My Novels

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mixed Emotions....

Hmm, it seems the local newspaper (where I once worked) is seeking a Lifestyle Editor. There's been a lot of recent turn-over in reporters/editors/etc. lately, and they are having trouble finding replacements. I had submitted a resume/published news article clips some time ago, never had any response, but today the managing editor (who is quitting tomorrow) sent me an email, and told me to re-submit my resume/clippings to the new publisher.

Do I? Or not? I'm very tempted, because though the daily grind can be stressful, it would give me some daily structure. Besides, then I'd have evenings/weekends free for other writing pursuits, or whatever. Just thinking it over, haven't decided yet if I really want to return to work (don't have to, financially, but it might be good for me).

My sister/bro-in-law took off on their vacation yesterday, and other sister is staying with mother -- not a happy camper either. I will probably help out some tomorrow, but as I've stated before, can't do that 24/7.

Hot, smoky, hazy and stifling out today. I still took the dogs on a walk, then biked. But it gets more difficult when the air quality is so very poor. And on the news today, there were reports of fires breaking out in south Alabama. If we don't get rain soon, this is going to be a wasteland. I did weed-eating, front and back yard, the past few days -- but unless we get rain, the whole yard doesn't need mowing. In fact, the grass looks like its dying. {Guess what? Less mowing!}

I went to the library earlier, got three good books, two movies. Nothing much on TV, since I only have basic cable and it's re-run season from now till the Fall.

That's it for now.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Get a will made...soon!

Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart...but necessary. If you are at all concerned about what will happen to your life's work/possessions, etc. you need to get a legal will made by an attorney. I can assure you, it will NOT be a happy experience -- because you HAVE to face the fact you will one day die, be gone, cease to exist.

Yeah, yeah...I know...YOU already know that. Or do you? Only when you truly CONFRONT it by putting down in black-and-white what you want done after your death in a legal document you KNOW will only be valid after your death, does it truly hit you as reality. Try it, you'll see what I mean.

I know because, even though I've contemplated suicide often, contemplation is abstract, not concrete. I don't think I'm afraid to die (as long as I don't have to suffer terribly long), just that trying to work with documents you know will be left behind for family has a depressing tendency. Especially since I had to write a letter for my family, explaining my decisions/wishes more clearly, and what would happen to everything after my death. I wanted to do this because I know the squabbles and hassles families get into after someone dies, and this is MY personal handwritten message from beyond the grave.

Then I had to get all my necessary papers together, such as house deeds/car title, living will, you-name-it, and put all this stuff in a fireproof box where it can stay in one of my antique trunks for access should something happen to me. Not a fun way to occupy a couple of days, let me assure you.


Get on it, if you haven't already. And this goes for those of you married, otherwise your spouse will end up in probate court involved in legal hassles UNLESS your state law honors the joint ownership of property and EVERY SINGLE THING YOU OWN is in both your names on legal documents.

{Of course, if you just want to leave behind a big mess for your family to deal with, and get into fights over, then heck, just ignore making a will.}

I'll end with this link to an excellent article for those of us in our mid-life passages into old age:

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fait Accompli

Yes, the will is being processed, and I should have it signed by early next week. I can rest a bit easier now, but won't feel entirely comfortable until the will is "signed/sealed & delivered." The attorney (a friend of my late husband's) was wonderful, and even made some useful, helpful suggestions about dispensing of personal items, cherished things, etc. Additionally, I dropped by the bank and changed beneficiary names on two remaining accounts: IRA & Roth IRA. Between those and the will, I can die with a smile on my face knowing I've helped ease the suffering of countless animals in this county. Not a bad legacy, methinks.

Otherwise, it's still hot, dry and miserable here. Sister stopped by for a brief visit earlier, and said mother is doing a bit better. Looks like they can't get mother back in the nursing home at this point, due to red tape, and medicaid possibly not paying. Just have to wait it out, and hope for the best, I suppose.

Next week sister/bro-in-law where mother lives are going on a vacation, so my other sister will stay there (alone) with mother. I will assist some, but not overnight or all day long. To tell you the truth, vacations aren't part of a care-taker's job description -- so I'm NOT sitting out there with mother for long periods of time. Sister volunteered to have mother live with her, and will just have to "live" with the consequences.

