- A Kitty in the Henhouse
- Chicken Scratches and Other Writing Tips
- Eye Candy
- Happenings at the Henhouse
- Music of the Coop
- Pop Culture
- Squawk Authors: Latest and Greatest Books
- Squawk Friends
- Squawk Interactive: Captions, polls, etc
- Squawk's Favorite Books
- Stranger Than Fiction (Real Life)
- Teresa Reveals the CONFESSIONS OF A TRUE ROMANTIC
- CHRISTINA DODD HAS A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY
- Christina Dodd Exposes the Glamour of Booktour
- Christina Dodd Treats You to an Extra Excerpt of IN BED WITH THE DUKE!
- GIRLFRIENDS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN Contest!
- Connie Brockway Posts Incriminating New Video
- SPOIL ME! BY CELEBRATING THE GOLDEN SEASON’S PUB DATE, TODAY!
- Teresa Says It Loud and Says It Proud: I WRITE ROMANCE NOVELS!!!
- CHRISTINA DODD SAYS “IT’S CHRISTMAS! DUCK!”
- Teresa Needs Your Help to Choose the SEXIEST MAN DEAD!
Besides the obvious, I mean, which would be seven-figure contracts, single-digit placement on the New York Times list and a night with (choose one): Gerard Butler, Denzel Washington, Orlando Bloom, Jimmy Smits, Daniel Craigh, Hugh Jackman, All of the Above.
I resolve that for every concert Terri attends featuring Bon Jovi or Donny/Donnie Osmond, she will also attend one featuring Los Lonely Boys or Dr. Michael White.
I resolve that for every photograph Christina e-mails us that depicts the breathtaking mountain vista view outside her office, she will also send us one of the Mordor that is her front yard.
I resolve that for every mouthwatering menu Connie sends us of the luscious eighteen-course dinner she prepared from scratch the night before (along with descriptions of each course’s wine selection), she will eat an Egg McMuffin, along with one of those plastic cups of apple juice where you have to peel off the foil top.
I resolve that Lisa will actually get angry over something anger-worthy this year instead of being so !@#$ing gracious all the time. Or that she’ll at least get vexed. Or perhaps piqued. Or, jeez, say “Darn it” or something. Man.
I resolve that Eloisa will stop being so lazy all the time and do something worthy with her plethora of free time besides writing bestselling novels, being the Shakespeare scholar at one of the nation’s top colleges, going on speaking engagements all over the country, being featured in national publications, caring for two kids, cavorting with an Italian knight and looking stunning in whatever rag she drags out of the closet.
Happy New Year, Squawkers!
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Okay, I’m late--really late--with a blog today. But it’s in keeping with the subject of the blog. Namely that weird limbo week between Christmas and New Year’s that’s filled with… Hmmm. Actually, I’m never quite sure what it’s filled with. For many, it’s back to work as usual the day or two after Christmas. For some lucky few, however--especially those of us who are self-employed and schedule our own hours--it’s a week filled with nothingness. Or catching-upness. Or reassessness. Or whatever -ness we want to fill it with.
For me and mine, this week tends to be one of laziness. For instance, I was supposed to go to the grocery and do laundry today (and, um, blog), but all of that has just fallen by the wayside because… Well, because it can. Tomorrow, I’m supposed to do all the stuff that didn’t get done today. But since we have enough leftovers from Christmas in the fridge and received cool new clothes for gifts, I probably won’t do any of today’s chores tomorrow, either.
I think it’s just that we were so busy heading up to the holiday, what with shopping and visiting and cleaning house for the onslaught of family, that we need a few days to decompress and just relax. I also think there’s some kind of psychological preparation going on, too, with the knowledge that the new year is just around the corner. We’re clearing our heads for all the things we’ll need to fill them with come January. All the new projects, all the new plans, all the new life.
I like this week, though, in spite of its lack of direction and lack of planning. Or, more accurately, because of that. We’re not good planners in my tribe. We’re not good schedulers, either. And this week is the only one we have in a year of fifty-two where we can live by our own clocks instead of the one society sets for us. Next week, my husband and son will go back to school, and I’ll go back to writing. We’ll all go back to our daily walks and I’ll go back to Richard Simmons. We’ll go back to eating right and going to bed early and limiting our television and gaming habits. Next week, we’ll live the way we’re supposed to live. This week, though, for a few lovely days, we’ll live the way we want.
