My Novels

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Year's End

Hmm, as one blogger put it about the end of 2005: "Goodbye and don't let the door hit your @ss on the way out!"

What a lousy, miserable, disasterous year this has been, (personally and internationally) and I doubt anyone will regret seeing it END. We can only hope next year will be better!

I would list all my personal woes but have done so already in other entries this year on this blog. Suffice to say, I sure am glad to see it's almost over! :-)

I had a great Christmas gathering with my family, and got some good photos. Again (as Thanksgiving) we were all there, and enjoyed ourselves.

DH's broken toes and shin wound are improving, though he has to take an additional week of cipro. But he's doing much better, still limping, but the doctor says it will just take some time to heal.

Yesterday I had a little adventure: I went on a bike ride, since it was unexpectedly mild, pleasant weather -- in the high 60s. I decided to ride to a small, isolated, forgotten cemetery and finally take some photos. I found this place back last summer, but just never had my camera with me when I biked. It is located off the main highway, alongside a narrow paved road, a neglected, long-ago, overgrown cemetery with several graves; most of them are marked only with big rocks. However, there is only one headstone -- and one grave with an above-ground cement slab covering. That is the one where I captured a 'ghost' looking out of a huge crack at the bottom of the broken slab!

Without further ado, here's the pictures:

This above pix shows a huge stone with a plaque listing a couple of civic groups who wanted to "mark" the "Forgotten Christian Cemetery"

The above pix shows the only headstone, aged badly, engraving too faded to read

Most graves are marked by big rocks, like these piled against a tree

If you click on this photo and look at the larger image, please notice in the bottom of the broken slab there is a freakish infared-etched ghostly face with a gaping mouth! As usual, I DID NOT see this when I was snapping the photo.

It was actually a fun, refreshing outing -- nice to get outdoors. The wind was fierce though, and gave me quite a hard workout on the bike riding against it!

And so this year draws to an end...without any significantly good, happy memories to savor. I think I'll just try to forget it, frankly.

Happy New Year to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas Plans

First, Merry Christmas to all who read this blog! Hope you have a wonderful holiday, enjoy the weekend and get at least ONE gift you really, really love.

Looks like DH and I will attend my family's gathering after all. My sister talked me into it! I went on a last-minute gift-buying frenzy yesterday, got all the presents wrapped today, so I'm set to go. We'll have the get-together on Christmas Eve at the same sister's house where we had Thanksgiving. I'm hoping of a repeat performance -- everyone there, warmth, joy. I'm especially hoping I get some great pictures of us all together with my new camera, since I can select the best and get it printed.

We've had COLD weather this week, but it'll warm up tomorrow and then possibly rain late Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, in the afternoon, DH and I will see a movie at the nearby theater. I'm still undecided on which movie we'll watch, but there's several showing that look promising. I'm leaning more toward seeing "Rumor Has It"...since I was a big fan of the long-ago movie, "The Graduate."

DH's broken toes are healing well; however, he has a nasty-looking bruise/gash on his shin that happened at the same time. Apparently the horse's hoof hit DH's shin first, which is a more serious problem. The orthopedic doctor has him on the antibiotic cipro, and he's wearing a "boot" brace. But the shin wound keeps getting irritated, and is badly swollen, tender, sore, hot. He is following doctor's orders, but having some pain with that area. We just hope it heals, and the infection responds to the cipro.

He's beginning to have doubts about the whole horse thing, now that he realizes the complications that can arise from injuries and/or the medications. I wouldn't be as alarmed over him having minor accidents if he were not on so much heart medication that can truly cause complications. For example, the Plavix thins his blood so much that the least little bump produces a HUGE knot/bruise which takes days, if not weeks, to heal. IF he should ever get a head injury, we both fear that the bleeding around his brain would be a disaster!

Frankly, if it were me, I'd half the dosage of ALL the doctor has ordered. Once I was on extremely dangerous medication, and had I not cut it waaaay lower than the recommended dosage (eventually stopped taking it without the nephrologist's permission), I'm sure I'd be dead by now -- not from the kidney ailment I have, but from the "medication." But he has to make his own choices and decisions.

New update at my CR Diet blog; link on the sidebar, if anyone is interested in my dieting adventures.

I'll close with a picture I took this weekend of a roadside swamp; I thought the treestump shadows were interesting.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bad news...again

The year from hell continues!

When DH returned from horseback riding Saturday he said that his horse had stepped on his foot. We examined it, and the toes just looked badly bruised. He said it was sore, but not terribly painful...and he didn't think the toes were broken. He takes Plavix (a blood thinner, ironically called 'rat poison' by his cardiologist once!) and we assumed some of the purplish bruising was due to excessive bleeding beneath the skin, not a break.

Sunday we did our usual thing: went on a short drive. I took some pictures of various places along the way, and then we returned home. DH's toes were still swollen, so this morning he went to the doctor. And of course, the toes are broken! He has to see an orthopedic doctor tomorrow afternoon; for now, he's wearing a brace. He's at work, since his vacation is over, but he stays at a desk most of the time anyway.

I think his days of horseback riding (and having horses) are numbered -- due to all the heart medication he takes, and the accident potential.

I knew this year couldn't possibly end without MORE problems. I sure won't be sorry to see January 1st 2006 arrive!!!!

And just so I won't forget this: While we were at one place, I took a photo of DH. Then he took a couple of me. When I downloaded the pictures to my computer, they all looked fine. Except one. Strangely, the photo I took of DH was totally BLACK/BLANK. I have no idea what to make of that, because when I glanced at the pix monitor on the camera after I took the picture, it seemed fine. Call me stupidstitious...but these weird episodes with digital cameras creep me out at times.

Here's one of the pictures I took Sunday afternoon:

Sailboats docked at Guntersville Lakeside facility

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Cloudy, cold day...

An appropriate photo to depict the dismal day here, although we've had no rain.

DH went horse trail riding with friends in the nearby national forest today, so I'm glad rain has not arrived. And it's cold, in the 40s, a light wind from time to time. The picture was taken earlier, just a bare tree in my backyard.

I went grocery shopping, which I hate with a passion. Yet someone has to do it. At least I won't have to do that again for a week or so; and the food store is very close, takes no more than five minutes to get there. Ah, but doing the actual shopping, THAT does take time.

Last night we watched a great documentary: Super Size Me. I highly recommend it, if you have ANY doubts whatsoever that fast food is harmful to your health. There's comic moments as well, but with a very serious message: fast food can kill you, if you eat it often -- even for a short time! I am sure it contributed to DH's heart attack, along with stress.

One of these days soon, I'm going to try dieting again. Or at least cutting calories, eating less than I do now. We eat healthy, rarely any kind of meat, lots of veggie/soy products and fresh salads, etc, but still can't resist sweets occasionally. I have never had a true ravenous sweet tooth, but will indulge sometimes. I'm still exercising daily, mostly with the airbike, and my weight stays between 105-107, but I'd prefer to get below 100 again. Still, I guess I can't complain...since I seem healthy (and got rid of that darn cold, managing to keep my sinus problems under control too).

Not much else to write about today. Since I have some time alone, I plan to either write or surf the web for awhile.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Creative tonight...

Finally had an evening alone and actually did something creative:


Young man, heartbreakingly boyish,
With dreams in your eyes, desire and fire,
Flaming in your foolish dreamer's heart...
You touch the earth but feel the sky
In your waking visions and schemes:
You imagine conquering the world
With boldness and fearless quests
Returning to claim an older woman
You've worshiped from afar,
Thinking she'll fall for your charms
Your winning ways, your success,
Yet she knows you place her upon
A throne where no woman belongs,
And can never be content, never real.

Young man, earnest and eager,
Your furtive glances, your shy demeanor
Has not gone unnoticed by the woman,
Though she, being older and wiser,
Knows nothing can come of the infatuation
Revealed in your half-hidden, wistful gazes
Of longing and unfulfilled yearnings
For a mother you never knew,
Lost soon after your tragic birth:
Love and lust tangled in a web
That would trap you in confusion
And doom you to a cruel lesson.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sunset ghosts...?

Just a "quickie" post, since I'm again pressed for time. I took several photos of the afternoon sunset yesterday, and was sort of intriqued by this one:

While I'm sure there's indeed a "technical" answer as to why these weird orbs show up in my digital photos around this place (even with the Nikon), they do make for interesting pictures! Not only was there the obvious white orb, but two others showed up in the right side of this picture. You might be able to see those if you click on the photo for a larger view.

Not happy with Netflix today: Got a mangled movie mailer in the mail, MINUS the movie. I was afraid this might happen, knowing the inept postal system. I reported the problem, and according to their terms, won't be charged for it -- and may get a replacement. Still, it's rather disappointing and I doubt I'll sign on beyond the two-week free trial.

