Monday, November 13, 2017

The Mighty Mississippi




The Mississippi River is 2,320 miles long, the second longest river in the United States. Beginning in Minnesota, it winds its way through 10 states on the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Its name comes from a Native American word meaning “Father of Waters”.
A major commercial artery in the history of the United States, its importance to the South during the Civil War made the port at Vicksburg a prime military target for the North.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Standing in line for tomorrow and next year

Is it already that time already?

Yes.

So what’s in the (writing) queue? 

·        At least one novel to be sent for editing--and
hopefully complete publication before the end of the year
·        Yearly revamp of website
·        Two book trailers
·        Participate in at least ONE StoryaDay event to acquire another nice folder of short stories
·        Consider NaNoWriMo for November after a long hiatus
·        Map out a couple of promotional campaigns

What’s in the (living) queue?

·        A trip to Washington (state) to see three adorable grandchildren
·        Another trip to my hometown for some picture-taking and research (Okay, so the reunion trip this year wasn’t the last after all!)
·        A combo trip to Branson and Eureka Springs, my two favorite places in the whole world!
·        One last trip to Denton, Texas, where I went to college…it’s a live place these days!
·        A few day trips and overnights around Arkansas

Will I end up at the head of the line?


Well, it won’t be from lack of trying!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What's on hold and why...

While I don’t like bitterly cold weather OR the ice that comes with it, I do like a good excuse to stay hunkered down at home doing all those little chores which somehow haven’t gotten done the rest of the year.

So what hasn’t gotten done?

·        An indie-pub book fresh from the editor which needs a cover, revision, and actual publication
·        Three boxes of genealogy files which are in desperate need of organization
·        At least three articles pending completion for submission
·        A stack of writing magazines to be read
·        A couple of novels waiting on my Kindle

Will it all get done?

·        Yes, of course!
·        Hopefully
·        Maybe
·        I’ll try.
·        There’s always next year…

Meanwhile…


Winter isn’t here yet, and I’m not toasting my toes by the fire. So, like the hapless Scarlet O’Hara, “tomorrow” is time enough to think about all of it!




Monday, November 6, 2017

The fun is in the planning...

I love traveling--but just as much fun is planning an itinerary and even the necessity of finding routes to and from unfamiliar places. 


Advance preparations

·        Decide where to go
·        Check online for tourist guide--usually order a paper copy
·        Decide what to see when I get there and prioritize same
·        Decide how long it will take to do everything I want to do
·        Target departure and return dates
·        Check websites of attractions for days/times when they’re open; jot down physical addresses and telephone numbers for future reference (This is especially important if you are traveling when there might be a holiday closure!)

Getting serious

·        Find hotels and make online reservations
·        Make reservations for/pre-pay tours and note exact times and starting points
·        Create day by day itinerary, including mileage if I’m not staying in one place, and make sure I’ve allowed enough time to get from one place to the next before dark, even stopping along the way
·        PRINT OUT all reservations, travel route directions--label as #1, #2, etc. and file in travel binder

A few practical points

·        Check weather and make packing list--is it parkas or capri pants?
·        Turn in mail hold and put house on security watch
·        Does your car need an oil change or a tire rotation? A full service checks everything and assures you of a trouble free trip.)
·        Update “in case of death” envelopes for sons--Hey, this isn’t morbid, folks; it’s love! Who wants to leave their kids with a mess? Been there done that, not inflicting it on my own kids!
·        Pack car (Hint: Do it in the garage with the door down. Don’t advertise your imminent departure.)
·        Get up early on morning of departure so as to have leisure time.
·        Make last minute rounds of house

·        Get in car with anticipation--put DL with insurance and registration in visor (if you get stopped, the officer will appreciate knowing where you are reaching with permission!)-- pray for safe trip--back out and drive away to your new adventure!

That travel binder I mentioned

Buy a cheap plastic tabbed folder and a plastic snap envelope at the Dollar Tree (they fit together nicely) and place into the folder
·        All confirmed reservations
·        All routes and mileage
·        Daily itineraries
·        Postcard stamps (The grandchildren love getting mail!)
·        Regular stamps just for good measure
·        Copies of all cards carried in wallet--front and back--You want to be able to cancel in a hurry if the unthinkable happens! Just because it never has doesn’t mean it won’t.
·        Double check to be sure everything’s there! When you’re out sightseeing, you can lock this folder inside your luggage for safekeeping if you have concerns.