So how about you? How do you spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s? Are there any special things you do to prepare for the new year?
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Just before Christmas (December 15th, 12:58 a.m. to be precise) I turned in the manuscript for my July ‘07 book SKINNY-DIPPING. I then went missing. I went missing not only from the blog but from Christmas. For the first time in twenty some years, we were guests at Christmas dinner rather than hosts. There was no Christmas tree (not with three puppies and one adult dog in the house!) There were no Christmas cards sent. We managed to turn out a couple batches of spritz cookies, but other than that and the single five foot tall pine tree in front of the house decked in a single strand of bulbs, we were without decorations. We put a fifty dollar cap on the presents exchanged between us. My husband, who is a physician, was on call at the hospital yesterday. He didn’t get home until 3:00. At 4:00 we sat down to dine at my beloved cousins’ house and at 4:30 he was back at the hospital until 11:00.
What a revelation. Christmas this year, sans cooking, sans cards (though I shall probably send out a post Christmas greeting because I dearly love getting cards and I don’t want to be cross ed off anyone’s list) sans decorations and sans a huge group of people, and sans husband for most of the day, was still Christmas. Doodah and I spent the day putting together a jigsaw puzzle on the otherwise empty kitchen table, Doodah did her best to ruin one of the simplest cake recipes in the world (to bring to the beloved cousins’.) I am pleased to report her best wasn’t good enough. We spent over an hour at the dog park with other dogs and loving owners of dogs. And when David came home, we made Tom and Jerry’s and relaxed. Together. Dogs and all.
Tell, have any of you ever let the holidays go, only to discover they didn’t go anywhere? And while you’re at it, want to tell me some WONDERFUL, INSPIRING, SWEET stories about Pitbulls? Some of the older generation in my family is having fits about Sweet Sophie Mae’s inclusion in out family.
Bonner; age 9 months
Sophie Mae; age 7 months eddie; age 11 months and Connie; age older than 11 months
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It occurred to me this weekend as we were cleaning out our basement that this Christmas will be the twentieth that my husband and I have spent together as a married couple. I realized that when I came across a box filled with letters we sent to each other during our engagement, when we were living a thousand miles apart--he in Puerto Rico, where he was stationed with the Coast Guard, and me in Louisville, planning our wedding.
What’s weird is that, even after we married, we lived apart for almost two months. When we settled on our November 1st wedding date more than a year in advance, my husband hadn’t yet been assigned to a cutter, and I was still in grad school. By the time we married, I was back working in retail management, and he was spending the bulk of his time under way. The months of November and December, in particular, he was going to be gone almost all the time, and those were the months when the owner of the shop I managed did ninety percent of his business. So my husband and I decided I would work that extra time so we would have the extra money, and I’d arrive in San Juan on Christmas Eve. It seemed like a nice date to start our life together.
It was dark by the time I arrived, the air warm and heavy when we walked out of the airport and into the night (it had been below freezing when I left Louisville). We headed straight to the apartment he’d found for us and which I had yet to see, a tiny place on Ashford Avenue with an ocean view--if you stood in the kitchen and held your head just so and squinted through two hotels across the street. I’d mailed a box earlier that contained my gifts to him, including a stocking I’d stuffed, but I honestly don’t remember what I bought him that year. Probably a book. Maybe a cassette. A shirt of some kind. Nothing major. I remember he gave me two pairs of earrings, both made locally, which I still often wear.
We didn’t have a tree. He didn’t have time to get one. And even if he had, we only owned maybe a half dozen ornaments we’d received as wedding presents to put on it. We didn’t have a fireplace, either--not exactly necessary in the tropics--so we hung our stockings on the backs of the dining room chairs. (Not that we had a dining room, either, mind you, but we did have a table and chairs, rented, like the rest of the furniture, along with the apartment.) We spent Christmas Eve exploring our new neighborhood, filling slot machines in the casinos, sipping rum punches at a beachfront bar, listening to salsa music and walking through the warm ocean surf in the moonlight. It was like no other Christmas Eve I had ever spent before. And I loved every minute of it.
Christmas Day was eighty-five degrees, and we went to the beach again, this time in our swimsuits. We ate our Christmas dinner at the only restaurant we could find open--Pizza Hut, where they had an all-you-can-eat buffet and all-you-can-drink sangria for one convenient price. Again, completely untradtional. Again, completely wonderful.
