had to clear the building, though they let us back in quite quickly as it turned out to be a false alarm.

4. Palm trees. I know my folks got tired of me pointing out all the palm trees (and who knew there were so many different kinds?) but we don't have palms in Minnesota. This was one of the giants just inside the main entrance to the grounds.

5. The Rubens paintings at the the art museum. These things are enormous, all motion and color and symbolism. Four of the seven commissioned paintings of Biblical scenes are housed and displayed at the Ringling museum. They are breathtaking in scope.

Bonus cool thing:

6. This is a huge statue in Sarasota, Florida depicting the LIFE magazine cover taken in Times Square at the end of World War 2. I understand there is another one like it in San Diego, California. Here's a copy of the photo.

Have you been to Florida? Have you been to the Ringling Museum?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Close To The Finish Line

Here's another picture from the Circle Bar B game preserve. Turtles, sunning on a log in the weeds.

As I near the finish line on this current work in progress, I feel a bit like the tortoise from the tortoise and the hare. I've taken more time on this story than any other I've written. I started the plotting for this story in October of last year. Five months ago. It seems like a long time ago.

At Christmas time, I stopped writing on this project and began another one for my publisher that ended up not working out. Since I'd taken a couple weeks off from this work in progress to work on something else, when it was time to get back to writing, instead of writing, I went to the beginning of the story and reworked, edited, and read through what I had to refresh myself and remember the characters and story line.

I finished the first draft the night before we flew out to Florida and when we got home, I jumped into the editing process. This week should see the editing done and the ms turned in.

Then I'll have to have a talk with my agent, look over my story ideas, and see where we want to go from here.

How about you? Are you close to finishing a project? Are you a turtle or a hare when it comes to writing?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Back from Florida

We're back! We spent 10 days with my parents in Florida, and we arrived home tired and happy.

We had a wonderful time. The picture above is a promise from my father to my son fulfilled. James really wanted to see an alligator in the wild. So one day (while my mom and I were at a book signing) my dad took my husband Peter and my son James to the Circle Bar B Game Preserve where they saw a couple dozen alligators, some turtles, and some really cool birds. Peter snapped this picture of a gator sunning on a  bank.

While in Florida, we shopped in Mt. Dora, the small town where Angela Hunt set her Fairlawn Series. We visited the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. The mansion, the circus museum, the gardens, the grounds, and the art museum. I sat and contemplated the colors and symbolism of several giant Rubens paintings that were breathtakingly beautiful.

We also visited the Tampa Bay History Museum, I had a book signing, went to church with my folks and ate at Ling's Buffet. Then we went to SeaWorld of Orlando. And saw orange groves, Spanish moss, turtles, ospreys, egrets, cranes, and spring training baseball.

For my birthday, my parents took me to Manny's Chophouse, where we ate steak and had an enormous chocolate brownie dessert.

We had a wonderful time with my family, and I loved every minute of the trip. But oddly enough, the night before we were supposed to leave, I was hit with a terrible case of homesickness. I missed my home. I missed my cat, my bed, my routine, my rut.

I love vacation, and we saw amazing things, and I got some books so I could learn more about Florida history and perhaps write a story set there, but I learned anew the meaning of the phrase "home sweet home."

How about you? Have you ever been homesick?

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Friday Five

Five things I love about my kids' friendship:

1. Their laughter. When they get together, we hear laughter ringing through the house.

2. The way the older one seeks to guide and shepherd the younger one. (Even though, sometimes, he resists this procedure.)

3. The way they work together. Yesterday they baked a chocolate cake and decorated it together.

4. The way they are willing to be silly together. The above picture was taken at the Blue Earth County Historical Society Museum last year (Before the boy sprouted another couple of inches.) I was viewing an exhibit in another part of the museum when I heard them laughing their heads off. They had found the children's dress up corner and posed for an American Gothic of their own.

5. Their similar interests. They can talk computer games and movies all day long.

Are your kids good friends?

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

An Interview and Giveaway

Pop over to Christian Bookshelf Reviews to read a quick interview with moi and enter to win a copy of A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas.

Monday, March 05, 2012


Sorry to be so late blogging today. It was one wild weekend of basketball. I don't know about the players, but I'm exhausted. The picture above is of the Rochester Area Homeschool Defenders hoisting the 2nd Place Christian Athletic League trophy. So proud of our teams. The girls took first, and the boys finished second. This is the highest our guys have placed in this tournament. Last year third, this year second, next year, FIRST! :)

Which put me in mind of goals. All season long, the teams have worked on their goals. Better defense, more blocked shots, more playing time, becoming a starter, more assists, taking more charges, etc. With each practice, each game, each instructional video or coaching session, they have improved and striven toward reaching those goals. And along the way, they've learned valuable lessons in sportsmanship, perseverance, and Christian character.

I find that I am a goal-oriented person myself. I need goals to spur me on. I think that's why I'm a list-maker. Listing things, then crossing them off when I'm done gives me a sense of satisfaction, of accomplishment.

Since it is the beginning of March, I'm going to list my goals for the month, so hopefully I an cross them off at the beginning of April.

1. Finish A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA and get it turned in. This ms is due 4/15/12, and I have about 5K more words to write, then the final polish.

2. Work on the Red Cross quilt. Get all the names written on the quilt and start the embroidering.

3. Get homeschooling back on track. We're a bit behind due to basketball and spring breaks and a trip to Florida.

4. Enjoy the trip to Florida!

How about you? Have you set some goals recently? Are you a list-maker?

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Friday Five

This is the final weekend of 2011-2012 basketball for the Rochester Defenders! Yay! (I love the basketball season, but I'll freely admit to wanting my life back!)

So, five top things from the Rochester Area Homeschool Defenders basketball season:

1. More playing time for James. He met his pre-season goal of becoming a starter for the JV team.

2. Logging 4,000+ miles of driving. To and from practice and to and from games.

3. Getting to know some of the Defenders moms better.

4. Seeing the maturity of some of our upper-classmen as they guide and help younger players.

5. Beating Mountain Lake Christian for the first time in 10 years!

Question: Do you have/have you had kids in sports?

Oh, and I totally forgot, so coming back in here to edit...I'm on SEEKERVILLE today talking about throttling your internal editor. Please come join in the fun!