My Novels

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Daily happenings

I really don't write in this journal as often as I THINK about posting! Procrastination often leads to outdated thoughts (or even forgotten ideas) and I need to stop this behavior. I should write something, even if brief, every day or at least every other day. Maybe I can get motivated soon!

We had a few nice moderate days, for a southern summer, and I enjoyed walking the dogs and biking every afternoon. It's heating up again, with high humidity so I have to wait later and later each day.

I am reading another good novel by Thomas Cook, "The Interrogation." I started browsing in the large print section of the local library and I'm finding books there which are not stocked in regular print. A bonanza, since I have read every available book by my favorite authors in the regular print section.

The selection of DVD movies are increasing also, and I find at least two or three each time I've never seen. Summer TV season is horrible, and these movies are a good replacement.

Of course, it promises to be a long, hot, ugly summer with politics, heat, soaring gas prices, the economy in the toilet and weird, freaky weather. The latest on the weather, including the midwest flooding, is the rare "dry storms" in California where as many as 8,000 lightning strikes have ignited over 800 wildfires. Apparently these dry storms do occur, but usually later in the summer and not with this kind of dangerous lightning. I would say it's global warming, but instead I believe it's a combination of humans using fossil fuels AND the earth's precession. The thing is, how much global warming could change the precession, increasing climate changes too, is something I wonder about.

In matters of health, which are becoming more and more of a joke every day, here's a comical but insightful article to read: Achieving Wellness, Whatever That Is

An excerpt:
There are so few good belly laughs in health care these days. What a pity I am likely to be the only person on the planet to enjoy the guffaw-laden, if slightly unnerving, experience of reading Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Dr. Nortin Hadler’s new books in tandem, taking careful notes.

Both are practicing physicians who have made second careers interpreting medical principles for a lay audience. Both consider themselves experts not only in illness but also in wellness, that shimmering grail of our time. Both have combed through all the latest studies and are now pleased to provide you, the average healthy adult, with guidelines for staying well.

Both muster science, statistics and a judicious smattering of personal experience to present, with no small fanfare, completely, utterly, diametrically opposite advice.

I spent a few days looking at cars, thinking about trading mine off and getting a newer one. But I couldn't find anything I was crazy about, and since mine is a good car, gets great gas mileage, decided to wait.

One feature I'd been looking at was a vehicle that had a larger storage area so I could take my bike places; and an area for taking the dogs with me to the park, etc. However, I learned I could buy a "dog barrier" to put between the two front bucket seats, and thus confine them to the backseat.

After seeing photos of a barrier, I came up with my own "invention." This is a tip for those who want to do it themselves: If you have a dog crate (and most dog owners do) just take the removable middle barrier and attach it to your seatbelt buckle holders on either side of the car with bungee cords and it works like a champ.

Here's a photo of what mine looks like:

Matching bungee cords would have been better, but what the heck, I had these already.

I had a throw that fit perfectly over the backseat, and put some old cushions in the floor for the dogs.

And that's your lesson in thriftiness and creativity for today! LOL

The great part is the dogs LOVE this, don't try to get over the barrier and even Oscar has nearly stopped whining. I am working on training him to ride quietly, using a small spray bottle of water. I'm determined to have well-behaved dogs, and it's a challenge to train them. Unlike cats, dogs quickly understand commands and already these know the words: Go! Walk! Car! Sit! Treat! Stop! (Well, Oscar has a little trouble with the Stop! when it concerns whining with anticipation.) Bed! And more day by day. Cats can be coaxed sweetly; dogs do better with firm commands and rewards (like treats).

Next I will buy a bike rack for the back of my car, in order to take my bike to a wonderful biking park near a lake within the city. The biking/walking trail is paved, winds alongside the lake through tall pines -- sloping inclines, curves, looks like a FUN ride.

I'm outta here for today...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More pictures

As promised, I will post a few more photos from my trip.

We're having nice weather, if a bit hot, and I hope to go for a long bike ride after walking the dogs. I went to the library yesterday and found four great movies on DVD. "Miss Potter" I watched last night and it was wonderful! It's about the life of children's author Beatrix Potter. Remember "The Tale of Peter Rabbit?" I do! Beautiful movie with great actors: Renee Zelleweger and Ewan McGregor. Check HERE for details.

I also got a good novel by Thomas Cook, "The Cloud of Unknowing." He's one of my favorite mystery authors, and if you've never read his work, I suggest you hurry to the library and begin now!

