My Novels

Saturday, December 27, 2003

A few lines for an update today. I just haven't had time to write in this journal, or write any of my email friends this week. Whew! Very, very busy!

As of today, DH has almost completed closing in the front porch, making it a sunporch with storm windows/white siding. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looks, and I'm sure it will be even better as we finish the details, i.e. shutters, etc.

I have been painting the interior woodwork, and was amazed at how much brighter, lighter the semi-gloss white made it appear. Apparently the woodwork/doors had been an antique white, which just looked dirty or yellowish. As I painted, I sure felt like I was at last making some visible progress. I'm still not through with it all, but will work on it more next week.

I am planning to paint kitchen cabinets tomorrow -- or at least get a primer coat on most of them. I took all the hardware off, cleaned it and will either replace it or paint it separately. Quite a job!

Today I went to Wal-mart and bought all the mixed flat interior latex paint for every room. It only cost about $ that's not too bad. I think I'll like the colors, once we have it all done. DH will help me on Monday, since it supposed to rain all day that day. Our dishwasher is almost installed; the friend needs to get a special saw to do a bit of trim work, but otherwise it's sitting in place, and should be good to go on Monday afternoon.

I'm just VERY tired today, but progress IS being made. Hopefully I'll have some new photos of the sunporch in a few days...for an update in the picture album.

VERY nice weather here the 60s, sunny. Too nice to stay indoors.

I just have to say one thing...about the mad cow disease. First of all, since I read about that cow being slaughtered when it was OBVIOUSLY sick, paralyzed...I just haven't been able to make myself eat beef! I mean, WHY would they kill a cow in such condition, knowing it was SICK, and turn it into hamburger (which is what they did) and SELL it for human consumption...BEFORE the test results came back? MONEY, that's why. I can't look at beef without feeling the urge to gag. Seriously, the FDA needs to stop that kind of practice. Additionally, the cattle industry NOW seems to be trying to do "damage control" ... saying that ONE cow must have come from Canada. GIVE ME A BREAK! I doubt we will EVER know the facts of this, since it is going to COST the cattle industry... Do we really want to wait around till some American comes down with that brain wasting disease transmitted from eating mad cow? YUCK!

I am thinking of becoming a vegetarian ... Maybe I should read "Fast Food Nation," since the book seems to raise such issues about "unclean" meat industry practices.

Enough. I must get the evening meal... More when I have time.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Another brief update.

Yesterday DH and I got the glass, then he took it to the glass store today to be cut to fit on the front porch. The same friend who gave us the glass is there today, helping DH install the dishwasher. Yah!

Yesterday I also went through all the stuff I've collected and/or bought at the Salvation store for the old house, and found that I DO have enough curtains, sofa/chair covers, etc to move when the time comes. That's good news, and will help when we are ready to move -- hopefully sometimes in either late January or early February.

Today I spent the day running errands, buying groceries, more paint, etc. When I got home, I immediately went on my bike ride...which was nice, since it's a mild 55 degrees out there today.

I also got some more movies at the library, on DVD and video. The other movies we watched were fairly good, some better than others. I highly recommend, "Catch Me If You Can," with Tom Hanks. Not only is it suspenseful, with a meaningful theme, but it is a TRUE story too. "Chocolat" was okay, nothing all that great in my opinion.

Here's an excerpt from an article today about more troops being killed. It IS terrible that so many U.S. soldiers are losing their lives over in Iraq. On the other hand, it must be even worse for the innocent people being killed and their relatives. I mean, just read this excerpt:

2 U.S. Troops, Translator Killed in Iraq

In Samarra, a 70-year-old man died when U.S. troops put a bag over his head and prepared to detain him Sunday night, Iraqis said. Neighbors said Mehdi al-Jamal died of a heart attack.

One person was killed during an airborne raid Sunday in Jalulah, on the house of a sheik suspected of directing local resistance, said spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle of the 4th Infantry Division.

A 60-year-old woman was killed Sunday when soldiers blasted open the reinforced steel door of her home, said Lt. Col. Henry Kievenaar, who was directing the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in raids in Rawah.

In Baghdad, the military put out flyers threatening to jail people who sell gasoline on the black market. The flyers cited new laws providing for confiscation of the goods, fines of double the value of the goods and jail sentences of three to 10 years.

