My Novels

Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Here it is the end of 2004 -- and what a year of change it was for me.

First, the upsetting fiasco of last year, near the end of December, early January. As usual, I had to resolve it -- and so far, I am sure I did. Anything could happen, of course, for not only are natural disasters unpredictable but so is human behavior.

Second, we moved from the house in town where we'd lived 23 years to this old house and land. I will confess that I had moments of horrible homesickness, but all in all, I have adapted better than I thought I would. I think in time I'll love this place, for I already love the old house. The hard physical labor DH and I have put into the place makes it even more special, though at times living here in the mess while we did projects really frustrated me! Next Spring, we hope to have a green roof put on, as well as sofit vinyl trim around the windows and new gutters. But we'll hire professionals for that job.

We added a huge back porch, then enclosed it to make two additional rooms: a sunroom (where the cats stay now) and a mudroom.

We painted the entire exterior of the house, as well as the wash-house and garage and barn.

And last but not least, we put green shutters on the exterior windows (the last ones put up yesterday on the east side of the house).

East side of house, new shutters Posted by Hello

House and yard December 30, 2004 Posted by Hello

New sign for DH's part-time hobby/business Posted by Hello

Since this is the last entry of 2004, it will also be the last entry I'll put on CD to be included in the "Time Capsule" to be stored in the attic of this house. I have not finished all the collection yet, but I suppose there's no rush since I can get all the material together as I have time. I do plan to include a newspaper with headlines/stories about the latest terrible disasterous Asian tsunami, perhaps the worst disaster in modern history. In fact, in regards to human lives lost, the 911 tragedy in America pales.

DH has been off this week, but he's gone horseback riding in the nearby national forest today with friends. I went to the grocery store (yuck!) and did a few other errands. Tonight we'll probably just watch the countdown on TV, or fall asleep waiting for it (like old folks do).

I can only sum up the past year for myself as being the greatest year of change in many, many years. I have no regrets either, since we still own the house in town (renters have been great) and I am in seemingly good health (one never knows what lurks inside themselves).

Happy New Year to any who read this blog regularly. I hope you'll return for new entries in 2005!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Ahem...didn't I name this blog correctly? Isn't it a mad, mad world when something like this unexpectedly happens:

Tidal Waves Kill 23,700 in Nine Countries

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - Rescuers piled up bodies along southern Asian coastlines devastated by tidal waves that obliterated seaside towns and killed more than 22,000 people in 10 countries, and officials indicated Monday that the death toll could climb far higher.

Hundreds of children were buried in mass graves in India, and morgues and hospitals struggled to cope with the catastrophe. Somalia reported hundreds of deaths, some 3,000 miles away from the earthquake that sent tsunamis raging across the Indian Ocean.

The International Red Cross reported 23,700 deaths and expressed concern about waterborne diseases like malaria and cholera. Jan Egeland, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, said millions of people were effected - by lost homes, polluted drinking water, destroyed sanitation - and that the cost of the damage would "probably be many billions of dollars."

Ya just never know what's lurking underground or out in space, do ya? In general, humans have short-lived memories and strong denial about the FACT that we could ALL be wiped out in the blink of an eye by an asteroid and/or comets, earthquakes, and other "natural" disasters. Guess if we dwell on it, we'd go nuts -- or (as I often think these days) realize humanity is probably doomed, either by our own destructiveness OR natural disaster eventually.

I'm not even going to mention what's lying dormant underneath Yellowstone National Park, and should it ever surface, the devastation it would bring to the USA. Do some research, you'll find out what I mean.

Had a ho-hum Christmas, nothing much to record. Mostly got cash, which I'll probably use over the coming months at various places.

I almost forgot: I watched two good movies over the past days, both with Halle Berry. Whew, that girl can ACT! "Gothica" was riveting, a scary ghost story with horror that will stand your hair on end. And then last night, on A&E, I saw "Monster's Ball"...excellent movie, but truly grim subject matter. Of course, grim is the word for literary/artistic, and this movie won lots of awards, and so did Halle Berry for her acting.

