Not a Sweet Failure After All

Diana Beebe's Blog, Diana Beebe, science fiction, middle grade fantasy, fantasyThis weekend, I was inspecting that garden bed, where the sweet potatoes died and the volunteer celery is thriving. What did I see?

Go to my new website to find out:

Not a Sweet Failure After All

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When Time Traveling Can Predict the Future

Diana Beebe's Blog, Diana Beebe, science fiction, middle grade fantasy, fantasyI have a wacky sense about time and time traveling.

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Finally, My Own Place

I’m moving to my very own place! My whole life, I’ve never been on my own.¬† So now I’m going out on a limb.

I upgraded to my very own domain!

Mermaids Don’t Do Windows has moved to dianabeebe.com.

You know what this means for you, don’t you?

  • Go over there and follow (subscribe for free), so you’ll get email notifications when I post something new. This site won’t get the new stuff forever.
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  • All the same great content to browse when you need to laugh at me.
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Diana Beebe's Blog, Diana Beebe, science fiction, middle grade fantasy, fantasy

It’s still needs some tweaking, since some of the widgets aren’t behaving as expected, but I’m pretty happy with it.

Thankfully, I’m still not out on my own.¬† I’ve got¬†TechSurgeons to thank for helping me get the site up and running¬†in one day (as soon as I finially decided to go out on that limb).¬† I have my very own TechGuy now!

What are you still doing here?¬† Go here and subscribe.¬† ūüėČ See you soon!

Just Because…

Lately, I’ve had a few extra projects going on, and I’ve been away from Mermaids Don’t Do Windows.

To make it up to you, I give you CUTENESS:

Image by Amber West via WANA Commons

Image by Amber West via WANA Commons

I’m not owned by any cats now.¬† (Yes, I wrote that correctly. ūüôā )
Throughout high school, I was owned by a couple of hilarious and wonderful kitties.

My favorite cat was a wild kitten who found me at the shopping mall.

While my best friend, V, and I waited for her dad to pick us up, the most adorable speckled calico kitten walked up to me and mewed.

She was the sweetest thing ever. We played with her until my friend’s dad arrived, but then I couldn’t leave her. I scooped her up and brought her home.

“Mom, look what I found on the driveway!”
(Terrible lie, I know. I’ve since confessed to my family where the cat found me.)

This was absolutely the best cat that has ever owned me. Here’s why:

  • She made friends with our dog, who hated cats.
  • She purred all the time.
  • She let me bathe her and blow her dry with the hair dryer. She loved it.
  • She ambushed our ankles, but never used her claws.
  • She was my cat. When I walked into the room, no other humans in the house mattered to her.

Have you ever been owned by a great cat or other pet? What was the cutest thing your pet ever did?

What carrots taught me about patience and goals

There is one thing that a home garden doesn’t provide: instant gratification.

The instant I harvest something is only one moment of gratification. Eating it is another.¬† Two moments of gratification–cool, huh? Three, if you count the successful feeling of sowing the seeds in a well-ordered garden.

Give carrots room to grow and reap the rewards

Give carrots room to grow and reap the rewards

Carrots are the ultimate vegetable for teaching patience.  They take the longest to sprout. In fact, they take so long, I sow a few radish seeds with the carrot seeds so I can keep track of the row. By the time the radishes are taking shape, the carrots are pushing up through the ground. By the time I harvest the radishes, the carrots are tiny, little bitty hints of roots.

So why not run to the grocery store or farmers’ market to buy a bunch of carrots and have instant gratification?

Because home-grown carrots are the best tasting carrots I’ve ever eaten.¬† We start thinking about our orange root vegetables the second we plant them.¬† Yes, they are that delicious.

While the little tiny roots are taking shape, we have to take care of them. They need the usual water and sun but not too much heat. They also need space and soil that allows them to grow down, or they will grow around each other and at odd angles.

If we want the biggest, best carrots, then we have to thin the row and wait. Even pulling¬†the smaller carrots to make room for bigger ones later is a reward. These “baby” carrots are tasty, too.¬† They also remind us that better veggies are still to come and that we shouldn’t give up on the goal.