When I’m planning and packing, I’m already enjoying my trip.


Some readers are saying, “I already knew all this,” but you’d be surprised how many people would like to travel and don’t know where to begin. So if you’re one of those, just remember--it’s easier than you think. Do the first thing--and then the next--and before you know it, you’re on your way!




Friday, November 3, 2017

'Mid the Shouts and Cheering of the Throng...Part 3

Just a thank-you note

Of course, I wrote to Mrs. McCollum thanking her for the letter. Then, when the story was published, I wrote again and enclosed a copy of that issue of the Campus Corral. For whatever reason, we began exchanging letters regularly.
Then one day my father told me Judge Keyes and his wife had suggested he bring me over some evening, because they had pictures of my unknown correspondent. I spent a delightful evening with them despite the fact the pictures couldn’t be found! However, Mrs. Keyes said that Mary Katheryne (Gill) McCollum had bright red hair.

And more information

About that time, the former pep leader had suggested I call her something less formal than “Mrs.”, but in those days, that wasn’t easy to do. She told me her nickname was ‘Kitty’--so when Mrs. Keyes brought up the red hair, I immediately thought of Gunsmoke’s “Miss Kitty”--and “Miss Kitty” she became--even though she didn’t have red hair after all!

The unexpected

A new school year--my senior year--rolled around, and as the months passed, graduation loomed large. A couple of nights before commencement, the phone rang, and a voice asked, “Is this Judy Moore?”
When I replied in the affirmative, she said, “That just can’t wait to graduate?”
I literally screamed, “Miss Kitty!” It turned out she had come early to a family wedding in order to attend graduation.
She came to supper before the exercises. From a brown paper bag, she pulled out her memories--a ragged copy of the paperbound “Scratches”, all the yearbook which could be afforded in 1933-34, and pictures of the pep leaders and the Rooting Regiment leaders. I remember being wide-eyed. Maybe I even cried a little.
Miss Kitty, Graduation Night, May 29, 1962

