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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year End Review/Memories

At the end of 2005, I thought things couldn't get any worse...but I was wrong. I'll never say never again.

Yet, this past year has to be one of the worst I've ever lived through (with the exception of my entire childhood).

A rundown list:

1. February 21st, my husband died of acute leukemia/heart attack.

2. I sold the farm, did major clean-out work, went through h@ll trying to sort through all manner of stuff DH owned -- three outbuildings, a barn, and more.

3. I moved back to the city -- which I consider a good thing, BUT had to have the house I bought renovated and that was an ordeal (since all work had to be hired out).

4. Early summer, one of my brothers-in-law's father died. This particular brother-in-law was supposed to help me since I'd given him all of DH's tools/etc. And he did, to some extent, but for a long period -- unfortunately during the time I was going through a move -- he couldn't do much.

5. My only renter of the house where we'd lived 20+ years moved, so I had to do extensive cleaning, etc. before finding another renter. So far, it seems as if I did get good renters -- but time will tell.

6. My step-father unexpectedly died in his sleep, early November. That meant my mother couldn't live in their home, financially OR physically, since he'd been her main support. That situation is still unresolved, but for now, mother is living with my middle two sisters. The house/property is sold, the closing tomorrow. There's unavoidable tension between one of my sisters and the other three, but in time, maybe that will resolve itself.

7. In mid-December, my other brother-in-law's uncle died; my brother-in-law is executor of his estate (since the aunt is dead, and they had no children). Lots of work dealing with the disposal of a large farm, and all that entails, added to my sister's current problems with mother.

8. Mother's place had to be totally cleared out by me and my sisters/brothers-in-law. NOT a small task, and we're still not finished.

So, that's the negative side. All told, I've been working on houses/clearing out/moving for about 3+ years now, and darn if I'm not sick and tired of it. The whole thing started when we moved to the country, and renovated the farmhouse...and still hasn't ended.

The positives:

1. I adopted two little dogs I love unreservedly; and who give me total unconditional love in return.

2. I still have my six cats, with no major illnesses.

3. I feel fairly healthy (but who ever knows, really?)

4. I'm fiancially secure, or at least what passes for it in this country (NOT rich).

5. And NOW I have DSL internet, a MAJOR improvement over dialup internet!!

Today I took a trip down memory lane, went by the farm where we lived. The young couple have made it look wonderful, and I even stopped and petted the goat and two pot-belly pigs they have now. So CUTE! All their horses look great too. Also, two cats came from the backporch, and wanted me to pet them(one looked suspiciously like the barn cat who had been in the big barn). I'm glad to know that what DH and I did with the house renovation, building a big barn, is being taken care of and expanded. That makes me happy and I know it would make DH feel so proud of the young couple, and ME, for finding them to carry on there.

I wish everyone who reads my blog a HAPPY NEW YEAR. And as I stated at last year's end, NOW to 2006: "Goodbye and don't let the door hit you in the @ss on the way out!"

I sure hope next year is better for me, yet we just never know what's around the next curve in life.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas, Etc.

Today was a gorgeous day...nearly 65, sunny, no wind. I took the dogs for an early morning walk in the neighborhood, then did some housework, etc.

Later, I went on a long bike ride and when I returned, I decided to take the dogs to the nearby park. I let them into the car, halters/leashes on, and we went to the park where I used to bike. Rambo is very serene when riding; he will even lie on the seat and make no fuss. Oscar, however, wants to stand at the side window and look out, slobbering on it too. He whines, whines, whines...but once we were at the park, they had a GREAT time. There's a small wooded section, and I let them romp through it as if they were actually out in the woods somewhere. On the return trip, I parted the window a little, and Oscar loved sticking his nose out, just to get a whiff of whatever we passed. I'm hoping I can get them both accustomed to traveling in the car, so I can take them to different places for walks.

Yesterday we all met at my mother's place, and cleared out more stuff. All the closets are empty now, and we had two pickup trucks full of discards: some to the Goodwill, some to the dump. Exhausting, not to mention that it rained all day and was dismal. We think one more full day of work will have the place cleared out for the new buyers, but that will probably be sometimes in early January.

Late in the day, after I returned home, one of DH's fellow workers dropped by to give me a keepsake from this year's rodeo. The rodeo was dedicated to DH this year, and though I didn't go, the co-worker told me all about it and gave me the program to keep. I was afraid I'd cry through the ceremony, so I just didn't go. And he understood, I suppose.