Sunday afternoon the renter's called, and invited me over. They surprised me with a gorgeous landscaping job on the front yard, and I do mean gorgeous! All kinds of flowers, a border along the curved sidewalk, and neat, freshly mown yard. (Will try to get a photo soon.)

I'm liking them better and better, and beginning to feel I will be able to call on them for almost anything -- moving my furniture, helping me get large stuff home in their pickup, even help with my critters should I become ill. THIS is a huge relief, because I have been searching for exactly these kind of tenants -- since I'm willing to cut down the rent sometimes in exchange for help. They seem willing to do anything without charge, but I always feel better to "pay my way." Plus, I genuinely LIKE them both; they are friendly, easygoing and yes, pay the rent on time! Maybe I've struck gold this time; at least I'm hoping so.

So without further delay, here's the photos:

Oscar & Rambo on the back deck, checking out scents

Rambo doing his thing in the back yard

Back of sis & bro-in-law's house. Have no idea why only two people need this much house!

Home again! Nature welcomed me with a spectacular sunset from my own backyard. Can't beat home sweet home, be it ever so humble.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Home again!

Actually, I arrived home late Saturday afternoon but just haven't felt like posting until now.

We all had a GREAT time. Unfortunately, Oscar whined nearly the entire drive to Huntsville. We went to visit my mother first at the assisted living place, which was 20 miles east. He still remembers her, since Oscar was my step-dad's dog. I walked him around the building twice, thought he'd settled down on our drive...but no luck. Rambo, as usual, was just fine; he travels well. Very quiet, never barks, never whines...just lies there looking satisfied. Oscar, on the other hand, has become the problem "child" er, I mean "dog." LOL

At any rate, once we arrived at my sister's house, all was well. Both dogs settled in and seemed to enjoy themselves. We went on long walks, they had "no accidents" inside the house (even though there was no doggie door for constant access) and romped in the backyard when I let them out. Since the food was plentiful, they stuffed themselves on treats dropped from the table as we ate (but never barked or whined, just sat there waiting and looking expectantly!)

My sister took me shopping one day, then we watched a rented movie and ate out twice. They were planning on cooking out one night, but it started raining and that curtailed their plans.

I can say honestly, I've LOST all taste for meat -- particularly red meat. Tastes like blood, yuck!!!!

Most important of all, we visited a bike shop and look what I bought:

A 3-speed 1974 Raleigh bicycle made in Nottingham England!

And yes, it IS authentic, in good shape and I have been out riding it two days already! I LOVE it, but also, it is a rare find and "collector's item." That means it will only go up in value, not down. I almost want to store it in the house since I realize how rare it is...especially with all the authentic gears, brakes, etc. intact. At least it will never be subject to bad weather, since I have it in a dry place.

Something funny with the dogs: Oscar and Rambo slept in their crate in the bedroom with me while I was there. The second night it came a terrible thunderstorm and Rambo woke me up whining -- he was SO scared. So I let him sleep in the bed with me for the remainder of the night!

And one other thing: My brother-in-law grabbed my sis from behind her back for a BIG hug and both dogs started barking, lunging toward him as if they would attack. It was funny and surprising...but I guess I know what they'd do if a male attacked me!

Here's some photos of our time at my sister's house:

Morning mist over the mountain range behind their house

I have more pictures, but apparently Blogger is having technical problems so I'll add those later.

In the meantime, I was shocked (like most people) to learn of Tim Russert's death due to a sudden heart attack. Reading about his situation though, I realized that the cholesterol will get you in the end. He was even on medication, but that didn't prevent his sudden heart attack. I think DH would have died from a similar heart attack even without the complication of acute leukemia... The thing is folks, eating that high fat diet will come back to bite you in the @ss sooner or later -- even with medication. Read about Russert's case, if you have doubts.

More later, when blogger is working better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Road Trip...Sort of...

What might qualify as a road trip, but not like the good 'ol days when gas was affordable.

Actually, I'm just going to spend a couple days with my sister and brother-in-law about 70 miles to the north of where I live. Since she is driving here to visit mother Thursday, I'll ride back with her -- because we will be taking the dogs with us! Wheee! Have NO idea how they will cope with that long trip, but I do plan to have them in a spacious travel crate in the backseat, and give them a pet "herbal/calmative" beforehand.

My sister's dog died last winter; he, Chalky, was about 15 years old, and they still haven't gotten another one. Both insisted I bring the dogs, since they miss having one of their own. I packed "doggie stuff" to carry along, and hope it'll be fun - at least once we get there.

