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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Very Rewarding Experiences

Okay, so Nadine Dajani tagged me (on a Wednesday, I must point out) to participate in a Top Ten Tuesday blog… I hoped that meant I could think about it until next Tuesday… But then thought, hey, why not post it early on a Thursday instead. (I’m nothing if not a rule-breaker.)

So, Top Ten Very Rewarding Experiences…

1. Finishing my first book. Actually, finishing the first chapter of my first book was pretty damned rewarding. So was finishing my latest book. So is getting even one good page done some days.

2. Being present at the birth of my niece. I will be forever grateful to my sister for allowing me to be part of that day.

3. Watching my nephew, who has autism, learn to play with other kids. The few times he’s genuinely hugged me have been pretty special, too. (He normally reserves that for his parents or his sister.)

4. Jumping out of an airplane. It was a tandem jump. But that just made it more cool because I got tossed out at 13,000 feet and got to do a free fall. (And it was easier to land with a pro on my back.)

5. Being a “Foster Parent” to a young boy in Burkina Faso. I’m not as good about writing letters and all that stuff as I should be… But I feel good knowing my small contribution is making life in his village just a little bit easier.

6. Serving on Boards of not-for-profit organizations. (Although this would also make my top 10 frustrating things list.)

7. Climbing to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite. I did this just a year after I had a ruptured Achilles tendon repaired and the last however-many-feet up (the part using chains) was the most challenging thing I’d ever done at that point of my life.

8. While I’m on physical achievements… Doing the Solvang Century (100 miles with a lot of steep hills) bike ride. Sure, it took nearly 9 hours. But I finished.

9. Helping writers less experienced than me.

10. Meeting any personal goal I set for myself.

What’s in a Name?

Christine d’Abo who recently sold to Ellora’s Cave — yeah, Christine! — tagged me for a name game. I’ve reluctantly agreed to accept the challenge (LOL), even though it means revealing my middle name. Not that I don’t like my middle name. It’s original. The only other person I know who has it is my mom. Her middle name, too. In fact, I suspect my Grandmother might have made it up. (She claimed it’s Welsh.)

Here goes…

1. YOUR REAL NAME:

Maureen McGowan

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first three letters of your name, plus izzle)

Mauizzle. (Everyone must address me this way from now on. Or else.)

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three of your last)

Mmcg Hmmm… Well, there’s a director called McG, right? Not sure how it’s pronounced with the extra M.

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (fav color and fav animal)

Coral Puppy Take that. (Not sure if coral’s my favourite colour… but I’m wearing it right now and just LOVED how well it went with puppy.)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, Street you live on):

Luverna Hurndale I must be the matriarch who’s been on the soap since the 50’s.

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first name, first 3 letters of mom’s maiden name)

Mcgmadaf Ooooo. I like that, even if it’s a little vowel deficient at the start.

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (favorite color, favorite drink)

Coral Martini Not sure if that sounds like a superhero, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on a menu somewhere.

8. YOUR IRAQI NAME: (2nd letter of your first name, 3rd letter of your last name, any letter of your middle name, 2nd letter of your moms maiden name, 3rd letter of your dad’s middle name, 1st letter of a sibling’s first name, last letter of your moms middle name)

Agawse Doesn’t sound Iraqi to me… And not sure I like the idea of making fun of another language anyway.

9. YOUR STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/body spray)

Jil Sander #4 Huh? Since when do perfume names make good stripper names. (I guess I do like a boringly named perfume, though.)

10. YOUR WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother & father’s middle name)

Luverna Edward. Yeah, cause that name would help me blend.

Okay, I tag…. Diana Peterfreund, Mel Francis, Margaret Moore

Tagged by a Candy Cane

Christine D’Abo tagged me with a holiday get to know you questionnaire. Love when that happens. Especially when I don’t have anything to blog about and lack the time or energy to come up with anything original. Thanks Christine!

Your Name: Maureen

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Depends on what’s in it… If there’s brandy or really good rum, I’m going for egg nog. (Has to be good egg nog, too… not full of a gazillion artificial ingredients) If it’s really great chocolate made with milk (none of that powdered add water stuff) I’ll go with hot chocolate. (am I picky or what?)

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa is a wrapping machine.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? My house has white outside… but I’m ashamed to say they’ve been up since the previous owners. (they don’t show that much in the summer, honest.) I’d prefer colored. Can’t get too gaudy at Christmas is my motto.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Haven’t for years… Good idea, though. Need more kisses.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Late… (Like most things I do.) Probably not until a week before Christmas. (earlier if I’m having a party or something.)

6. What is your favorite holiday dish? There’s nothing better than turkey dinner for me… But my mom’s home made butter tarts run a close second.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Coming down the stairs with my sisters in our nightgowns to the bright glare of the light on my Dad’s old super 8 camera. My Dad was serious paparazzi material. Also, although the tree was always up well before Christmas, my parents used to stay up most of the night and seriously turn our house into a wonderland. That first glimpse of the living room (once we got over being blinded by the camera light) was always magical.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? People are often shocked by this… but I don’t think my parents ever pretended it was true. As soon as we were old enough to ask questions, we pretty much knew Santa was a story. I remember one Christmas where my older sister and I decided to torture our mother by not telling her what we asked Santa for after visiting him at Eatons. “Why do you need to know, Mom?” But it was all a joke.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? When we were kids, we used to open one. Traditionally the one from my Grandmother on my mom’s side… But I don’t really remember when that tradition started or when it ended…

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Ummmm… I don’t understand the question…. Drunk? I like lots of decorations. Lots of colors. Lots of lights. The tackier the better.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love fresh fallen snow. Hate driving in it. (but good snow tires help)

12. Can you ice skate? I used to skate well… but apparently it’s a skill you lose if you don’t use… All these little muscles in your shins and feet you don’t realize you have until you try skating again…. ouch.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? No one thing really stands out. I remember some strange thing from childhood like a chemistry set and a woodburning kit. Things I’d really wanted and got.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Seeing my niece and nephew play with their new toys.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? See above re: butter tarts. My sister makes a mean Bouche de Noel, too. (Yule Log.)

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Our family’s in transition and I think we’re busy building new traditions… My favorite from when we were kids was a strange one. Spagetti christmas eve. I think it was because it was so easy to cook and my mom was always so busy. I remember one year there was a power outage and she cooked it on a Coleman stove. A wonder we didn’t die of asphyxiation.

17. What tops your tree? A Mexican tin angel I bought in California.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Giving for sure. I love Christmas shopping and always go way overboard.

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Tough one… I think The Huron Carol. Do Americans know that one? If you don’t, you should. Beautiful.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I’m pretty ambivalent on the candy cane, but given all the other yummy alternatives at Christmas, I’m going to jump off the fence to the yuck side.

Okay… Eileen Cook, Maia Caron, Mel Francis, Sara Hanz

You have been tagged.