My Novels

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sometimes something happens and for once, just once, you feel that life is GOOD!! I can't say this place is cursed anymore, since we had some of the BEST news in a long, long time this week: DH was fortunate enough to be eligible for a retirement incentive that will increase his benefits to the point we should never have to worry again about retirement funds. In addition to the rental income and his continuing hobby-business, we'll also have a lump sum in three to five years to put into our IRAs in addition to the monthly income for life. I almost feel like we've won the lottery, when in fact, it is funds that he's earned -- but the new program will increase substantially. He will have to continue working for the next three to five years, but NOW it is really worthwhile.

As usual, I almost fear being happy about it because I always think something will interfere, that anything good that happens to me will be taken away. And yet, I can't help but be very happy anyhow!

Today I went to town, did some shopping, mostly looking for bargains at the Salvation Army store. I got some cheap pillows and blankets for my cats to sleep on. And found a small magazine rack that will need painting. I also found three good paperback novels.

Yesterday I painted the bottom part of my bathroom with semi-gloss paint, so it'll be easier to keep clean.

I drove by our house in town today, but I have to admit that I finally feel less emotionally attached to the place. And yet...just driving through the old neighborhood brings back happy memories. And that makes me realize I'm still not ready to sell the house, so I guess we'll just keep renting it.

I've had a mild cold the past few days, but feel like it is almost over.

Now if we just had our taxes finished, I'd be almost content!

Monday, January 24, 2005

It was a hectic weekend, and when over, DH had sold two more horse trailers. That leaves two out in the yard, and those could be gone soon too.

I will write a lengthy entry tonight, if possible. But I wanted to post this poem that captures EXACTLY my feelings about war and humanity in general:

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

--Sara Teasdale

Friday, January 21, 2005

I've been busy, busy, busy! Yes, that's an excuse for not making more entries in this journal.

However, I HAVE accomplished one thing: I have a new short story online, which I posted at my website, The Prose Menagerie. It was written long ago, and I did some editing, typed it into the QuickPad, transferred it to the computer and now it's online. Willow River is about young love gone bad. Sort of. Just read it, if you have time.

I also found a batch of short stories I'd forgotten about, and plan to type, edit and post all of them in due time.

We're still have weird weather -- a few days of 60 degree temps, then plunging back to the teens at night.

DH has four horse/stock trailers for sale, and is hoping income tax refunds will bring him some buyers. We've certainly had people looking, and possibly ready to buy this weekend.

It's early morning now, and today I have to buy groceries. At least it's nice weather, in the 50s, sunny.

More when I have time to write a longer entry.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

We are having springlike weather here in Dixie -- almost uncomfortably warm for this time of year. Today I went to the grocery store, and it was almost warm enough for thin clothing. Weird January weather, a deep-freeze in the teens, then warm, hot, plunging back to the single digits.

I will post a couple of photos below -- the bench and mirror I bought at the Flea Market. The bench will not remain like this, with a throw and pillow, because we plan to pad the seat and arms with upholstery. We've already painted it though, just waiting to find the right fabric to compliment colors in the living room.

Sometimes (okay, lots of times) I can't believe that I am past 50. I will begin to remember my teenage years, and worry that I have become what I never meant to be. I suppose all teenagers have fantastic and unrealistic life plans. However, I have this specific recurring memory...

A slow, hot Saturday afternoon with my three sisters and mother at home. Mother hoping that daddy will be in soon, and we can all go somewhere. She was bored, I'm sure, and seemed always expecting our lives to improve.

I recall just staring at her and thinking that I would NEVER allow myself to sit home and "wait" for a man. That I would be independent, self-sufficient, have a career (as an executive secretary, airline stewardess, journalist, writer -- whatever I was dreaming of at the moment for my future) and that I would do as I pleased. I would never marry, never have children to tie me down (the last vow holding true), never be a "home-maker" or do housework, cook for a family, be a doormat. Oh, I was so sure that I would never make those mistakes, never allow myself to be captive of anything or anyone that threatened my independence.

Of course, I ended up marrying too young (at age 19!), but was at least adamant in my stance against having children. And I do have a good, loving DH, who has been supportive of my writing obsession. No, I can't say that I regret marrying who I did...but I DO regret that I didn't leave this area, see different places faraway. Perhaps visit New York city, maybe even live there for a period of time. It's not like I didn't have opportunity...for I took the civil service exam and was offered a position in secretarial work, one job even in Washington D.C. right out of high school. I often wonder what my life would have turned out to be if I had moved to Washington D.C. and taken that position? Ah, the stuff of a novel, I suppose.

But as I get older, occasionally I seem to dwell on the past more often. Especially those fateful teen years when dreams CAN be turned into reality. And I wonder why I didn't pursue certain goals more fervently? Maybe it's more my introspective, solitary nature than choices I made, since I prefer being alone to being around people?

When I graduated high school, I had a reason not to leave the area: my family needed me. I moved out after high school, found a good clerical job, and rented an apartment. But my mother and daddy were having problems, they were separated and mother was I felt my younger sisters needed me. I moved back home. Then daddy came back, and I just wanted to get away again. When I met DH, it seemed like a good escape, a quick getaway into marriage and safety, security.