Iraq is suffering severe fuel shortages caused by distribution problems, dilapidated equipment and sabotage by insurgents targeting the oil infrastructure in an apparent attempt to undermine the U.S.-led occupation.

If you want a personal, first person viewpoint of how it FEELS to be living there, I suggest you read Riverbend's blog, "Bagdad Burning." There's a link to it at the bottom of this site.

Tomorrow and the next day I'll be PAINTING like crazy at the old doubt there'll be another entry till late in the week.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Just a brief update this morning. DH is already at the old house, working. Believe it or not, he put in two windows yesterday and is working on the last one on the east side of the house now. At this rate, he'll have all the windows done within a few days.

I went there yesterday, painted another closet interior. I've about seen enough of the insides of closets! It's a rough job, in that being in such an enclosed, small space the paint fumes are pretty bad. I have been painting the ENTIRE closet, and I do mean all -- top, sides, etc. At least they will all be fresh and clean for our clothes.

I also went on my bike ride in the park yesterday morning, since DH fixed the flat tire. It was brrr cold, but I wore my windbreaker outfit and made it fine. I felt like I NEEDED some aerobic exercise, and that did help me feel better.

I am hoping that once we're moved I may be able to ride my bike along the narrow dirt road to the side of our property; it's about a couple miles long, very few houses and almost no traffic. There's a few gravels on it, but not in the places tires usually it would be okay for biking. At the end of the road, there's a large cemetery with paved paths, which I could then ride. I LIKE riding in a cemetery; the dead are such QUIET company! :=)

And speaking of moving, we are definitely thinking about rushing it all up faster. DH will come back today around 2:00, and we're going to get those huge glass sections a friend gave us (for enclosing the front porch, making it a sunporch). Each one will need trimming/cutting at the glass store, but then they should be ready to put in. IF DH can get that done next week, while I paint inside, then the second week he can help me finish painting.

We may not complete the front living room, so far as painting goes, but otherwise, the rest of the house should be livable. It would be great if we could move sometimes in January, and be there to do the remainder of work. We'll put the cats on the front sunporch until the room at the back is finished, so maybe....just maybe we can move sooner than thought.

And that's it for today.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Haven't been updating this week, no reason other than my usual "Holiday Blues." I go through this every year, and had hoped it would not come around this time, due to all the work at the old house. However, I have to admit the blahs aren't as intense; mostly I just feel less energetic and unenthusiastic.

Today is DH's last day at work for two weeks, and we are going to be at the old house every day working. Except for Xmas day, when we may go see that new movie, "Cold Mountain." That is, if we can find it showing at a theater within driving distance. I doubt it'll be at our local theater, but one can hope.

I went to Wal-mart yesterday and survived the crowds. I needed a few items I can ONLY find there, or I'd not have bothered to go. I'd almost rather take a beating than tackle that HUGE warehouse store, and always end up spending too much. I didn't yesterday though. I did look at paint, and found their price is about one dollar per gallon less than Lowe's and Marvin's flat latex mixed interior paint. So no doubt, I'll be making a trek there soon to buy all the interior paint. Hopefully not till after Xmas though.

My bike still has a flat, and I've not been getting enough exercise. I'm about to use my ski machine though, soon as I post this entry.

I'll end with this excerpt from a poll about Bush's ratings going up after the capture of Saddam. {Speaking of Saddam, his picture right after capture looks worse than Nick Nolte's mug shot!} Anyhow, Bush's ratings went up ... with a couple of exceptional comments noted:

Bush's Approval Ratings

There was also clear public disapproval about some ways that Mr. Bush has responded to the war at home. For example, two-thirds of Americans, including most Republicans, said they disagreed with the White House policy of prohibiting news photographers from ceremonies where the coffins of Americans troops are brought home.

The White House says that the policy is intended to protect the privacy of the families of the deceased; Democrats and some critics of the White House say it is intended to avoid the publication of emotionally charged photographs that might harden opposition to the war.

Along those same lines, two-thirds of respondents said Mr. Bush should make it a practice to attend the funerals of some Americans killed in Iraq. (That said, a quarter of respondents said, incorrectly, that Mr. Bush was attending those funerals.)

Actually, I think that the majority of Americans don't even realize that Bushie won't allow news coverage of the returning bodies of our dead soldiers. I think it's just plain censorship...but what else is new?

No telling when I'll update again, but maybe I'll get in a few minutes of writing sometimes during the next weeks.