In the meantime, DH and I went to the local rental store, and got five older movies for five bucks -- and can keep for five days. It's rainy, cold and nice to say indoors, possibly be like this for the remainder of the week. We also looked at an old and very, very rundown house with 7+ acres nearby for $42,000.00. Not interested in the house, except perhaps as a rental; but the land is flat and would make an excellent pasture. Need some time to think about it, and perhaps see if we can get the price down somewhat.

Otta here for now!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Brief Update

As expected, this week has been hectic so far. DH is home, and we've stayed busy.

Saturday we bought the Sony 46" TV, and my nephew helped with getting it home, set-up, etc. Lots of furniture to re-arrange and related tasks. I also had to buy new window-treatments (vertical blinds) for the living room to help block out light during the day/privacy at night for watching the TV.

We've already seen a couple of Netflix movies, and I was glad to at last watch Sylvia which I'd always wanted to see. The movie is based on the life of Sylvia Plath and her husband, Ted Hughes, both poets. While interesting, it was a bit slow and overly simplistic; I would recommend reading her journals and poetry to get a deeper understanding of the woman.

Have to cut this short for now, but I'll post a photo I took with the Nikon and converted to sepia with software:

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Gray day...

No snow. Darn!

But it's a gray, windy, rainy day and I can enjoy being indoors. Still have housework to get done, then I can hopefully settle down to some writing. I'm working steadily on flash-fiction projects, planning to post a few of those ultra-short stories when I have a few finished.

Here's an article (excerpt) I came across this morning, which reeks of wretched excess:

Taste for Space Is Spawning Mansions Fit for a Commoner
Hot Housing Market Opens Doors to Mini-Taj Mahals

By Stephanie McCrummen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 20, 2005; A01

In the two years since they moved into their voluminous 8,000-square-footer on the edge of Virginia's suburbs, the Bennett family has not once used their formal dining room, where the table is eternally set for eight with crystal, an empty tea set and two unlighted candles.

Not even guests use the palmy, bamboo morning room beyond it; and the museum-like space Bonnie Bennett calls the Oriental Room -- all black lacquer and inlaid pearl, fur, satin and swirling mahogany -- is also gloriously superfluous.

"It's kind of stupid, because we never sit in here," said Bennett, 32, who bought the largest house she could for the investment.

But she carried around a crumpled photo of the furniture for eight years, and now that she has space for it, she admires it as others might a work of art.

"It's just me ," she said.

To drive out into suburbia these days is to survey a landscape of plenty, a place where relatively average people such as Bonnie Bennett, a loan officer, and her husband, a computer salesman, are living ever larger with three-car garages and media rooms, solaria and conservatories.


For Donna Sproles, who lives about a mile away in Green Gables, the quest for more meant not only more house, but also more land.

She and her husband have their 6,000 square feet on 10 acres, which, in her view, provides a little more freedom and independence.

"What I love about this is it's so big that we can go into different areas of the house and have private time, if you will," she said, sitting in the family room of her $800,000 home with her two sons. "If Jonathan wants to play, he's in his area. If Justin wants to go online, he's in his room and he can do that. If someone wants to come in here and watch TV, that's their space," and if she and her husband want to watch TV, they have their own private sitting room, far enough away that the two do not interfere.

She grew up poor in West Virginia, with an outhouse and no running water at times, and made a decision early on that she would never live like that again.

"I wanted to become an executive of some sort," said Sproles, who did became a successful computer salesperson. "I wanted to have a cell phone and all that came with it. My vision was to have a big house, drive a big car. . . . I don't know where I got it from -- probably TV. I guess that's where I got it. Maybe 'Dallas.' "


You can read the entire article by clicking on the title. Goodness, those MacMansions make our little humble farmhouse seem like a trivial place to live. I have never quite understood WHY anyone would want to live in a HUGE, NEW house (no personality like old houses), which requires exorbitant energy bills, upkeep, you-name-it. Property for space, I think is reasonable; but why have an ostentatious house in a suburban area? Methinks it could be for social status -- or, oh yeah, the influence/brainwashing of TV. Remodeling and/or restoring old houses that have stood for years and years, sharing the history of such a home, that I can understand though.

I found a photo from my old digital camera I thought I'd post. I took this several years ago when I was documenting all the old cotton gins/mills still standing in this county. I plan to do a series of these eventually, a "photo essay." But this photo was somewhat unique:

Yep, that's me taking the photo -- seen in the rearview mirror! A bit different.

Stayed up a bit late last night watching a romantic movie, the remake of Sweet November. I had seen the original waaay back in the 60s, I believe, and was curious about this remake. Charlize Theron is fantastic, as ever, but Keanu Reeves seemed to be out of his element (action yarns). Anyway, I'm a sucker for a tear-jerker romance, and had sniffles near the end. Guess that's a compliment to the movie.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

TV, Camera, and More...

Sooo, we spent most of the past weekend looking for a new television. Good Lord, why does it have to be so difficult? Too many choices, so little time! Alas, we have pretty much decided on a 42" Sony -- though it hasn't arrived at our local Handy TV store yet. Hopefully it will be here before the weekend, and we can get it home with a little help from DH's friends.

Next week DH is off (more vacation time he has to take) and we plan a lot of rearranging rooms/furniture due to the size of that TV. One reason we've never bought a big-screen was due to the small TV/Den where we usually stay in the evenings. However, we also have a LARGE living room, and plan to put the Sony in there. When we want to watch a good movie, we'll see it on the Sony. And to that end, I joined NetFlix today for the two-week free trial. If we like it (and I think we will) then I'll continue our membership. We only have basic cable, which is somewhat limited in good programming; and I think that renting movies to watch at our convenience is a better bargain price-wise than adding more programming (costly!) via our local cable.

My cold/sinus problem seems to be much improved. I still sound a bit stuffy, but am no longer suffering as badly. Of course, being allergic to cats and having SEVEN doesn't help my problem! I just try to keep it under control, but sometimes it gets worse, particularly during the fall when other outdoors allergens (I'm allergic to fescue and other grasses) are prolific. Ahh, it's always something!

I am enjoying my Nikon camera, still experminting and learning all the features. Here's one I took yesterday afternoon:

This is a panorama, starting with the dirt road beside the house, then the pasture/barn and ending with the ancient toliet still standing -- its days are numbered though! Click on image for the full picture.

Had a nice birthday, quiet but happy. DH gave me money for clothing, and I went shopping yesterday. It's been COLD here, and we may get snow flurries tomorrow; I would love some light snow, so I could get some beautiful pictures. But I won't hold my breath!

More tomorrow...maybe.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Latest musings & Photos

I finally could NOT endure the sinus congestion suffering anymore, and called this morning for a doctor appointment. Unfortunately she was in only half the day, but the nurse listed my symptoms and my doctor phoned in a couple prescriptions -- an antibiotic and Allegra. As soon as I took the Allegra, I noticed an immediate improvement. I have had the most awful burning in my upper sinus area, as well as tearing eyes, sniffles, sneezing fits. I think I have a mild cold too, or perhaps only sinus infection. At any rate, I hope I'll soon be on the path of recovery because tomorrow we're planning on shopping for a new TV.

DH and I have decided to buy a new TV for our Christmas gift this year, something we'd put off for about five years now due to remodeling this old house, etc. We still have a 27-inch Sanyo, and are hoping to upgrade to either a 36 or 42 inch, though we've not decided if we'll go with a regular TV or LCD or Plasma. We DO want HDTV integrated, which should be nice for anything broadcast in HDTV. And we won't have to buy separate adaptors when ALL television signals go digital -- in the next year or so.

I dread trying to find a TV though; there's just TOO MANY choices out there, and it is very difficult to decide on what to buy -- bargain-wise as well as lasting value. We'll see, I guess.

BTW, the stray cat that arrived here last week DOES have a good home -- across the road. Our neighbors love cats and the very next day after the cat came here, it went across the road when it saw our neighbor outside. He was carrying it around when DH met him as they were both putting out garbage to be collected. DH told him the saga of the cat -- probably dropped by someone, since it was so very loving and tame. And since we have MORE cats than they do at this point, the neighbor said they'd take it and let it live in his shop with their other outdoor cats! Now that's a GOOD neighbor!!

Here's a few more photos I took yesterday afternoon with the Nikon:

Our house seen from highway

Other side of house beside dirt road

Harley -- Nearly 2 years old (our personal favorite)

Outta here for today!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

New Nikon Camera

I received the Nikon CoolPix around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, spent most of the evening fooling around with it. Since I ordered a secure digital card for storage along with the camera, I snapped it in and took a few pictures inside the house. I also made a short "cat movie" -- more FUN than I'd thought it would be! I have a great deal to learn about all the complex settings for maximum benefits of the features to enhance photos, but all-in-all, I'm very happy with the camera.

