My Novels

Saturday, December 27, 2003

A few lines for an update today. I just haven't had time to write in this journal, or write any of my email friends this week. Whew! Very, very busy!

As of today, DH has almost completed closing in the front porch, making it a sunporch with storm windows/white siding. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it looks, and I'm sure it will be even better as we finish the details, i.e. shutters, etc.

I have been painting the interior woodwork, and was amazed at how much brighter, lighter the semi-gloss white made it appear. Apparently the woodwork/doors had been an antique white, which just looked dirty or yellowish. As I painted, I sure felt like I was at last making some visible progress. I'm still not through with it all, but will work on it more next week.

I am planning to paint kitchen cabinets tomorrow -- or at least get a primer coat on most of them. I took all the hardware off, cleaned it and will either replace it or paint it separately. Quite a job!

Today I went to Wal-mart and bought all the mixed flat interior latex paint for every room. It only cost about $ that's not too bad. I think I'll like the colors, once we have it all done. DH will help me on Monday, since it supposed to rain all day that day. Our dishwasher is almost installed; the friend needs to get a special saw to do a bit of trim work, but otherwise it's sitting in place, and should be good to go on Monday afternoon.

I'm just VERY tired today, but progress IS being made. Hopefully I'll have some new photos of the sunporch in a few days...for an update in the picture album.

VERY nice weather here the 60s, sunny. Too nice to stay indoors.

I just have to say one thing...about the mad cow disease. First of all, since I read about that cow being slaughtered when it was OBVIOUSLY sick, paralyzed...I just haven't been able to make myself eat beef! I mean, WHY would they kill a cow in such condition, knowing it was SICK, and turn it into hamburger (which is what they did) and SELL it for human consumption...BEFORE the test results came back? MONEY, that's why. I can't look at beef without feeling the urge to gag. Seriously, the FDA needs to stop that kind of practice. Additionally, the cattle industry NOW seems to be trying to do "damage control" ... saying that ONE cow must have come from Canada. GIVE ME A BREAK! I doubt we will EVER know the facts of this, since it is going to COST the cattle industry... Do we really want to wait around till some American comes down with that brain wasting disease transmitted from eating mad cow? YUCK!

I am thinking of becoming a vegetarian ... Maybe I should read "Fast Food Nation," since the book seems to raise such issues about "unclean" meat industry practices.

Enough. I must get the evening meal... More when I have time.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Another brief update.

Yesterday DH and I got the glass, then he took it to the glass store today to be cut to fit on the front porch. The same friend who gave us the glass is there today, helping DH install the dishwasher. Yah!

Yesterday I also went through all the stuff I've collected and/or bought at the Salvation store for the old house, and found that I DO have enough curtains, sofa/chair covers, etc to move when the time comes. That's good news, and will help when we are ready to move -- hopefully sometimes in either late January or early February.

Today I spent the day running errands, buying groceries, more paint, etc. When I got home, I immediately went on my bike ride...which was nice, since it's a mild 55 degrees out there today.

I also got some more movies at the library, on DVD and video. The other movies we watched were fairly good, some better than others. I highly recommend, "Catch Me If You Can," with Tom Hanks. Not only is it suspenseful, with a meaningful theme, but it is a TRUE story too. "Chocolat" was okay, nothing all that great in my opinion.

Here's an excerpt from an article today about more troops being killed. It IS terrible that so many U.S. soldiers are losing their lives over in Iraq. On the other hand, it must be even worse for the innocent people being killed and their relatives. I mean, just read this excerpt:

2 U.S. Troops, Translator Killed in Iraq

In Samarra, a 70-year-old man died when U.S. troops put a bag over his head and prepared to detain him Sunday night, Iraqis said. Neighbors said Mehdi al-Jamal died of a heart attack.

One person was killed during an airborne raid Sunday in Jalulah, on the house of a sheik suspected of directing local resistance, said spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle of the 4th Infantry Division.

A 60-year-old woman was killed Sunday when soldiers blasted open the reinforced steel door of her home, said Lt. Col. Henry Kievenaar, who was directing the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in raids in Rawah.

In Baghdad, the military put out flyers threatening to jail people who sell gasoline on the black market. The flyers cited new laws providing for confiscation of the goods, fines of double the value of the goods and jail sentences of three to 10 years.

Iraq is suffering severe fuel shortages caused by distribution problems, dilapidated equipment and sabotage by insurgents targeting the oil infrastructure in an apparent attempt to undermine the U.S.-led occupation.

If you want a personal, first person viewpoint of how it FEELS to be living there, I suggest you read Riverbend's blog, "Bagdad Burning." There's a link to it at the bottom of this site.

Tomorrow and the next day I'll be PAINTING like crazy at the old doubt there'll be another entry till late in the week.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Just a brief update this morning. DH is already at the old house, working. Believe it or not, he put in two windows yesterday and is working on the last one on the east side of the house now. At this rate, he'll have all the windows done within a few days.

I went there yesterday, painted another closet interior. I've about seen enough of the insides of closets! It's a rough job, in that being in such an enclosed, small space the paint fumes are pretty bad. I have been painting the ENTIRE closet, and I do mean all -- top, sides, etc. At least they will all be fresh and clean for our clothes.

I also went on my bike ride in the park yesterday morning, since DH fixed the flat tire. It was brrr cold, but I wore my windbreaker outfit and made it fine. I felt like I NEEDED some aerobic exercise, and that did help me feel better.

I am hoping that once we're moved I may be able to ride my bike along the narrow dirt road to the side of our property; it's about a couple miles long, very few houses and almost no traffic. There's a few gravels on it, but not in the places tires usually it would be okay for biking. At the end of the road, there's a large cemetery with paved paths, which I could then ride. I LIKE riding in a cemetery; the dead are such QUIET company! :=)

And speaking of moving, we are definitely thinking about rushing it all up faster. DH will come back today around 2:00, and we're going to get those huge glass sections a friend gave us (for enclosing the front porch, making it a sunporch). Each one will need trimming/cutting at the glass store, but then they should be ready to put in. IF DH can get that done next week, while I paint inside, then the second week he can help me finish painting.

We may not complete the front living room, so far as painting goes, but otherwise, the rest of the house should be livable. It would be great if we could move sometimes in January, and be there to do the remainder of work. We'll put the cats on the front sunporch until the room at the back is finished, so maybe....just maybe we can move sooner than thought.

And that's it for today.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Haven't been updating this week, no reason other than my usual "Holiday Blues." I go through this every year, and had hoped it would not come around this time, due to all the work at the old house. However, I have to admit the blahs aren't as intense; mostly I just feel less energetic and unenthusiastic.

Today is DH's last day at work for two weeks, and we are going to be at the old house every day working. Except for Xmas day, when we may go see that new movie, "Cold Mountain." That is, if we can find it showing at a theater within driving distance. I doubt it'll be at our local theater, but one can hope.

I went to Wal-mart yesterday and survived the crowds. I needed a few items I can ONLY find there, or I'd not have bothered to go. I'd almost rather take a beating than tackle that HUGE warehouse store, and always end up spending too much. I didn't yesterday though. I did look at paint, and found their price is about one dollar per gallon less than Lowe's and Marvin's flat latex mixed interior paint. So no doubt, I'll be making a trek there soon to buy all the interior paint. Hopefully not till after Xmas though.

My bike still has a flat, and I've not been getting enough exercise. I'm about to use my ski machine though, soon as I post this entry.

I'll end with this excerpt from a poll about Bush's ratings going up after the capture of Saddam. {Speaking of Saddam, his picture right after capture looks worse than Nick Nolte's mug shot!} Anyhow, Bush's ratings went up ... with a couple of exceptional comments noted:

Bush's Approval Ratings

There was also clear public disapproval about some ways that Mr. Bush has responded to the war at home. For example, two-thirds of Americans, including most Republicans, said they disagreed with the White House policy of prohibiting news photographers from ceremonies where the coffins of Americans troops are brought home.

The White House says that the policy is intended to protect the privacy of the families of the deceased; Democrats and some critics of the White House say it is intended to avoid the publication of emotionally charged photographs that might harden opposition to the war.

Along those same lines, two-thirds of respondents said Mr. Bush should make it a practice to attend the funerals of some Americans killed in Iraq. (That said, a quarter of respondents said, incorrectly, that Mr. Bush was attending those funerals.)

Actually, I think that the majority of Americans don't even realize that Bushie won't allow news coverage of the returning bodies of our dead soldiers. I think it's just plain censorship...but what else is new?

No telling when I'll update again, but maybe I'll get in a few minutes of writing sometimes during the next weeks.

Monday, December 15, 2003

A busy weekend, and we actually got a good bit accomplished at the old house. Saturday it rained all day, so we stayed indoors there, DH finishing sanding the sheetrock joint compound. I painted another closet, which leaves two more to be done. But at least the largest one is finished.

And AT LAST, the gas line was installed and the furnace working! Whoopee!! About time, is all I can say.

Saturday night I noticed my eyes started burning, my sinuses giving me fits. I didn't sleep well that night, and on Sunday we had an all-day trip to the Tennessee state line to buy saddles at a discount price, which DH later sells for a profit. It was a gloomy, overcast day all day...but the trip was sort of a nice diversion. On the other hand, I felt lousy -- my joints aching, especially my knees.