With that, I'm outta here for now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Stuff

I have an appointment with an attorney tomorrow afternoon, hopefully to get a will drawn up, and get advice about an Executor of my estate. If he's willing, I plan to have him be the Executor. I know firmly what I want done with everything I have, down to the last item, and this is the only way I can rest assured my wishes will be fulfilled. Over time (should I live into old age) there might be more or less, depending on unpredictable events. But for now, I need to get this done -- just in case I should die in an accident, have a fatal heart attack, whatever.

Speaking of heart attacks, here's a little lighthearted tidbit:

A mechanic was removing a cylinder-head from the motor of a Dodge SRT-4 when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop.

The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his car when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?"

The cardiologist, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the SRT. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new... So how come I make 39K a year, a pretty small salary, and you get the really big bucks, about 1 mil, when you and I are doing basically the same work?"

The cardiologist paused, smiled and leaned over, then whispered to the mechanic...

"Try doing it with the engine running."

Later today I have an appointment to get Rambo's nails clipped. Oscar sits in my lap, lets me clip his without any problem. But Rambo starts squirming, squealing like I'm about to kill him -- perhaps someone once cut into the quick, and that's why he's afraid of it? At any rate, I can easily bath them in my utility sink (about once every two weeks), and except for Rambo needing his nails clipped/trimmed, manage their grooming myself.

Here's a recent picture of my pups wrestling in the yard:

And a picture of my recently mown backyard:

--Mowing courtesy of yours truly!

Woke this morning to smoky haze, stifling; the smoke from forest fires in Georgia and Florida are blanketing this whole region. If we don't get rain (and none is predicted for TWO weeks) there won't be a need to mow (yippee!), but the air quality is very poor, and people with health issues are urged to stay indoors. Hitting close to 90 degrees every day, hot and stagnant, stinky air -- not going to be a happy summer outdoors, I fear.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Good luck & bad luck...

That seems to have been the theme of my life this past week: some things fell into my lap by coincidence (although when that happens while working on a writing project, I often think it's almost supernatural) and bad things as well.

First the good luck: The house where I grew up is still a renter house in a block of row houses. I bike past it almost every day, and already had a picture of the outside for my memoir, but now it's empty. At first the door was locked, but then painters started working inside -- and the other afternoon as I biked by there, I saw the door was ajar. I checked, and the door was unlocked. The reason I didn't ask to go inside, while painters were there, is that I wasn't sure what kind of emotional reaction I would have -- had never been back inside that place since I was eighteen, and moved mother and the girls out; I wanted to be alone when I saw it. Anyway, I hurried home, got my camera and drove my car back to the house. I must have taken 30 or more pictures of the inside of the vacant house! Talk about haunted, I had vivid flashbacks of so, so many horrors lived in that house! But I kept an objectivity as a photographer, and got pictures of everything...especially certain views that captured volatile, violent episodes in our lives.

The one of the backdoor, curtain pulled aside, is especially evocative: One time daddy left on a trip (he was a truckdriver) and then near dusk, he suddenly appeared at that backdoor. His eyes were wild, glazed (probably on benny pills/liquor) and called me, in a whisper, to come to him. He said he was going to kill us all, and showed me a gun. That'd he sneaked back to check up on mother (he was always convinced she was cheating on him, paranoid no doubt)...and thus began one of the scariest nights of my life. Suffice to say, it took considerable persuasion to convince him NOT to kill us, and instead take us to my paternal grandparents' house.

Anyhow, I can use these photos (in sepia) with my memoir -- which I'm still submitting. Have had a few nibbles about publication, and the pix will greatly help.

The bad luck: Looks like my washer is toast. I happened to check on it the other day since it sounded odd -- and found a small pool on the utility floor! Spent hours soaking, mopping up the mess. I think the lint filter (which was full of lint) may have caused this problem, and it did pump the remainder of the water out after I cleaned that. I just haven't been willing to test it yet, since I don't feel like mopping up water again. This set was here when I bought the house, and both are high quality but old. If the washer is history, I'll buy a new set at Lowe's, have them delivered and installed. I asked at Lowe's today, and they will take away the old set.

Mother is not doing well -- and my sister and bro-in-law with whom she lives, apparently have reached the limit of their coping ability. They are trying to get mother back into the nursing home, but finding there's as much red tape this time as the first time. Had they left her there then, mother would have been settled in and have had better 24/7 care. Home health is NOT a substitute for institutional care, not at all. I would say, "I told you so," cause I did -- told all of them, wrote it here in this blog. Hey, though, live and learn, huh?