Early this morning I walked out onto the deck, took a few shots from the same perspective of the last photos of the old camera. Then I installed the software on my computer, popped out the digital card, uploaded those photos/movie and did nothing but downsize the pix so they'd be easier to display here. I'm posting several here, but remember, this is my FIRST attempt, using mainly the fixed camera setting that basically does all the setting on automatic.

Same view taken with old camera a couple days ago

What the heck is that reddish-white glare in the lower right side on the fence? Ghosts already with a new camera!!!?

What an evil-looking pix of Kitten! ;-)

When I first downloaded the pictures, the file was so HUGE it couldn't be all seen on the computer screen. I could see EVERY small detail; in the sky/pine shot, I could see individual pine needles! Whew, that's almost TOO much detail. Of course, I downsized a lot, otherwise the file would be impossible to post. However, in printing out, that size will give extraordinary pictures -- which is partly why I bought another camera. The older digital was 3 megapixels, and produced fuzzy pix when printed. Mostly good for sharing online, not for printing. Anyway, I am planning a long get-acquainted with the camera as time permits. I can't wait to go back to some of my favorite areas and capture some great pictures with this Nikon.

On another note, my cold seems to have worsened. Last night I woke up nearly unable to breathe! My throat is still sore, but I don't seem to have fever or chills. I'm hoping to weather this without a doctor visit, but if I'm not better by Monday, I'll have to see my doctor.

In the meantime, one of my sisters will probably visit tomorrow -- and today, I have errands to run in town. Ahh, Saturday I will have my birthday, and in another year I'll be in my mid-50s! Who knew I'd live this long, when the nephrelogist told me I wouldn't live to be 30?

What do doctors know, anyway?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Brief Update

My new Nikon camera will arrive tomorrow -- at least that's the UPS tracking info. I can't wait! I do hope to develop into an amateur photographer; it's always been a passing interest, but maybe I'll devote more time and effort to it now. Mostly I'll probably take pictures of landscapes/pets/wildlife around this area. And I have always wanted to create a photo collection of old broken-down barns, houses, etc. I'm currently reading a lot of material about photography, so that's keeping me busy too. While I will always post some photos here, I may also develop a website just for my photography eventually. We'll see, I suppose.

Anyway here's several photos taken with my old cheap digital camera yesterday. We had thunderstorms, a cold front coming in, so the sky was ominous and yet beautiful, which prompted me to snap a few pictures.

And here's a picture of my new wooden shutters for the window in our den/TV room; DH built these, and I love them because I can open them during the day and brighten the room, then close at night for privacy.

Sunday afternoon we went to see the movie, "Walk the Line." I must admit it was waaaay better than I'd thought it would be. I came away with a better understanding of June Carter, since I really didn't know much about her. I've read Johnny Cash's autobiography, and knew a lot about him. It's definitely worth seeing, since the story is inspirational and the music is just like attending a concert (except that Reese Witherspoon CAN sing, and unfortunately June couldn't).

I have some sort of mild cold; feel congested and tired, sore throat, but hopefully it'll pass soon.

And that's it for today.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Had a great T-day!

Believe it or not, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with ALL my family. My youngest sister, her husband and my nephew all showed up! She seems a truly changed person, and though she's gained weight (mostly due to meds to prevent schzioaffective problems) she was more like the sister I once knew...before drug abuse and mental issues took over. We were all so glad about that, and hopefully, she'll stay well. One can never tell, but like the quote says: "Hope springs eternal."

I seem to be in an exceptionally GOOD, HAPPY mood now. Maybe this will last through the holidays, if I'm lucky.

Yesterday I finally decided on a new digital camera and ordered it from TigerDirect online. It should be here next week sometimes, which will be well in advance of my birthday on Saturday. I selected the Nikon Coolpix 5200. Got a bargain in a refurb, way less than the $500.00 price for a new one. Partly I was impressed by a photographer who uses a Nikon D70 at her blog Blue Ridge Blog. She posts stunning landscape pictures of that beautiful region, and though the Nikon I'm getting is not exactly like hers, I'm sure it will be a vast improvement over the tiny cheap digital Concord I've used for several years.

And speaking of that camera, here's a recent picture I wanted to post, taken in the past few days.

Princess wearing a sweater I made her after she was shaved! Posted by Picasa

More when I have time. I'm excited about the camera, and can't wait to start "practicing" and learning all the new features. I hope to then post a new picture almost daily!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving to All

I hope everyone who reads my blog will have a great Thanksgiving Day with family and friends. Or if you prefer solitude, then a peaceful, quiet day.

DH and I will be spending the day at my sister's house, with family. It should be a nice gathering, since we all get along well -- with the exception of my youngest sister who has finally gotten out of jail. Her bond was conditional, and depends on her NOT causing any disturbance at my mother and step-dads' home. Since she physically attacked them, and that was part of the reason for her arrest (as well as long-standing drug abuse) she will probably not show at my other sister's house on T-Day.

I do dread the Christmas holidays. And I'm thinking seriously of taking a hiatus from this blog until it's all over. I am always morose, sad, miserable from the beginning of December until New Year's Day and just hate to have a "pity-party" or pass along my bad mood to any readers. Of course, my birthday is in early December and that only adds to my depression.

At any rate, life goes on here. Unfortunately another cat appeared at my back door last night; and naturally, I fed it. "It" turned out to be a female, but very young...probably around 6 months or less. I DO NOT need another black-and-white FEMALE cat; I have 7 now, but I'm a sucker for a hungry critter so I'm feeding her --for now.

DH has a lot of vacation time to take before the end of the year, so he'll be home more and we'll be busy with one project or another around here. I'm sure that may help me avoid the worst of my bleak "holiday" mood.

The renter in our city house had a minor problem with the heating unit last week, and we actually went inside to assist her. I was glad to see that everything is in good shape, at least as well as we left it. Also, I was surprised to see her two dogs are very, very well-behaved; she had them shut in a bedroom, and when they started to bark she said, "Hush!" Believe it or not, they did! No more was heard than a low whimper the whole time we were there. Heh, I'm impressed; my cats won't do a thing I tell them! :-)

With that, I'm outta here. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Forever Love Affair

Oh writing, my love...what are you to me?
More than anyone can know...for you are to me -- ALL.
When the wind blows outside my window
Howling for changes, for diversions,
Urging me to abandon this harsh conviction,
I cover my ears and let tears
Have their way with me:
Boring nights in front of mindless TV,
Trying to evade the Call,
Trying to soothe the hollow ache without you, writing.
But then the night comes when I sit again
Wrapped up with my creativity,
And knowing heart and soul is forever yours, writing.
It isn't that I want it this way...
Alone and unknown, perhaps always unrecognized,
It's just that you, my talent, command
And there is no manner of escape --
Not in pleasurable pursuits or idle restlessness,
Nor in subtle daydreams, which only spawn story ideas:
Every occurrence, every person, every nuance of an event
Is but another idea, another story, another reason
To write, to bring life to airy nothingness...
Creating, dreaming, living or loving,
It is all just part of the art of capturing
Life's fleeting images in written words...
A writer's gift to make it come alive for others,
To portray significant themes for all eternity.
So writing you are to me -- ALL.
Should I forsake the Call,
Whispered from earliest childhood?
Or should I heed it and go forward
Blindly into that maze of artistic souls
Who struggle, write and then tumble into oblivion?
In the end,
It doesn't matter about recognition or success,
For writing is a relentless master
That turns talent into a forever love affair.
And writers must write or be damned!


Sometimes it helps to re-read my past poems; this one in particular speaks to EXACTLY what is wrong with me these days: no creative writing! Without that love, life is a dark abyss for me (and perhaps ALL writers).

A real quote by Einstein

 Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Someone said it better...

And that is a writer's worst fear: nothing can be written in a way that hasn't been before -- probably far superior to anything moi can do. Yeah, I'm in a mood.

DH has been home this week, and we've spent most of our time working around the house and land. His saddle/tack trailer is now set-up, clean, and full of stuff to sell. It wasn't too much work getting that done, just time-consuming.

Unfortunately we've still had NO rain here, and my allergy problems continue to worsen. I am taking anti-histimine OTC, but sometimes it wears off and I itch all over, have runny nose, sore, irritated eyes. Not a picnic. There's no prediction of rain in the weather either. Ah, suffer...suffer...suffer!

I only went on a bike ride one day this week, due to the allergy flare-up. But I've been using my air-bike regularly. Haven't lost any weight, just maintaining. Can't get motivated to lose more...or do anything much with enthusiasm these days. Bad case of the blahs...and with the dreaded Holidays looming, I'm not feeling optimistic.

