Today’s Work In Progress Wednesday guest is Lauren Linwood. Welcome, Lauren. Can you share your top three dream desitinations?

LL: #1 would be seeing New England and Canada in the fall with all the lovely foliage. I’ve been to New England in the summer, but I’d love to see it at this time of year. #2 is Germany and Switzerland. They both are scenic and have a lot of history to see. #3 on my dream list would be outer space. I’d love to explore what’s out there in the universe!

MJ: What’s the top book on your TBR pile?

LL: Michael Connelly’s The Burning Room.  I read everything he writes, and this comes out in November.

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job?

LL: I’d enjoy being a movie producer because you have a hand in every aspect of filming. You locate the script, hire the director, usually have casting approval, scout locations, work with the budget, and even select the catering services. I love that overall aspect of helming such a major, creative project.

MJ: If you had a theme song, what would it be?

LL: Definitely Mission: Impossible. As a writer, creating unique characters and interesting plots can be fun—but it’s also a LOT of hard work! I like to think of myself as an agent, on a mission, and that every time I finish (or bring the book home to my editor), that I’ve chosen to accept and I’ve completed my mission.

MJ: That’s a great analogy! Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

LL:  My iPhone—usually because I need to use it for directions on where I’m heading! I also like to check my email. And yes, I’ll admit it—I’m a serial texter!

MJ: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

LL: The one that immediately comes to mind is The Last of the Mohicans. As a book it was fairly dry, with the language a bit difficult. But seeing a very hot Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye and all the action brought to life? Priceless!

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

LL: I almost always eat Greek yogurt with a spoonful of oat bran stirred in, and I’ll have either hot herbal tea or a cup of coffee, preferably hazelnut, caramel, or French vanilla.

MJ: Name one writing-related website you use a lot.

LL: I like Timelines of History. It’s one I used when I taught high school history, and it’s invaluable when I write historical romances.

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

LL: To Kill a Mockingbird. The prose is so lyrical. The characters and story are so compelling. The descriptions are magical. I read it once a year.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

LL: Absolutely no music can play when I write. I always start humming or singing along, whether in my head or aloud. When that occurs, it takes me out of the story I’m writing. Instead, I prefer it quiet, or I’ll put on my white noise machine and write to the sound of a gentle rain or waves coming in and out.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

LL: I love to read thrillers! Most of them have a “ticking time bomb” plot, where the stakes are high and the characters must save the day in a limited amount of time.

MJ: Do you ever base characters on people you know?

LL: Not at all! When I start a new book, I start first with the hero & heroine’s names. Once I hit upon the right name, I start seeing physical characteristics. From there, I develop their personalities. By the time I finish, I have a brand-new person!

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

LL: I went to Seattle on vacation last summer. It was my second visit there, and the beauty of the city stayed with me. When I sold my first romantic suspense (after writing and selling 6 historical romances), I thought I’d try my hand at another romantic suspense, and I thought Seattle would be a terrific setting for my story.

MJ: And now for the lightning round. Wine: Red or white?

LL: I’m a red girl. There’s nothing like a good cab.

MJ: I  Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched?

LL: Samantha from Bewitched. My birthday is on Halloween, and I’ve always wished I could be a “good” witch and twitch my nose as she did!

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

LL: Gone Girl.

MJ: Favorite TV show?

LL: Lost.

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

LL: The Eagles

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

LL: Coke.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

LL: I love Mexican food, whether it’s Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, or New Mexican cuisine.

MJ: And now for the main event. Can you share the first few lines of your current WIP?

LL: Yes! This is from Recipe for Love.

Linley Peterson locked the door to the restroom stall and whirled just in time. The entire afternoon’s cake samplings came up over the next minute as she knelt next to the porcelain bowl, clutching its sides. Finally, her retching ceased, but the nausea did not subside.

Neither did the hurt in her heart.

How many times had she wished she were in the same situation—except under happier circumstances? It seemed everywhere she turned, she saw pregnant women, the radiant bloom on their cheeks advertising to the entire world that they would soon become mothers. She gladly would put up with the dreaded morning sickness and swollen ankles and burgeoning belly if the end result would be a child.

And yet that seemed unlikely at this moment. Or at least with Steven.

MJ: Ooh. Sounds wonderful. I understand you have a book out now, plus another due out in December, and yet another in January . You’re one busy lady!

LL: Yes, I am! Written in the Cards is currently available from Amazon.

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LL: My medieval historical romance, A Bit of Heaven on Earth comes out December 3, and Leave Yesterday Behind will release in January.