No family gathering for Christmas this year. We all decided to cancel it; my sister who usually hosts it is exhausted from taking care of mother, and having her own two grown kids/grandkids there on Christmas, so we decided against it. I had already made a decision NOT to go, and don't regret that. Every time we get together there, I remember DH so much; it feels like he should be in the other room joking with the kids, or talking to my brothers-in-law. It will be easier for me to spend this holiday alone.

And finally, I decided on my Christmas gift to myself: DSL internet from Bellsouth. It will cost $25.00 a month, but I think it'll be worth it. Since I moved back to town, the slooooooooooow dialup speed has been horrendous; it takes me FOREVER to get anything done online, and all the websites with video, pictures are virtually inaccessible. Which means MOST of the websites, since between flashing/java ads and loads of other unnecessary crap, it takes too long. My DSL modem arrives next week, and I will install it myself.

For all my readers, I wish you a Merry Christmas and that you remember to cherish the moments you have with a beloved spouse; it can end in a flash, without warning.

And then for a laugh, I have to post this tacky photo I found recently on the web:

Merry Redneck Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Burnt Cookies

Okay, I know some of my readers will think, "Ah, NOW she's totally lost her mind." But...bear with me.

The other day I was watching Oprah and she had a female guest, Anousheh Ansari, who had "lived her dream" of going into space. Yep, Ansari had the big bucks, 20 mil, and paid her way into orbit. I don't really have any objections to people doing this, since there is no use in elaborating on what 20 mil would do to help starving, screaming, sick humans/animals, so don't even think of that pointless reasoning. No one wants to hear about that, otherwise there wouldn’t BE starvation, suffering, wars, stupidity the world over.

At any rate, when the spacecraft docked with the space-station, the astronauts told Ansari she'd get a whiff of what outer space smells like. It would be brief, fleeting, but indeed, she could "smell" space. And of course, Oprah asked her, "So what did it smell like?" And Ansari said, "Burnt cookies."

I almost fell out of my chair laughing...with mirth. Come on, there is a LOT of burning/blazing/exploding stars and stuff is REALLY cooking (at evil hot temps) all over the cosmos, so of course, it smells like something is burning.

Then I laughed even harder, because it occurred to me that...what if...we are ALL (the cosmos included) actually in HELL, with all this burning going on, and don't realize it? I have always thought that humanity and earth, and possibly the whole shebang (cosmos too) is some sort of crazy, awful dungeon from which escape is impossible (except via death -- which might be even worse). Isn't that the Biblical definition of Hell? I'd say we are closer to Hell than Heaven, by any estimation.

Oh, you don't agree? IF we were all in Hell, wouldn't there be groups who'd think not, who'd think it was actually Heaven, that we condemned humans were special, some who'd make-up religious crap, who'd try to "figure it all out" as scientist do (but be stymied at every turn)...on and on, ad nauseam?

Just think about it: that's your philosophy lesson for today from yours truly, Mad, Mad World.

P.S. I’m NOT in a depressed mood; just thought this idea was too good to pass up!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pictures & more

Thought I'd post a couple pictures of my house/fence, since I haven't had a current photo on the blog recently. These will show the shutters I painted gray back in the fall, and the new wood fence.

Note, still NO seamless gutters. The guy who gave me an estimate has failed to show up now for a month. I think I've given him PLENTY of time, and after the holidays, I'll find a professional to do the job. What I'm learning is that you pay MORE for professionals, but they get the job done pronto and do what they promise. There are a lot of "so-called part-time workers" and frankly, they just do not deliver. Best tip I found on is once you find reliable help, keep their phone numbers on a list and always call them for necessary repairs or whatever.

Here's the pictures (still the old cheap camera):

The gray shutters/door match the roof well, I think.

LOVE this fence. Need to get a photo of how my carport is now a nice refuge/private place, almost like a patio

And now a couple pictures of Oscar. He has become the most spoiled dog brat EVER! He stays inside more than outside and LOVES his long walks through the neighborhood, as does Rambo. But Oscar starts whining around the time I usually take them on the walk, and will NOT stop until he gets his walk. I've met LOTS of people in the neighborhood on walks, know just about everyone around here. One elderly man drives a golf cart and carries his 2-month old daschund (Clyde) with him; he stopped beside me the other day, and asked about Oscar. It's amazing how walking dogs attracts others with dogs and sort of encourages meeting new people.

