My Novels

Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Here it is the end of 2004 -- and what a year of change it was for me.

First, the upsetting fiasco of last year, near the end of December, early January. As usual, I had to resolve it -- and so far, I am sure I did. Anything could happen, of course, for not only are natural disasters unpredictable but so is human behavior.

Second, we moved from the house in town where we'd lived 23 years to this old house and land. I will confess that I had moments of horrible homesickness, but all in all, I have adapted better than I thought I would. I think in time I'll love this place, for I already love the old house. The hard physical labor DH and I have put into the place makes it even more special, though at times living here in the mess while we did projects really frustrated me! Next Spring, we hope to have a green roof put on, as well as sofit vinyl trim around the windows and new gutters. But we'll hire professionals for that job.

We added a huge back porch, then enclosed it to make two additional rooms: a sunroom (where the cats stay now) and a mudroom.

We painted the entire exterior of the house, as well as the wash-house and garage and barn.

And last but not least, we put green shutters on the exterior windows (the last ones put up yesterday on the east side of the house).

East side of house, new shutters Posted by Hello

House and yard December 30, 2004 Posted by Hello

New sign for DH's part-time hobby/business Posted by Hello

Since this is the last entry of 2004, it will also be the last entry I'll put on CD to be included in the "Time Capsule" to be stored in the attic of this house. I have not finished all the collection yet, but I suppose there's no rush since I can get all the material together as I have time. I do plan to include a newspaper with headlines/stories about the latest terrible disasterous Asian tsunami, perhaps the worst disaster in modern history. In fact, in regards to human lives lost, the 911 tragedy in America pales.

DH has been off this week, but he's gone horseback riding in the nearby national forest today with friends. I went to the grocery store (yuck!) and did a few other errands. Tonight we'll probably just watch the countdown on TV, or fall asleep waiting for it (like old folks do).

I can only sum up the past year for myself as being the greatest year of change in many, many years. I have no regrets either, since we still own the house in town (renters have been great) and I am in seemingly good health (one never knows what lurks inside themselves).

Happy New Year to any who read this blog regularly. I hope you'll return for new entries in 2005!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Ahem...didn't I name this blog correctly? Isn't it a mad, mad world when something like this unexpectedly happens:

Tidal Waves Kill 23,700 in Nine Countries

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - Rescuers piled up bodies along southern Asian coastlines devastated by tidal waves that obliterated seaside towns and killed more than 22,000 people in 10 countries, and officials indicated Monday that the death toll could climb far higher.

Hundreds of children were buried in mass graves in India, and morgues and hospitals struggled to cope with the catastrophe. Somalia reported hundreds of deaths, some 3,000 miles away from the earthquake that sent tsunamis raging across the Indian Ocean.

The International Red Cross reported 23,700 deaths and expressed concern about waterborne diseases like malaria and cholera. Jan Egeland, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, said millions of people were effected - by lost homes, polluted drinking water, destroyed sanitation - and that the cost of the damage would "probably be many billions of dollars."

Ya just never know what's lurking underground or out in space, do ya? In general, humans have short-lived memories and strong denial about the FACT that we could ALL be wiped out in the blink of an eye by an asteroid and/or comets, earthquakes, and other "natural" disasters. Guess if we dwell on it, we'd go nuts -- or (as I often think these days) realize humanity is probably doomed, either by our own destructiveness OR natural disaster eventually.

I'm not even going to mention what's lying dormant underneath Yellowstone National Park, and should it ever surface, the devastation it would bring to the USA. Do some research, you'll find out what I mean.

Had a ho-hum Christmas, nothing much to record. Mostly got cash, which I'll probably use over the coming months at various places.

I almost forgot: I watched two good movies over the past days, both with Halle Berry. Whew, that girl can ACT! "Gothica" was riveting, a scary ghost story with horror that will stand your hair on end. And then last night, on A&E, I saw "Monster's Ball"...excellent movie, but truly grim subject matter. Of course, grim is the word for literary/artistic, and this movie won lots of awards, and so did Halle Berry for her acting.

Brilliant sunshine today, but nippy -- in the high 40s. Tomorrow and Wednesday are going to be in the 60s, almost springlike weather again. Maybe I can get outdoors during that time, since DH may take those two days off.

I'm working on a list of New Year's resolutions, but one I'm certain of is that need to lose about ten pounds. Not going to be a picnic either.

Till later....I'll close with this quote from an email posted at CNN by survivors of the disaster:

There is a popular buddhist saying in sri lanka, life is no more than a dew drop balancing on the end of a blade of grass. The events of December 26, 2004 have shown just how precarious that balance can be. Paul Sussman, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

Friday, December 24, 2004

In honor of what Christmas is supposed to be, but isn't, I'll post these words of a song lyric you can find here. And wish all you so-called Christians (and otherwise heathens like myself) a Merry Christmas. Here's the lyrics:

"All I Want For Christmas"

Transformers, Super Heroes
Thundercats in cast iron clothes
Rocket fingers, lazer eyes
Cannon mouths and missile toes

Santa's helpers from on high
Secret sponsors place their bids
Your donation helps to buy
GI Joes for Contra kids

All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .

Rock lord masters of disaster
Detonate the ghetto blaster
And little black Rambo metal choir
Sings deck the halls with great balls of fire

It looks to me like World War III
Underneath the Christmas tree
Please dear Santa, Mr. Santa please
Can't you make the firing cease?

All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas
Is world peace

A monster satellite TV
Sends Season's Greetings from afar
Star Wars I and II and III
Chestnuts roasting on the VCR

All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas . . .
All I want for Christmas
Is world peace

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I must be in a writing frenzy today, so here's another little tidbit I thought I'd pass along:

"Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year." --Victor Borge

Ho, Ho, Ho.....Merrrrrrry Christmas!

The lady I met while biking last summer came by this morning and we exchanged gifts. I gave her a novel, two old classic movies on DVD and a cute school-house picture frame for when her new grandchild gets in school.

She gave me some delicious home-made fudge, and candy. Yum! Also the candy was in a gorgeous hand-crocheted basket! She didn't have long to stay, since her and her husband were on their way to her son's house.

She raved over this house, just LOVED it, and said everything was so neat, clean, etc. And all this EARLY in the morning, when I'd not done any housework. Of course, I keep a pretty tidy house all the time...just my way. But it sure was good to get some compliments on all the hard work we've done on this house interior!

Enough for now!
Just had to make a post about this latest news:

Cloned Cat Sale Generates Ethics Debate

Dec 23, 7:20 AM (ET)


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The first cloned-to-order pet sold in the United States is named Little Nicky, a 9-week-old kitten delivered to a Texas woman saddened by the loss of a cat she had owned for 17 years.

The kitten cost its owner $50,000 and was created from DNA from her beloved cat, named Nicky, who died last year.

"He is identical. His personality is the same," the owner, Julie, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. Although she agreed to be photographed with her cat, she asked that her last name and hometown not be disclosed because she said she fears being targeted by groups opposed to cloning.

Yet while Little Nicky, who was delivered two weeks ago, frolics in his new home, the kitten's creation and sale has reignited fierce ethical and scientific debate over cloning technology, which is rapidly advancing.

The company that created Little Nicky, Sausalito-based Genetic Savings and Clone, said it hopes by May to have produced the world's first cloned dog - a much more lucrative market than cats.

While it is based in the San Francisco Bay area, the company's cloning work will be done at its new lab in Madison, Wis.

Commercial interests already are cloning prized cattle for about $20,000 each, and scientists have cloned mice, rabbits, goats, pigs, horses - and even the endangered banteng, a wild bull that is found mostly in Indonesia.

Several research teams around the world, meanwhile, are racing to create the first cloned monkey.

Aside from human cloning, which has been achieved only at the microscopic embryo stage, no cloning project has fueled more debate than the marketing plans of Genetic Savings and Clone.

"It's morally problematic and a little reprehensible," said David Magnus, co-director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University. "For $50,000, she could have provided homes for a lot of strays."

Animals rights activists complain that new feline production systems aren't needed because thousands of stray cats are euthanized each year for want of homes.

Lou Hawthorne, Genetic Savings and Clone's chief executive, said his company purchases thousands of ovaries from spay clinics across the country. It extracts the eggs, which are combined with the genetic material from the animals to be cloned.

