Hi, I’m a heathen.

Last week my parents came to visit and I took them to a ranch that is filled with miles of Christmas lights and it was awesome except that a large part of it was electrified Bible stuff so my religious dad was very excited but the rest of us aren’t really religious so it mostly consisted of Hailey saying stuff like, “HEY!  FIRE TORNADO” and my dad stoically trying to explain the burning bush.

When Hailey saw Jonah standing in the mouth of the whale she was like, “LOOK!  MOBY DICK!”  And my dad visibly shuddered and I was like, “Holy crap, Hailey.  That’s not Moby Dick.” and my dad was like, “No, it’s not” and I said, “That’s Pinocchio’s dad.”  And then Hailey was like, “Oh.  Duh.  Of course it is.”  And my mom never stopped laughing and Hailey didn’t understand what was so funny and my dad lightly glared at us all and I thought that it was a real Christmas miracle that we could love each other so much in spite of being so very different and so very alike.

*******

And on an entirely different subject, it’s time for the Sunday wrap-up!

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Storyworth, who I lurv.  Still looking for a great gift for you parents or grandparents?  A StoryWorth Book is the perfect last minute gift for your loved ones. Each week, they’ll email them a question about their life – asking them to recount their favorite memory of their grandparents, or whether they’ve ever pulled any great pranks. All they have to do is reply with a story, which is forwarded to you and any other family members you invite. At the end of the year, their stories are bound in a beautiful keepsake book your family will cherish!  Click here to check them out.

 

Probably the best present I ever bought…and got.

If you’ve read here long enough you know how much I love StoryWorth.  They’ve sponsored weekly wrap-ups and helped keep things running and this week they bought an ad so I could buy 8 more coats for kids for the James Garfield Miracle.  I also love them because they gave me the best Xmas present ever, a book filled with stories from my father.

Here’s how it works…StoryWorth emails a new question every week to whoever you gift with a StoryWorth subscription.  (You get to help pick the questions you are most interested in.)  The person responds with the answers and every week you get an email with wonderful/terrifying/baffling stories you never knew.  Then at the end of the year StoryWorth prints it up into a hardcover keepsake book.  Right now it’s just $59.  I cannot recommend it enough and I thought I’d share a few of the recent stories I’ve gotten from my dad because they are amazing and also insane:

What are your favorite memories of each of your children growing up?

We lived in Austin when Jenny was born. I was in the Air Force protecting all of you draft dodgers. My bravery showed itself everyday when I would go to work, sit at a desk all day, and do paperwork. This was during the Vietnam war and I couldn’t even get a medal for a paper cut.

I remember that once while we were traveling, Jenny was not having a good time, and she started crying. Nelda was trying to calm her down, but the crying persisted. I, being a tough Sargent in the Air Force, told Nelda to just let her cry it out. Nelda told me that if she would let her cry, Jenny would make herself sick. Seconds later, Jenny throw up all over me. That’s when I realized Jenny outranked me.

Lisa is my youngest. She’s not only my daughter, she’s my little boy. She loved to go fishing and hunting with me, and she loved all the wild animals I would bring home. Lisa was not afraid of anything. She didn’t ask questions all the time. It seemed like she knew all the answers. You had to watch what you said around her, because it would get back to her momma.

One day I made some rifle targets out of metal. I cut them out in the shape of buffalos. They were anatomically correct buffalo bulls. I welded on a 5/16 hex nut in the appropriate place. Lisa helped me paint her new targets and observed the additions that I had welded on. “Daddy. What’s that?” I couldn’t lie to Lisa. “Baby Girl, that’s a 5/16 hex nut.” No more questions from Lisa. She bought it. That’s my boy!

Lisa was five years old and she had her own 22 rifle that I had miniaturized for her and we painted it pink. We set up her herd of buffalos and loaded her rifle. She was a good shot, soon she was killing buffalos. Momma was standing at the back door, watching the excitement. Lisa ran out to set the targets back up, but brought one bull back with her.

