Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I really wanted to be posting the 2012 TiC year in review, because I can't get rid of this crappy year fast enough, but I realize it's still a bit early for that.

So in honor of the holiday, I offer you this. (Just ignore the commercial at the end.)

And if your tendencies lean even further into the ridiculous-like mine- you'll appreciate this one.

Have a peaceful and joyous holiday!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remember When

I Felt Like This? Well, I'm feeling that way again. So hide the Ho Hos and tomato juice before I start exuding chrysalis building viscous secretions from my pores.

It should be an interesting weekend.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

R.I.P Sox

Last night we had to put our wonderful dog, Sox to sleep. She'd been ailing for a long time, but she had a seizure, which I think resembled a stroke. I gently held her through it, but when she came through it, she was terrified and panicked. She was blind and had lost the stability of her back legs. She went from panic and crying, (which she never cried) to passing out cold.  And it ripped my heart to shreds.

We had her for almost fifteen years. And she was that dog. You know the one. The one who was faithful to the bone, protective and loving. You had to earn her trust and love, but once you had it, it was yours forever. Smart and sweet and fun. The one all other dogs will never be able to ever measure up to. The best dog you've ever known.

I love you and miss you terribly, Sox.

Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, border collie humor blog,
She liked to cross her paws when she laid down.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Testify, Mr. Starr

I just gotta keep walking.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I'm dealing with a lot of shit here.

My beloved dog, whom we've had for almost fifteen years is really reaching the end now. She was diagnosed with cancer just after Christmas last year, and it's been a year of every day is a bonus, but watching her decline more and more just has been breaking my heart all year long. It's getting very close to the end now, and it's killing me.

I'm trying to list on Ebay for this holiday selling season, which takes a lot of time and energy that I don't seem to have any more of.

I'm trying to deal with all the new responsibilities of becoming the president of my writer's group. Which entail reading bylaws and policy and procedures among other things. I haven't gotten very far.

I'm trying to write more, but with the Urchins being off school for Thanksgiving for the last 11 days, nothing got written at all.

I'm on the committee with the blue haired old ladies for our township's new year's celebration. And after about thirty minutes into the meeting, I wish I could be like Sheldon Cooper when he stops a conversation because it has come full circle. But I just can't. Plus I have lots of responsibilities and footwork to do for them.

Because I'm at home, I feel obligated to volunteer in my girls' classrooms around once or twice a week.

And I just want to curl up into a ball and hide my head under a desk like the children in an atomic bomb drill from the fifties.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving everyone. I know I'm going to need a little humor to get through the holiday this year. So here's my favorite Thanksgiving scene. Enjoy and happy Thanksgiving, Citizens.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Heard From The Back of the Minivan

Oldest Urchin - Mom, if you adopt a new kid. . .

Me - WTH wrinkle between  my eyes: to self When did I start adopting kids?

O.U.- And they come to live with us. . .

The Man- Shoots me a bushy eyed "Is there something I should know?" glance that says When did you start adopting kids?

O.U. - Can they sleep in my top bunk and then I can have the green bedroom?

*Silence for about three seconds where crickets chirp*

Youngest Urchin - *Excessively indignant* I'm not sleeping with THAT kid!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Support Your Local Authors

Tomorrow two great local authors will be over at the Camphill Barnes and Noble signing their latest releases. Natalie Damschroder and Megan Hart.

Both of these gals had the grit and temerity to run the gauntlet of the Sea Monkey S.A.T. portion of my author interview questions. You can check out their answers below.

Natalie's Interview

Megan's Interview

If you're in the area, it'd be great if you'd stop in and say hello to these great ladies. I'm planning on stopping in, if I can get my tracking anklet clearance approved by the Urchins. And if it isn't too cold, I may just ride the motorcycle to boot! Two hours footloose and fancy free with writer friends. Who could ask for anything more?

So what are your big weekend plans, since mine are only one step above hypothetical? Let me live vicariously through you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Seasick Steve And Voice Mail Evilness

Here's a real life character. I really dig his music. The guitar he uses in the song below has more strings than his others. He even has a one stringed instrument made from a hunk of wood, two crushed soda cans and a string that almost looks like a rubber band. But boy can he make it sing!

Here he is playing I Started Out With Nothing.

Onto other news. I've been doing battle with the Dept. of Education's website and voice mail system. Delynn was right to choose voice mail as her minion. It's pure EVIL!

I'm trying to get information on my teaching certificate's status. And it's not easy to come by taking the prescribed Dept. of Ed. route. I may have to re-open my store The Angry Villager and deal with them on my terms.

Which brings me to my writing. Which has not been going well lately. I'm running out of time to be home with my kiddos and writing while I'm here. And I haven't made the most of it. I'm trying to turn that around, but it's tough. We'll see if I make some of the more lofty goals I've set for myself. I won't even consult my Magic Eight Ball. I swear that thing is stacked against me in the answers department.

Until Next time, Citizens!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Here's To Characters Like . . .

Polk Salad Annie.

Her whole family is an interesting bunch. Just listen.

Fun stuff. But then I've always thought the Blues and Country song writers were an inventive lot.

Who or what has inspired you? What songs have made you smile and want to turn them up to 11 recently?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Delynn Royer- A Touch of Camelot Author Interview

Please welcome Delynn Royer to Tongue in Cheek.


Delynn Royer is the older, smarter, funnier, more ornery alter ego of author Donna Grove, who, as a young mother, published lighthearted historical romances with Harper Paperbacks. Her first book, A Touch of Camelot,  won an RWA Golden Heart award. Since then, Delynn has kept busy working the dreaded day job and raising her two sons.

Now, however, her sons are grown and she has returned to her first love, writing. She's currently at work updating her backlist to be made available as e-books and penning a new romantic mystery series.

AQ: Thanks for agreeing to answer some interview questions about yourself and your new book.

DR: Sure, Ava. I’m excited to be here!

AQ: So, what is your book about?

DR: A Touch of Camelot is the first of my backlist titles to be updated for e-readers. It’s a sensual, upbeat Western historical romance with a Camelot twist. Here’s the blurb.

Set in Kansas and San Francisco, 1879. Guinevere Pierce was raised at the knee of one of he slickest con artists in the West, but can she con her way out of this one?