Critics also complain that the technology is available only to the wealthy, that using it to create house pets is frivolous and that customers grieving over lost pets have unrealistic expectations of what they're buying.

In fact, the first cat cloned in 2001 had a different coat from its genetic donor, underscoring that environment and other biological variables make it impossible to exactly duplicate animals.

"The thing that many people do not realize is that the cloned cat is not the same as the original," said Bonnie Beaver, a Texas A&M animal behaviorist who heads the American Veterinary Medical Association, which has no position on the issue. "It has a different personality. It has different life experiences. They want Fluffy, but it's not Fluffy."

Scientists also warn that cloned animals suffer from more health problems than their traditionally bred peers and that cloning is still a very inexact science. It takes many gruesome failures to produce just a single clone.

Genetic Savings and Clone said its new cloning technique, developed by animal cloning pioneer James Robl has improved survival rates, health and appearance. The new technique seeks to condense and transfer only the donor's genetic material to a surrogate's egg instead of an entire cell nucleus.

Between 15 percent and 45 percent of cloned cats born alive die within the first 30 days, Hawthorne said. But he said that range is consistent with natural births, depending on the breed of cat.

Austin, Texas-based ViaGen Inc., which has cloned hundreds of cows, pigs and goats, also is experimenting with the new cloning technique.

"The jury is still out, but the research shows it to be promising," company president Sara Davis said. "The technology is improving all the time."

Genetic Savings and Clone has been behind the creation of at least five cats since 2001, including the first one created.

It hopes to deliver as many as five more clones to customers who have paid the company's $50,000 fee. By the end of next year, it hopes to have cloned as many as 50 cats.

The company has yet to turn a profit.

What is my opinion? I think this is possibly advancing medical knowledge, which IS a good thing. On the other hand, it is preposterous that a person would pay $50,000.00 for a cat, when there are SO MANY homeless, starving cats to choose from.

Here's my suggestion: IF a person can pay that for a cat, then they also MUST donate the same amount, $50,000.00 to the Humane Society/Animal Shelter specifically earmarked ONLY for cats and cat living quarters to prolong the possibility of finding them homes. Good trade-off, I think. Of course, that is not going to happen -- sad, but true.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Time to make another entry via the QuickPad. I had hoped to have time earlier today to write in my journal, but I never did. Alas, that is how it usually turns out nowadays. I have to wonder how I ever had time to write a dozen novels and numerous short stories, for it seems impossible to find that much free time in the past few years.

Of course, when I wrote the novels, DH was on second shift, and I had long stretches of uninterrupted evenings for writing. I rarely ever watched TV, so I had unlimited time for serious work. During that period (most of the 80s) I'd get up early, do most of the housework while DH slept. Then we'd have lunch and he'd be off to work. That meant I could sit down at my desk and write to my heart's content. But DH has been on days with weekends off for years now, and I have all my household tasks to do in the morning, and what few hours I can manage are only in the afternoon. Add in regular trips for shopping/groceries and it is difficult to squeeze in a journal entry, answer an email or write fiction. Evenings I sit with DH, while he watches TV (and I do too, on the rare occasion there is anything worth watching). This QuickPad will allow me to write during the evenings, and the keyboard is so quiet (with an easy, soft touch) I can work while relaxing. I have notes and/or emails on my Palm, can refer to those when necessary, etc. My story (tentative title: Fogbound) is coming along nicely too.

I did see the first part of Dr. Phil today after I returned from doing the LAST of my Christmas shopping, and it looked interesting. I recorded it to watch later. One part I did see was Michael Keaton talking about his new movie, "White Noise."{As an aside, I am curious if the movie addresses the fact that "white noise" or the "static" in between radio/TV stations is remnants of the Big Bang?} At any rate,it sounds like a fascinating movie, especially slanted toward the supernatural.

I have no idea WHY I love to write supernatural fiction at times, since I am not really a believer in psychic phenomena, but I do. "Fogbound" is about how a legend is born regarding a haunted area. Anyhow, I will watch the remainder of the program tonight in bed.

It has been extremely COLD here, frigid in Dixie. DH said it was ten degrees when he went out this morning! I have two heatlamps on the cats, as well as an electric blanket inside an insulated dog-house on the back sunporch. The cats seem to be managing well, although Pretty does dominate the inside of the dog-house, will hardly allow the others inside there. However, the two heatlamps provide two other warm places for them to sleep. The good thing about this is that at last the fleas are gone; I spent a small fortune on flea medicine this past summer!

Hmm, the latest news from Bush is that he has admitted there may be some problems in Iraq. Geez, NOW he figures it out. Goodness, what will happen if he ever gets in touch with reality? Oh, and he also has made some vague statements regarding the future of social security which leads me to believe he plans to cut benefits, stick it to the Baby Boomers -- my generation. You'd think someone OUR age would be more circumspect about curtailing benefits for their own generation...but, of course, we're dealing with a moron here, and who knows what he's got up his sleeve? All I can say is that those who voted for him are going to live to regret it. Ahem!

I find that I'm in a fairly good mood about Christmas. Don't know why, other than perhaps this is our first Christmas here. A lady I met while biking is planning to drop by one day this week; I got her a small gift today, and I'm pretty sure she has one for me. Since I am not biking outdoors, we have started emailing as a way to stay in touch. I sent her my email address in a Christmas card, and liked the card she sent me. Knowing how I love to write, she'll hear from me more often by email than if we were getting together or talking on the phone. I loathe the phone, and won't use it unless absolutely necessary. I don't mind a visit now and then, just so I have advance warning and can make the time.

I still use the air-bike almost every morning (or night or afternoon) and it seems to help me sleep. I hate insomnia, but IF I can't sleep now, I'll get up and use this QuickPad to write until I feel sleepy.

DH is putting up new mini-blinds on the front sunporch; since the cats are now on the back sunporch, we repainted the front sunporch and put our sofa out there. I wanted new curtains, but there's five windows out there and mini-blinds will do for now. I did have regular shades, but the mini-blinds will look better.

I also moved my computer and desk into a corner of the dining room, and today was my first day in there. I like it a lot, since I can see the cats on the sunporch, look out the window at the birds on the feeder, and watch the small TV if I wish. I swear we must have changed the furniture around in this house a dozen times since we moved here, but eventually we'll get it right.

This latest arrangement is because I plan to have a second bedroom in what was my study/den. We need an extra bed should it be necessary. The last time we were at our house in town, DH got a small iron half-bed frame from the garage. We will paint it, buy a mattress and use that one in the second bedroom. I have had that bed since I was a little girl; my grandmother gave it to me.

Little Bud, my solid black cat, is sitting beside me watching me type. The cats don't like the QuickPad, for they instinctively know it takes my attention away from them. Cats are truly smart, even if they don't fetch like a dog. "Dogs come when you call them; cats take a message and get back to you."

I suppose we'll spend Christmas Eve at my mother's house with family. I will give cash to my nephews and mother and step-dad -- always a favorite. I also like cash as a gift for myself, because you can then choose what you really want. So often people buy what I call "junk"...trinkets, whatnots, etc...and the recipient is not happy with it. I know, I's supposed to be the "thought" that counts. Yet...why waste money on frivolities when the person can use that money for what they really want or need?

There is a good documentary on right now about hobos, and I will end this entry so I can watch it. My story I'm working on has some hobos in it, and this will add to what I've already found about them on the web.

Till next time!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Today at the doctor's office I had so many thoughts that I'd like to capture, but I didn't have this QuickPad with me. Nevertheless, I'm going to attempt to write what I remember.

First off, I really like the lady doctor; and the nurse practioner is even better. Certainly, they both communicate more effectively than any male doctor I've ever known. And both the women had more compassion and understanding for "female" issues as well. I am definitely changing GPs.

As to the thoughts I had...when the nurse practioner was asking about my past medical history, and my family's medical history, I found myself having difficulty explaining about my youngest sister's recent mental breakdown. I realized that no matter how many times you see and hear others acknowledge THEIR mental/emotional problems, it is NOT easy to do.

I realized as I stammered through the details of my sister's condition that I was almost "apologizing" for her behavior, and the nurse (and later doctor) kept reassuring me by saying, "It's okay, that's okay, it happens...etc."