She had made a marginal shot on the buffalo but had managed to knock the welded part off.

Lisa ran to momma with news of her accomplishment. “Momma, Momma! I knocked its “NUT” off! Nelda screamed at me, “Henry, What are you teaching this girl?”

Once I went to the feed store and they had just got in some baby turkeys. I always wanted to get some turkeys for the kids (and me). I heard that turkeys were hard to raise, so instead of buying four, I brought home 18.

I guess I was just lucky or something, but all 18 turkeys lived. They all grew and they loved the kids. Jenny and Lisa loved them too when the birds were little, but they keep growing.

It wasn’t long before the 18 little turkeys weighed about 15 pounds each. Being followed by these stupid pet turkeys was beginning to be not as much fun. The girls wouldn’t go outside if the turkeys were around.

Jenny and Lisa attended Fairview School. It was located about 100 yards from our front door. I know it must have been a real hardship for these two little girls on the prairie, but they had to walk to school. They had to make sure the turkeys didn’t follow them.

One day near the end of school it was pretty hot inside the old school house so the teachers opened the front doors to enjoy the breeze. This just happened to be the day that the turkeys got lonesome for the girls. They strutted over to the front door of the school and since the doors were open, they realized it was an invitation to come in.

The janitor had just waxed the hall floors and the turkeys found them quite slippery. The turkeys were not potty trained and the slippery floors scared the turkey poop out of them.

The door to Jenny’s class was open and turkeys started flocking in. Jenny and Lisa were asked to escort their foul poultry home.

The turkeys were gone by the start of the next school year, and I had made a promise (under duress) to Nelda that there would be no more turkeys. Well, guess what had just arrived at the feed store? I only bought 6.

Tell me about one of the best days you can remember.

The best day that I can remember. My Mom died. Does that make any sense? I’ll try to explain it.

My mom was 68 years old when she died. She was 27 when I was born. When my Mom was 47 years old, she had an operation. The operation went okay, but she was given some bad blood in the transfusion. She got Hepatitis.

The doctor gave her 3 years to live.

Momma lived with a lot of pain. She constantly ate crushed ice just to ease the burning from the liver sorosis. She never drank alcohol, but she was dying from a disease that kills many old drunks.

Momma’s stomach was super extended and she had terrible pain in her legs from the knees to her feet. She would wrap them as tight as she could, but the pain did not go away. I would rub her feet, but I don’t think it eased the pain that much.

I stayed with her in the hospital there at the end. She couldn’t talk to me anymore. She was like in a trance. She kept repeating, Oh Yes Dear Lord. Oh Yes Dear Lord.  She was ready to go home to Jesus.

I was watching E.T The Extraterrestrial on TV. E.T. was dying and the little boy was brokenhearted. The little boy, with tears in his eyes, asked his fading friend, “Will I ever see you again?” E.T. slowly raised his glowing finger and placed it on the boy’s temple. He said, “I’ll be right here.” I couldn’t hold the tears back. My Mom was talking to me thru E.T.

The next morning my mother was gone. Her body was cold. She was no longer in pain.

I realized that my pain of losing my mother slowly diminished over time, but I still remember her vividly. She is right there where E.T. said she would be.

 

What gives you peace of mind?

Watching old cowboys movies with my dad 60 years ago made me feel secure.

My dad made sure that we got home from town on Saturday night well before 6 p.m. The lineup was The Texan, Have Gun Will Travel, and Gunsmoke.

I remember getting up on my Daddy’s lap while he settled back in his recliner. Daddy would hand-roll a Bull Durham cigarette and let me lick the paper. Then we would watch cowboys, and I would play with the heavy smoke layer suspended in the den. Only during commercials. Sometimes Daddy would blow smoke rings for me.

As I remember these cherished times, I have peace of mind. I feel security, love, and purpose. I was relaxed after a hard day of playing, someone carried me to my bed, and I slept with a peaceful mind…and my teddy bear.

What is one of the most selfless things you have done in life?

