Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursdays and Sneak Peak

I like Thursdays. Sorta. It's pay day. Plus, Fridays are usually easier days at work. It's just that with half the company off, there's a big push to get stuff done that gives me a migraine.

I've been on this diet-but-not-really thing for a couple of weeks now and hadn't seen any results and was starting to geta little disappointed. Until... I tried on a pair of pants that I couldn't button or zip and, while still snug, they button and zipped. Let's just say I was a little giddy. :)

Halloween is tomorrow but I'm not dressing up like some of the weirdos I work with. I'll probably do my Evil t-shirt and the devil horns headband thing. It's worked for the past two years.

On the Christmas present front: still only have Avery's done. Plan on ordering Grandma BJ's and two of little brother's next Friday and then doing the rest of the shopping when I get to Harlingen. Ken wants to go halves on a present for Mom and Mom has ideas for both Dad and Grandpa Harvey so I figure I can just pick up something for Grandpa Richard while I'm doing all that shopping!

As far as reading goes: JT's started the other In Death book before I had a chance. Quadratic equations are fun but vector's kick my butt.

On the writing front: 3 chapters of Ashwood rough draft done but that muse is on vacation this week, it seems. I need to rewrite my Keeper chapters, but I'm too lazy. Ghost of a Girl is almost done.

For an early Halloween treat, I'm posting a short holiday story that's part of my NaCl series.

October 2001
San Diego, CA



"Pretty please?"


"Pretty, pretty please with a package of Oreos on top?"

A pause, a hum, a chin scratch. "No."

Joss tilts her head to the side and produces the pout responsible for the convertible on her sixteenth birthday and the trip to Hawaii after graduation. It's gotten her out of arguments with Nate before but doesn't seem to be working this time. When it's obvious that he's not going to budge, she huffs and stomps her foot. "You're no fun."

"Yes, because you scaring yourself stupid and then having nightmares until Christmas is my idea of fun." Nate crosses his arms over his chest and glares. It's a pointless argument because there's no way he's going to cave. "We'll do the Rocky Horror midnight showing, we'll do the round of parties, and we'll hand out candy, but we are not doing Haunted Manor."

Two weeks later

Joss glances over at a brooding Nate. His grip on the steering wheel is so tight that his knuckles are turning white. She's got the urge to say something, anything, to break the silence but isn't sure she can come up with anything that won't piss him off any more. Or any less. She slumps further in her seat and fiddles with the zipper on her jacket as they drive in nearly unbearable silence towards their apartment.

Nate knows she's watching him. He can feel her eyes boring holes into his skull but he can't look at her. Not yet. His heart is still racing, his head aches and his hands hurt. He probably won't have full use of his right hand for a few days. His left arm is sore and he's sure that when the bruises form, they'll be in the shape of Joss' fingers. He's still trying to figure out how in the hell he got talked into something so incredibly stupid.

"I'm really sorry."

Nate purses his lips and presses down on the accelerator. "Don't Joss. Just... don't"

He hears her sigh and the soft rustle of fabric as she sifts to stare out the window. Guilt creeps in to slowly replace his anger. He tries to hold on to it, but he's never been able to stay angry with her for long. He reaches out with his right hand to squeeze her shoulder. "You can sleep in my room, tonight."

She turns her head and flashes a grateful smile. Thank God! She was afraid she'd have to beg or spend the night huddled outside his door because there's no way she'll be able to sleep by herself for a good long while. Not after everything she's seen.

Nate pulls into his parking space and kills the engine but doesn't unlock the door. He cups Joss' chin so that she has no choice but to look him straight in the eyes. "Next time I say no haunted houses, I mean absolutely no haunted houses. You got it?"

She nods as best she can with his hand on her chin. Satisfied, he releases her and unlocks the door. The tension that made the drive home nearly unbearable is absent as they walk to their apartment. Rather than entering first, Joss lets Nate go in and turn all the lights on. She hangs her coat on a nearby hook and peers up at the clock. "Wanna watch The Great Pumpkin?"

"Sure. I'll pop the corn while you change."

Joss pauses at the doorway to her bedroom, a small smile curving her lips. This may cost her some groveling when bedtime comes around, but it's too good to pass up. She makes sure she's inside with the doorknob firmly in hand before leaning out. "It's okay to admit you were scared, too." The door shuts seconds before a pair of muddy boots smash against it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What's in a name

What’s in a Name

I was never too fond of my name. Kara itself wasn’t bad. Unique enough so that I only knew three other people with the same name and never had any of them in my classes. Simple to spell and in the middle of the alphabet.