Then when I began to describe some of my own emotional difficulties, it became evident that I have similiar traits to my youngest sister. Mood swings, anxiety, depression, and insomnia at times. At which point the nurse suggested if I ever felt like I needed medication to even out my moods, it could be prescribed. But I didn't get anything today, except Ambien to help with occasional sleepless nights.

After thinking about this later, I have to admit that it was in some way shameful to me, that I didn't want to be associated with any kind of mental and/or emotional problem. Furthermore, I believe that is because here in the South it is considered "weakness"...possibly even "moral weakness" to have any kind of psychological problem. As if dealing with life -- no matter how devastating -- should be done with strength and, if necessary, suffering. Probably this comes from what little "church/christian" influence I had as a child. It is certain that most religious people say to rely on "god" and not medication and/or counseling. Consequently, I didn't escape unscathed from the "southern baptists brainwashing" of the Bible Belt after all.

Or maybe it is uniquely my family position as the eldest child, never wanting to admit "needing" anyone or any help of any kind? For I am indeed seriously, rabidly independent, nearly unable to ever ask for help and/or admit to needing assistance or anything for that matter. The absolute worst time of my life was when I was seriously ill in my early 20s, the feeling of helplessness and having to rely on others. Often I think if I became terminally ill, I'd just kill myself before I became dependent on others.

I'm not sure if this attitude is good or bad. For me, that is. I know the negative aspect is that I won't reach out for friendship, won't ask for help, won't even attempt to bridge the gap between want and need. The positive aspect is that I have always been a survivor, and never a follower, never part of the herd mentality, more of a solitary free- thinker. And that has helped my writing, made me a writer to some extent.

Yet I am left wondering what will happen someday when and if I need help?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I am typing this entry on my new QuickPad portable word processor. If you aren't familiar with these gadgets used mainly by students, it is basically a keyboard with four lines of monochrome text. It does have memory, a system of files, folders and transfer (via infared) to desktop PC. I LOVE it, ideal for a writer to compose either a rough draft or emails, etc. then revise on the computer.

I consider it an early Christmas present, although DH meant the cash he gave me to be used for my birthday. Either way, I got a bargain by buying it off Ebay. Maybe I can now update this journal more often!

I literally dread this time of year, starting before Thanksgiving and until New Year's Day. But then, anyone who has read this journal very long, knows I feel this way. However, I don't seem to be quite as depressed this year as I usually am. Maybe it's just because this is our first Christmas in this old house.

For decorations, I put a large set of electric candles in the picture window and strings of lights on the inside of the front sunporch windows, as well as electric candle sets out there. If I do say so myself, it turned out quite pretty -- clear bulbs, and lots of light. I hung a wreath on the front door, and let it go at that. We haven't had a Christmas tree in years.

My mother wants us to come there on Christmas Eve, and we may do that. Just not sure yet. I will get her and my step-dad a gift card, and give calendars to my sisters. But otherwise, we don't exchange expensive gifts.

As for DH, I ordered him full year subscriptions to two horse magazines, which he should enjoy. I will also find him another couple of gifts, maybe when I go to town Friday to return the library books. I still haven't read all those, and will have to recheck two of them.

I am steadily working on the rough draft of a short story inspired by the ghost story in the local newspaper about the train derailment near here. The title will be: Fogbound. I have the first part written, and work on it each night with this QuickPad.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with a new doctor, a lady GP who practices in the small town closeby. I have been thinking of finding a new doctor for a long time, and if I like this one, I'll switch. Right now I'd like to get some kind of medication to help ease my back strain; I'd been taking Flexiril (sp?) which is primarily a muscle relaxer. Maybe this lady GP can prescribe something better, or if not, then more Flexiril. Plus, I also need a renewed prescription for my blood pressure medication.

Tonight it is supposed to be around 15, the first real hard freeze we've had. I do not like temperatures this low, but maybe it'll kill off all the creepy-crawlers/bugs for this year. Fortunately this cold won't last too long, and then we'll have temperatures in the high 40s during the day, 20s at night. Sure FEELS like Christmas weather in Dixie now!

At night when I write on the QuickPad, the cats invaribly have to sit on my lap. One or the other is usually positioned between me and the keyboard, which IS a bit awkward...but hey, I can't complain for I do love the rascals!

I am still using the air-bike every day, between 30-45 minutes. The only problem I have is that I need a larger fan; the small one I use just doesn't keep me from getting overheated. I do believe that the air-bike gives me a better aerobic workout than outdoor biking, and certainly better than the NordicTrack ski machine ever did.

And that is it for tonight. I'll upload this and post it tomorrow morning.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

We're having our own version of "A River Runs Through It" tonight! After all the rain, rain, rain...our cellar flooded, and it looks like a river down there.

DH bought a sump pump, and it's been working since early this afternoon...and STILL the water comes. It seems the flow is coming from beneath a wall of cement blocks on the upper side, running down the slight tilt toward the other side. DH even checked to make sure a water line hadn't burst, since the water just keeps pouring. He said it might be a "wet weather spring" that's broken loose, and now flooding our cellar. What in the heck would you do about THAT?

Since we bought this place over a year ago, we've seen it damp in the cellar from time to time, but NOTHING like this! Of course, it HAS rained for days on end, only to have a couple days of sun, then back to raining. DH overheard a guy at lunch say his basement had flooded -- and it was a SEALED basement, and had never had a water problem! Goodness, the sump pumps are probably selling out fast in town!

I finally got all my research on the history of ownership of this house printed, framed and hung. Pictures to follow. I think it looks great in the living room, adds a special touch.

I'm now in the process of getting ALL the research and history of the nearby small town and community printed out, as well as other odds and ends, trying to prepare the "Time Capsule." I hope that I can have it done, and put it in the attic on January 1st of 2005. Still have a good bit to do, but I think I can make that deadline.

Anyhow, sawing and drilling are going on now in the cellar; DH is trying to create an outlet for the sump pump hose, so we don't have to keep the cellar door open.

More when life settles down and quiet returns...IF it ever does!

Here's a closer look -- printed a black and white recent photo of the house at the top of the material Posted by Hello

House History framed and hung, at last! Posted by Hello

Friday, December 03, 2004

Today is my birthday. And I'm actually in a fairly positive frame of mind, feel good. After all, what is the alternative to having birthdays? :-) I'm heading into the city, plan to do some shopping and then browse at the library. My sister visited yesterday, gave me several good books to read also.

Here's an excellent quote about the latest elections here in the USA:

"As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." --H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

A writer, of course, and certainly a genius since he correctly predicted the outcome of our glorious "democracy" in America.

And with that, I'm outta here!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Having trouble with my darn printer today. I got a real bargain black ink cartridge off Ebay, and decided to use this older printer instead of buying a new one -- at least for now. Anyhow, the cartridge is fine, but the printer is acting up. Woe is me, if it's not one thing, it's another. I DO want to get all the research/history of this house printed and put in a frame, so I can hang it in the living room -- eventually.

Rain, rain and more rain today. Used my new air-bike this morning: 25 miles, 40 minutes, 1,800 calories.

I took this online test to determine what kind of blogger I am, and here's the results:

You Are a Pundit Blogger!

Your blog is smart, insightful, and always a quality read.
Truly appreciated by many, surpassed by only a few

Till next time! (DH is off next week for vacation, but he'll be working on converting the garage to a saddle-shop, and I won't!)

Monday, November 29, 2004

We finally had great Fall weather today. Brilliant blue skies, sunny, just a slight chill in the air. I got out and took some pictures of the house, yard, etc which will be posted below.

One of my cats, Bob, had an adventure tonight. The back door wasn't closed tightly and he got out. I didn't realize it until about 30 minutes later, and when I went out to look for him, I feared he might have run off. However, as I shone the flashlight underneath the porch, I saw him crouching there, directly beneath where he stays. He wanted in, but naturally didn't know how to go about getting back inside.

Or so I thought.

After coaxing, cajoling, even offering some cat treats, with NO results, DH came out and went near where Bob was, and Bob ran out, went DIRECTLY to the back door where he'd come out and tried to climb in! I hurried inside and let him in...end of saga. Whew! We'll have to be more careful when we go out and in the back doors from now on!

Got an early birthday gift: DH gave me a great indoor air-bike, which I really LOVE. Now I can use it when the weather is bad -- like it has been lately, lots of rain. The traffic also is a big drawback to biking here, so I may not bike for regular exercise, just now and then. Using the stationary air-bike, I'll still get a good workout. It has an electronic readout, and today I biked 15 miles in 45 minutes; the handlebars are also like rowing, and that provides an even better workout.