I have minor knee injury from being a runner, and occasionally they act up. Particularly if I overdo on the bike riding -- and I did last Thursday. As I rode in the park, I noticed I was getting a flat on the front tire, which made peddling that much more difficult. I did make it home before the tire went completely flat, but my knees took the brunt of the extra hard peddling. I don't know when I'll get the flat fixed, and I'm frankly not in a hurry...since my knees will have to recover.

Last night I didn't sleep much at all, and today I'm feeling rather disoriented. And that made it doubly difficult to have to take one of my cats to the vet -- which resulted in her having to be put to sleep. I will miss CutiePie a great deal, but there was no avoiding the fatal affliction she had. Now I only have five cats, and don't plan to get any more till all these are gone -- which I hope is longer that I expect. All that has made me a bit depressed, so I moped around today and cleaned house instead of doing any writing or causing eyestrain at the computer.

I think that some of the sheetrock dust got in my eyes, even though DH kept that room closed off and he wore eye/nose mask on Saturday. I later did some vacuuming in there, and I felt my eyes stinging. Sunday my eyes were very, very red...and my sinuses are swollen. I am going to have to be extremely careful to stay out of such dust, even with a mask, because it seems to compound my sinus problems, and make me just very nearly sick. I'm still feeling lousy today, but at least the awful sinus headache seems to have abated. Sure hope I sleep better tonight too.

I am still processing the Saddam capture -- although I will say that I don't think it'll stop "insurgent" attacks on Iraqis OR American troops. Glad he was caught, but am wondering about the trial situation.

And by the way, have any of you looked up the word "insurgent" in the dictionary? Here is the precise meaning:


--A person who takes part in a rebellion in the hope of improving conditions

--A member of an irregular armed force that fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment

Adjective: Insurgent

-- In opposition to a civil authority or government

Interesting, no? And that first description is quite enlightening, eh?

More when I feel better...hopefully sooner than later.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I've spent a busy morning, had to buy groceries and run errands. I also had to renew my driver's license, oooh, the dread. Isn't it amazing how those photo I.D.s look just like a bad mug shot taken when you're being processed into jail? (LOL)

At any rate, from what I can see of the black-and-white snapshot, it's better than my last driver's license picture -- but not much of an improvement. I actually had my address listed for the old house, since it would cost me $18.00 to have it changed in a few months. I had to pay the $24.95 today, so why waste another twenty bucks later? Now if we don't move...well, that's another story!

The gas company got the line dug, but still no meter installed as of yesterday. DH is furious, and planned to call them again this morning. After all the expense and trouble we went to in order to have natural gas, I sure hope it's worth it -- but I simply couldn't endure the propane gas (smelly and causes my sinuses to have fits). Maybe the meter was installed today, but even so, the heat/air crew will still have to return and hook up the furnace and THEN test it all before we'll have heat. Since DH won't have much time this weekend to work anyway, perhaps that is not a big deal. However, IF we do anything tomorrow there, I suppose we'll take our kerosene heater, which does a great job on heating but also troubles my sinuses.

I've been working on the short story rewrite, but still not ready to post it yet.

I finished reading a great novel the other night: "Mystic River" by Dennis Lehane. There's a movie out based on the novel, starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robinson, I think. The novel is excellent, I could hardly put it down -- one of the best I've read in ages. So I'm looking forward to seeing the movie eventually.

Here's an excerpt that I found very candid, in regards to having children. This is a thought the cop (Kevin Bacon) has, about not having kids:

He'd never wanted kids. Outside of priority boarding on an airline, he couldn't see the upside to them. They took over your life and filled you with terror and weariness and people acted like having one was a blessed event and talked about them in the reverent tones they once reserved for gods. When it came down to it, though, you had to remember that all those assholes cutting you off in traffic and walking the streets and shouting in bars and turning their music up too loud and mugging you and raping you and selling you lemon cars -- all those assholes were just children who'd aged. No miracle. Nothing sacred in that.

True to form though, this cop has a baby before the end of the novel. Bleh. On the other hand, I read that the author lives in Boston with his wife and two bulldogs; perhaps that passage is more about HIS thoughts, huh? Makes you wonder. It is one of the better truths I've ever seen in print, seriously similar to how most childfree people (myself included) feel about not having kids.

However, here is my favorite quote in the book:

Happiness comes in moments, and then it's gone until the next time. Could be years. But sadness settles in.

A very good noir author, and I'll be looking for his other novels.

That's a wrap for today!

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

What to report?

No progress yet on getting the gas line intsalled at the old house, but hopefully that will happen tomorrow. DH will probably not be able to work there this weekend, since he has an employment detail. I won't go by myself, so I suppose nothing else will get done until his two weeks off -- starting December 22nd through January 5th. Two whole weeks to work on the place. He can install the windows (weather permitting) and I can start painting.

Sunday we went on a car ride, then dropped by the small shopping mall near the old house. I bought some primer at Fred's, which is one of the great discount stores there, and got a real bargain. Now as soon as the dishwasher is installed, I'll be ready to start painting in the kitchen. I will use the primer on the cabinets and the half-wall of blond paneling, since I want to change the color scheme and give it a sunny yellow makeover.

I haven't lost interest in the project, but I will admit to all the hired work delays putting a bit of a damper on my initial enthusiasm. But there's no point in getting in a rush, since it will be at least early next March before we can move. Even after all the painting/interior work is done, we have to build an addition on the back, a large room for the cats. And that is going to be long and tedious, as well as expensive. I've been saving for that already, and perhaps whatever income tax refund we get will also help us pay cash for that. I have a set bottom limit on money market savings, and won't go below that figure -- no matter what, since it is for emergencies. So we just have to pay as we go, using a little of what isn't saved/used from each paycheck.

I have reworked a short story, but need to type it into the computer before posting at my webzine. I wrote it years and years ago, along with a bunch of other stories I'd put away in my file cabinet, intending to rewrite/edit but just never did. Also, I've starting itching to write fiction again, and feel sure I'm about to get back into the flow of it.

Yesterday and today I went on my bike ride, and the temps are very mild, ideal for riding. I had to remove the acorns/straw off the park sidewalk, due to it being slippery where I go downhill. Didn't want to risk a bike accident. Tomorrow my mother is supposed to drop by for a visit on her way to a doctor's appointment, and no telling how long she and my step-dad will stay.

I recently found some news articles/updates about the infamous and notorious bank robbing couple who'd been featured on "America's Most Wanted." Craig Pritchert and Nova Guthrie were captured in South Africa, and are now back in the states. I am planning on writing Pritchert, as soon as I can locate his exact mailing address. He is apparently in Phoenix, Arizona, currently incarcerated in the county jail. She is in Colorado.

In one article I read, it stated that Nova's parents had already been contacted about a book/movie deal. No doubt. I am sure the 'sympathetic slant' can be centered on her; she is about 12 years Craig's junior, and had lived an ordinary life until he came along. Their whole story is fascinating to me, but it will be interesting to see how Pritchert deals with being portrayed perhaps as a cunning bank robber who lured Nova into a life of crime (which, by the way, doesn't seem to have been the case at all, she went willingly). I'm fairly sure once Hollyweird gets hold of it, they will need to make him out to be the villian. Here's a link/excerpt to one of the articles:

A Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde?

PHOENIX - He sat behind the glass partition in the county jail, his years on the run finished.

Craig Pritchert leaned forward in his black-and-white striped uniform and rubbed his eyes. They were weary and damp with tears, the eyes of a man who could see the end.

The end of a good life, a life of ski resorts and seaside towns and peace on the other side of the world, but a life based on a fake identity and cover story.

Worse, this could be the end of a love. Not one, as police assert, built on lies and lawlessness - but rather sincere affection, he explained.

"We had what most people strive for but can't even touch," said Pritchert, drumming his fingers on the partition for emphasis as he spoke of Nova Guthrie. "It was ... the fairy tale. The only question now is the happily ever after."

But in a fairy tale, the hero isn't a suspected bank robber and his heroine the accused getaway driver - and happily ever after doesn’t include the possibility of prison for both.

Hmm, I'd like to hear his opinion AFTER the movie is made. Yep, sure would.

Enough for today.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

I didn't go to the old house today; the gas company still hasn't put in the line, although the remainder of the central heat/air is ready to go. Hopefully next Wednesday that will be done. DH did go, and should be back any time now. The wind is fierce out there today, still overcast and only in the low 40s. Inside that house would have been frigid, and I couldn't have done anything. Plus...I don't know, I'm sort of getting tired of it all, maybe even losing interest. Or perhaps just aggravated with all the delays of "workers" who are supposed to be doing a job on time. Whatever.

I spent the day working on some old stories I wrote a long time ago, and plan to post those next week at The Prose Menagerie, my webzine. I think I'm verging on getting involved again in my creative writing, yippee!

In the meantime, I found this funny stuff about cats. You can skip it if you're not a cat lover.


Dear Cats:

When I say to move, it means go someplace else, not switch positions with each other so there are still two cats in the way.

The dishes with the paw print are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Please note, placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Beating me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help, because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-size bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue to sleep on the couch to insure your comfort.

Look at videos of cats sleeping, they can actually curl up in a ball. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and
having tongues hanging out the other end to maximize space used is nothing but catty sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not a secret exit from the bathroom. If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to scratch, meow or get your paw under the edge and try to pull the door open. I must exit through the same door I entered. In addition, I have been using bathrooms for years, feline attendance is not mandatory.