Just when DH and I were on the verge of moving away from here, daddy died. Then my mother/sisters really did need me, as well as DH. The next seven years were devoted almost entirely to their welfare. I know they are all happier today because of this...but still, "family" became synonymous with "duty" and "burden" in my vocabulary.

In my 30s, I did make several attempts to leave here...but somehow, I never made that final break. Did I lack the courage? Or just find it easier to take the path of least resistance? I'm not sure. But even IF I had left, would I have been worse off, more miserable, less happy?

I only know that often I find myself wondering, pondering how I came to be the person I am today -- and not the one I hoped to be when young. Perhaps this is a universal experience, one that other older people have too. I doubt that even the ones who did pursue their dreams, whether it worked out or not, wouldn't accept a chance to do it all over, knowing what they know now.

Here's the photos:

Old Mirror Posted by Hello

Bench with temporary coverlet Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 06, 2005

What do you believe, but can't prove? Tantalizing question, no? But greater minds than mine (and maybe yours) have pondered this question -- and answered in the following excerpt from an article. Enjoy!

God (or Not), Physics and, of Course, Love: Scientists Take a Leap

What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"

This was the question posed to scientists, futurists and other creative thinkers by John Brockman, a literary agent and publisher of Edge, a Web site devoted to science. The site asks a new question at the end of each year. Here are excerpts from the responses, posted at length at:


David Buss
Psychologist, University of Texas; author, "The Evolution of Desire"

True love.

I've spent two decades of my professional life studying human mating. In that time, I've documented phenomena ranging from what men and women desire in a mate to the most diabolical forms of sexual treachery. I've discovered the astonishingly creative ways in which men and women deceive and manipulate each other. I've studied mate poachers, obsessed stalkers, sexual predators and spouse murderers. But throughout this exploration of the dark dimensions of human mating, I've remained unwavering in my belief in true love.

While love is common, true love is rare, and I believe that few people are fortunate enough to experience it. The roads of regular love are well traveled and their markers are well understood by many - the mesmerizing attraction, the ideational obsession, the sexual afterglow, profound self-sacrifice and the desire to combine DNA. But true love takes its own course through uncharted territory. It knows no fences, has no barriers or boundaries. It's difficult to define, eludes modern measurement and seems scientifically woolly. But I know true love exists. I just can't prove it.


Robert Sapolsky
Neuroscientist, Stanford University, author, "A Primate's Memoir"

Mine would be a fairly simple, straightforward case of an unjustifiable belief, namely that there is no god(s) or such a thing as a soul (whatever the religiously inclined of the right persuasion mean by that word). ...

I'm taken with religious folks who argue that you not only can, but should believe without requiring proof. Mine is to not believe without requiring proof. Mind you, it would be perfectly fine with me if there were a proof that there is no god. Some might view this as a potential public health problem, given the number of people who would then run damagingly amok. But it's obvious that there's no shortage of folks running amok thanks to their belief. So that wouldn't be a problem and, all things considered, such a proof would be a relief - many physicists, especially astrophysicists, seem weirdly willing to go on about their communing with god about the Big Bang, but in my world of biologists, the god concept gets mighty infuriating when you spend your time thinking about, say, untreatably aggressive childhood leukemia.


Editor-in-Chief, New Scientist

Strangely, I believe that cockroaches are conscious. That is probably an unappealing thought to anyone who switches on a kitchen light in the middle of the night and finds a family of roaches running for cover. But it's really shorthand for saying that I believe that many quite simple animals are conscious, including more attractive beasts like bees and butterflies.

I can't prove that they are, but I think in principle it will be provable one day and there's a lot to be gained about thinking about the worlds of these relatively simple creatures, both intellectually—and even poetically. I don't mean that they are conscious in even remotely the same way as humans are; if that we were true the world would be a boring place. Rather the world is full of many overlapping alien consciousnesses.

Why do I think they might be multiple forms of conscious out there? Before becoming a journalist I spent 10 years and a couple of post-doctoral fellowships getting inside the sensory worlds of a variety of insects, including bees and cockroaches. I was inspired by A Picture Book of Invisible Worlds, a slim out-of-print volume by Jakob von Uexkull (1864-1944).

The same book had also inspired Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz, the Nobel Prize winners who founded the field of ethology (animal behaviour). Von Uexkull studied the phenomenal world of animals, what he called their "umwelt", the worlds around animals as they themselves perceive them. Everything that an animals senses means something to it, for it has evolved to fit and create its world. Study of animals and their sensory worlds have now morphed into the field of sensory ecology, or on a wilder path, the newer science of biosemiotics.

I studied time studying how honey bees could find their way around my laboratory room (they had learnt to fly in through a small opening in the window) and find a hidden source of sugar. Bees could learn all about the pattern of key features in the room and would show they were confused if objects were moved around when they were out of the room. They were also easily distracted by certain kinds of patterns, particularly ones with lots of points and lines that had very abstract similarities to the patterns on flowers, as well as by floral scents, and by sudden movements that signalled danger. In contrast, when they were busy gorging on the sugar almost nothing could distract them, making it possible for myself to paint a little number on their backs so I distinguish individual bees.

