Confessions of a Museum Junkie

Any fellow museum addicts here?

I have a confession to make. I am a museum junkie.

A proud and unrepentant one.

And it all started after being scared witless. But let me go back a few years. Ahem, a lot of years now.

Once upon a time, when I was six, my family took a vacation to Salem, MA. And I never forgot it. Even though I was young, I retain vivid memories of Salem: Our view out the window of the Hawthorne Hotel, quizzing the tour guide at the House of Seven Gables, and seeing mustard seeds for the first time at the Lighthouse.

But, alas, the trip also had a dark side. The Salem Witch Museum made an extreme impression on me. Maybe it was the fact that we were ushered into a dark room and told to stand in an illuminated circle in the center. Or it could have been the first display: two red eyes gleaming in the dark accompanied by a loud voice declaring the devil exists. And possibly it was the tableau of Giles Cory being pressed to death.

Yeah, that definitely left a mental mark.

In hindsight, I’m positive that my life as a museum junkie traces straight to that vacation. I experienced a Great Awakening on that trip. One that cemented my love of old houses and left me jonesing for more historical experiences.

I was the kid on school field trips who loved visiting the state capital, Plymouth Plantation, and this place called Old Sturbridge Village (more on that in a moment).

During my college years in Washington, DC, I was in museum junkie heaven. I became an intern at not one, but two Smithsonian museums. The Museum of American History and the National Zoological Park. Yes. The experience was cool and amazing. When I graduated with bachelors’ degrees in Anthropology and Psychology, I had a lofty dream that I could work at one of my beloved museums.

I was so clueless!

The first job I applied for when I returned home laden with financial debt was at Old Sturbridge Village. After I was soundly rejected, I didn’t become too bitter even when I settled for a “real” job working for an insurance company (27 years and counting). I still have my rejection letter from OSV too. Over the years, I applied for other museum jobs and was also turned down.

Fine. I don’t have a Masters or a PHD. I get it.

So if I couldn’t get a job in an actual museum, I did the next best thing and dragged my husband, henceforth known as Scar, to OSV.

This was my special place. One that I’d been visiting since a field trip in the fourth grade.

On that first trip together, Scar strolled onto the lush town green and looked around at the lovingly preserved historic buildings. The scent of wood smoke hung in the air while the blacksmith’s hammer clanged. The water-powered mills crushed grain into flour and sawed wood into boards. Upon entering a building, costumed historians would politely greet us and provide the historical background of whatever it was they were doing.

This was my happy place and I couldn’t wait for him to love it as much as I did.

His next words remain forever etched in family lore.

“This is nice. But where’s ye olde whore house?” he joked.

My joy shriveled a bit after that. Clearly, history was lost on him. Though I do continue to tease him so I’ve gotten some mileage out of that comment.


Okay, so as it turned out, he didn’t love museums.

But there was hope. I had children. If I started young maybe one of them would fall in love too. As it turned out, one of my kids caught the museum bug! Witness my fellow museum junkie in those early years.

Over time, I purchased memberships at several museums including Old Sturbridge Village, Mystic Seaport and The Springfield Museums. I joined the last one in 2016 as a “happy birthday to me” present. Younger Son and I jointly hold these memberships which often baffles the staff who incorrectly assume we are married when sending out mailings. Um, no!

Lucky for me, Younger Son still enjoys museums as much as I do. It’s our thing. We schedule our vacation time around which museum we want to visit next. Scar and my Older Son (who hates anything with the word museum in it), grunt, go back to their respective computer screens, then wave us on our way.

See, we know the secret. We have all the fun.

Your turn to share – what places have made a lasting impression on you? Any fellow museum junkies here?


The Weekend is Mine, all Mine!

Yay Friday! I hope your week went well.


Recently, I had an attitude adjustment. Every blog about writing or by writers, eventually, touches on the topic of professionalism and treating writing as a job.

I am not going to dispute that wisdom. If you’re in it for the long haul and you want to be published (or stay published), then you have to realize that writing isn’t sitting around waiting to be struck by genius. There comes a time in every writer’s day, month, year (take your pick) when you have to do the deed. You know, sit at your computer and write stuff – whether you feel like it or not.


Kind of like being an employee at a day job. I have a full time job. I also consider writing a job and when I am actively working on a story, I do it after the paid job.

Which brings me to the attitude adjustment. For the last few weeks, I’ve written my 2,000 – 3,000 words a day from Monday – Friday (after my day job ends) and I’ve taken the weekends off!

And by off, I mean, I don’t even turn my laptop on. For the last several years, my trusty laptop has been on 364 days of the year. The only day it got off was Christmas day because family comes over.

So far, it’s been therapeutic. I don’t feel all – “Ugh, I have to write today.” I admit, I’ve been getting a little grouchy about writing. Like it was a ball and chain. Until I realized that even with my day job, I take time off and I sure don’t feel guilty about it. Why should writing be different than any other profession?