A Bit of Heaven on Earth high res

MJ: And how can readers keep up with all you’re doing?

LL: My website, my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, About Me, and my Amazon Author page.

MJ: Thanks again for joining me today, and good luck with your books!

 

 

26
Oct

Several weeks ago, I started writing this blog as a tribute to my favorite Canadian musicians. The scary happenings north of the border this week skewed the timing.

I have a great affinity for our northern neighbor. My grandfather came from there (according to some family legends). I have many Canadian friends. My home town Triple A baseball team was affiliated with Toronto for three decades. The Canadian flag still flies at the ball park. I’m not fond of hockey, snow, or cold, but I adore Canadian musicians.

My personal music collection is filled with:

  • Neil Young
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Gordon Lightfoot
  • Kate & Anna McGarrigle
  • Terri Clark
  • Leonard Cohen
  • Loreena McKennitt
  • Michael Buble
  • Robbie Robertson

My children grew up listening to Raffi. I’ve been exposed to Arrogant Worms and the Guess Who.

Here’s to Canada!

 

Today’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday guest is Susan B. James.

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Welcome Susan. What are your top three dream destinations, and why?

SJ: When I was a teen I dreamed of being rich and famous and I collected in my mind the houses I would own as a part of this rich famousness.

I had a flat in London, A small castle in the Highlands, and a pied-à-terre in New York overlooking Central Park. I also had a villa in Rome and of course a place in Los Angeles.

I already have a house in Los Angeles, though not the Hacienda I originally envisioned. I’ll swap out the villa in Rome for a beach house in Ventura as long as I can find a secret admirer who has a villa in Rome that he longs to place at my disposal.

MJ: What is the top book on your TBR pile?

SJ: In Your Dreams by Kristan Hannah.

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

SJ: My problem is too many creative outlets. I write children’s and adult books. I also act and do improvisation comedy – both musical and non musical. I’ve given up designing costumes. That’s one good thing.

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job?

SJ: Second banana in a half hour TV series filmed with a live audience. Think Rhoda in Mary Tyler Moore.

MJ: LOL! If you had a theme song, what would it be?

SJ: “Fly Me to the Moon”.

MJ: What book do you wish you could have written?

SJ: Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

SJ: Contemporary with a touch of magic.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

SJ: Contemporary with humor or magic or both.

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

SJ: Michael is Sherry’s son from Time and Forever. Kate came into my head fully named. Kind of like Minerva.

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

SJ: Two years ago, I read about a matchmaking festival in Ireland in a town called Lisdoonvarna. I knew I had to go there and see it. And I knew that my next book would feature a journey to Lisdoonvarna. It seemed to call for some magic.

MJ: That sounds fascinating! And here we go with the lightning round. Addams Family or The Munsters?

SJ: Addams Family.

MJ: Wine-red or white?

SJ: Red.

MJ: I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched?

SJ: Bewitched.

MJ: Beer-can or bottle?

SJ: Don’t drink it.

MJ: Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas?

SJ: Both!

MJ: Favorite TV show?

SJ: It’s about to be Jane The Virgin since my son, Christopher Corbin has a recurring role starting in episode 4

MJ: That’s pretty awesome! Coke or Pepsi

SJ: Coke.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

SJ: Introvert with a great extrovert disguise.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

SJ: Is fudge ethnic?

MJ: Can you share the first few lines from your current work in progress?

SJ: This is from Kate’s Hero:

His long aristocratic nose twitched with impatience.

“Not one of my better sentences,” Kate shut her ears to the blaring horns and jackhammers and concentrated on the maples flaming along the paths of Madison Square Park. Parks usually inspired her. Finding nature in New York City always felt like magic.

Kate held her breath and let the word Magic float in her mind. Children’s shouts echoed from the playground. Dog walkers passed her, focused on their pets and each other. Old men in brown shoes and delivery people on their lunch hours crowded the benches. She exhaled with a huff of air. Nope. Not feeling it.

Kate bent over her legal pad and tried again.

Lord Rotherham fixed Cressida with a fulminating stare.

MJ: Oh, this sounds good! And you have a current release. How can people purchase it?

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SJ: It’s available on Amazon.

MJ: And how can readers stay current with you?

SJ: Through my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or Goodreads.

MJ: Thanks so much for joining me today, and good luck with your sales!

 

 

 

Oh, it has been a week.

There were many highlights, including a trip to Watertown, NY with a couple of writing friends for a booksigning and preview screening of a new Public TV show focusing on local authors. I got to be their entourage; it was great fun!