It’s the Helen middle name I objected to. It didn’t get used very often, but when it did it was never in a positive way. Usually when I was in trouble. Mostly when I, I hate to admit this, would pout after losing a game. Still confused? I’ll explain.

Helen was my grandmother’s middle name, the one she was known by. If your first name were Bertha, you’d choose Helen, too. Grandma loved to play games: board, card, or just about any other type you can think of. She also hated to lose. I mean really hated it. I’m talking family-members-purposely-losing-to-avoid-a-scene hated it. It seems I inherited that trait so when I pulled out my Grandma-pout, family members would pull out the dreaded middle name.

For most of my life, I was able to avoid Helen. It was just an H. on forms and the only person who ever called me by it was an aunt who delighted in calling me by my full – first, middle, maiden, and married – name. That all changed this past August.

My grandmother died the last week in August. She’d been sick for many years but the death itself was sudden. I live over three hundred miles from where she did. We were close when I was growing up and she was only a short ride (or long walk) away. I hadn’t seen her in over a year.

It wasn’t just the physical distance that pushed us apart. The age and generational gap did most of the work. She’d been a farmer’s wife all her life. She cooked my grandfather’s meals and had them ready at a certain time. She’d raised five children and kept a very tidy house. I moved to a big city and started working, married a man who does all the cooking, my apartment is rarely tidy, and the thought of one child frightens me right now. I never understood her fascination with watching golf on television and she never could understand my mystery-and-crime obsessions.

While she was alive, I assumed I understood the woman I was named after. She was a wife, a cook, a mother, a grandmother, a game player, and an avid fisher. I never tried to dig any deeper than that. When she died, I naively thought that the majority of mourners would be family members and a few close friends.

I was wrong.

I was stunned to see a roomful of flowers and plants at the funeral home. They lined walls and we even found a few hidden behind tables. They were from business the family farm worked with, friends she’d made over the years, and people associated with her children and grandchildren. I was even more shocked by the number of people who stopped by the house or sent cards.

My grandmother’s funeral was standing room only. I had no idea that my grandmother had touched that many lives. After the service and at the viewing, people would come up to me to share an anecdote and tell me how wonderful my grandmother was. Once I got home and back into the swing of every day life, I started thinking about her.

How amazing must she have been to not only raise five well-adjusted, successful children, keep her family dressed and fed, and still maintain such lasting, deep friendships? Even in her later years, she took care of my grandfather and spent time with her family but she had time to make new friends though Bible study. Women my grandmother had known since before I was born were there to mourn her passing. What kind of heart does it take to build those kinds of ties?

The floral arrangements sent by people who’d never met my grandmother make sense now because they have, indirectly, met her. In one way or another she helped shape the lives of her kids and the grandkids she adored. Part of who I am today is thanks to her. I only wish it was a bigger part.

I’m fonder of my name these days. I’m the only grandchild to bear it. It doesn’t feel like a curse but more like something I need to live up to. I would like to be more like my grandmother. Not the children-raising, meal-cooking one because I plan on adopting and the fire department doesn’t like it when I cook, but the one who held on to friendships for decades, touched lives, and left a legacy of family and friends. I want standing room only.

Kara Helen Thorpe

LIterary Weekend

What does that mean? It means that I won't spend the next 48 hours on the couch watching television shows I really couldn't care about or playing online Bingo (and losing!).

I picked up six books at the library last weekend and so far have only finished two. Well, one I read and the other I skimmed. I've got to finish the J.D. Robb book I picked up so that JT can read it (yes, I got him hooked on it, too - I plan on doing the same to my brother at Thanksgiving). The Science and the Detective book may take a little longer because, while interesting, it's full of scientific terms that slow down my poor brain. The book on Irish mythology will take me most of Sunday and it'll take a couple of weeks to go through the entire physics book.

Hopefully, though, this will recharge my brain so that on Monday I can dive back in to writing the Ashwood series.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cold Fronts

I simply adore cold fronts. Really, I do. I love that blast of chilly air and an excuse to wear my favorite jacket.
Actually, as most people who know me know already, fall and winter are my favorite seasons. Living in Houston, though, there really is only one season. Fanter? Finter? Falnter? Whatever.

I love the smells and flavors - nutmeg and cinnamon and all those lovely spices. I love Christmas music - am listening to it right now as a matter of fact.

Let's face it, from October 1st, when I get to drag out my Halloween decorations, until after the New Year, I'm happy as can be.

Except for the whole Christmas present shopping thing. Not so much fun there.

In other, not so random news, I've started a new story that has potential. So, to keep myself from ruining it, I'm not going to share any details with you. Have written two holiday-themed NaCl shorts - one is Halloween and one is for Christmas.

