My Novels

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays to my friends, readers & people near and far

First, may your holidays be bright and merry. Or if not that, at least tolerable and serene. Remember to smile a lot at family gatherings, even if you don't like some of your relatives. Just keep smiling, and they'll wonder what you have been up to!

I haven't even started my New Year's list of hopes for next year, and was thinking lately I'd not accomplished much this past year. But then, upon reflection, I realized I had done something that I was proud of, and that took a lot of my time. I edited, re-edited, and finally have 11 of my past novels online at Amazon.com. I had covers made for some, and others I created using Amazon's online tool. It was more than just editing past work too; I had to learn how to format the work for Kindle ebook reader. I could still improve on that, and may at some point re-work the formatting, but first I need to finish editing the remainder of my work. I have 3 more novels, as well as a book of short stories, and poetry. In the meantime, I've been halfway outlining another novella...

I can't say sales have been spectacular, but I am selling at least one or two novels a day. And that is mostly the ebook I have promoted a little. Once all the work is online, I'll look into promotion more since I'll have time for that effort.

So I am going to stop beating myself up for not getting anything accomplished this past year. Maybe I'll even think of something else positive I have done. Who knows?

And now, off to our family gathering where I will smile mysteriously...

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A few poems

I've been reading through some of my past poetry -- and thought I'd share a few here today. I do plan to create an e-book of all my poems, which range widely over all sorts of topics.

These are a few poems about childhood abuse, addiction and survival...

Children of the Storm

You think we can be saved,
Moody, damaged and born
Of high wind in a raging storm,
Of lightning flashing in dark skies,
   Night terror and empty dreams;
   We refuse to be defined.

You say you want to understand
Who we are from moment to moment,
And you'd like to be the deep anchor
To hold swaying ships on turbulent seas.
  Others have tried, all have failed;
  We refuse to be rescued.

You want more than we can give,
More change, more growth, more of us
Than any of us have -- you ask
By the silent plea in your eyes, the kind voice
Talking about good intentions, noble causes
   To help save us
     From ourselves.

But we are all doomed children,
Born of the storm, already destroyed
  Long before you came along...
  Because we were never loved.

~~~~~~~

Under Cover
                         
They travel by night
Where no child should be alone,
And they steal souls, trap
Unsuspecting victims in their web,
Not dead, but not alive either;
They rob children of childhood.

They travel under cover of dark,
Thieves, robbers of small worlds,
These molesters of innocent children,
Disguised as parents, family, friends,
They rob children of their spirits.

They travel in deep of midnight,
Marauding and murdering silently
In the deadly quiet of kept-secrets,
These double-dealers and deceivers,
They rob children of life.

They travel by night
And their evil, sinful vices
Turn children's faces into stone masks;
Yet many citizens who learn this truth
Turn away from the brutal
Ugliness
Done under cover of midnight.

~~~~~~~~

Deception

You come to those in need
Like a sweet dream,
Escape is your promise;
Ignorant, they are mesmerized. 

You say you know how to prove
Your love for them,
How to create a deep, dark mystery. 

They fall deeper and deeper
Into your black wizardry,
Enchanted by wicked sorcery. 

By the time they understand you,
By the time they know your real name,
And recognize your hypnotic spell
As the destructive vice of evil...
Their alcoholic stupor
Has turned to worship of liquor...
And they have been deceived.


~~~~~~~~

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time,
There was a time, I know,
When you, father, walked in sunshine.

But those days are as gone
As wine through your mind.

Once upon a time,
There was a time, I know,
When you dreamed dreams
Of being a successful guitarist.

But those days are as lost
As whiskey down your throat.

Once upon a time,
There was a time, I know,
When you were kind,
And loved your children,
Before drink spoiled your affections.

But those days are as past
As your liquor-induced madness.

Once upon a time,
There was a time, I know,
But those times died with you
Souring those golden days
When you once loved us...
Leaving us poisoned
By your violent outbursts,
And your anger-glazed eyes
That left us wondering why?


~~~~~~~~

Addicts

Life beyond the open door,
They bow before your design;
But the waltz slows,
And slowly, slowly it stops.

They can't see the horizon
Because their vision dims,
And their eyes go blind. 

They reach for a slim hope to cope
But time stands silently still,
In the bleak pall of nothingness
Where their fragile hold on reality
Slips farther and farther away...
Where only that one narcotic rush,
That dangerous jolt of a needle prick
Brings the hit of speed they need
So they can revive, live and breathe. 

You see, straight friend,
Time only moves, only flies...
When they are speeding on deadly wheels,
Riding high a rushing cycle of crack...
That spins out of control into the graveyard. 

~~~~~~~~

And one last poem that seems to echo my recent fiction reading about post-apocalyptic earth...

Ashes

There will be ashes over us all
In time's burnt-out sun
When all we humans have done
Becomes meaningless, useless.

There will be no shadows
Of our human loss,
An earth barren as dust,
And none of us will matter
For time will be done, gone,
The trivial quest of humanity
A joke, a jest, an eccentricity
And our ignorant arrogance
That life was somehow important
Will have ended in nothingness.

~~~~~~~~

Rainy, dreary day today. The usual here -- reading, writing, and house-cleaning while herding my cats & dogs! 


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

My Experience With Obamacare

I felt compelled to write this post, simply because my experience is probably one of many. We need to combat the negativity about Obamacare!

There is a LOT of disinformation out there, so any time a person can relate a good example of how Obamacare is helping them, it will help others understand better.

I'm a widow, and have struggled for the past 7 years to keep insurance (freelance writer and also have pension/SS). I'm willing and able to pay for insurance, but due to pre-existing conditions I've had a 7 year struggle.

I had Cobra 3 years (500+ a month, but good coverage); then I went to the pre-existing state plan (500+ a month, 5,000 deductible, went up every year on my birthday -- by now I'd be paying in excess of a 1,000 each month). Lastly, I had the government pre-existing insurance, 350.00 a month with 2,000 deductible.

And starting in January I'll have good, affordable insurance which I bought on the exchange. I used the 800 number, probably took less than 30 minutes to get signed up. Got my Blue Cross insurance card within a week. Paid the first premium today, 555.00 a month BUT only 100.00 deductible and pays 90% of medical bills! I'm willing to pay that, since I have pre-existing problems that need attention (back/spine/knees). Not unhealthy, except arthritis and orthopedic issues from exercising in the past -- running, biking, walking. I am not overweight, never smoked.

At any rate, I'm very, very pleased with Obamacare. He made a statement in the news yesterday which was a relief: "Obamacare will not be repealed for the next 3 years while I'm president, and I'll do everything I can to make it work." In 3 years, I'll be eligible for medicare.

It's been a tough, rough road to keep health care insurance, and in my case, I didn't want to lose everything my late husband & I worked hard and saved for all our lives to medical bills. Even the roof over your head can be taken if you have excessive medical bills (at least in Alabama, but some states can't take your home). We paid our home off when I was 35, due to my work at the newspaper and a small inheritance from my paternal grandmother.