Brilliant sunshine today, but nippy -- in the high 40s. Tomorrow and Wednesday are going to be in the 60s, almost springlike weather again. Maybe I can get outdoors during that time, since DH may take those two days off.

I'm working on a list of New Year's resolutions, but one I'm certain of is that need to lose about ten pounds. Not going to be a picnic either.

Till later....I'll close with this quote from an email posted at CNN by survivors of the disaster:

There is a popular buddhist saying in sri lanka, life is no more than a dew drop balancing on the end of a blade of grass. The events of December 26, 2004 have shown just how precarious that balance can be. Paul Sussman, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Friday, December 24, 2004

In honor of what Christmas is supposed to be, but isn't, I'll post these words of a song lyric you can find here. And wish all you so-called Christians (and otherwise heathens like myself) a Merry Christmas. Here's the lyrics:

"All I Want For Christmas"

Transformers, Super Heroes
Thundercats in cast iron clothes
Rocket fingers, lazer eyes
Cannon mouths and missile toes

Santa's helpers from on high
Secret sponsors place their bids
Your donation helps to buy
GI Joes for Contra kids

All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .

Rock lord masters of disaster
Detonate the ghetto blaster
And little black Rambo metal choir
Sings deck the halls with great balls of fire

It looks to me like World War III
Underneath the Christmas tree
Please dear Santa, Mr. Santa please
Can't you make the firing cease?

All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas
Is world peace

A monster satellite TV
Sends Season's Greetings from afar
Star Wars I and II and III
Chestnuts roasting on the VCR

All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas
Is world peace

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I must be in a writing frenzy today, so here's another little tidbit I thought I'd pass along:

"Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year." --Victor Borge

Ho, Ho, Ho.....Merrrrrrry Christmas!

The lady I met while biking last summer came by this morning and we exchanged gifts. I gave her a novel, two old classic movies on DVD and a cute school-house picture frame for when her new grandchild gets in school.

She gave me some delicious home-made fudge, and candy. Yum! Also the candy was in a gorgeous hand-crocheted basket! She didn't have long to stay, since her and her husband were on their way to her son's house.

She raved over this house, just LOVED it, and said everything was so neat, clean, etc. And all this EARLY in the morning, when I'd not done any housework. Of course, I keep a pretty tidy house all the time...just my way. But it sure was good to get some compliments on all the hard work we've done on this house interior!

Enough for now!
Just had to make a post about this latest news:

Cloned Cat Sale Generates Ethics Debate

Dec 23, 7:20 AM (ET)


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The first cloned-to-order pet sold in the United States is named Little Nicky, a 9-week-old kitten delivered to a Texas woman saddened by the loss of a cat she had owned for 17 years.

The kitten cost its owner $50,000 and was created from DNA from her beloved cat, named Nicky, who died last year.

"He is identical. His personality is the same," the owner, Julie, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Although she agreed to be photographed with her cat, she asked that her last name and hometown not be disclosed because she said she fears being targeted by groups opposed to cloning.

Yet while Little Nicky, who was delivered two weeks ago, frolics in his new home, the kitten's creation and sale has reignited fierce ethical and scientific debate over cloning technology, which is rapidly advancing.

The company that created Little Nicky, Sausalito-based Genetic Savings and Clone, said it hopes by May to have produced the world's first cloned dog - a much more lucrative market than cats.

While it is based in the San Francisco Bay area, the company's cloning work will be done at its new lab in Madison, Wis.

Commercial interests already are cloning prized cattle for about $20,000 each, and scientists have cloned mice, rabbits, goats, pigs, horses - and even the endangered banteng, a wild bull that is found mostly in Indonesia.

Several research teams around the world, meanwhile, are racing to create the first cloned monkey.

