Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Changing Seasons

I always tell people I love living in Western New York because I like the changing of the seasons.
Okay, that's a lie.  I only live here because ... I live here.  It's all I know.  I wouldn't want to go anywhere else because I'd have to learn where to go to get even the basics. It could take YEARS to feel "at home" somewhere else.  (Hey, I lived in Los Angeles for a short time.  Never again!)

I love when the seasons change.  Okay, one season:  Spring to summer.  I can tolerate summer changing to fall, too.

Lonely_winter We're heading into winter. I loathe winter.  I hate being cold.  I hate snow and ice and relentless wind that takes down trees because our utility people are too cheap to put the wires underground.  And think about it, it's 19th century technology in the 21st century.  Most of Europe has their electrical wires underground.  They're smart.  We're still stuck in the 19th century.

When I look out my window in the spring, I see things gradually turning green.  New life.  It's fun to see the changes.

Irises6-08 When I look out my window in the summer, I see flowers--lots and lots of flowers.

When I look out my window in the fall, I look for flowers (and actually found a stunted red rose last Friday.  I don't suppose it will open, but there it was trying to bloom).

Soon, I'll see a sea of white snow.

Yup, I like spring and summer best.

What's your favorite season?

Monday, November 29, 2010

ARC Giveaway . . . .

. . . with a few strings attached.

Crafty Killing.bn As promised, my editor has sent me advance review copies of my first Victoria Square Mystery, A CRAFTY KILLING.  Unlike last time out (Chapter & Hearse) when I had 19 of the ARCs to give away, this time I only have 7, and I'm going to be giving them away.

Because I have so few of them, though, I have to make sure they're going to go to good homes.  That means home to readers who actually write reviews.  (That is why the publisher creates them, after all.)

So, in order to get an advance copy of the book (which will be released on February 1st), you must tell me what Booktown Mysteries you've reviewed and where they are located on the web.  (Please include the URL.)

Send your entry to contest @ LornaBarrret.com (close up those spaces around the @ sign).  I'll be picking the names late on Thursday and will announce the winners on Friday.

I've got more contest announcements in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Friday, November 26, 2010

I can taste that turkey salad now . . .

CarvedTurkey In Booktown #5 (Sentenced to Death--which will be out on June 7th), it may be summer, but Angelica is working on a holiday cookbook.  So when Tricia visits she's surprised to find an entire turkey sitting in Angelica's refrigerator, and Angelica busy making recipes with the leftovers.

At the time I wrote the book, I was more engrossed with the story than thinking about what Angelica should be making.  Of course, now that it's copy edit time, and also the day after Thanksgiving, I'm looking at the remains of a 13 pound turkey and wishing I had been a bit more inventive over the summer when I was writing the book.

Turkey-salad-sandwich Of course, I already know three things I'm going to be making with the leftovers.  First up, turkey salad sandwiches.  Oh, yum!  I love turkey salad.  I love chicken salad, but for some reason turkey salad is even better.  Chopped onions and celery, turkey and mayo on a lovely Vienna roll.  Yum!

This evening, we'll be having turkey pot pie.  If I say so myself, I'm getting quite good at chicken pot pie and I really have no recipe.  I just toss stuff in gravy with the chicken and not only is it edible, but it actually tastes good.  (Hey, Mikey!)

Turkey soup Of course, by the end of the weekend, the turkey carcass will be in the big soup pot and I'll make enough turkey veggie soup to feed an army.  Of course, it will only feed me (and boy am I glad I bought so many small containers at yard sales this year) because Mr. L does not like my soup.  (Although he likes to order soup out at restaurants where the sodium content is off the charts.  Go figure!  And why can't restaurants let YOU salt your own food at the table instead of putting far too much in when they make it?)

What are you making with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Minty Fresh all right . . .

And the dental implant saga continues.

Xray On Monday, the "procedure" had a few bumps.  The digital xray machine wasn't working right.  Instead of two x-rays, I ended up having four.  (GRRRRRR.  I could go the airport if I wanted that kind of radition treatment.)  And the oral surgeon/dentist needed to cut more of my gums than he thought he would, so I have an extra stitch that hangs out of one of my front teeth. I keep forgetting it's there and think--"Oh, something's stuck in my tooth" and have nearly pulled it out twice now.