I mowed my backyard the other morning, and had no problems. Still one of the dirtest jobs on earth though! Ugh. I do love the electric weedeater though. I wrote to the company that makes electric rechargable battery push mowers, Neuton, and suggested they come out with a small electric riding mower with rechargable batteries. They respsonded, and thanked me for my input; said it helped them decide what products to offer in the future. I predict whoever comes out with such a riding mower will make a quick fortune!

I've also been trying to decide on an estate lawyer to draw up my Will, and act as Executor of my estate. I don't want my sisters/nephews to have to deal with the hassle of all that when I die -- even if not soon. I want to get it all worked out in legal terms, cut-and-dried, so that I won't have to worry what will happen when I'm gone. DH had several lawyer-friends, one of whom lives across the street from my other house, and who did DH's Will. I'll try him first; he's only in his 30s, so chances are he'll outlive ME. Important, you know. It's taken me this long after DH's death to figure out what I want done with everything I own, but let's just say: "There's gonna be some happy animal critters when I shuffle off this mortal coil."

I took the dogs on a walk in the nearby park earlier; our weather is gorgeous! Mild temps, sunny, makes it hard to stay indoors.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Snake in my backyard...

That's right -- I saw a snake in my backyard this morning! Worse, I think it had been under my house, since the screen I have over the open door there seemed to be ajar. I believe it was a harmless snake, not sure, but there is a creek about half a block away, and I've seen snake skins all along the street where I walk the dogs. {Pictures of the creek/street in an earlier post.}

At any rate, I was sauntering around the yard, not paying much attention when I looked down and saw my foot about an inch from the snake. It was completely still, and at first I thought it was dead, but then I moved, and it began slithering away. The dogs were romping around, and I stood very still, watching the snake head toward the bordering yard that is situated on the street beside the creek. I didn't want the dogs to get snake bit, and for sure, they'd have been after if it they'd seen it.

I inspected the screen, saw it was ajar and fixed it...but wondered if other snakes were under there? For one thing, it's been awfully dry the past weeks, (finally some rain last night though!) and the creek is nothing but a pitiful trickle. I've seen snake skins along that street, and one whopper of a snake that someone apparently beheaded -- lying in the gutter.

Then I remembered a couple of small holes in my utility/laundry-room floor, and wondered if snakes were able to get INSIDE. Woe is me, when my imagination kicks in!!! (sigh) I made sure all the holes were covered, just to be on the safe side. Plus, I believe the dogs and/or cats would find a snake inside the house. Last summer the cats attacked/beheaded a small green lizard, which I found in the laundry room later.

Then last week I had a strange, whispery voice left on my answering machine; my phone number just came out in the phone book (not in there for most of the past year since I moved) and it frightened me. So much so that I let my sister listen to it, but we both thought maybe it was just a wrong number by an elderly person who was having trouble breathing.

Saturday morning someone was ringing the doorbell very early, before eight, and the dogs woke me up barking. I heard the doorbell once, but no one was there by the time I got to the front door. I thought maybe it was my renter, dropping by with the rent (since it was due), but asked her Monday when she paid, and she said it wasn't her.

Just when I was feeling safe, secure and settled, these weird things. Again, an imaginary leap -- but I wondered if DH is trying to tell me something from that vague, shadowy other-world? (I know, I know...stupidstitious.)

Oh well, so it goes...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Busy Weekend

I spent Saturday afternoon mowing the front yard, and finishing the weed-eating. I still love the small, lightweight rechargable battery weed-eater (Task Force).

Then the usual: took dogs on a long walk, biked and spent the evening reading a new novel. The title of the book from which I posted an excerpt below in a post: "Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet," by former FBI profiler, John Douglas. It is based on the real-life case of John Robinson who lured women (most in the S&M alternate sex lifestyle) to his trailer, via the internet, and then killed them and disposed of their bodies in large metal barrels. Ugh. Such a sordid story, but true -- and a cautionary tale for anyone meeting strangers online, then in real life. John Robinson was married, had several kids, gregarious and well-liked in his community, by the way -- NOT a loner. He simply had a secret, sadistic side and was a master manipulator. Highly recommended.

Sunday I drove around to some of the car lots in town, looking at cars (without the pressure of salesmen). There's nothing wrong with my present car, but I have been thinking of trading it for a newer model -- perhaps one that would even get better gas mileage. Mine is a 2000 Ford Escort, and gets very good gas mileage, and only has 61,000 miles on it, so it should have good trade-in value and/or resell price.