Over the years

Over the years, her letters followed me--college, Congo, wherever my husband I lived upon returning to the States--and when I’d come home to see my parents, she’d drive from Midland, where she’d moved, and spend a night or two just visiting.
In 1995, I was teaching in a small rural school district not far from Midland when I hung up from a call with her feeling very unsettled. A note from her husband explained everything: she’d been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and was in hospice care.
So, I’d have dinner cooked and ready to pack up on Fridays when school let out, and I’d head for Midland. She really didn’t know who I was--just that I loved her--as I’d sit there feeding her. I found she’d eat better if I took a cassette recorder and played old songs from the 30s and 40s and sang to her. And, of course, a little bribery (jello and cool whip) helped, too!
“Now, Miss Kitty, don’t do that,” I’d say whenever she’d spit out a bite into my hand…and she’d swallow the next one. A meal took a long time…but it was a labor of love.
She died on June 22, 1995.
~~~
Later, her husband sent me the old Scratches and the two pictures. I’ve donated the fragile paper yearbook to the West Texas Collection for safe keeping, and the pictures will follow eventually. But for now I don’t want to let them go…especially the one of the pep leaders in their jaunty caps, posed proudly in front of the stands at the Old Bobcat Stadium…and in the middle, a small dark-haired, dark-eyed girl, clutching her megaphone and smiling.

I love you, Miss Kitty.



Wednesday, November 1, 2017

'Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng...Part 2



The following feature story (with my byline) appeared in one of the year’s last issues of  our school newspaper, the Campus Corral:


A player in orange leaps high for the ball…he has it…he’s running…dodging…it’s over the line…it’s a touchdown! The stands go wild with cheering as the points flash magically onto the scoreboard.
Suddenly a hush falls over the crowd. Mr. Homer Anderson, director of the Bobcat Band, raises his baton; hundreds of loyal fans break into singing.
“On ye Bobcats!” they cry lustily. “Bust right through that line! Take the ball around the end, boys, you are doing fine! Rah! Rah! Rah! On ye Bobcats, on ye Bobcats, let’s have a touchdown! So fight, fellows, fight, fight, fight, and gain some ground!”
This has been the cry of loyal Bobcats for over a quarter of a century. Thirty-three years ago, in 1928, Mr. E.L. Nunnally, Sr., then principal of San Angelo High School, presented the student body with this pep song that he had written.
That same year brought the advent of a second song to the tune of “Bye, Bye Blackbird”. This was also written by Mr. Nunnally. His son, Mr. E.L. Nunnally, Jr., recalls the words went something like this:

Brace up, boys, and face your foe,
Hit ‘em high, hit ‘em low.
Rah, rah, Bobcats!
When somebody blocks your way,
Knock them out and win the fray.
Rah, rah, Bobcats!
Around 1931, the “Angelo Fight” appeared. The music was composed by Mr. Carl B. Stone, the predecessor to our present band director, and the late Mr. Harold W. Broome wrote the following words:
We’re going to fight, fight for Angelo.
We’re going to win where ‘ere we go.
We proudly show our loyal colors,
Carry high the Orange and Blue.
Come join our song while the team goes in.
Let’s tell the world they are out to win.
So Angelo fight, play with all your might,
For the Orange and the Blue.

In 1933, as the Depression was ending (my note: it wasn’t really ending, but times seemed better, apparently), the school spirit of SAHS was at its peak. In the fall of that year, pep leaders Anna Lee Spires, Mary Katheryne Gill, and Maxine Mayes decided that a new or official school song was a “must” for the high school. With the aid of Wanda Kimberlin, another student, they set out to find the right song.
One afternoon while going through a book of official college songs, the four girls hit upon a song which they agreed was “it”. With a few changes and substitutions suggested by Maxine Mayes, and the addition of the two lines from The Eyes of Texas, they pronounced the song ready for presentation to the student body.
Although the exact origination of the music has not been established, it seems to have been managed by the four girls with some aid from Mr. Carl B. Stone.
At an assembly on October 15, 1933, the four girls and the Rooting Regiment leaders presented the song with one or two alternates to the student body. A vote resulted in the selection of what is now the official school song.
‘Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng…
See Monday’s blog for the full text

The use of this song during the 1933 season was one of the “firsts” in football history of SAHS.  At that time, Mr. Harry Taylor and Mr. Edd B. Keyes, now Tom Green County judge, were the coaches. The team that year defeated Sweetwater to win the district championship and went on to the state semi-finals.
Mary Katheryne Gill, now Mrs. Joe McCollum of Denver City, Texas, tells it this way:

During 1933, we were still feeling the pinch of the Depression. The school furnished the pep squad girls’ skirts and sweaters, and how long they had been there, heaven only knows! Some were rather ‘moth-eaten’. The pep leaders (boys and girls) had to buy their own uniforms--or did at any rate. But a ‘livelier and truer-blue’ bunch of kids you couldn’t find any place! Our band was quite small--with no uniforms at all. From some place, a drum major’s hat and baton were acquired, and our drum major, Obie Grief, could ‘strut’ with the best of them.