Monday, December 15, 2003

A busy weekend, and we actually got a good bit accomplished at the old house. Saturday it rained all day, so we stayed indoors there, DH finishing sanding the sheetrock joint compound. I painted another closet, which leaves two more to be done. But at least the largest one is finished.

And AT LAST, the gas line was installed and the furnace working! Whoopee!! About time, is all I can say.

Saturday night I noticed my eyes started burning, my sinuses giving me fits. I didn't sleep well that night, and on Sunday we had an all-day trip to the Tennessee state line to buy saddles at a discount price, which DH later sells for a profit. It was a gloomy, overcast day all day...but the trip was sort of a nice diversion. On the other hand, I felt lousy -- my joints aching, especially my knees.

I have minor knee injury from being a runner, and occasionally they act up. Particularly if I overdo on the bike riding -- and I did last Thursday. As I rode in the park, I noticed I was getting a flat on the front tire, which made peddling that much more difficult. I did make it home before the tire went completely flat, but my knees took the brunt of the extra hard peddling. I don't know when I'll get the flat fixed, and I'm frankly not in a hurry...since my knees will have to recover.

Last night I didn't sleep much at all, and today I'm feeling rather disoriented. And that made it doubly difficult to have to take one of my cats to the vet -- which resulted in her having to be put to sleep. I will miss CutiePie a great deal, but there was no avoiding the fatal affliction she had. Now I only have five cats, and don't plan to get any more till all these are gone -- which I hope is longer that I expect. All that has made me a bit depressed, so I moped around today and cleaned house instead of doing any writing or causing eyestrain at the computer.

I think that some of the sheetrock dust got in my eyes, even though DH kept that room closed off and he wore eye/nose mask on Saturday. I later did some vacuuming in there, and I felt my eyes stinging. Sunday my eyes were very, very red...and my sinuses are swollen. I am going to have to be extremely careful to stay out of such dust, even with a mask, because it seems to compound my sinus problems, and make me just very nearly sick. I'm still feeling lousy today, but at least the awful sinus headache seems to have abated. Sure hope I sleep better tonight too.

I am still processing the Saddam capture -- although I will say that I don't think it'll stop "insurgent" attacks on Iraqis OR American troops. Glad he was caught, but am wondering about the trial situation.

And by the way, have any of you looked up the word "insurgent" in the dictionary? Here is the precise meaning:


--A person who takes part in a rebellion in the hope of improving conditions

--A member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment

Adjective: Insurgent

-- In opposition to a civil authority or government

Interesting, no? And that first description is quite enlightening, eh?

More when I feel better...hopefully sooner than later.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I've spent a busy morning, had to buy groceries and run errands. I also had to renew my driver's license, oooh, the dread. Isn't it amazing how those photo I.D.s look just like a bad mug shot taken when you're being processed into jail? (LOL)

At any rate, from what I can see of the black-and-white snapshot, it's better than my last driver's license picture -- but not much of an improvement. I actually had my address listed for the old house, since it would cost me $18.00 to have it changed in a few months. I had to pay the $24.95 today, so why waste another twenty bucks later? Now if we don't move...well, that's another story!

The gas company got the line dug, but still no meter installed as of yesterday. DH is furious, and planned to call them again this morning. After all the expense and trouble we went to in order to have natural gas, I sure hope it's worth it -- but I simply couldn't endure the propane gas (smelly and causes my sinuses to have fits). Maybe the meter was installed today, but even so, the heat/air crew will still have to return and hook up the furnace and THEN test it all before we'll have heat. Since DH won't have much time this weekend to work anyway, perhaps that is not a big deal. However, IF we do anything tomorrow there, I suppose we'll take our kerosene heater, which does a great job on heating but also troubles my sinuses.

I've been working on the short story rewrite, but still not ready to post it yet.

I finished reading a great novel the other night: "Mystic River" by Dennis Lehane. There's a movie out based on the novel, starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robinson, I think. The novel is excellent, I could hardly put it down -- one of the best I've read in ages. So I'm looking forward to seeing the movie eventually.