Without further ado, here's the photos:

Autumn leaves beyond the barn in the pasture Posted by Hello

Corner of backyard where we cleared out tangled vines/bushes Posted by Hello

Princess watching the birdfeeder from the back sunporch Posted by Hello

Rear of new addition, and window where cats sit Posted by Hello

New addition and side of house, with new cellar window in the repaired foundation area Posted by Hello

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Couldn't resist this article, and a snide comment.

If you want to know who voted for Bushie, look no further. This article will clue you into the mentality of Bush supporters:

Cheese Sandwich Bought for $28,000

MIAMI (Reuters) - An online casino won the eBay bidding for a decade-old cheese sandwich bearing what some people consider a likeness of the Virgin Mary and immediately began hawking Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese T-shirts.'s bid of $28,000 was the highest offer for the sandwich when bidding closed late on Monday, the Internet casino's Web site said.

The seller, Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident Diana Duyser, says she made the cheese sandwich 10 years ago and after taking a bite, saw "the Virgin Mary staring back at me."

In her eBay ad, Duyser said the sandwich has been kept in a plastic case for a decade and has developed no mold or bacteria. "It is like a miracle," she said.

"I would like all people to know that I do believe that this is the Virgin Mary Mother Of God," the ad said. "That is my solemn belief, but you are free to believe that she is whomever you like, I am not scamming anyone." said on its Web site that the "sacred sandwich" had received more than 1.7 million hits since being posted on eBay. The company's chief executive, Richard Rowe, said the sandwich would be used to raise money for charity.

The T-shirts, in various styles bearing a picture of the sandwich and a logo, sell for $19.99.

"We believe that everyone should be able to see it and learn of its mystical power for themselves," Rowe said.

Note how many hits this cheese sandwich on Ebay had? 1.7 million hits. No wonder Bush won!

The world (and USA) are in SERIOUS trouble, folks, with lunatics like this in charge. Or is it just me that finds this incredibly stupid?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Excellent op-ed column in today's New York Times:

Abosolute Power Erupts

Absolute Power Erupts

Published: November 21, 2004


They're fragile and frazzled, depressed and self-doubting.

Trapped in their blue bell jar, drowning in unfulfilled dreams, Democrats are the "Desperate Housewives" of politics.

The image of Republicans as the Daddy party and Democrats as the Mommy party came roaring back in 2004, with a chesty President Bush and Dick Cheney prevailing by making the case that they could protect America from vicious terrorists and uxorious gays better than the Brahmin they painted as a sissy. In politics, as on TV, political correctness is out and retro is in. Hillary's bid to be president suddenly appears more wobbly, and the class of new senators looks like a throwback - with half a dozen white male conservative Republicans front and center.

At the Republican governors' conference in New Orleans, Ken Mehlman, the Bush campaign manager, answered the question, Who's your daddy party? "If you drive a Volvo and you do yoga, you are pretty much a Democrat," he said. "If you drive a Lincoln or a BMW and you own a gun, you're voting for George Bush."

Of course, W. was swaddled by three strong women - Laura Bush, Karen Hughes and Condi Rice - who cleaned up after his political messes.

Yet Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney boldly projected the image of confident - if overbearing - husbands who would guard the family home from intruders, while casting John Kerry as the feminized guy who couldn't get his sports references straight, the sort who would sashay about in Yves St. Laurent pajamas, dithering, whither-ing, and fetching bottled water for Teresa while the burglar alarm rang.

Democrats were furious to learn last week that Mr. Kerry had squirreled away $15 million in primary donations that he could have spent turning out the vote in Florida and Ohio. Once more trying to have it both ways, Mr. Kerry wanted a nest egg in case of a recount or legal challenges - not exactly the killer mentality that Democrats need.

Having gutted their opponents, Republicans are pretending to patch up divisions as they ruthlessly consolidate their gains. Democrats are turning the other cheek. At the opening of his presidential library, Bill Clinton assured the audience that Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry were "good people" who "just see the world differently."

The Republican Visigoths are crushing checks and balances and driving Democrats (and moderate Republicans) into subservient, obedient roles, sticking antiabortion provisions into major spending bills. Even the suggestion that Congress has an advise-and-consent role on judges caused the Visigoths to slap Arlen Specter into stocks, until he whimpered he would do their bidding.

The party of moral values deemed that crime pays, shielding Tom DeLay with a rule that someone facing a felony charge can still be a leader.

The ultracreepy Mr. DeLay de-pantsed Democrats on Friday, sneering: "I understand the Democrat Party's adjustment to their national minority status is frustrating, but their crushing defeat ... should show them that the American people are tired of the politics of personal destruction."

Well, yeah. Watching Bush supporters shred a war hero into a war criminal was tiring.

This most secretive administration wants to stop the public from getting any facts that might challenge its story line.

The Department of Homeland Security is making employees and contractors sign pledges barring them from telling the public about sensitive but unclassified information.

Porter Goss has warned C.I.A. employees that they should support the administration and "scrupulously honor our secrecy oath" by letting only the agency's public affairs office and Congressional relations branch talk to the media and Congress.

Senate Republicans have voted to allow Bill Frist, the majority leader, to fill vacancies on powerful committees, rather than abiding by the seniority system - a sword over moderates and mavericks.

The White House says it wants greater harmony, but it's acting like the thought police. Having run into resistance in their bid for global domination, the president and vice president are going for federal domination, pushing out anyone with independent judgment who puts democracy above ideology.

It's a paradoxical game plan: imposing democracy abroad while impeding it here.


And here's a quote that might provoke some reflection on the state of the world today:

If only it were all so simple! If only there were
evil people somewhere insidiously committing
evil deeds, and it were necessary only to
separate them from the rest of us and destroy
them. But the line dividing good and evil
cuts through the heart of every human being.
And who is willing to destroy a part of his
own heart? --Alexander Soizenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

For lack of anything much to write about, I'll post a couple of Zen stories that make you THINK....

Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors

Not Dead Yet

The Emperor asked Master Gudo, "What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?"

"How should I know?" replied Gudo.

"Because you are a master," answered the Emperor.

"Yes sir," said Gudo, "but not a dead one."


A Useless Life

A farmer got so old that he couldn't work the fields anymore. So he would spend the day just sitting on the porch.

His son, still working the farm, would look up from time to time and see his father sitting there. "He's of no use any more," the son thought to himself, "he doesn't do anything!"
One day the son got so frustrated by this, that he built a wood coffin, dragged it over to the porch, and told his father to get in. Without saying anything, the father climbed inside. After closing the lid, the son dragged the coffin to the edge of the farm where there was a high cliff.

As he approached the drop, he heard a light tapping on the lid from inside the coffin. He opened it up. Still lying there peacefully, the father looked up at his son. "I know you are going to throw me over the cliff, but before you do, may I suggest something?"

"What is it?" replied the son.

"Throw me over the cliff, if you like," said the father, "but save this good wood coffin. Your children might need to use it."


The Present Moment

A Japanese warrior was captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and executed. Then the words of his Zen master came to him, "Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only reality is now."

Heeding these words, the warrior became peaceful and fell asleep.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Local Ghost Story

While the war in Iraq rages on, killing and mayhem unabated, life does go on -- after Bush & Company's re-election. No, I'm NOT happy about it, but then again, what can I do? Nothing. And yes, I'm still a bit depressed -- but some of my mood is due to the seasonal doldrums. Ah...that wonderful time of year when we're supposed to remember those we choose to forget the rest of the year. (Sarcasm intended)

Anyhow, I found an excellent article about a local ghost story and want to include it here. This took place in 1939 near a small community railroad crossing -- the SAME place I ride my bike occasionally. The crossing is about three miles away from our house, so I'm planning on including this in my "Time Capsule."

Here's the article excerpt, concerning local ghost stories on Halloween. The "Beeline Highway" also happens to be the four-lane we travel each time we go back and forth to the nearest larger city, so it is also pertinent. Pictures follow of the area too.

The year 1939 seemed to be a year for tragedies, with at least two events that to this day cause some to pause or think twice about getting out of their car on a certain stretch of highway.