I do take the dogs with me to parks, the groomer, etc. and usually Rambo, the min-pin, travels well. Oscar is kinda like a little kid who keeps looking out the window and whining: "Are we there yet?" Once he's actually gotten out of the car, went on a short walk, he's content then to ride. So we have a plan to remedy that too!

My lady renter will check on the cats, though I have them set up with large feeder/water containers. I'll also have three cat litter boxes for them, which should do easily for a couple days without changing. However, I feel better just knowing someone will check on them while I'm away.

We have plans to maybe see a movie, eat out and just catch up on sister/best friend talks! They'll bring us back home on Saturday afternoon, then drive on to Birmingham where my nephew is looking for an apartment. Next year he will be a part-time architecture intern at a firm there, as well as still finishing up the last of his courses.

So....a long overdue getaway is at hand. I haven't been out of this county since DH died, and not visited my sister since he died. I stayed with her when DH was in the large city hospital, and I guess I've been reluctant to go back for that very reason. But it's time now, and I'm ready.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Random Stuff

I went to see "Sex & the City" yesterday, and enjoyed the movie. Of course, I've been a fan of the HBO series for some time, though I'd never watched it until DH died. Once it was aired on regular stations, I started watching...and was hooked. Mostly I loved the women friendships, and their search for a good relationship with a man. All too few. I think what made it interesting to me after DH died is that I was alone again, and wondering IF I wanted to find another relationship.

Though I won't give away any details or spoilers, I'd highly recommend the movie to anyone who was a fan of the series. I will add that there was not a male in the theater -- and that was fine with all the women. We just enjoyed it, and smiled at the lack of male "understanding."

Insofar as my own widow/single status, I'm convinced it will remain for the rest of my life. I am, seriously, just not that into men - or the whole concept of the sacrifices necessary for a male/female relationship. Love...well, as Tina Turner used to sing: "What has love got to do with it?" Though she was possibly speaking of sex, I have come to realize the pain/turmoil, etc of a relationship just isn't worth it.

But then again, I'm a loner. Always have been, always will be. So take that for what it's worth. (And oh yeah, being a loner/writer/artistic person is another reason I didn't want children...which is a never-ending obligation for socializing with them, their friends, their offspring, etc.)

Please don't hate me because I'm brutally HONEST. LOL

Otherwise, it's hot as Hades here. No kidding. I KNOW summers in the South are torture, but this's happened TOO FAST. The creek only a block from where I live has started to dry up again; if we don't get more rain soon, I predict another serious drought in the South this year. If that happens, according to weather forecasters, it'll be even worse than last year since we really never recovered from that previous dry spell.

And gas prices? Let's not even go there...or rather, let's all just learn to park our butts at the house and stay put. Or for those unfortunate enough to have a long commute to work, just hope you earn enough to buy gas back and forth to work.

Why is it that, long, long ago (in a near and dear country, USA) no one noticed that Prez Carter tried to give us ALL a wake-up call about gas/oil? Younger folks don't even remember it, I'm sure; but their parents SHOULD. Shame on them if they didn't see the handwriting on the wall -- cause the younger generations are now reaping the whirlwind.

I have curtailed my driving for only necessities, and having moved back to within just blocks of doing necessary shopping, I'm doing fine. However, it's still a struggle as the price of everything is increasing overnight. I'd like to buy a used golf cart for errands in town, and I'm looking into it.

I'm not all gloom-and-doom, but things look to be more bleak in the future before the light at the end of this dark tunnel. (Possibly a 50-year tunnel, due to many factors.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hot day pictorial

The environment is heating up, HOT, HOT, HOT here in the South (and elsewhere); the stock market is heating up, then taking a dangerous dive; politics are HOT, scary and promising a heated ride into November; and basically, it is just HOT summertime.

Yes, already. Even before the official first day of summer.

Oscar went out to check the temperature:

"Dude, it is HOT out here!"

And Bitty Kitty was like:
"You ain't tellin me nothin!"

(The cats have access to an air-conditioned laundry room AND an electric fan on their screenporch, but often choose to stay on the screenporch)

Finally Oscar succumbed to the lure of the cooler house and lounger:

But he couldn't get the best place -- Rambo, as Top Dog, always lies right beside the air conditioning vent:

"Yeah, I'm The Man!"

Needless to say, long walks are reserved for past 7 PM, and biking not before 8 PM.