Here's an excerpt that I found very candid, in regards to having children. This is a thought the cop (Kevin Bacon) has, about not having kids:

He'd never wanted kids. Outside of priority boarding on an airline, he couldn't see the upside to them. They took over your life and filled you with terror and weariness and people acted like having one was a blessed event and talked about them in the reverent tones they once reserved for gods. When it came down to it, though, you had to remember that all those assholes cutting you off in traffic and walking the streets and shouting in bars and turning their music up too loud and mugging you and raping you and selling you lemon cars -- all those assholes were just children who'd aged. No miracle. Nothing sacred in that.

True to form though, this cop has a baby before the end of the novel. Bleh. On the other hand, I read that the author lives in Boston with his wife and two bulldogs; perhaps that passage is more about HIS thoughts, huh? Makes you wonder. It is one of the better truths I've ever seen in print, seriously similar to how most childfree people (myself included) feel about not having kids.

However, here is my favorite quote in the book:

Happiness comes in moments, and then it's gone until the next time. Could be years. But sadness settles in.

A very good noir author, and I'll be looking for his other novels.

That's a wrap for today!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

What to report?

No progress yet on getting the gas line intsalled at the old house, but hopefully that will happen tomorrow. DH will probably not be able to work there this weekend, since he has an employment detail. I won't go by myself, so I suppose nothing else will get done until his two weeks off -- starting December 22nd through January 5th. Two whole weeks to work on the place. He can install the windows (weather permitting) and I can start painting.

Sunday we went on a car ride, then dropped by the small shopping mall near the old house. I bought some primer at Fred's, which is one of the great discount stores there, and got a real bargain. Now as soon as the dishwasher is installed, I'll be ready to start painting in the kitchen. I will use the primer on the cabinets and the half-wall of blond paneling, since I want to change the color scheme and give it a sunny yellow makeover.

I haven't lost interest in the project, but I will admit to all the hired work delays putting a bit of a damper on my initial enthusiasm. But there's no point in getting in a rush, since it will be at least early next March before we can move. Even after all the painting/interior work is done, we have to build an addition on the back, a large room for the cats. And that is going to be long and tedious, as well as expensive. I've been saving for that already, and perhaps whatever income tax refund we get will also help us pay cash for that. I have a set bottom limit on money market savings, and won't go below that figure -- no matter what, since it is for emergencies. So we just have to pay as we go, using a little of what isn't saved/used from each paycheck.

I have reworked a short story, but need to type it into the computer before posting at my webzine. I wrote it years and years ago, along with a bunch of other stories I'd put away in my file cabinet, intending to rewrite/edit but just never did. Also, I've starting itching to write fiction again, and feel sure I'm about to get back into the flow of it.

Yesterday and today I went on my bike ride, and the temps are very mild, ideal for riding. I had to remove the acorns/straw off the park sidewalk, due to it being slippery where I go downhill. Didn't want to risk a bike accident. Tomorrow my mother is supposed to drop by for a visit on her way to a doctor's appointment, and no telling how long she and my step-dad will stay.

I recently found some news articles/updates about the infamous and notorious bank robbing couple who'd been featured on "America's Most Wanted." Craig Pritchert and Nova Guthrie were captured in South Africa, and are now back in the states. I am planning on writing Pritchert, as soon as I can locate his exact mailing address. He is apparently in Phoenix, Arizona, currently incarcerated in the county jail. She is in Colorado.

In one article I read, it stated that Nova's parents had already been contacted about a book/movie deal. No doubt. I am sure the 'sympathetic slant' can be centered on her; she is about 12 years Craig's junior, and had lived an ordinary life until he came along. Their whole story is fascinating to me, but it will be interesting to see how Pritchert deals with being portrayed perhaps as a cunning bank robber who lured Nova into a life of crime (which, by the way, doesn't seem to have been the case at all, she went willingly). I'm fairly sure once Hollyweird gets hold of it, they will need to make him out to be the villian. Here's a link/excerpt to one of the articles:

A Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde?

PHOENIX - He sat behind the glass partition in the county jail, his years on the run finished.

Craig Pritchert leaned forward in his black-and-white striped uniform and rubbed his eyes. They were weary and damp with tears, the eyes of a man who could see the end.

The end of a good life, a life of ski resorts and seaside towns and peace on the other side of the world, but a life based on a fake identity and cover story.

Worse, this could be the end of a love. Not one, as police assert, built on lies and lawlessness - but rather sincere affection, he explained.

"We had what most people strive for but can't even touch," said Pritchert, drumming his fingers on the partition for emphasis as he spoke of Nova Guthrie. "It was ... the fairy tale. The only question now is the happily ever after."