One bright spot: I'm planning to get a new digital camera for my birthday around Dec. 3rd. Have several prospects online I might buy. When I do, I will hopefully get some sharp, clear pictures to post with my blog updates. I believe I've become more an amateur photographer than writer lately.

Had to have Princess, my Persian cat, shaved at the vet Monday. Since the cat's living area is heated in cool weather, she shouldn't have any problem coping. The knots in her hair had gotten terrible, though I always try to avoid that. She hates for me to start pulling or tugging on knots, and they always develop in her long, thick hair.

And now for those who have said it better in the following quotes:

From ASH: "God is dead, the Jews assasinated Moses and an asteroid is heading straight for us."

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp;
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

---Dorothy Parker, Resume --1926

"Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein

Last, this excerpt which aptly describes my current state-of-mind:

"There is an Eastern fable, told long ago, of a traveler overtaken on a plain by an enraged beast. Escaping from the beast he gets into a dry well, but sees at the bottom of the well a dragon that has opened its jaws to swallow him. And the unfortunate man, not daring to climb out lest he should be destroyed by the enraged beast, and not daring to leap to the bottom of the well lest he should be eaten by the dragon, seizes a twig growing in a crack in the well and clings to it. His hands are growing weaker and he feels he will soon have to resign himself to the destruction that awaits him above or below, but still he clings on. Then he sees that two mice, a black one and a white one, go regularly round and round the stem of the twig to which he is clinging and gnaw at it. And soon the twig itself will snap and he will fall into the dragon's jaws. The traveler sees this and knows that he will inevitably perish; but while still hanging he looks around, sees some drops of honey on the leaves of the twig, reaches them with his tongue and licks them. So I too clung to the twig of life, knowing that the dragon of death was inevitably awaiting me, ready to tear me to pieces; and I could not understand why I had fallen into such torment. I tried to lick the honey which formerly consoled me, but the honey no longer gave me pleasure, and the white and black mice of day and night gnawed at the branch by which I hung. I saw the dragon clearly and the honey no longer tasted sweet. I only saw the unescapable dragon and the mice, and I could not tear my gaze from them. and this is not a fable but the real unanswerable truth intelligible to all."
--Tolstoy, from Confession

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Belated update

What's my excuse? None to offer.

There's the usual suspect: been busy. I went to the house in town yesterday, planted some small hedge bushes alongside the driveways. Someday I will probably move back there, and the hedges will provide more privacy. Fortunately this morning we actually had some light showers, and that should help the plants survive.

On the other hand, it is still very, very dry here. We're way behind in rainfall for this time of year.

More bad news from here: the farrier DH used for horse-shoeing...died unexpectedly last week. He had just turned 60, and "seemed" to be in good health. Since he was found in the roundpen with a horse, the friend who found him thought, at first, the farrier been kicked in the head by the horse. However, later the coroner, upon medical examination, ruled he'd died of a massive heart attack. This is about the fourth or fifth male (50+) who has had a heart attack (including DH) in this immediate area the past year. I would say there's something in the water, but I believe it is something indeed in the FOOD!!

And perhaps I'm stupidstitious, but it seems odd that this farrier, whom DH had just began to use two months ago, died suddenly. Prior to then, DH had used a farrier on the other side of the county, but it was more convenient to have this nearby farrier do our horse-shoeing. I wonder if this house now is reaching out to grab others! :-o Add the death to another bad event for 2005, the Year from Hell.

Next week DH is off for vacation. We actually got a head-start on putting in electricity/water to the barn and small trailer/garage. A friend rented a ditch-witch Saturday morning, only used it about an hour, so he brought it by here and DH dug the deep trenches for the lines. He already has most of the lines in, the ditch covered. So that eliminates one of the largest chores we had to do on his time off. I'm sure there will be plenty to keep us busy though.

In my last entry I mentioned how greedy pharmaceutical companies have become, and this excerpt from my research is an example:

Lipitor, for example, is the most popular drug ever sold in the history of the world. Lipitor does more than $9 billion in sales per year (that's more than one million dollars per hour, every hour of every day, 365 days per year).

Ah, so it goes...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Friday night musings

Since I can never force myself to write a journal entry during the day, I decided to use the QuickPad tonight. I have a dull headache, which never seems to go away. I know it's from sinus stuffiness, though I am taking an assortment of medications. Prescription Allegra works well, but even that has failed in the past week. I quit it yesterday, and have resorted to OTC stuff. The darn co-pay on Allegra is over $20.00 for a little more than two weeks supply...and that is just too high. To top it all off, my acid reflux has started acting up again, bad enough that I feel nauseous.

Recently I received a newsletter about sinus/allergy problems, and found this excerpt interesting but alarming:

Pollen in Multiples

Researchers are predicting pollen counts could double within the next 50 years. This might be because of the earth's rising levels of carbon dioxide, an effect of global warming. This process could increase the amount of pollen in plants, causing more allergens. This may result in more people suffering from allergies.

Kinda relieved I won't be around that long; my allergies are bad enough now, and I can't imagine how much worse people will suffer at that future date!

I think some of my depression lately is worrying about medical problems. DH still takes a s--tload of medication to help prevent further complications of hardening of the arteries. He has two small partial blockages in his heart, and hopefully the medication will help avoid another stent procedure. Our co-pay on his medications runs around $150.00 a month, mostly due to Plavix and Lipitor. If the pharmaceutical companies would STOP advertising drugs that no one wants to know about, they could sell the damn medication for less! Greed -- isn't that one of the seven deadly sins?

At any rate, all I foresee in the future of our aging is more and more high-priced drugs for ailments that, let's face it, are due to AGING. At some point, I am sure the cost and side-effects are simply not worth it. No one lives forever, you know? Eventually the quality of life must match the quanity, and that is when you have to say, "Enough is enough." I am sure that is how I feel, but to each their own opinion.

End of rant.

I did enjoy my overnight stay wity my sister. Occasionally I don't mind a long drive, and that was one of those times. Fun to just DRIVE and listen to the radio. I found a new route mostly on two-lane blacktop country roads, and that was a nice treat.

My sister and I went to a nearby nature preserve. It was an absolutely GREAT place to walk, hike or bike. There are over 500 acres of wilderness area, donated to the city in the late 90s, and it is wonderful for nature lovers. There's dirt paths all along creeks and swampy lowland; there's a paved path just for bikers and even horse riding trails. My sister said she and my brother-in-law once saw three deer crossing a creek! If I lived there, I would be in biking heaven on those trails; I'd ride every day possible. As it is, I still risk my life riding my bike on these county roads...went Thursday afternoon, and had a good ride. But I digress...

My sister is still recuperating from her breast cancer surgery, but seems well. And according to all tests, she is now cancer-free too.

DH will be off the first week of November and December to finish his vacation time. We have several projects around here, as usual. He bought a 10X24 trailer last week; it was once used as an office, and he plans to place it near the barn, convert it into a tack/saddle shop. So we have some work to do on that, cleaning, removing old carpet, etc. Plus, he wants to get electricity to the barn, as well as the garage and small wash-house (which we use for storage.) I'm sure we'll stay busy.

DH has sold three horse trailers in the past week. He also sold a horse, Slick, who has been here since we moved in. I hated to see Slick leave; I'd been giving him treats, and could yell his name, whistle and he'd come from wherever he was in the pasture for a treat! Being Buttercup's colt, he dearly loves to eat -- and is a beautiful registered Quarterhorse. But DH got a huge price for him, and as always, with an understanding if the buyer wants to sell ever sell him, DH gets first chance to buy him back. The buyer just lives a few miles down the road, so we'll still see Slick from time-to-time. But I will miss him, although we have four more quarterhorses out there as well as a young mule! Good thing we have that large barn!

We are in need of rain desperately. If it would rain, I think my sinus problems would clear up. All the grass is dead, and our leaves have dried up instead of turning into glorious colors.

I would write more, but my headache seems to be getting that's it for tonight.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A few lines...

I'm still alive, though it may seems as if I've disappeared off the face of the earth due to NO posts here.

I've just been in a blah mood, sort of depressed...sick with my sinus/allergies. It hasn't rained in AGES here, the air is thick with all kinds of allergens and almost tastes gritty when you breath with your mouth open. The dirt road beside our house spews a plume of nasty dust every time a vehicle goes by, and it settles over our house, and US! If only it would start raining and rain for days and days...

I will write more tomorrow. I did have a great time with my sister, and will try to give more details later.

For now, here's something I'd like to see in a cemetery:

Mystery message on tombstone Posted by Picasa

Wouldn't that make you WONDER? If I planned to have a grave (and I don't, since I want to be cremated)I would want to leave an epitaph that would make everyone who read it wonder what the heck I meant!!! This tombstone was created by an online ditty where one can do such nutty things!

