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I have a love/hate relationship with technology. When electronics work, they’re awesome. When they don’t work, they suck. I try to troubleshoot on my own but the only thing I gain by doing this is a headache. I’m easily frustrated when it comes to technology.

steam from ears

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I live in Vicksburg, Mississippi, a river town with a colorful and violent history. For 47 days Vicksburg was under siege by the Federal Army, completely surrounded and cut off from the outside world. Many people lost their lives fighting for a cause they believed in. (more…)

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It’s been a busy week and I’ve been lax in getting my blog ready to post. I’ve been steadily forging through a jungle of edits on my manuscript and am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

jungle

So, in lieu of actually writing something witty and clever this week, I’ve decided to take the easy way out.

For those of you thinking of visiting the Baer House, I hope this virtual tour sways you to actually book a room. For those of you who can’t visit for awhile, enjoy this virtual tour for now, to whet your appetite for good things to come later.

For those of you who never plan on coming to Vicksburg ever, here’s what you’re missing.

Enjoy!

Shop Main Street video

I’m curious to know where you all spent your spring break, Easter, etc. Leave me a comment so I can be jealous.

Until next week, stay safe and be happy.

Word of the day: Facies

Fun fact about me: I have never ever used my words of the day in a sentence.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, March 2016. Video by LLC ShopMainStreets.com/MainStreetTrail.com

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I’m a writer. Writer’s tend to be overly creative people. We have overactive imaginations. We think differently than others. We see the world from a different perspective. We hate math.

math problem

Did you just shutter at the graphic? Did your eyes glaze over? Did you automatically say “24” after the first line because the multiplication tables were drilled into your head in the 5th grade? Well, you might be a creative person.

It’s no surprise. A lot of folks are creative. For instance, musicians, actors, artists, all rely heavily on the right sides of their brain. It’s the left-brainers you have to worry about. But sometimes I have to wonder, should we limit the extent of our creativity? I know that goes against the whole premise of this blog (“Where imagination abounds, nothing is impossible”), but hear me out. Consider these wacky inventions, then I’ll ask the question again:

What is the purpose of this? So a blind person knows where to hold the glass?

weird invention 9

 Pizza cutters not trendy any longer; we now need scissors? And who even eats a slice of pizza this small?

weird invention 8

 Here’s the answer to sweaty palms. (Jenny Hansen at More Cowbell has probably known about these for years.)

weird invention 6

 Wanna see who’s following you, but don’t want to turn around?

weird invention 5

 All the tables at your favorite restaurant full? No worries, just sit yourself down and order up. (I’d avoid the soup.)

weird invention 4

 I call this one – the Nap Lap.

weird invention 3

 Tired of messing up your whole face with that damned lipstick? Here’s the answer you’ve been looking for.

weird invention 1

And my personal favorite:

Are you a busy mom but worry about setting your baby down on the dirty ground in order to get those dreaded chores done? Well, here’s the product for you.

weird invention 7

I’ve got to admit, that last one is genius. (Does that make me a bad person?) But seriously, how can anybody holding a baby properly wash their hands after using the restroom? I’m sure this invention was created by a man; I’m just sure of it.

And so folks, after seeing just a minuscule display of the wacky stuff that people “create,” do you want to change your answer? Should creativity have limits? Or do you agree with me, that maybe we should just put a boundary restriction on inventors. Yeah, that’s it.

What’s the craziest invention you’ve come across? Have you ever purchased something “clever” to make your life easier? Do you want any of the above items for yourself? Hey, I won’t judge.

Word of the Day: Guipure

Fun fact about me:  I love starfruit.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, April 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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Being a home owner is not all it’s cracked up to be. Oh sure, you get the tax credits and you actually have something to show for your payments, unlike rent or lease payments, but, you also get the headaches that come along with home ownership.

My husband and I have been putting some money into our home lately, getting it all dolled up and fixing some little things that have been bugging us since we moved in. We bought our house about 2 years ago and it was sort of a fixer-upper, although it was certainly cozy enough to live comfortably in. And please don’t get me wrong, I am ever so grateful that I have a warm safe place to lay my head each night. And I have a Deed with my name on it. That’s worth something.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

But, owning a home is a little like owning a boat; if you have a boat, you’re fixing a boat. I’m a former boat owner, so I know. Anyone who’s ever owned a boat can attest to that statement.

So, we started doing some improvements to our house and each and every time we finished a project, we became painfully aware of something else that needs improving upon.

It goes sort of like this: When we purchased the house it had REALLY dated and ugly pink “fixtures” in the bathroom. That’s right, we had a pink jetted tub (how awesome is that?) and a pink commode with — a white seat and lid. I didn’t even know anyone on this planet manufactured pink toilets, but there it was in the bathroom of our new home. For 2 years we’ve lived with this horrendous monstrosity of a bathroom.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Well folks, no more. That’s right, we invested in a shiny new toilet — almond colored — and had the bathtub and previously white sink painted to match. Holy smokes, what an improvement! No more pink bathroom. How we marveled at the difference. For exactly fifteen minutes. That’s how long it took us to notice how stained and ugly the faucets were. We’d never paid much attention to the faucets before because we were too distracted by the pinkness of the “fixtures” surrounding the faucets. Now we need new faucets.

