Archive for May, 2012

My Weekend Project

Now that my office is done. the yard could no longer be ignored. We were in danger of being ticketed by the city, the front yard weeds were so high. This is what the weeds look like: This is the half of the yard that isn’t done yet.

Yesterday afternoon was spent digging, pulling, hoeing, raking, and making trip after trip to the compost cage. This morning we finished the weeding, then went to Home Depot to buy mulch. You see, this is the third time I have cleared this yard of weeds. Each time, I have intentions of planting, and I do a few plants, but then the tall grass takes over again.

This time, we bought some ground cover that supposedly will fill in in six to eight months. I forget what it’s called now, but it has gorgeous flowers in all different colors. We also put in the path of pavers today, which will help with keeping up with weeding until the ground cover fills in. The other ground cover is a succulent with pink flowers.

I am really surprised we got all this done. I swear, I am going to keep up with it this time. The bark mulch should help prevent some weed growth.

So, here is the “after” photo. (Some of the plants were already in place, like that big philodendron, and the fountain grass, and that mass of ice plant in the front.)

We also bought a cana (I remember my mother growing those) which is in the very back by the fence. You can’t see it very well. And we bought a strawberry plant.


In the back yard, the tomatoes are only so-so. We’ve harvested one, but one plant simply isn’t producing any, and the another has one tomato but it doesn’t seem to be growing or blooming anymore. Something ate about half Rob’s grapes when they were pin-head size. Our orange tree is finally making oranges–some are bigger than shooter marbles now. But the tangerine tree fruits are still B-B sized and don’t appear to be growing. It might still be in shock from transplanting.

The squash plants look beautiful and are about to bloom, so I’m hopeful we’ll get squash this year. The broccoli has sprouted; we planted seeds so it’s way behind. I’ve never grown broccoli before.

That is the garden report! For a couple of people who have brown thumbs, I think we’re going pretty well.

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Movie Star Me!

Last night, I got to play movie star. A friend of a friend asked me to be in a video at Sony Pictures Interactive. It’s probably not a video you’ll ever see; it’s intended as an educational piece for Sony employees to learn more about how different ages use different types of digital content and social networking at various times during the day, and how the platforms relate to one another.

There were no lines. (Well, once I had to say “Wake up!” but my voice won’t be on the video.) I played “Baby Boomer” with a 12-year-old son. I got there at 7 p.m. and went straight to make-up. I enjoyed chatting with the make-up artist, a very nice woman from Russia named Liana. Then dinner arrived (we got to order from a nice restaurant nearby). It was a while before they were ready for me.

They shot the scenes out of order, but in chronological order, it starts with me waking up to the clock radio (how un-hip!) while other, younger characters wake to their various cool digital devices. There were a couple of short scenes where I’m being “stern mom”–I’m making my kid get out of bed, I’m telling him to stop playing games and go clean his room (this is all done without dialogue, mind you). Then I take his tablet computer away (he’s watching Men In Black II ) and I start watching it myself (I switch to The Vow). The last scene, I’m watching the original Men in Black on the sofa, and I motion for my son to join me. We share a sweet mother-and-son moment, all is forgiven, and we watch the movie.

The video has two other characters that have their own little drama going on, a Gen X man and a Gen Y man. (They’re texting each other and watching trailers on their cool devices, then ordering movie tickets online.) But I don’t interact with them so I didn’t see much of them last night. The entire video probably lasts no more than five minutes.

All scenes were shot against a green screen. If you’re a fan of Cougar Town, Courtney Cox’s son has a green-screen set-up at his house. It’s where you can drop in any background you want during post-production.) My “bed” was a long skinny table padded with a couple of couch cushions.Also, all screens on the devices we used were blue; video images will be dropped in later. So I had to pretend to tap and scroll on the tablet computer when I had only a vague idea of what I was supposed to be seeing, then make the appropriate facial expressions.

Acting without lines is actually more difficult than I thought it would be. Everything had to be conveyed with facial expression. I had to look stern, sneaky, guilty, delighted, surprised. They told me the video would be ready by the first week in June. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post any clips or not–it might be proprietary information.

All in all it was a great time. I love acting. I’d do more of it if I could, but of course if I really wanted it, I’d have to put together a resume, a reel, headshots, find an agent, etc. And that would take way too much time away from writing. But any time a gig falls into my lap, I’m all over it!

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It’s been like giving birth, I swear. After all these months, today I was doing all the teeny final stuff–mopping the floor, replacing the faceplates and the smoke alarm and the vent register. And one of the faceplates wouldn’t go on. I’d built out the wall too far. So I had to get my putty knife and scrape, scrape, scrape until finally it would fit. Then, of course, I had to repaint! But finally it’s done. It’s really done. And I’m in the process of moving all my stuff back in.

My antique hook rug, given to me by my mother-in-law, was so filthy I couldn’t bear to bring it into my nice new office. So Rob and I took it outside, hung it over the swingset, and beat it with a broom. (There’s no other way to clean it, really. It’s too fragile.) this old-fashioned method worked surprisingly well. It looks much better.

I’m going to have to do a major purge of office stuff. I am determined to get rid of anything I’m not using, and organize what’s left. In addition to writing stuff, I have to cram my art, crafts, and vintage stuff in this one small room. Right now it really looks junky, which is a shame because the new office is so pretty.

In other news, I’ve been planning the family bike trip, which will be in upstate New York (along the Erie Canal towpath)  in August. I had no idea how difficult the planning is. It literally look two straight days. You have to balance the daily mileage with the towns you want to visit with the lodging that is available and reasonably priced, for seven people. You have to figure out where to rent the bikes (most of the bike shops don’t do long-term rentals, so I had to call a zillion before I found one who would work with me). Then you have to figure out how to get the bikes back to where you started (because we only ride one way). To keep costs down we stay at hostels when we can. This trip, we’re staying at a lot of bed & breakfasts, because those end up being the cheapest option. Also staying at a few cheap motels. We’ll only be riding 20-35 miles per day, to give us plenty of time for sightseeing. There’s a major bird sanctuary there, and Rob’s sisters are interested in doing some genealogy research, as his mother’s family is from this area.

Tomorrow, I’m all set to start a new book (in my new office!) I’m going to work up a proposal for three more Project Justice books. I’m waiting for my friend Charlotte to read the vampire book and give me feedback.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m teaching an online class starting tomorrow (Monday, May 7) How to Quit Your Day Job, with the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers. Here is the link if you’d like to check it out: http://heartofcarolina.org/online-classes.html It’s only $20 for a three-week class.



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