Friday, December 13, 2013

Looking to make a Donation?

It's that time of the year when our hearts are full and we want to do something for our fellow man. Sometimes we are running around so much we don't know where to even look to make a great donation. Sure, I always drop my change in the Santa bucket but there has to be more.

 My oldest daughter attends Western Illinois University and she is part of an amazing fundraising project.

 "Dear Friends,

I hope you will consider supporting my participation in WIU Dance Marathon. All contributions will benefit and be divided among the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater St. Louis, St. Louis Children's Hospital and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. Any contribution will help, and all donations are tax deductible.

I am on WIU's first E-Board as the Finance Chair, this money we raise doesn't just help the families financially but it helps lift some stress from these families and gives the kids a comfortable environment to be in, this event and organization is very dear to my heart, any amount will help me get to my goal by Feb 1st.

 Donating online is safe and easy! To make an online donation please click the "Support Me!" button on this page. Thank you for visiting my fundraising page! For The Kids!"

You can link to her fundraising page HERE.. this donation will go directly into a fund sponsored by WIU, not into my daughter's hands.. So if you are looking for a way to share your good fortune, give a thought to this noble cause..


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thanking My Veterans

I have what I have, I am what I am because there were those who were willing to die for me. So today I honor the veterans in my life.

John Jensen
Harvey Lemming
Louis Branch
Bill Steenburgen
King LaBau
Tom LaBau
Gerald Costin
John Lill

There are more.. I meet veterans in my every day life but these are my veterans and I am proud of them


Sunday, October 6, 2013

A New Project, A New Cookbook

Twenty years ago, my cousin Shelia decided to gather all of our family recipes and put them into one amazing cookbook! I can't believe it's been Tweny years!

 This cookbook is absolutely amazing almost 250 pages of recipes, stories and pictures offering us a glimpse into our past. My children, my girls especially, love this cookbook. They would take it out just to read it and share the stories. Due to some circumstances of my constant moving, I lost my book.. so of course I have spent some time retyping the entire thing! Using my cousin's (not Shelia's that would be too easy) book, I spent a week just retyping it. Soon I am going to get it to Kinkos to make copies for all of my kids. OF course first I have to get my sister to scan the cover and all the pictures in the book, so I can give them an accurate book.

 But it has been 20 years and things have changed. We lost some of our most precious family members and dear friends and we gained an entire generation. Fortunately our losses have been few and our gains have been many! With these new family members new recipes have come to be. Maybe we married into a recipe that our children love and consider a family tradition. Or maybe we created a recipe or two of our own. Or found a really tasty one on facebook and just had to try it.. then of course had to make a few changes to it.. Whatever the reason, I know there are a plethora of recipes still not saved for posterity..

 SOOOOOO. I have decided it's time to create a Volume II. Yep, I am stealing, Shelia's idea and going to create a new book. BUT it's a family cookbook, so that means I need family recipes. And by family, I mean family and friends.. so Lori and Lisa and Doreene and Judy (Your mom is already in Vol I) and all the rest of you.. send me your recipes!! I will be gathering and organizing recipes until April 1, 2014. I want to be able to give this new book to Frankie (Word Girl) when she graduates from Western Illinois University this May!

 I will of course have it available for each of you to purchase (cost only) if any of you want to add to your family cookbook collection. As for Vol I, if Shelia is ok with it I will have it available as well but that is her intellectual property and I don't want to take credit where it isn't due. Those of you who have seen it know it is a spectacular work of art! From the cover all the way to the very last page! I can only hope that Volume II will be as good!

 You can send me your recipes via Facebook I am listed there as Shaughnessey Steenburgen-Lill (send me a message you can add files to it)or of course you can email it to me at Don't worry about how they look.. I will be formating them so all the recipes look the same. Of course if you have a picture to go with your recipe, send it too! It will just add a different flavor to Vol. II 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Introspection Sucks!!

As you may know, I have been writing the past few weeks about me.. really all about me and my feelings and the way I have shoved parts of me aside for way to long.. and frankly, it's beginning to bore me. I know if I feel that way.. how must anyone else reading these posts feel?

The thing is I need to say some of the stuff, I need to let it go.. but all this whining, poor me stuff.. yeah, that's so for the birds. 

The truth is, I have had a pretty good life. My childhood wasn't perfect, my parents were flawed and made mistakes (I of course have never made a parental mistake). But as imperfect as it was.. It was awfully good.. I traveled, I played sports, I went to camp (because I wanted to.. I wasn't shipped off to get rid of me.. ok maybe I was for a week but it was a blast LOL), I was active in scouts and school. Shoot I even went to private protestant High School because I wanted to.. Yep my non believer parents forked out a monthly tuition so I could go to private school! And most importantly of all, I was loved. 

I had a large extended family that I adored being a part of.. I always felt a little like that square peg.. but that's on me.. If I didn't quite fit, that's ok, they still loved, odd, loud, brash little ole me. I wasn't a perfect child.. they weren't perfect people.. we all just were.. and are.

So.. how did I get so messed up? I had all that going for me.. Oh did I mention I grew up in Southern California? 30-45 minutes from the ocean, 1 1/2 hours from the mountains, 20 minutes (in heavy traffic) from Disneyland, 10 from Knott's Berry Farm.. yeah, life was tough.. now back to the question.. How did I get so messed up? Somewhere I stopped believing in me.. I started letting everyone else, no matter how good intended, shape me. In doing that I lost all of me.. So I want to blame the entire world for who I am.. yeah.. not gonna wash..

 In losing myself and letting others define me I came across as week and useless.. ever feeding the negative impression of myself. If I couldn't stand up for myself of course someone else was going to make decisions.. Taking that power back is hard.. Why? Because after 50 years.. people get into habits.. now my struggles seem like a spoiled child lashing out.. I'm not really!! I know I have had it pretty darn good. 