Sounds a bit like patience and working toward a goal, doesn’t it? We have goals that we want to achieve, but we can’t expect to complete them overnight. We must take baby steps or have smaller goals that lead us to the ultimate goal.

I have friends who climbed Mt. Ranier last summer. They planned for it and worked up to it. They didn’t show up at the base of the mountain and start climbing the minute they decided to do it.¬† They were patient, organized, and safe. They trained and climbed smaller mountains until the time was right to conquer the big one.

If we have too many goals (too many carrots crowded together), then we have a hard time focusing (have nowhere to grow) on the ultimate prize.

In our digital, fast-paced culture of instantaneous chatting and information gathering, we can’t rush quality work.¬† We can do things that help us be more efficient, but a carrot takes about 3 months to grow. Some take longer if they didn’t have room from the beginning.

If you look closely at the picture of my first harvest, you’ll see a tiny pale root next to the largest carrot.¬† It got pulled when I thinned them. If I’d seen it, I would have put it back into the row so that it could keep growing. I can’t be devasted that I missed it–the space will be taken up by another, bigger¬†carrot.

We have to reevaluate our goals from time to time, which means throwing out ones that don’t fit our needs anymore. Then we have to wait some more.¬† Even mountain climbers have to change plans if the weather turns unsafe.

Maybe this post should have been called, “How carrots and mountains teach patience.” ūüôā

While some¬†of my goals take longer and require more patience,¬†I’m going to be happy with my small steps of achievements that are getting me there. And eat a few carrots along the way.

What goals are you working on right now? What things do you do to help yourself be more patient?

Someone make sure I’m not a pod person!

I did something¬†the other day–it was a thing that I don’t ever do. It horrified me a little. ¬†I don’t know if I’ve been taken over by a pod person.

Movie poster Copyright 1993, Warner Bros

Movie poster Copyright 1993, Warner Bros

What was the horrible thing that I did?

*whispers* I used the wrong pronoun agreement in a compound phrase in a conversation with another person. (OK, so I said it to my mom-in-law who is also a writer.)

*hangs head*

I’m pleading momentary body snatching.

Why was I so horrified?

I used to teach college English grammar classes–the rules were engrained in my memory.¬† I corrected students to the point that they began correcting each other. Yes, I was the Grammar Police–it was my job–and I enjoyed it.

After I left teaching, I had enough restraint¬†not to correct¬†other people when they broke grammar rules. ¬†(OK, so I don’t correct them out loud–unless they’re my¬†children).

What is this grammar rule that I broke?

My pronoun was body snatched!

These can be tricky sometimes, because they can be subjective (subjects do the action) or objective (an object receives the action).  Hang on for just a second while I get through the technical stuff.

These are examples of compounds that are subjects:

  • Mockingbird and I are going to the store.
  • He and Armadillo planted 50 beans in the garden.

The compound object rule is the one I broke. A compound object is the part of the sentence that receives the action. I said something like:

“Armadillo is going to the store with Mockingbird and I.”

Take the compound out and you can see what I did wrong:

“Armadillo is going to the store with Mockingbird and I.”

It’s pretty obvious that she didn’t go to the store with I. She went to the store with me. A subject behaving like an object is a clear sign of body snatching.

More examples:

Body-snatched pronouns:

  • Mockingbird asked her father and I¬†if she could sell her little sister.
  • Sophie isn’t going to Maui without she and Zander.
  • The pod people want to steal the planet from you and I.

Correct:

  • Mockingbird asked her father and¬† me if she could sell her little sister.
  • Sophie isn’t going to Maui without her and Zander.
  • The pod people want to steal the planet from you and me.

Read them aloud without the compound, and you can hear the difference.

I’ve seen this rule broken on many TV shows lately, too. Some¬†offending characters are those¬†who love to correct others.¬†They are the pod people, and they are snatching the pronouns. I’m sorry, but you can’t correct others if your grammar isn’t perfect.¬† (Grammar Police, remember?)