The proper order is lick my face, then go lick your butt. I cannot stress this enough. It would be such a simple change for you.

Rules for Non-Cat Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About Our Cats:

1. The cats live here. You don't.

2. If you don't want cat hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture

3. I like my cats a lot better than I like most people

4. To you, they're cats. To me, they're an adopted son or daughter who is short, hairy, walks on all fours and doesn't speak clearly

5. Cats are better than kids. They eat less, don't ask for money all the time, are easier to train, sometimes come when called, never drive your car, don't hang out with drug-using friends, don't smoke or drink, don't worry about buying the latest fashions, don't wear your clothes, don't need a gazillion dollars for college, and if they get pregnant, you can sell the kittens.

6. They ignore you until you are asleep.


Till next time, which may be next Monday since I AM going to the old house tomorrow if the weather is better -- and it is predicted to be.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Yesterday's writing prompt:

Imagine you’re a bartender, and there is a sad, lonely man sitting on the corner stool. You ask him what’s wrong. What story does he tell you?

And here's the story:

Don't Talk to Strangers

I'd seen him there before, but never noticed him as I did that cold, snowy Christmas Eve night. He always sat on the last stool at the end of the bar, his head lowered, eyes hooded, a big man but quiet and unobtrusive. He had longish brown hair, usually wore jeans, a pullover sweater -- just an average-looking guy, nothing special to catch my eye.

I've been a bartender for six months now, and though it was supposed to be a part-time job so I could get enough money saved to attend college, I found that I enjoyed the gig. I learned to make all the mixed drinks expertly and with flourish; pour a beer with or without a "head," ring up tabs at the cash register -- but most of all, I liked the opportunity to study the odd assortment of people who dropped in. I always wanted to be a writer, and this job was ideal for observing vastly different kinds of individuals. Everything from bored housewives who seemed to sneak in and grab a quick drink before heading out to pick up their kids at school to rich, respectable businessmen knocking one back before a big important meeting came in from time to time. The big, quiet guy though had escaped my scrutiny until this night...

It was getting late, nearly midnight, and we would be closing soon; the big guy was the only one left in the bar. An eerie absence of laughter, conversations, and the general noise usually in the bar gave me an uneasy feeling. Through the dim lighting and smoky haze, I glanced over to our bouncer, Mac, still standing at the door, his meaty arms folded in front of him and his tiny, dark eyes looking in my direction, asking an unspoken question. Glad he was still there, I shrugged, and headed over to see why the big guy was still on the stool when the clock now showed midnight.

As I approached him, I wiped the bar, moving that way slowly...putting on my sweetest smile. And if I do say so myself, I'm an attractive gal (blond, blue-eyed, good curves in the right places) and when I turn on the charm, I can be downright irresistible. As I came up close to where he had his arms folded on the bar, head down, I said, "Say mister, could I get you one last drink for the road?"

He looked up at me, and I was astonished at the melancholy, pained look on his face; he had deep brown eyes, heavy jowls, not attractive at all...but there was..something about him, something almost charismatic in his riveting gaze. I kept smiling, but it wasn't easy.

He said, "Time for me to leave, huh?" His voice was soft, low, almost a whisper and he kept his eyes pinned on me.

I shrugged, said, "Um, yeah, but you've got time for one last drink on the house." I did remember he'd only had one beer, which he'd nursed for the last hour or so. As I looked at him, I realized he was not as old as I'd first thought, probably no more than 30 or 35. Being overweight I'd just not realized he was a younger man...

"Okay, I'll take that beer, if you don't mind."

I got one from the tap, still smiling at him, and set it in front of him.

He sipped it a little, his brown eyes never leaving my face; I thought he actually might be flirting with me...but then that hang-dog sadness slumped his shoulders again, and he looked away, off into the middle-distance as if seeing something too sad to talk about.

Suddenly I heard myself say, "My name is Sharon, I've seen you here before...mister?"

"You can call me Charlie."

"Well Charlie, let me wish you a Merry Christmas."

He grimaced, shook his big head, wiped a strand of his too-long brown hair off his forehead. "Sharon, this is not going to be a good Christmas, no way."

"I'm sorry..." I could hear the loneliness in his voice, see it in his every gesture, and found myself feeling sorry for him.

"Yeah, just another day to me. Course, the way I am, guess it's just as well. I don't deserve any of the goodies Christmas usually brings."

Curiosity made me ask, "And why is that Charlie? What about family?"

He gave me a crooked, but somehow appealing, smile. "No family, none at all. Parents dead, most of my relatives way out in California, where I'm from."

"You're sure a long way from home here in Michigan."

"True. And alone."

Oddly, I suddenly felt compelled to say, "You could join my family, I'm going there tomorrow. My parents live out in the burbs, but I promise you'd have a really good meal, my mom's a great cook."

He looked up, smiled that crooked smile, said, "You serious?"

I wondered if I had gone insane, to ask a total stranger (in a bar, no less!) to my parent's home. Still, the deep sadness in his brown eyes touched my heart, and I quickly assured him, "Yes, absolutely. I could pick you up on the corner near this bar tomorrow...on my way to my folks."

He took a few more sips of the beer, studying me intently over the beer mug. As he set it down, he said, "You know, I might just take you up on that offer. I've only been here a couple weeks, and don't know anyone at all."

"No wife, kids?"

"Nah, I've never...been the marrying kind."

I thought I detected a hint of a tease, and felt I was helping him feel better already. "Well Charlie, we have a date then." I wondered about him, about his life, why he was so alone, so sad...but felt I would find out once we were better acquainted.

He swilled down the rest of the beer, set it down with a thud and stood, putting on his thick coat. "This sure is my lucky night, and I do appreciate your invite. What time should I be at the corner tomorrow?"

I took his beer mug, wiped the bar off, started doing the usual closing up tasks, saying, "Wait a sec, and I'll walk out with you."

Mac came over to the bar, but when I smiled and said, "Hey Mac, I'm about ready to leave. Sully is in back, doing the cash stuff, so maybe you won't be here too much longer."

He just grunted, nodded and headed toward the back office where Sully was working.

I got my coat, yelled a quick, "Merry Christmas Sully, Mac..." then joined Charlie at the door. As we headed outside, the wind was so fierce it nearly took my breath away. I wrapped my coat tightly to my shivering body, and Charlie and I stood underneath the awning, looking at the few passing cars, fat snowflakes starting to fall.

"Wow, looks like a white Christmas," I gushed, teeth chattering.

Charlie said, "Do you have a car? I'll walk you to it, if you want." His voice sounded a little strange, husky almost.

I felt a slight tremor of fear, as if something wasn't quite right. As I looked up at Charlie, I'm sure my face showed my sudden uneasiness, for he said, "Or you can go on, and I'll head back to my room."

I just stood there, feeling foolish, but I turned slightly toward the corner, about to head for the parking lot across the street where my car was parked.

I felt Charlie's sudden grasp on my arm, and then, his other arm went behind me, and I felt something hard at my back. "Just walk toward your car, like you do every night when you get off work." His voice had changed again, deeper, menacing.

I trembled, tried to pull back from him, but he pushed the hard object into my back, demanding in a scary whisper, "I said, walk to your car...I've got a gun."

I did as I was told, trembling and shaking, wanting to motion to a car...seeing that no one was out on the street this late, everyone no doubt at home, planning on Christmas with their family. "Please...don't hurt me," I begged in a breathless plea.

"Just get in the car."

We were at my car. I fumbled for my keys in my purse, got the door unlocked, and got in behind the driver's wheel; Charlie quickly got in behind me, in the backseat, and told me to get going. I started the car, turned the lights and windshield wipers on and started out of the lot and then onto the street. I knew my life was over, I just knew it...but I couldn't think of anything to do, anyway to stop Charlie. He had the gun at my neck, and I was at his mercy.

He told me to turn down a deserted alleyway and then said, the fury and rage in his voice merciless, "I know I look sad, and I am. You know why I'm sad? I'll tell you why, it's because I can't help myself, can't quit killing women, I just can't!"

Those were the last words I ever heard....

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Today is my 52nd birthday.

I wish I had some words of wisdom to impart on growing older, but I'm not sure I do. However, I DO have much to be appreciative of, having lived this long.

I appreciate simply being ALIVE! After all, due to a genetic metabolism problem that results in kidney stones, I was told at the age of 23 that I would probably NOT live to be 30. Oh how wrong the doctors were! So I'll impart this wisdom born of experience: Don't believe everything a doctor predicts. Sometimes the human body surprises even them. In fact, first with medication, and later simply adjusting my diet, I haven't had a kidney stone since I was age 23!

I appreciate that DH and I are doing well financially. If someone had told me at age 30 that we'd one day own TWO houses debt-free, I would have laughed at them. Particularly since I've never worked full-time over long periods, instead being frugal and careful with DH's modest (and I DO mean modest) income. So wisdom born of experience: Get out of debt. No matter what you want, it's not worth debt. IF you have to get a home via a mortgage (and most of us do when young) pay it off as quickly as possible, no matter what else you have to do without. A "home owner" with a mortgage is NOT a home owner; the bank owns that house until it is paid for. And believe me, the bank won't hesitate to foreclose on it, if necessary. Without debt, you can save and move forward; with debt, you are a slave eternally.