But for now.. maybe I need to have it not so good.. Maybe I need to struggle on my own.. ok, did that while raising the kids.. but maybe I need to let go of the harsh control on my emotions.. my true strength has always been my ability to feel.. So now I need to allow myself to do that again. Stop thinking being "too sensitive" is bad.. I am sensitive, not too sensitive.. sensitive!! It's who I am!! Deal with it! I am!


This post was written with a smile.. no stupid emo stuff today!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's Coming OFF!!

It's been a while since I spoke of my weight loss plans, diet, goals, etc.. but I have some seriously awesome news!!

Yesterday I actually got on a scale for the first time since I started this 3 W (Walking, Water and Watching What I eat). I avoided scales for a number of reasons.. but mostly so I wouldn't be disappointed. I mean work really hard and then discover I had only lost a couple of pounds? So I waited

Now you all know, I have had clothing discoveries.. (where tops hang on me, my pants fall from me, little things like that) but I hadn't even considered purchasing new clothes as of yet. Honestly, I want to be able to go in and buy clothes that are two sizes smaller (it will be ok if they are a little snug) so I can wear them for a longer period of time than just one size smaller (cuz I am so gonna shrink out of those too). 

Since I have been at my cousins house I have been eating better? Well more consistently (family dinners and all that) and I haven't been walking as much.. So I was a bit worried. I even imagined that my pants were starting to get snug again.. At least one pair.. and yet my pants that were always just too tight for comfort are loose on me, so those other pants can't be too snug. 

BUT.. I forced myself to finally step on a scale.. are you ready?? Oh sorry, one last caveat.. I loose weight all over, so it's highly conceivable that I can loose quite a bit and still be wearing the same size clothes.. Quite a bit like say 45 POUNDS!! Yes that is right as of yesterday I had lost 45 POUNDS!! Can you see me doing the happy dance? I am a little of my goal as I wanted to have lost 50 lbs by Sept 1.. but I think I can live with the disappointment..

As always, each success story gets me re excited!! And makes me push that much harder towards my goal!! Hopefully by Christmas, I will look good enough that I am happy to share pictures.. and by Word Girl's College Graduation next spring.. I am so gonna be SMOKIN!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Am An American

I had tons of pictures I considered sharing today.. but this one touched my heart.. There are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands maybe even millions of bikers descending upon Washing DC today to ride in their own parade to commemorate 9/11. To remind our lawmakers who and what we are and to honor those who fell for this cause. Both on 9/11 and since! 

The Bikers were denied a parade permit, some say because they waited too late and some say because of more nefarious reasons, but they will still create their own parade. They just have to obey all the traffic laws.. well all the laws. Washington DC allows for non permitted parades and such as long as you don't break any laws.. What would have been an hour or two honoring the fallen, becomes a day long event.. causing untold traffic issues (I'm sure)

I believe in the United States of America, as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

My question is, when did bikers become the symbol for this great country? When did something that stood for rebellion and anarchy become the leaders on how to salute, respect and live for our country? It's interesting isn't it, that our rebels once again have to show us how to stand for our rights.. stand for our country and stand for our constitution. While our lawmakers waffle, our oh so proper, snivel and our baby boomers (ok not all of them) laugh in glee.. Our Bikers, our Rebels once again say I. AM. AN. AMERICAN!!!! which means what? I CAN!!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hearing Voices

What does this pic have to do with hearing voices? Well nothing, I just like the picture
Sometimes I hear voices in my head.. ok, now that I have pretty much declared that I am nuts.. allow me to expound.. Seriously, I hear voices.. Often as I go through life I hear the "voices" of others, loser, fatty, useless, no good, ugly.. you know those voices.. In all reality most of the voices I hear are more what I think of myself than what others think of me. Most of the time, people either have no opinion of me or even have a positive one. The only voices I am hearing are my own. 

Sometimes, it's guilt.. you know how much your mother wants you to be happy and you aren't living a happy life so you are sure she is so disappointed in you (this happens a lot). Your mother is neither disappointed or unhappy with you. She still loves you, is still proud of you and still stands beside you. No matter that you aren't living the life she dreamed of for you. 

Years ago (coincidentally enough, right before my marriage ended) my mother was visiting and turned to me and said "You know, I am really proud of you. You chose a life I didn't want for you but you are making it work. You are raising great kids and accomplishing your dreams" Yeah.. she said it.. too bad I didn't tape it *grins*. She was sincere too. She isn't the type to waste her time on sarcasm. It remains one of my most treasured moments.. because I constantly hear my projections of her thoughts and those voices never say she is proud of me. 

I think that is one of my (probably everyone's) greatest flaws.. projecting your thoughts into other's words. You have to let that go. Stop expecting others to think you are a failure.. most of them really don't care.. Another great mom quote.. 

                 when I was about 20 or so, I told my mom that I felt that                            everyone was talking about me and used the old.. whenever I                        walk into a room everyone stops talking line.. my mom's response                  and believe me it's a keeper.. "What makes you think you are so                    important that everyone is talking about you?" 

Now... there are those who could argue that she was smashing down my self   esteem but they would be wrong, that really wasn't what she meant.. She was making a valid observation.. Hello, you are NOT Queen of the Universe (ok, I am but I haven't sent out the memo to everyone yet), other people have lives, thoughts, concerns that do not involve you. To this day, I say that to myself when I am unsure or feeling insecure about what others think of me. 

As often as I point out that these blogs are about me.. not anyone else, I have to remember that most of the world feels the same way. It's about them.. they have their own voices to deal with.. Their own insecurities.. Do they really care what is going on in my life? Nope.. 

The select few.. my family, you know the one who was so mean to me (that btw was sarcasm)... just want me to succeed.. Sure dealing with the pressure of just whose definitions of success matter is hard. But we all have to go through it. I may be on shaky ground I may be trying to figure out how to be true to myself.. how to live my dreams not fail at the dreams of others but my foundation remains forever solid. I am loved.. Dearly.. I know that for a fact and I need to say it more regularly!!