Maybe now, you’ll hear it in your favorite TV shows, too–like that song you can’t get out of your head.¬† I know. That was evil, but the objective pronoun disagreement pod people must be stopped. I won’t apologize for trying to save our planet before we are all replaced and our planet dies.

That was extreme, I know. The best way to test for pod people is to take out the rest of the compound to see if the pronoun should be the subject (doing the action) or the object (receiving the action) in the sentence.

I promise I won’t ever mess up pronoun agreement in a conversation again. If I do, check for a pod person and the alien race trying to take over our planet. ūüėȬ† (No promises about other grammar rules.)

For a list of wonderful places to check your grammar and look up words, you must check out this post by fellow-Texan, Julie Glover.

Are you a grammar guru?  Do you use the language as it happens in your daily life (what rules?!)? Do you have any grammatical pet peeves? Are you a pod person?

Demon Dog to Cuddle

I’m having one of those weeks when deadlines at the day job (and editing my final draft of my¬†middle grade book!) make the blog a distant priority. (If you read yesterday’s post, you know what I mean. Sorry about that. *sheepish grin*)

To make it up to you, I give you Demon Dog to keep you company:

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Looking a little scruffy…Mockingbird needs to groom her dog.

Mockingbird adopted her from a local ASPCA almost two years ago. She even used her own money.

Demon Dog is a sweet, gentle “velcro” kind of dog and makes a nice addition to the family. She’ll sit in your lap and lick your face off. ūüôā

Share your pet stories in the comments while I attend to a few insane deadlines.  {{{Hugs}}}

Things that I’ve seen but wish I hadn’t…My eyes! The burn!

There are certain things in this world that are not meant for human vision.

Photo by Lynn Kelley via WANA Commons

Photo by Lynn Kelley via WANA Commons

The Plumber’s Butt–on a Motorcycle

Look away from that new moon while the nice man fixes the sink. But what do you do when the sight is directly in front of you while driving?

The motorcycle passenger was wearing the black-lace¬†thong and muffin top. I don’t have anything against muffin tops or black lace, but the combination with the new moon…*shudder*

Hope they turn and go a different way. If they don’t, you must take a different route or risk being scarred for life.

The Shirtless Jogger

I’m so glad people are out jogging.¬† That’s wonderful! If you don’t mind, put on a shirt. I don’t want to see a half naked, gorilla¬†man or a woman wearing a sports bra. I don’t care how fit or unfit they are.¬†Maybe, don’t.

The Fly

Seriously. If you’re going to be drunk enough to dance like a dork with your friends at¬†a NBA basketball game (where you risk being seen by 20,000 people if you make the jumbotron), please have the courtesy to zip your fly. Awkward!

At least you’re too drunk to remember it later (the bad dancing and your XYZ). I, on the other hand, won’t be able to get rid of the image even after gouging out my eyes.

There you have it.¬† Three things that my eyes wish they hadn’t seen this week.

Have you ever seen something that you wished you could unsee? (Keep it PG, please.)

It’s Just a Light Snack!

I woke up to the sound of the toilet paper roll being spun. It was the middle of the night–no one was in the bathroom.¬† Everyone else was sleeping.

The toilet paper roll bumped the wall again.  And again.

I got up to investigate.¬† By the way, don’t ever do that in a horror movie. (You know what happens to the people who investigate the sound in horror movies.)

The bathroom was pitch black–the perfect place for a scary person or a demon to hide. (Everybody’s got to go, even demons, right?)

The noise continued.

When I turned on the light, this was the carnage:

Diana Beebe's Blog

…and the face that caused it:

It wasn't me. It was the demon dog...

It wasn’t me. It was the demon dog

Not a demon or slasher-movie villain! *wipes brow*

Hey, Eater of homework and valentines, the toilet paper is not hanging there so you can eat it like corn on the cob!

Another half of a toilet paper roll wasted. (Well, would you use paper that the dog slobbered on?)