I appreciate life, but there are times I've been suicidal. On reflection, I'd say almost without exception, most suicidal tendencies I've had are either hormonal or an emotional imbalance...both of which pass eventually. Therefore, suicide is NOT a solution to any problem. I agree with this quote: "Suicide is an irreversible solution to a temporary problem." Think about that when you are feeling depressed and fear life is a cruel joke (which it can sometimes seem, regarding almost all aspects).

All in all, I'm just grateful to still be alive, to be relatively healthy, active and still intellectually/mentally alert. If I can say this at 80, then I'll STILL be glad to be alive.

Regrets? A few, but none that are worth being miserable about. For certain, I have NO REGRETS about choosing NOT to have children. I appreciate that DH and I chose not to reproduce, and I'm sure some of our happiness NOW is due to that decision long ago.

I went on my bike ride around 1:00 today, and the wind was fierce! I had to struggle every bit of the ride, but I DID make it. Now it's pouring rain, a cold, dark rain...which should remain with us until around noon tomorrow. DH and I will eat out tonight, and my sister called for a long chat earlier, and to wish me happy birthday.

On this rainy afternoon, I believe it might be a good time to start a creative writing exercise, the results of which I'll post later.

Here's the writing prompt from a Writer's Digest website:

Imagine you’re a bartender, and there is a sad, lonely man sitting on the corner stool. You ask him what’s wrong. What story does he tell you?

Stay tuned for the story, coming soon!

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I finally had time to visit the library today, and got some good novels. I am especially eager to read Joy Fielding's latest suspense novel, "Lost." I was a fan of her novels long before she became famous. I also got several other suspense novels, but to tell you the truth, I've NEVER come across an author who can beat Thomas Cook for suspense thrillers.

When I got home, I went on the bike ride; it's still somewhat cold here, in the 40s today and becoming increasingly overcast. We're supposed to get rain (possibly mixed with sleet) Thursday and Friday. I bet folks will make a run on the grocery store to "stock up" on milk, bread, etc. And then probably the bad weather will fail to materialize! I sure hope the front clears out before Saturday, since we plan to work at the old house.

Not much else happening I'll close today with the lyrics from a song popular in the early 90s that always reminded me of the young guy on death row I wrote before he killed himself.

Runaway Train  by  Soul Asylum

Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a blowtorch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning
So tired that I couldn't even sleep
So many secrets I couldn't keep
Promised myself I wouldn't weep
One more promise I couldn't keep
It seems no one can help me now
I'm in too deep there's no way out
This time I have really led myself astray
Runaway train never going back
Wrong way on a one way track
Seems like I should be getting somewhere
Somehow I'm neither here nor there
Can you help me remember how to smile
Make it somehow all seem worthwhile
How on earth did I get so jaded
Life's mystery seems so faded
I can go where no one else can go
I know what no one else knows
Here I am just drownin' in the rain
With a ticket for a runaway train
Everything is cut and dry
Day and night, earth and sky
Somehow I just don't believe it
Bought a ticket for a runaway train
Like a madman just a laughin' at the rain
Little out of touch, little insane
Just easier than dealing with the pain
Runaway train never comin' back
Runaway train tearin' up the track
Runaway train burnin' in my veins
Runaway but it always seems the same

Monday, December 01, 2003

Not much new to report, except that I went on my bike ride this morning...and it was a brisk, cold ride too!

Last week I didn't ride at all, and today it seemed as if I were starting all over again. I did use the ski machine last week, but that is not like riding a bike. Plus, it was windy this morning, but I got too warm in my wind-breaker jacket as I rode in the park. I had gained up to 97 last week, but cut down on calories the past few days and I'm back to 95. If I ride the bike, I can eat more calories; and yet, it's amazing I can eat as much as I have been and not get back to 100. I think the hard work at the old house has helped me stay this lower weight, and I DO gain when I'm not exercising and/or working.

I have the new photos online, although there are only three. These are all outside shots, since I walked around the pasture/yard Saturday since it was too cold to work inside the house. You can either find those on the right side link to "Renovations" or click here and look at the bottom of the page.

Yesterday we went on a rambling drive, which used to be our regular Sunday afternoon outings. It was nice to get away from work for awhile, but we ended up back at the old house -- to feed the horses and just look around. DH straightened the fence that runs alongside the highway yesterday morning, as well as cut some of the overgrown hedge-bushes off of it. He's also straightened the fence beside the barn, and will next straighten the fencing along the narrow dirt road. This weathered wooden fencing looks really picturesque, and we are going to keep it, just needs a bit of TLC. I already have the barn-red paint for the barn, but haven't had a chance to paint it yet; and the trim will be white. I think that will make an immediate improvement in how the barn looks, and add to the overall "farm" look.

One thing the real estate ads in this area use to sell a small acreage (like ours) is to call it a "mini-farm." I've seen ads for places no better than ours will be (when finished) for as much as $150,000.00. Another attraction to our location: Birmingham people who are heading north out of the city, but within a reasonable commute back to their workplace. Our place is located near the southern end of this county, closer to Birmingham, and a few miles south of the house, there's already a rush of new people out of the city looking for "mini-farms." ;-) And of course, it's within a couple miles of the only junior college here, as well as another safe, small town.

We currently live in the county seat, but the small town near our old house/land is quaint and picturesque too...much smaller and more like the typical small southern towns of yesteryear. I think the population is only a little over 2,000. Of course, across from the community college is the small strip-mall, where there's chain department and grocery stores, fast food establishments, etc. -- which makes it very convenient. I believe it would be safe to say our location there will be "country living with city conveniences!"

Oh yes, there's a slight possibility we may be getting Igor, the miniature donkey back. I think the girl's parents are growing tired of taking care of him for her. Also, I hope at some time in the future (after we're moved) to get a miniature horse, although I have no idea about what kind.

About five miles from the old houseplace, there's an exotic animal auction, which handles all kinds of exotic animals. That's where Igor came from, and we might go there eventually. DH knows of several local people who breed miniature horses, and they are sold at horse sales too. I just want one because they are so cute and small, and seem like they'd be a good pet -- I'd rather have one of those, I think, than a dog. I'd be afraid a dog would get run over on the nearby highway, and I can't bear the thought of penning up a dog. We'll see, I guess.

I've actually been reading a great novel, almost finished with it. Good time to read in the evenings when there is NOTHING but sentimental crap on TV for Christmas. The title is "Guest Shot" by David Locke. It is a thriller, and deals with a plot I've often wanted to develop myself: What if a billionaire became a serial killer? All that money at his disposal would surely make him harder to nail, right? And what if he managed to go on a nationwide TV talk show, without revealing his identity by electronic means, and talked about his killing? This novel would make a great movie.

And that's all she wrote today, folks.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Yesterday I went to the old house, but it was soooooo verrrrrry cold in there I couldn't do anything! Much less paint. The c/a crew still hasn't completed installing the system, nor has the gas company laid our natural gas line, ergo, no heat! Old houses tend to get very cold inside when the temps hit the 20s, as it has here for a couple of nights...and rarely warm up much during the day. Therefore, I doubt I'll be doing anything more until the heating system is installed; hopefully that will be sooner than later.

DH did complete all the sheetrock work, did a bit of cleaning/vacuuming...and other than a few touch-ups, the two front rooms are just about ready for painting. However, first we must install the new windows. And yesterday morning DH went by Lowe's to get the windows, which we'd seen there only a couple weeks ago, for 67.00 each. Lo and behold, he starts looking for them, and can't find them. Asks a salesperson, and discovers they are discontinuing that line, and now plan to stock a similar window...but with a price tag of 80.00+ dollars each. Good grief! So DH didn't buy the windows, but did get there early enough to grab one of those rock-bottom priced dishwashers, which is now sitting in the dining room, awaiting installation by our friend who will do that free.

Later in the afternoon we went to Marvin's, the only other discount home improvement place here, and found the same kind of windows for only $68.00. We bought enough to do the remainder of the windows except for the living room. We are thinking of installing a clear, large window in place of the two side windows that have a gorgeous, peaceful view of the country road and pasture. The front windows facing the porch will be the same, but Marvin's didn't have enough to buy those too. We also found a bargain on the double-doors we'll need for the living room closet, and bought those. DH is gone this morning to do a few things there, feed the horses, etc and will be back shortly. We're taking a well-deserved break this afternoon, going on a drive!

I got some great photos yesterday, but don't have time to upload and post those now. I'll try to do that tomorrow sometimes, when life gets back to normal here.

I'll end today with a poem that is very true regarding soldiers in ALL wars -- and what war does to make them enemies.


by: Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

"HAD he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

"But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

"I shot him dead because --
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although

"He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like -- just as I --
Was out of work -- had sold his traps --
No other reason why.

"Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."

Friday, November 28, 2003

Sooo, Thanksgiving is over. As with all the holidays this time of year, I always feel great relief that the ordeal is behind us. Perhaps this sentiment comes from not being a fan of "family life" -- and without children, I feel no compulsion and/or obligation to honor most of the "traditional' fanfare of Thanksgiving or Christmas. As a matter of fact, I LOATHE Christmas, and would just as soon see it never come around. Commercialism, cosumerism, faux sentimental ads, ad nauseum. Plus, as I've recorded in other journal entries, my childhood Christmases were so bad that the whole season sets off a depression which I would rather skip entirely. Perhaps having the old house to work on will alleviate most of that this year though.

