Thursday, August 31, 2006

Merely Meerkats

Even before we were married, my husband and I found out we had one other thing in common besides college classes and mutual attraction: we both loved zoos. On a college trip to Mexico City, we rode the subway system to Chapultepec (Aztec for grasshopper hill) Park, an area that encompasses not only a zoo but a museum and a castle, by following the grasshopper icons. Had our children been able to know what kind of family they were being born to ("Look--historical marker, let's pull over and read it!") they might have opted out. Instead, they were stuck with us and should have enough museum and zoo knowledge to carry on appropriately with their progeny.

We all have favorites in the zoo and mine quickly came down to river otters and meerkats. The former are clowns, and I've always admired the one-on-guard-duty aspect of the latter. So when Animal Planet announced at the beginning of this summer that there would be a thirteen-week series called "Meerkat Manor", I set the VCR.

We were immediately hooked. Friday nights being "date night", we rarely watched it in real time. Coming in from dinner and a movie, we were usually too tired to follow the exploits of Matriarch Flower, she who runs the tightest meerkat ship in the Kalahari, and her family. But Saturday morning, I'd cook breakfast and we'd ignore the newspapers as the soap opera that was the tightknit meerkat family held our attention.

And then, it was over! OVER! Thirteen episodes gone in the blink of a hot summer's eye. And the rascals, they leave us hanging, not knowing the fate of Shakespeare, favorite defender of the troop. How could they do that to us?

Simple. There's a second season. It begins this Monday and I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The other half of the family

My mother was the consummate cat person. While she would have tracked down anyone she knew to have abused any animal, she gave special attention to cats. Indeed, the first picture I have of her alone--well, she isn't alone. She's holding a cat.

So I grew up and into a love of the feline. As a young family, my husband and I had two cocker spaniels. Loved them dearly. They were our first children, proving to the world and to ourselves that we could take care of something and have it survive. That proven, we had the human children. Then the cats found us, and it hasn't been the same since.

It has been said that dogs have owners and cats have staff. Our current employers are littermates, born of a Siamese cat. One look at the picture and you'll see why I don't call them brothers.

Pyewacket, named for the "familiar" in the movie "Bell, Book, and Candle," is a red tabby who happens to be the exact color of our oak flooring. When he positions himself on the stairs, in the way of course, where you cannot help but notice or step on him, he is virtually invisible. One of these days, he will be virtually squished when he trips one of us.

Tuxedo, on the other hand, sports a black and white coat, a "tie" on his chest and half a mustache. Until weight became a major problem, he was capable of leaping to the newel post and walking up the banister rail. When we cast a red laser dot for him to chase, the game lasts about 5 minutes until he is watching the pen, not the dot. We have been found out and the game is over.

So here is the other half of our family in residence and the true bosses of the outfit and rulers of our hearts.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Me vs. the meatloaf on the menu

I blame my mother, which of course is standard fare for all of us, especially women, to do. But Mother wasn't a cook. Nor was she a seamstress, both talents at which her mother excelled, therefore mine had nothing to do with either. (I have a theory that if your mother is good at something, you will not be. For example, Mother had a very green thumb, could merely look at a rose cutting and it would bloom while I must continually replant what has died under my watchful, how-much-is-too-much-water-challenged eyes.)

But back to the cooking. Mother had standard fare in the kitchen, most of which, spaghetti, something called "dinner in a dish", and an overly dry roast, we learned to live with. But her meatloaf was abysmal.

I would scrape the tomato topping off and eat it, then move the parcels of beef around on my plate, trying to hide them. Unlike the time when I was 6 or so and, left to my own devices at the kitchen table and I took my, to me, awful fried egg sandwich and stuck it in a thermos bottle where it languished for 6 months before being discovered and tossed (I was as surprised an anyone in the family to find such a mess in the thermos), unlike then, I was immediately found out for not eating the meatloaf. Very well, I could go hungry. Very well, I hardly thought of it that way. More like esophageal preservation. Even venturing to make it in my own kitchen with a reliable cookbook at hand had been a disastrous affair. I was meatloaf-impaired.

So yesterday when my husband and I pulled into the parking lot of our favorite after-church cafe, I was dismayed to find that along with stuffed fish and chicken and dumplings (not my fav either), there was meatloaf on the menu. Spouse is not a meatloaf fan either, but he had tried the cafe's offering and liked it and dared me to do so also.

Had the stuffed fish not been so good, I would have had to have two servings of the meatloaf. Who knew it could be so flavorful, that hidden underneath the tomato sauce was a well-balanced range of spices?