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Trip Tomorrow

I'm heading off to my sister's house tomorrow; Friday is her birthday, and one of my other sisters will accompany me. It's a long drive, but we should have a good time together.

Birthday sister's DH will be gone on a business trip, so it'll be "just us girls." I imagine midnight talks will take place, and lots of catching up with all the latest in each other's lives. Should be FUN.

And frankly, I could use a break away from here -- a mini-vacation, so to speak.

Until my return, keep on keeping on....

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Year From Hell

Yep, that is what I'm calling this year, 2005. Worldwide and personal disasters have taken their toll on my outlook -- pessimistic at the best of times, downright gloom-and-doom at the worst.

At the very end of 2004, the Asian tsunami hit and killed thousands upon thousands.

Personally, there was DH's unexpected heart attack right at the beginning of 2005.

Next my youngest sister had a breakdown, ended up in a mental institution; now she's in jail for an undetermined period.

Then my other sister was diagnosed with breast cancer; she had to have surgery, but is now doing exceptionally well.

My remaining sister is scheduled for elective surgery in November, and I find myself dreading it more than I ordinarily would.

Of course, the hurricanes have obliterated New Orleans, ruined the Gulf Coast in so many areas...and gas prices have soared beyond belief. It promises to be a lean, mean winter if terribly cold, due to the exorbitant natural gas prices.

And this weekend another massive earthquake hit in South Asia. Perhaps the worst in 70 years. In fact, all the horrible disasters worldwide seem to have footnotes of being "the worst in 100 years." Makes one wonder what is next?!

Here's a couple of interesting articles that might provide a clue:

Pollution, climate change dooming millions: UN report

Has the Age of Chaos Begun?

I can't determine if my pessimism and cynicism are the result of all the disasters going on, or simply an acknowledgement of REALITY -- as it is and as it gets worse.

Just some food for thought.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Nielsen ratings and daily stuff

Guess what? DH and I have been selected to participate in the Nielsen TV Ratings for a week! I received a postcard about a week ago, telling us we'd get a phone call soon explaining how it works...and we did a few nights ago. So at last I'll actually get to have my/our say about television! I am not sure which week it will be, but sometimes in November.

We've been working all week, mainly doing odds and ends around here. Finally having some light rain today and tonight, hopefully lasting through tomorrow.

Monday we painted the foundation of the rental house, and I was upset to find out the renter has not been weed-eating in the backyard. Grass had grown up nearly to the foundation, as well as along the wood privacy fencing and the garage. DH and I had one heck of a time digging it all out, nearly killed my back. We've decided to inform her via writing that we will hire someone to do lawn care, but will have to raise the rent $100.00 per month for that service. We just cannot allow the foundation to have drainage problems due to lack of lawn care, which has happened in the past before we provided concrete footers alongside the house on both sides and the garage due to the hillside location.

The whole episode of being there, just remembering all the years we lived in that house...and the good times, made me a bit homesick for the place. But I was angry too, and tired once we finished the painting job. DH went back the next day and did a lot of weed-eating, so that takes care of the immediate problem. The renter's husband is in the Marines, and currently stationed elsewhere; therefore, she has a hard time doing lawn care. Nevertheless, that is HER problem, not ours.

Last Sunday we ran across a man who had oodles of old bicycles and we bought a couple. Both are older Murray 10-speeds, and with a little tinkering/oiling, etc. they make fine rides. We took them for a spin a couple of afternoons, but are still fine-tuning them. I found some old parts we might need for them on Ebay tonight, and may order those. The brakes are weak on mine, and I could use a new set of handlebars too. Mine is much lighter weight than the old 3-speed I usually ride, and the ten-speed helps on steep hills too. Our weather has been too hot lately, but a cold front is coming through tonight and the next days promise to be ideal biking weather!

At any rate, that's what has been happening here this week.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Saturday Morning

I'm heading to town soon, plan to make a stop at the library and then do grocery shopping. Maybe drop by the Salvation Army store, see what kind of bargains they have. DH has gone horseback riding with his buddies, then plans to spend a few hours at a local mule auction. He wants to sell a young mule we bought cheap back at the first of summer, and possibly also sell a horse trailer.

Next week DH is off for vacation, and we actually don't have a lot of chores to do around this place. We do have some painting to do at the rental house in town; we need to repaint the foundation and do touchups on the garage. Shouldn't take over a few hours at most.

If darn gas prices weren't so high here (near $3.00 a gallon now) we might have planned a trip to Tennessee to see the fall colors. We still might, but I doubt it.

One thing we plan to do is buy an OTR microwave and install it. A few weeks ago we rearranged rooms again, and are now using what was the dining room for a TV room/den. That means we moved our table into the kitchen, and removed a counter -- which means I need all the available counter space and my current microwave is in the way. Ah, the excitement in our lives! ;-)

Oh yeah, I butchered my hair. Cut it very short again, but it was long overdue. I don't know if I'll let it grow longer again, or just keep it short. Since I once heard that "women over 50 are invisible," it really doesn't matter how my hair looks, as long as it is easy to take care of!

See, aging DOES have some advantages.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Denial, not just a river in Egypt

Now, here comes another gloomy post...but I just wanted to remind those of you who always wear rose-colored glasses or engage in denial that reality has a way of smacking us upside the head sometimes. I'm referring to Global Warming. Is it happening? Or is the earth just gearing up for another major climate change -- which has indeed happened over the ages? Regardless, something is going on...and it IS going to effect all of us -- sooner rather than later.

Here's couple good news articles:

Warm climate transforms Alaska terrain


Sinking towns

In the cooler interior regions, buildings are slumping and roads are buckling as permafrost -- frozen soil -- thaws and turns into softer, spongy soil. The Inupiat village of Shishmaref on a narrow Chukchi Sea barrier island is preparing to move as the town sinks into the ground.

"For those of us who live in the changing conditions every day, there's no question. We see it. We feel it every single day," Cochran said.

Satellite records released on Wednesday showed that sea ice coverage in the arctic region has fallen for the last four years with "unusually early springtime melting in areas north of Siberia and Alaska," according to a study by the University of Colorado, NASA and the University of Washington.

Shrinking sea ice has created hardships for sea animals like polar bears that find their prey at the ice's edge.

Heated-up waterways are throwing off long-established salmon cycles and, according to one scientist, have allowed a warmth-loving, salmon-wrecking parasite to thrive in the Yukon River.

Warming is accentuated in high-latitude regions like Alaska in part because of thinner atmospheres in the polar region, concentrating greenhouse gases, and in part because of the nature of atmospheric currents, according to studies.

Such changes have also contributed to falling ice coverage in the Arctic Sea, with spring and summer melting happening 17 days earlier than usual, according to the satellite study.

The disappearance of ice and snow uncovers dark surfaces of the ground and sea, which absorb more solar heat and warm up the landscape, said Vladimir Romanovsky, a permafrost expert at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute.

Report: Ice-free Arctic summers possible by 2100


"It's increasingly difficult to argue against the notion that at least part of what we are seeing in the Arctic, in terms of sea ice, in terms of warming temperatures ... is due to the greenhouse effect," Mark Serreze, a research scientist at NSIDC, said in an interview.

"We've put a hit on the system and we are in the midst of a grand global experiment," Serreze said about the impact of global warming and ice melting on humans and animals. "We will have to live with the outcome."


I doubt that my generation of Baby Boomers or those older than us will have too much to worry about, but IF I were younger, I'd definitely be worried. Or if I had offspring, I'd be concerned what their life will become. Not just due to earth climate changes, but due to the depletion of oil known as Peak Oil.

Just some ideas to ponder.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday Night

I've been planning to write an entry for days now, but never seem able to have time. Finally I decided to use the QuickPad, then transfer it to the PC and post later.

I just returned from a bike ride; I decided to go at 4:00 in the afternoon, during a lull in traffic -- between school kids and those returning from work. It's getting dark earlier, and after our evening meal (especially when DH is late, and that happens often) there's not enough time before dark to ride. Still hot today, but I rode in the nearby subdivision and on a shaded highway, and the cemetery. DH did go with me a few afternoons on the Killer Loop, but the old bike he was riding now has a problem. He could buy a new one, but is not sure he'd stick with regular biking. I get bored with the airbike sometimes, and much prefer outdoor biking if possible.

GOOD NEWS: We finally got significant rainfall from Hurricane Rita. We sure needed it badly; the creek (where horses get water) was getting low and we'd had to provide water for them. One of the long-time farmers here told us before we moved to this place that he'd never seen this creek dry; that it has been low, but never dry. And that was true of this dry spell; the creek was still running, though just a trickle. Anyhow, it started raining Sunday afternoon, some heavy downpours, then a slow, soaking rain all night! The ground absorbed it all, but we're hoping now we'll have rain once a week. Usually fall weather here is rainy and cooler; I'm sure ready for it!