Bee Line Highway

For a short period in 1939, Haynes said a number of people were killed on a short stretch of the Bee Line Highway south of the city. "Almost every day or every other day there was a fatality on a certain stretch of this road," Haynes said. What is odd about the deaths, Haynes said, is that most of them occurred outside of the vehicle.

Reports from (newspaper name eliminated) in 1939 reported two such incidents on that stretch of the road where deaths occurred. One woman was killed while standing between a stalled car and a guardrail. Another car struck the one she was standing beside and she was crushed. A boy was struck by a car while crossing Bee Line Highway walking toward the railroad tracks.

"I do know that there are some folks who absolutely will not stop on this stretch of road even today," Haynes said.

Train Wreck of 1939

While's there's been no report of ghostly aberrations, Haynes said he and his brother are suspicious of a horrific train accident that occurred about a half mile north of the (name removed) railroad crossing. Two black men died at the scene of the accident when 23 cars loaded with steel for the war effort crashed after a broken car came apart.

When rescuers arrived at the scene, one of the men was already dead and the other near death, Haynes said reports show. "They dying man claimed that there were 15 others aboard the ill-fated train," Haynes said. "But no other bodies were recovered."

Haynes said he and his brother have come up with at least two theories to explain the fact no other bodies were recovered from the track.

One theory is that the man was confused. "He had just been in a train wreck, after all," Haynes said.

On the other hand, "Why would this man lie?" Haynes asked.

The brothers' other theory is that taking into account the racial mindset of the 1939 Southerner, there's a chance any other bodies might have been buried close by while the steel was collected as quickly as possible to be sent ahead for the war effort.

Haynes said he and his brother recently conducted an investigation at the scene of the accident. "We have evidence of some sort of activity that is attached to this area," Haynes said. "We have recordings of a voice that apparently wants to communicate something to us. We have to conduct an extended investigation in this area before we can go into further detail."

Railroad Crossing at the small community where ghost story takes place -- and where I ride my bike often. Posted by Hello

Looking north -- about half-mile up the tracks where train derailment took place in 1939. Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Not much to write about here: Just the same old, same old. We have FINALLY finished our last project, and I'm looking forward to a peacful, quiet week next week.

Monday I must take Kitten to the vet to be spayed; have to get her there by 9:00, so I plan to spend most of the day in town. I want to visit the library, a long, leisurely visit to find some good reads. Then I will shop at the Salvation Army store for more used blankets/pillows for the cats to enjoy during the cold winter nights.

I MISS being in town, shopping or going to the library, whenever the mood strikes. At least I do have the nearby mall, which is easy access for groceries, etc. Still, it's not like living in the city.

Nice weather today, and DH went horseback riding. I did some serious housecleaning, finished up with mopping the floors. The cats are finally settling in on the back sunporch, and I'm keeping Bitty inside now too. City Kitty didn't seem to like being indoors, and I let her go back outside; she's sleeping in the hay barn, and I feed her only during the day, so as not to attract the pesky raccoons closer to the house. I still feed them, but a good distance from the house.

I went on a short bike ride earlier this morning, enjoyed the cooler weather. Sunny and bright, perfect fall day here. I think my biking is going to be sporadic during the winter, and I'll use the ski machine instead. It's not too boring, if I strap on my stereo headphones!

That's about it from here today.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Couldn't resist displaying this -- which I found HERE Posted by Hello
It's official folks: There are now a majority of morons in the USA, and they elected Bush. No doubt now the Moron-in-Chief will be even more aggressive, arrogant and possibly do more damage than can ever be undone -- at least in my lifetime. However, there is NOTHING I (or most of us) can do now, except sit back and watch the train wreck. Glad I don't have any kids around the draft age, cause you can bet your a** that is coming soon.

Hey, at least I don't have to change the name of my blog, "Mad, Mad World" which I chose when Bush & Company attained power back almost four years ago! ;-)

Busy, busy here. Just about to hit the home stretch though, and be finished with ALL remodeling projects till next Spring. Thank goodness!

More when I have time!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Oil, Gas & Voting

If you want economic prosperity, lower gas prices and a better world for us all, get out tomorrow and vote for KERRY. This article demonstrates abundantly WHY, including the fact that Bush has been adding to the national oil reserve, buying it at the exorbitant prices now. Isn't he just helping his oil buddies get richer? You bet.

Speculators Bet on Kerry Win, Oil Falls

Monday November 1, 3:17 PM EST

By Richard Mably

LONDON (Reuters) - Oil prices fell sharply on Monday on speculation that a U.S. election win for Senator John Kerry could ease the geopolitical friction that has helped fuel this year's record-breaking rally.

U.S. light crude settled down $1.63 to $50.13 after diving as low as $49.30 a barrel, breaking below $50 the first time in nearly a month. U.S. crude peaked a week ago at $55.67 a barrel.

In London, Brent crude lost $1.92 to $47.06 a barrel.

Energy analysts said a win for the challenger Kerry in Tuesday's U.S. presidential election could mean lower crude prices than if President Bush were reelected. Latest opinion polls can barely separate the two.

"Under a Kerry administration we'd likely have a much more interventionist SPR policy," said Jamal Qureshi, market analyst at PFC Energy in Washington. "And when you look out a bit further, Bush is more likely to be aggressive in the Middle East, particularly in Iran."

The Bush administration continues to add crude to the SPR, the national strategic petroleum reserve, despite high prices.

Kerry says he would stop filling the reserve at current prices to keep more crude on the market. That difference is important for a world oil market suffering a shortage of light, sweet crude, which makes up about 40 percent of the SPR.

"A Bush status quo results in somewhat higher oil prices both in the short and the longer term, in my view," said Tim Evans, senior analyst at IFR Energy Services.

PFC is forecasting an average U.S. crude price of $43 a barrel in 2005 should Kerry win, compared with $48 a barrel in the event Bush triumphed. It sees $52 on average in the first quarter 2005 under Bush compared with $45 under Kerry.

PFC said a Bush win could stoke nervousness about U.S. policies in the oil-producing Middle East, while Kerry is seen as more likely to work through diplomatic channels.

A Kerry victory could also mean more financing for renewable energy sources and trigger a push for tighter mileage standards for gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles.

"Conservation, in my opinion, is the only way to get us out of this hole which we put ourselves in," said Fadel Gheit, senior energy analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.

Kerry backs a 10-year, $30 billion energy package that includes $10 billion to build cleaner coal-fired power plants and $10 billion to help U.S. auto makers retool to build more fuel-efficient cars.

Traders also are wary of economic data showing signs that higher energy costs are eating into economic performance, curtailing oil demand growth.

All you independents, get on board with Kerry or suffer another four WORSE years with Bush as the Prez.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Photos and latest update

I went on the "killer bike loop" this morning, between 9:00 and 10:00. Usually it takes a little over 30 minutes to ride the five miles, and yet it was already HOT this morning. I had to wait till the worst of the morning work traffic slows, but it would have been better to go around 8:00. Wish this heat would end, and allow us to have our mild Fall temps!

Day before yesterday I biked in another nearby subdivision, one I'd not been to before. It will be a good place to ride once winter is here, because it's less than a mile away and has some challenging hills. However, right now it's too darn hot to bike in early afternoon, and that's the only time I dare tackle this rural highway (lots of traffic morning/evening) in front of our house -- which is the ONLY route to the subdivision.

Oh, something funny: The other day one of our neighbors was here, he'd borrowed our tractor and brought it back. I went out to ride, got on my bike and yelled to DH that I was "going for a ride." DH later said the neighbor repeated to DH what I'd said, "The bicycle lady said she's going for a ride." DH said that the community must be calling me "the bicycle lady." Yeah, but maybe the neighbor politely left out the word "crazy" before "bicycle lady!" I hope not, but I know that I'm one of the VERY few who rides a bike around here. I've seen two guys out riding, both all suited up in biking outfits and helmets (I don't wear a helmet or special biking outfit, just some narrow-leg shorts and comfortable top). These guys ride expensive bikes and race like the wind, fast and furious! :-) They'd leave me in the dust, but nevertheless, I do ride as fast as possible, since I'm in it for the exercise/exertion. Still, I couldn't keep up with them!

I'm contemplating moving my cats from the front sunporch to the new back sunporch, since it'll be warmer there for winter weather. That will be a task I'll try to do next week, while DH is on vacation.