Hat in hand, so to speak, I found the owner/cook and confessed. I was a convert, but a cautious one. I'd never scorn her meatloaf and I swore to try little bites of anyone else's.

I just didn't promise to try and make it on my own,

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Linking Up

It only seems fair to explain the links posted on the right side of the blog. As of this date, these are the places I visit most often:

My website: Me. I visit it to see how many other people have visited it. And there's really been many more visitors to it since its inception, but every time the webmistress does a major overhaul, we seem to lose a 1000 or so.

My publisher: Obvious. Go. Search for my name. Download in any number of electronic formats or buy a print-on-demand copy. (Shameless self-promo now over.)

North Texas e-News: Our "local" internet newspaper. Items are of local/regional interest, but of course it's read all over the world by those people who've moved from here and still can't get enough of it. Also, I write an occasional column. You can search for me and find them.

POD-dy Mouth: Finding this blog through an article in the Dallas Morning News last year was a real eye-opener. She digs through hundreds of print-on-demand books to find the gems which are genuinely there. Thank you.

Agent Kristin Nelson: Based in Colorado, literary agent Kristin Nelson spoke at the Dallas Area Romance Authors conference this past spring. I enjoyed what she had to say then, enjoy her blog each day, and if you're involved with the publishing industry, I think you'll like her good sense approach as well.

Bookseller Chick: Just what the name implies: bookseller explaining the publishing/reading world from the retail perspective.

Susan Grant: Paranormal romance author and United Airlines pilot. Got to love the combination. Got to love it even more when through a stroke of serendipity, my husband and I were on her flight from San Fran to Sydney last year. "So," the guy in the next row asked me after Susan and I had had a chat, "what makes you so special?" (He said it in a nice way.) It was my husband who explained all about the romance writing.

Chico's: I'm a walking advertisement for their clothing. 'Nuf said.

Google News: Well, blogger had it on there and I've left it for the time being.

Now you know who's who and why they're where they are.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Musical Weddings

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal article entitled "Disc Jockeys Left Spinning by Couples Who Program iPods for Wedding Music" covered a topic rapidly becoming near and dear to my heart. As the parents of the groom whose wedding is scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend, my husband and I will not be providing the wedding music. Not within our responsibility, thankyouverymuch. But you can bet I emailed the link to the article to my future daughter-in-law.

The gist of the article is that wedding DJs are losing ground to couples who rent the appropriate stereo/sound equipment and then run the wedding music from their iPods or laptops. In truth, the DJ whom the bride, her mother, and I met with a month ago did just this as his demo for the wedding.

That was not the interesting part of the article to me. What stood out was the following statistic: in 2005, 72% of the weddings had musical entertainment vs. 30% of the same number in 1992. Hel-lo. Let's go back farther. Musical entertainment? When we married in 1972, that was the organ playing the bride's entry number.

When did all weddings have to have entertainment and music? Way back when, only the country club set in the big city would have done so. A wedding where I lived was a walk down the aisle, 15-20 minutes of a service and a reception--no music, mind you--in the church fellowship hall. Beyond cake and punch, maybe coffee and a groom's cake if the family were really upscale, no one was fed.

Somewhere along the way the wedding industry turned weddings into productions. Think the greeting card industry and every week is someone's special week. Our Thanksgiving wedding is a destination wedding, complete with wedding dinner. It will be lovely and loads of fun--and with plenty of specialty DJ-provided music which the bride and groom will be supplying. Probably from their iPods or laptops.

Sisker, welcome to the new wedding world.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Welcome to Sisker's Lair!

And how did I come by such a title? The husband of a friend cleverly took my love of cats and combined it with my last name and years ago nicknamed me Sisker. It just fell into place when I wanted a spot to post those random thoughts that come upon a writer and which don't have a thing to do with the work in progress.

I hope to post most days, explaining small town Texas life. It's not all boredom. Our current excitement is over an inch of rain since last night, no small detail when our days over 100 degrees are nearing 40 and our lawn-watering has been severely curtailed by lack of rain.

I am a romance author, published with Wings ePress, an electronic and print-on-demand publisher. Their website and mine can be found under the links list. I've also included the links of several blogs I enjoy reading. Provided I can ever find my way back through the labyrinth of the blog editorial process, I will add to the links.

I have nine books published with Wings, one to be pubbed in December, one with a publisher, one under the bed (actually in a box in the closet but it should be under the bed), and one about 25% done. Or it would be if I'd ever put my rear in the chair and open the file.

And close this one for the day.