A couple of years ago, Nelda and I were going to a movie around Christmas time. Nelda parked the car and I stepped out of the passenger seat. There was a large western wallet sitting on the asphalt just inches from our car’s rear tire. I opened the wallet and was shocked to find six brand new hundred dollar bills.   We checked at the concession stand to see if anyone had reported losing a wallet but no one had.

We looked thru the wallet to identify the owner. There was a picture of a teenage cheerleader wearing a uniform from Sonora High School and a young boy’s drivers license in the wallet. The address showed him to be from Big Lake.

Nelda and I called the sheriff from Sutton county. He was a friend of mind. I told him about the wallet, and he gave me the number for the school superintendent.

The school superintendent from Sonora forwarded the info to the girl, she called the boys mom, who me immediately. Her son was frantic and was currently at IHOP.  I told them I was on my way.

When I walked into IHOP, most customers looked my direction. I knew some of them. Others thought they knew me, cuz I was dressed like Santa Claus. Three teenage boys sat quietly at a back table. They weren’t happy. I sat down at the table next to them, ordered some water, and sat there for another minute.

I asked them “Why the long faces?” One kid told me that he had lost his wallet.

“Was there any money in it?”

“Yes sir. About six hundred dollars.”

“Wow, what did it look like?  Did it look like this one?”

The boy, about 16, almost cried.  They thanked me and said that they would continue to believe in Santa.

A few days later, the kids mom sent me a thank you letter. She said her faith in humanity was restored, and her belief in Santa was refreshed

I don’t know if I could call this incident selfless, cuz I received a great deal of pleasure being part of it.

A quick explanation: my dad volunteers as Santa every year in December and often forgets to take off the outfit.

 

How has your life turned out differently than you imagined it would?

I can’t imagine how my life would be different than it turned out. Everything in my life has been a surprise or a disappointment. Things that I had prepared for (or planned for) never turned out with the expected results. Nature got in the way. Finances (or lack of money) stood in the way. My changing dreams and changing ambitions changed the way. My faith ,and sometimes lack of faith, choose a different way.peace, sickness, and good health shaped my life. Good fortune and hardships took me on roads that I figured I would never travel, and see things that were unseeable.

I imagined that I would be a cowboy, tall in the saddle, riding a black horse with a long white mane and tail. I am tall (5ft. 16inches). I wear boots, and I have a barn full of old antique saddles. I have not rode on any of them. Real cowboys wore them out for me. I have dozens of spurs, but I have never put one on. My only horse is stabled in my shed and may never run again. I call him Penny Pony. He was a beautiful coin operated Mustang rescued from an amusement park in San Antonio. I put him out to pasture, but some day God willing I will get him galloping for the grandkids and great grandkids. They will all be cow-pokes. I will paint Penny Pony black with a white mane and tail. Or maybe I won’t.

I imagined that some day I would get married. I never imagined that it would be to Nelda. She was already spoken for,and I knew that there was not another girl like her. I couldn’t imagine that the whole world could change to allow me to have her as my wife.

I couldn’t imagine that we would have such beautiful children. Our children are pretty on the outside, and they are even prettier on the inside. Can you imagine that?

I went to college off and on for 10 years. I have almost got enough hours for three degrees, but I never graduated. Life got in the way. Or maybe Life took the reins and led me where I was supposed to go instead of where I thought I should go.

Every course that I took in College gave me pieces of information that brought me here. I didn’t get a diploma, but I got a lifetime supply of life lessons.

Before I’m gone, I’m going to organize all this junk, and finish all the projects that I have started but never finished. Unless Life gets in the way.

 

What was your favorite tv program when you were a child?

Our TV was broken a lot. Volume control worked good, but channel selector dial wore out quickly. We had a pair on vise-grip pliers permanently attached to the channel selector cuz the knob wore out. The rabbit ears antenna were always sagging, and I had to hold them up so we could get a picture. That was my job. Sonny, stand by the TV and hold that antenna.