Aside from human cloning, which has been achieved only at the microscopic embryo stage, no cloning project has fueled more debate than the marketing plans of Genetic Savings and Clone.

"It's morally problematic and a little reprehensible," said David Magnus, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University. "For $50,000, she could have provided homes for a lot of strays."

Animals rights activists complain that new feline production systems aren't needed because thousands of stray cats are euthanized each year for want of homes.

Lou Hawthorne, Genetic Savings and Clone's chief executive, said his company purchases thousands of ovaries from spay clinics across the country. It extracts the eggs, which are combined with the genetic material from the animals to be cloned.

Critics also complain that the technology is available only to the wealthy, that using it to create house pets is frivolous and that customers grieving over lost pets have unrealistic expectations of what they're buying.

In fact, the first cat cloned in 2001 had a different coat from its genetic donor, underscoring that environment and other biological variables make it impossible to exactly duplicate animals.

"The thing that many people do not realize is that the cloned cat is not the same as the original," said Bonnie Beaver, a Texas A&M animal behaviorist who heads the American Veterinary Medical Association, which has no position on the issue. "It has a different personality. It has different life experiences. They want Fluffy, but it's not Fluffy."

Scientists also warn that cloned animals suffer from more health problems than their traditionally bred peers and that cloning is still a very inexact science. It takes many gruesome failures to produce just a single clone.

Genetic Savings and Clone said its new cloning technique, developed by animal cloning pioneer James Robl has improved survival rates, health and appearance. The new technique seeks to condense and transfer only the donor's genetic material to a surrogate's egg instead of an entire cell nucleus.

Between 15 percent and 45 percent of cloned cats born alive die within the first 30 days, Hawthorne said. But he said that range is consistent with natural births, depending on the breed of cat.

Austin, Texas-based ViaGen Inc., which has cloned hundreds of cows, pigs and goats, also is experimenting with the new cloning technique.

"The jury is still out, but the research shows it to be promising," company president Sara Davis said. "The technology is improving all the time."

Genetic Savings and Clone has been behind the creation of at least five cats since 2001, including the first one created.

It hopes to deliver as many as five more clones to customers who have paid the company's $50,000 fee. By the end of next year, it hopes to have cloned as many as 50 cats.

The company has yet to turn a profit.

What is my opinion? I think this is possibly advancing medical knowledge, which IS a good thing. On the other hand, it is preposterous that a person would pay $50,000.00 for a cat, when there are SO MANY homeless, starving cats to choose from.

Here's my suggestion: IF a person can pay that for a cat, then they also MUST donate the same amount, $50,000.00 to the Humane Society/Animal Shelter specifically earmarked ONLY for cats and cat living quarters to prolong the possibility of finding them homes. Good trade-off, I think. Of course, that is not going to happen -- sad, but true.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Time to make another entry via the QuickPad. I had hoped to have time earlier today to write in my journal, but I never did. Alas, that is how it usually turns out nowadays. I have to wonder how I ever had time to write a dozen novels and numerous short stories, for it seems impossible to find that much free time in the past few years.

Of course, when I wrote the novels, DH was on second shift, and I had long stretches of uninterrupted evenings for writing. I rarely ever watched TV, so I had unlimited time for serious work. During that period (most of the 80s) I'd get up early, do most of the housework while DH slept. Then we'd have lunch and he'd be off to work. That meant I could sit down at my desk and write to my heart's content. But DH has been on days with weekends off for years now, and I have all my household tasks to do in the morning, and what few hours I can manage are only in the afternoon. Add in regular trips for shopping/groceries and it is difficult to squeeze in a journal entry, answer an email or write fiction. Evenings I sit with DH, while he watches TV (and I do too, on the rare occasion there is anything worth watching). This QuickPad will allow me to write during the evenings, and the keyboard is so quiet (with an easy, soft touch) I can work while relaxing. I have notes and/or emails on my Palm, can refer to those when necessary, etc. My story (tentative title: Fogbound) is coming along nicely too.