To make sense of this ever changing behaviour, with its shifting focus of attention, I always found it simplest to figure out what was happening by imagining the sensory world of the bee, with its eye extraordinarily sensitive to flicker and colours we can't see, as a "visual screen" in the same way I can sit back and "see" my own visual screen of everything happening around me, with sights and sounds coming in and out of prominence. The objects in the bees world have significances or "meaning" quite different from our own, which is why its attention is drawn to things we would barely perceive.

That's what I mean by consciousness—the feeling of "seeing" the world and its associations. For the bee, it is the feeling of being a bee. I don't mean that a bee is self-conscious or spends time thinking about itself. But of course the problem of why the bee has its own "feeling" is the same incomprehensible "hard problem" of why the activity of our nervous system gives rise to our own "feelings".

But at least the bee's world is very visual and capable of being imagined. Some creatures live in sensory worlds that are much harder to access. Spiders that hunt at night live in a world dominated by the detection of faint vibration and of the tiniest flows of air that allow them to see fly passing by in pitch darkness. Sensory hairs that cover their body give them a sensitivity to touch far more finely grained than we can possibly feel through our own skin.

To think this way about simple creatures is not to fall into the anthropomorphic fallacy. Bees and spiders live in their own world in which I don't see human-like motives. Rather it is a kind of panpsychism, which I am quite happy to sign up to, at least until we know a lot more about the origin of consciousness. That may take me out of the company of quite a few scientists who would prefer to believe that a bee with a brain of only a million neurones must surely be a collection of instinctive reactions with some simple switching mechanism between then, rather have some central representation of what is going on that might be called consciousness. But it leaves me in the company of poets who wonder at the world of even lowly creatures.

"In this falling rain,
where are you off to

wrote the haiku poet Issa.

And as for the cockroaches, they are a little more human than the spiders. Like the owners of the New York apartments who detest them, they suffer from stress and can die from it, even without injury. They are also hierarchical and know their little territories well. When they are running for it, think twice before crushing out another world.


What do I believe, but can't prove? Why, I believe that humanity is doomed -- that possibly, fatally ALL intelligent life is doomed (because it is destructive to the universe/cosmos) and in many, oh-so-many ways, humans are very similar to ants. Think about ants, study them awhile, you'll see what I mean. I believe that there may be some "unknown" natural law to the cosmos that rids itself of intelligent life. Think of cancer and how it spreads through a human, devouring and destroying the host. Is that not, in some ways, how humans are in relation to the earth -- and possibly, eventually, to the cosmos itself?

Unfortunately, I am human, therefore I cannot wholly embrace this unproven theory for I, like others of my kind, wish to survive.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Year's Resolutions

In honor of New Year's Day, I will list my resolutions today. Some of these I might accomplish, others probably not. But it's always hopeful just to write the list. And without hope, how bleak the future would be!

1. I'd like to lose ten pounds, but if I only lose five, I'll be satisfied. That would put me under 100 lbs again, which I did like. I consider my ideal weight to be 95; I feel light, fit and look slim at that weight. I now weigh 107 lbs, and mostly because I indulge in occasional sweets. It is amazing how easy it is to feel full and stay slim IF you simply cut out ALL sugary, sweet treats.

2. Finish the short story I'm working on (Fogbound). And then write MORE fiction. I am thinking of typing up a short story I wrote years ago for the confession magazines. I never sent it in, and with some updating, it could be submitted. I also may try writing a few confession stories, try to sell them. However, the response time is one year. I'm reading a few of the confession magazines, studying the style. (I found a stack of these magazines at a thrift shop nearby, gave 25 cents each for them.)

3. Get a roof, sofit vinyl trim and gutters put on this house in spring. DH will also finish the garage renovation, turn it into a saddle/tack shop.

4. Create attractive, decorative touches in the yard -- an arbor at the end of the rock sidewalk entry. Make a small flowerbed near my swing in the backyard. (I've already planted bulbs around the backporch, which should come up in spring.)

4. Try not to stay so busy with this house that I don't have time for writing. Get some rest and not kill myself by trying to get the remaining tasks done on any timeline.

5. Relax if I can't accomplish all of this, because...nothing matters that much. If everyone and every thing on earth can be wiped out in a flash (and it CAN indeed happen: i.e. comet/asteroid strike)...absolutely nothing is important enough to get upset about, when it comes to human accomplishments. Live life one day at a time, and do what makes me happy.


Later today DH and I will go for a drive, visit one of the guys he met yesterday. They may trade horse trailers. It is near 70 degrees today, sunny and almost TOO warm. My cats are lying in the sunshine pouring through the large sunporch window -- and for now, all is well with my world.

With each day that dawns, life is apt to toss us a curve ball and destroy all that has been achieved by humans. In the words of one scientist: "I've realized that life has no meaning, but that we humans are here, if for nothing else, simply to observe and discover."

My philosophy exactly! And that's how I live -- researching, learning via the web/books/life experience; writing about what I've learned; trying to keep a roof over my head. And hope the Big Bad Wolf doesn't strike here or anywhere nearby.

Welcome New Year, 2005!