I think that’s why I got such bad eyesight. Momma would say, “Sonny, don’t stand so close to the TV. You’ll ruin your eyes! Oh, I see you’re holding the Rabbit. Well, Stand over to the side a little. You’re blocking Lucy.”

One day I got an idea to make my antenna job easier. I got a piece of used tinfoil ( tinfoil was too expensive to use just one time). I attached each end of the fishy smelling tinfoil to each ear of the rabbit antenna. Not only did this keep the ears up, but the reception got better too. My momma thought her son was a genius. She picked up the phone to call my aunt Marcella and spread the news of her inventive son. She was delayed becuz we had a party line and it was busy. You never knew how long someone would be using the phone, so Momma would just listen in so she wouldn’t waste any airtime. We couldn’t have the volume up on the TV, cuz she didn’t want to interrupt anybodies private phone call. Before Momma was able to spread the news of the new invention, Someone hinted the news to some lady named Heloise, and everyone who could read a newspaper used my discovery. A patent on the idea would have made my family stinking rich for generations to come. But that was the 60’s, and household hacks, and youtube wasn’t around yet.

 

What did you hide from your parents as a child?

My parents knew I was a responsible kid for my age, so they let me make my own cannon fuse and gun powder instead of just buying it for me. Some parents now days will just buy their kids all the bomb-making supplies they want. They weren’t teaching their young aspiring rocket scientists anything about resourcefulness. A kid with the eagerness to learn a new trade that had all the diesel and fertilizer at his disposal was sure to go places. Prison, hospital, reform school, and the cemetery are a few of these places.

I never did make bombs. Bombs were illegal. I just made very powerful firecrackers. Very powerful! I would put a firecracker under a tin can, and record high it would go. I would put a double firecracker under a five gal. bucket, and would record how high it would go. My parents taught me to record this important information just in case I stumbled across an experiment that I didn’t want to repeat. If my parents lost a child because of something going wrong out in the barn, they would at least have something to laugh about in later years. They would also have an alibi that would satisfy child protective services.

 

What is one of the craziest things that’s ever happened to you?

What was one of the craziest things that ever happened to me? For my father’s day last year, my weird daughter gave me a strange gift. It was this thing called Storyworth. Every week, I’d get an email asking me a strange personal question. They wanted me to type my answer out on this damn computer. I don’t type and I don’t compute. Then I would have to hit a send button, and wait for a reply. A reply never came. Finally, up pops “Thank you5b0c0edde0250004e12f71-6c3a6.”  I think their spell check got stuck or something. Speaking of spell check- Both of my daughters said they would show me how to use spell check. I’ve written 52 stories and now that it’s over, they still haven’t showed me how to use it. I’m 66 years old. I could spell good when I was 12. but I’ve forgotten even the easy words now. Whoever said.” Look it up in the dictionary!” must not have the same learning disablities that I suffer from.. I need a book that lists all the uncommon ways to misspell a word that I stabb at. At my age, I couldn’t lift a book that heavy, but maybe if I push it off the table, it will make a loud enough “BANG” to get my wife’s attention so she’ll come in here and spell “DISABLITIES” or “STABB” for me.

The craziest part of this ever-beckoning task was- I enjoyed it. It brought back memories that I forgot to remember. I remember things that I forgot or tried to forget. I can’t remember how much I forgot but if you don’t care, I don’t either.

*****

My dad’s StoryWorth subscription is over and now I have this lovely book:

(My parents on their 40th wedding anniversary.)

A few months ago I started a new subscription for my mom.  I cannot recommend it enough if you’re looking for a great present to give someone you love.  You can even buy one for yourself if you want prompts to help you write about your own life.

Click here to check it out.

PLEASE SEE THE UPDATE AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS POST – THE NINTH ANNUAL JAMES GARFIELD MIRACLE

So here’s my giant update: I made it almost 10 hours before running out of money and I was so happy to be able to help so many people.  Even more wonderful was how often I’d go to fill a list and find it was already filled.  Thank you.  Thank you on behalf of the hundreds and hundreds of kids who will have a present to open this year because of you.