Monday, September 9, 2013

Another Post on Family

If you have been reading my blogs, you might get the impression that I don't like my family or I resent them. When in fact the exact opposite is true. I admire these individuals beyond anyone else in the world. They are strong, resilient, tough, giving, smart, unique individuals. Most of whom have found their own paths in life and have figured out how to juggle who they are with who society expects them to be. It's not dislike when I make some statements rather envy. 

I want to be one of them and the only way that can happen is if I let myself be me. Oh sure I am sure I won't connect with all of them. I mean how could I they are a vast and varied group of people. But I know my little piece of the puzzle is just as important to the family picture than all of theirs. I just have to find where I fit. 

And because I have spent most of my life trying to force the fit, I don't. Does that make sense? See this is why these posts aren't about anyone else but me. 

I will refer to one person who I find absolutely amazing. My mom.. oh sure she drives me batty and God willing she will be messing with my head for decades to come, BUT she is an amazing woman. Now in general I don't write about her because she doesn't like to have her life out there. So this isn't about her as a person, it's about my mom.. yep making it all about me.

I jokingly tell my friends to watch out when meeting my family because I am the nice one, the one the rest of them walk all over (implying I am a pushover) but funnily enough, my mom refers to herself in a similar manner. Now I see a tough as nails woman who still scares me straight.. but really she has a huge heart that has allowed others to take advantage.. until she gets fed up.. Then they get confused.. how could she be so mean? yeah.. she's not mean, she's treating you the way the rest of the world would have but because she has been letting you walk all over her for most of your life.. it's seems extreme. 

I admire this woman so much.. I know every time I go somewhere new, I think of all the questions I need to ask. All the things I need to find out and discover all the secret worlds a community has to offer. This was a gift from my mother.. She is never lost, just always in some new place to be discovered. There is ALWAYS something interesting about where ever she is. And she has passed that interest on to her children and grandchildren, even when they don't realize it. 

There is so much more to my mom.. but respecting her desire to not have her life broadcast all over the internet, I am trying to be vague.. 

But whenever someone should think I don't love or respect or admire the heck out of this women, think again.. I am who I am, able to fight back, able to write these blogs, able stand tall, because she forced me to fight for myself.. Her dreams for me were so big they were a tad intimidating but as I wander this particular journey, I know.. without those dreams and her strength, I wouldn't be the woman I am right now.. The woman fighting the constraints put upon me by what I "think" I am supposed to be.

So thanks mom


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Do you realize how much of who we are is defined by our family? How we let others tell us who and what we are? Of course in turn we do the same thing. It's part of the human nature I think. Finding your niche. 

The problem isn't when family defines you, it's when the definition doesn't fit.. and yet you still let it stand. You don't have to be a witch or an ogre about it but you do need to define yourself. 

I was initially, the daughter, then the chatty one, then the happy one,  then the smart one, then the creative one, then the "religious one, then the one who didn't live up to her potential, then the one who can't make it on her own, then... see what I mean.. I was never just one of those things. I have been several of them together and none of them. I am a mixture of all those things. But I am so much more. I am the one who stood alone, the one who was different, the one who was always on the outside, the one who found her own beat, the one who won't give up on herself, the one who demands justice.. 

As much as I rage against my family defining me, I will admit that I have definitions of my family as well. Not all of them are pretty.. but most of them make me seem like a lesser being.. There are the beautiful ones (My sister and a few of my cousins). The smart ones (my aunt and yes a few of my cousins). The nice ones (most of Aunt Margie's children). The mean ones (not gonna say which ones). The athletic ones, the academic ones, the.. see what I mean. I label them as well.. and yet none of them are just one thing. And I bet if I were to ask all of them would feel at a loss, less than what they seem or aware of their failings. 

While we can accept the definitions and make them part of us, because often they are right. We don't have to accept the ones that don't fit. I am learning how to let go of those definitions and slowly regaining my balance. It has been a healing road I have been walking.. and eventually I hope that I can embrace myself that when I face my family, I am the one who made it through the darkness. The one who defined herself, the one who smiles through tragedy and triumphed over failure.. 

Oh sure, I am still gonna be the daughter, the chatty one (seriously I keep trying to close my mouth but the words just pop out), The creative one (oh I hope so)... The one who believes, the one who has faith, the stubborn one, the defiant one.. 

The only thing I don't want to be is the one who is alone..


Friday, September 6, 2013

Broken Dreams that Aren't

I have spent much time recently dealing with the past and will continue to do so. It's needed, sorry if these blogs seem down and depressing.. but it's kind of fun to be able to write about me.. and not have to listen to what's wrong with me.. 

But I had an interesting morning and wanted to share. I was feeling sort of broken, like I wasn't going to make it through the day (I have those a lot.. but look I always make it) and was going to write about it. So I started looking for pictures of broken stuff. What I found was an amazing assortment of art using broken materials. Beautiful, creative, captivating pictures.. That got me thinking..

We have all been broken in some matter or other.. ALL. OF. US.. some people can go through life never really feeling that pain. Some remain broken and are tossed aside, not because they are not wanted or loved but because they toss themselves there. Some, like me are broken and refuse to acknowledge it.. Some are truly broken and may be beyond repair..

The difference is, what do we do with our brokenness  Do we whine and cry and regret our broken dreams? Or do we create new ones from the pieces we have left?

I know I have deep deep dreams and things I still want to do with my life. I am 51 and free (sort of). My kids are grown, I don't own property, I really have nothing keeping me in one place.. So it's time I used those broken pieces to create new dreams.. for the life I  find.. not the one I didn't


Don't worry all, I am sure tomorrow I will be back to being depressing *grins*

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts

So I have been doing some heavy thinking lately. I know you all have seen it.. since I have been blathering away about it all right here on my blog.. But today I am just not motivated. I was up reading Sherrilynn Kenyon's Styxx last night.. and well let's just say I am a bit sluggish.. (BTW AWESOME BOOK)

Since I am not motivated and my brain is somewhat thoughtless.. I thought I would share someone elses with you all today!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Just One Moment Can Change Everything

As you know, I am trying to deal with a lifetime of ignoring things. Or rather a lifetime of using the talent of ignoring things as a way to cope with my surrounding world.

