Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Break


I'll be taking a little break from blogging this week to prepare for and celebrate Thanksgiving. I hope you have a safe, memorable, and happy holiday with your family and friends.

But, one question before I go.

Do you like the cranberry jelly that schloorrppss out of the can and retains the shape and ridged of the can, or do you prefer the cranberry sauce with whole fruit, citrus, pecans, marshmallows, etc?

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Friday Five ~ My Bucket List


This week, the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile was in Rochester. I'd never seen it before in real life, and I joked with my husband that I could now cross that off my bucket list.

So, in honor of such a momentous event, this week's Friday Five is:

Five Things On My Bucket List

1. See the Grand Canyon.

2. Visit the Smithsonian.

3. Travel to New Zealand.

4. Wander the halls of the British Museum.

5. See the Cubs win a World Series before I die.

So, what's on your bucket list?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sometimes It Works, Sometimes It Doesn't

Coffee time

I was a guest blogger yesterday over at Coffee Cups & Camisoles. (You can read that post by clicking HERE.) I blogged about how I write best when I'm ensconced at my local coffee shop.

Yesterday I put that method to the test again. I landed at Dunn Bros. Coffee Shop at about 2 pm, and I stayed until 4:30. In that 2.5 hrs, I wrote over three thousand words on my WIP. The best writing day I've had in awhile. 

And yet, it doesn't always work. Some days I get there and it's peck, peck, peck, check email, write a hundred words, delete fifty, check Facebook, peck, peck, pick, pick. I try never to leave before I have at least a thousand words, but sometimes the words just don't come.

That's why I celebrate the good days. 

I'd love to celebrate with you. Have you had a writing success, a personal success? No matter how small, it's worth celebrating, something to carry us through the tough times.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

World War One Red Cross Quilt

November 11th, 2012 was quilt presentation day at the Dodge County Historical Society. Thank you so much to all who came out for the event. I really enjoyed talking with you, hearing your stories of fathers and uncles and family members who fought in World War One. Here are some of the pictures my husband took of the day.

My brother in law, Mike Ambrose, helping me drape the quilt.

Showing Linda "THE BOOK." This is the record where I found the lists of veterans for the quilt.

Here's the book table. :)

In the foreground is the original quilt that inspired my newest release.

A few of the folks who came out.

I was honored to meet Evelyn, who told me her father's name was on the quilt...and her father's cousin, too. They both share the same name! 

Finding Evelyn's dad's name on the quilt.

Chatting with Linda and Ruth.

Linda and me with the board of directors of the Dodge County Historical Society.

James, who ran to the car several times to replenish the book table. (And who also ate his share of the yummy cake the ladies provide.)

Finding another relative's name on the quilt.

We were serenaded by lovely tunes on the antique Chickering piano.

Me with a WW1 vintage flag. Note the 48 stars. :)

It was a lovely time in the church museum, and I was so blessed to have so many family and friends there.

Question for'd you spend your weekend?

Friday, November 09, 2012

The Friday Five - Gangster Style

Yesterday the boy and I took a guided tour of the Gangster Sites of St. Paul. What a great time! Our tour guide was Edna "The Kissing Bandit" Murray, member of the Barker-Karpis Gang.

Fascinating stuff! We learned all about the Three O'Connor St. Paul Layover Rules, speakeasies, bootleggers, Tommy guns, and so much more.

So, today's Friday Five is:

Five Famous Gangsters who lived in St. Paul:

1. Leon Gleckman. Chicago had Capone, St. Paul had Gleckman. Gleckman was the bootlegger king of St. Paul, funneling contraband liquor in and out of the city. He lived in the swankest hotel in the city, The St. Paul. The hotel is still in use today, and still offers the most luxurious accommodations in the city.This is where visiting political luminaries stay when they visit the city, which just goes to show you that not much in their clientele has changed over the years.

2. John Dillinger. America's first Public Enemy #1. Before he was shot to death outside a Chicago movie theater, he was wounded by police gunfire in St. Paul. (On a backstage tour of the MN History Center Archives, I got to see the gun that shot Dillinger, but that's a post for another day.)

3. Homer Van Meter. Dillinger's right hand man and best friend. He was ratted out by a fellow gangster (#5 below) and obliterated in an alley near the state capitol.