Here's two pictures of the new planters with artificial flowers beneath the picture window. The new rock walkway is also visible in one of the pictures.

Close-up of planters underneat picture window Posted by Hello

Planters underneath picture window Posted by Hello

Monday, October 25, 2004

Long weekend, though we didn't get much accomplished. Next week DH is off for vacation again, and we hope to finish up the last of our renovation on the enclosed backporch. There's not much left to do, but we want it completed. For now, we are using both rooms...just need to finish the painting, etc.

Saturday I finally got around to creating two long planter flower boxes and putting them beneath the picture window. I had been collecting artificial flowers for a couple months, buying them at various low-priced places like General Dollar and even the Salvation Army store. The two dark-green planters were on sale, since most garden shops were clearing out their summer stock. The overall effect is great, gives the house more "curb appeal." I'll try to get a photo soon.

Great weather here today, and I went on my bike ride around 2:00. I actually explored another nearby subdivison, but one which is in an opposite direction from the others I frequent. It is almost ALL uphill to get there, plus I have to ride about a half mile on this busy highway in front of our house. That's why I'd put it off. But the riding there is great, in that there's some challenging hills and NO traffic to speak of. Perhaps that will be my new destination, once the weather cools down more. Today it's near 80, almost TOO hot to be out riding at 2:00; but I needed the exercise.

The Presidential election is soon going to be 'history.' Today there's a news report which should make all people with half-a-brain KNOW that Bush and his cohorts are off-track badly in Iraq. Read it and weep:

U.N.: Tons of Explosives Missing in Iraq

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Several hundred tons of conventional explosives were looted from a former Iraqi military facility that once played a key role in Saddam Hussein's efforts to build a nuclear bomb, the U.N. nuclear agency told the Security Council on Monday.

A "lack of security" resulted in the loss of 377 tons of high explosives from the sprawling Al-Qaqaa military installation about 30 miles south of Baghdad, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said.

The IAEA fears "that these explosives could have fallen into the wrong hands," said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

The development immediately became an issue on the U.S. presidential campaign trail, with the White House downplaying the threat from the missing cache of weapons but Sen. John Kerry's campaign calling the disappearance a "grave and catastrophic mistake."

ElBaradei told the council the IAEA had been trying to give the U.S.-led multinational force and Iraq's interim government "an opportunity to attempt to recover the explosives before this matter was put into the public domain."

But since the disappearance was reported in the media, he said he wanted the Security Council to have the letter dated Oct. 10 that he received from Mohammed J. Abbas, a senior official at Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology, reporting the theft of the explosives.

The materials were lost through "the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security," the letter said.

The letter from Abbas informed the IAEA that since Sept. 4, 2003, looting at the Al-Qaqaa installation south of Baghdad had resulted in the loss of 214.67 tons of HMX, 155.68 tons of RDX and 6.39 tons of PETN explosives.

HMX and RDX can be used to demolish buildings, down jetliners, produce warheads for missiles and detonate nuclear weapons. HMX and RDX are key ingredients in plastic explosives such as C-4 and Semtex - substances so powerful that Libyan terrorists needed just 1 pound to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, killing 170 people.

Last night I reread six chapters of a novel I'd worked on several years ago, but never completed. It was titled, "Savage Sport," and I had forgotten how well it was developing. Maybe once I finish the rough draft of the novel I'm working on now, I'll give it another shot. One thing that is always weird -- rereading something I've written years ago, it's almost like I've never seen it or read it, as if I'm reading another author's work. Eventually though the kernel of the plot idea comes back to me, and I know where it is going, how it'll end. Still, it's interesting to occasionally reread something I wrote long ago. I would guess all writers feel that way too.

Had a wonderful, fun visit with my sister Friday.

And that's it for today.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Just had to post an excellent essay I came across; it is well worth the time to read.

I went on a bike ride around 5:30 tonight, and got back just before dark. It was wonderful to watch the sun setting, and feel the cool, damp air as I rode. I didn't make the loop, for it was too late, but I enjoyed myself!

My sister is due to visit tomorrow, and I plan to drive her around the immediate area, since she's not familiar with our surroundings. It will be fun visiting with her!

Here's the essay:

By E.L. Doctorow

I fault this president for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one-year-olds who wanted to be what they could be. On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man.

He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted be what they could be.

They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsol-able remembrance of aborted life.... they come to his desk as a political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it. So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice.

He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

Yet this president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing -- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends.

A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappro-priate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children. He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead, he does not feel for the thirty five million of us who live in poverty, he does not feel for the forty percent who cannot afford health insurance, he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills -- it is amazing for how many people in this country this President does not feel.

But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the safety regulations for coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.

And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneous aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over the world most of the time.

But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.

The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.

Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Today I biked the "killer loop" -- over five miles of pure country highway! Whew! Though I'd been biking every day, just riding in the nearby subdivision and/or nearby road...was NOT keeping me in shape. This killer loop has some steep hills, some flat stretches, a good workout combination. It's overcast, muggy outside today, and when I got back from the mall, I decided I'd tackle the loop. I got VERY hot, but it was worth the effort. I hope I can start riding the loop almost daily, especially when it cools down again. I have to go between 1:00 and 2:00 when traffic is light, otherwise it'd be taking my life in my hands if I have to fight LOTS of late afternoon traffic.

Here's some good news about women who've taken the birth control pill in the past. I took it for over 10 years until I had my tubal ligation done at age 30. So it looks like I'll be HEALTHIER than those who didn't take the birth control pill.

Study: Pill Cuts Cancer, Coronary Risks

Overall, "there's an 8 percent risk reduction of ever having cardiovascular disease" among women who had ever taken birth control pills, said the lead researcher, Dr. Rahi Victory of Wayne State. "If you use oral contraceptives early on, you're probably going to be protected later in life."

Women on The Pill also had a 7 percent lower risk of developing any form of cancer - a small benefit that increased with length of use, Victory said. For example, women who took birth control pills for four years or more had 42 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer and 30 percent lower chances of developing uterine cancer.

Wow! Young ladies need to take these, if they want to help their health as they age, I suppose. I've heard that some medical insurance companies won't cover the cost of the pill...and if that isn't the stupidest thing I've ever heard of, I don't know what is. I mean, for God's sake, anyone KNOWS that it is cheaper to use the pill than to have a gaggle of snot-nosed kids!!!

I did some housework when I got back from the bike ride, and now have to fix a chef salad for our meal later. I am on a semi-diet, in that I want to lose a few pounds. I've gotten up to 105, and NOT happy about it!

I have downloaded a new, free program w.blogger that allows me to write offline, then post to my blog. This post is a test only.

I'm ready to head to the nearby shopping mall, have to buy a few items and get a prescription refilled. Hopefully I'll then have time to write more today. The modem is doing great since I put that line of script into the 'extra settings' under my HSP56 micromodem settings! Here's hoping it stays this way, best speed I've EVER gotten!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Modem/Computer Problems

I fear the gremlins have attacked my computer. Not that I haven't been preparing for this 98 model Compaq to hit the skids for some time now, but isn't it true the problems come when you are busy with other stuff?

The past week or so I've noticed my connection speeds getting slower and slower, and sometimes NO data at all coming in when I'm online. I get "Error" results on webpages, and also "Can't find URL," from Explorer. Yesterday was the pits, in that I couldn't get online with the Compaq, which is my desktop. However, I was able to connect with my laptop and my Palm, so apparently it's this computer. After trying connections via this phone line I use for the Compaq with the laptop/Palm, I concluded it is NOT the phone line. I emailed support for my ISP, and they said they had no issues. So...I've pretty much narrowed it down to the modem. I'm downloading a new driver, will see if that helps by updating the driver. But I don't have much hope of that solving the problem.

Yesterday I worked over half the day cleaning the outside of this aluminum siding; I hose/wash it down about once a month, then apply insecticide to help control pests --we have waay too many spiders here. And I HATE spiders! Anyhow, I was tired after that, then the puter pitched a fit, and I just gave up for the day.