I have never really ignored things.. I just refused to let them affect me. Not always a good thing because you spend so much time pushing them down, ever deeper that you aren't even aware that they are corroding you. 

Years ago (I was pregnant with PITA BOY) we were all home for Christmas, the last time. I hadn't seen my older brother in years. He has had a hard and difficult life.. anyway, it had been years since we had seen each other and I was really excited. But, one single comment ruined the entire experience for me. And in a way ruined another part of me.

I used to be a nervous giggler.. when I was angry I either cried or giggled but when I was in a tense situation I giggled. It was an escape valve.. let some pressure off. But you see, I wasn't allowed to feel pressure. What did I have to feel pressure about. I was the "good" child. Honestly, folks do you even realize how hard it is to constantly be the "good" child? The one that can be pushed aside because she is happy all the time? Or whose issues are not as important because, well she is happy and smiling? The one who NEVER causes any problems.. and yet gets in constant trouble (due to coming directly after the problem child). Yeah, no pressure there. But at that time, I was just excited.. So it was excited tension. And Doug, the brother I had adored, whom I had spent a lifetime being taught was more important than I. looked at me with this subtle contempt and said "I forgot how annoying that giggle of yours is" swoosh in one moment I was destroyed..

And now 23 years later, no one can accuse me of being a giggler. No one has since that day. It was destroyed.. One final cut, in a lifetime of cuts. I have never told anyone that story. Never let anyone know how deeply that devastated me. Probably because no one would have seen it for what it was. What they would have seen was me being "over sensitive" (I honestly HATE that phrase)

I don't know when I started protecting the feelings of others at the expense of my own. But I do.. I push my feelings ever deeper.. taking the pains of others into myself. Taking the opinions and slights into myself, making them my reality. Using their more than slightly skewered "facts" to shape my reality.. To make my choices.. 

The thing is we never know how one simple phrase can destroy a person.. likewise we never know how a single act of kindness can change a life. We read stories about it all the time.. but do we actively work at being the person who smiles at others? Who wants to be kind? I used to be that person naturally but let others beat at me until I became hard, brittle, angry.. Honestly, I am not overly fond of that person.

I have this friend, who reviews on my book blogs with me. She is this bright light, constant joy, almost innocent.. yet I know her life has not been perfect. I know she has had challenges and disappointments. She just didn't let them ruin the inner her.. I admire her so much for her strength. Her ability to live life as herself. She doesn't know that she inspires me daily. In some ways she inspired me to reclaim myself. To be truly me again..

Working on it folks!!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Memories of a Beautiful Friend

Picture provided by Laurie Morgan Perschbacher

A Friend of mine woke up to this the second day in a row!! Now for those of you who don't appreciate a good TP.. in California it's done pretty regularly. Not just for homecoming or such. We do it at slumber parties, drunken parties (umm well, lol) whenever the mood strikes us. 

But when I saw this I thought of my friend Diane. Diane was my absolute best friend in Junior High. There were so many wonderful minutes to our friendship. It sort of peetered out when we went to High School as we made different choices and had different friends,as a matter of fact Diane ended up marrying one of my older brother's best friends. 

But those minutes in middle school remain forever in my heart. One of my favorite memories of Diane, was a weekend spent TPing our friends houses. For those of you who aren't Californians, at the time there was a fine for every roll of toilet paper you were caught with. So besides trying to be quiet enough not to get caught by the owners.. you had to be stealthy and not get caught by the cops..

OK.. back up a bit.. One night a group of us tp'd Diane's house.. And I left a tv guide on her front porch, why? Because she was always calling me and asking me what was on tv.. seriously every single night.. and I was always telling her to just get a tv guide.. Well not too stealthy of me because of course Diane figured out who did it. But then, because I was her best friend, I was obligated to share the names of the others in the car.. (oops must have been freshmen year cuz no way would my mom let me drive around in a teenagers car when I was in HS).

Anyway, Diane and I were diabolical.. we got a bunch of newspapers and used her mom's lawnmower to shred them.. we had bags for each house. We also learned that using a single mom's lawnmower was much smarter than using my dad's. He was not pleased. Then we got somewhere between 25 and 50 rolls of toilet paper (per house) and 6 tv guides..

For the next three nights (yes it was labor day weekend.. or memorial day.. either way a long weekend) Diane and I went from house to house, two a night, and exacted her revenge. One night her mom drove us, one night my mom drove us and one night my fabulous Uncle Jr drove us. That was the truly fun night.. because one of the houses was on Greenleaf, which is a major street in our hometown.. So we had to hide every few minutes when one of us or my Uncle (parked across the street) would shout COPS.. yeah, not so stealthy.. but we didn't get caught. 

I have missed Diane for many years and was greatly saddened when another of my brother's friends told me in passing that Dave Eliott's wife died of Breast Cancer a few years back. Dave, the friend who told me, was not aware of my connection to Diane and had no idea how much those simple words made me grieve. I always thought that someday we would connect again..

While I no longer have Diane, I do have some very wonderful memories of her!!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Serial Books

I am sure most of you are aware of the fact that I really am not a huge fan of the serial format. Mostly because I read way to fast and fro me.. a book that is part of a series is a "seral" book. Seriously, they come out too far apart so getting one book in serial format would drive me bonkers. 

This is not a new thing for me, I was "that" kid in school. You know the one who read the entire book instead of just the assigned chapters. It's not in my making to read a book only part way through. But that's me! And that's an important statement. I personally prefer my books to come all together.. BUT there is an entire market out there for people who feel differently. 

Those people who either don't read much, or read slowly, or get intimidated by "big" books. There are also those who don't or can't fit a lot of reading into their schedule.. Or.. I am sure there are tons of other reasons. Maybe it's the fiction of being able to think you are getting the book sooner that way. Who knows? Honestly, who cares, they like serial books.. And now the market is offering them that option again. 