Who wouldn't want to pet this cute cat??

That doesn’t mean I won’t write on the weekend. I will. But it’s also nice to know that I don’t have to feel guilty for taking a day trip with my family or grocery shopping so we can eat all week. Or read a book. Or just veg and pet my cat.

BTW- Mystic Hero is over the 55,000 words mark, well on it’s way to first draft completion in the next week or two. Yay!

See? It’s all about attitude. If you find yourself in a rut or so stressed out you can’t think straight it might be time for an adjustment!

Anyone else feel the need to take time away? How do you veg?

Why Books are Like Babies

First off, can you believe it’s already August? Where has the summer gone? There’s something about this time of year (and around Thanksgiving) where I feel IMG_2970like I’m on time’s roller coaster ride.

One minute it’s May and then suddenly August is here and I feel like the whole summer has flown by. I suspect the school calendar plays a part in this phenomenon because younger son would always start whining about having to go back to school (the infamous countdown would begin).

Well, not this year. Steady readers of this blog, may recall he graduated in June (my baby, my baby!). This year he and his older brother will be attending college together. So while they are still going to school, there is no complaining involved (well, except for the ridiculous cost of college texts).

All this thinking about time, combined with the recent birth of the royal baby (HRH Prince George) got me to thinking about how books are born in my brain. While pursuing two books at once (Mystic Hero is pulling to the lead, so by the time you read this, it might be the only book I’m writing), I’ve noticed that the story is often born while I’m writing it.

What?!? But what about all that talk of plotting and planning?

Oh, those things still happen. But like any story, I leave room for new ideas to hatch. I also rely on the characters to dictate how they react to the barriers I toss out. There is no way I can script every waking moment of the story. I decide on the big events and let the rest fill itself in.

So like a baby, sometimes a book can take forever (Mystic Storm – almost ten months) and others are done in less time (Misfortune Cookie – two months). The Undead Space Initiative poured out of my brain like there was a big hole in it and I could barely keep up!  (Note: this is writing time. Not the time it took for me to plot and plan.)

And like babies, nature can’t be rushed. Some characters, like Zephyr, in Mystic Storm, gave me nothing but trouble. I think it may be because of the whole “cursed to be a woman by day” thing (which I am not apologizing for!).

Not to be too graphic, but any woman who has gone through labor knows that babies don’t just come out in one easy push. And neither does my writing. I can have a week of super productivity and then another week where I have to flog myself to sit down and write. However, I will add a caveat. I did have younger son in my bathroom (in under a half hour of going into labor). He was apparently so eager to enter the world, he couldn’t wait!

Just goes to show –  you never know!!

Has anyone else had this experience? Do you have some books that just take forever to come out of your head?


Going Giftless – Year 2

Find out about my family’s new holiday tradition – Going Giftless. Stop by the 7 Scribes and share your views.

On the Mystic Storm front – I’m slowly revising my way through the first draft. It may seem hard to believe, especially after I’ve written the entire book, but it’s taken me a while to find Zephyr and Kalli’s voices. Now that I have them, I just need those long stretches of time locked in a room with nothing but voices in my head (I know that sounds a little loony).


I did it. Last Sunday I finished the draft of Mystic Storm. But the work isn’t over yet. Before I can share Zephyr’s story with my trusted first readers, I have to read through it and make sure there aren’t any gaping plot holes.

In the meantime, I’m at the 7 Scribes today  – We Are Family.

Crazy Squirrel Lady!

This week’s post has absolutely nothing to do with writing. But, over at the Scribes, the fabulous Lisa Kessler is my guest. She’s talking about prequels.

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a soft spot for squirrels. Since my dog died last year they’ve gone virtually unopposed in the backyard. This summer I got the idea to start feeding them separately so maybe they’d leave the bird feeders alone. And I think they are really cute.

My plan sort of worked. Every day, they visit my back door looking for peanuts. I know there are people out there who can’t stand the furry little guys, but I’m not in that camp.

Younger son immediately got on board. He loves all the creatures great and small, including this cute chipmunk (we have three regular visitors).

Older son scoffed until the first squirrel came up to him looking for peanuts. He too became smitten by their cuteness. I think the cats are secretly hoping that one of them will come a little bit closer.

Now I have a few who like to hang around on my screen door. For those wondering, none of us try to hand feed the little beasts. We all understand that, while squirrels are cute, they are still wild animals and should be treated as such.

Yep. Just call me the crazy squirrel lady!

What’s a Woozle?

This past weekend, to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday, we all went to The Big E. For those of you not from New England, the Big E stands for Eastern States Exposition and it’s our great regional state fair!

There are tons of sellers hocking wares like homemade crafts, beef jerky, leather, furniture and enough fried food to clog your arteries just by standing too close. Fried butter or fried jelly beans, anyone? Hubby ate a crazy burger – a bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between a glazed donut (and I totally forgot to take a picture!!)