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Authors Kris Fletcher and Gayle Callen (Emma Cane)

TV Stevie and I went to the Capitol Theater in Rome, NY on Friday night. The Amazing Kreskin was there. It was quite an experience.  Saturday night included a lovely get-together with some of TV’s former co-workers. We really had a great time.

There has been very little progress on my lawn recovery or my office reclamation project. And I’m too tired to care.

 

Welcome to WIP Wednesday! My guest today is Sarah Hegger. Welcome, Sarah. Can you tell us one thing most people don’t know about you?

SH: I have a thing for beautiful evening gowns and would wear one every day if I could.

MJ: What is your secret talent?

SH: I know the words to more show tunes than is healthy.

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

SH: Acting, I started off as an actress and a part of me always wants to go back.

MJ: If you had a theme song, what would it be?

SH: “Respect” (Otis Redding/Aretha Franklin).

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

SH: My toothbrush, and my mascara.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

SH: I am lucky enough to have my writing space. I have a study that’s all mine. Best of all, it has a door that I can shut when I want to work. Although my children view this as a challenge to be overcome.

MJ: Briefly describe your writing day/process.

SH: I start with getting social media set up for the day. Then, I write my new words first. Once I’ve met my daily word count target I get to editing, sorted into a delivery date order.

MJ: Name one writing-related website you use a lot.

SH: I recently signed on to Autocrit. An amazing site where you can load your book and it spots all those common traps I fall into as a writer. It weeds out the dreaded adverbs, POV filters and overused words, and so much more. I also keep my membership to the Oxford Online Dictionary very close.

MJ: Name 3 things on your desk right now.

SH: San Pellegrino, nail polish, a potted hydrangea.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

SH: I can’t listen to music, I get distracted and start singing the lyrics.

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

SH: His kindness, although I’m still trying to persuade him to let it shine through.

MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?

SH: She believes she’s a one-woman army, battling through life all on her own.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

SH: Contemporary romance.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

SH: I’ll read any genre, just tell me a good story about characters I care about.

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

SH: I like old-fashioned, more traditional names and tend to default to that. Then, I just go with my gut. I can’t say why a name fits or doesn’t, it either feels right or I change it.

MJ: Do you ever base characters on people you know?

SH: Elements of people I know always creep into my characters somehow.

MJ: How did you choose the setting for your current WIP?

SH: Especially when writing contemporary, I try and keep it to an environment I know well enough to know the taste, smell and feel of the setting.

MJ: Now it’s time for the lightning round. Addams Family or The Munsters?

SH: Addams Family.

MJ: Wine-red or white?

SH: Red

MJ: I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched?

SH: Bewitched.

MJ: Beer-can or bottle?

SH: Bottle

MJ: Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas?

SH: Stephanie Plum

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St Patrick’s Day?

SH: St. Patrick’s Day.

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater:

SH: Captain America: The Winter Warrior 

MJ: Favorite TV Show?

SH: Master Chef.

MJ: Flintstones or Jetsons?

SH: Flintstones.

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school? (Marching band doesn’t count.)

SH: Depeche Mode

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

SH: Coke.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

SH: Introvert.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

SH: Thai

MJ: Now, for the meat of the interview. Will you share the first few lines of your current work in progress?

SH: Of course. This is from Handle With Care, which is a working title only.

Chloe took a deep breath. Money. Even the air of Michael Knightley’s apartment smelled rich.

The front door slid shut behind her with a dull thud.

“Darling, I’m home.”

The sun split through the horizontal blinds and painted the oak floor in rich chocolate stripes.

She would mop today and keep that deep, wooden glow to the wood.

“How was your day?” She dropped her purse and backpack on the travertine countertop that separated the kitchen from the den. “Mine totally sucked.”

MJ: Sounds like a great read! You have a current release now–Sweet Bea. This is an amazing cover. Where can we buy it?

Sweet Bea

 

SH: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kensington.

MJ: And how can readers stay in touch with you?

SH: I have a website, a blog, and a Facebook page. I’m on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkdin, Google+, and Goodreads.

MJ: Thanks again for joining me, and good luck with your books!

The first week or so, work on the transformation of my back yard from ancient-above-ground-pool-to-sanctuary progressed steadily.2014-09-28 15.09.06

Cleaning out the sand and gravel was a slow, messy job.

 daisy

 Daisy-like flowers appeared. This is good. I love daisies.

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Then ornamental rocks found their way into place.

Focus for meditation? I like to think so.

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Then the beginning of the patio extension started taking shape.

The pool was here when we moved in as newly-weds. My children, Y & X, have never known anything else.