Again? yes again.. Serial books have been around forever. Initially it was a way to get stories out there. Face it, back in the day.. when people couldn't really afford books, no one wanted to print a "story" they were much more highbrow.. After all those darn stories wouldn't last.. it was a fad (you know like the bikini). But amazingly enough the stories took off.. and over time they became *gasp* classics.. Some very famous authors wrote serials.. (note the highlighted names below)

Definition of a serial book:

"Serialized fiction surged in popularity during Britain's Victorian era, due to a combination of the rise of literacy, technological advances in printing, and improved economics of distribution.A significant majority of 'original' novels from the Victorian era actually first appeared in either monthly or weekly installments in magazines or newspapers.The wild success of Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers, first published in 1836, is widely considered to have established the viability and appeal of the serialized format within periodical literature. During that era, the line between "quality" and "commercial" literature was not distinct.

In the German speaking countries, the serialized novel was widely popularized by the weekly family magazine Die Gartenlaube, which reached a circulation of 382,000 by 1875.

In France Alexander Dumas and Eugene Sue were masters of the serialized genre. The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo both appeared as a Feuilleton. The Count of Monte Cristo was stretched out to 139 installments. Eugene Sue’s serial novel Le Juif errant increased circulation from 3,600 to 25,000 of the Le Constitutionnel. Production in book form soon followed and serialization was one of the main reasons that nineteenth-century novels were so long. Authors and publishers kept the story going if it was successful since authors were paid by line and by episode.

Some writers were prolific. Alexander Dumas wrote at an incredible pace, oftentimes writing with his partner twelve to fourteen hours a day, working on several novels for serialized publication at once.

However, not every writer could keep up with the serial writing pace. Wilkie Collins, for instance, was never more than a week before publication. The difference in writing pace and output in large part determined the author's success, as audience appetite created demand for further installments. 

While American periodicals first syndicated British writers, over time they drew from a growing base of domestic authors. The rise of the periodicals like Harpers and the Atlantic Monthly grew in symbiotic tandem with American literary talent. The magazines nurtured and provided an economic sustainability for writers, while the writers helped grow the periodicals' circulation base. During the late 19th century, those that were considered the best American writers first published their work first in serial form and then only later in a completed volume format. As a piece in Scribner's Monthly explained in 1878, it is only the "second and third rate novelist who could not get published in a magazine and is obliged to publish in a volume, and it is in a magazine that the best novelists always appear first." Among the American writers that wrote in serial form were Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Herman Melville. A large part of the appeal for writers at the time was the broad audiences that serialization could reach, which would then grow their following for published works.

One of the first significant American works to be released in serial format is Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which was published over a 40-week period by National Era, an abolitionist periodical, starting with the June 5, 1851 issue.

Serialization was so standard in American literature that authors from that era often built installment structure into their creative process. Henry James, for example, often had his works divided into multi-part segments of similar length.The consumption of fiction during that time was different than the 20th century. Instead of being read in single volume, a novel would often be consumed by readers in installments over a period as long as a year, with the authors and periodicals often responding to audience reaction.

Serialization was also popular throughout Europe. In France, Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was serialized in La Revue de Paris in 1856. In Russia, The Russian Messenger serialized Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina from 1873 to 1877 and Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov from 1879 to 1880.

Other famous English language writers who wrote serial literature for popular magazines included Wilkie Collins, inventor of the English detective novel and author of The Moonstone; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the Sherlock Holmes stories originally for serialization in The Strand magazine; and the Polish writer BolesÅ‚aw Prus, author of the serialized novels The Outpost (1885–86), The Doll (1887–89), The New Woman (1890–93) and his sole historical novel, Pharaoh (the latter, exceptionally, written entire over a year's time in 1894–95 and serialized only after completion, in 1895–96)." *Wikipedia (yeah I know but it had all the facts I gathered elsewhere in one nice article"

Oh My:

Charles Dickens

Alexander Dumas
Eugene Sue
Wilkie Collins
Henry James
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Herman Melville
Gustave Flaubert
Leo Tolstoy
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I write this today because I read this review on amazon about an author's book. Now a review is supposed to be about the book. Yes, I got a bit irked when an author made a snarky comment about how a review is written.. but I will agree that when you write a book review, you are reviewing the book.. Have I emphasized that enough? My reason for asking is.. well let me show you the review:

"I'm of the mindset that if your book or game is any good, you don't need to resort to sleazy tactics to sell your books. Selling "parts" of a book falls under sleazy tactics. You might have had something here if you hadn't resorted to 1940's sucker techniques. Needless to say, I will not fall for this. I've seen amazing authors sell their books, and full books at that, for a portion of what this kind of nonsense will steal from people. And BTW-- a full 13% of this book was ads. You really don't have much respect for your readers, do you?"

Except for declaring that this book was a serial book, do you see anything.. I mean anything telling you about the book? Yeah me neither. 

This reviewer was abusing her Amazon Reviewing responsibility.. You are supposed to actually review a product.. not make snarky, and less than accurate remarks. Obviously, her intelligence is limited.. I mean she failed to get her facts straight on when serial books originated. She was also insulting an entire generation or two of people. Those books in the 1940's were important. They brought, entertainment to a dark time.. So, stupid and insulting. Sorry, but I am a firm believer that if you are going to insult someone or something get your facts straight. 

But I have to agree with her, I mean those authors mentioned above are surely beyond contempt, having never written anything that was meaningful, creative, talented or wait.. long living! 

So what do you think? Are you a fan of the serial novel? Or do you agree with the reviewer who needs to denigrate an author for trying something "old". I won't mention the author or book this review was about but I will say that three of my absolute favorite authors are selling serial books.. (if I could just get them to send me the entire book in advance I would be such a happy camper).


Caution to one and all.. this is a repost of what I wrote on my review blog Tea and Book.. I am compelled to share my thoughts far and wide (lol) and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Aug 31, A Day Late

For most of you Aug 31 is the day Princess Diana died.. and yeah, I remember that. Only for me it is the day my marriage ended (still not sure if it was a happy or sad thing) and more importantly it was the day two woman who helped mold my life were born.