As I age, I hate extreme HEAT and COLD. Maybe I should consider moving to a more year-round mild climate? Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday Afternoon

This afternoon I decided to drive out into the country and see how DH's horses were doing. I had not seen any of them, with the exception of one (Buttercup) when I interviewed the friend who bought her. She was as fat and sassy as ever, which made me happy.

As I drove the country highway I realized at some point that I was the ONLY car on the road. Usually, that highway has a good bit of traffic, even on Sunday. It was deserted, and oddly, it began to feel eerie...almost like a ghost highway! (Ah, my imagination!)

At any rate, the friend who owns several of our former horses has them pastured at a rented barn. I was happy to see all of them standing on a nearby hill, grazing and contented as ever. They looked GREAT standing there, healthy and well cared for, which is how I figured it would be. I stopped and stared for awhile, wishing I'd brought my camera (I will next time). It was poignant -- sad and happy at the same time. Knowing the horses are well, but a sharp reminder of DH and our very brief time at the farm before he died -- only two years.

During my entire trip, I only saw two other cars on the highway; I guess the gas prices have curbed (if not killed) Sunday afternoon drives as pastime.

In other news, I lost Bob cat. He did not have FIV/leukemia, rather after a series of tests, it was determined he had possibly intestinal cancer. Other than doing a biopsy there wasn't a sure way to tell, but I could not afford that; the tests alone reached $200.00. Besides, he was suffering -- I've had LOTS of cats and I've never, ever heard one yowl with such pain. He started that about an hour before I took him to the vet, and kept it up until they took him into the back for tests. He was dying, just a matter of how long and when; I don't believe in prolonged suffering when there is no resolution.

I stayed busy for a week or so doing yard work outside. Though I don't mow the lawn, I do trim shrubs, etc. and the ones in front of my house had become monstrously overgrown. It took me three afternoons to clip those down to normal size and carry the limbs to the curb for pick-up. Seemed like a rerun of what I'd just been through with the renter house in the back yard.

Renters are working out well so far (fingers crossed). They have planted shrubbery, done some landscaping, cleaned out the gutters and more. One morning the woman came over and brought me some fresh strawberries from her parents' farm, and said she'd bring me fresh veggies this summer off and on! That will be great!

Where I live now I have a large spot that was once a garden in my back yard. It's in grass now, but I'm thinking of offering them the spot next summer for a garden. They could plant and care for it, though I might lend a hand if I felt like it. And they'd get the bulk of the veggies, and I'd get all I could eat! I mentioned it to them, and they sounded like they'd be agreeable.

I'm typing this on my QuickPad because there is a storm approaching, and the lightning/thunder is very scary. The lightning sounds like it's popping off stuff already, but I think the worst of the rain/wind is north of here. I've lost electricity three times this year already due to storms, so I'm better prepared this time...have batteries in a small black & white portable TV/radio, flashlight, candles, and my cell phone.

Back to the cats, the remaining three are doing well. I'm still waging a battle against ear mites (that I don't know how they got due to being indoor only cats). I bought Revolution, treated them with that, and have used OTC ear mite treatments, as well as cleansing their ears. They are all improving, but still shake their heads more than seems normal. The vet saw one of them, and her only recommendation was the Revolution.

Ahhh, here comes the rain...sounds cozy, since the lightning has abated somewhat. We have been having temps already in the 90s, so it's blazing hot with drenching humidity. Any rain we get brings at least temporary relief; and we're all hoping there won't be a repeat of last year's drought.

I walk the dogs later each afternoon, then bike at twilight. Otherwise, the heat is just too unhealthy for such exercising.

My mother went into assisted living this weekend. I knew from the first that my sister and brother-in-law would not be able to endure that living situation they found a good facility where mother's needs will be taken care of. The only glitch is that the location is about 20 miles out in the country, which means the gas expense will prevent me from seeing her as often as if she were living here in town at a facility. I'll try to go at least once a week, but I'd have preferred checking on her more often. Her health is fair thus far, but she is now insulin dependent, due to diabetes, so her medical needs are growing by the month. I think she'll adjust, though at first she was NOT happy about it.

My sister had promised her she could live with them, "the rest of her life," and mother was upset and hurt about having to leave. But, though nothing has been said directly, I think it was taking a toll on my sister's marriage; they are in their mid-40s, both working, and not having any privacy in their modest-size house was not without tension.

I continue to read novels voraciously; watch good movies (usually rented), take care of my house, shop for bargains!, write sometimes, and in general...just live a serene, simple life.

Couldn't ask for much more, except to hope my health remains good.