But in a fairy tale, the hero isn't a suspected bank robber and his heroine the accused getaway driver - and happily ever after doesn’t include the possibility of prison for both.

Hmm, I'd like to hear his opinion AFTER the movie is made. Yep, sure would.

Enough for today.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

I didn't go to the old house today; the gas company still hasn't put in the line, although the remainder of the central heat/air is ready to go. Hopefully next Wednesday that will be done. DH did go, and should be back any time now. The wind is fierce out there today, still overcast and only in the low 40s. Inside that house would have been frigid, and I couldn't have done anything. Plus...I don't know, I'm sort of getting tired of it all, maybe even losing interest. Or perhaps just aggravated with all the delays of "workers" who are supposed to be doing a job on time. Whatever.

I spent the day working on some old stories I wrote a long time ago, and plan to post those next week at The Prose Menagerie, my webzine. I think I'm verging on getting involved again in my creative writing, yippee!

In the meantime, I found this funny stuff about cats. You can skip it if you're not a cat lover.


Dear Cats:

When I say to move, it means go someplace else, not switch positions with each other so there are still two cats in the way.

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help, because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-size bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue to sleep on the couch to insure your comfort.

Look at videos of cats sleeping, they can actually curl up in a ball. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and
having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space used is nothing but catty sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to scratch, meow or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. In addition, I have been using bathrooms for years, feline attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is lick my face, then go lick your butt. I cannot stress this enough. It would be such a simple change for you.

Rules for Non-Cat Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About Our Cats:

1. The cats live here. You don't.

2. If you don't want cat hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture

3. I like my cats a lot better than I like most people

4. To you, they're cats. To me, they're an adopted son or daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly

5. Cats are better than kids. They eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, sometimes come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about buying the latest fashions, don't wear your clothes, don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and if they get pregnant, you can sell the kittens.

6. They ignore you until you are asleep.


Till next time, which may be next Monday since I AM going to the old house tomorrow if the weather is better -- and it is predicted to be.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Yesterday's writing prompt:

Imagine you’re a bartender, and there is a sad, lonely man sitting on the corner stool. You ask him what’s wrong. What story does he tell you?

And here's the story:

Don't Talk to Strangers

I'd seen him there before, but never noticed him as I did that cold, snowy Christmas Eve night. He always sat on the last stool at the end of the bar, his head lowered, eyes hooded, a big man but quiet and unobtrusive. He had longish brown hair, usually wore jeans, a pullover sweater -- just an average-looking guy, nothing special to catch my eye.

I've been a bartender for six months now, and though it was supposed to be a part-time job so I could get enough money saved to attend college, I found that I enjoyed the gig. I learned to make all the mixed drinks expertly and with flourish; pour a beer with or without a "head," ring up tabs at the cash register -- but most of all, I liked the opportunity to study the odd assortment of people who dropped in. I always wanted to be a writer, and this job was ideal for observing vastly different kinds of individuals. Everything from bored housewives who seemed to sneak in and grab a quick drink before heading out to pick up their kids at school to rich, respectable businessmen knocking one back before a big important meeting came in from time to time. The big, quiet guy though had escaped my scrutiny until this night...

It was getting late, nearly midnight, and we would be closing soon; the big guy was the only one left in the bar. An eerie absence of laughter, conversations, and the general noise usually in the bar gave me an uneasy feeling. Through the dim lighting and smoky haze, I glanced over to our bouncer, Mac, still standing at the door, his meaty arms folded in front of him and his tiny, dark eyes looking in my direction, asking an unspoken question. Glad he was still there, I shrugged, and headed over to see why the big guy was still on the stool when the clock now showed midnight.

As I approached him, I wiped the bar, moving that way slowly...putting on my sweetest smile. And if I do say so myself, I'm an attractive gal (blond, blue-eyed, good curves in the right places) and when I turn on the charm, I can be downright irresistible. As I came up close to where he had his arms folded on the bar, head down, I said, "Say mister, could I get you one last drink for the road?"

He looked up at me, and I was astonished at the melancholy, pained look on his face; he had deep brown eyes, heavy jowls, not attractive at all...but there was..something about him, something almost charismatic in his riveting gaze. I kept smiling, but it wasn't easy.