I can’t wait. I can smell next summer’s fresh herbs already.

Today I’d like to welcome author Casse NaRome to WIP Wednesday. Casse, tell us something most people don’t know about you.

CN: I am terrified of owls. I serious break out in cold sweat if I even see a picture.

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

CN: I’d most likely dance…horribly.

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job?

CN: I love astronomy and archaeology.

MJ: Name one thing you won’t leave home without.

CN: Lip gloss

MJ: Is there a particular movie that you preferred over the book version of the story?

CN: Twilight series. I liked the first book but the rest was a slow decline. I loved the movies!

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

CN: I normally skip breakfast but my day job is 11 pm – 7 am so breakfast time is my “night.”

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

CN: Somewhere I could see and hear the rain from my desk.

MJ: Do you listen to music when you write? Explain.

CN: I can’t have music playing while writing because I get distracted but before I start I play music that fits either one of the characters or the scene.

MJ: Do you collage your story before writing? Explain.

CN: I’m a seat of my pants writer. I find it frustrating if I plot because both my character and I usually want to not follow the plot because we are rebels.

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

CN: I love that he is so moody and he has dry wit. Like so dry and brittle he should be banned during red flag fire days. lol

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

CN: Adult Paranormal Romance.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

CN: YA Paranormal Romance

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

CN: They always just come to me. My characters pop in my head and they talk to me. I feel insane just saying that.

MJ: Do you ever base characters on people you know?

CN: Sometimes. I take bits in people but it is very rarely that I do that.

MJ: How did you chose the setting for your current WIP?

CN: It is just where the story happens. I don’t really have choice.

MJ: Ready for the lightning round? Addams Family or Munsters?

CN: Addams Family

MJ: Wine–red or white?

CN: Red

MJ: I Dream of Jeannie or Bewitched?

CN: Bewitched

MJ: Beer–can or bottle?

CN: Bottle

MJ: Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day?

CN: St. Patrick’s Day

MJ: Last movie you saw in a theater?

CN: No Good Deed

MJ: Favorite TV show?

CN: Sleepy Hollow, Scandal, Vampire Diaries, Workaholics, Undateable, wow so many more.

MJ: That’s a lot of television! Flintstones or Jetsons?

CN: Jetsons

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

CN: Matchbox 20.

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

CN: Pepsi

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

CN: Introvert.

MJ: Favorite ethnic food?

CN: Mexican

MJ: And now for the main event: your  work in progress! Can you share the first few lines with us?

CN: This is from When Lily’s Fall:

Wings thrust out, Valience kneeled with his head low. He heard her crying for him. He truly believed something was wrong with this human woman. After all he had done to her of which he could make a lengthy list. In the end, she was crying from over the verdict he had just received.

Cast down.

He was losing his wings.

Valience felt numb, unable to believe what his brothers were about to inflict on him. He amended— what he had caused his brothers to inflict on him. His cold ice blue eyes stared at the floor not shedding the tears that he wanted to cry. He screamed silently. His mind a torrent storm.

MJ: Great hook! And do you have a book out now?

CN: Yes. Part Time Reaper 1 Tag Em and Bag Em  is available through Amazon.

frontcover

MJ: And how can fans stay in touch with you?

CN: My website and blog, Facebook page, or Twitter.

MJ: Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with your books!

“A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy.” Luis Barragan

Turns out one of our neighbors does landscaping. “What do you want?” he asked.

A good question with many answers.

  • Low maintenance
  • a container garden
  • an herb garden
  • a meditation garden
  • lawn
  • someplace to sit in privacy and write
  • Did we mention low maintenance?
  • Oh, and could we extend the patio with pavers?

First step: remove the sand and gravel that housed the pool for so many years.

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Then he put in a low wall of flat rocks–shale, I think.

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Yes, we’re going to keep those bushes–cypress? cedar? They hid the base of the pool; now they’ll provide privacy from the street. He brought over some plants. And yes, my maple tree had to go: chlorine poisoning, we were told. It was slowly dying. The stump is visible in the first photo below.

blog 2c blog 2e blog 2dTurns out autumn is the best time to plant grass. Who knew?

To be continued . . .

 

Today’s Work In Progress Wednesday guest is Becky Lower. Welcome Becky! What are you top three dream destinations and why?

BL: My cabin in the George Washington National Forest, any of the Redwood forests in CA, Sedona, AZ. All of these destinations have one thing in common–they get me closer to nature.

MJ: Sounds lovely. What is the top book on your TBR pile?

BL: Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ new book, Heroes Are My Weakness.