Usually we make it to day two or three before it starts to get frustrating and you start to see people asking for crazy amounts of things but this year things got crazy a little quicker.  I tried to delete lists where people asked for more than the limits but so I’m exhausted so right now I’m going to just put a big BUYER BEWARE sign out and  say that there are probably a lot of wonderful people in the comments who still need help and are asking for a children’s book or a doll and if you can find those people you should help them.  But be careful.  Click on the filters to see what’s already been bought.  Ignore the lists that are insanely long.  Or just skip the lists and donate to Project Night Night.  Or Toys for Tots.  Or buy toys yourself and drop then off at your local shelter or domestic abuse center.

I’m feeling a little cynical right now but I’m going to shake that off because I am lucky to be able to help every child I helped.  I’m lucky to not have to worry this year, although I know each year is precarious and fragile.  I’m lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people who care and I’m lucky to not be in such a desperate spot that I make questionable decisions.

So tonight I’m going to shake off the frustration and instead say, “thank you.”  Thank you to everyone who helped, who asked for help, who felt a stir in their heart.  I am so lucky.

And if you happen to have gotten much more than your share of presents, don’t feel guilty.  I don’t want that.  Those presents are yours to do with as you choose. And if you happen to have asked for far more than you should have, perhaps consider giving those extra presents to a shelter.  Bundle your kids up and take them with you.  Feel good about giving.  Teach your kids how great it feels.  Because it does.  I promise.

********************

 

TODAY IS THE NINTH ANNUAL JAMES GARFIELD XMAS MIRACLE, Y’ALL.

Nine years of giving toys to kids who might not otherwise get presents.  That’s insane.  Almost as insane as the fact that this all began with a giant dead boar named James Garfield.

James Garfield and I love you.

The backstory: Nine years ago I bought a very jolly but kinda f-ed up boar head (named James Garfield)  and Victor thought I was crazy so I sold some homemade Xmas cards to make up the $90 I paid for him but I made so much I decided to give the money back to parents struggling to buy a toy for their kid.

It went quickly but as soon as I ran out of cash a ton of other people stepped up and asked if they could send toys to strangers and it grew into a weird but lovely tradition.

Each year I think will be the last year but each year people who were helped in the past ask if we’ll do it again so they can give back.  For those who like something easier you can give to Project Night Night, a brilliant organization that provides a book, stuffed animal and security blanket to kids experiencing homelessness, and also to Heifer because it’s nice to be able to donate the ass end of a water buffalo on the behalf of relatives that you don’t really like.

The JGXM is one of my favorite things ever but it only works if people follow the rules and this year they’re going to be a little stricter so that we can make sure to help as many people as possible.  PLEASE read all the rules and directions because if you don’t I may have to delete your post and that would suck for everyone.

  • The JGXM is for all children (under age 18) so if you are a parent and you’re struggling this year and don’t know how you’re going to buy you kid a present you can make and submit one wishlist with presents for your kids.  The limit is $35 per kid so please don’t ask for more than that because otherwise we can’t help as many children.
  • The only exception to the $35 limit is if you have a child that really needs a new coat.  Then you can add that as well.
  • Do not delete your list after it’s been filled and don’t delete anything that’s been bought.  It messes up the process.
  • On Friday after lots of the lists have been filled you can come back and add more things to your list if you still need food/pajamas/etc.
  • I’m going to go through the details of setting up a list but here are the two things that you really need to catch so I’ll say them twice.  Only add things that are “PRIME”.  Not only will this make sure you get your toy before Xmas but also most non-Prime sellers won’t ship to wishlist addresses.  And you have to set up a brand new wishlist for this which means you MUST go in and assign a shipping address specifically to this new list or it won’t work.  Every year hundreds of people forget to do this and it’s so frustrating for them and for the people who can’t help them.

Okay, let’s get started!