Then, we wanted to patch a small spot on the bathroom ceiling that hadn’t been properly fixed at some point in the past. It’s always sort of bugged us and we’ve always talked about getting that eye sore fixed. We had after all just improved the bathroom tremendously, might as well do it all the way. And so the time had finally come, we’d had enough of looking at that ugly spot and decided to fix it.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

We plastered and taped and mudded it all up, waited for it to dry, then slathered a thick coat of paint on it. Awesome! It looks fabulous!

We enjoyed the amazing ceiling for exactly two days. That’s when we noticed how ugly and mucked up the light fixture is. Now, whenever we’re in the bathroom, all we see is the ugly and dirty light fixture. How could we not have noticed that before?

We should probably replace the light fixture now that the ceiling is so awesome, but I’m afraid that once we replace the light fixture, we’ll discover how grossly horrible the floor is. Or the cabinets. Or the countertop. So my friends, the light stays. Enough is enough.

I wish I could say the final product looks like this now:

Photo courtesy Google Images.

Photo courtesy Google Images.

but alas, it does not. Let’s just say, it’s a hundred times better than it was, ugly light and all.

And on and on it goes. The perpetual wheel of improving then noticing something else that needs improving. It’s a vicious and never-ending cycle. I suggest you never start in the first place. Save yourself the headache.

What’s your perpetual wheel of home improvement projects? Please share. I’d love to commiserate. Have you ever seen a pink toilet or bathed in a pink jetted tub?

Word of the Day: Cathexis

Fun fact about me: I’m much better at paining walls than I am at painting pictures.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, March 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

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Image courtesy Google Images

Image courtesy Google Images

Writers face grammatical and punctuation challenges every day. It’s not easy being a writer especially in this age of text messaging and tweeting. We are constantly faced with having to make decisions that could make or break the next great American novel. Or simply what is the best way to reply to a text. I mean seriously, what writer doesn’t feel this way?

Image courtesy Google Images

Image courtesy Google Images

And there are choices like: lie, lay, lain, laid; who or whom, effect or affect that must be made, sometimes at warp speed in order to keep with our rhythm to meet today’s word count. Have you ever looked up the definitions of these words? I have and I still don’t know how to use some of them properly. Countless books are available to help navigate through the English language and yet, misused words and phrases end up strewn across our pages every day.

While wasting time yet still attempting to look busy researching this topic, I came across this video, which helped me realize that our efforts as writers to “get it right,” are not in vain. People notice and people care. Please enjoy this writing advice from the great Weird Al Yankovic.

Who knew Mr. Yankovic was such a grammar snob? And now is your chance to share your writing secrets, grammar woes, or comments about anything you wish to share. Don’t be bashful.

Word of the Day: Audiencia

Fun Fact About Me: I have a tendency to write really long sentences.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2015. Video courtesy YouTube and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

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So it’s another year. A new beginning. Out with the old, in with the new. Sometimes letting go of the old stuff is hard. Sometimes not. As some of you know, in December I wrapped up my second year as President of my local writer’s group. It was a challenging yet rewarding period in my life. I learned a lot. But now, it’s time to turn over the reins to a new leader. I’m going to be honest here, I’m ready to hand over the tiara and the scepter.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Some of you are probably all too aware of the challenges associated with leading a group of volunteers all of whom are already over-worked in other areas of their lives. It is, after all, usually the busiest people who volunteer to take on yet more responsibility. If not for these willing souls, however, many things would simply not happen. Until you’ve volunteered or filled in for someone in a volunteer capacity, it is hard to understand what that person experiences. Volunteering is not for everyone, but it certainly enriches our lives when we do it.

Image courtesy Google Images.

Image courtesy Google Images.

So as we move forward with 2015, I wish the best of luck to our new leadership team at the Sacramento Valley chapter of RWA and look forward to learning and growing by your example. I offer my continued support and bow humbly at your feet for stepping up to the plate.

Have you ever volunteered? Did you learn from that experience? Did you regret your decision to help out?

Word of the Day:  Xiphoid

Fun fact about me: I don’t volunteer because I have the time; I volunteer because I have the heart.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, January 2015. Photos courtesy Google Images.

 

 

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Dear readers, I hope this year has been rewarding for you all, or at the very least that you’ve seen, or done, or learned something new from whatever experiences you’ve had over the past twelve months.

Whatever your plans are for ringing in the new year, I hope you stay safe and healthy.

New Year quote

I’m looking forward to an amazing 2015, to making new friends, to learning new things, and to exploring new adventures. Cheers!!

Fun fact about me: I’m usually home alone on New Years. (My hubby always has to work the holidays. But not this year!!!)

Word of the Day: Sobersides (perfect for this particular weekend!)

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, December 2014.