That's my story, and I'm sure there are many others out there like me -- small business owners, self-employed, freelancers, part-time people. And the less income you make the higher the subsidy. If you live in a state that agreed to accept the federal funds for medicaid it's likely low income people will qualify. In Alabama our "so-called doctor" governor chose to refuse the funds, as well as ignore his medical oath: "First, do no harm." The federal funds would have created jobs, helped hospitals get bills paid (many just don't pay, have no property to lose), and also expanded the amount for those qualifying.

I hope that this post will encourage others to at least give Obamacare a chance, and don't judge until enough time has passed for the problems to be smoothed out. Rarely are any kind of online applications perfect when first online; it takes time to work out the glitches.

I urge you to give the exchange a try, as well as looking into medicaid if your income is low enough to qualify.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Interview online about my novel

Been a while since I've posted, and this may be short but I wanted to share a link to a great website that interviews and promotes independent authors.

Indie Author Land
(There's also a badge/link in the right sidebar -- really a great place to find free & discounted ebooks, as well as wonderful for attracting readers for authors.)

And today my interview there about "Season of the Serpent" is online. Here's a link to that:

Interview "Season of the Serpent"

It's been a tough few weeks due to my back/knee issues. I have to lie down and rest between chores and/or housecleaning. I'm looking for someone to hire -- help with pet care (dog walking) and housecleaning. If I find someone they will have to be pet lovers. And also spend time getting acquainted with my dogs and cats.

I'm finally getting some outside maintenance work done. Yesterday the worker set new posts and replaced fence panels. Tomorrow he will start painting; first, the back porch in early morning. I'm boarding Rambo & Oscar at the vet overnight due to them running in and out the doggie door that goes to the back porch. The following late afternoon should be long enough for the paint to dry. Also having the foundation and front porch/steps painted. I'm impressed with the young guy doing the job. I told him if I'm pleased with his work, I'll be calling him again.

What else? Still working on editing/formatting past novels; need to do "Dead Right" next, and then get busy on the other two novels yet to be posted.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to access the new government exchange website for our medical insurance. I'm very anxious to find out the cost of any coverage; I desperately need good insurance because of my back and knee problems. Right now I'm just in limbo, having to endure the pain at least until next January.

I don't know why some people don't understand how important health care is, and especially whether you can pay for it in this country. If you can't pay, and own anything whatsoever, you may lose it to bankruptcy if you get seriously ill. The hope is that the new ACA law will remedy that, and end discriminating against those who have pre-existing conditions. I'm several years away from medicare, have a good income, and couldn't work even if I could find a job with insurance benefits. Health care is the number one thing in most lives, whether they realize it or not if they've never been sick or injured. I wish I could magically give every body in this country the gift of empathy and compassion. Alas, can never, ever do that.

Before I rant too much, I just want to urge anyone interested in Southern Gothic stories to read my interview, and perhaps buy the novel; it's only $1.00, or can be borrowed free if you have Amazon Prime.

With that, I'm out of here for today.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Disturbing dog incident at Walmart

Usually I liked to go to Walmart on Sunday morning since it is the least crowded until the "church crowd" arrives -- sometimes after their lunch -- around 1:00. Today was the dreaded day; I loathe going to Walmart, but occasionally it is necessary because of certain items I need and only sold there.

At any rate, no matter how few customers, by the time I get to check-out, there's always a line. I also dawdle around, looking at stuff I don't need simply because it's available. And too, the store is so huge just walking to different sections located front, middle or back can take a while to maneuver.

I write this to explain why a visit to Walmart will invariably take far longer than you expect, even if you are determined to buy only a few items.

And it was that way today, but I finally hit the door and as soon as I stepped out into the hot day, I heard a small dog barking. While I put my stuff in the hatchback, the dog kept barking; I could tell it was not far from where I was parked. Therefore, as soon as I got everything unloaded, I drove over to the section where the dog was barking. As I feared, the dog was alone in a vehicle -- a battered 70s red pickup. The windows were cracked, but the dog (a tiny Yorkie) was barking avidly to the point it looked near heat exhaustion. Though it was not panting yet, I could see it wouldn't be long before the intense heat sickened the dog.

I pulled over to ask a couple of young boys from another vehicle if they were in the red pickup, both said no. Then I asked if they thought the dog would be okay, and both said yes, due to cross ventilation. I wasn't sure about that.

On the way home, I became more and more upset (live less than 10 minutes away). The minute I stepped in the house, I picked up the phone (had forgotten to take my cell with me) and called Walmart. I asked the lady if they could make an announcement over the intercom for the owners to take care of the dog. She said they were not allowed to do that. Next, I called the city police, described the vehicle, gave them the information and the dispatcher said she'd have a car out there soon.

After I unpacked all my stuff, I noticed I'd left one bag at the Walmart checkout. Crap!

I had to return, but it was just as well, since I could see what was happening with the dog: I got behind the animal control vehicle in the parking lot. A city police car was parked by the red pickup, and an officer was holding the Yorkie. A young woman was gesturing, looked angry (and that's why I didn't try to intervene myself, never can tell what a dog owner's reaction will be). I assume the dog will be taken to the animal shelter, and the owner will have to pay a fee to get it back. Or if the owner doesn't, then it will be put in the care of one of our two rescue groups, available for adoption. Or if the owner is lucky, they might just get a warning.

PEOPLE, HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU HAVE TO BE WARNED NOT TO LEAVE A DOG IN A HOT CAR? NOT EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS CRACKED?!

It upset me terribly to have that experience, but not as badly as it would if I hadn't tried to save the dog. At least I know I got help, and the dog didn't die in that hot car. This is the South, and it is impossible to leave a dog in a car -- fall, winter, spring or summer.

I know the temptation; I've sometimes left the wooded park with my dogs, knowing I needed to pick up a few items somewhere. But no matter how I was tempted, I DID NOT DO IT. There's just no way to know exactly how long I'd be in a store. If there's two people, one of them should take the dog and stand outside the store. If one person, resist the temptation to make a quick stop for anything if you must leave a dog alone in the car -- or don't take the dog along if you have other errands.

In other news, I finally have the novel I've been working on for a few weeks available at Amazon. Click this link to go there, if you're interested: The Haunting of Helen

I have two more novels, another collection of short stories/poetry, essays yet to edit/proof and get online too. That will be all my past work; then I plan to post my memoir as a series -- early childhood (already written); teenage years; young adult (20s); 30s; 40s; 50s through the present. It should keep me busy for a long time. I've noticed continuing series do well on Amazon, as well as selling the entire "box set" of the finished series. My memoir, "Backward Mirror" is really going to be my life...should be interesting to write with a dramatic flair!

Everything here is fine -- dogs thriving, though I only take them to wooded park during the heat of summer. Muffin is a handful, ha!, understatement. But she keeps the other two dogs moving -- loves playing tug-of-war with them, or running around the back yard playing chase. Even Oscar, the 10-year-old doxie, gets in on the action sometimes. Rambo loves to play with her, but even he has his limits. He has a certain bark that lets Muffin know he's had enough, and she respects that, backs off.

With that, I'm out of here for today.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Humor for the day

I've been terribly lazy about posting to my blog. My excuse (and I do have one!) is that I'm working constantly on my past work, getting it all online. I have 3 more novels, a couple books of short stories & essays and then poetry yet to proof/edit/format for the Kindle.

But as the saying goes, "I'm on a mission."

