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Visit my About page, where I introduce ourselves, or just scroll down for the most recent wit and wisdom and… well, just whatever I decided to post about today. Glad you’re here. Leave a comment, and “Follow” the blog to keep up with the Joneses!

— SJ


Forget Dating; Dirk Pitt Moves In

I think I’ve mentioned before my opinion of Clive Cussler’s books, and his rugged, sexy, green-eyed hero Dirk Pitt in particular?

In case you missed my opinion that a Cussler book is an utter and complete insult to the very art form of novel-writing… in case you never picked up on the fact that I can’t pick up a Dirk Pitt novel without metaphorically tearing it in to itsy-bitsy pieces…  Well.  Suffice it to say that I’m not really a fan.

However, I have accepted the tragic fact that many people are fans of Cussler and his fantasy-alter-ego Dirk Pitt, he of the opaline green eyes and veritable volcano of charisma. The books continue to sell. They even made a movie once, did you know that? Sahara, starring Matthew McConaughey. I saw the trailer for it, and it actually looked pretty entertaining because it knew the story was unbelievable and the character completely impossible to portray in a serious way. I’ve heard that Cussler actually hated the movie. Figures.

Speaking of figures, well, that’s why I’m bringing up such a painful subject at all. I recently became aware of three rather disturbing facts relating to Dirk Pitt:

  1. They made action figured based on the movie. Yes, an action figure of Dirk Pitt.
  2. I have friends who are the type to discover this kind of thing. These are friends who, in addition, know my address.*
  3. I now own an action figure of Dirk Pitt.


As any reader of Clive Cussler knows — where Dirk is, adventure happens! But as far as I know, Dirk has never actually lived anywhere where he had to observe actual household life in action. Even though he ended up with two kids, his lover considerately kept that knowledge hidden from him until they were of age and all he had to do was get them a job.

So between you and me, I’m pretty sure that Dirk’s going to find life in the Jones House a minefield of bewilderment. And don’t you worry — I’ll be on hand to document his adventures.

More to come.

*Why yes, It would be Swanson the Second who is responsible for this travesty. You don’t get a prize for guessing the obvious, sorry.

Indie Christmas Shopping List

Who doesn’t love it when the holidays rush in with the merry scramble to shop and wrap gifts?

*Raises hand and waves it frantically* Me. I don’t love it.

I’m not a confident gift-giver and I don’t enjoy shopping. So the lead-up to Christmas isn’t exactly my cup of hot cocoa. However, in recent years I have enjoyed seeing what local businesses and artisans offer for a smaller-scale, more personal Christmas.

The following is a short list of independently-sold items that would make really great gifts. As a bonus, I personally know everyone on this list. (You’ll notice that most of the “list” consists of me linking to Red Pen Travelers’ post; I don’t know all those people, but they come highly recommended.) These are a few ideas beyond the standard mass-produced, extremely forgettable items. Go for unforgettable — go indie!

Red Pen Travelers’ Shopping Guide Over a dozen links to small businesses, handmade art, and unique gifts. But what’s best about this list is that it takes you to Red Pen Travelers Notebooks — real leather, customized, personalized, and small enough to tuck into your purse.

Raven’s Landing Art  I love Abigail Cossette’s art, and not just because I’ve sat at coffee-shop tables and watched her work on a lot of these pictures over the past five years. Like her long-running web serial, her art encapsulates the daydreams of every girl who wanted to grow up and be a hero — but also still wear really beautiful clothes and stuff.

Anchor Belle Jewelry  My niece’s whimsical and imaginative pieces created from sea glass collected from Cuban shores. Go to any party in the confidence that nobody else will have accessories that match yours.

Shea’d Tree Soaps I bought a bar of Shelley’s soap several months ago, just to try it out. I loved it and used it until it finally, sadly, shrank into a fragile little circle and washed down the drain. I will be getting more. The soap lathers nicely, smells good, and lasts a long time.

Big Creek Woodworking I didn’t know my brother-in-law had a magical touch with a wood lathe until this summer. Maybe he didn’t know, either. But now he has a small Etsy shop selling his turned-wood bowls. They’re beautifully done, and a wooden bowl always makes a good gift. Always.