And speaking of new people, a young couple moved into the house behind me -- our yards join and share a chainlink fence. They moved from Nebraska, and have several large pure-bred Mastiff's (one is a show dog). And though there are dogs all in the neighborhood, there's no problem with barking at night since we all keep them inside!!!

Between the long walks with the dogs and biking, I get plenty of healthy exercise too!

Oscar loves his naps!

"Mom, it's time for our walk, NOW!

Undecided about Christmas, but I think I'll spend it alone. Might prepare a feast of food I hardly ever eat, and just pig out -- save the leftovers for later. And I also might spend the day (between eating/pigging out) writing a short story. Maybe next year I'll volunteer to help the elderly or do something like that, but this year, I think I need to be ALONE and creative.

As for a gift for myself, I probably won't buy a new digital camera. I've had so many expenses lately (at this house and the rental) that I won't splurge on any gift/gifts. However, I will eventually buy a new camera, just not now. At any rate, Rambo and Oscar are the BEST gifts I've given myself this year anyway. Never a dull moment with those two around, and there is ALWAYS unconditional love from them and my cats. Now that IS worth living for.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Understanding grief

Excellent article online here:

Bereavement and Grief

Perhaps some insight for those who have never lost a loved one, either husband or whoever was the most important person in their life.

Horrid day. Had to have plumbers out to repair leaking shower, which ended up with new shower equipment, hole in the wall to get to pipes for replacement, new apparatus in commode so it would flush properely. Dropped nearly $500.00 on that puppy...but hey, at least the plumber showed up and did the job TODAY. Called this morning, so that is kinda warp speed for most jobs.

Yesterday my nextdoor neighbor installed a doggie door for me -- free. Said it was an early Christmas gift. He did it in 30 minutes -- like DH could have. It's amazing what you can do with the right tools and a bit of know-how.

Oscar LOVES the dog door, is constantly in and out. But Rambo is scared of it, and I have only coaxed him through it a couple times. Wonder why? Maybe he had some trauma in the past about going through small holes? Who knows?

Another death: brother-in-law's uncle passed away. I just could not go for the visitation since the deceased is at the same funeral home where DH was. And I can't go to the funeral either; it's just too soon -- especially just having my step-dad die early last month.

I'm beginning to believe this quirky take on a quote:

"It's always darkest...just before it goes totally black."

I won't say this year can't get any worse, because it always can. But I'll say this: the only funeral I'll be attending again this year would HAVE to by my own.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Seeing Ghosts....

When my father died at age 42, all of us were in shock. I remember the LONG sleepless nights, the horrible reality of bleak days. Sure, he was an alcoholic, abusive, disturbed (whatever term you want to call it) but I guess I always hoped he'd improve, get better, get over it...whatever.

He was a long-distance truckdriver and for YEARS after he died, I'd see truckers in profile, shadowy in their truck cabs and think it was daddy. He really wasn't dead, it was all a mistake. Once, DH and I went to see a movie (early 70s) with Steve McQueen, and I thought that HE was the spitting image of daddy. YES, they resembled one another...but not THAT much. It was a nightmare, plain and simple.

When we were at my daddy's funeral, I had this awful thought that the only way the situation could be worse was IF it was DH who died. I was young, fragile, and DH was always there for me.

When DH died, I could not look at a patrol car or horse or ANYTHING that he was part of, that he cared about, without crying. I still find that difficult even now.

Isn't it strange how we think that we humans can arrange and plan our lives, when in fact, we have no control. The ONLY true fact is this: "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." Too bad I can't claim that wisdom as my own.

Just having a really sad, bad night.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Belated update

This past week has been hectic. We had a couple more full days at my mother's place, clearing out stuff, disposing, sorting, etc. NOT fun.

I got my dental work finished (for now), new glasses (which I hate because of the "progressive lenses" and will take back for basic tri-focals), yadda, yadda, yadda. Mother is still living with the same sister, and though she DOES qualify for quite a good bit of income from the VA -- she can't get it for NINE months. Ahem! That is thanks to our dear prez. (And I have noticed that Iraq is now into civil war, a total disaster and ahem!, didn't I call that at the VERY start of the whole shebang!)

In the meantime, war has broken out here between my two middle sisters, since they seem to be saddled with my mother. I told them I will NOT have her stay here more than a couple days. So the one sister who told mother's doctor SHE would let mother live with her is now "up the creek without a paddle." Mother's GP was filling out forms for "assisted care" when this sister volunteered. Now she will have to go back and tell him she can't manage all that physical care: and it is a LOT. Mother is a diabetic, had a stroke some years ago, cannot get up and down steps without assistance, is incontinent and more. Surely more than I could manage.