Do you have days in the year that mean something to you. Days other than your birthday, anniversary, kids birthday, holidays etc..? Well I do and August 31 is one of those days. In all honestly I should have written this yesterday but the words weren't there.

My Grandma, Dorthea Mae (Crabtree) Branch (There were a few other names thrown in there but I only know one of them and didn't want to ignore the other). My Grandma was a century ahead of her time. Had she been born into
My cousin Linda Comstock made this! hence the Aunt Dot
this world.. she would be president. Her teachings and thought process were so ahead of her time that I hear the pundits blowing smoke, I mean stating their new and innovative opinions and I think, That's not new.. I heard that when I was eight! Grandma was alive, vibrant.. tough as nails and proud of it. She could do ANYTHING she set her mind to and did! While she seemed to enjoy the occasional man (enough to marry three of them) she didn't really have a use for them.. I am sure there were all sorts of reasons why but for me, it didn't matter. She was Katherine Hepburn strong.. classy, gorgeous and yes a tough old broad (that was a compliment back in the day). I remember when we were kids and went to the mountains to go inner tubing and sledding.. there was grandma sliding down the hill right next to us. 

When I was a child she needed a traveling companion.. I go picked!! I was lucky enough to travel with her every two years for the next few years.. Hawaii (for a month), The East Coast, The West Coast.. and we didn't just travel we say, we learned. It was experiences that stayed with me forever. 

She always had this nifty little sayings and quotes Like:

  •  THERE IS NO SUCH WORD AS CAN'T. YOU ARE AN AMERICAN AND THE LAST FOUR LETTERS OF AMERICAN SPELL I CAN [believe me we rarely used the words I can't.. but as I got older and had kids.. I was a brownie leader and whenever the girls would say I can't I would say.. “Now if I had said that around my grandma she would say...(insert phrase here)” to this day.. those little girls now 19 – 22 can be heard to quote me when someone says I can't to them.]
Aside from that I have one (ok two great memories) of my grandma.

 What is hard to believe is that while I spent hours, days, weekends, weeks and even months at a time with Grandma I never and I mean never remember her cooking for me. Now we all know she fed me.. but to this day I don't remember what except for these two occasions..

Grandma had those wonderful orange trees in her backyard and I thought hey wouldn't it be cool to learn how to make freshly squeezed orange juice. So I asked Grandma.. “how do you make orange juice” *note I must learn to phrase my questions properly as I didn't ask for fresh juice and I did ask how “she” make juice.. Anyway, grandma went to the freezer pulled out a can of frozen orange juice and tossed it to me, saying.. “If you can read, you can make orange juice”

Having not learned my lesson, another time I wanted to learn how to bake a cake (you know from scratch.. don't even ask me why). So I asked Grandma (you know the one I never remember cooking for me) “Grandma, will you teach me how to bake a cake?” Yep you guessed it, grandma went over to the cupboard pulled out a box of cake mix and tossed it to me.. “If you can read, you can bake a cake”.. what did I learn? Don't ask grandma to teach you to cook and grandma was a great advocate of reading!

My cousin Linda Comstock made this!
The second most amazing woman and in my honest opinion the smartest woman I ever met.. and probably smarter than most I haven't. Was my Aunt Jean. Yep Grandma's oldest daughter.. born on the same day. She had a hard life and made some harder choices but through it all she was strong.. She was a woman to be admired and she played a huge part in my life!! When I took a friend to California a few years back (9 or 10 now) we spent some time with my aunt and let me tell you Mary will back me up on this. My Aunt Jean did something with her life.. Shoot she did everything!! A fabulous teacher, in her later years she and my uncle Karl, gave up their teaching positions in the American School system (A very well paying school district) and cut their salaries in half, in order to teach in the American Schools. They were actually teaching in Kuwait when Iraq invaded.. Well they were home for a three week vacation when Iraq invaded.. so they remained alive and well, but their things, all gone.. The only piece of jewelry I wear regularly was given to me by my aunt. And I think of her every time I glance at my finger and see it. 
Now Aunt Jean came close to repeating history with the birth of her youngest child. Lizzie was born on Sept 1. We are all convinced that Aunt Jean didn't want to keep the tradition going, so she crossed her legs and refused to push until the clock struck midnight.. either that or going into labor interfered with her birthday party.. no one is quite sure.

Since I am writing this on Sept 1.. Happy Birthday Lizzie 
My cousin Linda Comstock made this!


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Always Remember, Never Forget

Years ago, in one of his snarkier moments my ex smiled and said this.. Always Remember, Never Forget.. Now the reason he said this was not to offer enlightenment, or remember a poignant moment, nope it was to make a funny. A mean spirited funny that made you feel stupid.. That was the way he was.. He had a brilliant wit but if you didn't get it, he made sure you felt rather stupid.

I think one of the things he really hated about me, is I got it. Every single time. I knew when he was trying to be funny and I knew when he was being serious. I got his humor.. the good and the bad.. and yes sometimes he was just pee your pants funny. Sometimes his intellectual humor was so funny I couldn't help but role my eyes and start giggling. But it was his mean humor that destroyed me. The times he would say something awful and tack a joke to it. It was belittling, demeaning, demoralizing and soul destroying. It would flay me open and remove parts of my light. 

Over time, I started pulling my light ever inward. Protecting it.. until one day all of my light was hidden and I was in shadow. Constant shadow. Now the shadows are an interesting place. Not the darkness, but a place where you get glimpses of light. Where you understand that the light is there but you really can't touch it. It is diminished not destroyed. Enough time in the shadows and you slip into the darkness. 

Another thing about the shadows is you don't always realize the negative aspects of it. You live in it for so long and you begin to accept the grey areas.. that it's normal to live in semi darkness. That in itself can be soul destroying.. Constant vigilance.. 

This is the life of an abused spouse.. You know the light is there, you can see it. You figure if you do just the right thing you will get it back. You never do, because the right thing is walking away... 

