Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Paragraph -- One Plus One

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
Here's the latest from Jojo Moyes, One Plus One.
I never know whether to start with the prologue, but here it is.
Ed Nicholls was in the creatives' room drinking coffee with Ronan when Sidney walked in. A man he vaguely recognized stood behind him, another of the Suits.
"We've been looking for  you," Sidney said.
"Well, you found us," Ed said.
"Not Ronan, you."
Ed studied them for a minute then threw a red foam ball at the ceiling and caught it. He glanced sideways at Ronan. Investacrop had bought half shares in the company a full eighteen months ago, but Ed and Ronan still thought of them as the Suits. It was one of the kinder things they called them in private.
Hope this is a good one.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dreaming of France -- Treasures from the Middle Ages

Please join this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
It seems like the Musee du Moyen Age (Museum of the Middle Ages) gets short shrift compared to The Louvre and the D'Orsay. Of course, it is much smaller, but it has some amazing artwork and artifacts. I have a distinct memory of walking through a gallery of statues with missing arms and heads.
Here are a couple of pictures that Grace took at the museum, sometimes called the Cluny Museum. If you get a chance, do stop by while you're in Paris.
The most famous displays are probably the tapestries of The Lady and the Unicorn.

The novel by the same  name helped increase the fame of the tapestry. I say that the existence of the unicorn in the tapestry, along with other animals still alive today, is definite proof that unicorns once existed. 

Here's closer look at the unicorn.

And finally, here are some lovely stained glass windows in the same museum. 
I hope on your next visit to Paris, you remember to include this gem as well. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France today, and please visit each other's blogs to find more French experiences. 

End of Empty-Nest November

And so, the bliss that was Empty-Nest November comes to an end this afternoon when my youngest, 18-year-old Tucker, takes the bus home from college for Thanksgiving week.
And honestly, even when the kids aren't around to take care of physically, they're still in my minds and on my phone.
We've drunk a lot of wine. Eaten some delicious meals, and skipped cooking other meals when we didn't feel like it. We've had friends over and met friends out, at our whim.
We have enjoyed the extra freedom of not having the kids at home this month, but I do still miss them. I think I'll be ready for some bonding time when they arrive. Grace and Spencer will be home on Tuesday.
So for this, my last morning kid-free, I went for a glorious 6-mile run with weather in the mid-40s. It feels like spring compared to this past week of ice and snow.
I fixed myself a breakfast of raspberries and yogurt with honey, along with a cappuccino. And  one last splurge, I baked some chocolate croissants for Earl and me to enjoy while we spend our morning writing and trying to catch up on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

I'll still be doing many of these things once the kids are home, but I won't be my first priority any more. Every mother knows what that's like. And although it may induce a little guilt to put ourselves first, there's nothing wrong with it every once in a while, like during Empty-Nest November.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wine and Books

My friend Najah has enthusiastically taken over the job of marketing my book. Well, at least when it comes to trying to find venues for a book launch.
She invited me last night to join her at a new wine shop that would allow us to hold the book launch if we bought a case of wine. It's called a Micro-Winery, I guess like a Micro Brewery. They make their own wine right there.
So Najah and I met last night to do a wine tasting. We each got a flight of five wines, and of course, we shared with each other too so we could narrow down the three wines we would include if we bought a case and had a book launch.
We enjoyed tasting our wines. And we shared a bread and cheese plate, but we talked about the disadvantages of having a wine tasting in this part of town, since it was about 15 minutes away from my part of town.
We could have the book launch at a coffee shop near my house. The owner had offered and we could bring in our own wine.
Then Najah started talking about where I would stand to do my reading.
"I'm not really sure about doing a reading," I told her. "I'd feel so self-conscious."
"You have to do a reading!" she insisted. "People know you as a person but not as an author."
We looked at the calendar. We talked about possible dates. She suggested that I order more copies of the book.
I explained that I didn't want to try to sell the book at the launch. I wanted it to be more of a celebration, not pressure for people to buy something.
We discussed that I could have bookmarks made to give out at the book launch.
Then as I was driving home in the dark, I wondered about the whole idea of a book launch after all. My latest book, Trail Mix, came out in September. December is an awful time to have anything extra. Maybe I shouldn't have a book launch but keep plugging along writing and selling books online.
I have to be careful here. I might be selling myself short, convincing myself that I don't deserve a book launch.
Here's a copy of the poster that my friend Leah made to help me promote my novels. I think maybe I'll just put that up in the coffee shop.

Someday, I'll get the timing right. I'll have a book come out as planned and I'll have a big celebration. I'm just not sure that three months later, right before Christmas is the right time.
But if I do have a book launch, rest assured that you'll all be invited.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Power of Exercise

Warning, there may be TMI in this post; just a heads up.
I'm 51  years old, and this morning, I started my period, as I have every month since I was 10 years old, except for the times I was pregnant or nursing.
I realize that menopause  must be coming my way, but I feel like I've been able to hold it off by exercising.
I trained to run a marathon at age 39 but couldn't run it because of a torn ACL. I trained and ran the marathon at age 40, and I've been running regularly ever since.
Here I am after I fell rollerblading this summer. Not
hurt, just lucky not to have hit my head. Not all
exercise is a success, but I keep trying. 
So what evidence do I have that exercising is keeping me young? Only anecdotal.
This summer, I had a heel injury. First I cut back on running, then the doctor told me to "shut it down" and not to exercise at all. We didn't have a gym membership at the time, so I sat on my couch for a couple of months. During that time, I stopped having periods. In August when I started running again, I had two periods, as if to catch up with my sedentary months.
Running makes me feel better. I run 4 to 5 days per week, going 4 to 6 miles each time. Two other days a week, I meet my friend Pam at the YMCA where we lift weights and bicycle or swim. She has shared her wisdom with me that, "If you aren't in the gym during  your 50s, you're going to hate your 60s."
I don't want to find out. I plan to keep exercising.
In addition to keeping me young, I think running keeps me healthy. I go out in some pretty cold weather. On Saturday, the temperature was 19 degrees when I headed out. I held my phone in my hand and at 4.8 miles, my phone died. I thought the cold might have gotten to it since it was fully charged when I left.
This morning, with the temperature at a balmier 23 degrees, I tucked the phone into my water belt so that it stayed close to my body and whatever body heat I might be emanating. It lasted the full five miles today.
Runs allow me to see beautiful sunrises, like this one in
Florida when I visited my parents. 
So exercising is keeping me young, it's keeping me healthy, and it's keeping me sane. Whatever problems I may have, and with three young adult children, the problems do seem to pile up, but they are not as bad after I've gone for a long run. The run gives me time to mull over possibilities, and it delivers some lovely endorphins to assuage my worries.
And one more benefit to my morning exercise is that I get to commune with nature. That sounds hokey, doesn't it? But when I'm out on the streets in the dark and I look into the sky to see the twinkling stars or a cheshire grin of the moon, I can't help but smile. I often say out loud, "Oh, there you are!" to the moon when I glimpse it.
So, no matter what you choose to do, I urge you to get out there and start moving. Walking, biking, gardening, exercise classes, a gym membership, anything that gets your heart rate up and increases your aerobic activity, can be a benefit and help you stay young too.
So what do you think? TMI? Well, too bad, because pretty soon, I'm going to be writing again about the benefits of not wearing a bra. Stay tuned!