I found this comical gem on the internet and couldn't resist sharing it. If you are in need of a laugh, read on...

A Minnesota couple decided to vacation to Florida during the winter. They planned to stay at the very same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday. His wife would fly down the following day.  The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address, and without realizing his error, he sent the e-mail.  Meanwhile.....somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister of many years who was called home to glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted.   The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read: 

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: 16 May 2003
I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is not as uneventful as mine was.
P.S. Sure is hot down here!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Long Time, No Entry

I'd apologize, but lately I'm tired of being apologetic! No excuse really, mainly procrastination. I have been taking pictures to post yet hesitating. I have a few to share today.

It's now summer in the South, which arrived today with heat reaching 90. The remainder of the summer will be sweltering in the extreme, time to walk the dogs early or not at all. Early evening is fine for a park without cement walkways; otherwise the street pavement is too hot for my doxie, Oscar.

Little bitty Muffin has settled in, seems to be part of the pack now. A 3-pack...no, make that a 4-pack, since I always think  I'm the leader. Hardly. Not sure but it seems more and more, Muffin tries to lead, though she will defer to Rambo on occasion.

What else? I'm having a lot of back/shoulder pain, probably due to the herniated discs. Trying to survive with it, but have to take Advil more than I like. Maybe a doctor's visit in my near future.

My youngest sister died several weeks ago, and I'm still not ready to write about that yet. The sorrow and sadness, grief is too fresh for necessary perspective.

So without further ado, here's the recent photos:

  All 3 dogs on sofa, though Muffin was about to get down

 Rambo & Oscar...with Oscar burrowed in, as usual!

Ms. Slinky -- oldest cat at near 15! Looking good too!

  Bitty Kitty, probably 8 years old (she was stray at farm)

Mr. Mister, can't say a stray, since he lives in my garage. Here he's lounging in the open doorway near sundown.

    Where I spend a lot of time -- at the computer!

A weird picture I took of myself. The flash in the mirror with that background...strange look, I thought.

Lastly, I am reading more on my Kindle, and also watching Mad Men on Netflix; I watched The Walking Dead and The Killing as well. Today I installed a new cable modem, and my speed is even better -- sure do enjoy Netflix!

And with that, I'm outta here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Another mad, mad world event

I was sick, some kind of stomach virus, for most of last week. In fact, Thursday and Friday I didn't see the news. When I did turn on the TV Friday night, all heck was breaking loose; the hunt was narrowing for the boy/boys responsible for that marathon bombing. Sad. They did get one of them alive, so maybe the LE officers can find out why that happened.

I felt better Saturday, but only got down a little food. Today I was more like myself, and even managed to take all three dogs for a neighborhood walk. I'm proud to say that Muffin walked faster than my other two; she's definitely good for walks!

A little history on Muffin -- one of my neighbors found her and her brother pup in a box on the side of the road! She rescued them, gave the other pup to a friend and kept Muffin. They apparently didn't have the time to house-train her, and ended up just making her stay outside. I'd seen her many times on my walks, and my grand-niece said they wanted to give her away. For one thing, neighbor boys were picking on her and she was getting snappy, and would soon cost to get spayed. Their two girls had grown tired of her (sigh)...and well, frankly, she was just too much trouble for them. So when my grand-niece said they wanted to give her away, I said I wanted her. Alas, too often that is the story of people who won't/can't take care of a dog.

I had NO trouble house-training her -- just showed her the doggy door, and she watched my two go through it which she imitated. Just that easy.

Unfortunately last Wednesday, Rambo jumped on her and she screamed like she was dying. I was in the yard, scared me to death, but he didn't hurt her--just rolled her around. I have no idea why he all of a sudden decided to put the smack down on her, unless he thought she didn't understand he's alpha dog. He got a whipping/stern scolding though (didn't hurt him, but he KNEW he'd crossed a line!). At any rate, Muffin was a bit standoffish and nervous for a day or so, but is now back to her usual frisky self. She has NEVER tried to challenge or dominate Rambo or Oscar, so I just don't understand the altercation.

In other news, I attended a seminar about estate planning last week; it was interesting and informative. Tomorrow I plan to call for an appointment with the lawyer who specializes in estate planning. I have a Will, but have decided to make some minor changes, as well as look into trusts.

The weather has been hot/cold, hot/cold...but that hasn't stopped the grass from growing!

I'm loving my Kindle, and have it loaded with a ton of e-books. I'm also still editing/proofing my remaining novels to get online at Amazon as soon as possible.

And now for some pictures!

                        My dogwood in full bloom


       Muffin in her outfit, which says: Princess has arrived!

Muffin in the backyard today

Muffin & Rambo, doing what dogs do! 

In the last photo, it's easy to see how much larger Rambo is than Muffin. I took her to the vet a couple weeks ago and she weighs 7 lbs. I could hardly believe it because she is so tiny. However, I plan to have her spayed in a few weeks; I wanted her to be adjusted here before putting her through that and maybe stressed out. That is partly why I was so angry/upset at Rambo since she'd been doing well, even beginning to be playful...till he pulled that stunt. Oh well.

With that, I'm outta here for now.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Bridges of Blount County

Friday was a fun day. My sister & brother-in-law drove here and we all went on a tour of the covered bridges in Blount County -- which adjoins the county I live in. All three bridges have been recently redone and a car can drive across them. That is what we did, then parked and walked around the beautiful early spring landscape.

All the bridges are located in rural areas, and the scenery is serene and rustic. I got lots of photos which I'll share at the end of this post.

We stopped at a great barbecue place and ate lunch. Really tasty food and wonderful atmosphere.

After seeing the bridges, we drove to a nearby Toyota dealership and I drove a new Prius C. I'm seriously considering either a Prius C or Nissan Leaf (all electric). I loved driving the Prius, couldn't tell any difference from a regular gasoline car.

I am having car trouble and spent a huge amount on repairs last week. Unfortunately, though I was having the air conditioner worked on, I ended up with a power steering issue. Tomorrow I'm taking my car back and hopefully the mechanic will fix what he tore up while working on the air conditioner! If not, I'm going to be real angry and have to write about this experience! Stay tuned.

We're supposed to have storms later today, but I think I can get in a quick dog walk if I leave after this post. So without further ado, here's the bridge tour:



The Swann Bridge (my maiden name!)