I'm also putting all relevant material off this hard drive on a CD, just in case of a failure. Additionally, I'm preparing a special CD with all the photos from this house/land, new and old, as well as downloading all my online journal entries since right before we bought this place through this December to include in the "Time Capsule" I'm working on. I want to put the CD, all info about this house and previous owners, along with two recent newspapers and assorted stuff in a fireproof safe...leave it in the attic. Even in case of a fire, this would not be destroyed. I just think it would be an interesting touch for future find the CD, read the ups and downs of our lives before and after moving here, plus all the relevant historical details. I'm working on this constantly, and should be ready to put the safe with info in the attic by January. I will have a notice on the front not to open it till maybe...2050 or something like that. I've researched a bit on creating time capsules, so I should be able to create one that will be interesting.

It's rainy here, had serious thunderstorms all morning but now it's quiet. I painted more trim in the mud-room, but still have to put another coat on later this afternoon. While out there working, Bitty and City kitty kept me company, meowing and whining. Bitty likes to go out, but since it was rainy, she didn't want to get wet...yet kept whining! Go figure!

Okay, I got disconnected (AGAIN!) when I tried to post this, but had read a bulletin board with discussions about resolving modem problems. I added a modem string under the 'extra settings'...AT&FX&C1&D2%N1...and got connected at the highest speed ever. But don't know if it'll stay online or not. At any rate, I'm working on the issue...but I doubt I'll ever solve it completely.

Must run for now, and post this before I get disconnected! I guess I'll be looking for a new puter soon....

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Important articles and links

Since I had some time tonight online, I have been reading some interesting, intelligent articles. (Yes, there are some out there in cyberspace!)

Here's a link and excerpt to an important article that everyone should read:

The End of Easy Oil

We are headed into uncharted territory, led by a government that seems prepared to use force, when necessary, to preserve the current system. We face growing competition from other countries for a finite resource at a time of growing animosity toward the United States.

And here's a few more article links you might want to check out:

Oil and Troubled Water

Why 2004 Will Be Remembered as the Year World Oil Production Peaked

Marshall Auerback on oil surprises


Yep, some EXCELLENT food for thought. It is going to be a rough, violent, uncertain future for humans -- not just here, but worldwide.

Oh, and by the way, has anyone EVER dared suggest that perhaps, just maybe...curbing the overwhelming POPULATION could be a partial answer to the growing lack of oil? Why, of course not. That would be just too...REASONABLE.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

One-year Anniversary

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary for DH and I; we bought this old house and five acres of land one year ago! Though I've had some doubts along the way, I do believe we made the right decision. And we've certainly accomplished a great deal in the past 360 days with a lot of hard work and plain old elbow grease. Best of all, we still own the house in the city, so there's always an alternative place to live -- should we ever decide to move back there.

I try to think of this house (and the city house) as investments, to some extent. That is why I'm always planning projects for improvement and/or upkeep, since we must try to protect our initial investment. Yet each house is, in its own distinct way, the places we call HOME. I don't have any regrets really about purchasing this old house, or the hard work of renovation. But I am glad we are zeroing in on having most of it finished soon. We are thinking of waiting till spring to have a new roof put on, since that is not urgent.

Here's a picture of our latest sunroom addition:

View of sunroom from den, Bitty and City Kitty love it too! Posted by Hello

DH went back to work today, and I've been busy rearranging furniture, doing cleaning chores related to the sunroom/mudroom projects. We still have a few details to finish in the mudroom, but the sunroom is finished for now.

I went on my bike ride around 10:00 this morning, since it has been overcast with an occasional shower. Rather warm and humid too, but we needed the rain so badly I'm not complaining. A cool front is supposed to come through tomorrow, and possibly bring us our first frost by the weekend. Autumn is truly here...

I've been using my ski machine when unable to bike, due to weather. At any rate, I'm staying in shape, not dieting, and my weight remains between 100-103 lbs. Can't complain!

Won't be long now till election day. I would like to encourage EVERYONE to vote, regardless of your choice. It's a right we cannot always take for granted.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have more time online, and can write another update. For now I'll close with this interesting list I read by another journal writer:

100 Benefits of Journaling

Stress reduction:

* Reduces the scatter in your life

* Increases focus

* Brings stability

* Offers a deeper level of learning, order, action and release

* Holds thoughts still so they can be changed and integrated

* Processes your stuff in a natural and appropriate way

* Releases pent-up thoughts and emotions

* Empowers

* Disentangles thoughts and ideas

* Bridges inner thinking with outer events

* Detaches and lets go of the past

* Allows you to re-experience the past with today's adult mind


* Heals relationships

* Heals the past

* Dignifies all events

* Is honest, trusting, non-judgmental

* Strengthens your sense of yourself

* Balances and harmonizes

* Recalls and reconstructs past events

* Acts as your own counselor

* Integrates peaks and valleys in life

* Soothes troubled memories

* Sees yourself as a larger, important, whole and connected being

* Leverages therapy sessions for better and faster results

* Reveals and tracks patterns and cycles

Know yourself and your truth better:

* Builds self confidence and self knowledge

* Records the past

* Brings out natural beauty and wisdom

* Helps you feel better about yourself

* Helps you identify your values

* Reads your own mind

* Aids in connecting causes to effects

* Reveals the depths of who you are

* Reveals outward expression of yet unformed inner impulses

* Creates mystery

* Clarifies thoughts, feelings and behavior

* Reveals your greater potential

* Shifts you to the observer, recorder, counselor level

* Reveals your processes - how you think, learn, create and use


* Creates awareness of beliefs and options so you can change them

* Self-discovery

* Reveals different aspects of self

* Helps you see yourself as an individual

* Connects you to the bigger picture

* Is a close, intimate, accepting, trusting, caring, honest,

non-judgmental, perfect friend

* Accesses the unconscious, subconscious and super consciousness

* Finds the missing pieces and the unsaid

* Helps rid you of the masks you wear

* Helps solve the mysteries of life

* Finds more meaning in life

Personal growth:

* Enables you to live life to the fullest

* Is fun, playful and sometimes humorous

* Expresses and creates

* Plants seeds

* Starts the sorting and grouping process

* Integrates life experiences and learnings

* Moves you towards wholeness and growth, to who you really are

* Creates more results in life

* Explores your spirituality

* Focuses and clarifies your desires and needs

* Enhances self expression

* Enhances career and community

* Allows freedom of expression

* Offers progressive inner momentum to static unrelated events

* Exercises your mental muscles

* Improves congruency and integrity

* Enhances breakthroughs

* Unfolds the writer in you

* Maximizes time and business efficiency

* Explores night dreams, day dreams and fantasies

* Measures and tracks what is important

Easier problem solving:

* Eases decision making

* Offers new perspectives

* Brings things together

* Shows relationships and wholeness instead of separation

It’s flexible and easy:

* Can be applied to clarify any issue in your life

* Takes so little time to stop, pay attention and listen to yourself

* Meets your needs, style, processing methods

* Caters to left and right brained people

* Has no rules - messiness, typos, poor writing are all OK

* Is often self-starting and motivating and supplies its own energy

Enhances intuition and creativity:

* Improves self trust

* Awakens the inner voice

* Directs intention and discernment

* Provides insights

* Improves sensitivity

* Interprets your symbols and dreams

* Increases memory of events

Captures your life story:

* Teaches you how to write stories

* Soothes troubled memories

* Captures family and personal story

* Stimulates personal growth

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Work, work and MORE work!

We're still in the thick of our remodeling project. DH is out there working on replacing a huge chunk of the foundation that had almost crumbled. Originally this old house had NO underpining; it was supported ONLY by brick columns. Eventually they got huge rocks out of the nearby creek, and used mortar to cement them together for underpining/foundation. Over the years, there's been other owners who put in concrete pillar supports -- in the cellar and underneath the front part of the house. This has stablized it a great deal, but the old mortar/rocks are still here in about two sections lining the cellar. So DH is replacing those with cement blocks, and adding a window that will allow sunlight/fresh air into the cellar -- which is necessary to correct the musty smell.

Some time ago, we also created a screened, but open area at the top of the cellar steps, which comes out underneath the recently-built backporch; we keep a fan sitting at the foot of the steps to circulate air, ventilate it. Our central h/a unit is down there, though the ductwork/vents are in the attic. But we noticed a very musty smell coming from the air conditioning vents; I did some research, and learned that we HAD to have ventilation down there, as well as keeping it dry as much as possible so that the musty smell would be eliminated -- or at least kept under control. So far the remedies I've just mentioned seem to be working.DH also put some lime on the cellar floor, and that helped with moisture control and improved scent.