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Remembering My School Days

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

I think it’s pretty safe to say that all of our little ones, and our not so little ones, are finally getting fully ensconced back into school. It seems like the school year is starting earlier and earlier every year. When I was in school, a million years ago, we always knew when the first day of school was, the day after Labor Day.

The last week of August, Mom would take my brother and I school shopping. We’d get new clothes, new shoes, a new coat, pretty pencils and binders, and when we were really little, a new lunch box. I used to love school shopping. It was probably the thing I missed most when I graduated. No more trips to the mall with Mom. I still miss those days, but now it’s because I miss my mom, not the mall or the shopping.

But, I digress. These days, since I have no children of my own, I find out when the first day of school is when I depart for work and have to stop on the corner for the big yellow bus. “What? It’s the second week of August! How can it be time for school already?”

Some mornings I arrive at the intersection before the bus, others, the bus gets there first. I don’t mind waiting behind the flashing lights because I love to watch the little kiddies climb out of their booster seats in their mommies’ cars and run excitedly for the bus, backpacks flopping on their skinny little backs, mambo hair ribbons and too-big shoes encumbering their process but not their enthusiasm. I sit and smile, knowing that these days will soon be gone for those little tykes.

Take It or Leave It Image courtesy Google Images

Take It or Leave It
Image courtesy Google Images

So in honor of a new school year, I’m posting my September rendition of Take It Or Leave It.  Here’s a reminder of the rules:  Post your guesses in the comments section below. The person with the most correct guesses is my winner, but you must post another comment in the comments section, acknowledging that you are a winner, in order to claim your prize. It’s that simple. Unclaimed prizes will be forfeited after one week from my posting of the correct answers.

Because I’ve completely disconnected for a few days, this month’s edition of Take It or Leave It will come with a couple of adaptations. Number one – I will not be posting the answers until next Monday, September 22, 2014, which means you all have exactly 7 days to post your guesses. The winner will have until Thursday, September 25th to claim their prize.

Number two, due to the topic, once again, we’re going to play in the past tense. So did I or didn’t I partake in this school days activities?

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

1. Regularly wear dresses to shop class.
2. Almost fail algebra.
3. Smoke cigarettes under the bleachers.
4. Run a mile in less than 6 minutes.
5. Sing with a rock band in the annual talent show.
6. Start a fire in chemistry class.
7. Attend every single home varsity basketball game.
8. Dress up like Madonna for spirit week.
9. Get a speeding ticket in front of the high school.
10. Forge a note from my mom.

What do you miss about school? What was your favorite or least favorite thing about school? Did you ride the bus? Inquiring minds what to know.

Word of the Day: Edacious

Fun fact about me: This week I’m checking something off my bucket list.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, September 2014. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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As you know, I recently attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference in San Antonio, Texas. Here I am on my first day, super excited to learn and do everything humanly possible at this event.

 

Photo taken by K. Mathews. San Antonio Riverwalk.

Photo taken by K. Mathews. San Antonio Riverwalk.

It was a thrilling time, but getting there was a study in patience. Apparently a slightly petite woman traveling alone with only one small carry-on bag is a huge red flag to the TSA people. I got the full five-star security check point treatment, complete with full body pat-down and – this was new to me – both of my palms swabbed. That’s right – I was swabbed for possible explosives residue.

When I questioned the lovely ladies – yes there were more than one – who provided this fantastic service, I was informed that apparently my brilliantly sparkly tank top set off the sensors in the scanning tube, alerting the authorities that I was a potential security risk. Seriously? I mean, I warned Texas I was coming, but I was kidding. All joking aside, who knew that glitter and sequins were comprised of the same components used to make bombs? Here is the offending garment.

Photo by P. Rickrode.

Photo by P. Rickrode.

And it apparently wasn’t just my person that was suspicious. When I got to my hotel room and started to unpack, I noticed a slip of paper in my suitcase. Upon inspection, it appears as though my bags were thoroughly inspected as well. What the heck? Really?

Photo by P. Rickrode

Photo by P. Rickrode

And speaking of pats, I had the most wonderful experience on Wednesday night when I arrived. I got to meet and have dinner with the delightful and super sweet Pat O’Dea Rosen. Pat is a super classy lady with a gorgeous smile and giving attitude. I am so blessed to have met this wonderful lady in person. Here is a photo of Pat and I and Kristina Mathews enjoying our dinner at the water’s edge on what was undoubtedly the hottest night in San Antonio history. Despite the heat, I had a blast with Kristi and Pat.

From left to right: Kristina Mathews, Patricia Rickrode (aka Jansen Schmidt) and Pat O'Dea Rosen. San Antonio Riverwalk.

From left to right: Kristina Mathews, Patricia Rickrode (aka Jansen Schmidt) and Pat O’Dea Rosen. San Antonio Riverwalk.

So lesson learned? Don’t wear bling to the airport and if having dinner with a dear friend in Texas in July, eat inside.

Have you ever been swabbed for explosives? What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you at the security check point?

Word of the Day:  Xyloid

Fun Fact about me:  I’m not crazy about concerts.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, August 2014. Original photos by P. Rickrode.

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