Dear Diary, Please make it stop!

Dear Holiday Diary,

After a week of decorating, I still am surrounded by doodads and ditzies just begging to be made into some form of centerpiece, swag or other holiday shimmery thing. It doesn’t help that I keep looking up at my cupboards with the memory of this ceiling I spied while in Denver.

oxford-hotel-christmas-decor

Thanks a lot, Oxford Hotel. I’m still trying to forget the images of Patsy Ramsey’s house. Now I want to buy gold ribbon to swing from above my cupboards to the top of my chandelier. As if I don’t already have enough to do –

  1. Finish sketching the Christmas card.
  2. Note to self: Ask Danny to hide all the scissors in the house. NO POPUPS!
  3. Ink the illustration.
  4. Blog the contest to win a Christmas card.
  5. Put away crafting supplies and duct tape the containers shut. Danny should hide them too.
  6. Start baking.
  7. Get outside! It’s supposed to drop from the 50’s to below zero by Wednesday. Maybe I can add one more string of lights to the outdoor display, I mean, take a hike.

Ideas keep popping into my mind. I need to make them stop. I’ll let you know how I manage.

Have you started your holiday traditions? Are you scrambling like I am?

Dear Holiday Diary

christmas-decorations

Dear Holiday Diary,

I thought I would take some notes to document Christmas 2016. Danny keeps saying flying to Tahiti would solve most of my problems. I wouldn’t have to decorate. The kids could join us and we could skip the gift exchange. He’s dreaming. This is a transformative time of year for me and my house. Besides, I love sparkly things. We’re staying in Colorado.

Note to self:

Next year, make sure to wear a leather outfit and gloves when using angel hair to decorate. It resembles a swirling snowstorm, but it’s not really hair from angels. It’s hellish fiberglass. It sticks to everything including my hands, clothes, and surfaces within one mile of the “construction area.” It especially likes to pierce my sweat pants and poke through my undies when I’m working underneath a table. “Yowch!

christmas-village-and-hellish-angel-hair

Second note to self: Add changing clothes and laundry to the long list of things to do. *strips down in front of washer*

Oh, yeah, and there’s a light bulb out at the Town Office.

For other holiday disasters click here.

Check out The #Blessed Project. There’s still time to join us and get featured.

Holiday Overachiever Meets Christmas Disasters

Like most of you, the holidays require time for planning, cooking, baking, shopping and celebrations. I add drawing illustrations to that list. No matter how organized, there’s never enough time and mistakes can be made. Add four birthdays to the Lindau mix and my Type-A, overachiever, perfectionism is really tested. But that doesn’t stop me from setting lofty goals. Nope.

illustrated christmas cards

Looking back on November, I can’t believe I signed up for NaNoWriMo. I knew I wouldn’t write 50,000 words like I did in 2014. I didn’t need to. My new book is almost done, but I signed up for the camaraderie and the word counter. Still, I thought I would write at least 20,000 words to hit my own 50,000 word mark. I was dreaming. I fell 4,500 short of that wimpy goal. I guilted out day-after-day over Thanksgiving for not carving out a little time to write. Then I faced that whiney voice head on and turned it off. I spent time with my family.

After taking my mom and brother to the airport and helping my sister with her paintings for a show, I finally sat down at 7:00 Monday night. The house was quiet. My husband, Danny, watched the Packer game in the other room. I planned to catch up with blogging. It would be nice to sit back and relax for the next few days.

Then it hit me.

IT WAS CYBER MONDAY! December 1st would arrive on Thursday! I scrambled to click on deals until Amazon read, AAmmaazzoonn and my credit card was maxed out. Not really, but I got a lot of shopping done.

The next day, I made a list.

  1. Decorate the house.
  2. Prepare for a holiday party.
  3. Bake cakes and cookies.
  4. Draw the family Christmas card.
  5. Shop for everyone.
  6. Wrap presents before Christmas Eve.
  7. Keep up with writing projects.

