The Lambasting League

When you read articles online, do you have a tendency to zip through so you can get to the comments section at the bottom?

Okay, I confess… I do.

And I don’t know why. I always come away feeling as if I need to reshower for the day. It seems a good many of the commenters go out of their way to be snarky or downright nasty. You have your few positive-thinking souls, and those who lead with logical arguments, but it seems the majority want to create a new national sport of lambasting anything and everything within their sphere.

I’m glad these lambasters aren’t judge, jury and executioner, or we’d suddenly have a population deficit.

It seems there are a lot of frustrated wannabe critics in the world. They aspire to influence huge swaths of humanity… and the only way they can think to do it is to thrash and trash something. One of my other favorite places to read scathing comments are those reviews you find for restaurants. You may have just wanted to look up how late some local establishment is going to be open, but then you see a couple of highlighted stars and a number of reviews and you think… what is it I don’t know about this place that maybe I should know?

What you read is enough to keep you inside living on rice and eschewing all human contact.

I don’t care if some of these folks are reviewing their local dollar burger joint… I can almost visualize them, their noses stuck in the air so high it’s a marvel they can see their computer screens to type. They are just sooo deadly serious and foo-foo in their reviews. I often have to double-check the website I’m on: did I click on a back issue of Bon Appetit or a come-one/come-all review site?

“The ketcup packets had a slightly squished consistency that suggested the high fructose corn syrup was heated just below the range of sugar before carmelizing into a smear of red paste…”

Welcome to the Lambasting League of Life Haters. By the tone of this post, I think I may have inadvertently joined the ranks!


Energy Efficient Appliances… Is it Me?

courtesy of renjith krishnan/

courtesy of renjith krishnan/

I am all about taking care of Mother Earth and better stewardship and doing my part. I own an energy-efficient washing machine and dryer. I even received a tax credit for purchasing appliances that were “energy star” or some-such.

Joke is on me. And I’m sure I’ve more than spent that credit… on the electric bill. Not to mention, I think I’m failing at the “better stewardship” part.

I’m trying to figure out where the “efficiency” is, particularly with the dryer. Set on 60 minutes, the timer buzzes when it’s done. I open the door, reach in, and everything is wet, maybe just rung out a bit but wet. So, another 60 minutes… and we’re getting closer… but not before another 40 minutes or so tacked on top of that.

The efficiency part is that it uses less electricity–obviously–but I think that in order to save energy, you’d have to resign yourself to cutting your losses: take your wet clothes out and hang my stuff on chairs and throw it over the bannister and shower curtain rods.  But if I were to do that, what’s the point of having a dryer in the first place?

If I’m missing something, drop me a note… Otherwise, I’m debating going to find an old “energy hog” that gets the job done in 40 minutes. Somehow, I think that’s more efficient in the long run. At least it would save me from running up and down the steps to check one load of laundry, interrupting whatever creative thought I’m desperately trying to cling to and eke out into written form.  It’s these little things that can kill your creative flow, little annoyances from these appliances that were created to “serve you better.”

Not to mention, the energy inefficiency… such as when I forget about that load in the dryer-designed-to-serve-me-better and those wet clothes sit too long and start to get that nasty smell.  Then I’m having to start the process all over again, all the way back to the washing machine.

I guess some things sound good in theory, but it always comes down to the execution… and a little full disclosure on the front end, that maybe the money invested in a dryer would be better spent on purchasing clothes lines to hang between trees outside.

Reading Nook

Early Eclectic Reading Nook

Early Eclectic Reading Nook

Who knew a simple reading nook could be such a draw to a diverse range of ages and interests?

I created a little reading nook for myself in my postage stamp-sized living room. It’s where my big TV used to sit, the focal point of the living room. When I canceled cable in hopes of reading and writing more, I realized that the area was wasted space. With only a DVD player hooked up to the TV, why was I still paying homage to this box?

So, the TV was removed, I reclaimed bits and pieces from around the house and made a very, very cozy area for reading and relaxing. There’s not a lot of wiggle room, but when you’re immersed in a book or magazine article, there’s generally not a lot of thrashing about.

When I first set it up, my son emerged from his man cave and informed me that I’d have to share that space. Really… more appealing than a man cave?

My sister was over for the holidays and is the harried mother of two high-voltage monkeys. She sat down and informed me she would leave the kids with dad at times and come over to sit and relax there.

And recently over at a friend’s place, I noticed he set up a replica of my nook. Imitation is, after all, the sincerest form of flattery. I also noticed how quickly I gravitated to that chair, laying claim and using the ancient code of guest treatment to my advantage.