He said, "Time for me to leave, huh?" His voice was soft, low, almost a whisper and he kept his eyes pinned on me.

I shrugged, said, "Um, yeah, but you've got time for one last drink on the house." I did remember he'd only had one beer, which he'd nursed for the last hour or so. As I looked at him, I realized he was not as old as I'd first thought, probably no more than 30 or 35. Being overweight I'd just not realized he was a younger man...

"Okay, I'll take that beer, if you don't mind."

I got one from the tap, still smiling at him, and set it in front of him.

He sipped it a little, his brown eyes never leaving my face; I thought he actually might be flirting with me...but then that hang-dog sadness slumped his shoulders again, and he looked away, off into the middle-distance as if seeing something too sad to talk about.

Suddenly I heard myself say, "My name is Sharon, I've seen you here before...mister?"

"You can call me Charlie."

"Well Charlie, let me wish you a Merry Christmas."

He grimaced, shook his big head, wiped a strand of his too-long brown hair off his forehead. "Sharon, this is not going to be a good Christmas, no way."

"I'm sorry..." I could hear the loneliness in his voice, see it in his every gesture, and found myself feeling sorry for him.

"Yeah, just another day to me. Course, the way I am, guess it's just as well. I don't deserve any of the goodies Christmas usually brings."

Curiosity made me ask, "And why is that Charlie? What about family?"

He gave me a crooked, but somehow appealing, smile. "No family, none at all. Parents dead, most of my relatives way out in California, where I'm from."

"You're sure a long way from home here in Michigan."

"True. And alone."

Oddly, I suddenly felt compelled to say, "You could join my family, I'm going there tomorrow. My parents live out in the burbs, but I promise you'd have a really good meal, my mom's a great cook."

He looked up, smiled that crooked smile, said, "You serious?"

I wondered if I had gone insane, to ask a total stranger (in a bar, no less!) to my parent's home. Still, the deep sadness in his brown eyes touched my heart, and I quickly assured him, "Yes, absolutely. I could pick you up on the corner near this bar tomorrow...on my way to my folks."

He took a few more sips of the beer, studying me intently over the beer mug. As he set it down, he said, "You know, I might just take you up on that offer. I've only been here a couple weeks, and don't know anyone at all."

"No wife, kids?"

"Nah, I've never...been the marrying kind."

I thought I detected a hint of a tease, and felt I was helping him feel better already. "Well Charlie, we have a date then." I wondered about him, about his life, why he was so alone, so sad...but felt I would find out once we were better acquainted.

He swilled down the rest of the beer, set it down with a thud and stood, putting on his thick coat. "This sure is my lucky night, and I do appreciate your invite. What time should I be at the corner tomorrow?"

I took his beer mug, wiped the bar off, started doing the usual closing up tasks, saying, "Wait a sec, and I'll walk out with you."

Mac came over to the bar, but when I smiled and said, "Hey Mac, I'm about ready to leave. Sully is in back, doing the cash stuff, so maybe you won't be here too much longer."

He just grunted, nodded and headed toward the back office where Sully was working.

I got my coat, yelled a quick, "Merry Christmas Sully, Mac..." then joined Charlie at the door. As we headed outside, the wind was so fierce it nearly took my breath away. I wrapped my coat tightly to my shivering body, and Charlie and I stood underneath the awning, looking at the few passing cars, fat snowflakes starting to fall.

"Wow, looks like a white Christmas," I gushed, teeth chattering.

Charlie said, "Do you have a car? I'll walk you to it, if you want." His voice sounded a little strange, husky almost.

I felt a slight tremor of fear, as if something wasn't quite right. As I looked up at Charlie, I'm sure my face showed my sudden uneasiness, for he said, "Or you can go on, and I'll head back to my room."

I just stood there, feeling foolish, but I turned slightly toward the corner, about to head for the parking lot across the street where my car was parked.

I felt Charlie's sudden grasp on my arm, and then, his other arm went behind me, and I felt something hard at my back. "Just walk toward your car, like you do every night when you get off work." His voice had changed again, deeper, menacing.

I trembled, tried to pull back from him, but he pushed the hard object into my back, demanding in a scary whisper, "I said, walk to your car...I've got a gun."

I did as I was told, trembling and shaking, wanting to motion to a car...seeing that no one was out on the street this late, everyone no doubt at home, planning on Christmas with their family. "Please...don't hurt me," I begged in a breathless plea.