There are also “as seen on TV” type gadgets and lovely wares like awesome hand-painted ceramics.

And they have a fantastic miniature circus museum. No surprise that only Younger Son and I went inside while Hubby and Older Son sourly waited outside.

They have a parade which included Mardi-Gras floats and colorful beads. Yes, I cried when the dalmatian went by.

So what does this have to do with woozles? The main reason we attended the Big E this year was to surprise Older Son with tickets to see Jeff Dunham!  One of his most famous puppets is Peanut the Woozle. While I don’t have any photos of Jeff on stage (because we were too far and flash photos were not allowed), I do have a photo of the stage.

And Older Son came away with a shirt from his favorite character- Walter!

Nostalgic Memories of Muppets and Samurai

Anyone know the name of Gonzo’s chicken ladyfriend?

This past weekend I practically overdosed on nostalgia. Two television programs from my formative years made an appearance.

The first had me wondering – why are there so many songs about rainbows?

Guesses anyone?

Yes, for those of us a certain age, that would be the opening lyric to The Rainbow Connection sung by the loveable Muppets.

Friday night, I decided to watch the 2011 movie – The Muppets. In case you haven’t seen it, it’s about about three fans who help the Muppets try and save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon (played fiendishly by Chris Cooper). As expected, it was a pleasant combination of drama, humor and songs. I loved it and immediately watched it again with my hubby.

Back in the day, I watched The Muppet Show every week and it was really nice to remember how different life was back in the late seventies and early eighties. And while I have never completely watched the original Muppet movie, I still got all teary when Kermit sang The Rainbow Connection.

The other program that ate up most of my Sunday was the mini-series Shogun. Anyone remember it? I sure do. And I’ve watched it in re-runs before, however, Encore actually showed scenes that I know were never aired in the States back in September 1980.

For example, I know that there was no nudity or serious curse words (like the F-word!!). And there are scenes from the book that were filmed but never shown – like the entire love story between Kiku and Omi. So in some ways it was like discovering the series all over again.

But the best moment for me was when younger son flopped onto the couch next to me, watched Richard Chamberlain for a moment then asked, “Is that Chuck Norris?”

Seriously, sometimes you can’t make this stuff up!

No! Not Another One Gone!

Ever heard that celebrity deaths come in threes?

I don’t know if that is scientifically true, but lately famous people from my childhood are passing away left and right. And the more I think about, the more distressing it is. I grew up with these people. They were on television entertaining my great aunts, my mom, and a very young me. Or they were making history or teaching me skills like counting. I felt like I knew them.

Not to mention that their deaths remind me of that old adage – Life. No one gets out alive.

Case in Point (and this is not an all-inclusive list, just from the past week or two):

Ernest Borgnine: Actor

Younger Son: “Isn’t he Mermaid Man?”

Me: “Well, yes, but he’s was famous for so much more. I remember him from McHale’s Navy. I used to watch it when I was kid.”

Younger Son: “But he was Mermaid Man too.”

Me: “Yes. And he won an Oscar in the 1950s for Marty.”

Younger Son: “Do you remember that? Did you see that movie when it first came out?”

Me: I think, how old does this kid think I am? My out loud answer: “No. How old do you think I am? Call your grandmother and ask her.”

Younger Son: “He was in Red, wasn’t he? That old guy in the vault.”


Phyllis Diller: Comedian

Younger Son: “She seems familiar.”

Me: “You know her because she’s the voice of Peter Griffin’s mom on Family Guy. Oh, she was the Ant Queen in A Bug’s Life.”

Younger Son: “Do remember her from when her career started?”

Me: “She was 92 when she died. Do the math!”

Ron Palillo – Arnold Horshack, Welcome Back Kotter.

Younger Son (in mock girlie voice): “Oh no, not him too.”

Yes, he was making fun of me because by this point, I was whining.

Jerry Nelson: The Count from Sesame Street

Younger Son: “Oh, that’s too bad.”

I wait for him to ask me the inevitable question.

Younger Son: “Do you remember him on Sesame Street, Mom?”

Me: “Yes!” Now, I need to add that Younger Son hated puppets so he never watched Sesame Street or anything with people in costumes. He was totally scared of them. We went to Disney World when he was about three and he freaked out. It was not a happy time for him. That place is infested with giant costumed characters!

Neil Armstrong: First man on the Moon

Younger Son, ever the comedian: “So Mom, do you remember the moon landing?”

Me (after an aggravated sigh), “Not really. I was a toddler at the time.”

So this leaves to me wonder – how will I really feel when my contemporaries pass on (from old age)? I shudder at the thought!

I can already imagine the conversation, hopefully in the far, far distant future.

Younger Son: “Oh no!” said in a mock girlie voice. “Not Brad Pitt!”

Me: “Nooooo!”

Then I really will feel old.

How about you? Anyone else feeling the same way?