Luckily, once the Novocaine wore off, it didn't hurt at all.  My face again didn't swell up.  Win-win, huh?
Icky mouthwash Not exactly.  You have to swish your mouth (for a FULL MINUTE) with a minty-fresh special mouthwash that will kill the germs keep the area free of food debris.  (Take my word for it, that one, full minute seems like about 40 when you're swishing this stuff around.  Suddenly your body goes into I NEED TO SWALLOW mode--only you can't.)

Um, and the taste?  It's minty fresh all right.  But then it leaves a horrible aftertaste that sticks with you for HOURS.  No wonder they have you do it after breakfast and before bed.  It takes HOURS to get rid of that icky metalic taste.  (And, if experience is any guide, I know it really takes pouring the stuff down the sink and never using it again to finally get rid of it.)

Okay, I don't want an infection, so I'm going to keep this up for a while, and then switch to Listerine like I did last time. It tastes bad, too, but it doesn't leave an aftertaste that lasts for hours (and ruins your lunch).

Meanwhile, my tongue has lots to play with.  Metal caps, stitches, raw gums.  Yeah.  Fun!

And how will you be spending today?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Frost or Not to Frost?

Here in the Land of Lorna -- we've always had pie for Thanksgiving Day Dessert.  One or two people have a tiny slice and then nobody wants the leftovers.  Mr. L usually spends the next couple of weeks eating said pies for breakfast. (Naturally, I freeze them in individual slices.)  However, much as he loves pies, Mr. L gets sick of them after a while.  So this year I've decided to do something different for Thanksgiving dessert:  carrot cake.

Carrot cake Hey, it's got veggies in it--it's good for you, right?  There's just one problem:  I can't stand that cream cheese frosting.  Ick--it's too sweet and cloying and kinda slimy, too.  I thought I'd make a lovely carrot cake in a bundt pan and lightly dust it with confectioner's sugar.

Whoa, Nelly!  Brother and Hubby don't WANT it lightly dusted with confectioner's sugar.  They want the whole thing slathered in slimy icing.

Bundt cake Okay, I'm game to have cream cheese frosting on hand, then anyone who wants it can dig in, but since it's likely I'm the one who'll be eating carrot cake for the next two weeks for breakfast, I don't want my breakfast covered in goop.

So, what do you think I should do?  Frosting or sugar?

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'm a producer!

Lights, camera, action!  (Well, almost.)

Crafty Killing.bn Over the weekend my friend Ellery Adams and I worked on a book trailer for A Crafty Killing, the first book in my Victoria Square Mystery Series. (It doesn't come out until February 1st, but -- gosh-darnit, you can preorder it now!)

I don't know about Ellery, but I had a lot of fun on my end.  It's just like being a small-time movie director/producer.  I wrote the script, chose the pictures and sent it all to Ellery to put together.  (She's a wiz at that kind of thing.)  When she had assembled everything, she put a short piece of music to it and said I should probably look for something different.

Holy cow, if I enjoyed finding the pictures, I did NOT enjoy finding music.  First of all, there's a ton of it out there, and trying to find something that went along with my script was difficult.  I would play the video with the sound turned down on my iMac and play the music on my PC.  There's about 4 feet in between my two computer desks and it might as well have been a mile the way I was jumping back and forth, starting the video--stopping it, starting the music, jumping back to restart the video.  I estimate I listened to about 20-30 pieces of music in two hours trying to find something that fit and was the correct length of time.
 
And now it's done.  Wanna peek?  (Click here.)

So, what do you think?

Friday, November 19, 2010

If I could just master that one task . . .

Excel icon I love spreadsheets.  Well, Excel spreadsheets.  (Don't talk to me about that THING Smashwords presents us with that LOOKS like a spreadsheet but is simply incomprehensible and has no mathematical processes.)

Years ago, I took a two-day course in Excel.  Because I had never seen it or used it, it was as understandable as trying to speak Chinese without ever hearing it.  (Doesn't that just boggle the mind.)  I came away from the course feeling frustrated and like a failure.

But I still needed to be able to use the program.  The only thing I learned was how to write a formula to add and subtract, and that actually came in pretty handy.

Spreadsheet I used spreadsheets quite a bit when I was at my last day job, but I rarely had to set them up.  Since I've been an author, I find I simply can't live without several spreadsheets going at any given moment.  From the time I get up in the morning until the time I shut down the computer at the end of the day, there's a t least one spreadsheet (and often three) going.  It's the second program I open every day.  (The first one is AOL.)