This year, we have two Christmas trees, and five stockings hanging on our mantle (the cats get one, too, of course). My husband and I will spend a bit more on our gifts to each other now than we did then. My entire family will be at my house Christmas Day, which has become a rarity. We’ll have our traditional dinner of country ham and cheese grits, prefaced by appetizers and my husband’s wassail, surrounded by holiday music. Best of all, the weatherman is saying that maybe, just maybe, we’ll have snow.
But I think, this Christmas, my thoughts are going to be returning often to that day twenty years ago, when my husband and I ate at Pizza Hut and went to the beach, and I received two pairs of earrings. That was, by far, the warmest Christmas I ever had. And not because of the weather.
Who else has spent a holiday doing something you normally wouldn’t? What unconventional holiday traditions do you and your family have? What was the best holiday you ever enjoyed?
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Dearly Beloved Husband gave me his Christmas list today. Now, usually I manage to nag Dearest into making a list by Christmas Eve day and it is scribbled on the back of an old gas bill envelope and has things like this on it: “Scotch (this is generally crossed out because He’s likely not to have finished last year’s bottle yet) A book. Whatever you think Id like.” Well, that narrows it down! So, this year when Uggums slipped the gas bill envelop under my laptop on such ridiculously early date, I was all aflutter to see what Honeybun wanted. Here’s the three items that comprised My Prince’s list. In order of preference, least to greatest.
Brass caps for reloading shotgun shells
Six mallard decoys
And Number One on the List? The thing he wanted most of all?
I nearly fell off my chair scrambling for the keyboard so I could get on the net and find out what sort of whackiness was this.
Think I"m kidding? Check out the link.
So, what’s the oddest thing that’s appeared on your Christmas lists?
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NOTE: If you’re checking into Squawk for the first time today, scroll down to read part one of this blog, below.
Now then. Where were we? Ah, yes. I had just gotten in line at Toys R Us at 5:30 on one of the coldest mornings of the year to wait for what I hoped would be at least six Nintendo Wiis, on account of I was number six in line. My getting out of my car generated a mass exodus of everyone else waiting in theirs, so within moments, there were another five people behind me.
We made the sort of chitchat one makes when one is among others who are foolish enough to undertake Christmas Quests in the freezing night, until around 6:00, when two stockers came outside for a cigarette break. After we pumped them for info, one reported there were twelve Wiis inside. Of course, I already had a salesclerk laughing his ass off at my expense (or he would be, once he woke up in his nice, warm bed), so I remained skeptical. Still, with eleven of us in line and an alleged twelve available, we were feeling pretty good.
Not long after receiving this intel, another member joined our group. Number twelve, the cutoff number (or so we told him he allegedly was). There was much rejoicing, and we all settled in to wait again. About this time, the subject of the PlayStation 3 came up, and I mentioned I had scored one by sheer dumb luck. Number five offered me $700 cash for it, and we agreed we’d make the exchange later in the day.
Numbers thirteen and fourteen showed up within minutes of each other, and neither was dissuaded by the alleged twelve figure. Until the manager of the store came out around 7:00 and verified there were indeed twelve systems to be had. After that, number thirteen offered $250 extra to anyone in line who would let him buy their Wii instead of taking it home themselves. Number three accepted. Number fourteen decided to hang around anyway, just in case someone’s card got declined.
Around 7:30, number five offered to buy coffee for everyone. Number thirteen said he’d chip in for doughnuts. Number fourteen offered to make the run if we saved her spot. We heartily agreed.
Over coffee and doughnuts, I began to learn more about my comrades. Number one was buying a Wii for her two new stepsons. Number two was buying a third Wii for her third (adult) son, because she hadn’t been able to buy them such things when they were boys. Number five’s wife had recently undergone surgery but was recovering nicely. Numbers seven and eight were talking about getting married. Number thirteen’s son was in the same program for gifted kids that mine is. Number fourteen had a very irreverent outlook on life.
All in all, it ended up being one of the nicest mornings I ever spent anywhere. Because for a few hours that bitter cold morning, fourteen people came together and shared pieces of their lives and bits of themselves with each other. They were courteous and friendly and decent, these strangers in the night. They were patient and warm and funny and generous. They were all the things people should be when thrown together under any circumstances. And, frankly, that was totally worth getting out of my nice, warm bed at a godforsaken hour on a Sunday morning for.