Approaching the bridge


One of the longest in the state

The Locust Fork of the Warrior River

You can read more about this bridge at this link: Swann Covered Bridge

Horton Mill Bridge

Another view

The creek beneath the bridge

A trail beside the creek

The Easely Bridge






Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lessons From The Titanic Movie

I've been prowling through a lot of my past fiction/poetry/short stories and found this essay for writers I thought would be as instructive as it was back in the 90s, when I first posted it at my now-defunct website.
~~~~~~~~~~

Lessons from the Titanic

I'm always fascinated with movies, but rarely do I go to a theater and watch a movie on the big screen. I made an exception for Titanic. If ever there was a movie to see on the big screen, this had to be it!

However, as a fiction writer, I'm always interested in the elements of entertaining drama; I was curious why this version of that awful real-life tragedy had captured such a huge audience, as well as numerous Academy Awards. I had to see for myself!   [There have been several other movie versions, but none as productive at the box-office or as award-winning.] 

As the story unfolded, it became obvious why the public and Academy found this version so riveting and heart-wrenching. It wasn't just the special effects, though certainly those were spectacular; nor was it the meticulous attention to authentic details (which had been more or less verified by the undersea exploration of the Titanic's remains). No, it was one factor above all else: This is good storytelling.

First off, if you're an aspiring creative writer, I recommend you go see this movie -- and keep a critical eye out for the fantastic dramatic techniques that keep the audience enthralled. If you can learn those techniques, and if you have talent for writing, then you can possibly become an excellent creative writer.

What are those elements? Well, if you've never taken a creative writing course, I beg you to avail yourself of that necessary foundation. Once you have, you'll be able to watch any movie, read any novel, and instinctively get a feel for what entertains and conveys important thematic stories to the public.

In Titanic, we have specific characters to identify with; and not just any characters, like average citizens, but a gorgeous, seemingly rich young, unhappy woman; a handsome, but poor, talented, struggling artist. What person couldn't put themselves into one of those doomed characters' roles? Then, we're given someone to hate: a super-wealthy, snobbish s.o.b, to whom our heroine is engaged. Always give us someone to dislike, even if we may be allowed to glimpse why this character has such flaws. In Hollywood versions, there is usually no development in that direction; but in novels, it is a nice touch. The suspense isn't so much about what happens with the ship: We already know that. The suspense is what will happen to the characters we're emotionally involved with. And then to top it all off, we've got a moving, evocative love story -- one which doesn't have the standard happy ending, yet manages to give us a worthwhile message: become a survivor!

For Hollywood, such movies come along once in a blue moon; but to artfully blend high drama, meaningful theme and recreate an authentic tragedy with amazing special effects that puts the audience right in the monstrously large sinking ship...it's no less than utterly stunning.

Writers can learn from this movie; and the public can learn something meaningful as well. Go see it, you'll be glad you did

[Update Note: Or if you've seen it a long time ago, watch it again with focused attention on the dramatic elements.]

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Poem

Mad Girl's Love Song

"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"

---By Sylvia Plath (One of my all-time favorite poets!)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A Red Balloon

What is new?

Nothing much here. It's that time of year when you want to crawl into solitude, hibernate like the bears.

Though I walk the dogs every day, otherwise I stay indoors and contemplate spring -- my favorite season. It can't get here soon enough for me.

I have finalized the plot where my and late husband's ashes will be buried. Right beside my dear grandmother in the cemetery on land deeded to the church by my great-uncle. I still haven't planned the memorial for myself, but will as soon as the funeral home representative gets over shingles.
She's had a hard time: first she had to have emergency gallbladder surgery. And then she came down with shingles. At any rate, I will be glad to get the details of my cremation/memorial set, and put it out of my mind. One less thing my family will have to do after my death.

Now I want to close with a poem I've always felt describes why abused and/or impoverished children (including myself) never really escape what has happened to them in childhood.

Tragedy

I always wanted a red balloon,
It only cost a dime,
But Ma said it was risky,
They broke so quickly
And besides, she didn't have time;
And even if she did, she didn't
Think they were worth a dime.
We lived on a farm, and I only went
To one circus and fair,
And all the balloons I ever saw
Were there.
There were yellow ones and blue ones,
But the kind I liked best
Were red and I don't see why
She couldn't have stopped and said
That maybe I could have one --
But she didn't -- I suppose that now
You can buy them anywheres,
And that they still sell red ones
At circuses and fairs.
I got a little money saved;
I got a lot of time,
I got no one to tell me how to spend my dime;
Plenty of balloons -- but somehow
There's something died inside of me,
And I don't want one -- now.

                            --Jill Spargur

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rainy Day

Not much to write about, just another rainy day. Actually we had some serious storms roll through around dawn, but I slept through it all. Fortunately there was no damage in the city, or my neighborhood due to the high winds.

Rambo is lying in my lap; I've learned to type around him!

I now have three novels at Amazon.com for the Kindle e-reader. I may put a couple more there when I'm finished editing. Decided might as well offer those at a very low price,  99 cents, or free if you are a member of Amazon Prime. And they should also be available for lending via that website. Better than keeping the novels on my hard-drive. There's a link in the right side-bar.

I still haven't finalized my pre-planning for a memorial; the lady I'd been working with had to have emergency gallbladder surgery...and now she's come down with shingles! I'm not in a hurry though because I haven't settled an issue at the cemetery where I want my and late husband's ashes buried. I'm in the process of working that out with the care-taker; the cemetery land was given by my great-uncle, with the stipulation any family members could have free plots. I'd like our ashes put beside my grandmother, and maybe just a small flat stone with our names & birth/death dates.

What else? Nice visit with my sister and brother-in-law on Monday. While he went to the golf course, we drove to that cemetery and talked with the care-taker. I drove my car, and on the way home, turned on the air conditioner. It had been blowing cool air, but not getting cold. Anyhow, after a few miles we smelled something like burning rubber! I shut off the air conditioner, and it stopped. Brother-in-law looked under the hood later, and said he thinks the air conditioner compressor is shot. It'd cost a lot to replace, so I'm considering trading the car in on a newer model. I've been looking at the Toyota Prius, seriously interested. Just so I find another car before hot weather starts -- which could be as early as March here. Sigh.

I'll close with one of my favorite quotes about art/artists:

It's a love that can never be satisfied, more like a yearning. Addressing a powerful & constant state of yearning that torments, yet artists love that torment. Need it. Because they understand that being able to feel this yearning so exquisitely is a secret strength. This is the power of the artist.

If you are an artist you learn how to trap the yearning & put it where you want it, put  it where it goes. That's the secret all true artists come to know.

That is the redemptive power of art. It can make something haunting and beautiful out of something that, in real life, was painful and degrading.

--From "The Finishing School" By Gail Godwin
                                                   

Friday, January 25, 2013

Quest for Destiny, my e-novel

Just a brief post today to announce my e-book on Amazon.com. I'd had it ready for a couple months, just hadn't actually hit the "publish" button. I went over and over and over the manuscript, editing, checking for errors, etc. While I cannot say it's perfect, it's as near as I can get it.

Here's a description of "Quest for Destiny":