At the end of every holiday season, I take pictures of my decorations to make it easier for the next. The following year, I never look at them. I’d rather try something different. Decorating a couple of Christmas trees and evergreen swags which hang on almost every surface, then setting up several tablescapes should be easy. (In other words four solid days of work, at least.)

Fifteen years ago, Danny and I hosted a humongous Christmas party for a few hundred guests. I made ninety-three different delectable dishes, sweets and treats. Ninety-three! I kept the list. I told you I was Type-A, I mean OCD. That stands for Obsessive Christmas Decorator, right? The inside of the house was trimmed from stem to stern. The outdoor decorations made Boulder’s Top Twenty list. I splurged on a velvet Ralph Lauren dress complete with a train. I hired help to pass out appetizers. It would be elegant.

gorgeous dining room christmas

Over-achieving had reached new heights. I planned the perfect holiday party. I hadn’t learned the fact that no matter how you fantasize about an event, it never turns out remotely close to your imagination.

A few flakes floated down adding to the Kincaid Christmas card mood. It kept snowing. The snow blew and drifts rose toward the windows. It didn’t stop until the next day. More than half the guests didn’t make it because of impassible roads. Someone tracked mud through the house from the garage. The kitchen, which is the focal point of my house, was trashed sometime during the second hour of the party. Unwashed dishes and containers littered the streaky counters. I tripped on my train all night and considered cutting it off. Some of the hors d’oevres, which took hours and hours to make, were never served on trays. My heart sunk when I found all of them in the refrigerator the next day. That was the last big Christmas party we hosted.

After that fiasco, I entertained my tennis friends with a ladies sit luncheon. It started with a very small group of five. Over the next few years the guest list grew. The last time I hosted the event, I invited seventy! Only half of them showed up. Key words, “The last time I hosted.”

I had a weak moment in November and we will brave entertaining again, inviting people who have kept in touch through the years along with some new friends. The last two nights,  I woke up in a cold sweat wondering how I’ll pull it off without a caterer. I’m relying on my old mantra: “You got this. You can do it.” I’m trying not to fantasize. Nothing will be served on trays. My new dress won’t have a train. My family is helping with the party. I’ll be “dancing for drought” before the party, just in case.

After brushing off my dusty cookbooks, I listed the dishes to prepare for the party. Cakes, breads, and my favorite cookies will be baked and frozen. I hope they don’t disappear before the holidays. I’ve developed a bigger sweet tooth than Danny!

My Christmas card will be tackled early. The first time I made a popup version, they were so complicated, each one took more than ten minutes to paste together. I missed two holiday parties to finish them. That didn’t stop me from continuing the popup time suck over the last few years.

pieces and parts of card diy

This year, I will create an old-fashioned illustrated card. (See card below from 2008.) No bells. No whistles. No pull outs. Just one fold down the middle. I hope. Okay, so if I do something remotely popup this year, take away my scissors next year. Please!

I still have lots of time before Christmas to shop for presents. Ordering online makes shopping so easy. I had a brilliant idea to wrap gifts as they are delivered or bought. Ha! That would be a Christmas miracle.

illustrated christmas card 06

So how will I balance my writing life through the holidays? I won’t. I wrote a new chapter yesterday and then studied my planner. There’s no way I’ll finish everything on time for the holidays with a 1000 word per day goal. It’s time to cut back, relax, and enjoy a season that only comes around once a year.

The most important thing? No matter how I plan, I’ll remember that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. “Do you hear that right side?” asks the left side of my brain.

illustration of boy and girl fighting

I’ll do my best and will enjoy the holidays like a normal person. What’s that like? I have no idea. I’ll let you know in January.

 

I have a gift for you! I’m hosting The #Blessed Project until December 17th. Blog a #Blessed Project list and I’ll feature your post on December 19th. Check out the details here. No matter how the holidays turn out, I’ve been blessed by having family and friends like you!