DH and I did go to my sister's house the night before Thanksgiving, mostly so I could get the family stuff over with and tell them I wouldn't be at the Christmas get-together. Sometimes I go, other times I don't. One of my nephews has gotten engaged, and the girl was there; she seems nice -- but sounds as if she's another Bible-thumper like him. At least they didn't try to convert me from my "heathen agnostic" views! :-) I've learned to avoid the hot topics of religion and politics at such events, so as to avoid arguments. Everyone in my family was there except my youngest sister; apparently she and my other sister had an argument recently, and she didn't want to come. At any rate, the ordeal is over and I can put it all behind me.

Thanksgiving day DH and I worked at the old house, and are finally making some visible progress. I finished sanding off the joint compound on the kitchen window woodwork, and those three windows are ready to paint. DH almost finished the sheetrock in the front bedroom, and will complete that today. He's gone now to buy a dishwasher (on sale at Lowe's today), as well as three more windows and some odds and ends we needed. I'm not going there today, since I have to buy groceries, run some errands in town, and do a good bit of housework here today.

I want to post an article and link about the AARP. I was astonished when their board promoted the latest Bush medicare/drug "benefit?" plan. I have not joined AARP, though I get mail about every week inviting me to "send in my dues." No thanks. And for sure I won't now, after their Republican stand on the "drug benefit" deal. I found the following article to be most thoroughly informed and well-researched, as to exactly WHAT the AARP is now, and its history.

AARP Grows Into $636 Million Empire

WASHINGTON (AP) - AARP's fight for legislation giving private insurers a new role in Medicare surprised many Democrats, but in fact the giant retiree group has long been in the health insurance business itself.

In 45 years, AARP has grown from a program founded to insure retired teachers to a more than $636 million-a-year empire that pays its chief executive a half-million-dollar salary and lends its name to things such as pharmacy services and Medicare supplemental insurance, and discounts for hotel rooms, car rentals, shopping and cruises.

AARP bills itself as an advocacy group for older Americans, but draws more than two-thirds of its income from ventures other than its $12.50 membership fee. Its lobbying costs, though in the millions of dollars, are a tiny fraction of its revenue.

Executive director William Novelli says AARP is part business, part senior citizens' advocate and part lobbying group.

"There's no dichotomy in our minds. If you look at why people belong to AARP, here's why they belong. They like the discounts, they value the products and services we offer, they like our publications," Novelli said. "But probably near the very top is the fact that we speak out on behalf of older Americans."

AARP began in 1958, years before the government created Medicare to provide health care coverage for older Americans.

Novelli recounts a colorful history. Retired California school principal Ethel Percy Andrus was so appalled that many educators couldn't afford health insurance in retirement - she reportedly discovered one living in a chicken coop - that she formed the National Retired Teachers Association in 1947. She approached health insurance companies until she found one willing to insure her members at an affordable price.

Looking for more members, Andrus formed the American Association of Retired Persons and expanded the group's offerings to a range of discounted products and services, including mail-order pharmacy services.

In the years since, AARP lowered its membership age to 50 and dropped its original name in favor of the acronym to reflect its broader membership. The latest edition of its magazine features a cover photo of beaming, apparently wrinkle-free actress Lauren Hutton with the tag line "Sixty is the new thirty."

AARP even offers motorcycle insurance for those spry enough to hit the road. A third of its members are under 60, one-third 60-69, and the other third 70 and above.

Aggressive marketing has built AARP into a 35 million-member titan. These days, the first greeting card many Americans get as their 50th birthdays approach comes from AARP in the form of an invitation to join - whether they consider themselves close to retirement or not.

"We have a big satellite system that tracks everybody," Novelli joked, explaining that the group trolls for new members by using public information such as driver's license records. "Some people are put off by it. Other people say, 'Hey, let me see those discounts.'"

Novelli defends his corporate CEO-style salary - $458,468 last year, plus $9,266 for expenses - as appropriate given the organization's size. His predecessor, Horace Deets, has a deferred compensation payout worth $2.65 million.

Novelli said the AARP plows its profits into its advocacy and lobbying work, including legal assistance for the elderly. It is officially nonpartisan and doesn't make campaign donations.

Nonetheless, the group has gained enemies in Washington along the way.

Retired Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., scrutinized the group's profit-making enterprises while in the Senate in the mid-1990s, questioning how AARP could be entirely tax-exempt when it was making millions. AARP ultimately was forced to move its business side to a for-profit, taxable subsidiary called AARP Services Inc.

Simpson said he joined AARP when he turned 60, "just to see what they did."

"I just couldn't believe it. Everything was about money: 'Send in your dues,'" Simpson said. "The advertising wasn't directed to the little guy. It was how to do resorts and cruises, and special wheelchairs and stairs in your home for five grand."

Simpson tells a different story of AARP's genesis. His inquiry revealed it was started by a teacher and "a defrocked insurance peddler" who thought they could make money on retiree insurance, he said: "And boy, they did."

Simpson is skeptical of the AARP's declaration that it doesn't know whether its health insurance and prescription drug businesses will be helped, hurt or both by the Medicare bill. The recently approved measure, which President Bush is ready to sign, will provide a Medicare prescription drug benefit and give private insurers a new role.

"I never saw the AARP do anything that would hurt their business," Simpson said.

AARP's member health insurance program, administered with major insurance companies United Healthcare and MetLife, reaped at least $161 million for AARP last year, its financial reports show.

Novelli said AARP considered the Medicare bill good public policy, and that its own health care ventures weren't a factor. AARP's push for the bill so angered some in the group that thousands have canceled their memberships.

Oh, and Bushie made a "top secret" trip to visit the troops on T-day. Or at least he put in an appearance in Iraq with a very, very few of the troops. He should have already done that, in my opinion. Coming as it did after Hillary's public announcement that SHE would go to Iraq, I find it highly comic that Bushie's handlers must have decided they'd better send him too. I understand the need for security, but the "secretive" nature of his trip seems suspicious at best, comical at worst. While Hillary is going about openly over there in Afghanistan and soon, Iraq... I don't know, perhaps Bush could hide behind her skirt-tails if he'd ask her kindly? :-)

Gotta run, lots to do today!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I spent most of yesterday doing household chores and then finding and printing out some legal forms for when we rent this house. I found an excellent form, "Application to Rent" under our current state's legal realtor laws. It is very detailed and asks specific questions as to income, past rental history, credit standing, etc. and should narrow down any chances of getting unsuitable renters. Certainly, if anyone goes to the trouble to fill it out accurately, we can do a credit check, employment history and past rental reference confirmation. I plan to put a "For Rent" sign out front, with a small plastic box with the "Application to Rent" in it, so that potential renters will have the necessary information without asking us. They can fill out the application and either mail it to us, or bring it by. I also will then have a Lease ready to sign, once we approve of a renter. And by the way, I can put in a pet clause, so that anyone with cats is preferred; no dogs though.

Today I had errands in town, and also some shopping to get done. I think DH and I will go to my family gathering tomorrow night at one of my sister's houses, instead of on Thanksgiving. Probably we'll be working at the old house on Thanksgiving -- indoors, since heavy rain is predicted all day that day.

I have started using my ski machine in the afternoon, since the weather has either been too cold (hit 25 here last night!), or rainy. I use my portable cassette player, plug in the earphones and ski like mad!

I see that the U.S. military officials are now claiming those dead soldier bodies were not brutalized. Ha, as if anyone believes them. All their denial does for me is convince me they are hiding MORE such atrocities; that's their nature, denial and lies. I mean, how could Americans back here at home know what is going on over there, considering Bush won't even allow the media to film the flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers when they are returned here? The media is also in danger over there, so I am sure they don't cover events as thoroughly as they would otherwise. Plus, the military has restrictions on the media access. I guess the American public hasn't had enough of the secrecy just yet; it took YEARS before we ever raised hell about the slaughter of soldiers in Vietnam.

I've put up a forum for anyone who wishes to discuss and/or comment on my journal entries. You can access it HERE I'll add a permanent link on the right side of this blog too.

And that's it for today.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

A very busy day yesterday. I managed to complete painting the inside of the hall closet, and it sure did give me a sense of accomplishing something. With the mess throughout the old house, any evidence of progess is helpful.

Today I'll head to the old house soon. I plan to paint the inside of another closet. I can close the doors on the closets, and not expose the new paint job to all the dust of sheetrock. DH is already there, plumbing for the gas water heater, which is in the cellar. The central heat/air is still not finished, nor the natural gas line installed, but the heating unit is already in the cellar. DH will hang sheetrock later today also.

Horrible news out of Iraq this morning:

Three U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Gunmen killed two American soldiers driving through this northern Iraqi city Sunday, and then a crowd swarmed the scene, looting the soldiers' vehicle and pummeling their bodies, witnesses said. Another soldier was killed in a roadside bombing north of Baghdad.

Bahaa Jassim, a teenager, said the soldiers' vehicle crashed into a wall after the shooting. Several dozen passers-by then descended on the wreckage, looting the car of weapons and the soldiers' backpacks.

After the soldiers' bodies fell into the street, the crowd pummeled them with concrete blocks, Jassim said.