Set in a fictional area near the picturesque, historic Cades Cove region of the Smoky Mountains in the 1980s, this romantic suspense novel centers around the theme of reincarnated lovers from the American Civil War Era. The male character has been regressed by hypnosis, knows the past tragic history; he is seeking the woman who has been reborn in this lifetime as his soul mate. When he finds her, the two begin a beautiful romance only to learn they are being plunged back into almost the same dangerous fate that once took their lives prematurely in another time and place. 

Direct link: Quest for Destiny  

I wrote that novel in the 80s. It was published in the late 90s by a small e-book publisher and available at Barnes & Noble online store. However, the publisher eventually went out of business and I retained copyright. I had many reader comments back then, mostly women who compared it to a romance series by a major publishing house. I suppose I should have sent the manuscript to agents, but my strong suit was never trying to get published! 

No rain here yet. Overcast, dreary but dry. I went to grocery store early, picked up some food items. My low back is killing me today; I must have strained it somehow, will take time to get back to normal. No dog walk. Sigh.


Finally a couple quotes about writing:

"...Not listen  to the didactic statements of the author, but to the low, calling cries of the characters, as they wander in the dark woods of their destiny." --D.H. Lawrence

"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write...can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic and fear inherent in the human condition."  --Graham Green


Thursday, January 24, 2013

How I'd like to be remembered

A writing prompt I had to give serious consideration. Indeed, how would YOU like to be remembered once you are no longer among the living?

This morning as I was out on the sun-porch taking care of my two older cats, it suddenly hit me: I'd like to be remembered as someone who had a passion for pets. Cats & dogs specifically, but not limited to those. I think, honestly, that we humans eradicate the natural environments of animals to our peril; they all have a worthwhile place in our natural world.

I also think there is a special place in hell (if there is a hell) for those who have tortured animals in the name of "science." It's like comparing apples & oranges (animal biology to human biology), doesn't work. Should aliens ever visit earth, they might very well use humans as we use animals -- and does anyone really want that to happen?

And how I'd like to be remembered?

For being an empathetic, compassionate human being who could "walk a mile in another's shoes" -- and feel the pain of a suffering animal or fellow human being.

Writing? Yes, I'd like to know someone somewhere benefited from my empathy, my compassion in what I've written through the years. I've never been a teacher, rather a writer who conveys meaning via stories/poetry/articles. If a reader learns something, great; if not, at least they should be entertained.

I loved reading as a child, and learned from everything I've ever read -- whether fiction (amazing how facts in fiction can teach)...or straight factual articles.

---------
Last night I watched an old movie I'd not seen since the 70s: The Panic in Needle Park. It was as excellent as I remembered it -- though if you have a problem with ambiguous endings, you won't be pleased. Al Pacino was a mere child (joking, but he was very young!), and it's easy to see why he went on to become an all-time great actor.

I also gave the dogs a bath yesterday after returning from the park. Today I walked them in the neighborhood, but not too far. Sunshine is nice, but the wind has a chill. Might get freezing rain tonight/early morning. Hope not...can do without the traffic snarls.

I am getting a head cold, though I think it's just a mild one. Woke up with stuffy nose, sneezing and achy bones. Ugh. Feel weird this afternoon, that strange pall over everything and head-achy, tired. Sigh.

Off to lie down and rest while reading a novel on my tablet.

I'll end with this tidbit by Allen Ginsberg:

Here

What
has happened
makes

the world.
Live
on the edge,
    looking.



Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunny Monday

Ah, weird post title! But it was a nice day, even though a cold afternoon. Didn't take dogs on walk. I was expecting someone at 1:00, they never showed up. Had some errands in town, and didn't get back till late.

I managed to watch President Obama's inaugural speech -- and as usual, it was inspiring and delivered eloquently. I hope better days are ahead for our country, especially in the matter of health care reform. Time will tell though.

A short writing prompt:

What is your greatest fear? 

I think my greatest fear is losing all my savings through medical bills. It could easily happen, even with medical insurance. Or I could also lose my mortgage-free home to medical bankruptcy. Truly, that is one of my nightmares: outliving my savings. My income would continue, but I really want to leave the savings to a worthwhile cause.

I met an elderly lady (94) who was scared to death because she'd run out of savings to pay for her assisted living care. She didn't want to be in a nursing home, particularly in the room with another person. I realized that is almost the curse of living to be so old...

And now I'll close with this quote I've always liked about writers:

"The discovery of the complexity of human nature was accompanied by another -- the discovery of the complexity and irrationality of human motive, the discovery that one could love and hate simultaneously, be honest & cheap, be arrogant & humble, be any pair of opposites that one had supposed to be mutually exclusive. This, I believe, is not common knowledge and would be incomprehensible to many. It has always been known, of course, by the dramatists and the novelist. It is, in fact, a knowledge far more disturbing to other people than to writers, for to writers it is the grist to their mills." --Alan Paton "The Challenge of Fear" Saturday Review, 1967

I remember distinctly when I first realized such human complexity -- I was in my late 20s, just starting to write creatively. I thought it was a blinding revelation...one I could use in my work. But also, from that time forward, it never really shocked me when an average person everyone thought was peaceful, nice, respectful, etc suddenly killed family and/or random people. That is the quandary of human nature, and denial of it by most people is because they cannot imagine someone they love doing the unthinkable. It happens though, just watch the news for a week or two and you'll see the truth revealed.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pleasant Sunday

Beautiful weather -- nearly 60, bright sunshine, no wind. Perfect for a long walk in the park with my dogs.

Then I decided to try out the Thundershirt I bought Oscar; ads promised it would stop a dog from whining, barking, etc. Oscar whines all the time he's in a car, and nothing I've tried ever stops him! Anyway, I came back to the house, put the tight-fitting outfit on him and away we went on a long drive.

Rambo, as usual, rides well, never a peep out of him. I think I could take him on a road trip and he'd love it.

The outfift did tone down Oscar's whining, but didn't entirely stop it. Maybe I didn't have it tight enough, so I may try to make it more snug next time.

It was a great ride in the country though, no destination, just a random drive at first. Then I remembered a place I'd seen for sale in the real estate guide. Drove by there, a house with 3.7 acres late husband and I'd looked at years ago. The house needs work, but the price is right; and it's located only 2 miles from the city. Not really thinking of moving, but occasionally I do entertain the idea of changing locations. Just not at the present time. The house I'm in now would be a good source of income, especially if I let a realtor handle it as a rental.

Yesterday another trip to the park with dogs. They are loving the walks, and I'm staying off the neighborhood streets until I can find new walking shoes. I wear out shoes very fast, go through them since I walk so much. Wish I could find some that would last longer but no luck.

I found two small seedling pine trees, and put those in the front yard. I'm planting stuff near the curb, with the intention of keeping it trimmed to about five feet. We'll see, I guess, when spring comes.

Next week is sunny too, but with teens a couple nights. Good to get everything drying out after endless rain for the past week!

Sister and brother-in-law have a stomach virus, and are staying home till better. I caught a similar virus last January, and ended up at urgent care. Sure don't want it again!

My grand-niece visited the past couple mornings. She had a mild cold, but not the flu. Actually, the flu hasn't been that bad here yet. Of course, we still have a good bit of winter to get through.

And now, a brief writing prompt:

