Resolved to The Year of the Squirrel


Artwork by Gary Medley (FIL)


It’s that time of year again where I think big thoughts, make new plans and the year ahead is filled with possibilities. I blame the eleven days of Christmas break for all that.  Being off work somehow makes me dream unrealistic dreams and think I can accomplish far more than is actually humanly possible.

I’ll realize that by January 4.

But until then, here’s my plan for 2017: The Year of the Squirrel.

More on that later.

Last year ended on a down note, with my mom passing away Nov. 10, and my book sales are all but nonexistent. Seriously, I’m making around $150 a month on seven books. It all seems like way too much work for very little reward. I made half the total income last year that I did the year before (which was the all-time high at a whopping $7K).

I’ve been trying to psych myself back up and get back into the groove. I ran some ads (spent $100) to try to respark interest and revenue, but all it really accomplished was brief stint at Amazon #1 FREE and then four new reviews. I even wrote a couple thousand words, but it’s just not happening. The motivation is gone.

I’m not saying I’m quitting writing completely. I am saying I’m going to let it slide and pick it up as I feel like it. I’m sure at least a dozen people in the world will be sad about that, but it is what it is. Ultimately, I’m the only one putting pressure on myself to make it happen. I’ve given it a good go. I’ve pushed hard for the past five and a half years but gained very little financial traction. I’ve proven I’m not a one-book-wonder and now…I’m moving on.

The beginning of a new year seems like a good time to do that. A clean break.

It’s harder than you’d think to wind down, however. Trust me. I’ve tried quitting before. Ideas don’t stop coming and characters don’t stop talking. Once Pandora’s box is opened, it won’t be closed again. I’m going to keep collecting those ideas and conversations and one day–in the future–I’ll give them the attention they deserve. I also have a few events to attend. Fun events like VisionCon in February and Ozarks Indie Book Fest next October.

Until then, I’m going to participate in the Year of the Squirrel. No, the Year of the Squirrel is not one of the Chinese Zodiac signs (I checked). Nor is it an actual thing. It’s my thing. The Year of the Squirrel will be my chance to follow all the little interests and passions that speak to me this year along with the things I must/need to do. Believe me, there are plenty of need-to-do things. Cleaning out Mom’s house is one of the biggest ones right now.

The things I’m passionate about at the moment include: crocheting, FitBit walking, reading and watching the Gilmore Girls. I think that’s a pretty good start.

There is however, actually a Squirrel Appreciation Day if you’re so inclined to participate. For real, it’s Saturday, January 21 this year. Plan accordingly.

One big goal this year is to get back into shape. Last November, I was in a good place and ten pounds from my goal weight. Right now I’m two pounds above my highest weight ever. I have some work to do.

The biggest fun thing on the horizon for 2017 as far as personal entertainment that I’m looking forward to is the Supernatural Convention in Chicago in July. Bryon and Grace gave me that AMAZING gift for Christmas. I still can’t believe it! Front row, baby! And I get to ride the Amtrack there. Bryon and Grace are going to meet me there after the con is over, and then we’ll have a family vacation in the Windy City.

It’s going to be a looooong time until July.

The good news is I have plenty of time to catch up on my review of the eleven seasons of Supernatural before I go. I’ll have a Masters in Supernatural by that time.

As is my way, I’ve started my Year of the Squirrel List so I can store a few of theses nuggets away for later. It will definintely be a work in progress this year.

Year of the Squirrel List

  1. Crochet all the things
  2. Read all the books
  3. Walk 10k+ steps every day
  4. Finish all seasons of The Gilmore Girls (I’m on S3)
  5. Rewatch all 11 seasons of Supernatural
  6. Reacquaint myself with our garden, wait…which way is it?
  7. Read my magazines the day they arrive
  8. Reorganize my recipe boxes
  9. Clean out and reorganize the bath/medicine cabinets
  10. Donate more clothes out of my closet
  11. Empty Mom’s house of contents and sell them
  12. Read, file or delete all the SAVED articles on Facebook I’ve collected
  13. Surf way too much Pinerest
  14. Can and preserve the garden bounty
  15. Make good food
  16. Eat good food

That’s a good beginning, I think.

I’m sure there will be much more to add during the year because…SQUIRREL!

What does your 2017 look like from here? Do you make resolutions?





Intercourse & Amish Buggies

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After the wedding festivities, we headed to Pennsylvania Dutch country with the newlyweds and our Nebraska family.

IMG_6745 (600x800)No, he didn’t buy the t-shirt. But he wanted to.

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We tracked down an Amish buggy and took a ride through the country.

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Grace and JayJay sat right up front with our driver.

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Opposing cultures: cell phones and cameras in the Amish buggy.

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I can’t for the life of me remember our driver’s name. He was really friendly and informative.

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IMG_6759 (600x800)This little calf had its head stuck between the bars and was wedged.  Carl, Ryan and RaeRae worked and worked until they got it freed.

IMG_6756 (800x600)On the way back, JayJay and Grace both got to take turns driving the buggy. Miraculously we all survived.

IMG_6764 (600x800)And as every good day should, it ended with ice cream.


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Philadelphia and Beyond: Bells, Churches, Cheesesteaks, & Valley Forge


Spent the morning in Philly seeing the Liberty Bell, Christ Church, and wandering around the city.



Rocky was smaller than I’d expected.