Abuse is not what people think it is. You have to be an abuse victim to really understand it. Strong individuals can succumb to abuse.. and then pride takes over. You spend so much time pretending that life is ok, you lose not only yourself but your friends. There is no dignity when you are an abuse victim. There is constant despair. And it doesn't have to be physical abuse it can be the constant bombardment of verbal excuse.. 

The things I heard when I was married were insidious. I didn't start out an abuse victim. I didn't find this guy who abused me and said hey let's get married. Nope, I met this guy.. a handsome, charming, charismatic guy. A guy with strong family values, who believed in me *snort*. I also met a man who said he was a recovering alcoholic, he wasn't he was a dry drunk.. HUGE difference! Anyway, over time the constant, and I mean constant, constructive criticisms turned to just plain criticisms. An onslaught of digs, and verbal slaps. 

Then came the total control, I used to handle the money and I had a rather unorthodox way of doing it, sort of like the envelope system but I had separate bank accounts for everything.. Mortgage acct, utilities acct, grocery acct, fun acct, kids acct.. and each week each check would get divided and a certain amount would be put into the correct account. But that was too annoying for him so we put it all in one acct. Which he would then use that money whenever he needed, adding to my confusion, which then caused us to be short or bouncing checks.. which then made him sure it was me who couldn't handle money.. which them had him take control of the money.. which then had him remove me from all accounts.. which then left me in the dark, sometimes literally when he wouldn't pay the electric bill. By the time he left, I was not on anything financial and he had cleaned out all of our accts, hadn't paid rent in three months and the utilities.. yeah, that was a joke. 

How did I get there? Well, I just showed you.. and because I was in shadows, an abused wife, I never let anyone know just how dark it was getting. 

When Ron left (hallelujah) with some urging from me, I said something on the lines of "I would be better off on public aide than I am with you", I didn't have time to face the darkness. I was too busy living. Creating a world where my children were safe, happy and healthy. Oh sure, I made tons of mistakes. And financially, total loss. The state would keep my child support checks for up to 8 weeks at a time. I couldn't make ends meet without it.. I lost apartments.. at one point we were actually homeless.. Things just kept getting darker and darker.. 

Of course this led my kids to think I couldn't handle money.. what with their father constantly reinforcing that opinion (ok, constantly meaning whenever he deigned to show up and see them). No one can handle money if there isn't any there. But I worked hard at giving my kids a good life. Sometimes I think, I made being poor too easy on them. They had no idea what I sacrificed just so they could be "normal" or as normal as possible. 

And so, even with him gone, the shadows persisted. I was a constant failure. My family (mom) helped with school supplies, shoes, individual trips to California for the kids, occasionally (and I do mean occasionally) the rent. I was grateful.. and believe me everyone, the entire family knows how much my mom had to "help" me.. how do they know? She told them, over and over and over again... Yep, that whole Shauni is a loser thing just wouldn't go away. 

No matter how hard I struggled to survive, I didn't have what it took to get out of the shadows. I was a victim of abuse and along with the abuse comes the damage you do to yourself. I closed myself off.. Sure there was always that place where hope lived.. Hey, maybe if I call my mom she will want to talk.. put me first.. Hey, maybe when the family comes in for my kids graduation it won't be about my nieces and what they want. Hey maybe... yeah.. hope is not always a good thing. At least not  when it's false hope. I can never make myself important to those around me. Wanting to is what allowed me to become a victim in the first place. I can only be strong in who I am, to become me.. 

And because I need to remind myself of this daily, I often find myself murmuring.. 

Always Remember, Never Forget.. 


Friday, August 30, 2013


There are many times in life when you take a wrong turn, pay attention to the wrong advice, make a bad choice and you end up lost. The smart thing to do is to turn around and go back to the beginning. In fact in many ways it's the only thing to do.  Oh sure there are times when the path you are on turns out really interesting and you decide to stay on it and see where it ends up. And it is a grand adventure. Those are awesome times aren't they? 

But I am not speaking of those times, I am speaking of the times when you wonder off your path and end up so mired in muck you have absolutely no concept of how you got there and how the heck to you get out. That's when you need to turn around and walk away. Each step away from that mess is a chance of finding yourself again.

That is where I am right now.. I am lost in the quagmire but have turned around and am working on getting unstuck. One of the things I am doing is looking around me and really noticing things.. Sure I am lost but is the place I am totally unredeemable? Am I here for a reason? Or am I just lost? 

I do not want to be someone's hard lesson, I want to learn this lesson and move on. I want a chance to be a person that I admire and respect. With that the respect and admiration of others won't matter. It's a really humbling moment when you realize that you are not a person that you respect. 

The thing is I have done some wonderful things in this dark place I am in. I was a great mother (I believe I may have said so before) but a lousy person. Now how is that even possible? Well, I gave up on me. Ever do that? Give up on one project to focus on another? That is what I did. I gave up on me, my dreams, my desires, my joys.. I focused on the fact that I was a failure at me.. so I should start another project. 

Isn't that horrid? I had accepted the flawed logic of others around me. I heard that I was a failure, loser, joke for so long I believed it and acted on it. It had become part of my inner self. Wow!! 

That is so going to stop! God has gifted me with many talents and I am going to figure out how to use them. How to stop pushing me down and stop raising others up. I am going to take a long look around and find the right path! Find the place where I can be whole and healthy and part of a community! And occasionally look over my shoulder to make sure I didn't drag anything yucky with me when leaving the quagmire.

I know it won't be easy. I am not remotely where I want to be, even physically.. I dream of being in Wyoming or Oregon.. Either by the Ocean or near the mountains. I know what dreams I hold and somehow I am going to figure out how to get there! 


Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Better Day

Yesterday's post really helped. It just let me clear the air. Sure there are going to be more, just like it. There will be posts that share my dark moments and my fears. 

I realize that as an adult you have to accept that much of your life is because of your choices. BUT some of those choices are made because of what you think of yourself.. and what you think of yourself often comes from what others think of you or from your childhood. You know a building block concept.. example:
  • I have weight issues.. always have, except as a kid I was pudgy but by my teens I wasn't.. only everyone kept telling me to loose weight, I was too fat. Looking back, I was way thinner than some of the cute peers. Now as a 51 year old, my weight is all me.. except.. I have this forever image of me as the fat girl. That has to be broken down and moved on... That was an example folks.. 