This incidence reminds me of our troops in the movie: "Black Hawk Down" ...where the citizens literally ganged up on the troops and after killing them, drug their bodies through the streets. Of course, the movie was based on the real American troops in Somalia.

I wonder why Bushie thinks that the Iraqis are supposed to LOVE us, when it is plain they HATE our guts? You can't just waltz in and destroy a country and expect the citizens to welcome you. Oh, I know...these terrible attacks against the troops are "insurgents." Excuse me, I don't think so. They are citizens that are FED UP with the horrid living conditions there ever since Americans bombed them back to the Stone Age. Look for more such displays of FURY against troops' dead bodies.

Gotta run. Lots to do today!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Feeling almost normal today. And I've had a great day so far: I got another postal letter from the physics professor in England, and we're having quite a correspondence about some of our similar interests.

And that reminds me that I've not mentioned much in this blog lately about one of my favorite amature interests: science. Last night I watched Nova on PBS, and it was a fascinating program. Perhaps you've heard of the coming magnetic shift? If not, you might like to look at the Nova PBS site for more info. Here's a link and excerpt:

Magnetic Storm

If all the compasses in the world started pointing south rather than north, many people might think something very strange, very unusual, and possibly very dangerous was going on. Doomsayers would have a field day proclaiming the end is nigh, while more rational persons might head straight to scientists for an explanation.

Such reversals in the Earth's magnetic field, they'd tell you, are, roughly speaking, as common as ice ages. That is, they're terrifically infrequent by human standards, but in geologic terms they happen all the time. As the time line at right shows, hundreds of times in our planet's history the polarity of the magnetic shield ensheathing the globe has gone from "normal," our current orientation to the north, to "reversed," and back again.

The Earth is not alone in this fickleness: The sun's magnetic shield appears to reverse its polarity approximately every 11 years. Even our Milky Way galaxy is magnetized, and experts say it probably reverses its polarity as well. Moreover, while a severe weakening or disappearance of the magnetic field would lay us open to harmful radiation from the sun, there's little evidence to date that "flips" per se inflict any lasting damage (see Impact on Animals).

It might sound as if scientists have all the answers regarding magnetic reversals. But actually they know very little about them. Basic questions haunt researchers: What physical processes within the Earth trigger reversals? Why do the durations and frequencies of both normal and reversed states seem random? Why is there such a disproportionately long normal period between about 121 and 83 million years ago? Why does the reversal rate, at least during the past 160 million years, appear to peak around 12 million years ago?

The good news? In the scientific perspective, humans will enjoy beautiful auroras (like the magnificent northern lights in Alaska) year round, from almost all locations on earth.

The bad news? The solar wind/radiation that will penetrate the earth will result in about 100,000 more deaths per year from cancer. Yeah, and that is probably a conservative estimate. Personally, I think since there's already evidence the pole shift is starting, we are now exposed to more radiation -- hence, the increased cases of skin cancer.

There's all kinds of doomsayers about this event: and truthfully, science can't accurately predict ALL the problems likely to be encountered on earth. They can't even say with any assurance how long it'll take: just estimate between 3 weeks and 1,000 years! Large margin of error there, eh?

Here's a few more links/excerpts to websites, if you're interested in the coming magnetic pole shift of the earth. There apparently MAY be a similar magnetic pole shift already in progress on the sun as well.

When North Goes South

Considering that ships, planes and Boy Scouts steer by it, Earth's magnetic field is less reliable than you'd think. Rocks in an ancient lava flow in Oregon suggest that for a brief erratic span about 16 million years ago magnetic north shifted as much as 6 degrees per day. After little more than a week, a compass needle would have pointed toward Mexico City.


The monitoring and analysis of the geomagnetic field is also important for practical applications, some of which have been made for centuries. The magnetic field can be used for orientation, navigation, and mineral and oil exploration. Of more recent interest, the infrastructure and the activities of our modern, technologically-based society can be adversely affected by rapid magnetic-field variations driven by the dynamic processes in the near-Earth space environment. This is particularly true during so-called ‘magnetic storms’, when radio communication can be difficult or impossible, global-positioning systems (GPS) can be degraded, satellite electronics can be damaged, satellite drag can be enhanced, astronaut and high-altitude pilots can be subjected to increased levels of radiation, pipe-line corrosion can be enhanced, and electric-power grids can experience voltage surges which cause blackouts. The most beautiful manifestations of geomagnetic activity are aurorae, seen prominently at high latitudes near the geomagnetic poles. Given the plurality of geomagnetic phenomena, it is not surprising that the communities concerned with magnetic data are numerous and diverse.

And finally, for the doomsayers out there, consider the following website which proclaims that devastating events will occur during the pole shift, since such has happened in the past.

For doom and gloom naysayers

"Working on the assumption that the earth's magnetic poles are usually close to the poles of rotation, Hapgood collected geomagnetic rock samples, finding evidence that the most recent earth crust displacement must have occurred between 17,000 to 12,000 years ago. The North Pole would have moved from the Hudson Bay area of northern Canada to it's current place in the Arctic Ocean. More recently, Langway and Hansen (1973) gathered climactic data pointing to a dramatic change in climate at 12,000 years ago. At that time, the Pleistocene extinctions, rising ocean levels, the close of the ice age, and the origins of agriculture all seem to coincide."

Look into any one of the above fields and you will begin to see the same pattern Velikovsky, Hapgood, Einstein and hundreds of other independent geologists, paleontologists and archeologists have recognized in the Earth's past. A pattern of repeated, catastrophic change thought to be brought about by crustal displacements activated by one or more outside agents - such as passing comets or fluctuations in the sun's own magnetic field - appears to have been with humanity and its civilizations from the very dawn of mankind....

Though every one of the four elements participated in each of the catastrophes; deluge, hurricane, earthquake, and fire gave their names to the catastrophes because of the predominance of one of them in the upheavals.

Interpreted by the modern dating system, the Mayan calendars not only depict the length of each of the 'suns' and nature of each of the catastrophes, but they also calculate the end of the present, fifth sun.

The day will be 4 Ahau 3 Kankin, and it will be ruled by the Sun God, or ninth Lord of the Night. The moon will be eight days old, and it will be the third lunation in a series of six.

The date corresponds to 23 December AD 2012.

Folks, I don't know about you, but I hope I'm around on that date to see exactly what happens. I've had that date marked for a long time, since I read about the ancient Mayan calendar and their prediction years ago.

Isn't this evidence of a mad, mad world? :=)

Oh, but wait...more news of our mad, mad world: Looks as if Michael Jackson is being sought on child molestation charges. No matter how you feel about the "Prince of Pop," I guess he is about to bite the dust. It shall be interesting to learn all the details, no?

Yes, a mad, mad world indeed! But interesting...ah, yes!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

I'm feeling somewhat better, certainly an improvement over the past couple of days. I think I caught this cold/stomach virus in a department store, since I observed a woman sneezing nearby. Hopefully I'll be back to normal soon.

In the meantime, I have caught up on answering email, postal mail and written the article for the childfree organization. The article, "Living in a Material World" can be read by clicking HERE. I hope to write an essay/column/article about once a month there, if I have time. I also will put a permanent link at the bottom of this blog to the main entry for their website,

What else? I rode my bike yesterday morning, (yes, I'm a glutton for punishment!) but not today since it is raining outside. I'm trying to watch what I eat, but with my stomach virus, that's not been a problem lately!

Over the weekend, DH and I started putting sheetrock in the front bedroom, and he framed up the area for the large closet we'll add. Lots of dust, a mess...but necessary at this point. Oh, he sold one of his horse trailers, which he'd parked out near the highway. Looks like the place will be ideal for getting customers to buy either trailers, saddles/tack or horses! A good bit of traffic on the highway, and though annoying at times, it will be good for business. We do plan to have our den/living area on the back of the house, away from the traffic noise. At night the road is less traveled, so it shouldn't bother us about sleeping.

Sunday afternoon I put some Miracle Grow fertilizer on the small shrubs and trees already planted in the yard. We also plan to put some fairly large evergreens in the front yard when the time is right. And I want to have some flowers eventually too, once we get moved -- if we ever do! :-)

Tomorrow night we may go work on that bedroom sheetrock for a couple hours, depending on how I'm feeling by then. Central heat/air crew still not finished, but have the interior work done. I suppose since we're not living there, they are in no hurry.

Thunderstorms on the way for this afternoon, but maybe the worst of it will miss us.

Tired now, so I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Just a brief update to say that I've come down with a nasty cold, and don't feel like doing much of anything. Too weak and disoriented to think straight and make entries.

More when I feel better.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Busy few days, although I admit that I spent only a short time at the old house for the past two days. At times all the tasks yet to be done seem overwhelming, and I have to get away from there. Working on the weekends is just enough time for me; then I have the whole week to get back to a 'normal' life here at our house in town. I've always been a neat, tidy person, and like order in my household; naturally, being in the process of a renovation, it's messy and disordered, at times bordering on filthy. When it seems to much to bear, I simply LEAVE. :-)

At any rate, Tuesday I went with DH and he'd just started tearing off some old painted, warped paneling in what will be our living room when the central heat/air crew arrived. With a bunch of men traipsing through the house, DH's loud banging, tearing off the paneling, the massive dust-storm was nearly enough to make me wonder what we'd gotten ourselves into! I decided to come back home, since there was nothing I could really do at that point. DH stayed and finished tearing off the bad paneling, and framed up the closet we're building in our bedroom. Oh yeah, and under that paneling we'd thought had sheetrock? Nope. Turns out it was just some wafer-board, so we'll now have to buy sheetrock for that room. Sure seems as if this is turning into the "Money Pit." [Yes it IS a hilarious movie, but in real life...well, not so funny!]