When Gwin and her kid brother Arthur become witnesses to murder and then targets themselves. there's no time for games. There's only time to run.

Cole Shepherd is a new Pinkerton detective. His first assignment? To escort the beautiful and deceptive Gwin Pierce and her brother across the country to testify.

When Gwin sets eyes on her Pinkerton escort, she's stunned. Cole's is the face that has haunted her romantic dreams since she was a girl. He's her Sir Lancelot, but now he's her captor. And he's leading them toward a trap that Gwin must convince him could cost them their lives.

AQ: Can you share an interesting behind the scenes tidbit about your story?

DR: People ask where writers get their ideas. I wish I knew. One thing that made this book fun to write was mixing a Camelot theme with the Old West, but that’s not how it started.

About two chapters in, I decided the heroine’s name didn’t feel right. She was Gwen then, and so I changed her to Gwin, which could be short for Guinevere. I wondered why a mother would give her child such a beautiful but tragic name, and the Camelot theme grew from there.

AQ: What is your favorite part of the story writing process?

DR: The moment when my characters start to come off the page, when they begin to lead rather than follow. That’s when they show me where the story is going, whether I planned it or not. So fun!

AQ: Writing can be such an isolated enterprise. Yet, I’m sure there are people who have helped, guided or inspired you along the way to becoming a published author. Could you tell us about one of them and how they helped you?

DR: It took a village. A certain Pennwriters critique group comes to mind, as do critique partners from RWA, including Ginny Aiken, Kathy DiSanto (and you, Ava!). Without that support, I never would have had the gumption to finish a manuscript. I must especially thank Karen Rose Smith for her generous support and encouragement.

AQ: What are you working on now/next?

DR: A romantic mystery set in 1920s Manhattan. It’s about a burned out homicide detective who teams up with a perky girl reporter to solve the Central Park murder of a notorious bootlegger. It’s got dead bodies, snappy dialogue, and a splash of romance.

AQ: I can testify to that!! It's wonderful!

Now on to the S.A.T. portion of the interview:

Fill in the blank –
If I were a villain, I would have __________ for minions to deliver my wrath because _________.  (And remember, sea monkeys are already spoken for. Mostly)

DR: Automated phone systems because there’s no more evil creature than a robot that prompts you to repeat yourself five times, then puts you on hold for fifteen minutes, then brightly informs you that all lines are busy and to try again later. Click.

Sea Monkeys are to ____________ as zombie stinkbugs are to ________________.

DR: Unsuspecting aquariums
Innocent vacuum cleaner bags
And no, I don’t know what that means. :)

AQ: Please tell us where we can find out more about you and where we can buy your books.

DR: To find all of my e-books available now for Kindle, visit my Amazon author page at

For non-Kindle owners, I’m busy converting my books for other online retailers. A Touch of Camelot is now available from Smashwords at

Or visit me anytime at
And for an excerpt from A Touch of Camelot, visit Only Romance at

Thanks again for stopping in, Delynn!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Delynn Royer Will Be Here!

Author of light historical romance, Delynn Royer will be here on Wednesday to run the gauntlet of author interview questions here at Tongue in Cheek.  Stop by and check out her newest release and see how she fares on the dreaded Sea Monkey S.A.T.s!

Don't be fooled by their wholesome appearance. They're deadly.

To see how other intrepid authors have answered in the past, check out the former interviewees.

Vicky Burkholder

Natalie J. Damschroder

Susan Gourley

Megan Hart 

Misty Simon

See you Wednesday, Citizens!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Harryhausen Halloween

I may have mentioned a time or two that I have a huge geek streak in me. (Right next to the evil one.) I adore the stop-motion work of Ray Harryhausen. Clash of the Titans was an all time favorite of my youth.

So for your Halloween delight, I found a tribute video on You Tube that showcases his fantastical creations. Here is a full list with pictures of all his creations from

And here they are in their full stop motion glory. Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 22, 2012

It's Been A Helluva Month

So my mother left at 5:45 this morning. She's been in from Montana for the last three weeks. But only this last week was she ensconced at Chez Quinn.

I love my mother. Like Christmas and taxes, she comes but once a year. And her visits are the emotional equivalent of a bungee jump. The jerking of emotions from highs to lows and back again are one of the universe's mysteries revealed in great detail as it's played out in my house.

I'm exhausted.

On top of that, the youngest urchin was home sick today, so writing could not resume after a week of forced respite while visiting with my mom.

Maybe tomorrow.

So many times after a visit I go into isolationism mode to recover. I even have a category for that on the sidebar to the right. I'm hoping to skip the crazed over-analyzing and dreariness that follows such visits by plunging into the w.i.p. again. Though that can be dangerous territory. I can take left turns in my writing and seriously torture my characters in some sort of twisted effigy of self preservation that will take weeks of rewrites to repair.

Maybe I'll just take up a new hobby. (No, not knitting tank cozies.) Something more sensible.

Like Roadkill Art (tm).

I really think it's the up and coming new thing.

Until next time, citizens. Unless I succumb to the isolation booth. Then who knows when I'll return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Too much to explain now. Will catch up soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's Definitely A Bad Sign When

You pull a muscle as you attempt to hook your sports bra. I mean, I hadn't even made it to Zumba class and I'm already injured? What the hell?!

The only thing worse is as I get older, I find that I go to bed feeling okay, but wake up with a pulled hammy. And I didn't do anything during the night in the bed to sustain an injury. I'm just old! How do I go to bed fine and then wake up injured? What is that about?

I blame the sea monkeys.

Well, I still went to my Zumba class. Not the one I last reported on. You remember, the one I wanted to stage a coup and take over. Hostil-y. A la Joan of Arc in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. I now attend Zumba at the roller rink. Yes, the roller rink! It's so awesome. They turn down the house lights and get the disco globe going and the colored party lights. I'm hooked.

So I didn't injure myself further, though this has been the week of injuries/frailties for me. I had that ear infection, I banged my head wicked hard (it's still tender) on the corner of the door jam of my kitchen,(the man still thinks I may have slightly concussed myself) and now the sports-bra-hooking injury. It reminds me of the time I almost killed myself due to deeply ingrained girly tendencies.

Ahhh, good times.

So are there any weird things happening to you as you get older? (Why do I have the feeling it's just me.)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Do You Know What Sucks?