I did see the first part of Dr. Phil today after I returned from doing the LAST of my Christmas shopping, and it looked interesting. I recorded it to watch later. One part I did see was Michael Keaton talking about his new movie, "White Noise."{As an aside, I am curious if the movie addresses the fact that "white noise" or the "static" in between radio/TV stations is remnants of the Big Bang?} At any rate,it sounds like a fascinating movie, especially slanted toward the supernatural.

I have no idea WHY I love to write supernatural fiction at times, since I am not really a believer in psychic phenomena, but I do. "Fogbound" is about how a legend is born regarding a haunted area. Anyhow, I will watch the remainder of the program tonight in bed.

It has been extremely COLD here, frigid in Dixie. DH said it was ten degrees when he went out this morning! I have two heatlamps on the cats, as well as an electric blanket inside an insulated dog-house on the back sunporch. The cats seem to be managing well, although Pretty does dominate the inside of the dog-house, will hardly allow the others inside there. However, the two heatlamps provide two other warm places for them to sleep. The good thing about this is that at last the fleas are gone; I spent a small fortune on flea medicine this past summer!

Hmm, the latest news from Bush is that he has admitted there may be some problems in Iraq. Geez, NOW he figures it out. Goodness, what will happen if he ever gets in touch with reality? Oh, and he also has made some vague statements regarding the future of social security which leads me to believe he plans to cut benefits, stick it to the Baby Boomers -- my generation. You'd think someone OUR age would be more circumspect about curtailing benefits for their own generation...but, of course, we're dealing with a moron here, and who knows what he's got up his sleeve? All I can say is that those who voted for him are going to live to regret it. Ahem!

I find that I'm in a fairly good mood about Christmas. Don't know why, other than perhaps this is our first Christmas here. A lady I met while biking is planning to drop by one day this week; I got her a small gift today, and I'm pretty sure she has one for me. Since I am not biking outdoors, we have started emailing as a way to stay in touch. I sent her my email address in a Christmas card, and liked the card she sent me. Knowing how I love to write, she'll hear from me more often by email than if we were getting together or talking on the phone. I loathe the phone, and won't use it unless absolutely necessary. I don't mind a visit now and then, just so I have advance warning and can make the time.

I still use the air-bike almost every morning (or night or afternoon) and it seems to help me sleep. I hate insomnia, but IF I can't sleep now, I'll get up and use this QuickPad to write until I feel sleepy.

DH is putting up new mini-blinds on the front sunporch; since the cats are now on the back sunporch, we repainted the front sunporch and put our sofa out there. I wanted new curtains, but there's five windows out there and mini-blinds will do for now. I did have regular shades, but the mini-blinds will look better.

I also moved my computer and desk into a corner of the dining room, and today was my first day in there. I like it a lot, since I can see the cats on the sunporch, look out the window at the birds on the feeder, and watch the small TV if I wish. I swear we must have changed the furniture around in this house a dozen times since we moved here, but eventually we'll get it right.

This latest arrangement is because I plan to have a second bedroom in what was my study/den. We need an extra bed should it be necessary. The last time we were at our house in town, DH got a small iron half-bed frame from the garage. We will paint it, buy a mattress and use that one in the second bedroom. I have had that bed since I was a little girl; my grandmother gave it to me.

Little Bud, my solid black cat, is sitting beside me watching me type. The cats don't like the QuickPad, for they instinctively know it takes my attention away from them. Cats are truly smart, even if they don't fetch like a dog. "Dogs come when you call them; cats take a message and get back to you."

I suppose we'll spend Christmas Eve at my mother's house with family. I will give cash to my nephews and mother and step-dad -- always a favorite. I also like cash as a gift for myself, because you can then choose what you really want. So often people buy what I call "junk"...trinkets, whatnots, etc...and the recipient is not happy with it. I know, I's supposed to be the "thought" that counts. Yet...why waste money on frivolities when the person can use that money for what they really want or need?