But, darnit, I still don't know how to properly use the thing.  I only learned how to multiply back in September.  (Really handy.)  And I would DEARLY love to learn how to control that darn old freeze panes.  (I can never get the thing to freeze where I want it to.)

I love my Excel.  Will someone tell me how to freeze panes so I can love it even more?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kinda like being on Star Trek . . .

Kindle3G Back in September, Mr. L surprised me with a Kindle e reader for my birthday.  I'm afraid it sat on his desk for quite a while before I had time to start playing with it.  (He knows far more about it than me, I'm afraid--not that he did much with it, either.)

In early October, I bought a couple of short stories and read them.  Not bad.

This week, I bought my first real book.  It's non-fiction, because that's what I tend to read while I'm working on a book of my own.

I wasn't really sure I wanted an e reader, although I dearly wanted to find more e readers for my work.  In fact, my preference would have been for a Nook -- simply because it has a color screen.  (What can I say, I'm swayed by pretty pictures and flashing lights.)

Old books Every time I mention that my books/short stories are available as e reads, I get the same comment over and over again.  "I ONLY READ =REAL= BOOKS."  Or, I like feel of a paper book in my hand.  The feel, the smell, the texture."

First of all, an e book IS a real book.  It's just delivered in a different fashion.

Second, I love a real book, too.  But I like the convenience of having several (and possibly hundreds more) books at my fingertips at any given time.  (I'm going to start tossing it in my purse so that when I have to wait in line at the bank, grocery store, wherever--I can entertain myself.)

For the past couple of evenings, I've sat on the couch, kitty on lap, and found it extremely convenient to not have to juggle a book, turn pages, and at the same time annoy said cat.  With a flick of my thumb, the pages turn.  While I haven't figured out how to change the font size yet--it's an option that's available to me. (Gee, not having to wear my glasses to read?  FREEDOM!)  Even more cool, it looks like the "pads" they use on Star Trek.

The Kindle is heavier than I would like (it's 9 ounces and Chapter & Hearse (my latest published book) is 7 ounces), but weighs less than a hardcover.  It seems to need to be charged every week, whether I use it or not.  Sadly, you don't get to see the cover of the book.  (Well, I guess there IS a way to add the cover to a text file, I just haven't figured out how--and neither have most Kindle authors.) I guess they figure you don't need it, but it would be nice.

Some books are cheaper on Kindle.  And talk about (nearly) instant gratification.  I can have the book I want to read in under five minutes.  No trucking out in the cold to the store. (Although, I'm going there today anyway.  I love visiting my local bookstore, but I must admit, it's a destination I usually plan for.)

Dollar sign Here's one I'll bet you didn't know:  authors make more money on e books than on paper books. (Okay, not certain that's true on hardcovers yet, but I would bet it is--simply because the royalty rate is higher.  Haven't seen my new contract yet on what that rate might be.)

All in all, I'm liking that little gadget more and more every time I use it.  Will it replace a print book for me?  That depends on the book.  I'm a sucker for full-color coffeetable and cookery books with LOTS of photography.  I can't see me holding a larger version of Kindle, Nook, iPad to read that sort of book, but for a novel or non fiction book -- why not?

BEfacebook And while we're talking ebooks (where, where?), those of you with e readers who haven't checked out Backlist eBooks--give it a shot.  It's 42 traditionally-published authors who've put their backlists (books formerly published by big NY publishers and now out of print) online.  These are NYTimes and USA Today bestsellers, Hugo, Rita, Agatha and other award-nominated and winning authors, selling their books for $2.99.  Ya can't beat that.

If you have an ebook, tell us what you like about it.  If you don't have an ebook, would you be willing to give one a try?  (Hint-hint: Staples is selling Kindles and Sam's Club is selling iPads.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Putting the pieces together

Puzzle piece I've been working on the new Booktown book for about 8 weeks now, and feeling like I was making pretty good (but not great) progress. I'd written all the main scenes of the main plot.  Unfortunately, I hadn't written them in order.  I had a vague idea of where the story was going (although I think I have six suspects and no clue whodunit).

Last week I had a hard time getting to work on it--part of that had to due with contract negotiations for the next three books.  I was so bamboozled by the net outcome that I was too frazzled to write.  That's not good because the whole idea is that I'm going to be writing MORE not less.