Ear infections. I've got a doozy. I blame those frickin' Sea Monkeys and their germ warfare. I'll get them yet, my pretties.

Until next time, Citizens.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Those Dang Sea Monkeys!

When we last left our intrepid heroine, the sea monkeys were in the process of converting the freakishly large carny goldfish to their evil soggy side. They've been providing it cover in what I believe to be a Mak'tar stealth haze (30 imaginary bonus points and much respect if you get that movie allusion).

So the battle lines have been redrawn. They've expanded their territory from the upstairs bathtub to the fish tank on the first floor. That is a serious act of aggression. No longer will I endeavor to convert them to become my minions. They will no longer get a pass. I mean business.

I've started with some psychological warfare of my own. I thought, what would the natural enemy of the sea monkey be, besides myself? Answer? Big industrial sized sponges. They'd suck up all the water in their habitat. Then I thought, what is the most terrifyingly annoying sponge on Earth? Answer. Sponge Bob Square Pants.

I'm going to go out and buy fifty Sponge Bobs and add them to the aquarium pronto. Next, I will be installing this toilet in our upstairs bathroom. Right next to the tub.
I'm done negotiating. I'll be mixing up some mustard gas for the tub for complete and total annihalation of the sea monkey tribe. Once I'm done toying with them, that is. Bwaa haa haa haa haaaaaaa!

So, what are your home improvement plans? Hopefully they include some diabolical laughter. It's good for the soul.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


The youngest Urchin is now officially a public school student. She goes to half day kindergarten. On the bus. Which means I don't have to spend half the time she's there driving back and forth to drop her off and pick her up.

Translation: I have almost three hours in the house by myself!

And to those who read this blog who are writers, you know what the underlying meaning of that statement is. I get to WRITE!

I started writing when the youngest Urchin was a little over one year old. She just turned five. So for the past four years I've been taking stolen moments in chunks of ten to twenty minutes to write. And, astoundingly, I haven't finished a manuscript. Go figure.

But now, I have almost three glorious hours of morning, when I'm not already completely frazzled, (okay, getting them on the bus in the morning does have some frazzle-like qualities) to sit and work on my w.i.p. Astounding.

The first week I was disappointed with myself. I only wrote for about an hour each day. I'd get up and wander off to do some housework, check on a suspicious noise (I live in a house built in 1826 and am completely fearful of ghosts.), check my email. I tried to write it off as my miniscule attention span. I own this shirt for a reason.

picture from

But what was really happening was I needed to build up my writing stamina. For years I wrote in this disjointed way. Now I needed to work up to marathon proportions. (Thanks to Misty and Natalie for backing me on my theory.)

And so I've begun. I'm up to a little over two hours a day on my writing. Which is exciting, but as with all writers, other things pop up in the process to stall or derail us. But one problem at a time for me.

So, have you had any writing epiphanies? How do you like to write? If you had a house to yourself for three hours, what would you do?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Roller Derby Plus One

pic from

Yes, there's another fan girl on the roller derby express. Natalie Damschroder - who's book, Under The Moon is out this month- (Check out my previous author interview with her here.) attended last night's bout with Misty Simon (Her latest book, What's Life Without The Sprinkles, is coming soon from The Wild Rose Press- Check out her previous author interview with me here) and myself. And I think it's safe to say that she's hooked.

Though our team got trounced, a fun time was had by all. It was great to get out of Chez Quinn for good behavior, though the tracking anklet cramped my style a bit. But what I liked most was meeting with good author friends and talking about writing. In the middle of the month. I don't usually get to do that more than once a month at our chapter meetings. Awesome.

A close second was eating at Neato Burrito. Man, I love that place. I keep threatening to compose a sonnet about all the wonderful goodness encapsulated in that eating establishment. It's not just the great food. The ambiance is a major factor as well. And their sour cream-feta-jalapeno salsa will need its very own verse at least.

We had a good time, saw some great roller derby and the freaks were letting their freak flags fly in force last night. I saw some truly wonderful characters that I admired from afar who got my writer juices pumping. Because some of them will definitely be making cameos in my stories. Just like my backyard carnies.

I almost rode my motorcycle to the bout, but alas, it wasn't meant to be. It's been a rough summer for me. I've only been out on the cycle about three times. And I'm jonesing for a ride.

Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, humor blog, Ninja motorcycle,
*sigh* Doesn't she look so lonely?

So what did you do this weekend?  Do you go anywhere in particular to watch fun, real-life characters? What would you write a sonnet in tribute to? Inquiring minds wish to know! 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Vigilante Knitters

So the new thing with those crazy youngsters today is Yarnbombing. Remember that post I did, lo those many years ago about the people knitting sweaters for trees? Well it's grown into some insane proportions.

picture from The Telegraph
And I have to say, that my earlier skepticism of this activity has evaporated and heartfelt admiration has taken its place. It was the pompom on the end of the tank's gun barrel that won me over.

pic from seaviewweavers

TimePhotos has a nice sampling of some knitting graffiti. I particularly liked the legwarmers on the immense statue in France.

So what form of harmless craziness would you inflict on the world if you could. Obviously mine is this blog. What would yours be?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whatever Happened To Menudo?

I spent some time the other week with my young teenage nieces and got a full-on education about the newest boy band, One Direction. (As did my five and eight year old. I could have done without that.)

To really show my age, my first boy bands were The Monkees (Peter was my favorite. The bff's was Mike. Whenever she'd watch the show, she'd do so with a knit winter hat on her head. Which explains a bit why she's the bff.), Menudo and a little later New Edition.

Don't remember Menudo? I don't know how you could ever forget them. (I suggest you not watch the entire clip. They have the same effect as polka, and I'd hate to have to stage another intervention.)

Note Ricky Martin in the pretty turquoise outfit on the end.

So who were your favorite boy bands? Or the ones you most enjoyed making fun of.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Giving The Devil His Due

Things have been extra busy around Chez Quinn with a big honking side of crazy. Back to school and the oldest urchin's birthday are foremost in the importance column over here. The youngest urchin is starting kindergarten, and much nervousness is abounding. I'm not sure if more is coming from me or the kiddo.