The average team weight of the players was quite light, but they really had ‘the old team spirit’, and most of the students had the ‘school spirit’. With that combination and the team’s successes, I firmly believe that we caused the city folk to become more football-minded than they had ever been. True, there were good teams before and good teams since, but 1933 was ‘our year’--the year it all started.

Of course, I signed the paper with the obligatory encircled 30 which, in the world of journalism means The End.

But it wasn’t the end, not by a long shot. The writer of that wonderful letter became a special friend until the day she died…and I’ll tell you more about my “Miss Kitty” on Friday.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

'Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng...Part 1

Is this blog for you?

While this week’s blogs will be of most interest to a small group--the San Angelo Central High School Bobcats Class of ’62, anyone who likes a taste of investigative journalism or the tantalizing whiff of a mystery to be solved will enjoy these 55-year-old memories.

Going back a few years...

As a junior, I signed up for journalism taught by the incomparable Ed Cole--who often said he didn’t know if he was an old newspaperman teaching school on the side or an old teacher working as a newspaperman. Notably, he attended the football games on Friday nights and wrote his stories on a portable typewriter held on his lap as he sat in the press box above the stands!


However, whether he was a teacher or a journalist, he was a professional--a man who understood the importance of facts as the hallmark of a free press. I often think he would be spinning in his grave about now as our present-day media deteriorates into political activism and spins the truth to suit their own agenda.
But I digress.
In the course of his daily lessons, he often mentioned that no one seemed to know the origins of the school song which went like this:
‘Mid the shouts and cheering of the throng,
Alma mater, hear our song!
Let resounding echoes, voices raise,
Spreading forth thy name, thy praise.
Always loyal, faithful, ever true,
Thus we make our pledge to you,
And we’ll never fail
But we’ll always hail
SAH, hail to you, all hail!
All hail to thee, dear SAH,
Hail to the orange and the blue.
Thy sons and daughters love thee well,
Their faith and love will ne’er grow old.
Deep in our hearts, thy deeds, thy fame
And glorious victory shall remain…
The eyes of Texas are upon you,
All the livelong day…
Hail to you, dear SAH!

An irresistable challenge

Later in the year, while learning to write a “feature story”, I asked if I could take as my topic running down where the song came from. He basically told me to go for it. And I did, with a bulldogged determination that spanned many weeks past the deadline for turning in the story. As long as I reported progress to him regularly, he extended my deadline and put my grade on hold.
Teachers who’d been with the school for years and years, business people who’d been students, even the county judge who’d once been a teacher and coach…they all talked to me, made inquiries of others, talked to me again…and the hunt was on in earnest. Phone calls, letters, dead ends, disappointment…but then one day…

Eureka!

I dragged in from school one afternoon, and my mother sent me to my room to see what waited propped up on the dresser. It was a special delivery letter (some people don’t even know what that is anymore!) which I almost ignited with my eagerness to get it open.

Handwritten pages and pages later…well, tune in on Wednesday…

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The good...the bad...the bittersweet...

Fifty-five years later…

Perhaps the “last roundup” wasn’t really the last, but the passing of years makes it possible if not probable. I’m speaking of our 55th high school class reunion held last weekend in my hometown in West Texas. We were the largest graduating class to date--the number 465 comes to mind--and five years ago, about 25% of us were gone. We’ve lost more since then.

To go or not to go…

For months I rejected the idea of going. I’d attended the 50th--and it seemed simply time to say goodbye and move on. Maybe I just didn’t like the idea of really saying goodbye. At any rate, I went, and I’m glad--actually thankful--for the decision.

So I did and…

The event was, by popular polling, strictly casual. That means hanging out in the hotel hospitality room in jeans or other relaxed wear. Even the Saturday night dinner wasn’t a dress-up affair unless someone chose to make it such. I don’t think anyone noticed. We were all too busy imprinting familiar faces in our minds until we meet again or perhaps for eternity.
Lots of laughter--a never-ending supply of stories--hugging necks hello and goodbye and in between. Many seem to agree this reunion turned out to be the best ever.

Class of '62

In retrospect…

All of us have good and bad memories of our adolescent years. We were kids, for mercy’s sake,  inexperienced, self-absorbed, cocky and scared at the same time. We cared about each other on one level and were often unkind to each other on another. Sometimes we didn’t know the difference.  And all of us had our own family situations--some good, some bad, some bearable, some next to impossible. But we all had one goal in mind--graduate and get the heck out of Dodge!
Some were leaders. Some were followers. Some of us were just there. After 55 years, we came back with baggage of a different kind, having been to war (both literally and figuratively), as well as having buried parents, spouses, children, and dreams.
But we were tough. Our parents grew up during the Great Depression and went off to World War II. We started school when the hot war had turned menacingly cold and regularly dived for cover under our desks when the alert for “air raid drill” split the relative silence of the classroom.