I looked at a Toyota Prius - which is a hybrid, part rechargable battery, part gas. It was a 2001 model, had 68,000 miles on it, and that mileage has me a bit concerned: the batteries are very expensive to replace and possibly the one in that car could be on the verge of needing replacement. I also looked at the 2007 Ford Focus, but all the Ford place had was sedans and I want a hatchback this time -- it'd be easier to carry larger items than a sedan. I don't know, still undecided. Half the fun is "searching/looking" though!

That's about it for today.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

So, Friday I saw the most amazing Oprah show in which, OMG, celebrity moms had such amazing, incredible, astounding wisdom about not only being a mom, but how to praise your own mom. LOL. I mean, these celeb moms (especially Maria Shriver) probably haven't seen, much less actually raised their kids, in forevvver. It would have been sad if it wasn't sooooo hilarious...particularly the Demi Moore interview in which she espouses maternal wisdom when, clearly, she hated her own mother MOST of her life, wouldn't even speak to her. Yeah, gotcha (good PR).

Anyway, if these women did NOT have children, would they dare speak out about being happily childfree? Methinks proably NOT. I'm just saying...celeb moms giving advice on parenting is like Anna Nichole advising us on sobriety. Or Oprah even hosting this topic, since she herself hasn't married OR had kids and by all accounts, left her mother to live with her father who helped her become who she is today. But never mind, it's Mother's Day.

Hmm, what really got me to thinking was the segment where Maria Shriver/Terminator said the best thing to do for Mother's Day is write your mom a letter listing what you learned from her.

Okay, here goes my top ten list of what I learned from my mother (who gave birth to me, but who I DO NOT consider my actual mother since my paternal grandmother is who I bonded with):

10. How to act childlike and stupid

9. How to deny anything and everything that happens and pretend life is just rosy

8. Keep pretending even when you are slapped in the face, beaten to within an inch of your life by your alcoholic husband

7. Have a bunch of kids and then ignore them, neglect them

6. Be especially enabling to your alcoholic husband so he can't face the consequences of his addiction

5. Always choose your husband over your children, even if their lives are threatened

4. If all else fails, burden your husband's parents with demands and know they'll help

3. IF your husband dies and leaves you and your children penniless, make sure your grown daughter/son-in-law feel guilty and responsible so they'll help you (Keep up this act if you end up alone and penniless in old age, so one of the daughters -- the religious one -- will take you in though it may destroy her life)

2. After your alcoholic husband dies, start dating as soon as possible and ignore your children so you can go out and have a good time

And the Number ONE thing I learned:

1. Be selfish, self-centered to the exclusion of everyone else in your life

I have to say I learned the #1 lesson best, though the others obviously didn't seem to make much sense to me. It took a long, long time...but I finally realized that #1 lesson is worthy of following (and pretty much what makes America a great country of capitalism -- greed/selfishness rules).

So Happy Mother's Day all you ladies who think you'll be different than your mom's and that YOUR kids will really, really love you and be good to you, even as you truly (deep in your heart, though you SAY otherwise) don't care much for your own mom.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What do you believe in?

I've been reading one of the books I got at the library today, and discovered the most amazing quote:

Everyone is looking for something to believe in. You just have to find out what it is they're looking for.

Sooo, do you believe in hope? Believe in Jesus? Believe in happy-ever-after-endings? Believe the world is going to end tomorrow? Are you cynical or optimistic? Believe in the good in humans? Believe in the evil in humans?

This line of questioning could go on FOR--EVER. I mean, truly, do YOU know what you believe in? Do you know what you DO NOT believe in?

Well, ladies & gents, I don't believe in the power to manipulate others, I absolutely KNOW it. How?

Who was the person responsible for this quote? No other than the infamous Charles Manson. He could have spoken for the advertising media, the so-called religious/preachers, politicians/politics, popular fiction writers, etc. ad nauseaum. For people are vulnerable, IF you know what that vulnerability is: What they want/need to believe in.

Soon I'll reveal the title of the book I found this quote in -- which I'd never seen before.

Brief Update

For those who don't read my daily/constant updates at Twitter (sidebar), just wanted to mention what I've been doing lately.

Yesterday I spent most of the day cleaning my outside windows, then hosed down the cats' screenporch/carport. The dust here, since we're in a drought, has been awful -- all that work was long overdue.