Bad news as I expected from the dentist: need to have a crown put on a bottom tooth. I did make an appointment, but I am debating not keeping it -- putting that off for a couple months. We have the money, but I want to save as much as possible right now till we see exactly where we stand when we get moved. Once the rent starts rolling in, our financial situation should improve quickly. I don't like dipping into reserve savings (and certainly NOT money that I consider retirement funds)...and this tooth isn't hurting either, so I may just wait.

By the way, what's up with dentist having you lie down to do the work? I absolutely LOATHE that; it makes me sick to my stomach. And now that my dentist has moved into a new office, there's not even a place to rinse out when the girl cleans my teeth. I nearly gagged when she told me that. Instead of rinsing out, she squirts water into your mouth then suctions it up (but, of course, can't get it ALL out!). Some of that gritty cleaner got down my throat, and that caused my acid reflux to act up again. So even if it was an emergency on that tooth, I don't know I'd go until this acid reflux is fully under control. I haven't had any serious work done in this new place, but if there's no place to rinse out...I think I'll just have to find another dentist!

Today I had to do some shopping, household tasks and then went on my bike ride. It has been overcast all day, turning cooler, which I'm glad about. Uncomfortably warm the last few days, especially since it's November!

In the meantime, over in Iraq, the U.S. has apparently decided a show of force will calm down the increasing dead-on violent attacks of the Iraqis. Not so sure about that myself, since I always have to fall back on the greatest quote I ever read about terrorists by a Russian General:

"The trouble with trying to eliminate terrorists is that they are just like cockroaches; you kill a dozen over here, three dozen spring up over there."

That's all for this time. I need to start doing some research on statistics for my first childfree column that I hope to get written by the weekend. I'll end with this very apt quote about life:

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. --Lao Tzu

Monday, November 10, 2003

Brief update, since I'm in a hurry to head for the dentist office. I have a 1:30 appointment for teeth cleaning, and know that I'm going to have to schedule another appointment to get a crown put on one of my bottom teeth. Just what we need: more expenses. However, I've known about this for some time, just kept putting it off and dreading it. The enamel of the tooth has gotten less and less, and can hardly hold the filling that's in it...thus, a crown is the only solution. Oh well, at least our dental insurance pays half of it -- though it should pay ALL, IMO.

Worked some on my wine that I'm planning to give for Christmas gifts and it is turning out great. Did housework, and will head for the dentist in a short time.

I DID get underneath and inside the kitchen cabinets painted the past two days, and there wasn't really anything I could do today so DH went alone. The central heat/air crew should be there again today, working on installing the outside units. I did yet MORE cleaning from the last mess they left inside, and hope that part of the job is done. Tomorrow I'll go with DH again to the old house, and do a few other random things.

By the way, DH got all three kitchen windows installed and it turned out perfect. Probably next Saturday we'll go buy all the windows, a dishwasher and then install the windows as time permits. A friend of ours will install the dishwasher free, which is a big help!

And that's about it for catching up on the latest. Oh, I also made another entry in my CR Diet Blog this morning, adding an article and excerpt about calorie restriction in regards to aging.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Just a brief update before I head to the farmhouse to work. I updated my CR Diet Blog this morning, and also added a permanent link on the right of this blog. Need to start cutting calories again, and will try to write in it more regularly.

Here's an excerpt from this morning's AP news article I couldn't resist:

2 U.S. Paratroopers Are Killed in Iraq

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told reporters in Baghdad that the Bush administration was "sobered by the problem" of increased violence.

Hmm, so THAT explains why this administration has royally screwed up: they were all drunk! ;-) Goodness, I'm glad they've sobered up now and maybe can figure a way out of the horrid mess they've created in Iraq.

Oh, good news! I've been asked to write a regular column for the website I mentioned yesterday about International Childfree Day! I think I can manage at least one column a month, even with my hectic schedule. I'll put a link at the bottom of this blog when I write my first column for any of those childfree readers who are interested.

Gotta get going!

Friday, November 07, 2003

A final update before the marathon weekend of working on the old house again!

I've spent another couple busy days, but am pleased that I'm finding so many bargains. Today as I started to the grocery store, I noticed (once I was out of the driveway) that one of the stray cats had upchucked on the hood of my car. So I went around the block, intending to come back and hose off the stuff.

As I rounded a corner on a block I hardly ever pass, I happened to see they were having a yard sale. And lo, there right on the curb was another loveseat for...believe it or not, FIVE DOLLARS. I drove on to my house, hosed off the car and went back to the yard sale pronto! Got out, sat on the loveseat, looked it over -- and though not as good as the other loveseat I bought, cause it has some weak springs and a couple rough spots on the cushions -- it was still worth FIVE DOLLARS. So I bought it, AND a dried flower arrangement for 50 cents. Now when DH gets home, he'll get to gripe about having to go get it on the pickup bed, but hopefully there'll be a guy around to help him there.

Why would I buy yet another loveseat? Well, I am sort of thinking of renting our house here in town as "partially furnished." We can get more rent, and we also can't get all of our furniture (even without what I've recently bought) into that other old country house. With a kitchen that has stove/fridge/dishwasher/bar and some furniture in the den, a bedroom suit in one bedroom...we can ask more rent.

Plus, I am definitely going to be a pet-friendly landlord to anyone with cats, since there's a perfect setup here for cats, but probably no dogs allowed (they aggravate neighbors). I downloaded some legal forms today for landlords who wish to put a clause in their lease for allowing pets, and it will help a great deal. IF I can find someone willing to feed these strays, I may just leave them; if not, I'll carry them both with us. I also have a sneaking suspicion if I advertise that cats are welcome, I may attract people without kids. Darn if I wouldn't rather have a cat than a kid in this house!

I bought groceries today, then came back and went on my bike ride. The weather has turned much cooler, and it was a nice ride...sort of refreshing after the unseasonably warm weather of late.

Tomorrow it's back to the farmhouse...more work, work, work. Probably I'll paint the inside of those cabinets while DH works on replacing the kitchen windows. We went there last night, to see how much progress the central heat/air crew has made. They had all the ductwork in, and just needed to put the return inside a closet then will be working outside with the heat/air units installation. They won't finish that today, but perhaps by the middle of next week it'll be done.

DH is off Monday (taking a vacation day) and Tuesday for Vet's we have a four day stretch with uninterrupted work. If we survive it, that is! :-)

Gotta go for now.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

As usual, been a busy few days. I am getting accustomed to the constant activity though, and even look forward to it. Not to say that my muscles aren't sore, because they ARE, but I like having an ongoing project like the old house. In fact, I believe it stimulates my creativity, since I keep coming up with renovation ideas and even story ideas (my creative writing has been on the back burner for a long time!). At any rate, here's a rundown of the past couple days:

Monday I went on my bike ride early, then did housework (what fun, huh?) and caught up on answering friends' emails and letters.

Tuesday I worked on my home-made wine most of the day, starting a new batch, transferring some to new jugs, etc. I plan to give all my family a gift-wrapped bottle of wine for Christmas this year, and I'm working on some wine that, hopefully, will be low liquor content and delicious. My sisters, like myself, like sweet wine that is only around 9% or less liquor. We either sip it before meals and/or with meals, and occasionally drink about a cup if we can't get to sleep (beats sleeping pills!). Late in the afternoon, I got out the leaf blower and sent all the pile of leaves in the front yard to the street -- a bigger job than I'd anticipated, creating more muscle-aches!

This morning one of my sisters called, and we talked for over an hour, catching up on the latest news. She and my brother-in-law and nephew have also been going through a move, and we had a lot in common to share. Then I returned a small hand-held sewing machine to a department store, because it didn't work -- but ended up exchanging it for another one, because it will be very useful in the interior decorating at the old house. I haven't tried the new one yet, but will later after the evening meal. I dropped by the Salvation Army store again, spent some time browsing and found some useful curtains, round-table fabric covers, several ruffled pieces that I can make into slipcovers and/or use for a country-look. I spent almost $7.00 ... whoopee, that is a great place to shop.

And now finally I am at my desk, making an entry.

I have a few new photos posted in the online album under "Renovations, Updates and Artifacts," if anyone is interested. An old sidewalk with a date of Aug 11-35 etched in it and the tractor. There's a good one of three horses in the barn, especially Oto, about two-years-old, who is very friendly and curious, seemed to want to look at my camera upclose and personal! :-)

I've also been doing some reading about horses, so I can get used to the ones we have...and plan on making some food treats to entice them near me, and hopefully, make friends! I've never met a critter I couldn't win over with just the right tasty morsel. In fact, that's how I ended up with six indoor cats and two strays (though I can't hardly call the two strays now, since they rarely ever leave the yard for fear of missing a meal).

We're hoping the central heat/air crew is at the old house today, getting started. It would be nice if they were finished by the weekend, but I wouldn't make any bets on that. We DO have some plans for the weekend; I want to paint the inside of the cabinets, since they won't be exposed to dusty conditions, staying closed up. And DH wants to start putting in the three new windows we bought at Lowe's Sunday for the kitchen. Yep, more grueling work ahead.