My books, of course. My short stories, Go Right, will be available in print by Christmas — you can go ahead and order now! They’re light, funny, and feel-good, perfect for holiday reading. The Fellowship remains a more serious but entertaining read. Click through to my author blog to buy them.

Gamerboy is 15!

Sometimes he’s a spiky apple, sometimes he’s a cuddly Golden Retriever. Sometimes he reveals deep opinions about life and our purpose here, and other times he answers every question with “Oink.”

He’s just about impossible to live with when he’s tired or irritable, and people around him persist in making really annoying noises! or bouncing their foot like that! But he brings the sunshine with him when he’s in a good mood, offering smothering hugs and tossing off quips that make me laugh out loud.

He’s the biggest person in the house, officially passing up DJ this year. He’s not built for sports, though; his agility is mental. Ever since he was a child, he’s shown an innate grasp of how almost any game works — and also how to win it. His favorite topic in the entire galaxy is Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a reason his blogname is Gamerboy.

He has a strong sense of honesty, to the point that tact is a basically foreign language. If he thinks somebody’s joke wasn’t funny, he’s not going to laugh. If he doesn’t think something is right, he’s not going to pretend it’s okay. We’re working on the virtue of omitting opinions if they’re not strictly necessary.

He’s still very much a boy in many ways, but we’ve seen true maturity shine through during the past year. I think one of the best pictures of this big young man of ours is how he, the biggest creature in the house, is gentle and circumspect around Cosmic, the smallest creature in the house… while still having a little fun at the rabbit’s expense, like laying a line of lettuce down Cosmic’s back and proclaiming, “A stegobunnysaurus!”

Happy 15th birthday to our very own Gamerboy! Or as he himself might say, “It is the birthday. Age intensifies. Oink!”

The serious expression is only because he’s trying to take a good picture.

The Incident of the Bagels on Our Last Field Trip

Pictures of actual stray cats taken by Ranger. Dialogue approximated by me.



Cat 1 to Cat 2 and 3. Are you in your positions?



Cat 2 here. Confirm. Under the bush. As usual.



I walk like a shadow, I eat like a tiger, I’m Catastrophe Jones, I’m always ready.



What in the heck was that, Cat 3?



That’s my new catchphrase. I’m still working on it.



Just confirm position, Cat 3.



Position confirmed. I am starving. Any food?



Several lunchboxes, but unknown if any are accessible. Cat 2, have the moms cleared out of the area? Cat 2?



I’m trying to see! I can’t see around this stupid bush. Okay, looks like they’re clearing out.



I walk like a shadow, eat like a lion, I’m Catastrophe Jones and I’m flyin’… high… Darn.



Agent! Focus! I think I smell bread. I’m going in.



Why does she always get to go in? I’m always stuck under this dumb bush.



Cat 1 to Cat 2 and 3, we have confirmed food. We have confirmed access. Some unsuspecting mother packed all her stuff in an open bag. Felines, we have bagels. Let’s move!



Woo-hoo! *gag cough* I swallowed a flower.





Heh heh heh



Catastrophe Jones, swift like the wind, silent like the shadow, where he goes, nobody… does know. Does that work? Kind of?



Yeah, it’s great. Don’t talk with your mouth full.

A Few Thoughts on Reaching Our Seventeenth Anniversary Today

DJ and I are celebrating our anniversary today.

Getting married was his idea first, but I came around soon enough.

You know how you think you know what you’re doing when you decide to marry?

And then you have life and kids and never seem to outgrow some conflicts?

But you also find out that you can both let each other change over time.

And the good in each other goes much deeper than you realized at first.

And sex reaches amazing levels unknown in your earlier years.

And you never get tired of being in the same room with each other.

You think, “We didn’t know what we were doing, but I’m glad we did it.”

Happy seventeenth anniversary today to my love and me!

(Ahem. Did you notice? Every sentence has seventeen syllables.)

(Including that line. Including this line. And including the title too.)

Sparkler is 11!

We’re here today with Sparkler Jones, who holds the distinction as the only person in the household who is turning eleven years old. Thanks for joining us today, Sparkler.

Q: What’s a good thing about turning 11?
A: I’m a tween! But I don’t know, 11 is kind of a boring age. Oh, I can wear makeup. I know that’s not official, but I can do it.