There is a good documentary on right now about hobos, and I will end this entry so I can watch it. My story I'm working on has some hobos in it, and this will add to what I've already found about them on the web.

Till next time!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Today at the doctor's office I had so many thoughts that I'd like to capture, but I didn't have this QuickPad with me. Nevertheless, I'm going to attempt to write what I remember.

First off, I really like the lady doctor; and the nurse practioner is even better. Certainly, they both communicate more effectively than any male doctor I've ever known. And both the women had more compassion and understanding for "female" issues as well. I am definitely changing GPs.

As to the thoughts I had...when the nurse practioner was asking about my past medical history, and my family's medical history, I found myself having difficulty explaining about my youngest sister's recent mental breakdown. I realized that no matter how many times you see and hear others acknowledge THEIR mental/emotional problems, it is NOT easy to do.

I realized as I stammered through the details of my sister's condition that I was almost "apologizing" for her behavior, and the nurse (and later doctor) kept reassuring me by saying, "It's okay, that's okay, it happens...etc."

Then when I began to describe some of my own emotional difficulties, it became evident that I have similiar traits to my youngest sister. Mood swings, anxiety, depression, and insomnia at times. At which point the nurse suggested if I ever felt like I needed medication to even out my moods, it could be prescribed. But I didn't get anything today, except Ambien to help with occasional sleepless nights.

After thinking about this later, I have to admit that it was in some way shameful to me, that I didn't want to be associated with any kind of mental and/or emotional problem. Furthermore, I believe that is because here in the South it is considered "weakness"...possibly even "moral weakness" to have any kind of psychological problem. As if dealing with life -- no matter how devastating -- should be done with strength and, if necessary, suffering. Probably this comes from what little "church/christian" influence I had as a child. It is certain that most religious people say to rely on "god" and not medication and/or counseling. Consequently, I didn't escape unscathed from the "southern baptists brainwashing" of the Bible Belt after all.

Or maybe it is uniquely my family position as the eldest child, never wanting to admit "needing" anyone or any help of any kind? For I am indeed seriously, rabidly independent, nearly unable to ever ask for help and/or admit to needing assistance or anything for that matter. The absolute worst time of my life was when I was seriously ill in my early 20s, the feeling of helplessness and having to rely on others. Often I think if I became terminally ill, I'd just kill myself before I became dependent on others.

I'm not sure if this attitude is good or bad. For me, that is. I know the negative aspect is that I won't reach out for friendship, won't ask for help, won't even attempt to bridge the gap between want and need. The positive aspect is that I have always been a survivor, and never a follower, never part of the herd mentality, more of a solitary free- thinker. And that has helped my writing, made me a writer to some extent.

Yet I am left wondering what will happen someday when and if I need help?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I am typing this entry on my new QuickPad portable word processor. If you aren't familiar with these gadgets used mainly by students, it is basically a keyboard with four lines of monochrome text. It does have memory, a system of files, folders and transfer (via infared) to desktop PC. I LOVE it, ideal for a writer to compose either a rough draft or emails, etc. then revise on the computer.

I consider it an early Christmas present, although DH meant the cash he gave me to be used for my birthday. Either way, I got a bargain by buying it off Ebay. Maybe I can now update this journal more often!

I literally dread this time of year, starting before Thanksgiving and until New Year's Day. But then, anyone who has read this journal very long, knows I feel this way. However, I don't seem to be quite as depressed this year as I usually am. Maybe it's just because this is our first Christmas in this old house.

For decorations, I put a large set of electric candles in the picture window and strings of lights on the inside of the front sunporch windows, as well as electric candle sets out there. If I do say so myself, it turned out quite pretty -- clear bulbs, and lots of light. I hung a wreath on the front door, and let it go at that. We haven't had a Christmas tree in years.