On a completely different topic, I'm a new fan of the show Reaper. (Gotta love Netflix.) And obviously the best character on that program is the Devil.

picture from
He is so slick and slimy that I couldn't do anything but adore him.

Any new characters that you love (or love to hate)? How about back to school adventures? Lay them on me!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Feel The Roller Derby Love

Have I mentioned that my new love is the roller derby? I almost went stag to the bout on Sunday. But the fabulous Misty Simon not only went with me, but spotted me ten bucks so I could purchase a new roller derby tee shirt!

Ava Quinn contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author,
I owe Misty more than $10. I owe her eternal fealty for making sure I got THIS!!!!
Ava Quinn contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author,
My new pretty.
Misty is now a hard core roller derby fan, just like myself. My plan is working. I'm adding to my roller derby fan girl crew one recruit at a time. No one knows who will be next!

Ava Quinn contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author,
The first pretty that the B.F.F. got for my birthday. It's my precioussss!!!

So I am now the proud owner of two very cool derby shirts, which just happen to match my motorcycle perfectly.

Ava Quinn contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author,
Vroom Vroom!!
Deep down, motorcycle owners know its all about the accessorising.  When I had a bright yellow, purple and black Ninja, (which I'd named the angry bumble bee) you know I had the yellow and black helmet to go with it.

And I swear, before any Harley owner is allowed to pick up their ride, they're forced to the back room to sign a contract stating that they will wear all black and never smile whenever they're riding. (I'm sure the huge guy with the name "Bubba" stitched on his leather vest who's standing back there with them had nothing to do with it.)

I'll never understand that, (the not smiling part, that is) because when I get to ride my motorcycle, this is what I look like:


Back to the bout before I digress right off the page. I still haven't come up with my roller derby name yet, (The B.F.F. is still set on Pound Cake.) there were a lot of good ones at the bout on Sunday. (sunday. Sunday! SUNDAAAAY! We'll sell you a ticket for the whole seat, BUT YOU'LL ONLY NEED THE EDGE!!!!!) Dawn of Valhalla, Ida Hitthat, Mystery Violence Theater 3000, and Dirty Girlscout were a few. But the name that had me giggling like an adolescent middle school boy every time they announced it was Her Heiny Granger.

So what's your new love? Is anything right now making you maniacally happy? Or do you have a crazy hobby you'd like to share? Lay it on us!

Now I have to get back to my Sea Monkey wars. They're gaining territory and I don't want them to get used to it. I will soon be engaging in some major chemical warfare. Until next time, Citizens!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sea Monkeys and Carny Food- But Not at the Same Time

I have been busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest. I can't even begin to tell you all the different ways I've been pulled. The blue- hairs have one of my legs, the Urchins have the other, Ebay and Craigslist have an arm. Church and back-to-school have the other arm, and my brain is about to go super nova.

So sorry for the blog silence. I know you all wait with bated breath for me to post here.

When we last left each other, the Sea Monkeys were making their move by bending the carny goldfish to their evil will. Well, check it out. I have photo positive proof that they are in cahoots.

Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, deranged goldfish, hostile sea monkey takeover, humor blog,
Check out the creepy fog. They're in there. Don't you doubt it.
The levels of aggression on the big orange one have gone through the roof. I need a counter-strike option stat.

On top of this, the carnival is in my back yard again. Once a year for four glorious days, the back yard is inhabited by the craziest carnies you've ever met. The urchins ride rides, I eat nothing but fried things on sticks, washed down with funnel cake and people-watch some of the best characters humanity has to offer. Ahhh, life is good.

I'll have all the latest carny reports for you in a few days after I claw my way out of my diabetic coma. So, for your carny fulfillment, I'll leave you with two takes on carnivals. The first is my own romantic musings after a close encounter with a carnival ride operator working in the back yard.

The second are the judges of the 'Possum Queen swimsuit competition I won last year. As they say, a picture's worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, you'll be a bit speechless after you take a gander at these.

Until next time, citizens!

A Lid For Every Pot

The 'Possum Queen Swimsuit Competition Recap

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Sea Monkeys Have Made Their Move

On the carny goldfish. The tank has developed an eerie white fog where the beast of a fish is lurking. I'm pretty sure they have turned him to the Wet Side. He now tries to take part of my finger when I drop his pellets into the water.

I will need to respond. With vigor.

Not familiar with my Sea Monkey Troubles? As The evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz would say, "BACKSTORY TIIIIIME!!!!"

The Sea Monkeys Are Organizing

Sea Monkeys Fight Dirty

Or you can check out the entire category I have devoted to them.

So suffice it to say, the war has been a long one. And right now I need to step up my game.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Remember That Pinched Nerve?

Well, I do. And now it's back. I spent the morning at the doctor's office being twisted into a pretzel from the waist down and being asked, "Does this hurt?" I swear he was a sadist in disguise. And I was secretly on some new kinky reality show. At the very least I was getting punk'd.

Then I was sent for back xrays. I'd never gotten anything xrayed before besides my teeth. That was an interesting experience. Standing for the whole thing proved slightly problematic. That's all I'll say.

I am now on steroids and some heavy duty locate-your-bed-before-you-take-these pain pills. I'm supposed to be packing for vacation right now. We're going camping. On Monday. On plywood boards that have pathetic foam coverings so they can masquerade as beds. Suffice it to say I'm not going to be a happy camper.

But I'll take one for the team and hope like hell I don't develop paralysis over the long term.

Look on the bright side. Apparently this was the universe's way of supplying me with a summer re-run.

So here it is.

All It Took Was A Pinched Nerve

Happy trails, citizens.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

We'd Like You To Write A Song . . .

About Manifest Destiny. And you should use the words manifest destiny in it. And it needs to be catchy and educational. Oh, and understandable by children.

And so she did.

Thank you, Lynn Ahrens. For this and many more that you wrote and performed. You don't just rock, you School House ROCK!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Fourth of July, citizens! I wanted to share one of my favorite Fred Astaire routines from Holiday Inn. The Fourth of July number he does with fireworks. It's ingenious. But the embedding capability was denied on every last one of them. So, Click on through and get an eyeful of creative genius.

Fred Astaire - Fireworks

And have a safe holiday chock full of awesomesauce.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

I Like Every Minute of the Day

I've been coming back again and again to several songs recently. This is one of them. Blue, Red and Grey by my favorite band, The Who, is definitely out of character for most of their songs. But I'm so glad Pete Townsend wrote it.