Q: What do you enjoy doing these days?
A: Pencil or digital art, always with bright colors; I like to draw my characters for stories, and also just for drawing and thinking. I also do a little web comic. I like recording YouTube videos (which is why I got a microphone for my birthday),

Q: What do you not like doing?
A. Chores.

Q: What would you like to get better at in the coming year?
A: Art. Not losing my temper. Putting on makeup.

Q: What is a favorite book?
A: The Gameknight999 series by Mark Cheverton.

Q: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
A: Flight! Or maybe shapeshifting, because if I could shapeshift then I could just turn into a bird and fly.

Sparkler is also specializing in (really terrible, absolutely awful) puns. Here’s a small sampling of her original creations:

“What do you call it when you decorate your first apartment? The Decoration of Independence”

“A clothesmaker who is fast at work… Taylor Swift.”

Even Sparkler says that 11 is kind of a boring age. But see, nothing that she’s excited about is ever boring. She makes sure of that. So it’s a fun and special day, launching into her second decade. We’re glad to be going with her.

Happy birthday, Sparkler! We love you!

For her birthday today, she got makeup, chalk art, colored pencils, and a pretty nifty microphone for recording videos. (Oh, also money. “I’ll hold this up so it looks like I’m really rich.”) Her cousin (behind her) and my mom are visiting from Mississippi, which added to the festivities.


Have You Read My Books?

Oh, hey, while you’re here I thought I’d ask you — have you read my books?

The Fellowship   follows the story of 20-year-old Bekah, who is torn between launching her life and staying loyal to the cult she grew up in. Anyone who is familiar with Christian patriarchy (Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, Douglas Wilson, the Duggar family, to name a few) will relate to Bekah’s experiences. Anyone who isn’t familiar with this subculture will still enjoy the characters and story.

According to my readers, the story is by turns disturbing, heartwarming, infuriating, and funny. And it has a good ending, so don’t be afraid to jump in.

Go Right is a short-story collection that you can read in one sitting, or on and off as you like. The six stories are short and almost fluffy, but substantial enough to give you a good read.

  • Intersections tells how McKee and Cheryl take a wrong turn in an unfamiliar town, and unwittingly leave a permanent impression behind them.
  • Jimmy’s Pizza Pie traces the evolution of a family pizza recipe through the generations.
  • The Secret Life of Paige Parker follows a mom-of-four, Paige, as she joins a new playgroup at the park — and the far more exciting imaginary world she constructs for herself. (Why yes, I owe it all to James Thurber and The Secret Life of Water Mitty.)
  • The Dang Truck features Hunter, who loves his shiny red Ford truck; and Makayla, who has a secret or two she’s trying to keep under wraps from Hunter.
  •  In a Canoe is the a story of Jordan and Curtis, two old friends who go out together in a canoe and discover more than they expect to.
  • Uncle Bobby’s Laying on the Porch–well, yes, it’s about Uncle Bobby; he’s obviously not doing well, and his sister Gloria has to get him to the ER. But there’s also family connections, an old romance, and what’s the fate of the chocolate cake left in the oven?

Both books are available from Amazon. Or click over to my author blog and contact me directly.

If you have read the books, I always appreciate new reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. And by all means, email me and let me hear from you!

You has nugs?

“Nugs,” in family parlance, means “tasty treats for the bunny.” He loves nugs. He will track nugs, including wonton noodles, which we refer to as “bunny noodles” for perhaps obvious reasons.

Behold the mini rex rabbit who discovered that DJ had bunny  noodles on his rice:


Communication Intervention

DJ was addressing a possible internet issue with Sparkler. He was trying to be calm, although he’d overreacted a bit, and Sparkler began to cry. He explained why he thought it was a big deal.

“I know,” Sparkler said “It’s just…”

“Just…? Tell me why you’re upset.”

“I don’t know!” she sobbed.


“I think,” I said gently, “that Sparkler has put a lot of work into the project and she’s proud of it.”

Sparkler nodded.

“And she thought we knew what she was doing.”

Sparkler nodded.

“And she’s scared that she’s done something wrong and is in big trouble.”

“Yes, that!” Sparkler wailed. “All that!”

In the end, it turned out that everything was fine. DJ apologized for overreacting. Sparkler will continue to observe internet safety.