Monday I figured out why I was stalled:  Duh--I had run out of main story!  Time to work on all the connections for those main plot scenes.  But first, I had to put them in order.  That sounds easy, but when your document is one long string of unconnected scenes . . . talk about messy.

Pink suitcase I sat down with my time line and my list of scenes and starting figuring out which scene went on what day.  Of course, I thought the story started on Monday but then realized that too much was happening too fast and had to move the start back to Sunday, which means I have to get Angelica to change clothes in the first scene.  (Oy!  As it is the woman doesn't travel light.  Uh, just like ... her creator.)

Next up, putting the scenes in order on the manuscript.  That meant printing them all out and trying to put them into chapters.  I usually have between 24-26 chapters in a book.  Separating these scenes gave me 13 chapters.  Then, as I was putting the chapters in my notebook, I realized I had one of my big scenes in the wrong spot.  Okay, move it back and renumber the next 20 pages.

Now that I can see the flow of the main story, I can (and did) start writing the connecting scenes.  Whoo-hoo!  For the 2nd day this month, I actually got my daily word quota.  (I was doing pretty good and making at least half or three-quarters up until last week.)

Of course, the big, black hole of Thanksgiving and having a house guest looms before me.  (Did I mention I have galley proofs that are due this month, too?)  I write in the dining room.  My guest will be stationed in the adjacent living room for most of my working day.  Not that she'll make a peep, it's just knowing somebody is there will mean I ain't gonna get any writing done.  (Good time to work on the galley proofs, huh?)

White-christmas I've got three craft shows coming up.  I've got decorating the house for Christmas coming up.  Christmas shopping.  Christmas baking.  I've GOT to work in all my annual Christmas movie watching, too.  (Hey, I've seen White Christmas at least 43 times--I've GOT to see it for the 44th time or it won't be Christmas.)

I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I need at least another four hours in my day.  EVERY day.

I don't want to cut out any of the "fun" stuff for Christmas, and yet I need to get my work done, too.

How about you?

 (How did I get so much accomplished when I had a day job, too?)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For the "girly" in me . . . and Katie

Ll-bean The holidays must be approaching, because my mailbox is full of catalogs.  Most of them go straight into the recycle bin, but some of them go into the reading pile.

One that made the cut was The Victoria Trading Company. How the heck did I get on their mailing list?  I suspect it was either through Romantic Homes or Victoria magazine.

Calling card I'm not a big fan of catalog buying because they really rip you off with the shipping.  But I'm also a sucker for paper products.  In this case, calling cards and pretty Victoriana address labels.  Yup, I ordered 'em.  Normally I wouldn't order anything for myself this close to Christmas, but I figured Mr. L wasn't going to get me anything like that, and ... what the heck, I can deduct them on my taxes.  Yes, these labels and calling cards are to help me promote my Victoria Square Mysteries.

Big pink rose When I first started the series, I wanted to make it all girly and cute and wonderful.  Lots of cabbage roses and quaint dainty things. The thing is, I don't write all girly and cute and wonderful.  When Katie Bonner (my protagonist) showed up on the page, she was a take-charge woman who doesn't take any guff from anyone.  She's got a tender heart, and she loves to bake, but if someone threatens Artisans Alley -- watch out!

Gift basket So, I had to find a way to work in the "girly" aspect, because -- let's face it, with a name like "The Victoria Square Mysteries," it's a natural.

There's a tea shop on the square, a chocolate shop, a heavenly bakery, and my favorite shop--Gilda's Gourmet Baskets, and there will be other wonderful girly things in the future, too.  Meanwhile, Katie's in her jeans, sweatshirt, and gardening gloves, cleaning up the landscaping and making everything look pretty to help the square look its best.

So what's all that got to do with my calling cards?

I dunno.  I just like them.  I love all that kind of stuff, even if I'm more like Katie (in her L.L. Bean wellies) than all fru-fru.  (A girl's gotta dream, right?)

What do you like that would surprise even your closest friends and family?

(By the way, the first Victoria Square Mystery, A Crafty Killing, will debut on February 1st.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting ready for the Christmas rush , , ,

Boxes Why is it everytime my office STARTS to look tidy, I have to go and mess it up again?
This time, I'm getting ready for my first of three holiday craft shows.