Something from childhood you wish you still had.

Three things actually.

First: a small red rocker my grandparents bought me when I was about four. It made it through three moves, then I gave it away.

Second: a friendship ring one of aunts gave me. I was ten at the time, and treasured it so much; she was my favorite aunt on my mother's side (married to mother's brother). Unfortunately the next summer it came off my finger at the pool. I was devastated, and though the lifeguard looked for it, never was found. I hated to tell her I lost it and never did, since she never asked. She and my uncle divorced a few years later, which made me wish even more I'd never lost that ring.

Third: a wire-rimmed pair of spectacles my grandmother gave me. They were my great-aunt's glasses --my grandmother's sister. I don't have a clue when or how they got lost. I just know they came up missing one day. There was so much chaos in our childhood home, anything could have happened to those.

Now I'm going to sit in the sun on the back porch and read a good novel.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Southern Snowfall

Yesterday turned out to be an example of everything that can go wrong when we get snowfall in the South -- below the Mason Dixon Line.

Though weather forecasters had been predicting this particular snowfall of up to 4 inches, they kept saying the highway/streets were too warm for any problems. How wrong they were! As is often the case here in north Alabama, it's never easy to predict where the accumulation will be the worst -- and it so happened, we got at least 4 inches in about two hours, between noon and 2:00.

Since the county schools had delayed school for two hours, and let out at 1:00, that turned out to be a mess. School buses were caught in the worst of the blinding snow, as well as getting stuck in various spots all over the county. Some were at the bottom of hills, some near bridges, etc and some schools kept the kids, not letting them out till after five.

And then there was the fiasco on the nearby interstate. Our region is actually at the end of the long Appalachian mountain range, located atop a high plateau. Going or coming, there's serious hills to climb or descend. Therefore the interstate traffic began as a slow crawl, then stopped altogether. The hills had iced over, snowfall atop that with falling temperatures during the night. Wrecks were everywhere, over 100 reported on the interstate alone!

The civic center opened for stranded travelers last night. Nothing really cleared up till around 10:00 this morning -- but both city and county schools were closed. Ah well, so it goes...

In the meantime, back at home on the range, I got a few good pictures and stayed cozy inside with my pets. Did some reading, surfing the net, and sorted through the photos.

For the first time ever, I heard snow thunder a couple times yesterday. I was out on the back porch taking pictures when I heard a boom, then a deep rolling thunder that seemed to go on and on. Surreal and creepy!

Today I went to the library, returned books. Then came home and took the dogs on a walk; neighborhood streets were fine, but my front steps had to be cleared of ice (rarely gets direct sunlight). Now it's a beautiful afternoon, brilliant sunshine, 50+ and only a little snow in patches here and there.

Here's a few pictures from yesterday (click to enlarge):

                      Back yard at noon yesterday,
                      only a dusting as snow started.

This is at 1:30

The street in front of my house

The other direction in front of house

This squirrel seemed confused!

Neighbors trees bent toward my fence

Other corner of back yard

By 4:00 sun was out

This morning 7:00

Finally, a cartoon that was on 
FB about Southerners & snow!


No writing prompt today, since I had the pictures to share. I'll have a prompt tomorrow, if I have time; it's supposed to be a beautiful sunny day, in the 50s! May take dogs to park...



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another Rainy Day

Cold rain again, but I braved the weather and went to town for errands. I stopped at a couple stores, ended up at Walmart -- hate to get in that behemoth store, like going on a hiking trip. Nevertheless, I stocked up on several items, and won't have to return for some time. I usually only make one trip a month to Walmart, and that's enough!

We may get sleet/snow here tonight and tomorrow, though probably no accumulations. I hate sleet, since it can coat power lines and cause loss of electricity. Fortunately I have back-up gas heaters because my central natural gas heat comes from a furnace with an electric start.

I prepared the garage for the outside cats -- there's a cat door in the entry door. I turned on a heat lamp, put their bedding out there, then coaxed them all inside with a smelly can of cat food. Maybe they'll stay in there, though I wouldn't bet all of them will. Year before last we had a fairly big snow, several inches, and it stayed frigid long enough that days went by without any melting. All the outside cats stayed in the garage, warm & toasty with a heat lamp.

One day I was out in the driveway doing something, and Mister Mister came out the cat door. He walked very carefully over to the snow, put one paw in and then shook it indignantly. That was enough for him -- he raced back into the garage! Ha! They all stayed in there for the duration of the snow.

Just a quick prompt for today:

Your weekly laundry tip.

I would have to say a tip I'd read but didn't think would work was to apply liquid laundry detergent to a grease spot on clothing, let it sit a short time, then laundry with the other clothing. It really works, will remove grease spots and blood or other stubborn stains.

With that, I'm outta here to do some housework.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Daily Routine

Another bleak, rain-soaked day...but relief is on the way by tomorrow afternoon. Unfortunately it will be short lived, more rain Thursday. However, Friday is the beginning of sunny, cold days for at least a week. Can't wait to see the sun again and take my dogs on long walks!

For today, I'll get to my writing prompt:

Describe your daily routine when you get out of bed in the morning.

First, though I don't have to get up early, I do. I have always felt better in the morning than late afternoons, when I begin to slow down and feel tired. So I awake at 7:00 even without an alarm clock. However, if I should sleep a bit later, the dogs will get me up due to being used to their routine!

I let the dogs out of their room, they run into the den area and start wrestling with each other. They are always so happy in the mornings, circling me, tails wagging, yipping with enthusiasm. How could that not be contagious? :-)

I feed them first, then go out to check on my cats in the sun-porch; I keep a heat lamp overhead on that porch, so it's warm for them. I sometimes turn it off if temps are rising, or leave it on otherwise. I make sure they have dry food, check the litter box and then come inside.

Next I check on the stray cats (though the 3 that stay on my carport should maybe be called mine), take two bowls of dry food to them. I have blankets and assorted pillows in chairs, a huge plastic tote with pillow/blanket and hole for entry. Mostly they like to hang out on the hood of my car, where I have spread a thick quilt with pillows/blanket. At least that prevents cat tracks when they are on the hood!

Finally it's time for my breakfast! I fix coffee, cereal and sit at my computer surfing the news, reading daily blogs, etc. The dogs sit on either side of me, expecting tidbits, but I usually give them a low-cal snack treat.

After too long at the computer, I get my shower, dress and do housework, sometimes laundry. Every day varies, because if I have errands in town, I prefer to go mid-morning. I eat a bite of lunch around noon, then take the dogs on a long neighborhood walk if weather permits.

I try to write a post for this blog when I get back to the computer, then review past work in my files, trying to determine if any of it could be edited/improved. Sometimes, if I'm motivated, I write. On rainy days like today, Rambo insists on lying in my lap, so I have to type around him -- a trick he's taught me! ;-)

Around 5:00 I have a meal, watch the local and national news on TV while eating at my kitchen bar. After clean-up, the dogs retire to their room/crates; I close the door and let the two cats on my sun-porch inside. They romp and play, then settle down as I lie on the sofa to watch a Netflix movie. Bitty & Slinky have a way of positioning themselves on my body...one on my stomach, the other one draped across my legs. Sigh.

Around 9:30 I put the cats out on their porch, let the dogs out for one last potty run outside.

At 10:00 I head to bed, but sometimes watch a documentary on Netflix on the TV in my bedroom. If it's boring, it puts me to sleep easily! Or I read if I have a good novel or book I'm enjoying.