Got Avery's presents in and I love them. Have a list of what I'm getting everyone else (sucks to be doing my family's exchange at Thanksgiving!) just have to actually, you know, go buy it.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October, already?

Can someone please tell me where the summer went? The last thing I remember is my birthday. Now it's October and I've got my Halloween/Fall decorations out. Before I know it, I'll be digging out my Christmas stuff. I feel like I've gotten nothing done this year at all.

Three months have passed since I started it, and I've done nothing on my "Thirty Things to Do Before I'm Thirty" list. I feel like such a slacker. Nothing done on my writing project list - actually I've started three stories that aren't on the list. If you need the definition of slacker just look at me.

I'm really not looking forward to Thanksgiving. It'll be the first holiday since Grandma died. It's going to be really hard going into that house knowing she's not there. It's easier up here to live in denial - I don't have to think about it every day and I can push it aside. It's really hard back home becuase there are so many reminders. I cried for thirty minutes the other day because I found a birthday card, the last birthday card she'll ever send, in a drawer. I guess it's going to be like that for a while.

On another note, I absolutely love the Splenda Flavors for Coffee! Flavor and sweetner with no calories? French Vanilla is my favorite but I'm looking forward to trying the cinnamon spice. I also found out how to make cinnamon toast even more yummy - add a couple pinches of nutmeg to the cinnamon sugar - it's to die for!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

J.D. Robb's "In Death" Series

I like it. I really, really do. It's a police procedural set in the future but the future isn't the story, it's part of the background. I don't like reading futuristic type stories where you get so bogged down in all the new inventions and things that you lose the plot. The characters are great - I absolutely adore Roarke and Eve and Peabody. There are enough twists in the plot to keep my interest and just enough of the romantic element to make me smile.

As a Nora Roberts fan (before reading this series), I recognize Eve and Roarke as evolutions of previous characters. Roberts' writing style is also easily recognizable. It's a good series, though. I've started recommending it to my husband. I'm even going to give my brother one of the books. It's nice sharing reading tastes with your brother - even though it means he steals all my books. Though he still prefers Cornwell over Reichs, but hey, he's not perfect either.

So where was I? Oh yeah! If you like your crime stories well written and with some romance, start reading J.D. Robb's "In Death" series. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stuff I Love

Christmas is coming early for us this year - we're celebrating with my family at Thanksgiving so I'm using the days off I've got (thanks to Ike), to do a little looking and bookmarking.

Things I love so far:

Baby socks for a friend of mine who's having a little one soon:

Coasters for that crazy cousin of mine (you know who you are!):

Earrings for Grandma:

Okay, well, just about anything from BeadsbyEvelyn will do for my family.

And... I've recently discovered this store which will help mucho when it comes to work/family birthdays. You know I do all the birthday cake baking for work but my decorations, in a word, suck. Here we go:
The Gone Fishing one may end up being used for Dad's birthday!

Shop and enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sixty Hours

Ike passed through us early Saturday morning.Our power went off at 4:00 AM Saturday.It came back on at 4:00 PM Monday.We've lost some shingles and there's a crap-load of stuff that needs to be cleaned up but we're safe, my car is unharmed, and my apartment didn't sustain any damage.

We're damn, damn lucky.

It's scary as hell to be huddled on your living room floor (because there's a large window in your bedroom that makes you feel vulnerable) in the pitch-black listening to the wind howl by and stuff hit your windows and front door.

Fortunately JT had an old tape walkman that played AM and FM radio. We hooked up an old set of computer speakers to it and it has been our saving grace during the storm and afterwards.

The cold front that came through and dumped more rain on Saturday night/Sunday morning didn't help anything, either.

After two days stuck inside, I forced JT to ride with me around the block. Let me just say that
there's only so much you can learn about destruction from radio broadcasts. We kept assuming that since we live north of the island, we were spared from a lot of the damage. We were wrong. I've seen entire trees uprooted, large limbs spanning the width of roads, a roof caved in, and downed power poles. Now that the power's on, we're getting to see images from the hardest-hit areas.

Let me say again: we're damn, damn lucky.

When the power first went off, we joked about the first three things we'd do when it came back on. My list has changed several times since then. Here's what it is now: Make a huge-ass rum and coke, check my e-mail while watching t.v., and then take my first shower since Thursday night. I've got two out of three done -- am off to do the third now.

My heart goes out to the people who have lost their homes and to the few who have lost their lives. Now that I've had the chance to take care of my house and family, I'm ready to get out there and help. People are complaining about FEMA dropping the ball. Who needs FEMA? Texans can take care of Texans and we'll prove it. You'll see. We're already doing it.