Are there any songs you come back to over and over? Any you're really digging right now? Lay them on me!

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Now Run and A Re-Run

This weekend I got a little fill up of much needed happiness in the form of Philly food. I am a native of the Philadelphia area. And there is no food like it in the world. I got my cheese steak (Provolone, not Velveta).

And I got a Zep. A zep is happiness on a kaiser roll. You can only get a zep in Norristown or Bridgeport, PA. And I feel sorry for all of my readers who have never experienced the taste bud carnival in your mouth that is a Zep. The picture doesn't do it justice. Believe me.

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I also went to a great delicatessen that had it's own . . . wait for it . . .

Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, humor blog,
Doot doo dood doooooo! (fanfare)
 complimentary pickle bar. Which was a little slice of heaven on Earth.

Which brings me to the re-run.

Two years ago or so the family packed up the truckster and headed out to get some culture. We saw an exhibit of the Terracotta Warriors on tour from China. We were very classy for most of the the day. But then, we stopped at a Roy Rogers restaurant, and I explained why I would always consider it a five star establishment, regardless that it is a fast food joint. I stand by my rating.

So enjoy the walk down memory lane.

Going to D.C.

So, what little joys keep you sane?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

I'm Repaying You In Re-Runs

To those of you still hanging around here at Tongue in Cheek during this crazy month where I've been absent due to family medical emergencies - I thank you. And how do I thank you? With re-runs.

Sorry it couldn't be in bail bonds, but I may just need them for myself later.

So I'm starting my summer re-runs a little early this year. For those of my readers who are easily offended or have squeamish constitutions, probably best to skip this one. For the rest of you hard core Tongue-In-Cheekers - Enjoy and rock on!

 The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Situation Normal - Except for the Reactor Leak

The oldest Urchin is out of the woods - mostly. Trying to keep a very active seven year old under wraps at the start of her summer vacation is a bit exhausting, let alone time consuming.

Barely controlled chaos about sums it up here at Chez Quinn. How are things in your neck of the woods?

Monday, May 28, 2012

What The Fuck, Universe?

So, I'm home for a quick shower before I go back to the hospital. I've been at the local hospital since yesterday morning when we took the oldest Urchin into the ER and she got an emergency appendectomy. There have been complications from the start, including she had an asthma attack on the operating table and again coming out of the anesthesia. They had to do the operation old school, and it turned out to be very invasive. She's been running a fever for days, even though she was on antibiotic before she went to the ER for the damn deer tick last Monday and on an IV drip of antibiotics since coming out of surgery. Hasn't she had enough, Universe? Leave her the hell alone!

All I can say is thank God I didn't fly to Montana for my dad's heart attack.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Emergency Re-Runs

I was going to do a post today about my long,  torrid and completely one-sided love affair with Bruce Campbell . . .

My dreamboat via

But that will have to wait for a while. I found out yesterday that my father had some sort of a heart attack and is in the hospital, so I will probably not be around the internets for a while. I'll be checking in on all those great blogs that I read at a later date, and will be scheduling some re-runs for the time being. I don't think I'll be flying out to Montana, but I don't know what the full situation is yet.

So enjoy the Tongue In Cheek zaniness from the past, starting with last year's Memorial Day celebration - 'Possum Queen style.

Grilled 'Possum Memorial Day BBQ

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May Madness

I can't believe May is almost over. I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off the entire month, and June doesn't look like it's shaping up to be any better.

I got back on Sunday from paradise. No, not some tropical island. What lowly garden gnome would have the money for that? I mean my writer's group annual retreat. Three days of nothing but writing and eating and kibitzing and writing some more. All where they feed you and there's no monster laundry pile hiding behind every corner ready to pounce on you when you innocently walk by. (I think that may be my favorite part about the whole thing.) 

I got lots of editing done, talked and ate with good friends and mentally recharged as a writer. But as soon as I walked through the door at Chez Quinn, all that came to a screeching halt.

One of the things that ground everything to a standstill was I found a deer tick on the oldest urchin. Those of you who've hung around here for a while know what that did to me. So yesterday morning was taken up entirely with the doctor and pharmacy before dropping her off at school at lunch time.

My scheduled is jam packed until at least the middle of June, but I really want to try and keep my momentum going. So far the magic eight ball has decreed that, "outlook doesn't look good". (stupid, frickin' magic eight ball) But I continue to believe that I will prevail. We'll see how long that lasts.

So what gloriousness and/or madness is going on in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The BFF Has Gone Mad

Mad I tell you! It's usually me who makes crazy, delusional statements and then follows through on them. And it's the BFF who tries to talk me out of it. But now - now she's the one insisting on insanity.

We'll both be celebrating a milestone birthday next month. You know the one. The "old enough to know better but think you're young enough to survive whatever hare-brained notion you come up with to prove that you're not".

Yeah. That old.

So, a new country bar opened in our redneck of the woods. (Yes this is related. Just wait.) And in this hillbilly honkytonk, there is a -wait for it- mechanical bull.

Yes, the BFF wants us to go ride a mechanical bull for our big milestone birthday celebration. She is refusing to grow old with dignity. I just want to be able to grow old period. Which is why I am balking at this particular half-baked plan. But she's sticking to her guns, bringing up the many times where I talked her into doing something stupid. Or dangerous. Or stupidly dangerous. Such as:

The Infamous Occurrence of the Hot Tub Party.
The Riding in the Back of the Pick Up Down the Highway Double Date Disaster
The Pilfering of the Flashing Construction Sign
The Pool Sharking at the Dance Club
The Tag-Team Mud Wrestling (You can totally take her, Cat. You're wiry.)
The Under-aged in a Country Bar Incident (though, to be fair, it was HER mom that got us in.)
The Trapped in the Camaro Doing Doughnuts in the Schoolyard Debacle

The list goes on. And on. So as you can see, I may just have to get my ass up on a mechanical bull in restitution. If you ask the BFF this is already a done deal.

So I'm praying she either comes to her senses, which is unlikely. Or the mechanical bull  has a setting level of Shetland pony. I have a feeling I'm screwed on both accounts.