I'm at 94 lbs, and can't complain...although my stomach is still giving me a bit of acid reflux trouble, but has calmed down considerably using the Prilosec OTC.

I'm outta here for today!

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Just a brief post, since I'm heading to the old house shortly. I spent yesterday afternoon finishing up the sanding of woodwork, and don't really have much more to do until the central heat/air is installed (hopefully next week).

DH accomplished a lot yesterday, and is now doing clean-up around the barns and outbuildings from his recent construction repairs (tin roofs on the barns, etc.). He also bought a tractor yesterday, with a bush-hog. That will allow him to keep the pasture in good shape -- and he got a bargain, bought it from the previous owners of the house/land.

Today we are going to drop by Lowe's or Marvin's, and buy some Thompson water sealer to spray the new wood he's used in the barn, etc. Plus, look at windows and paint again, possibly go to another window/door outlet store to browse. Then back to put the sealer on the wood, which should be the end of our work this weekend.

I posted several new photos of the stray cats here, as well as some beautiful pictures of my backyard here in town during an extraordinary sunset the other evening. You can find those by clicking on the Southern Photos link to the right, and looking under the Stray Cat folder as well as the Scenic Views folder. I would put a link, but I'm in a rush.

Gotta run!

Friday, October 31, 2003


True Ghost Stories for Halloween!!

The first story is about an incident that has happened recently regarding the old farmhouse we've bought. I have always, always been attracted to this house, and in fact, twenty years ago we almost bought it and 20 acres. At the time though, we'd only been living in town a couple years, and decided against it. Additionally, the house needed even more extensive renovation then than it does now; the new owner did a lot of that, including tearing down and rebuilding the rock chimney.

At any rate, over the years DH and I would pass by the place occasionally, and both of us would say we probably should have bought the house long ago. After we DID buy the house, I began taking photos soon; one of them turned out to be very spooky looking.

The photo was made of Igor, the miniature donkey, but if you look just above his head, you'll see a red spot shaped like a bat! No kidding. I enlarged that spot, which then seemed to resemble a man's facial features. I don't know what to make of it, but it's possible the digital camera created this distortion -- or not.

You can take a look for yourself at the photo HERE

Do you think this is Sir Dracula, planning a future visit with me? :-) If nothing else, it inspired a good story idea -- which I haven't developed or written yet.

Last night I stayed up an extra hour watching a feature on the Travel Channel about Loretta Lynn's haunted house. It was fascinating, to say the least. You can read about her home and psychic/ghost experiences by clicking on this link:


And lastly, I once also had a very uncanny experience in a graveyard.

DH was researching his genealogy, so we took a trip to South Alabama to visit an old graveyard where one of his great-great-great grandfathers was buried. The newer part of the cemetery was modern, but then way back in some woods we saw the ancient headstones. We had to fight overgrown weeds to get there, but once we did, DH read off the names of his distant relatives.

I took some pictures, and you can see one HERE. The cemetery is in Forkland, Alabama...

Anyway, as I stood there on that hot, still summer day I suddenly heard the distinct sound of horses hooves ... clop, clop, clop... It sounded a bit distant, but definitely horses hooves. I asked DH if he heard it, but he said no.

Occasionally as we walked through the older part of the cemetery, I would hear the horses hooves ... clop, clop, clop...and then the stillness and utter quiet would return.

It gave me chills, so I hurried away back to the newer part of the cemetery...but DH never did hear the mysterious sound. The older part of the cemetery is located in an isolated spot too, with woods all couldn't have been REAL horse sounds. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

---Now to my day: I spent a busy day grocery shopping, running errands and then getting the housework done.

My acid reflux is acting up again, so I bought some Prilosec OTC, and hope that nips it in the bud. I sure don't want a trip to the doctor OR hospital, like I had one time before when this got out of hand. The main problem I have is that my stomach has spasms when I swallow food, and it feels like something is pushing up into the bottom of my esophagus...and it hurts like hell. I tend to avoid eating, though I don't necessarily consider that bad, but I DO NOT like to hurt! I've actually gained up to 95 lbs, but if this problem persists, I'll be back to 90 in no time.

Happy Halloween, kids!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Sooooo, yesterday was a busy day. I cleaned the loveseat I bought with upholstery cleaner, and that took quite some time! DH left the loveseat on the pickup truck bed, so I climbed onto it, and did the work. The loveseat wasn't very dirty; rather, it just needed the dust removed. Then I washed my car, which had gotten dusty (since we haven't had much rain here in ages!), and ended up mopping the floors. Heh. Sometimes I feel energetic! However, I didn't go on my bike ride, but didn't need the exercise.

After our evening meal, DH and I took the loveseat to the old house. It was terribly heavy, but he used hand-trucks to maneuver it into the house. Then we opened it up, let the bed/mattress air out till we go back there this weekend. The mattress is in excellent shape, and I doubt it was ever even slept on. Nice size bed too, which we may need if we don't have an extra bedroom (and that's still being debated).

The central air/heat crew did some measuring, but it looks like that won't begin till next week at the earliest. That's okay though, since the natural gas line still hasn't been put in -- but hopefully will be next week.

Today I went on my bike ride early, which was pleasant in this PERFECT weather, around 75 and sunny. Then after some household chores, I went to the library...something I don't often do these days. The internet has made it SO easy to find information, I don't use the library like I once did. I found some fiction, and hope it is worth reading (so much isn't these days). And I found three books on "shabby chic-country" interior decorating. Plus, a very good guide book on making simple slipcovers for furniture. DH might be better at doing the slipcover work, once the material is measured/cut, than I am. I recently bought a hot glue-gun though, and hope to use it in this project. At any rate, I'll have plenty to peruse at night while lousy TV programs are on; I rarely watch much TV anymore.

Last night while at the old house, we had all the lights on...making sure everything worked after the electrician's job...and I noticed something streaked on a front room window. Now, I'd just cleaned those last week and KNEW I'd done a better job than that. We looked at it closely, and it turns out to be something sticky, icky running down the windowpane. Once outside, we also notice that there's another splotch of the stuff on the aluminum siding on the porch. Evidently, some kids had thrown something sticky there, splattered it...and boy, did that make DH mad.

I'd been a bit worried that the house being empty would attract mischief, and I sure hope this isn't the beginning of trouble. I cleaned up the mess, which was still very damp; obviously it hadn't been done too long. At any rate, this doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the community -- although, of course, this is "Halloween Week"...and possibly this was just the work of pranksters, an anomaly due to Halloween coming up tomorrow night. I'm trying to look on the positive side of this -- although having lived in town for over 20 years, there's NEVER been such an incident at this house.

Here's a little weird news event to put a smile on your face:

Plastic Gun Blamed in Capitol Shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House of Representatives was ordered shut down Thursday following reports of a security breach at a congressional office building nearby, but police swiftly determined that a Halloween costume and plastic revolver were to blame.

Capitol police also said they had apprehended a suspect, according to an aide who said he heard the information via a pager system operated by security officials.

Guess Halloween came a little early at Capitol Hill, huh? :-)

Till next time....

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Might as well make an entry while I'm uploading the farmhouse pictures to a new online photo album; I'll change the link URL to the right when it's finished, so anyone interested can see the old and new photos. I have a couple of pictures I took last Saturday afternoon -- a cloudy day, but nevertheless, fairly good pictures. I have one of the house front, since we slapped on a quick fresh coat of white paint on the porch. We also washed the windows and front of the house, took off the storm windows (I could NOT endure the nasty windows!). This was just quick-fixes to make the house at least not look so negelected from the road; we will do more as time permits.

I also took some pictures of the house across the road, and looking down the highway to the left and right, so you can see we're basically "country" but still close to city conveniences like shopping at a mini-mall that is just out of sight. No interior pictures yet, but I do have a couple of the artifacts, which will be in a separate folder.

Today I slept late, since I stayed up watching a good movie, "The Right Temptation" last night which I'd recorded. Fairly good, enough so that I actually watched the whole movie. I didn't go on the bike ride early, but did later this afternoon when I got back from shopping. I hit the Salvation Army store, and FINALLY found what I've been looking for there: a used loveseat! It's perfect for the old house living room, and once the fabric is cleaned and I buy some slipcovers for it, the loveseat will be ideal in the living room! I still have to buy a comfy armchair, but this is a good start on furnishing the living room. And I only gave $40.00 for this sofa, which also makes into a bed -- and we'll need it, since we are not going to have an extra bedroom. I found curtains for two rooms, as well as some floral fabric I can use for making slipcovers, or other 'country-look' decor. All-in-all, a cheap but productive shopping trip! (Oh yeah, and money to the Salvation Army, which is a charitable organization too!)

All the electrical work is done, and it cost about $200.00 less than the original estimate. I even had a special heavy-duty plug-in created for my computer in what I'll use as my computer room/study. Hopefully the central heat/air crew will get started on their work tomorrow. Who knows, this all might go faster than we expected.

I have recently found a few new postal pen pals and enjoy them, but it is difficult to make time to write letters. One is a physics/chemistry professor in England, and a fascinating individual; quite an intriquing correspondence too. Remember, if you want my snail mail address, just drop me an email and request it.

Enough for today. I need to finish the online album, and then get to work on other projects.