10412032_10154252613050691_2804355587689624286_n (1)As was the Liberty Bell.Tiny, tiny bell! I expected it to be much larger.

10401419_10154252618395691_626965817731386727_nChrist Church was very cool. Grace got the rare opportunity to ring the same bell that Thomas Jefferson had rang as a boy.


IMG_6611 (800x354)The graveyard outside the church was AMAZING. You can find an entire post dedicated to it on my author blog

Grave Discoveries: Ben Franklin’s Grave and Christ Church Burial Ground

10415614_10154252618540691_535974035049169141_nBryon got his Baywatch on. And, yes. The nipples are keg taps.

10356184_10154252617155691_7144016091400721768_nBryon insisted on authentic Philly Cheesesteaks for lunch.


IMG_6598 (600x800)When in Philly…




IMG_6602 (800x600)He wasn’t wrong. They were great.

IMG_6603 (800x600)When we were finished in Philly, we head to Phoenixville for the grand finale…THE WEDDING. But first, we ventured out to Valley Forge.

IMG_6673 (800x600)This is the home George Washington commandeered at Valley Forge. He supposedly rented it and he and the officers stayed inside…

and strategized.

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IMG_6683 (600x800)This is where the some of the soldiers stayed. The lucky ones. The rest of them were in tents across the property.

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IMG_6685 (800x222)This is the oldest standing train depot in the country.


IMG_6669And of course there was food.

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The last day of our trip was dedicated entirely to THE WEDDING. Check out the next post to see what happened 😀


Family Vacation: New York! New York! and a Little Philly on the Side

 This is a long post with lots of photos but it doesn’t even touch the surface. There are 358 photos here if you’re interested.

NYC Flickr Album

at Comfort Inn KCI – Platte City, A Place to Relax.

The beginning of this trip had all the makings of a Chevy Chase vacation. After a horrible meal at Applebee’s in Clinton, which was comped by management, we stopped at McDonalds, got our second meal and were on our way again to our hotel in KC. When we arrived at the airport hotel which Bryon had reserved for us, guess what? No reservation.  Even though we had a receipt and confirmation number, the hotel staff had no record of our reservation. Turns out there are TWO airport Comfort Inns. Called the other one. Nope. No reservation. Apparently they can TAKE the reservation. They just can’t KEEP the reservation. On second thought, maybe we were stuck in a Seinfeld episode. I may watch too much TV.

Luckily, things started going our way the next morning and we flew out of KCI to PHI. Bryon’s nephew Carl was getting married on Sunday, which meant we had three days to play in NYC. Now, I’d been to NYC once. In the 80’s with my mom, dad and brother. In a Winnebago. All I remember is we got lost in the Bronx and some very helpful gentlemen in bouncing, low-rider car directed us back to the highway out of town and back to the mainland. All I saw of NYC was a few trees wrapped in mesh wire and graffiti.
I was nervous and excited about this trip…with a nine-year-old.
Bryon had spend weeks planning the trip and I have to give him props because once we landed in Philly, things went off without a hitch. Well, after they figured out our car rental reservation at the airport because guess what? Two airport Enterprises too. Yeah.
After THAT, we were all over Manhattan.
Bryon found a great hotel in New Jersey in the Meadowlands. The New Jersey Transit bus stop was just across the street. We bought three round-trip tickets as soon as we dropped off our stuff and hit the town. We made six trips through the Lincoln Tunnel to and from NYC those three days. It was pretty dang cool seeing places I’d only ever seen on television or read about in books. Grace loved it. We all did.
The bus dumped us off at Port Authority in Times Square that afternoon and we spent the day exploring.

 Of course one our first stops was a food truck.


Grace enjoyed a street pretzel and I had a knish.

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Then we headed to the 9/11 Memorial. It was amazing. And humbling.




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We explored the city a bit and made some new friends.




And then we found Little Italy…


and Lombardi’s Pizzeria


By the time we got back to Times Square it was dark and AMAZING!



The next day started bright and early with a ferry ride to…


the Statue of Liberty.


Which led to more eating, this time in Little China. Grace LOVED Little China. She saved up $200 for souvenirs and loved dickering with the Chinese vendors.

She was a shrewd negotiator and even came home with $60.



All of our adventures and walking wore us our so we caught a cat nap in Union Square Park.





After our park crash, we stopped by a very cool comic store called Forbidden Planet, which happened to be right beside the most amazing the Strand Book Store, where I found THIS awesome shirt.



Next we were off the the New York Public Library. It was amazing hard to find any actual books, ha!


In need of sustenance again, we checked out the Hershey store and a three story M&M store.





Then it was off to Obscura, the Oddities store.



That same night we took a bus tour to Brooklyn.

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Back across the Brooklyn Bridge…



 to Manhattan.

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Day Three in NYC started with the Rockefeller Center and the best view ever of NYC and Central Park.


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Perhaps there was a bit of clowning around too.

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Then it was off to St. Patrick Cathedral, which was beautiful but under construction,

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a 6+ mile bike ride through Central Park,

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dinner in Little Italy, dessert (gelato and cannolis),

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then back to the hotel in Jersey for a nap and Maleficent.We had a great three days in NYC. Grace was riding the subway like a pro and could probably have ridden it alone by the time we left. I can’t wait to return one day and visit the museums and Little Italy for another cannoli.

Goodbye NYC. Off to Philly the next two days.

You see find Philadelphia in the next post!