We survived without computers, iPhones, iPads, and all the other technological trappings which ensnare children today. We played outside--no video games and no television until on into the fifties. We made mud pies, rode bicycles, hung out at the corner grocery reading comic books, and slept with our windows open.

A final reflection…

Did we make it this far without failures and regrets? Show me anyone who can claim that! I can’t. To tell you the truth, what didn’t kill us made us stronger.
And now it’s 55 years since we marched around the stadium in cap and gown to the triumphant strains of Pomp and Circumstance. We didn’t know what was waiting for us “out there”. Now we do, and somehow we’ve muddled through.
I hugged a lot of necks this past weekend, looked into many familiar faces, and shared a ton of memories. I’m grateful.

So maybe it’s not goodbye but rather see you around. Here or there--it doesn’t really matter.

 We were the Class of ’62--and we still are.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

My get up and go done got up and went...



Home from the Last Roundup!

Tired (more like exhausted). Enough said.

Blogging today--No Way!

Blogging Wednesday--Maybe.

Blogging Friday--For Sure!


I’m outta here!

Friday, October 20, 2017

More tips on organization for writers from Randy Ingermanson

Organization: Attacking the Day
Getting stuff done is a matter of attacking each day like it’s an obstacle course in a mud run. Because that’s pretty much what it is.
You can attack your day any way you like, based on the way your brain is wired and your own personal style of getting stuff done.
Today I’ll toss out for your consideration the way I attack each day. If you see some ideas that might work for you, feel free to use them or adapt them to your own way of doing things.
As I’ve noted in previous columns, I manage my tasks and projects in Evernote. (A “task” is something you can do in one sitting. A “project” is a collection of related tasks that may take days, months, or even years to complete.) 
Evernote is great for keeping track of all my pending tasks and projects. Each task or project can be in its own “note” that can be assigned to a “notebook” of pending tasks or projects. When they’re completed, they can be moved to a new notebook of completed items.
However, for keeping track of what I actually did in my life, I keep a work journal in Scrivener. Scrivener is a word-processing tool in which you can work on many text files, folders of text files, and folders of folders, as a single project. 
I have a 2017 folder at the top level which contains a folder for each month. Each month’s folder has a text file for each date, and in that text file, I track what I planned for the day and what I actually did.
Scrivener has a very nice template feature. You can create text file templates that are structured exactly the way you want them. I have a template named “Daily Plan”. Every day when I sit down at my computer, the very first thing I do is open my work journal and add a new text file to the current month, using the “Daily Plan” template. Then I fill it in, based on what current tasks and projects I have pending in Evernote.
My thinking is that a Daily Plan needs to give you context on the big picture of your life. So my Daily Plan has some standard things to remind me of exactly what my big picture is. Here are the five items that show up in my Daily Plan:
  1. My Life Theme
  2. My Learning Project
  3. My Monthly Habit to Build
  4. My Plan for This Quarter
  5. To Do List
Click through to the Advanced Fiction Writing Magazine to read more about each part of the Daily Plan!

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 16,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visitwww.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sage advice from Randy Ingermanson

Organization: Do Hard Things
Everybody has projects in their life that they don’t want to tackle. Hard things. 
Maybe there’s a part of your yard that’s overgrown with weeds, and it just gets worse and worse and worse every week.
Maybe your garage is overloaded with junk you don’t use, don’t want, and don’t even dare look at because it’s too depressing.
Maybe there’s a relationship in your life that’s gone south and it seems unfixable.
I call things like these “the swamp.” The swamp is any part of your life that you don’t dare touch because it just seems overwhelming. Because it’s too hard.
There are two ways to handle the swamp.
·        You can ignore it forever.
·        You can go through it to the other side.
Those are the only two ways I’ve ever found for dealing with the swamp. Ignoring the swamp is easy. Going through it is hard. 
But doing hard things builds character. (It’s much easier to say this when you are not about to enter the swamp. But it’s also true, so it bears saying.)
Here are a few other things that are also true:
·        The swamp doesn’t go away by itself. 
·        The only way to go through the swamp is to go through the swamp. You can’t go around. 
·        The first time you go into the swamp is the scariest. 
·        The swamp is never quite as terrible as it seems. 
·        There is no feeling as wonderful as coming out on the other side of the swamp.
This is a short column because there’s really not much to say about the swamp. You can either hide from it or you can go through it to freedom. You get to choose.
Do hard things. The characters you write fiction about are in the business of doing hard things. The more hard things you do, the better you’ll be able to tell their story.
Homework