Think about that for a second…

I didn’t think so.¬† ūüėÄ Now I have to take the rolls off before bed. Sigh.

What was the craziest thing one of your pets ate or did?  Any ideas for using the shredded toilet paper?

Don’t wallow in monotony. Create your own fun!

A long, long time loop ago, in a repetitive land far, far away…

I taught college freshman writing and basic English grammar classes.¬† I was wrapping up my¬†master’s degree in¬†literature and found a part-time teaching job from a four-line ad in the newspaper classified section.¬† (Actually, I answered¬†four tiny ads despite my husband’s complete doubt that anyone could find a job that way. I got called back¬†on two of them. Ha!)

The next thing I knew, I had a master’s degree and was moved into a full-time teaching position(that’s what I get for swearing I’d never be a teacher with five to six classes a day) at that business college (it wasn’t a university, but it helped pay bills).

Groundhog_Day_(movie_poster)After about three years, the Groundhog Day effect wore off. I couldn’t grow in that job anymore. Believe me, I tried.

What is the Groundhog Day Effect?

The Groundhog Day Effect has two main parts to it: Monotony and Growth. (The part in the middle called Giving Up, doesn’t apply–ever.)

In the movie, Phil finds himself reliving the same day (February 2) over and over again. The same things happen to him everyday–the same routine, the same conversations, the same meals…the same monotony.

He can’t escape this repeating insanity, so he tries to change it.¬† However, he chooses antagonistic behaviors. He insults his co-workers, punches an old acquaintance just for greeting him on the street, lies to people, and eats donuts until he makes himself sick.¬† When these behaviors don’t change his day, he escalates by trying to commit suicide. He gives up. It’s a good thing that didn’t work, because the movie would have had a sad ending.

Now at rock bottom, he tries a different direction. Sure, he starts this new path just as selfish as before, but something starts to change. He relaxes, learns new skills, reads poetry, makes friends with the townspeople, finds ways to be kind to his coworkers.  He discovers growth.

Harnessing the Groundhog Day Effect

When the daily grind starts to look and feel¬†like it did for Phil in the first part of the movie, then it’s time to change things up.¬† If we sit in the same position for a long time, we get sore.¬† We have to get up and stretch.¬† We have to move around.¬† Eat chocolate.

I had already lived the growth part to make¬†my teaching¬†job enjoyable.¬† That is often how it is with a new job–lots of growth.¬† Even when the job was no longer new,¬†I found every chance to learn new skills, overcome fears, make friends, edit a college English grammar text book…

Monotony set in, despite my best efforts.¬†I had to leave or risk punching a student for misusing compound objective pronouns or getting subject-verb agreement wrong in every sentence in her essays. I couldn’t tweak my lesson plans anymore¬†or edit the near-perfect grammar tests or grade another essay that could be written better by a twelve-year-old or be told that a failing student had to pass–again.

I’d reached my limit. There was no room for promotion, salaries were frozen (yet the director enjoyed plastic surgery and many overseas vacations), vacation time was impossible to take (no summers off either),¬†and rumors of unethical practices were rampant. I’d taken on as much responsibility as I could, sponsored a student organization, and added Microsoft Office classes (MS Word was version 2 back then!) to my already long list of courses. During terms when I had all writing classes (no grammar or tech classes), there was so much grading that I might have thought about¬†giving up,¬†but I wasn’t Phil.

It was time to stretch. I started a new career as a technical writer, where 17 years later I’m still finding things to learn.

But what if we find ourselves in a monotony from which there seems to be no escape?

We have to create our own fun–just like Phil did. Even if we have to work within the limits of our environment, we can set goals that allow us to grow and break the monotony. We have to¬†harness the positive¬†Groundhog Day Effect to keep ourselves fresh and happy, even when the environment is stifling. At some point though, we have to decide when it’s time to stretch somewhere else.

How do you harness the positive Groundhog Day Effect? What do you do when faced with daily monotony? How do you stretch to find growth?