4. Alvin "Creepy" Karpis. The brains behind the Barker-Karpis Gang, the mastermind behind the Hamm and Bremer kidnappings, among many other crimes. Karpis served the most time by a single inmate at Alcatraz, and while incarcerated there, he gave guitar lessons to Charles Manson.

5. Harry Sawyer aka "Harry Dutch" the right hand man of Dapper Dan Hogan, who ran The Green Lantern Speak Easy and Casino in downtown St. Paul. Dapper Dan was murdered in a car bombing, and though the killer was never caught, it is suspected that Harry Sawyer was behind the explosion. Harry took over Dapper Dan's business and became the liaison between the corrupt St. Paul Police Chief Tom Brown and the gangsters laying low in St. Paul.

Oh, and the Three Rules of the O'Connor Layover System?

1. No gangster crime (bank robberies, kidnappings, etc.) within St. Paul city limits.

2. Payoffs are expected if the gangsters want the police to turn a blind eye and deflect federal and out of state investigations.

3. When a gangster hits town, he is expected to check in at the Green Lantern, provide an address and telephone number where they could be found.

This was my first tour through Rochester Community Education, and I very much enjoyed it. I learned a lot, had a great time, and I spent some quality time with my son.

How about you? Have you ever gone on a tour like this? Did you know St. Paul was such a hotbed of gangster activity during the 20's and 30's?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

World War One Wednesday

Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War.

Veteran's Day is fast approaching. On Sunday, I'll be attending a Veteran's Day Memorial Service in Wasioja, MN. 

How do you plan to honor Veterans this Armistice Day?

A reminder to those in SE Minnesota. Following the 2 pm service in Wasioja on Sunday is the presentation of the WW1 Quilt at the Dodge County Historical Society Museum in Mantorville MN at 3:30. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Best Husband Ever

I don't say it often enough, but my husband is the most supportive, most generous, most awesome husband ever.

Occasionally, on a writer's e-loop I am a member lurker on, the topic comes up about how to deal with a spouse who is indifferent or even antagonistic toward the dream of becoming an author.

When you're the one with the dream, the one who is reading the craft books, posting to loops and forums, entering contests, attending conferences, etc, all of this stuff makes perfect sense. The money and time is an investment in making your dream come true. And sometimes, we can have a skewed version of reality, one where no cost is too much, no effort or amount of time excessive. Tunnel vision becomes a way of life.

To someone on the outside, someone who doesn't have the same driving compulsion to create fictional worlds, all this effort and expense, the ups and downs, the hopes and despair, is confusing and incomprehensible. Why put yourself (and me) through this agony?

In light of this, it's not surprising that some people have a rough time explaining to their spouse the need to write, the expense they will incur, the time it takes.

I've been blessed because my husband has always fostered my dreams. He gives me time, space, money, emotional support, and anything else I might think I need. He's sent me to conferences, writing weekends, and coffee shops, supported my reading habits, gone to museums, taken countless pictures of artifacts, houses, signage, and landscapes, listened to me plot, cry, moan, squeal, and fuss.

He has always believed in me, and he's always been certain that no matter what my dreams were, that I could reach them.

I couldn't ask for a better partner on this writing journey.  I love you, Peter Vetsch!

How about you? Does your husband/wife 'get it?'

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Friday Five

This week's Friday Five:

Five TV shows I'm currently watching each week:

1. Elementary - a modern day Sherlock Holmes set in New York City and starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.

2. Castle - I was afraid Castle and Beckett finally getting together would ruin the show for me, but it's been a happy surprise.

3. Hawaii 5-0. This remake of the 60's classic is great, especially Scott Caan as Danny Williams. Unfortunately, it's on at the same time as Castle, so I have to watch it later online. My husband likes Castle too, so we watch that together and I watch McGarritt and Danno later. :)

4. Criminal Minds. Dr. Reid. Need I say more?

5. Leverage. An ensemble cast of modern-day Robin Hoods.

Of course, then I watch lots of sports, too. Currently football, but since the NCAA basketball season is kicking off, I'll be watching lots of Jayhawks games too. :D

So, what do you watch?