What could go wrong if I stick with my plan? Are you a holiday over-achiever?

Join the #Blessed Project!

It’s been a Wild month and the holidays are upon us. How did that happen? It can be hard to switch gears from stressed-out to happy guest or entertainer right before Thanksgiving. Compounded by worry and lack of sleep, our usual energy may be zapped. We may feel far from blessed.

I have a solution for you! Sometime between now and December 18th take a break and make a blessed project list. This will remind you of what makes you happy. We can only think about one thing at a time, so this project should hip-check negative thoughts out of your cranium for a while. Endorphins will fill the space. Can you feel it?

Your post can be as long or short as you like. It’s your Blessed Project.

Time is a commodity and I don’t want to add to your stress level. If you get into it, take as much time as you want. Include photos, videos, artwork. Or keep it simple and only write a list. You can easily jot down the first few things that come to mind. Done.

There is no right or wrong.

Ask your family why they feel blessed. It could be a sparkly distraction if things get tense over Thanksgiving break. Remember, we can only focus one thing at a time.

  1. Write a #Blessed Project article and post it on your blog.
  2. Include a link to this post. Spread the positivity!
  3. Paste your link in the comment section below by Saturday, December 17th.
  4. Stop back anytime to read other posts. You know the drill. Tell them “Susie sent me from the Blessed Project,” and they should click back to your place.

BONUS! On December 19th, I’ll blog the list of #Blessed Projects pasted in the comments, to reach out to more readers.

Here’s the start of my list. I’m sure it will grow with updates throughout the season.

I felt blessed to ski in Breckenridge with family and friends on opening weekend.

skiing Breckenridge on opening weekend with friends and family

I’m blessed to live in Colorado and

breckenridge-10-mile-range

to have found a physical therapist, so I can do this:

There’s nothing like Thanksgiving! #Blessed

I am blessed to be surrounded by friends and family and dogs!

I am blessed for having a partner in adventure

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and for having a sense of humor, which really came in handy this month.

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To walk on moonlit nights. #Blessed

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And I am blessed for all of you!

Think about your own blessings. Make a list, post it and then leave your url in the comments. I’d love to link you up in another post in December.

Happy Thanksgiving!

First Snow, Finally – Friday Photos

sprinkler snow sculpture

It snowed for the first time yesterday, November 17th, the latest snow on record. I’ve been waiting through dry months more similar to August and September. It was 82 degrees the day before. Yep. We didn’t turn off our sprinklers before the storm. Oopsy. But it made a pretty cool sculpture.

All of these photos taken on my iPhone this morning are unedited. The colors are amazing!

november-snow-2016

I think we can finally take down our wasp traps. In my defense, they were flying around on Thursday and I’m allergic.

first-snow-niwot-2016

The pond has been my muse for years, but I never get tired of this view.

November first snow on the pond

The temperatures are going to bounce back to the 60’s tomorrow. You gotta love Colorado.

I’m so grateful for the change in seasons and my life in Colorado!

Stop back next week for a chance to participate in a fun Thanksgiving party. I’ll give you a hint – Make a list of simple pleasures you are grateful for and I’ll give you a chance to link up.

Have a Wild Weekend!

Is this storm headed your way?

Click for more of my wild adventures.

Need a Susie Whisperer? Random Acts of Chat

This photo is begging for a caption dogs begging for treats

My husband, Danny, and I watched the Dog Whisperer on TV last Saturday. An aggressive Ridgeback named George needed to learn submissive behavior. When leashed, he disobeyed his owners and picked up rocks along the trail.

So the dog picks up a rock and that’s a terrible thing because… I sipped my coffee and half-listened while skimming the newspaper.

The show’s host, Caesar Millan, explained the root problem for most aggressive behavior: Insecurity.

My ears perked up. That sounded a lot like human behavior.