Did you ever do anything wild for a birthday, or just in the craziness of youth? Lay it on me!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Roller Derby Recap

Yes, I went to the roller derby. And yes, it was as awesome as one would expect. Doubling the excellence of the experience, the bff and I hit Neato Burrito before the bout. (Man, I need to write a sonnet praising Neato Burrito. I keep threatening to do that. One day I'll follow through.)

We went in knowing next to nothing about roller derby. And the learning curve is great. There's a lot of strategy, a dump load of officials and many different calls to know. We did pretty well faking our way through it, thanks to the brief crash course in roller derby rules provided in the program.

Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, roller derby, humor blog,
Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, roller derby, humor blog,

The players were hard core, there was a live rock band at half time, and a lot of all around good fun. I have a healthy dose of respect for the players, even though they have sometimes hilarious names. My favorite name from the Charlottesville Derby Dames was Nilla WasteHer. Our fearless home team had some great nom de plumes too. Such as: Mystery Violence Theater, Donita B. Hostel, and Anida Blade. (Even the officials had game names like Ted Nuisance.) Each player has to come up with their very own derby name, and register it with the national roller derby registry.

The bff decided that I needed a roller derby name, and I agree. But not on the name she came up with for me, which was Pound Cake. I forgive her though, because look what she bought for me!!!!!

Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, roller derby, humor blog,
Look at the pretty!!!
My very own Fallout Femmes tee shirt! I want to hug it and squeeze it and pet it and call it George. It matches my motorcycle and I will wear it to my writers' retreat this month with pride. Sigh, I am loved.

So, as I revel in the warm afterglow of a fantastic field trip, I shall endeavor to come up with my very own roller derby name. It might need to deal with motorcycles or gnomes or maybe evil polka. That would definitely strike fear into the heart of any opponent I may roll over.

So what would your roller derby name be?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dangerous Books For Girls

Here's a YouTube video that peels away some of the lame reasons why romance novels are ridiculed. It was posted by Maya Rodale
whom I do not know, but I really enjoyed the video she created. So I decided to share it here.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Down But Not Out

Sorry for the radio silence, Citizens. Seems I've been gone long enough for Blogger to change everything, so let's see how well this post goes.

I worked all weekend scoring assessments for the most disabled students in the state. I was there five hours on Friday night, eleven and a half hours on Saturday and seven hours on Sunday. You're basically sequestered in a cubicle farm with 250 teachers, hunched over a computer screen. I have a little bit of a feel for what a call center in New Delhi is like.

 I didn't have too many gut wrenching videos to score this time, but my WTF-o-meter is still blaring loud and clear. And I know deep down in my heart that there is a special place in Hell reserved for bureaucrats and bean counters.

But I survived, and I'm a believer in the old adage, "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." Let's hope the next two scoring weekends don't finish me off.

I, of course, picked up a bug of some sort. I mean, it was inevitable. Lock over 200 teachers from all over the state with their very own pool of germs school and confine us together in a windowless, poorly ventilated room for a weekend, and yeah, it's gonna happen.

So that is the main reason for the radio silence here at TiC. Exhaustion and germ warfare.

 So how was your weekend?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When The Right Words Are Still Wrong

I've been editing my manuscript for a while now, and I can't seem to get it quite right. The story is there. The words are on the page, but those words just aren't quite the right ones. Yes, they tell the story. Yes, they're grammatically correct. But they could be so much better.

Have you ever had this problem? The sentences are adequate. But just not as good as you know it could be. And now I'm getting stuck on improving them.

I know I should work on something different. Take a break and come back, yet now it's an obsession. I. Must. Fix. It.

We had a speaker last year at our writer's group who said something very obvious, yet extremely eye-opening for me. He claimed that writer's block was a fallacy (my word, not quite his). Writing is a career, a profession. Just like teaching or human resources or what have you. You never hear of a plumber not showing up for work because he has plumber's block. So why do many writers take that line of thinking?

I've been working on the manuscript Monday through Friday whenever I can manage to cram in some time. If I want to make this work as a job, I need to put in the hours, not the excuses. So here I sit, during my stolen minutes of the day, typing away, furiously trying to make it shine.

And it's not quite there.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Your Group Polka Intervention

Yes, it's here. I'm very concerned about the polka levels that were unfortunately inflicted here at Tongue In Cheek during the hostile takeover. I feel responsible to any who may have come under the influence of the polka and need to get clean.

But what is the antithesis of polka? Well, citizens, the answer to that is very personal to each individual. Though after years of heading research into this conundrum, I feel qualified to offer a solution.

When I had to stage the polka intervention for my parents last year, I administered liberal amounts of Burt Bacharach and other easy listening paragons. As was the recommended daily allowance in their age bracket for neutralizing the demon rhythms the polka brings out in us all.

So In an attempt to be all-encompassing in my intervention strategies, I will break down and personalize each reader's polka intervention by age group. Please choose your individualized intervention wisely and honestly. And remember, it's up to you to work your program.

0-12 years of age

13-18 years of age

19-30 years old




So work your programs, Citizens. And remember- Only you can prevent polka infestations.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The After Party Squatters

As you can imagine, the celebration of rousting those polka playing demons was epic. I mean, the severity of alcohol that moonshiners and yard gnomes drink on a normal day is outrageous. But when they have a real reason to let loose? Well, you know they got out of hand.

It started somewhat innocently enough. A lot of rabble rousing, some good-natured ribbing.

But before you know it, each of them were quick to show their fighting side. The rednecks introduced the gnomes to some of their yard games.

When one of the hillbillies decided to replace one of the fashion heads with a gnome, all hell broke loose and I had a full blown smack down, drag out brawl on my hands.

It lasted all week. I finally got most of them to move on, though there are still a few holdouts that are now officially squatters on my property. But it's the price you pay for a polka free home.

Speaking of a polka free home, I'm worried about the influence on my readers that all the hijacked polka blog entries may have possibly had on you guys. So I will be doing a mass polka intervention via the blog soon.

Until then, Citizens. Beware the squatting gnomes.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Polka Apocalypse Has Ended

It was a long and grueling struggle, but the Gnome/Hillbilly Contingency prevailed. We rousted those polka playing zealots right back to the underground where they belong.