If you’re in need here is what you need to do.  Please follow each step:

1.Create a list.  (On Amazon, when you’re logged in you should see “Accounts & Lists”.  Click that and choose “Create a List.”

create a list

2.  Choose “wish list”.  Name your list.  Make sure it’s “public”.

3.  Go shopping.  Pick the thing ($35  limit) you want for each child and click on the “Add to List” dropdown button to add it to your list.  Please don’t make a separate list for each child.  Just make one list for all of them.  Please click here to see an example of what it should look like when it’s done.

Add to wishlist

4.  After your list is complete click on “add comment, quantity & priority” to add a comment about which things are for which kids and what age they are.  (You can just use their initials if you want.)

Add comment telling us who the gift is for

5.  This is the part people screw up the most.  YOU MUST assign a shipping address to your wishlist.  It’s kept private so all we see is the name of your city when we send you stuff.  See how it says “None” in the shipping address box below?  Don’t do that.  Click on it and add your address.    Delete the “Don’t Spoil my surprises” check box.  Makes sure NONE of the check boxes on the bottom are checked before you save changes.  This is so important.

6.  Go to “Manage lists” and check again.  Does it show your shipping address?  Are all of the boxes unchecked?  Awesome.  Save changes.  Copy the page address and come back here to the comments.

7.  Your comment should state how many kids you have, their ages, and THE CITY YOUR PRESENTS ARE GOING TO.  This is important because if you’re from Canada, for example, I can’t buy for you without paying extra for shipping but there will be people from Canada looking for other Canadians to help and it makes it easier to match up.  It’s also necessary because if your city doesn’t match what the gift registry says at checkout we can tell there’s a mistake and not send your gifts to the wrong person.  (It happens.)

8.  Do not feel bad about asking for help.  I suspect all of us (including myself) have been in tough economic situations before and for most of us this is such a wonderful gift to be able to give.  In fact, many of the people who come here to donate received help in the past.  One day you will pay it forward.

9. One out of 1,000 people will try to game the system here.  Please don’t be that person.  There’s a limited amount of money so please don’t take away from other children.

10.  Be happy and accept my thanks for letting us make this happen.

If you want to donate:

  1. Find a wishlist.  Buy what you want.  Proceed to checkout.  A page will ask you to choose a shipping address and it’ll probably default to your address so make sure you change it to their address.  Usually it’s the first address under “Other addresses” and it’ll say something like “_________’s gift registry address”.  On the next page it’ll give you the city it’s being shipped to so you can make sure you have the right address that matches the comment.  If they don’t match or you aren’t given an address then they probably made a mistake.   Delete everything in your cart and try another list.
  2. Very rarely someone will ask for more than the limits.  If that happens I’ll try to delete their post but just be aware that there’s a lot of trust needed to do this so no worries if it’s not for you.  I try to delete anyone that I can tell is gaming the system but I also try to give people the benefit of the doubt, especially when young children are involved.  If you have doubts, skip them.
  3. Be happy and accept my thanks for letting us make this happen.

If the amount of blind trust on this is a bit much for you then a FANTASTIC alternative is Project Night Night, which I cannot recommend enough.  Last week I put my Bloggess Calendar up for sale and already $1,400 has been raised to help them help children.  You did that.  Thank you.

Another quick thing…the money I spend each year on helping kids come directly from you.  From advertisers, from people who buy my books, or use my links.  If you are a part of this community, know that today I will be giving out over $5,000 in toys because of you.  I am so incredibly lucky to be a part of this community.

Okay…let’s do this.

2nd UPDATE:  Day 2.

I love you guys so much. Sorry I got snippy last night. I was a little exhausted and overwhelmed and I always panic at how many people won’t be helped. I think next year I’m going to finally accept all the wonderful offers of help that you guys always give. Something automated perhaps, so that the wish lists can be approved first and we can make sure that people include all the info they need and that people aren’t asking for to little or too much. I know it can be complicated and I’m sorry about that. Thanks so much for being so amazing and patient.

I’m going to see if I can find some more cash and maybe drop some more gifts late this afternoon. Love!

It’s coming!