Caesar planned to introduce George to a huge pack of similar size dogs including Rottweilers and Pit Bulls. He mentioned if he didn’t show control over George when introduced to the pack, the Ridgeback would be attacked and torn apart.

Well, that seemed risky. More than twenty humongous dogs circled Caesar and poor George inside the enclosure, but I trusted Caesar. *gulp*

Caesar unsnapped George’s leash and the dog’s tail and ears descended. George snarled. Caesar sprang to action and cornered George. He commanded him to lay down. He never touched the dog or praised it.

When George showed calm behavior, ears and tail up, he was allowed to check out the group. The pack took turns sniffing the new dog in all the best smelly dog places. Accepted, the Ridgeback had a wild romp with others in the pack.

Later, Caesar introduced rocks to George. The Ridgeback looked at him like, why would I want to play with those stupid things when I have all these fine canine friends?”

Reunited with his owners, George walked down a rocky trail and ignored rocks and other dogs. His owners couldn’t believe the dog’s transformation.

Credits rolled at the end of the show.

ME: Wow! Did you see that? One minute he was freaking out and the next, the dog was having a blast. He just needed to know Caesar was in control.

DANNY: I need a Susie Whisperer.

ME: I have one. They’re called writers conferences. *wags tail*

 

Being Haunted… A True Story in Time for Halloween

Being Haunted

Most think being haunted requires a creaky old house where a person died unexpectedly. The shock of a fall, suicide, or murder traps them between our world and the next. They believe these lost souls spend their days shackled to a place and a moment in time.

That’s not always how it happens.

My house wasn’t haunted. I was.

A while ago, a high school friend recounted her experience with shadowy ghosts in their turn-of-the-century home. I envied her. I thought it would be cool to see something so extraordinary. I wondered if I would scream and lay awake night after night knowing I was watched by sleepless souls.

Be careful what you wish for.

My own experiences started with a trip to Wisconsin around 2002. Since the drive back to Colorado would take eighteen hours or more, we planned to get an early start. My husband, Danny, set the alarm for 4:30 AM and we went to sleep in the twin beds in my parents’ Victorian home built in 1901. I woke up around 4:10. Since I had to get up in twenty minutes, I decided to stay awake. A thunderstorm brewed outside and lightning flickered. Then one of our kids opened the door to the bedroom. A dark silhouette of a child could clearly be seen against the hall light. Whoever it was walked into the room and between the beds. Something was very peculiar about this shadow. I tried to focus on a face, but couldn’t see one.

I sat up. “Who’s there?” I asked, “Kelly or Courtney?” As I reached out, the shadow disappeared. I looked at the space between the bed. Not even a child could fit between. I lay back down. My heart remained steady as I recounted what had happened. It didn’t make any sense. Someone was there and then disappeared. I hadn’t imagined it. I was wide awake when I sat up. I looked at the clock again. 4:20.

“Danny. Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

“I think I just saw a ghost.”

“I think you did too,” he said.

“Why? What did you see?” I turned toward him, fully awake now.

“When you asked if it was Kelly or Courtney, I saw light fly toward the window.”

Excited, my heart really pounded. Was it a ghost? What else could it be? I dressed and walked across the hall.

“I saw the door to your bedroom open and thought you were getting up,” said Courtney.

Crazy or what?

The other bed was empty. “Where’s Kelly?” My heart skipped a beat. I had seen enough horror movies to know what happens next.

Steps fell on the stairs behind me. My shoulders relaxed as Kelly joined us in the hallway.

“I couldn’t sleep, so I went downstairs,” he said. “I saw a light streak up the steps.”

We all experienced something strange that night. My brain couldn’t comprehend what I saw, so I wasn’t frightened. That would come later.

I assumed that would be the end of it until the next time we visited Wisconsin. My parents’ house had to be haunted. Not so.