"Just get in the car."

We were at my car. I fumbled for my keys in my purse, got the door unlocked, and got in behind the driver's wheel; Charlie quickly got in behind me, in the backseat, and told me to get going. I started the car, turned the lights and windshield wipers on and started out of the lot and then onto the street. I knew my life was over, I just knew it...but I couldn't think of anything to do, anyway to stop Charlie. He had the gun at my neck, and I was at his mercy.

He told me to turn down a deserted alleyway and then said, the fury and rage in his voice merciless, "I know I look sad, and I am. You know why I'm sad? I'll tell you why, it's because I can't help myself, can't quit killing women, I just can't!"

Those were the last words I ever heard....

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Today is my 52nd birthday.

I wish I had some words of wisdom to impart on growing older, but I'm not sure I do. However, I DO have much to be appreciative of, having lived this long.

I appreciate simply being ALIVE! After all, due to a genetic metabolism problem that results in kidney stones, I was told at the age of 23 that I would probably NOT live to be 30. Oh how wrong the doctors were! So I'll impart this wisdom born of experience: Don't believe everything a doctor predicts. Sometimes the human body surprises even them. In fact, first with medication, and later simply adjusting my diet, I haven't had a kidney stone since I was age 23!

I appreciate that DH and I are doing well financially. If someone had told me at age 30 that we'd one day own TWO houses debt-free, I would have laughed at them. Particularly since I've never worked full-time over long periods, instead being frugal and careful with DH's modest (and I DO mean modest) income. So wisdom born of experience: Get out of debt. No matter what you want, it's not worth debt. IF you have to get a home via a mortgage (and most of us do when young) pay it off as quickly as possible, no matter what else you have to do without. A "home owner" with a mortgage is NOT a home owner; the bank owns that house until it is paid for. And believe me, the bank won't hesitate to foreclose on it, if necessary. Without debt, you can save and move forward; with debt, you are a slave eternally.

I appreciate life, but there are times I've been suicidal. On reflection, I'd say almost without exception, most suicidal tendencies I've had are either hormonal or an emotional imbalance...both of which pass eventually. Therefore, suicide is NOT a solution to any problem. I agree with this quote: "Suicide is an irreversible solution to a temporary problem." Think about that when you are feeling depressed and fear life is a cruel joke (which it can sometimes seem, regarding almost all aspects).

All in all, I'm just grateful to still be alive, to be relatively healthy, active and still intellectually/mentally alert. If I can say this at 80, then I'll STILL be glad to be alive.

Regrets? A few, but none that are worth being miserable about. For certain, I have NO REGRETS about choosing NOT to have children. I appreciate that DH and I chose not to reproduce, and I'm sure some of our happiness NOW is due to that decision long ago.

I went on my bike ride around 1:00 today, and the wind was fierce! I had to struggle every bit of the ride, but I DID make it. Now it's pouring rain, a cold, dark rain...which should remain with us until around noon tomorrow. DH and I will eat out tonight, and my sister called for a long chat earlier, and to wish me happy birthday.

On this rainy afternoon, I believe it might be a good time to start a creative writing exercise, the results of which I'll post later.

Here's the writing prompt from a Writer's Digest website:

Imagine you’re a bartender, and there is a sad, lonely man sitting on the corner stool. You ask him what’s wrong. What story does he tell you?

Stay tuned for the story, coming soon!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I finally had time to visit the library today, and got some good novels. I am especially eager to read Joy Fielding's latest suspense novel, "Lost." I was a fan of her novels long before she became famous. I also got several other suspense novels, but to tell you the truth, I've NEVER come across an author who can beat Thomas Cook for suspense thrillers.

When I got home, I went on the bike ride; it's still somewhat cold here, in the 40s today and becoming increasingly overcast. We're supposed to get rain (possibly mixed with sleet) Thursday and Friday. I bet folks will make a run on the grocery store to "stock up" on milk, bread, etc. And then probably the bad weather will fail to materialize! I sure hope the front clears out before Saturday, since we plan to work at the old house.

Not much else happening I'll close today with the lyrics from a song popular in the early 90s that always reminded me of the young guy on death row I wrote before he killed himself.