My mother wants us to come there on Christmas Eve, and we may do that. Just not sure yet. I will get her and my step-dad a gift card, and give calendars to my sisters. But otherwise, we don't exchange expensive gifts.

As for DH, I ordered him full year subscriptions to two horse magazines, which he should enjoy. I will also find him another couple of gifts, maybe when I go to town Friday to return the library books. I still haven't read all those, and will have to recheck two of them.

I am steadily working on the rough draft of a short story inspired by the ghost story in the local newspaper about the train derailment near here. The title will be: Fogbound. I have the first part written, and work on it each night with this QuickPad.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with a new doctor, a lady GP who practices in the small town closeby. I have been thinking of finding a new doctor for a long time, and if I like this one, I'll switch. Right now I'd like to get some kind of medication to help ease my back strain; I'd been taking Flexiril (sp?) which is primarily a muscle relaxer. Maybe this lady GP can prescribe something better, or if not, then more Flexiril. Plus, I also need a renewed prescription for my blood pressure medication.

Tonight it is supposed to be around 15, the first real hard freeze we've had. I do not like temperatures this low, but maybe it'll kill off all the creepy-crawlers/bugs for this year. Fortunately this cold won't last too long, and then we'll have temperatures in the high 40s during the day, 20s at night. Sure FEELS like Christmas weather in Dixie now!

At night when I write on the QuickPad, the cats invaribly have to sit on my lap. One or the other is usually positioned between me and the keyboard, which IS a bit awkward...but hey, I can't complain for I do love the rascals!

I am still using the air-bike every day, between 30-45 minutes. The only problem I have is that I need a larger fan; the small one I use just doesn't keep me from getting overheated. I do believe that the air-bike gives me a better aerobic workout than outdoor biking, and certainly better than the NordicTrack ski machine ever did.

And that is it for tonight. I'll upload this and post it tomorrow morning.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

We're having our own version of "A River Runs Through It" tonight! After all the rain, rain, rain...our cellar flooded, and it looks like a river down there.

DH bought a sump pump, and it's been working since early this afternoon...and STILL the water comes. It seems the flow is coming from beneath a wall of cement blocks on the upper side, running down the slight tilt toward the other side. DH even checked to make sure a water line hadn't burst, since the water just keeps pouring. He said it might be a "wet weather spring" that's broken loose, and now flooding our cellar. What in the heck would you do about THAT?

Since we bought this place over a year ago, we've seen it damp in the cellar from time to time, but NOTHING like this! Of course, it HAS rained for days on end, only to have a couple days of sun, then back to raining. DH overheard a guy at lunch say his basement had flooded -- and it was a SEALED basement, and had never had a water problem! Goodness, the sump pumps are probably selling out fast in town!

I finally got all my research on the history of ownership of this house printed, framed and hung. Pictures to follow. I think it looks great in the living room, adds a special touch.

I'm now in the process of getting ALL the research and history of the nearby small town and community printed out, as well as other odds and ends, trying to prepare the "Time Capsule." I hope that I can have it done, and put it in the attic on January 1st of 2005. Still have a good bit to do, but I think I can make that deadline.

Anyhow, sawing and drilling are going on now in the cellar; DH is trying to create an outlet for the sump pump hose, so we don't have to keep the cellar door open.

More when life settles down and quiet returns...IF it ever does!

Here's a closer look -- printed a black and white recent photo of the house at the top of the material Posted by Hello

House History framed and hung, at last! Posted by Hello

Friday, December 03, 2004

Today is my birthday. And I'm actually in a fairly positive frame of mind, feel good. After all, what is the alternative to having birthdays? :-) I'm heading into the city, plan to do some shopping and then browse at the library. My sister visited yesterday, gave me several good books to read also.

Here's an excellent quote about the latest elections here in the USA:

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." --H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

A writer, of course, and certainly a genius since he correctly predicted the outcome of our glorious "democracy" in America.

And with that, I'm outta here!