Business wisdom says to fill a need, so I’m thinking of setting up a reading-nook shop. Just create little reading cubbies, serve coffee or tea, cookies and cakes, and people could rent some quiet space, a respite from a frenzied world. Won’t you come visit and relax a bit?

Where’s your favorite place to curl up?

Doctor, I’m Experiencing Creatile Dysfunction


I wonder how long it will be until pharmaceutical companies conjure up a little pill to end creative slumps.

Here is my creative contribution, a medical term they can latch onto: creatile dysfunction.

I am at present experiencing creatile dysfunction. My symptoms are: racing thoughts about getting through the holidays, inability to concentrate on anything more creative than cookie dough, lack of words written and a complete brain freeze on fresh ideas. Symptoms, if left untreated, can lead to creative paralysis, a condition that requires medical, psychological, theological and voodoo priestess intervention.

Really, I think a remedy for creatile dysfunction could be a blockbuster drug. We all want to create and produce more-better-faster, and a little pill you poke into your mouth once a day seems like such a simple thing to do for such creative richness.

How about you… have you exhibited any symptoms of creatile dysfunction?

[Image courtesy of]

My Freaky, Icky, Ew List

Image courtesy of

If anyone were to overhear the conversations of a group of writers when they get together, they’d either run away in terror or notify the authorities – or both. There’s something to be said about having the freedom to say whatever is on your mind in the name of artistic expression that is absolutely, imagination-satisfyingly delicious.

And at times, unnerving due to the bends and twists it sends your mind on.

From one of these eclectic conversations, I discovered I have a freaky, icky, ew list. This list comprises the things that terrify me. In no particular order, my top 3 are:

1- Eyeball damage of any sort

2- Rabies

3- Demonic possession

So, I can’t remember exactly because there was wine at this particular meeting, but I believe I have been tasked with coming up with a story that includes all three.

I’ll try, but I don’t know if I’m ready for the nightmares…

Please do share… Do you have a freaky, icky, ew list? If so, what’s on it? Really, I’m burning with curiosity to know!

Bookshelf Bonanza

An ideal book space

I love visiting a Facebook site called “No, I do NOT have too many books!

Featured are dream photos that any book lover would enjoy: books stacked, arranged and otherwise stuffed in ways that span the spectrum of book storage. Some photos show the simply utilitarian method, shelves stocked, every last inch of space taken with barely an air pocket between books. Other photos show amazing creativity, such as would make an architect sit up and take notice: books stacked in igloo-style shapes, mazes and doorway arches.

I veer toward utilitarian, shelves jammed from one end to the other, though I admit I am averse to stacking books in horizontally atop the vertical ones. My bookshelves are scattered throughout my home, but my dream space is the picture I am including today.

Since I do not have the space for it in my home, I use this picture as my computer’s wallpaper, and anytime I need to escape into my “ideal” book space, I just minimize my various screens and inhale the would-be scent of a whole room crammed with books.

What type of book owner are you?

Writing: the Craft? Please.

There are a lot of writers who refer to writing as “the craft.”

Crafts involve cute pairs of scissors, richly-colored markers and pencils, glittery paints and don’t-sniff-the-glue.

But writing? I think of it more often than not as the proverbial blood, sweat and tears–BST.

Playing with those letters, BST… sometimes you feel you’re at your “BEST” and other times you curse the “BASTARD.”


The East Coast was slammed by Hurricane Sandy a week ago. I am most fortunate that my area dodged that destructive weather system. Seeing people struggle in the aftermath is heartbreaking, the pictures and stories of devastation shudder-inducing and a prayer that “there but for the grace of God go I…” (Not that weather systems are hurled at us by a higher power.)

It made me think about self-reliance and just how well I can pull it off. Sure, I can manage with the help of our society’s benefits such as electricity, 24-hour grocery stores and a working car. Take all of that away, and what are my capabilities?

It’s a question that weighs a bit on my mind. But it is one that deserves an honest answer–and no doubt, some remedial learning.

Horror Reading Blitz

It’s October, and like many–I love Halloween.

This year I’m working on celebrating it a different way: less candy, more reading. I’ve been immersed in the horror classics, with some Edgar Allan Poe short stories, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. I hope to circle back to more Poe, but if it runs into November, that’s okay.

I followed up my reading of Frankenstein by watching the movie that was made in the 90’s with Robert DeNiro as the monster. Not quite true to the book, but it was still a good movie. My favorite line from the book is: “Was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?”

Poor monster! He is horrid and wretched and pitiful.

Reading horror stories makes me grateful for the warmth and safety of home–and for being human.