Runaway Train  by  Soul Asylum

Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a blowtorch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning
So tired that I couldn't even sleep
So many secrets I couldn't keep
Promised myself I wouldn't weep
One more promise I couldn't keep
It seems no one can help me now
I'm in too deep there's no way out
This time I have really led myself astray
Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I'm neither here nor there
Can you help me remember how to smile
Make it somehow all seem worthwhile
How on earth did I get so jaded
Life's mystery seems so faded
I can go where no one else can go
I know what no one else knows
Here I am just drownin' in the rain
With a ticket for a runaway train
Everything is cut and dry
Day and night, earth and sky
Somehow I just don't believe it
Bought a ticket for a runaway train
Like a madman just a laughin' at the rain
Little out of touch, little insane
Just easier than dealing with the pain
Runaway train never comin' back
Runaway train tearin' up the track
Runaway train burnin' in my veins
Runaway but it always seems the same

Monday, December 01, 2003

Not much new to report, except that I went on my bike ride this morning...and it was a brisk, cold ride too!

Last week I didn't ride at all, and today it seemed as if I were starting all over again. I did use the ski machine last week, but that is not like riding a bike. Plus, it was windy this morning, but I got too warm in my wind-breaker jacket as I rode in the park. I had gained up to 97 last week, but cut down on calories the past few days and I'm back to 95. If I ride the bike, I can eat more calories; and yet, it's amazing I can eat as much as I have been and not get back to 100. I think the hard work at the old house has helped me stay this lower weight, and I DO gain when I'm not exercising and/or working.

I have the new photos online, although there are only three. These are all outside shots, since I walked around the pasture/yard Saturday since it was too cold to work inside the house. You can either find those on the right side link to "Renovations" or click here and look at the bottom of the page.

Yesterday we went on a rambling drive, which used to be our regular Sunday afternoon outings. It was nice to get away from work for awhile, but we ended up back at the old house -- to feed the horses and just look around. DH straightened the fence that runs alongside the highway yesterday morning, as well as cut some of the overgrown hedge-bushes off of it. He's also straightened the fence beside the barn, and will next straighten the fencing along the narrow dirt road. This weathered wooden fencing looks really picturesque, and we are going to keep it, just needs a bit of TLC. I already have the barn-red paint for the barn, but haven't had a chance to paint it yet; and the trim will be white. I think that will make an immediate improvement in how the barn looks, and add to the overall "farm" look.

One thing the real estate ads in this area use to sell a small acreage (like ours) is to call it a "mini-farm." I've seen ads for places no better than ours will be (when finished) for as much as $150,000.00. Another attraction to our location: Birmingham people who are heading north out of the city, but within a reasonable commute back to their workplace. Our place is located near the southern end of this county, closer to Birmingham, and a few miles south of the house, there's already a rush of new people out of the city looking for "mini-farms." ;-) And of course, it's within a couple miles of the only junior college here, as well as another safe, small town.

We currently live in the county seat, but the small town near our old house/land is quaint and picturesque too...much smaller and more like the typical small southern towns of yesteryear. I think the population is only a little over 2,000. Of course, across from the community college is the small strip-mall, where there's chain department and grocery stores, fast food establishments, etc. -- which makes it very convenient. I believe it would be safe to say our location there will be "country living with city conveniences!"

Oh yes, there's a slight possibility we may be getting Igor, the miniature donkey back. I think the girl's parents are growing tired of taking care of him for her. Also, I hope at some time in the future (after we're moved) to get a miniature horse, although I have no idea about what kind.

About five miles from the old houseplace, there's an exotic animal auction, which handles all kinds of exotic animals. That's where Igor came from, and we might go there eventually. DH knows of several local people who breed miniature horses, and they are sold at horse sales too. I just want one because they are so cute and small, and seem like they'd be a good pet -- I'd rather have one of those, I think, than a dog. I'd be afraid a dog would get run over on the nearby highway, and I can't bear the thought of penning up a dog. We'll see, I guess.

I've actually been reading a great novel, almost finished with it. Good time to read in the evenings when there is NOTHING but sentimental crap on TV for Christmas. The title is "Guest Shot" by David Locke. It is a thriller, and deals with a plot I've often wanted to develop myself: What if a billionaire became a serial killer? All that money at his disposal would surely make him harder to nail, right? And what if he managed to go on a nationwide TV talk show, without revealing his identity by electronic means, and talked about his killing? This novel would make a great movie.

And that's all she wrote today, folks.