I also found a lightweight weedeater with rechargable battery at Lowe's and LOVE it. Came with two batteries, so I have plenty of power for doing this yard perimeter.

We're having suffocating, hot weather and need rain soooo desperately. I've decided not to mow the front lawn again until it rains; afraid I'm going to kill the grass, it's so dry.

I went to the library earlier, found a couple of good novels and several DVD movies. The library has DVDs, which are free to checkout for two weeks. Nice! One of the movies I'm looking forward to: "Rumor Has It" with Jennifer Anniston and Shirley MaClaine, a comedy.

I was informed via email this morning that my blog (yes, this blog you're reading right now) won an award at "Famous Blog of the Day." Makes it worth the effort, though I consider it an expressive outlet I couldn't do without.

Lastly, I'll leave you with a few photos of last week when we went to a nearby lake park:

Baby ducks on the lake

Lots & lots of ducks around the lake, tame, but dogs didn't know what to make of them!

There's a great paved two-lane path around the entire lake, for biking and walking. May take my bike there someday to bike

Monday, May 07, 2007

Just when you thought it was safe...

and your life was secure, this happens. Of course, the news agencies only got ahold of it today, but apparently astronomers have been observing this somewhat curious massive super-nova since last September.

I won't bother to educate you folks on what a super-nova is, since google will most aptly teach the uninitiated. However, since Eta Carinae is in our own Milky Way and could potentially go the way of this other peculiar super-nova, I think you can all conclude that life as we know it would simply cease to exist. Here. There. Everywhere in our universe. Put that in your deep-thinker cap, and see how it relates to your daily grind. I've followed Eta Carinae for a long time, and in fact, I started a sci-fi story based on just that kind of scenario -- doomsday. {Um, you ain't gonna get no stinkin bad news about life ending from that via most sources; after all, we don't want to know if today, this second could be our last, do we?}

Mowed the lawn this morning; one of the dirtiest jobs ever, no matter how you cut it. I did buy some very good safety glasses, as I hate the blowback of grass in my eyes. One reason it's so bad lately is that we're in a drought, and there is nothing but dry ground under that sparse grass. Ugh.

After a shower, I went to Walmart and planned to buy the rechargable battery weedeater, but they were sold out. There was another one for $79.00. I could barely lift it, much less USE it. Woe is me. You know, I'm beginning to believe this quote from the movie Fight Club: The things you own will eventually end up owning you. Argh. Maybe I should just downsize to a tiny rented apartment somewhere, and let the management take care of upkeep!!??!!

Will bike later, though it's much cooler here today, only in the 70s. Nice for a change.

My MIL called today, and we talked for over an hour. She seems to have had some sort of crisis about DH, asked her church members to "pray" for her...then said she had a dream/vision that DH came to her and told her he was okay, not to worry about him any more. That seemed to comfort her, so she said she is coping better now.

Another of DH's friends told me (not long after DH died) that he had a vision while driving his truck (uh, that IS scary, he drives a gas tanker) of DH sitting beside him, silent.

You know, DH doesn't visit my dreams. Neither of us believed much in spirituality (though I can be stupidstitious at times) -- and certainly were NOT religious -- so maybe that is why. I've had a few vague dreams of him, but nothing I could remember clearly. I know, even IF he could, he would NOT come back to haunt me, harass me, advise me. Why? Because he knows I've always been an independent person, and will cope -- one way or another. And IF (a big IF) there is something beyond this world, he/his spirit is at peace. He was a GOOD person, whether he believed in God or not, and that is what truly matters. But frankly, he's just gone...dead...not coming back -- in any form. Like all humans will be eventually.

On that cynical note, I'll end this.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

My cats in photos...

Yep, they are all still here. When the dogs go to their crate to sleep at night, the cats come inside to play! The cats routine hasn't changed at all; they've always had their daytime special home (a screeporch/indoor haven attached to house) and only came inside at night for a few hours. And that is still true.

I have some photos of their playtime:

The two Queen B*tches (Pretty & Ms. Bitty)-- always vying for dominate cat

Pretty wins, always does...though Bitty will be next to take the ONE Queen B*tch status

They are contemplating a smackdown!

Except for Princess, who could care less & prefers to watch

Been a lazy day, just the usual slow Sunday. I did take the dogs on a walk late, after the temps cooled down somewhat. Didn't bike, since I often take Sundays off from biking. Tomorrow we're supposed to get a cool front, and with temps only in the 70s, so I'll probably mow the backyard.