Spring & summer have a different routine, mainly because I get outside more and sometimes take the dogs to the park instead of walking on the hot summer streets.

Exciting life, no? 

But I make no excuses since I spent a lot of years running here & there while working, not to mention the hectic years when my husband was alive.

Retirement, a satisfactory time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Raw Wintry Day

Gales of wind, hard down-pouring rain and only in the mid-30s! An awful day following several similar days. We're having flooding all around, and even my backyard, which slants downward, is beginning to have small pools of water. Glad I don't live in a low-lying area, I'd be afraid. The ground is saturated, splashes when you walk in the dead winter grass. Ugh.

I miss the daily walk with my dogs, feeling achy from not getting any exercise in a couple days. May do some simple stretching exercises later, need to move more than basic housework.

I've been reading, since I have several e-books on my tablet.

Early this morning I talked to one of the counselors who leads the group cognitive therapy. I called to make sure the letter I'd sent my therapist (cancelling today's session) had arrived. He said it had, and told me they all missed me in group. I was always quick to speak up in group when he asked questions, and often that started others talking. Otherwise, you had a bunch of court-ordered silent, stubborn people with their arms crossed over their chests angrily, as if never a word would escape their clenched mouth. Nice. NOT.

I wrote a long letter to my therapist explaining why, for now, I wasn't going to see her. I do better expressing myself in a letter, and wanted to assure her that I'm feeling stronger, trying to put the drinking in my past. This is my way of dealing with a bad episode in my life, though I will never forget the lessons learned. I told her she could put the letter in my file for reference. And that if I feel in need of counseling, I'd be sure to call for an appointment. Some closure for her -- and myself, I hope.

This morning I also had a brief visit by a lady representative from a local funeral home. I'd received a card from this place (where my husband's funeral/cremation was) and checked on it I was interested in talking with someone. She didn't stay too long, but I outlined what I want in a pre-arrangement package: cremation, with interment of both my & late husband's ashes buried near my paternal grandparents. A small marker with our names, nothing expensive. She will be back later in the week to present some options.

I have decided to do this now, since it'd be easier on whatever family I have left when I die. Having no children, spouse deceased, it'd be a burden on my sisters and/or nieces/nephews...which could cause discord among them. I'm not religious, and favor a memorial or grave-side service only (some family members are extremely religious). Maybe I'll be around a long time before this will be needed, but still, the funds in it cannot be touched by debt or a nursing home. So there's that...

Now for a brief writing prompt:

Name one thing you feel brings out the best in people.

I could never improve on what the alien in Starman says to Jenny Hayden:

"You are at your very best when things are worst."

Off to read more and watch the dogs piled on the couch snoozing away this frigid, rainy day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Rainy Sunday

I'll get right to my prompt for today before I fall asleep on this rainy day!

Describe 5 things you want to do or see before it's too late.

Unlike a lot of people, I've never had a "bucket list"...so this is a somewhat difficult prompt. Most of the time I'm content to be where I am, doing what I am (even if that is nothing but familiar routine).

I've never been much of a traveler; got my fill of it in my 30s when I accompanied my sister/brother-in-law on many business trips. At one point I decided if you've seen one strip mall, you've seen them all. Yes, every place has its unique, off-tourist-map charms, but I think only locals could do justice to those.

Here's my list:

5. If there's one singular place I'd like to see I guess it would be New York City. Frankly, there's nothing to prevent a trip there...but I suppose my desire to see it is not as great as my lack of enthusiasm. Often I'd just as soon look at Google map/street view and/or good pictures of that city. Or even watch a good movie set in NYC.

4.The only other place I might like to visit would be England, non-specific area, just the general area. I don't have a passport, but there's no reason why I couldn't get one. And like seeing NYC, there's nothing standing in the way of it: I have the financial means. Of course, leaving my pets could be a problem, though relatives would take care of them.

Really though, there's no reason I couldn't visit both places if I was just burning to do so. Apparently I'm not.

3. I'd like to have a new car. I'm looking around half-heartedly. The car I have is only a few years old, and my last experience with a new car (it was totaled in a wreck, not my fault) did little to convince me putting that kind of money into a moving vehicle is worth it. I don't take long road trips anyway; mostly drive around here in town. In fact, every time I have my car serviced, they note how few miles I've put on it. One of the techs said last time, "Don't drive much, do ya?"

2. Someday I would like to live in a condo, or at least a place that has no outside maintenance and little inside either. So tired of maintenance issues. On the other hand, I'm not at that point yet, because owning a home allows me to have pets. Yes, I could have maybe a couple pets at a condo...but not as much freedom to tailor living arrangements as I see fit for the pets. Like doggie doors, etc.

1. And that brings me to my real one wish: to have a large dog. Hopefully a Doberman, though the right dog wouldn't have to be breed-specific. I am looking all the time, and do want a rescue and/or one someone has to part with due to a valid reason. I'd take a puppy, but NOT from a puppy mill or backyard breeder; it just encourages them to continue that practice.

As for what is preventing this: I know handling a large dog is very different to having small dogs, and am unsure of my ability in that regard. My dogs would have to adapt to another dog, not sure if they could. So that makes my search more difficult, about specific aspects. Sigh.

It should go without stating that I would like to get involved in my creative writing again, but there's only one reason I haven't: procrastination! Or in writer lingo: Failure to apply seat of pants to desk chair. :-)

Not the fantasy list I think a lot of people would make! But for me, at this time in my life, that's it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Bad habits & addictions

Today's writing prompt seemed to strike my mood this afternoon:

List your bad habits and addictions and what you've tried to rid yourself of them.

Of course, my alcohol problem was one of the more horrendous I ever endured. I struggled an entire year trying to quit, but finally voluntarily entered inpatient rehab in October. After that, I stopped drinking...it helped that I was able to detox with medical assistance. The past six months had been hell on earth: trying to stop, then binging, blackouts (which I'd never had during the six years I drank). The last blackout I had was terrifying -- when I got sober. Apparently I visited with my sister, talked like I was fine, and had NO memory of it. Scary, enough so it sent me to rehab. I know I'll have to struggle against drinking -- but the easiest way to handle it for me...is simply don't drink. Don't have liquor in the house, where I usually did my drinking.

I am anorexic, and was treated for that while in rehab. In fact, being on a starvation diet (age 55, weighed 88 lbs.), led to the liquor. I was at the point I would hardly eat anything, but found that a drink made me hungry and I'd eat. So instead of starving, I started drinking. I've gained back to 105 lbs now, but like the liquor, it's an ongoing battle. I loved being skinny, feel as if I've accomplished something...weird.

I think, to some extent, writing is my positive habit. When I was writing my novels, short stories, poetry...I didn't obsess about my weight, nor ever think of a drink. Writing has saved me many times in the past -- whether I was going through serious stressful events, dieting or suffering from depression and anxiety. I could get lost in my stories and characters' lives...an escape. I hope to eventually regain that high, sweet bliss where I cease to exist and let my characters speak through me.

I'm sure I have other habits some would consider bad: Not very social, though I can rise to the occasion when necessary. Being content alone. Hate crowds.  Most of the traits others might condemn, I consider my personality: introvert, independent to a fault, solitary, passion for pets/animals. I could go on, but that's enough.

Link to writing prompt: 80 Journal Writing Prompts