It turns out that I need a LOT of stuff for one of the jaunts.  FIrst of all, I have two cases of books.  Then I have a box that contains goody bags, a few extra books, my newsletter sign-up book, book stands, plastic bags (that say "thank you" to put Plastic-bag people's purchases in).  I also bring a CD player and Christmas CDs, table, tablecloths, bookmarks, posters, cash box, price sheets, and my lunch.

Whew!

You'd think it would be easy to get all this stuff assembled.  But nooooo!  I had to hide the two boxes that hold some of the stuff I take every time.  So I had to search for them in the basement.  Then I had to assemble the Goody Bags.  That took three hours.  And on and on . . .

So now I have six boxes sitting around in my already crowded office, a 3 x 2 foot poster and a couple of smaller ones, too.  Two baskets, and my tiny CD player. Feels a little cramped in here.

LordCalvertCanadianLabel Friday night I'll pack up the car so that I can jump in at 7:50 on Saturday morning and drive to "the show."  Then I have to unpack, move the car to an adjacent parking lot, come back to the church.  Set up and be smiling and happy for the next seven hours.  Then I'll strike the set, go get the car.  Pack up, drive home, where hubby will help me unpack the car and then hand me a nice big glass of Lord Calvert and soda.

Ahhh...

Two weeks later, I'll do it all again.

A week after that, I'll do it all again.

It's kind of a love/hate thing.  I love to meet readers and talk with them.  I love the excitement of the show and seeing a lot of my old friends from the days I had a booth at an antique co-op, but I'll also be glad at 4 p.m. on December 11th when I'll be done for another year.

In case you're in the Rochester, NY area and want to come to one of these shows, here's the schedule:

Snowman-cookie-orn Saturday Nov. 20, 9 am - 4 pm
Churchmouse Bazaar
Gates Presbyterian Church
1049 Wegman Road
Rochester, NY  14624

Saturday, Dec. 4, 9 am - 4 pm
School #46 Holiday Bazaar
250 Newcastle Road
Rochester, NY  14610

Saturday, Dec. 11, 10 am - 4 pm
Greece Olympia Craft Sale
1139 Maiden Lane
Rochester, NY  14615

And in case you wonder what I'll be doing at these craft shows . . . I'll be signing books.

Will I see you there?

Friday, November 12, 2010

More books in my future . . .

And so I've been offered the opportunity to write books 7, 8 and 9 in the Booktown Mystery Series.

Yes Guess what?  I said YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Ya think I'm a fool?)

It's been a roller coaster week or ten days as my FANTASTIC agent has kept me informed of the negotiation process.  Actually, all I had to do was answer the phone and say, "Uh-huh" and nod vigorously at all her suggestions.  Next up, putting my name on the actual contract.

Old books2 This is a wonderful opportunity.  The books will be coming out in hardcover.  I know, a lot of people are going to say, "I can't afford hardcover!"  That's where ebooks and libraries come into the picture.  A year after the hardcover comes the paperback edition.

Hardcover is a good and bad thing.  Good, because it earns me (and my publisher) more money (and did I mention my healthcare premiums are going up TWENTY PERCENT in January???), and there's the possibility more libraries will either buy or rent the books.  Bad because . . . well, my paperback readers will hold off a year before buying/reading the books.

Ah, but it'll be available as an ebook for considerably less than the $25 hardcover price. (But still more expensive than a paperback.  Hopefully publishers will rethink their ebook strategy in the coming years and lower the prices ... but that's another blog post.)

I've already got a three-story arc planned for those books (but not the nitty-gritty details) and it should be a fun ride.  And I'll still be writing the Victoria Square Mysteries (using my Lorraine Bartlett name), and they'll be in paperback for the foreseeable future.  Did I say win-win?

Question mark But still ... I worry.

Would you consider buying a Booktown mystery in hardcover?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's sauce for the goose . . .

It's that time of year when the grocery store fills its seasonal aisle with all kinds of red, green, gold and sparkly stuff.  I'm not immune to a little bit of glitter and love to walk that aisle and soak it all in.  (Knowing I have no more room to add any more to my already stuffed-full closets. Ah, well . . .)

Cranberry sauce Next to the sparkly aisle were shelves of seasonal delights for the taste buds.  Everything you need for your holiday meals.  Of course, I'd been waiting weeks to buy more cans of jellied cranberry sauce.  Unlike most of the rest of the country, I use the stuff year round.  And the minute the holiday season is over, the sale price goes off and the "real" price goes back on.  That real price is 50 cents more per can than what I have to pay in November and December and I decided to stock up.