I am trying to do that with all of my dark issues.. I am shining light into the dark spaces and gradually extinguishing them. I need to do this daily, for me. 

Why? because I can't go on this way.. I may make an awful choice based on flawed information.. It's a case of addressing the facts so that I won't repeat myself over and over and over again. A way to avoid misery. 

Anyway, today's blog is more about the freedom that comes with getting started. It's scary sure, I keep expecting to get a phone call from some family member or other complaining about me doing this. And in the past, I would have listened and stopped. But this time, I am not. 

  1. First of all the chances of an actual family member reading my blog is slim and none. They are not that interested in my life... and that can be taken any number of ways, most of them true.. 
  2. Second, well I have to stop letting those I care about manipulate me. The basic fact is, if they love me and most of them do in their rather unique way.. they are going to continue loving me. They already consider me a at best a lovable screw up (again who cares that I have raised FOUR amazing kids ON. MY. OWN..) or at worst a helpless loser. 

Either way that's flawed information and if I use it, my choices will remain flawed. 

I am not a lovable screw up.. I did raise four amazing kids.. now you might not consider that a major accomplishment but when I had Hair Boy.. I CHOSE to make raising children my career. I stayed home with them as long as possible, until the divorce. And once I had to go to work, I chose jobs that would put me close to home and allow me to get to them within minutes if need be. I also was home usually by 4 in the afternoon so when they made it home from after school activities, there I was. Sure, they didn't pay as well as some of the other jobs.. but they were means to an end.. my career choice remained raising my kids. When you look at it like that, shoot I aced my career and now need a new career path. So, no screw up there.. and honestly, no loser either. 

That sort of strikes the theory that I am terrible with career choices. I mean my career choice for 25 years was raising kids.. I did that, I was pretty darn awesome at it and my kids prove it. Accepting this takes the power out of the hurt caused by people who mock me job wise.. and they are working with flawed information, their bad, get your facts straight people. 

I have to wonder at the insecurities of others to maintain a whipping girl all these years... It isn't love, seriously, how can you call it love when you spend all of your time focusing on every mistake that person ever made? Worrying about the next big "mistake". Why don't you spend a 10th of that time and emotion recognizing the wonderful things accomplished by that person? You exert less energy and you get the powerful feed back of joy.. win/win. Of course it's not as much fun to go around gossiping about how happy a person is... It's much more fun to make them miserable, then talk about it.. FOREVER.. 

Ok, that's it for today's purge.. *grins* who knows what I am going to think of to drag out and air tomorrow.. 


Wednesday, August 28, 2013


These next few blogs are going to be dark, they are going to be harsh and they are going to share some truths. Some truths about me that might or might not make you, the reader, think I am whining, I am holding on to the past, I am complaining... I am not. And even if I am, these blogs are about me.. if you think you are mentioned, unless I specifically say your name or designation, ie.. my son, daughter, etc.. it isn't about you. Get over yourself. Why do I say this? Well because everytime I try and express what is going on inside of me, someone accuses me of one of those things.. I and stop.. I have come to a point in my life where I can no longer stop because what I am saying makes someone else uncomfortable. I have to get this out. 

That being said, I don't need validation or encouragement either. For once that is not what this is about. This is about me getting it out.. 

Not too long ago, I realized that I didn't feel anything. Literally nothing.. No deep emotions, no feeling of great love for my kids, no passion, no joy, nothing. I couldn't even really cry. What the heck? I have always been "too" emotional. To wake up and realized that I have none bothered me. I even asked myself was I a sociopath (not the murder and/or abuse because I don't know right from wrong type of sociopath, but the gee I am empty of all emotions type of sociopath). I honestly don't know if you can be a sociopath and not be evil but that's not the point. Sociopaths have no emotion and I had none.. I was like this empty husk going about the motions.. and that bothered me, sort of.. 

Then I really looked and realized that yes the emotions were there but I had just pushed them down so deep that nothing was escaping. Ok, that made me feel a little better. Sort of.. 

I realized that I had spent so many years trying to be what I was "supposed" to be that I had completely and totally shut out myself. I wanted to be loved, accepted, believed in so desperately that I refused myself. I refused to accept myself.  I woke up and realized a few things.. I was afraid.. very afraid.. what would I do to myself? I mean I had already denied me.. I had already done so much damage to me.. At this point in my life I am actually unable to function in society. I can't make myself even function. Wow!! I really am the deadbeat loser that some judge me to be. 

This hurts.. why am I fat? Because I believe I am supposed to be.. Why am I alone? Because I honestly believe that I am unworthy of friends and family. What have I done to myself? I no longer laugh.. you know that belly laugh that cleanses the soul and makes everyone around you join in? I used to laugh like that. I used to sing.. songs of joy, of friends, of God, shoot of big blue phrogs.. but I stopped doing that long ago. 

Who is this person I have become? Why have I let those that will never believe in me turn me into this lost and lonely person? Why do I need their approval so desperately? I am never ever going to get it.. 

So the real question is, how do I let that go? One of the ways is to speak of it. To voice it, acknowledge it and set it free. For years I kept my silence because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.. well too bad.. you hurt mine. You shattered my soul.. and I am putting it back together and this time you don't have the power to take it.. I am taking that stand.. I am also pretty safe in making it, as the people that I so desperately want to approve of, have never and will never read this blog. I mean it's important to me, so I am pretty sure they could care less. yeah, yeah I know tough talk from a wuss like me.. 

This is going to be a purge.. Me taking the hurts out one by one and letting them go. And when I am done, I hope it will help me fell clean. Lighter, freer  I hope I will rejoice. Part of me worries about the fall out.. but I am going to make myself go forward. I am tired of being lost. I am tired of the darkness that constantly surrounds me. I am declaring myself.. and I am scared to death!