With the Gnome Defense League's infamous element of surprise on our side and the crack redneck special forces behind us, we handed them their asses.

We had gnomes hidden everywhere - armed to the teeth.

We even had Gnome Commandos dropping from the roof like a scourge of the skies.

We meant business.

But don't be fooled. The schnitzel truck was no easy target. Those polka fiends brought the big guns. Literally.

It was a fierce and bloody battle and there were casualties on both sides.

But as the Redneck S.W.A.T. team laid down cover fire, a hootin' and a-hollerin' the whole time, Ninja Gnome crept in and planted explosives on the schnitzel truck.

And the war was won!

The after party was what legends are made of. It went on for a week. I've finally just taken back my yard. That's what took so long in bringing you the final update on the Polka Apocalypse.

Look for the party recap soon. Until then, Citizens: Beware the demon rhythms of the Polka!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

It's Time





I mean, are they not the Charlie's Angels of rednecks?

I've gotten some intel back on the enemy. Most of the early disconcerting pictures have a striking resemblance to the famous images of the retreating Sasquatch. But I've finally received some definitive information on their most infamous polkaing teams. Their lederhosen are color coded based on their areas of expertise.

GREEN - Camouflage infiltration and snipers.

ORANGE - Demolitions experts.

picture from

I'm not sure what these guys do yet, but I have my suspicions.

Right now that's not important. Everything's set in motion. By this time tomorrow, God willing, I'll have my blog back.

The Polka Underground is going down!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

We Interrupt This Hostile Takeover

to wish you a happy St. Patrick's Day and to show you this.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ignoren Ze Previous Post

I'm not with the knowing of how zat other post got un ze blog. Ava Quinn is a loving to ze polkas now. Just watch und see her in her lederhosen und vatching the yodeling with the raptures.

Polka forever!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I Don't Have Much Time

They've infiltrated the blog. It's the schnitzel truck. They've hacked in and are broadcasting their polka agenda like some crazed military state from inside it. That truck is decked out with state of the art equipment. There may even be satellite involvement. I'm getting the Gnome Team assembled, but it's going to take time.

I do have some local back-up. Remember those sad rednecks that were ready to pledge their allegiance to the 'Possum Queen? Well, they're ready to roll.

They even have a little surprise in store for the schnitzel truck.

I can't say more. This line is being monitored. But don't fall for the polka propaganda. Ava Quin is still anti-polka!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More Guten Polka!

Here in the Tongue In The Cheek we do love the Polkas. They are guten with the family of little ones. Nein do the Ava Quinn hate it. She is loving to it now. Ja.

She say enjoy and to ignore the dead chickens in the rooftops.

Long Live Polka!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Ja Tongue In Cheek She Loves Ze Polkas

Tongue In Cheek is loving un good polka. Ja. She is with the getting of the down with it. Doing the jiggy things. Ja. Just watch this und you vill see her in ze crowd.

Long Live Ze Polka!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Okay, Here's The Lowdown

Remember that polka intervention I had last year for my parents? Well, it turns out that I ticked off some pretty scary people. Apparently there is an underground organization out of Europe who took offense to some of my comments.

And now they've found me.

The terrorizing began innocently enough. Just a random polka heard from a passing car now and then. I started to get suspicious when a schnitzel truck began driving by Chez Quinn at regular intervals. Then they started coming en masse, blasting their polkas and *shudder* yodeling.

I got some footage of them. Keep an eye on that red car, because he's out of control.

Needless to say, I'm concerned.

But they aren't the only ones part of an underground organization. The Gnome Defense League leaves gno Gnome behind. So I started calling in some favors from my wet work days with them. And they stepped up. In spades.

First to show up was Ivan The Enforcer. Known for his Kneecap Knockout.

Then, Timmy Top Shot.

The rest of the crew hasn't arrived yet, but they've assured me through the Gnome Underground Network (G.U.N.) that reinforcements are on the way.

As for now, I'm keeping a low profile since we're still outnumbered. I've been warned they may try to take over here at Tongue in Cheek remotely, but the blog is sacred. That would mean all out war. I'm sure they don't want that.

My sources are still putting out feelers to find out their agenda. But it won't be long.

Power to the Gnomes, Citizens!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I've Done Been Tagged

Susan Gourley, awesome fantasy author and all around wonderful person, tagged me over at her blog, Susan Says. I'm still lamenting the fact that I missed her book signing at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore yesterday. Not only didn't I get to catch up with Sue, but The Midtown is probably the best independent book seller in the area. So that's a double whammy of goodness that I missed out on. In my defense, I have had no voice and a wicked cough for three days now, so I haven't gone much of anywhere- not even out into the blogosphere.

Sue was tagged last week and answered a different set of questions. Be sure to head over to her blog to check out the answers she gave.

Anywho, here are the questions that Sue tagged me with. And my understanding is that I must answer truthfully. Hmmmm.

1. Are you a Kindle, Nook, Ipad or other? Or none?

Other - I read ebooks, of which I own more of than traditional books, on my laptop.

2. Who is smarter, you or your phone?
Me. Definitely, since my phone only makes calls. I am an openly admitted Techno Freak

3. Do you like two story or one story homes?
I grew up in a three story home, I currently live in a two story home, and as I age I'm definitely seeing the benefits of a one story. So, I guess my preference depends on the day.

4. Country born and bred or city slicker?
I'm originally a city slicker who has come under the influence of country, however unwillingly.

5. Cereal, toast, eggs or just coffee for breakfast?
Cereal. I have eaten Cheerios for breakfast almost every day of my entire life. Yes, I can be that boring.

6. What new show on TV has caught your interest this year?
Burn Notice. Absolute GOLD! I mean, Bruce Campbell? Come on! And Gabrielle Anwar as a former IRA who deals arms internationally? And Jeffrey Donovan is something very nice to look at, dontyouthink? Great stories, good acting, and tons o' fun. Plus. BRUCE CAMPBELL!

7. Have you ever bought a celebrity book? About whom?

Okay. Fine. It was the eighties, and I was truly going to marry him. It was fated. Tiger Beat Magazine's celebrity compatibility quiz foretold that he was my optimal celebrity match. And a little piece of me will always belong to him. *sigh* John Schneider.

8. What is your favorite guilty snack?
Do I have to pick just one? I guess it would be rippled pototato chips and good dip.

