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?