But wait.  As I went to grab the can I turned to Mr. L and said, "Does this can look stubby to you?"  (Stubby as in SHORT?)  "No, I'm sure it's the same as it always was."

Oh yeah?

Cans Sure enough, we got it home and took out other standard cans from the pantry and guess what.  The standard can of cranberry sauce (and it's not just the store brand--even Ocean Spray) is now 2 ounces less than it was just a couple of weeks ago.  I noticed in the "regular" aisle they still have the standard sized cans and they're still the REAL price.

Manufacturers and retailers don't want to raise the price--because people like me remember what we paid a year before--so they just give you less product and hope you don't notice.

Well, I'm still going to stock up on the cans because let's face it, I love the stuff.  And I put it on roast chicken throughout the year.  They tried to pull one over on me and didn't succeed.  But I'm still missing 2 ounces of cranberry sauce with every can.

What trick has a manufacturer played on you lately?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Now that's ugly . . .

As reported yesterday, Mr. Landscaper came to visit and brought his Bobcat.  We had talked about getting just the landscaping on the left side of the house removed.  He, and his young helper (son?) went right to work and started ripping out overgrown landscaping.  Once we saw how open it was, we asked him to start ripping out the stuff on the other side, leaving the HUGE rhododendron in the middle.

Before_house_2

Okay, first of all, we rarely go in our front yard.  I usually approach the house from the north and to tell you the truth, I knew the landscaping was overgrown, but until I saw this picture, it just never registered.  As Mr. L said upon seeing it, "No wonder we never got any trick-or-treaters."

As we stood in the cold watching all the action, we started thinking about what we wanted for the front of the house.

As I stood there watching, I was reminded of all those episodes of Curb Appeal I've been watching and man, is our house in desperate need of some curb appeal.  It's ... ugly.  We just never knew it because the landscaping was so overgrown.  I mean, even when we bought the house it was overgrown so we never really saw the front.

Man, it's worse than ugly.

I can see a trip to the paint store and the architectural salvage yard in my future.

House_after2

After Mr. Landscaper left, we stood looking at the rhododendron and thought -- we should have had him pull that out, too.  But I wanted to see it bloom one more time.  Now I realize . . . it's only pretty for one week of the year.  It needs to go.

Over the winter, we're going to think about what we want for both the house and the yard.

In the meantime, how would you make the front of our house look better?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Curb Appeal: My House

When you work at home, and the only people you get to talk to are your husband, brother, mother, and the occasional call from your agent (and very nice calls they've been indeed), you kind of get starved for real life.  I mean, other than the check-out lady at the grocery store who asks, "Did you find everything you need?" and I answer, "Yes," that's about it on any given week.

(Pathetic, isn't it?)

I mean, I converse via emails all day long, but actual conversation?  Not so much.

Lineman2 Therefore I find yourself looking forward to big stuff like:  the phone man coming.  Yup, he was actually supposed to come yesterday.  We have (had) two land lines.  Only my aunt and my brother would call us on one of the numbers so finally we said, "Why are we spending $38 a month just to get one or two calls a month?"  Duh.  So, we're having that line eliminated and wired into our other land line.  Of course, they shut that phone off at the office at the crack of dawn yesterday, and the other line only has one phone attached to it.  If it rings, we have to run the entire length of the house (and we have a rather rambling ranch house).  Luckily that line has an answering machine.

HGTV's_Curb_Appeal The other big thing:  we're having the HUGE arborvitae in the front yard taken out.  Mind you, we've already had the thing cut in half a few years back, but it grew back with a vengeance.  So much that it hides a third of the front of our house.  I've been watching Curb Appeal--The Block, and they're always ripping out out-of-control landscaping.  (They do it a lot on This Old House, too.)  Since our next-door neighbor just had their out-of-control arborvitae taken out, we decided to use the same landscaper to do it.

Whoa!  People will be able to see ALL our Christmas lights this year.  (And I'll finally get my burning bush--albeit next year.)  Weeee!

(Simple pleasures, simple minds.)

Bobcat-863 Not that I expect to talk to Mr. Root-puller (I'm assuming they'll chop that sucker down first), but it'll be something exciting to break up the day.  (I mean, besides Tricia getting caught with . . . oh, but that's for the book, not the blog.)  I'll try to post before and after pictures later this week.

What excitement are you anticipating on this fine day?