  • What is the swamp in your life, right now?
  • If you decided to go through the swamp, how long would it take?
  • How would you feel when you came out the other side?

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 17,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Heading for the 'Last Roundup'


Class of ‘62

It’s what may well be ‘the last roundup’ for the San Angelo Central High Class of ’62.
I’m not big on reunions, although I’ve attended a few--the 20th, the 30th, the 50th, and now this 55th. There are a few necks I really want to hug, and I can’t do it from several hundred miles away. So…I’m off soon.
We were the largest class to graduate to date--some 456, I believe. Fifty years later, a quarter of us were gone, and more have left the corral in the past five years.

Good memories

I liked school. I wasn’t part of the ‘elite’ group, but then--I often think “Thank goodness, I wasn’t!” I worked on the school newspaper, the Campus Corral and was appointed editor of our yearbook, The Westerner. For whatever reason, my mother didn’t want me to accept the job--but for once in my life, I didn’t listen to her and plowed ahead--and I’m glad. I had a great staff, and our sponsor, journalism teacher Ed Cole was the absolute best. Behind his back, we affectionately called him “Uncle Ed”. He used to say he didn’t know if he was an old newspaperman teaching school or an old teacher working on the newspaper. He did both with a professionalism and integrity that puts modern “journalists” to shame.

One more time

Some are already talking about “The 60th”, but I personally feel when it’s time to say goodbye and turn loose, it’s time. I suspect, if there is a 60th, only those who live in our hometown will be there! But for now, I’m anticipating the days ahead--and I’ll blog about them later.




Nothing new under the sun...

Photo from DeathtoStockPhotos


Like a healthy diet

a balance of reading materials is also a good idea. Everyone leans to a particular genre in fiction, be it romance, thrillers, mystery, adventure, time-travel, western, historical, science-fiction…and the list goes on with “new” genres being invented all the time. But for every fictional book, there’s a corresponding non-fiction work which builds a background of factual information to enhance the lighter side.

Every fictional character

has walked around “for real” whether in boots or hoopskirts, wearing a backpack or packing the tools of the spy trade. We just think our characters are made up!

Settings actually exist

whether they be in outer space the antebellum South, the old West, a dark back alley waiting for a murder victim, or a period house complete with ghost. When we put our characters in a setting, they’ve already been there done that.

You simply can’t

come up up with a character who hasn’t actually lived or a place no one’s seen, a crime that hasn’t been committed or a battle which hasn’t been fought, a love which hasn’t been challenged or a sin which hasn’t been committed. The old question, “Which came first--the chicken or the egg?” might be changed to, “Which came first--fiction or real life (non-fiction)?”

We can agree that in many ways

each human being and each place in our beautiful world is unique. But there are more similarities than differences. When you come up with a brilliantly “new” story idea and populate your “untouched” world with remarkably distinct characters, they’ve already inhabited the planet. “Truth is stranger than fiction”, I believe the saying goes.

But as writers


we keep on keeping on. As readers, we do the same. And like water rushing over rocky falls, the books keep coming. Just remember: “There’s nothing new under the sun”. 

Tip of the Day

If you ever write something which sounds vaguely familiar and wonder if you actually came up with it yourself or--horror of horrors--read it somewhere and inadvertently plagiarized the words, here’s one tool among many to help you make sure you’re not guilty!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How do you do what you do?

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

What’s your writing style?

Some writers can just sit down and knock out a few thousand words, then get up and go about their business. If you’re one of them--go for it!
Then there’s the age-old debate about which is better: being a pantser or a plotter. Most writers would probably confess to being a little bit of both.
And finally there’s the dilemma of where to write: coffee shop, your own office/study, mini (or longer) writing retreat, library, or some off-the-wall place which just happens to inspire you.

I confess…

to being able to write on the fly--sometimes
to being mostly pantser with some pre-planning just to keep myself on track
to setting up the perfect atmosphere for a long writing session in my own study

What’s perfect for me?

Music--classical (I find wonderful CDs for pennies on the dollar in the book sale room of my local library)
Aroma--scented oil (sometimes seasonal) or candles (always seasonal).
Light--strategically-placed lamps rather than the overhead light
Mood--if it’s raining slow and steady or even storming, I love to open the blinds and curtains and let the outside in
Tastebud inspiration--hot cocoa in the winter, Diet Coke the rest of the time (not a coffee-drinker)
Time frame--Mondays are my office days: backing up the computer, taking care of personal business, maybe errands. If I’m in for the long haul, I want an uninterrupted day when I don’t have to put on makeup or even dress!
Regular breaks--walk out to the mailbox, make a quick lunch, read a while on my Kindle, just sit and think about what to write next and how to write it

Tell me about your perfect writing time!