This afternoon I went to see a movie alone, just one of those "chick flicks" -- The Holiday. I didn't know if it'd be all that great, but knew if it involved scenes of a cottage in England, it'd be great. I LOVE the English countryside, and cannot resist a good movie with fabulous "big-screen" imagery of it. The movie has an interesting premise: two women exchange houses for a "vacation." There are many websites with ACTUAL people wanting to do this very thing, so it's not that unusual. And it was a romantic comedy, but turned out to be a little more serious than I thought. Overall though, a good movie.

Today there was an ad in the local newspaper seeking a news reporter. Should I apply or not? Ah, the million dollar question. Haven't decided just yet. I may or may not.

More later.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A year ago...

I wish I could say I have some "happy" memories of my last birthday, but not really. I do recall that DH had a bad leg/foot injury from the LAST horse-ride he went on.

I love critters, I really do. My life attests to that, from the cat/dog rescues. But I also have my limits: I cannot handle a critter too large, too dangerous. Even the miniature horses I rescued were a bit too big for me to care for. Certainly, I learned that lesson again this past summer when I adopted a dog too large for me to take care of, and had to return it to the vet who raised it. (Otter is still there, perhaps happy to be in a familiar place.)

DH loved horses, perhaps to his own detriment. On his last horseback ride in the forest (with buddies) he had his first ever accident, and in some ways, it was a fatal one. I recall that after the oncologist told us he had leukemia, and said that "something" must have triggered it...I thought it was the heart medications, Plavix, Lipitor, etc. But I remember DH just looked at me, and said, "No, it was that." And he pointed at the spot on his leg where the horse had hurt him so badly.

Here's an excerpt from an entry about that last year:

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.

I don't know IF the horse injury triggered the leukemia; something did, but I still believe it was a combination of various things that happened and his medications. Plus, there was a definite "genetic" link to acute leukemia in his family -- unknown to us until he fell ill.

At any rate, a LOT of my "rationlizations" this year for his untimely death are similar to Joan Didion's book about her first year as a widow: The Year of Magical Thinking. We always want a reason why someone, especially a spouse, dies unexpectedly.

Perhaps though, as DH so often said, and as one of my former reporter friends said, "Shit happens." No more, no less than that. Who really knows? I don't. BUT I do know that DH DID think his leg injury contributed to his development of leukemia. He had so little time to consider his dire circumstances, and maybe that was for the best. He went to sleep after one chemo treatment, and just never woke up.

Today was a bitch! Family all worked to get mother's place cleared out, but still have to return on Monday and finish the task. Mother seems to be in that fog I was in, sort of between worlds. Of course, as I had figured, my sisters have realized they can't care for her, and are desperately looking into "assisted living" places...though until mother knows the exact amount of funds (SSI and VA benefits) she'll receive, there's no way to know if she can afford that. In the long run, she may end up in a nursing home.

I'm just rambling, thinking of the most horrible year of my life thus far. I can't wait for it be OVER, and hopefully start a new year that will be better.

Happy myself. So far, a survivor!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Leaves are all gone...

Thank goodness! I've raked leaves from one huge Bradford Pear tree for at least two weeks, off and on. And while I love it, I'll have to have it removed before spring. Turns out that I can't get an awning/extension beyond my (now fenced) carport (zone ordinances), and this tree is ruining my car! I won't miss raking all the leaves though.

I have several smaller trees in the backyard, and have it all tidy, neat now too. Seems like I've worked for a week or so on getting my yard in good shape, and next summer I plan to mow my own lawn too. Just got to find the right lawnmower (push, not riding) and think of it as GREAT exercise!

Tomorrow all the family is meeting at my mother's house to sort out and dispose/store most of her stuff. She will be going into assisted living soon, if the financial stuff works out, and her place is in the process of being sold. I dread the work, and it hasn't been that long since I had to do the same kind of grueling emotional/physical labor in clearing outbuildings, barns, house, etc after DH died. Must be done though, no use complaining.

Today I took Rambo and Oscar (separately) on long walks; I want them to know the neighborhood, in case they get loose they'll be able to find their way back home. Then around 4:00 in the afternoon, the gate was barely open (I was bringing in the rake) and sure enough, Rambo shot out of it and took off. I called him a couple times, then just left the gate slightly open to see if he'd return. Within FIVE minutes he was at the back door, whining to come inside!!! I try my best NOT to let them out of the fence, but accidents do happen and it's best if they "know" the neighborhood and how to get home.