9. What was your favorite cartoon character growing up?
Again, just one? I did an entire post dedicated to my favorites.

10. Do you pack your lunch or carry it?
I eat at home. Peanut butter and jelly, just about every day. Again, sad answers when it comes to the food.

11. What book have you read over and over again?
Mostly children's books to the Urchins. I have many a Sandra Boynton memorized as well as My Good Night Book, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. (I've always loved her illustrations)

So there you go! I now will tag two more unsuspecting bystanders who must answer these three questions! WHAT is your name? WHAT is your quest? WHAT is your favorite . . . Oops, wait, I strayed off into Monty Python and the Holy Grail again. I hate when that happens. Here are the real questions.

1. When is your favorite time to write?

2. What would you like to change about the place where you write?

3. Who is your favorite villain?

4. Which do you prefer, Mel Brooks movies or Monty Python's?

5. Who is your favorite character from The Princess Bride?

6. If you could meet anyone living today, who would it be?

7. What is your favorite dish that your mom used to make for you?

8. What song are you really into right now?

9. If you had a kickass Halloween costume party to go to, and you had unlimited resources to prepare, what would you go as?

10. Who from your past would you FB stalk, but never want to see in real life?

So there they are. I personally, think #4 is the hardest of them all. So go on over to

Misty Simon's blog


M. J. Fifield's blog

to see how they answered. Because TAG they're it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lookee What I Got

Ava Quinn, contemporary western romance, cowboy romance, contemporary western romance novels, funny blog, contemporary western romance author, zombie response team, humor blog,

for Valentine's Day!

No, not a new rack. Those are homegrown, not silicone, baby. The shirt!

And yes, I absolutely love it. The Man hit it out of the park this year. It's one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite novels, describing my favorite character. The Man done good!

So any Valentine's Day gifts you'd like to share? It doesn't have to be from this year. Or how about, what would your all time favorite Valentine's Day gift be?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

You Got Here How?

Yes there are many ways to find me here at Tongue In Cheek. My mother would be so proud of some of the most popular search terms that land people on my electronic doorstep. Phrases such as:

possum tongue - Though who is looking for possum tongue, I'll hopefully never know.

possum ninja - Naturally. Who wouldn't be searching for possum ninjas. In fact. I may need to recruit some to be my new minions.

hillbilly carnival - Yes, that would be here.

big belly overalls - See above. They go hand in hand, or belly in denim as the case may be.

old man helmet red high heels - Okay. Yes. That gets you here. (I strongly advise against clicking that link as there is also a leopard print banana hammock involved.)

And the all time most sought out key words that will land you here are Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Yes, ever since I publicly admitted my love of the evil dr, many have ended up here at the craziness that is TiC.

So, dare you admit what landed you here in my web? Inquiring minds want to know!

Monday, February 6, 2012

They Just Keep Upping The Ante

Here they are again. Ok Go with their new release, Needing/Getting. And another fantastic video. Love the sentiment of the song. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Annual Groundhog Day Freakout

IM conversation between me and The Man earlier:

Me: Where do we keep our Liquid Nails?

The Man: Ummmm, at the store where they sell it?

Me: Ok. Do we have any more expanding foam? I broke our can of it and could really use some.

TM: Where are you?

Me: At home. Duh.

TM: What the hell are you doing?

Me: Nothing, at the moment, because I don't have the proper tools. Thus the questions. So are you going to help me out or what?

TM: I'm afraid to ask with what.

Me: Just the info I need. So what about the foam?

TM: I'm not answering that.

Me: Fine. But know this, if you're not with me you're against me. Just like the Urchins.

TM: I'm okay with that. Now can I get back to class?

Me: Fine, but we may need to go out to dinner tonight until the fumes disperse.

TM: Why?

Me: Why do we need to evacuate from fumes?

TM: No. Why all this?

Me: It's Groundhog Day.

TM: (silence) (more silence) Of course it is.

Yes, I have descended into the madness of spring cleaning and it's all the fault of that damn groundhog.

Growing up, I lived in a three story center hall colonial that was owned by my grandmother. Three generations under one roof. Let me tell you, it was no picnic most days.

But to add to the festivities, my grandmother, the matriarch of the household who could chew nails and spit rust, filled her home with antiques. Antiques that she acquired or fixed on her own. The house was like a museum. Only a museum where you'd never see everything, even if you lived there.

Believe me. I know.

This house had nine rooms, one and a half baths and three large halls. Plus a storage room and cellar. All full up to the brim with antiques. And we cleaned all of it. One room at a time. Now, when I say clean, I mean clean. My grandmother grew up on a farm and lived through the Great Depression. She knew how to clean a house.

First you'd empty out the room of the furniture. Then the curtains would be taken down and washed. Then you'd scrub the walls and ceilings. Next you would shampoo the oriental rugs by hand after beating them as they hung over the outdoor clothesline. Next you'd refinish the pine wood floors with homemade shellac. (Don't get me started on home made shellac.) Next every piece of furniture was dusted, waxed and polished. (We had 63 chairs in that house alone. I kid you not.) After that, all the knickknacks, most as fragile as egg shell, had to be dusted and put back exactly where they belonged. (There were three corner cupboards filled to almost overflowing, not to mention the deep windowsills and other tables, etc.) After all that, you reassembled the room. The whole process took several days of non-stop cleaning.

Then you started on the next one. Shampoo, rinse and repeat. Twelve times.

Now at my house, for the majority of the year, I rebel against the mantra that was pounded into my head from a very young age - A place for everything and everything in its place. But right before Groundhog Day I find myself blurting it out.

And I know, it's time. The groundhog is my alarm. Spring is coming. And along with it, spring cleaning.

But this year, I've taken it one step further and into the realm of home repair. And I know I wouldn't be going that far if it weren't for the fact that my wonderful dog is dying. Everyday, it's a little harder for her to get up. A little harder to get around. She's eating less and less. I give her love every time I walk past. I tell her she's a good girl and I just want to bawl.

So I'm throwing myself into my spring cleaning with even more zealous gusto than usual. Here, right in front of me - this house- is something I can fix. Something I can put right.

And so right now I'm obsessive and fanatical and Puritanical in my need to cleanse and repair and it's all the groundhog's fault.

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