Hurricane Rita seems to have done a lot of damage to some small coastal towns in Louisiana and Texas, but missed the larger cities. I suppose that is better news than the last hurricane disaster, but it is never good when people lose their homes and jobs. At least the fatalities are much lower, and Bush seems to have learned Americans aren't oblivious to suffering and dying people, that they do not like ignoring blatant problems.

How about those gas prices though? Just wait till exorbitant heating bills hit us this winter, complaints will abound!

I'm back on a diet. I wasn't pleased with my cholesterol level, though my G.P. said it was normal. Click on the link for more about that on my CR blog.

I'll end with this cute ditty I think captures cat-attitude:

We Is Friends!
Me And You Is Friends
You Smile, I Smile
You Hurt, I Hurt
You Cry, I Cry
You Jump Off A Bridge
I Gonna Miss Your E-Mail Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Superbug, Rita and more...

Not to depress you, but there's a couple of interesting news developments that seem highly likely representative of the coming years for humans.

First, I assume most people know about the notorious bird flu that is just waiting to become a mutation that can be infectious from human to human. IF that gets started, millions will die worldwide. Read this article if you aren't aware of the avian flu killer:

Bird flu pandemic inevitable

Then there's this other lurking staph germ killer on the loose:

Study: 'Superbug' Germ Kills 3 in Chicago

Three Chicago-area children have died of a toxic shock syndrome-like illness caused by a superbug they caught in the community and not in the hospital, where the germ is usually found.

The cases show that this already worrisome staph germ has become even more dangerous by acquiring the ability to cause this shock-like condition.

"There's a new kid on the block," said Dr. John Bartlett of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, referring to the added strength of the superbug known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

"The fact that there are three community-acquired staph aureus cases is really scary," continued Bartlett, an infectious disease specialist.

Of course, apparently whooping cough has made a comeback in Los Angeles:

California Whooping Cough Cases Surge

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nearly three times as many whooping cough cases have been reported in California this year compared to 2004, according to the state Department of Health Services.

The state tallied 1,276 cases and four infant deaths through August. For the same period in 2004, it logged 450 cases and two deaths.

I won't mention much about Hurricane Rita today, since we're more or less in limbo as to where and when it'll hit. But just the sheer volume of hoards of evcuating people from the Texas coast is causing problems; there's been reports of people running out of gas on the interstate due to idling in the long, long lines of cars heading for higher ground. I would suggest they take a hint, and think about relocating somewhere else. The coastal areas in many parts of the world are doomed as global warming increases.

On the lighter side though, I'll end this post with a chuckle (sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying!):

George Bush got called up to heaven. Presently he was ushered into the Almighty's presence.

Without waiting George asked "God, why are you sending all these hurricanes against America. Katrina could be understandable but another one named Rita that is even stronger? Oh Lord, what have we done to deserve this?"

The Almighty looked down on George Bush and said, "First George, you have to address me by my proper name."

"Start by calling me Allah."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hint to the Prez

I read this post earlier, and just couldn't resist sharing it:

Bill Maher's remarks to Our Leader.

"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people.

Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.'"


Somehow I don't think the Prez got the hint though, and now we're about to have another destructive force, Hurricane Rita to remind him yet again. Listen up, Prez!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Daily life here...

Ahh, living in what seems to be the Sahara desert here, I wouldn't mind even leftover remnants of the approaching Hurricane Rita! We are soooo dry here, the ground is like a rock, and in places it has actually cracked open! The last rain we had was from Katrina, but it was scant, and mostly wind mixed with showers. Afterward our house had swirls of nasty dirt plastered to the white siding, and I had to actually wash it down with the water hose. Last night I was watching a movie and there was a thunderstorm scene, the hard rain streaking down windowpanes; it created an intense longing for rain. Strange how you miss something in nature when it is lacking, not just for the benefits but the sensory aspects.

Nothing new here to write about; life as usual. I can't complain though, since I perfer peace and quiet. Tomorrow morning I have to go for an early medical appointment; my G.P. wanted to have some blood drawn, do a few simple tests like cholesterol and sugar levels, potassium, etc. There's nothing wrong with me that I know of, and I feel fine (except for annoying sinus problems in this dry, hot weather)...but she requested the test. And I would like to know what my cholesterol is, since DH and I try to eat healthy, rarely have any meat whatsoever.

This past weekend we looked at a few houses for sale, and found one that I truly loved. We're not preparing to move, but IF we found an irresistible bargain, we might. Anyhow, this house was located in the city, a fairly nice neighborhood but across town from our other house; it was built in 1916, and at one time someone had done quite a bit of restoration. However, it has been empty two years, a foreclosure, and needs a lot of work. It has much of the original woodwork, hardwood floors, a beautiful fireplace in the "parlor" and is two stories with a half-basement/cellar. The price is at $69,900.00 -- not out of our leaque, though we wouldn't want to pay the entire price in cash, since we'd need money to start more renovations. However, I don't think we'll buy it. I just hate to see such a lovely old house sitting there in overgrown weeds, neglected. The neighbors told us there was even an auction, but the bank wouldn't accept the highest bid. So I doubt they'd take much less than the asking price. I do hope someone comes along and buys it, lavishing time and attention on the house.

Here's a photo of the house:

1916 Historic House Posted by Picasa

I was wondering what happened to the huge old house used in the recent film, "The Skeleton Key." It was located in southern Louisiana somewhere, and had scenes of downtown New Orleans too. We saw it a few weeks ago, and I had tried to track down where the house was located, but learned that the film company was not publicizing it due to the 90+ year old couple who lived there! So it's possible the house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina; I hope the elderly couple survived.

And speaking of hurricanes, there's another one threatening the Gulf area, Hurricane Rita. It's still a bit early to know exactly where it'll make landfall, but IF it does hit the Texas coast, there may be more oil rigs and refineries damaged -- not to mention people hurt and/or killed. Time will tell, I guess. I don't envy those living in coastal areas -- not now, nor in the future IF the global warming situation creates rising sea levels, terrible flooding and loss of land mass.

I'll end with this photo of my tub of flowers on the steps of our back deck, still blooming as long as I water them faithfully!

Flowers on deck steps Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Thought-provoking Ideas

In my travels across cyberspace, I found a fascinating website that lists all the doomsday theories. Two of these theories are so interesting, I wanted to use them as excerpts here. If you like philosophy (and what writer doesn't?) you'll enjoy pondering about these profound ideas:

From website Exit Mundi

New form of energy on the horizon?

There's a fuel supply that is costless, unlimited and that gives off no pollution at all when you use it. There's just one minor problem. When you try to use it, you may accidentally blow up part of the Universe.

It will be over before anyone can say `sorry'. In a laboratory somewhere, someone tries to get hold of a weird and completely new, exotic type of energy. But boy, the experiment goes out of hand. Suddenly, there's a BIG explosion. And then there's nothing -- our planet, the sun, all planets in our solar system and even some stars surrounding our solar system have been blown to smithereens.

And explaining what went wrong isn't even simple. We're talking quantum physics here: the physics of the vanishingly small building blocks that make up all matter in the Universe.

In quantum physics, everything is totally different from daily life. Quantum particles can be in two places at the same time, and can behave both like waves and particles. In fact, when you hear a quantum physicist say `particles', don't think of little, round balls.

Quantum `particles' are better compared with tones of music: they're definitely there, but you can't see them or catch them.

One of the most mind-boggling properties of quantum particles is that they come into existence out of nowhere. Suck every molecule of air out of a bottle, making it completely vacuum -- and quantum particles will still be there. They pop up in pairs out of nowhere. And within a tiny fraction of a second, they merge together and -- zzzip! -- they're gone.

It is precisely this odd `quantum vacuum' that may one dy open the door to a very new source of energy. Suppose you're able to snatch some of those out-of-nowhere particles away. Admittedly, you'll have to be REALLY fast. But if you do succeed, you'll have harvested particles out of nowhere. And since matter and energy are basically the same stuff (according to Einstein's E=mc2), you'll have energy out of nowhere!

The advantages would be unimaginable. Here's an energy source that never runs out, is everywhere around, is extremely cheap, and causes no pollution whatsoever.

But then again, there is a small, but alarming risk. There may be simply energy too much. Mining the quantum vacuum might bring about an unstoppable chain reaction, releasing an ever increasing amount of energy. In fact, no-one knows how much energy will be released: calculations done by physicists give answers anywhere between zero and infinity.

Obviously, too much energy would mean trouble. The explosion could be huge enough to blow apart our entire solar system and everything around it. And of course, infinite energy would bring about infinite destruction, bombing not just a handful of stars, but everything in the entire Universe.