Saw the Vice-presidential debate last night, and though it wasn't nearly as unmatched in I.Q. factor as Kerry/Bush, it was still interesting. I think it was a draw, that both men presented an excellent debate. However, I DID agree with just about everything Edwards stated, regarding the Iraq war (a mess) and the economy and health care. I've read about Kerry/Edwards health care plans on their website, and I think it WILL be a vast improvement over "more of the same" by Bush & Company. Ditto on the Iraq war and economy.

If you want to find out what is REALLY going on in Iraq, here's a link to read some of the letters Michael Moore got from our soldiers over there:

Letters From Iraq to Michael Moore

Now I'll close with some excerpts by writers on our craft, and a quote:

Judith Guest, Author of "Ordinary People"

Judith Guest, 68, started writing when she was 10 "just to amuse myself" and never took any writing courses when she attended the University of Michigan.

After doing the crossword puzzle and drinking "about 10 cups of coffee," Guest spends her mornings writing in the front room of the 1913 brick-and-stucco house she shares in Minnesota with her husband, Larry, dog and cat.

The Guests and their three sons had just moved to the Minneapolis suburb of Edina in 1975 when she got a Mailgram from Viking accepting "Ordinary People" for publication.

"I didn't even have anybody to tell," Guest recalls. "I did go to my next-door neighbor, and she was ecstatic and she was wonderful, and she got a bottle of champagne and came over and we've been big buddies ever since."

Since publication, "Ordinary People"' has sold close to 90,000 hardcover copies and more than half a million paperback copies.

--Exclusive Authorlink Interview With Rachel Cline, author of What to Keep (Random House, April 2004)

AUTHORLINK: How does it feel to be a newly-published novelist?

CLINE: It's a great experience. I got what I always wanted. How many people can say that? What I hadn't expected, and what I am coming to terms with, is how hard it is to get read. There are so many novels on the market. I grew up in a world where novelists had the celebrity status of today's rock stars. Now, it's a different world.

—AUTHORLINK: Can you offer any advice to new writers trying to break into publishing?

CLINE: Try to find a way to be your own best friend! I have the best editor and agent anywhere, but I'm the one who has to keep me going, the one who has to do the work.

AUTHORLINK: How do you keep up your spirits?

CLINE: I try not to beat myself up when things don't go well. I remind myself that I'm not Proust. It's only as good as I can make it, and that's still pretty good. And I always try to have more than one project going—so if one thing is going badly I can work on the other thing.

AUTHORLINK: What are your writing habits?

CLINE: My routine varies. If I'm generating new material, I write for about 3 hours in the morning. I try to get a thousand words a day of new stuff, but sometimes its only five or six hundred. I usually do revisions and promotional stuff, answering e-mail, and other non-generative work, in the afternoons.

When I was a young boy they called me a liar. Now that I'm all grown up, they call me a writer. --Isaac Singer

Outta here for today!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Photos of remodeling project

Still working here, although we'll take a break today and head for the building supply. I swear that Marvin's and Lowe's are getting RICH off us alone!

I wanted to post some photos of the exterior of the remodeled, enclosed backporch; we need to finish up the painting yet (the steps/lattice and trim) but these show how much we've already accomplished.

Newsweek poll today shows the following stats after that debate Thursday night:

In the first poll taken since the Thursday night debate, Kerry was running even with Bush after having trailed him in the same survey last month. The Newsweek poll showed Kerry had the support of 47 percent and Bush 45 percent, with independent candidate Ralph Nader at 2 percent.

Hoorah!!! Now if those Nader voters would only get on board with Kerry. After all, Kerry's policies have way more in common with their issues than Bush. So if you are an independent, PLEASE consider voting Kerry this time around. We just might be able to oust Bush -- providing he doesn't steal this election like he did the last one.

Here's the photos:

Back of house now, with sunroom/carport Posted by Hello

Side view of enclosed porch and yard Posted by Hello

Entry from carport & catdoor Posted by Hello

Friday, October 01, 2004

Hope for the future

I must admit that I have never felt real confident about Kerry; I supported Gephardt in the initial primary. But last night, he certainly won me over entirely in the debate on foreign policy issues!

Aside from the fact that Bushie looked incompetent (which he is), Kerry asked so many of the difficult, painful questions I've wondered about since the beginning of the Iraq war. With each clearly stated question, I felt more and more confident in Kerry's ability to not only turn around the disaster that Iraq has become, but to restore America's shattered image in the world community.

I could run on for pages about how ridiculous Bush looked/acted, but if you saw the debate, I'm sure you know that already. Even if you are a die-hard Repub, and have half-a-brain, you couldn't have ignored Bush's inappropriate demeanor and lackluster performance (and that's putting it kindly).The ONE statement he kept repeating that annoyed and angered ME was, "It's a hard job," (referring to the Iraq fiasco). It damn sure is, but he's NOT the one doing the dirty, hard work: It's our soldiers on the ground over there, and NOT BUSH. I mean, how many vacations has Bush taken? How much time has he spent raising money for the Repub machine? How much time campaigning? And he has the NERVE to stand up there and almost complain that it's a hard job he has to do? GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

At any rate, I now do believe that Americans have a CHOICE in Kerry. IF we want change, we MUST vote for Kerry. Even the independents should get on board for this election, and they can worry later about having an independent party. Those independents would be enough to put Kerry ahead of Bush -- by a good-size margin.I do have hope again, but I still fear that the Repubs will come out from under their rocks and vote in droves. However, IF there is even the slightest hint/taint of Bush stealing this election, I fear there will be resulting violence here by some citizens. I even read one post today by a person who said that if Bush steals this election, we should use force to get him out of office! NO, I don't advocate that; but I think if ever there was a time that an election MUST BE FAIRLY HELD, FAIRLY REPORTED, FAIRLY COUNTED VOTES...this is IT.

I must also add that I'm disappointed in the media/press simply because ALL the difficult questions that Kerry asked Bush, the press/media reporters should have long ago demanded answers to. I don't know if it's just that the media/press have become a SINGULAR multi-mega-owned corporation and the reporters are all afraid of losing their jobs, or they lack backbone, conviction, whatever...or they fear attacking a Prez who has a war going...but they should be ASHAMED of themselves!!!

Well...while that was going on, it appears an unrelated article I found will not even get noticed so I'll post it here. It's about that brain wasting disease (from Mad Cow) and some interesting/alarming news that happened in an Atlanta hospital. Let me say that I think this run-around about this disease NOT being a case caused by Mad Cow is bunk. I actually think that there are some (if not many) undiagnosed cases of Mad Cow already, but since it's very difficult to diagnose often it is passed off as senility.

Here's the article:

Patients Told of Possible Disease Exposure

ATLANTA (AP) - More than 500 patients at Emory University Hospital have a remote chance of exposure to a fatal disease similar to mad cow after a brain surgery patient tested positive for the condition, officials said.

Although they called their risk of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease "remote," officials are notifying 98 brain or spinal surgery patients who may have had contact with the surgical instruments that were used on the infected patient. They also are informing 418 non-neurosurgical patients who had operations Sept. 10-27, although they are at lower risk.

Officials said Thursday that the infected patient's Sept. 15 diagnosis still awaits definitive test results and that could take weeks. The patient entered the hospital Aug. 24 with memory problems and other neurological symptoms, and officials would not say if the patient was still alive.

"Although we believe the chances of an exposure are extremely small, we cannot guarantee they are zero," said Dr. Allan Levey, Emory's chairman of neurology. "That is why Emory is taking every possible step to deal with this matter."

Affected patients began receiving phone calls Thursday. Emory said there was nothing they could or should do in response to the notification, but said it would provide counseling for those who need it.

The concern involves the naturally occurring, or sporadic, form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - not the variant form caused by eating mad cow-infected meat. Sporadic CJD, which has no known cause, causes dementia, loss of muscle coordination and eventually death.

There have been four known cases worldwide of sporadic CJD spread by neurosurgical instruments - all occurring in Europe before 1976, when most hospitals began implementing new sterilization procedures, said Dr. Ermias Belay, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

However, Belay added that more cases may have occurred, but it's often difficult to trace the source of the disease, which can take more than seven years to show symptoms.

Emory officials said they routinely sterilize all surgical equipment and have implemented an even more thorough sterilization procedure since Sept. 15.