Happy Holidays, everybody.
Okay, so how about you? Have you ever faced what you thought would be an onerous task with dread, only to have it wind up being a wonderful experience? Ever been trapped with strangers in an unlikely situation? What would YOU wait in the cold for hours to acquire?
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I posted a few weeks ago about my search for one of this year’s most elusive--and most desired--holiday gifts, the Nintendo Wii, for which many people were spending the night outside stores in freezing temperatures to obtain. I said there were many humorous anecdotes in my family about the lengths to which we have gone to procure elusive gifts, but that camping out in the cold wasn’t going to be one of them. I figured then that Nintendo promised there would be enough game systems for those who wanted them, and even if we didn’t get one for my son, he’s twelve now, old enough to deal with the disappointment.
What I didn’t realize is that I’M not old enough to deal with the disappointment.
The first time my husband and I ventured out to score a Wii, we gave up immediately upon seeing the dozens of people prepared to camp out overnight to buy one. The second time, two hours before store openings on Black Friday (the shopping day after Thanksgiving for you amateur shopper types), we both missed getting one by one. As in, I was number six in line at a store that only received five Wiis, and my husband was number seven in line at a store that received only six. On the up side, I WAS able to buy the lone PlayStation 3 my store had. On the down side, we didn’t want a PS3. My niece, did, however, and if my brother wouldn’t fork over the $500 to pay me back for this one, I figured I could clear a nice profit with it on eBay.
That didn’t help me in the Wii department, though. So when I was in Best Buy a couple weeks ago and heard the salesclerk tell a woman they were expecting a shipment of 50 Wiis the following Sunday, but that she should be in line by 5:00 a.m. if she hoped to get one (five hours before the store opened), I thought, “What the hell. I’ll bring a book.”
I set my alarm for 4:30 Sunday and almost literally rolled out of bed and into my clothes. I didn’t put in my contacts. Didn’t put on makeup. Didn’t have any coffee. Didn’t care. I bundled up in layers of clothing, hat and gloves (because of COURSE the 50 degree temps we’d been having at night ALL @#$%ING WEEK dipped into the 20s by then), and headed out for Best Buy. I arrived at Best Buy at 5:10 a.m. and found...a dark, closed, deserted store and not a soul in sight anywhere. I then closed my eyes and banged my head on the steering wheel, cursing the salesclerk who was doubtless having a good laugh somewhere. Or would be, once HE woke up in his nice, warm bed.
Not to be dissuaded from my Quest (and yes, by now it was indeed a Quest, with a capital Q), I drove to an all-night gas station up the street to buy a paper and check the Sunday adverts, to see who might be advertising the Wii. (I also got a cup of coffee, because I realized belatedly that I was operating heavy machinery without any caffeine in my system, a very dangerous prospect indeed.) It goes without saying that NO ONE was advertising the Wii for sale. Doubtless because NO ONE expected to have any. Doubtless because Nintendo was having a good laugh at our expense. Or would be, once THEY woke up in their nice, warm beds.
After a few fortifying sips of coffee, I decided to give Best Buy one more turn before heading home to my nice, warm bed. But as I drove down the deserted street, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Toys R Us--with their lights on. And a small group of people standing outside. People who probably knew something I didn’t. Cranking the steering wheel to a hard right, I pulled into the parking lot and saw a few more people sitting in their cars with the motors idling. (Did I mention the temps were in the 20s?) I counted--there were five people in line. I’d be six again. Not a lucky number for me in this respect. Then I counted the people in cars. Five more. If they got in line before me, I’d be number eleven. Way more unlucky than six. So, cutting the engine, I got out of the car and into line. It was 5:25 by now. Three and a half hours ‘til store opening. I was DREADING the wait. But wait I would. And ultimately, oh, what a wait it would be…
CHECK BACK THIS AFTERNOON TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED TO ME AND THE THIRTEEN OTHER PEOPLE WHO ENDED UP IN THAT LINE. (NOT TO MENTION THE FATE OF THAT PLAYSTATION 3.)
In the meantime, tell me what YOU want for Christmas this year. What toy did you most want as a kid that you never got? What lengths have you gone to to find the perfect gift for someone else?
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