Gladly, no present-day scientist is capable of mining the quantum vacuum. On the other hand: one day, there will be. And that day may arrive sooner than you think: some estimate around 2020 science will be ready. Let's hope physicists finally have their calculations straightened out by then.

So it's `wait and see'. And talking about `seeing': as the famous science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once pointed out, whenever you see an unexplained burst of energy coming from the cosmos (and there are a lot of them), it may be some alien civilization, blowing itself to kingdom come while experimenting with the quantum vacuum...

And this one, which will keep you preoccupied for hours -- but a word of caution: It's not for the easily disturbed! :-)

Could someone or something switch us off? Could it possibly be true that our world is just a computer program, or a hologram, or a dream? Although it's about the weirdest thing you could think of, there are some tantalizing clues this might indeed be the case. The stuff we call 'reality' simply isn’t very real after all.

Welcome to the outskirts of reality. Welcome to the place where theoretical physics and philosophy meet, and where religion and science loose their meaning. Better fasten your mental seatbelts. What we’re about to tell you is just too weird. Too mind-boggling. And quite disturbing, really.

Here we go: the place we call reality may not be real at all. It may look real, and feel real, and smell real. But if you know where to look, and you look real close, you can see the cracks. Just like a Hollywood actor that suddenly realizes he's not surrounded by real buildings -- but by props made of cardboard paper.

If that sounds like lame science fiction; I agree. Indeed, we’ve all seen The Matrix. But could such a thing be conceivable? Could it be true? Are we really here? Or are we, as one reader of Exit Mundi suggested, only a computer simulation, run by an alien race?

Perhaps the simulation is getting boring, and the guy running the program is about to switch it off. We’d see some kind of huge ‘game over’-sign, and that would be it. One moment, we’re here. And the next – we aren’t.

If you’re easily disturbed, or prone to paranoia, better stop reading now. You may not like the answers to questions like these. What you are about to read may change the way you see things -- forever.

Why is the Universe Fine-Tuned?

First, there’s a very, VERY weird thing about the place we live in – something so weird and profound it sends shivers down your spine. For in fact, the Universe seems to be ‘fine-tuned’ to make life possible!

It has to do with the stuff most people find boring in school: the laws of physics. Ultimately, all of these laws are founded upon the ‘physical constants’. Such as the force of gravity, the ‘strong force’ that glues atomic nuclei together and the electromagnetic force, the driving hand behind stuff like lightning and computers. But why do these fundamental ‘presets’ have the values they have? Why aren’t they a little bigger, or smaller?

The British cosmologist Fred Hoyle was the first to realise this is no coincidence. A very peculiar thing about the fundamental constants is that they appear to have exactly the right values. If they were slightly smaller or bigger, atoms, stars, planets and people simply wouldn’t exist!

Take the strong force inside atomic nuclei. If the force were just slightly stronger, it would boost up the burning of stars so much, that they would explode only seconds after they were formed. We wouldn’t have a sun – or even a planet. If on the other hand the force were a tad weaker, it would be too weak to hold together elements like the heavy hydrogen isotope deuterium. Stars wouldn’t light up. And we wouldn’t be here either.

Astonishingly, the same goes for all other constants. As the famous British astronomer Martin Rees put it: “Wherever we look, we see examples of fine-tuning. Most of the physical constants and the initial conditions of the Universe examined so far appear to be fine-tuned to some extent.”

That leaves us with a gnawing, unsettling question: Why? Why are all physical contants exactly the way they are? Every cosmologist agrees that this can hardly be a coincidence. So what, or who, set the rules?

Matter: Chunks Of Music?

Next, you should know the stuff our Universe is made of isn’t very real at all. Sure, you can feel the chair underneath you, and see the monitor in front of you. But what we feel and touch and see in everyday life is actually a manifestation of some deeper, completely different kind of underlying reality.

One way to explore what matter is, is to take it apart. First, you’ll find tiny chunks of matter that are called molecules. Then, if you take the molecules apart, you’ll find the atoms the molecules are made of. And then, if you take apart the atoms, you’ll see it’s made of a nucleus, surrounded by a cloud of electrons. And what if you take apart that nucleus? You’ll be in for a big surprise. For inside an atom’s nucleus, reality as we know it actually ceases to exist.

An atom’s nucleus is made of tiny entities we call ‘particles’. But that’s just for lack of a better word. When you say ‘particles’, you think of little balls. But in quantum physics, there’s no such thing as solid `balls’ you can touch or see.

In fact, ‘particles’ like quarks, electrons and photons are so incredibly and utterly different from everything we know of, our language lacks the words to describe them. Particles can be in two places at the same time, and behave both like a wave and a tiny chunk of matter, depending on what you do with them. Particles can pop in and out of existence from nowhere. And ‘grabbing’ them is impossible: it is simply not possible to both know where a particle is and how fast it moves about.

But still, a particle has to be something, right?

That’s why more and more physicists turn to `string theory’. In string theory, matter is ultimately made of extremely small elastic circles, called strings. These strings vibrate. But not like anything we know: the strings vibrate in at least ten dimensions! Our particles are the vibrations of the strings. They are the music the strings make.

The Universe: Bubbles Of What?

Okay, hold that thought: matter is ultimately the manifestation of something else.

Gladly, there are also things that are normal. Take the Universe. Again, it is something we think we know. The Universe is that big black thing with all the lights in it over your head. Perhaps you’ve even heard it’s expanding: first, there was a kind of blast (called the ‘Big Bang’), and from that moment on, the Universe grew bigger and bigger.

But hold it right there. Once more, the real story is far stranger than that. For starters, the Universe has no ‘outside’. To ask what is ‘outside’ the Universe is a meaningless question – it would be like asking what continent lies ‘outside’ our planet. ‘Outside’ the Universe there are no dimensions, and there is no time. The Universe is best seen as an expanding bubble of dimensions in a sea of nothingness – although ‘nothing’ isn’t really a word you can use to describe what is ‘outside’ the Universe.

It is extremely difficult to fully comprehend what that means. According to one theory, there are many dimensional bubbles like the one we live in. Our Universe could be the result of two of such bubbles – or ‘planes’ – colliding. And wait, now you’re doing it again: you’re picturing a place with bubbles floating around. But there’s no such thing as a ‘place’. Instead, the other Universes should be wrapped up within our own reality, remember?

An even more bizarre theory has it the place we call the Universe is actually best compared with a hologram. Our Universe could be some kind of optical illusion, the result of several dimensions resonating.

And it goes even further. For in fact, it could actually be possible to create a Universe! Basically, the only thing you’d have to do is squeeze a huge amount of energy together into a very dense, small spot. This would lead to a Big Bang, the theories predict. We wouldn’t see it happening: the Big Bang would create a new dimensional bubble, far beyond reach of our own bubble.

OK, let’s pause for a second. Just think about it. Is it possible that our reality is actually made by some other civilisation, in some other Universe? It would explain why the fundamental constants are fine-tuned…

And You? How Real Is Your Mind?

So, to wrap things up: we live in a place that’s not really a ‘place’, we’re made of stuff that’s not really ‘stuff’ and what we see is only a small part of what’s really there. Matter, time, dimensions, the Universe – it’s all lucid, unreal. And to make things even more bizarre, for some reason, our Universe is exactly preset to make our existence possible. Pretty confusing, don't you think?

Gladly, you can cling to this one security: that you are here. No matter how weird the stuff around you is, you are definitely for real. No need to explain: you just know you are.

But do you really?

Let’s do an experiment. Speak out your name over and over and over and over again. After a while, you’ll notice something weird. Your name will begin to sound strange. It’s no longer something that is you – your name is just a word, a random sequence of syllables and sounds that other people utter when they want to catch your attention. If your parents had given you another name, you would listen to another sequence of sounds.

The same happens when you look in the mirror. Stare at your own face long enough, and you’ll suddenly realize it’s just another face. The face in the mirror is, of course, yours. But after a while, it won’t feel like that anymore. The face you see could be anybody's.

Most neuroscientists agree the same applies for your consciousness. The thing you call your ‘self’ is most likely an illusion, created by your brain. Your brain gives you vision, sound, speech, feelings, and thoughts. When you add all these things up, you’ll have some overall feeling of awareness you call your consciousness. But still, your brain is the thing running it. Your feeling of ‘self’ is best compared to a software program running. It looks very real – but it isn’t.

Of course, most people believe there is something like a ‘soul’ or a ‘spirit’ living inside of you. But when it comes down to facts, there just isn’t any evidence for that. Every thought you have, every move you make, every emotion you feel - it’s just brain, brain, brain.