First off, a quick update on the 2019 Bloggess Calendar: you guys have raised over $1,400 that will be donated to Project Night Night to help them provide comfort packages (a tote bag, blanket, a stuffed animal and a book) to children experiencing homelessness, and I am so incredibly grateful!

If you still need one you can click here to order one:

The cover art was done by my friend, Joe Badon, who has actually done the Bloggess Calendar cover for a number of years:

And next week?  We’re going to do the Ninth Annual James Garfield Miracle.

Every year I think it’ll be the last but then it rolls around again and someone who was helped in the past asks if they can help give back this year and it inspires me to do it one more time.  I was actually going to do it last week but I had a touch of depression and I didn’t think I’d have enough energy to get it done but I’m feeling better so if you’re struggling this year and need help getting a present for your kid this holiday or you want to help someone who is very much in need check back soon.

*******

And on an entirely different subject, it’s time for the Sunday wrap-up!

I’m going to BookPeople in a few days to sign books and if you want one for Christmas you can click here to order them and I’ll personalize it however you like.  And yes, I will happily write “KNOCK KNOCK MOTHERFUCKER” or “Thanks for burying that body for me” or draw a cat face in it if you want.  They ship all over the world.  To order a signed personalized copy just add the book to your cart and in the comments field during checkout write the name of the person you want me to inscribe it to or anything personal you want.

Shit I made in my shop (Named “EIGHT POUNDS OF UNCUT COCAINE” so that your credit card bill will be more interesting.):

Shit-you-may-or-may-not-want-to-see:

This week’s wrap-up is brought to you by Storyworth, who I love.  This holiday season, give your loved ones a StoryWorth Book to preserve their stories. Each week, we’ll email them a question about their life – asking them to recount their favorite memory of their grandparents, or whether they’ve ever pulled any great pranks. All they have to do is reply with a story, which is forwarded to you and any other family members you invite. At the end of the year, their stories are bound in a beautiful keepsake book your family will cherish!  Click here to check them out.

 

UPDATED FOR THE LAST TIME HOPEFULLY! 2019 Bloggess Calendar

As requested, the 2019 Bloggess Calendar is now available (and it’s 50% off today if you use the code DECKTHEHALLS) and the back of it has a giant color half-raccoon face that you can use to freak people out.

All profits go to Project Night Night.  Whoop!

UPDATED:  I don’t know why but some of you are getting emails that your order was cancelled because the calendar doesn’t meet Zazzle’s guidelines.  I’m not sure why but I sent in a request to Zazzle to look it up.  I just ordered a copy right now to check it and the order went through so I’m wondering if it’s a bug?  Or maybe they think it’s tentacle p0rn?  WHO KNOWS.  I’ll let you know what I hear.

UPDATED AGAIN: Okay, I still don’t have answers as to why some orders are cancelled and Zazzle says it can take days to get a response so let’s do this…   I made a new calendar and replaced anything that might have possibly been questionable with other things that are probably just as questionable but are different so if you don’t get your order refunded you will have one of the rare banned calendars but if you did get cancelled you can go to the links above and order the new calendar. No matter what I’ll send Project Night Night the profits on the calendars and I’ll also cover the profits that we lost because it’s an awesome charity and they do amazing things.

PS. To make up for this inconvenience please accept this video of Ferris Mewler groping me inappropriately.

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Writing with cats. #ithinkivebeengroped

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Also, I want a medal for not making a joke about how unsettling it is when your cat grabs Uranus.

UPDATED X 3:  OKAY.  You may have witnessed my full breakdown on twitter this morning when Zazzle cancelled my old calendar and my replacement calendar and told me that is was being cancelled because an image was copyrighted and that image was a picture of me.  *sigh*

HOWEVER, they quickly reached out to me and fixed the issue and brought back the new calendar so here’s what you need to know: if you ordered the new calendar (the replacement I made late last night…not the one from midday yesterday) your order is still fine and you’ll get your calendar.  If you ordered the first calendar you’ll probably need to reorder the new one. The half off sale is still going on today so make sure you use the DECKTHEHALLS code. If you look in your orders you can tell if you have one coming or if it was canceled.  Here’s an example where you can see the canceled one and the new one that I ordered:

Zazzle was very apologetic and they assure me that no one was charged for the canceled calendar as they just did a preathorization that was dropped as soon as the first calendar was cancelled.