MJ: Loved it! If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

BL: I would probably be a well-known quilter by now.

MJ: If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be and why?

BL: I’d want to be Sacajawea, traveling with Lewis & Clark as they explored the western US for the first time.

MJ: What do you normally eat for breakfast, or do you skip it and get straight to work?

BL: I have to have coffee. Then, I head to my office and, depending on how things go, I forget to eat until about noon.

MJ: Describe your ideal writing space.

BL: I love my office. Soft green walls, the covers of my first 4 books on the wall greeting me each day, my beautiful desk. Okay, you can’t usually see the desk because of all the papers on it, but I know it’s there, and gorgeous.

MJ: Briefly describe your writing day/process.

BL: I get up about 7 am, get my coffee and head to the office where I spend an hour or so checking my overnight sales, web visits, email, etc. Then, I get to work on my WIP. I try to write 1500 words by noon. Then, after a break, I either pay attention to social media or I edit another manuscript.

MJ: Name 3 things on your desk right now.

BL: I have a pile of business cards from the most recent RWA conference, a paperweight, and my old computer. I’m trying to transfer all my files over to the new one, but it’s a slow process.

MJ: Do you collage your story before writing? Explain.

BL: I have found using Blake Snyder’s beat sheet works best for me. I don’t want to do a complete outline, since that eliminates the magic, but a simple beat sheet keeps me on track while allowing room for surprises.

MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

BL: I love that Henry Cooper is a fencer. While in college, I had a crush on someone on the fencing team, and I immortalized him in Henry. Henry also has every reason to hate his sister, yet he loves her enough to put his own needs on the back burner.

MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?

BL: Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a writer, which in itself would be enough. But she’s also unconventional in other aspects of her life. She doesn’t need a man to take care of her, but Henry is a perfect match for her.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

BL: The Duplicitous Debutante is a historical romance set in Victorian America.

MJ: What is your favorite genre to read?

BL: I usually read historical romances mixed in between contemporaries, since I also write contemporary.

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

BL: The Fitzpatrick children are all names for seasonings and herbs. Rosemary is the sixth child to be featured. Henry’s name came about because I wanted to make him a Boston Brahmin, and Cooper is a long-standing Brahmin name. But I also wanted him to be half-French, so the name Henry, or Henri, was a perfect choice.

MJ: Ready for the lightning round? Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day?

BL: Cinco de Mayo

MJ: The last movie you saw in a theater?

BL: Get On Up, the James Brown Story

MJ: Favorite band when you were in high school (Marching band doesn’t count)?

BL: The Music Explosion.

MJ: Coke or Pepsi?

BL: Coke.

MJ: Introvert or extrovert?

BL: Extrovert with introvert tendencies (or maybe the other way round).

MJ: Oh, an ambivert!  And what’s your favorite ethnic food?

BL: Greek.

MJ: And now, what we’ve all been waiting for: you current Work In Progress. Can you share the first few lines?

BL: Yes. Barnswallow Summer is a contemporary romance.

Nick Freeman pushed the large face of his Irish wolfhound away from between the seats of his car. “In the back, Rufus. I know you’re excited, but we’ve got a ways to go yet, and I can’t deal with your doggie breath for the next hundred miles.”

Rufus wasn’t the only excited boy in this car. Nick had been working non-stop on his business for years without much of a break. Buying up foreclosed homes, fixing and flipping them, had brought in the dollars, but somewhere along the way, the thrill, the pride, of it went by the wayside. Along with his marriage. And a couple really promising relationships.

MJ: Excellent! And where can people purchase your current release,  The Duplicitous Debutante?

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BL: The book is available on Amazon.

MJ: And how can readers stay in touch with you?

BL: My website, my blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

 

 

 

When we bought our house, many years ago, there was an above-ground pool in the back yard. When our children were younger, it was a wonderful thing to have. But even then, we didn’t use it much–between work, baseball games, and erratic upstate New York weather, there was never enough time to really enjoy it. Our children went to day camp in the summers, and most of the time, that included swimming, so they weren’t deprived.

Three years ago, we opened the pool, but a harsh winter left the water a particularly nasty shade of yuck we could not chemical away. The following two years, we didn’t even bother to open it. Our children are grown and mostly gone. We decided that’s what should happen to the pool: gone.

pool01

Craig’s List yielded no takers. So we called the scrappers to come and get it.

pool04Scrappers will come and take down the whole thing if you let them have it. It didn’t cost us a penny.

pool02

They were efficient and neat about it, too.

pool03But now what? My back lawn can’t remain like this.

Stay tuned . . .