Months later back in Boulder, I heard a shuffling in my bedroom and woke up. A woman dressed in black lace with a veil on her head stood on the other side of the bed and locked eyes with me. Her pale face wore a severe and angry expression. I sat up and yelled, “Danny! Look!” but she faded away.

A few nights later the same sound woke me up. I opened my eyes and gazed up at that woman’s scowling face looming above me. She stood right next to my bed. I could hear the crinoline shift underneath her skirt as she bent down toward me. I gasped and covered my head with the blanket.

These unexplainable occurrences always happened upon waking in the night because of a noise they made. Afterward, I would stare at the ceiling and wonder why me? My house couldn’t be haunted. We built it in 2000. We didn’t excavate an ancient Native American burial ground nor was a graveyard nearby.

Sightings would come in waves of three or four then there would be no activity for months up to a year. Then it would start up again. Doors would bang. Twice I saw bright orbs of light on the wall where none could reflect. A plant hanging from a hook would swing.

I continued to question what I was seeing until my night at The Stanley Hotel.

When my sister, Patty, her friends from Wisconsin, and I spent a night there on Friday the 13th, I told them nothing would happen. For one thing the date was so cliché. Come on. Friday the 13th! In the years I’d experienced ghosts, I could never summon them like they do on TV. When they wanted to be seen, they would wake me up. There was no way they would appear. Ironically, I was the only one who had seen them and the skeptic of the bunch.

There was a group from a ghost-busting TV show who also stayed at The Stanley that night. When I asked them what I was seeing if they weren’t ghosts, one of the hosts told me I was experiencing sleep paralysis. But I was neither asleep, nor paralyzed. A woman overheard us talking. After they left, she told me I was seeing ghosts and explained they are most often seen right after waking before we are fully conscious. I wasn’t sure what to think.

Everything that could happen in that haunted hotel did happen. Looking back, people probably held séances to summon the dead. It wasn’t sleep paralysis that pulled my coat down to the end of the closet or that banged overhead all night. It was unexplainable. Paranormal. Ghosts.

Days after my Stanley experience, someone pinched me when I lay down to go to sleep. It happened for the next three nights. I figured it was one of the ghostly children who ran the halls that night. In a photograph taken at the time, a huge orb appeared next to me. I’m still not sure how I feel about orbs in photos, but it’s there nonetheless.

At one point someone told me I should take classes to amp up my ability. What??? I was intrigued, but didn’t want to become obsessed. Nor did I want the responsibility of a medium. That was a life for someone else.

It was the banger who finally ended my interest in ghosts.

It, (I sensed it was a man) would bang on the dresser, the TV, then the ceiling. It had a peculiar sound to it. More like a snap than a tap. Danny said if he went to bed first it wouldn’t start until I came into the room. Yes. He heard it too. It would end after 11:00 then start up around 4:00 AM. I tried talking and then shouted at it to leave us alone and then gave up. This went on for almost three years. I even have a recording of the taps and knocks.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I really needed my sleep. I remembered something about salt. Armed with crystal bowls and a container of Morton’s, I placed several filled dishes around the bedroom. In two weeks the banger stopped. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?

At the Colorado Gold Writers Conference, I met someone who worked at a psychic center. I told him my book, The Foreboding, was based on some of my own paranormal experiences. He said I was in a minority of people sensitive to ghosts. Once I signaled my fascination and started to see them, I became a beacon to other entities. That explained why I’d several different ghosts over the years. Once I shut the door with the last ghost, they left me alone.

It has been almost three years since I’ve witnessed any paranormal activity. It occurred to me it should be considered normal. I didn’t hallucinate them, nor do I have sleep paralysis. Energy can’t be destroyed so where does it go when we die? I would say with some conviction sometimes it sticks around. We call them ghosts.

But remember what I learned. Trapped souls hunt those who can see them in the middle of the night.

Would you like to have a paranormal experience someday?

Be careful what you wish.

Have you ever seen or sensed a ghost?