So, long story short, the calendar linked above is fully operational and you can buy it right here.

I need a drink.

THIS IS WHY I DON’T CLEAN, VICTOR.

I’m too tired to unpack all of this but I thought I should share so you can learn from my mistakes:

Empty out your filters, y’all.

I wonder if Hemingway had this problem?

Today is a writing day so obviously Rollie and Dorothy Barker decided to help by turning on the caps locks and making me lose my place and giving water damage to my keyboard and basically just giving me even more of a reason to procrastinate.

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Writing with pets.

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Part 2

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Part 3. PETS FOR SALE.

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They are the perfect combination of horrible and entertaining, which is the exact tone I aim for in my writing so I guess it all works out.

Now back to work.

Tell me something good…

We’re on Day 5 of celebrating good things and this one might be a little disjointed because I pulled something in my neck and I’m on muscle relaxers and need a nap.  But today we’re celebrating great things going on with you.  Maybe you or someone you love did something you want to brag about.  Maybe you did something nice for yourself.  Maybe you survived the week.  Maybe you’re grateful for muscle relaxers and spellcheck.  Whatever it is, share it here.

As for me, I’m celebrating today because I sent a new chapter I wasn’t sure about to my agent and she loved it. Then I fell into a puddle of relief.  WHOOP!

Your turn.

 

The best advice I ever got

We’re continuing our week of bests here on the blog and I am LOVING your suggestions.   Today I want to know the best piece of advice you ever got.

If you’ve read my books you already know “PRETEND YOU’RE GOOD AT IT” – which I still write on my arm every time I have to do something scary in public but the second best piece of advice came from my grandmother, who told me, “It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.  Unless people are being dicks.  You don’t have to be nice to dicks.”  Except she didn’t say “dicks” but probably just because English wasn’t her first language.

Still good advice though.

Your turn.

PS. I had a wonderful surprise recently when I opened Neil Gaiman’s new book Art Matters and saw this:

In all honesty my beard isn’t quite so luxurious but I appreciate the artistic license.

So basically I asked my favorite writer for advice on my first book and the advice was so good I wrote about it in my next book and then he wrote about that in his next book and this is how the world should work.

 

THE BEST THING I BOUGHT

This week we’re exploring all the best things and so far we’ve done THE BEST THING I READ and THE BEST THING I HEARD and today we’re doing THE BEST THING I BOUGHT, which is sort of hard because I don’t get out much but there are a few things I’ve been super happy to find so I’m sharing them here.

  1.  This sweater, which is made of baby polar bears, I think?  It’s so soft it’s insane and I’ve had it for two years and it’s still awesome.  In fact, I bought one for my mom and my granny last year for Xmas because it’s my favorite article of clothing.
  2. Eshakti, which is a clothing website where you can customize the clothes to fit you AND ALL OF THEIR DRESSES HAVE POCKETS.  If you’ve ever seen me in real life and complimented what I was wearing I guarantee you I said, “AND IT HAS POCKETS!” and I bought it from here.Here’ s a  secret tip:  Their crepe, georgette and duponi fabrics are cat fur resistant and fairly wrinkle-proof.  The other fabrics, not as much.
  3. The perfect Christmas tree topper which just arrived minutes ago:

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DON’T BLINK.

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It’s awesome but I didn’t hook it onto the tree right the first time and when I was getting off the step-ladder it fell and hit me right in the ear.  It’s more firmly attached now but maybe be aware that it’s bloodthirsty.

Now, your turn!  What’s something awesome you are so glad to have bought?

PS. I don’t get paid for any of these but I did use my amazon links for two of them because The James Garfield Christmas Miracle is coming up in a week or two and I always use all my affiliate profits to help kids have a happy holiday.  More on that next month.