There are actually experiments that prove it. When you disturb your brain in a certain way, your feeling of ‘self’ can get detached from your brain. Suddenly, it will feel as if ‘you’ are not inside your body anymore. You experience what is known as an ‘out of body experience’, or a ‘near death experience’.

But you don’t have to be nearly dead to feel it. The sensation can easily be created in a laboratory, by placing a helmet with rotating magnetic fields on your head. The magnetic field acts like a ‘jam signal’ on your brain. Suddenly, you'll feel like you're floating outside your body. But you aren’t. It’s just your brain going confused.

And you don't really need a helmet to do the trick. Visiting a place where the movement of the Earth's crust generates magnetic fields can give you the experience. Being in a situation where your brain doesn't get enough oxygen sometimes does it. Certain brain operations bring out the experience. Meditation and intensive prayer can generate it.

In fact, exactly this is why some people see ghosts, or Maria, or feel like they are visited by aliens. It is an incredible weird experience to be ‘outside of your brain’. Your brain will try to make sense of it. Immediately, the rational part of your brain will come up with an ‘explanation’ for the experience. You will sense a ‘presence’ near you. If you’re religious, you might see Maria, or Jesus. If you believe in UFOs, your brain might tell you you’re visited by aliens. If you believe in ghosts, you’ll feel the presence of a ghost of a dead person. But in reality, it’s your own feeling of self you’re experiencing.

So... Are We A Game Of Sims?

So there you are. You’re just a walking piece of matter that’s pretending to be someone. But in reality, things like matter, or self, or the Universe, or time, or dimensions are all illusions. Everything we see and everything we feel are, in fact, the manifestations of some underlying reality.

That leaves you with an unsettling question: what exactly is that reality?

The truth is: we don’t know. Could be almost anything, really. A dream, even. Or a simulation. Or a kind of computer game, an advanced kind of Civilization or Sims. There’s no way of knowing if there’s someone or something pushing the buttons. There’s no way of knowing if there isn’t, either.

And then, there’s this other thing most theorists agree on: our reality could suddenly end. Our universe could fold up. The dimensions we live in could be wrapped up. The very fabric of our physical world could be disrupted by some unprecedented, weird physical event. From one second to the other, our reality would no longer be there. Sounds like fun, right?

But then again, why bother? For that’s the deeper consequence of these things. If there is no such thing as a place we call Earth, we needn’t really worry about its end. Would the characters of a Sims-game feel sad or disappointed when you turned off the computer? Or would the people you dream of at night mind if you wake up? You guessed it: they probably wouldn't. What isn’t really there, doesn’t really end.

That being said, there’s only one small problem. You see: you have to be a good philosopher to really feel it that way!


I have a doctor's appointment at 3:00, just a regular checkup for my blood pressure medication prescription. Jeez, would whoever/whatever is controlling this game of life for me, PLEASE make it more pleasant -- and SOON!!! ;-)

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Doomsday Thoughts....

The "busy" vacation week was over Sunday, but I still had quite a few household chores to finish before having any significant free time. Ah, what is that old saying: "A man's work is from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done."

At any rate, I finally had time to surf the web, catch up on the latest journal entries I read, etc. I think I've given up on ever doing any creative writing again; but IF I did, it would have to be sci-fi -- and perhaps a doomsday scenario. I did write a UFO/Alien story some time ago, though it was in the form of journal entries...and believe it or not, it was also about aliens and possible destruction of earth. I had many readers, and some who actually believed what I was writing was true, not fiction. Perhaps I should find that story, and continue it, even finish it eventually. Perhaps I might...someday.

Now...for the Hurricane Katrina aftermath. Politics aside, I have come to the conclusion that IF several unknown, horrible disasters ever should hit the USA (think THREE natural and/or terrorism disasters at the same time), the message we humans should have learned by now is: "You are on your own." In other words, survival of the fit, death of the elderly, sick, weak, etc. That IS, after all, the message of evolution, and we, as humans, are not much above the animals in that regard.

Another aspect that has troubled me (most of my life, not just recently) is that ALL our human struggles, our efforts at meaningful lives, our hope for humankind to survive apparently into that it is all ridiculous. Hence, the title of this blog: Mad, Mad World. Think about it: natural disasters wipe out thousands constantly; the cosmos has so many dark destructive forces at work that eventually, one way or another, every single trace of earth and human existence will be wiped out utterly and completely. Sure, doomsday scenarios seem preposterous -- until they happen. And read the history of former human civilizations on earth that perished if you have any doubt that such events can happen.

I have come to the conclusion that ALL human/animal life is futility, the suffering, the surviving, the killing, the healing. The ONLY reason humans continue is that we have an inborn, biological instinct to LIVE and REPRODUCE. Is this good? I am not sure, but perhaps it is NOT GOOD. Has it never occurred to any human that perhaps there is a force at work in the cosmos which deliberately DESTROYS any kind of threatening (as in violent, destructive, ever-expanding into the universe from the original spawning ground) lifeform like ourselves? Maybe in sci-fi stories, but doesn't this occur to others as well? Isn't religion (all the various beliefs) just a means of "pretending" there is some point or reason for living -- and hope for immortality?

We ridicule drug addicts, alcoholics, crazioids who live in fantasy worlds...but really, isn't it possible they realize the stupidity and useless futility of life itself? I remember a quote that went something like: "You can't be sane in an insane world."

And folks, we probably live in an insane world -- a mad, mad world. Look around, and you'll realize the wisdom of this truth.

What should this mean to us individually? I'm not sure...beyond the fact we should live TODAY, do the things we enjoy, not those we loathe...for it could ALL end in a blink of the eye.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Explosion Coming Soon...

Possibly in the oil refinery business, somewhere. I couldn't believe this business news article when I read it, but after a second reading...and taking into consideration Bush's faulty thinking, I have to accept it.

Bush calls for fuel output boost

The White House has told US refiners to postpone all scheduled maintenance in a drive to maximise petrol and diesel production as the administration raised its oil price forecasts on Wednesday in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

A senior executive from a big refinery in Houston said: "The message from the government is, 'Run the refinery as high as you can and avoid all the non-priority maintenance in the next four or six weeks'."

Washington has also told refiners to stop producing ultra-clean diesel to increase petrol output.

A Louisiana refiner said: "The White House said, 'Forget about [ultra] low-sulphur diesel. We need gasoline and diesel. We need you working 100 per cent'."

New regulations on producing ultra-clean diesel were due in January 2006 but are now likely to be postponed, refiners said.

The US energy department told refiners informally that they should boost production after petrol prices rose to record highs following storm damage to oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico.

The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused.But postponing maintenance, during which a refinery runs at reduced capacity, can be a costly and dangerous gamble. Some of the industry's worst accidents have been blamed on such delays.

Jamal Qureshi, market analyst at consultancy PFC Energy, said: "It does expose the potential for safety problems. But you don't have a choice."

The energy department's monthly forecast said it expected US crude oil prices to reach $70 a barrel in the fourth quarter of this year and about $60 for the whole of next year.

Before Katrina, the official forecast for 2006 was an average price of $56.70 a barrel, but Wednesday's report estimated an average price of $63.50. Oil prices on Nymex rose slightly to $66.50 a barrel on Wednesday before settling down $1.59 at $64.37.

Last week, the US moved to boost petrol output after it lost about 10 per cent of its refining capacity because of damage by Katrina. It relaxed environmental regulations on petrol to let US and foreign refiners fill the shortfall more easily. It also eased shipping regulations to allow foreign tankers to move oil products along the US coast.

Inventory levels of petrol are expected to fall sharply as refiners were forced to dip into their stockpiles to fill the shortage. The energy department will publish the inventory levels today.

Europe meanwhile tapped its emergency reserves of petrol and diesel to help out. US refineries that were unhurt by the storm are running close to full capacity. One refinery on the banks of the Mississippi said it had postponed until January the maintenance work it had scheduled for October. It said, however, that the downtime might be delayed indefinitely on instruction of the US government.

In the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, four large refineries were still shut, while two were working at reduced rates.

Many refineries are still difficult to reach. Oil companies and contractors have hired barges to house their workers and move their equipment, and are using boats normally employed to take tourists to see alligators.

You can read the remainder of the article by clicking on the link.

Busy, busy here. DH and I both have been working this week, doing necessary upkeep on the house. I have done some extensive cleaning, painting touch-ups,etc. Hopefully we'll get it all finished during this week.

I'm appalled at the way the "Bush Spin Machine" has tried to blame his dereliction of duty on everyone but him. But that's a common Repug ploy: blame the victims. What is even more scary is that the Repugs actually believe that crap; guess they didn't see the truth when it was being broadcast for the whole wide world to see on CNN and FOX, huh? Pitiful. IF there's a God, I have a feeling He will not be happy about the test results in this disaster.