~~~~
Balmy day, mild 70s, though mostly cloudy. Getting tired of the rain, and there's a musty smell in the air from endless rainy days. Mold and mildew thrive in this environment. Except for the neighbor firing up his grill, an entirely different smell -- which the dogs love!

Took them on walk, then baths. I usually give them a bath in my bathtub, though I do have a utility sink on the cats' porch. Unfortunately, the cats go ballistic if I put them in a separate room while using the utility sink to bathe the dogs.

Anyhow, after the tub baths, I have to scrub the tub/shower stall, and it's usually necessary anyway. (I prefer showers, hardly ever take a tub bath.) I had to mop the floors too, dogs tracking in and out from drenched yard....

Thus this day's entry ends. Hope to use a prompt every day as a way to get back into creative writing.




Thursday, January 10, 2013

Second Family

Yesterday I had to renew my car tag. As I walked into the courthouse, I stopped at the security scanner manned by law enforcement officers. I recognized one of my late husband's buddies and immediately upon seeing my face, he hurried to hug me. We caught up on what had been happening to us since the last time we'd seen each other.

And then, as I was ready to leave, he embraced me again in a big bear hug and said, "Remember, if there's ever anything you need, don't hesitate to let us know. We're still your family." He was referring to the law enforcement community here -- it is considered a family. And it's that way with all people in law enforcement; there's a kinship due to the dangerous nature of their career. Most wives of LE's also feel a similar emotional connection because: "Those who sit and wait also serve."  

Our family life is subject to meals left cold or half-eaten due to our husbands being called out unexpectedly. Or being awakened in the middle of the night with a horrendous occurrence that demands officers respond. When my husband was a Sergeant on second shift, there was almost never-ending emergencies, and I learned to never be surprised when he was called out, no matter what he was doing at home. As Lieutenant over the patrol division, our life was subject to whatever was happening in that department. Sometimes officers, if they were having family problems, would come to our home and talk privately with my husband; he always had good, solid advice.

Perceptive LE wives listen to true stories of lives gone wrong, violent confrontations, family abuse...that is, if our husbands are willing to confide. Mine always was, and while I knew not to discuss details with others (not even family) it was a great unburdening for him. I think where officers get into emotional trouble is when they don't confide in their wives -- or at least someone they know they can trust to keep it confidential. In that regard, I also served.

Fortunately my drinking problem, which only started after my husband's death, never caused any trouble with LE . I was more of a stay-at-home drinker, and even when I'd drink to excess, I'd go to bed. I never drove drunk, and for that I am glad and relieved. I couldn't live with myself if I'd harmed anyone while drinking & driving.

Lately if I even think of that warm glow after the first drink, I replace it with the awful experiences of drinking to excess. How I humiliated myself with my own family...which is where all the calamities stayed until my voluntary time in rehab. Yes, I am powerless over alcohol, but with cognitive therapy thinking, I am not powerless over driving to get that first drink or bottle of liquor. All it takes is for me to simply not get the liquor. As far as I know, and I'm fairly sure of this, no one in LE knows of my past alcohol problem. However, even if they had, they would have stepped up to aid me in getting help. They are indeed my second family, though I've never called on them. Yet I know without doubt they would be there if I did.

Rainy day yesterday and for the next week, more rain. I'm hibernating, unless I have to go out for errands. Hope I can get in a long walk with my dogs today, since the rain isn't supposed to start till night. It's overcast and way too warm here -- 60s, near 70 by the weekend!

And that's it for today.




Saturday, January 05, 2013

Busy day

I had errands in town this morning -- groceries and other shopping for necessities.

Back home, I loaded up the dogs and we went to two different parks for walking. We hadn't been to the nearby wooded park in some time, so the dogs had to mark every tree (or it seemed that way!).

I wanted to look for cheap shrubs I could plant in my front yard...so I drove to a couple nurseries to look. Usually the selection is limited, but prices are marked down due to the time of year. I found two I hope will live; both looked a bit "under the weather." I've had good luck though with such plants, I suppose, due to them being somewhat neglected.

At any rate, one nursery was near another park, so I walked the dogs there. It was not too cold, but occasionally the wind would give me shivers -- even though I was wearing a light jacket. The dogs had a scent-fest and romped all over the park, especially alongside the creek where recent rain had created rushing, cascading water over the many rocks.

I planted the two shrubs quickly once home, because rain was predicted. It started raining about twenty minutes after I got those in the ground.

Rain tomorrow too, a good time to stay indoors and read; I've got two novels, one memoir on my tablet. I also checked out two books from the library; one is a memoir by a writer and the other is a novel by the same author. Must catch up on my reading! Lately I'm sleeping so well that I can't read very long in bed before sleep overtakes me. I'm not  complaining, because I feel so much better lately. Of course, the anti-depression/pain drug helps my mood; I feel more optimistic and less melancholy.

I'm trying to decide what I want for my supper -- probably a veggie burger, salad and small baked potato (one of my favorite meals!).

Enough for today!


Friday, January 04, 2013

Recovery Thoughts

One of the most important aspects of recovery from my alcohol habit is...believe it or not, to put it in the past. To remember it like a bad nightmare that I finally awoke from. I know this is contrary to what many substance abuse programs teach, but the truth is, I'm doing better solo now than attending group meetings. I do plan one last visit to my therapist, just to touch base and let her know my plans.

At any rate, I want to get on with my life. After all, I didn't drink for 55+ years, so I choose to look at my alcohol problem as a response to my husband's death -- and not resolving the loss issues. It was a temporary solution to a permenant problem; I do think I've resolved some of the lingering loss issues, though I've come to accept I'll always miss him and sometimes lapse into grief and sorrow. I try to curb thinking: "What if..." Or, "By now, he & I would have done this or that..." None of that can ever happen, and it's best to stop that line of thought before it gets out-of-hand and triggers a need to escape via alcohol.

I am very aware of the triggers that lead to drinking, and try to stop such thoughts. As well, I have decided I have a lot to live for, banishing the suicidal thoughts I had during my bouts with alcohol. In other words, I feel able to deal with the underlying causes of turning to drink.

I just don't want to spend the remainder of my life being involved in treatment or even helping others with drinking problems. I tried that with my own father -- who was an alcoholic. Never had much success either. Being around reformed male alcoholics remind me of the terrorizing childhood I had, so that is something I need to avoid. AA here had lots of those males, moreso than the female members.

What am I saying here to myself? I want to always be aware of my weakness for alcohol, but I'm determined never to let it rule my life again. Five years was enough, and plenty to make me walk a road I never want to travel again.

A beautiful, mild, sunny day. Already took the dogs on a long walk, and now it's time for baths. I laundered their bedding this morning, have it hanging on the clothesline to air dry.

I'll end with this one last picture of my late husband and I. Remember, this was taken in 1972...thus his long sideburns and my hairstyle. My old photos like this one are starting to fade, as if the past itself is moving into a disappearing realm.


Thursday, January 03, 2013

Just Another Thursday

I went to the library early; by the time I got back home, the sun was shining. Felt nice after several days of rain and overcast skies.

Took the dogs on our usual long walk, even though a brisk wind dictated I bundle up snugly. Tomorrow is definitely dog bath day! And we're predicted to get a warmer, sunny day.

And now for a few photos (click to enlarge):

         One of my favorite pix of late husband

        Late husband at Vietnam Memorial/montage

       Oscar always finds a sunny spot!

I'm reading a book titled, "A Dog Named Boo," and found this wonderful quote from the Anasazi Dog Myth:

The earth trembled and a great rift appeared, separating the first man and woman from the rest of the animal kingdom. As the chasm grew deeper and wider, all other creatures, afraid for their lives, returned to the forest--except for the dog, who after much consideration, leapt the perilous rift to stay with the humans on the other side. His love for humanity was greater than his bond with other creatures, he explained, and he willingly forfeited his place in paradise to prove it.

With that, I'm outta here for today.