I also took these cute photos this afternoon. It was only in the 40s here today, so I put their "outfits" on them, and let them romp in the backyard for awhile.

Oscar mugging for the camera

Rambo at the fence by neighbor's dogs

Rambo doing his favorite thing: digging!

There's more, but I'll post them later. I do hope to find a new digital camera soon, maybe next week.

And I'll end with a list of rules for dating I found on

If a man wants you, nothing can keep him away. If he doesn't want you, nothing can make him stay.

Stop making excuses for a man and his behavior.

Allow your intuition (or spirit) to save you from heartache.

Stop trying to change yourselves for a relationship that's not meant to be.

Slower is better.

Never live your life for a man before you find what makes you truly happy.

If a relationship ends because the man was not treating you as you deserve then heck no, you can't "be friends." A friend wouldn't mistreat a friend.

Don't settle.

If you feel like he is stringing you along, then he probably is.

Don't stay because you think "it will get better." You'll be mad at yourself a year later for staying when things are not better.

The only person you can control in a relationship is you.

Avoid men who've got a bunch of children by a bunch of different women. He didn't marry them when he got them pregnant, why would he treat you any differently?

Always have your own set of friends separate from his.

Maintain boundaries in how a guy treats you.

If something bothers you, speak up.

Never let a man know everything. He will use it against you later.

You cannot change a man's behavior. Change comes from within.

Don't EVER make him feel he is more important than you are...even if he has more education or is in a better job.

Do not make him into a quasi-god. He is a man, nothing more nothing less.

Never let a man define who you are.

Never borrow someone else's man.

If he cheated with you, he'll cheat on you.

A man will only treat you the way you ALLOW him to treat you.

All men are NOT dogs.

You should not be the one doing all the bending...compromise is a two-way street.

You need time to heal between relationships... there is nothing cute about baggage. Deal with your issues before pursuing a new relationship.

You should never look for someone to COMPLETE you... a relationship consists of two WHOLE individuals... look for someone complimentary...not supplementary.

Dating is fun...even if he doesn't turn out to be Mr. Right.

Make him miss you sometimes... when a man always know where you are, and you're always readily available to him- he takes it for granted.

Don't fully commit to a man who doesn't give you everything that you need.

Keep him in your radar but get to know others.

{By the way, this was written by a man.}

Sunday is my birthday. I'll probably spend it alone. I was looking forward to turning 55 until DH died. I always thought it'd make me eligible for all those 55+ benefits. Now it just seems sad and means I'm getting OLD!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Three years ago...

So I'm re-reading a few of my past posts here, and I found the most amazing words of wisdom. Even BEFORE I lost DH, I knew that today is all we have, all we are promised.

The past three years, for me, have been like one of those awful Stephen King nightmare novels: bad stuff just keeps happening, with no meaning, no reason. But in retrospect, I think it all DID have meaning, reason. Let's just say, it comes down to this quote: "What goes around, comes around."

I have never knowingly hurt another human or animal in my life. I have, yes, withdrawn and isolated myself to PREVENT hurting others. I prefer that to inflicting pain sometimes when honesty/truth is necessary, though I have occasionally espoused the blunt truth when it seemed unavoidable. But I didn't have a child, didn't give it away, didn't abuse it, didn't inflict the kind of misery some so-called parents do. I never abandoned, nor harmed a creature/animal in my life, and have made sacrifices for pets -- even to this day.

In short, I believe if you mistreat humans/animals it will come back to bite you in the @ss...not after death, and not in some other "lifetime" but in THIS life and before you die. I've thought extensively about those I've known/loved, and their seemingly untimely deaths/sufferings...but in the end, I can look back over their lives and see where something they did MAY have brought about their demise.

At any rate, maybe I'm just trying to make sense of the senseless, but I want to repost an entry I made three years ago:

Today's prompt: If you had to remember the moment in your life when you felt the most alone, when would it be?

I chose this question because it was immediately easy to answer, to know exactly the time in my life I felt (and was) most alone.

DH [dear husband] had started a new career; we were both in our late 20s. We'd almost always been together, had never even spent a night apart in our ten year marriage. [We have no children by choice, and this makes us even closer emotionally.) Then suddenly, he was gone nearly all the time, engaged in his new time-consuming career. He often didn't get in until past 8:00 PM, and was away on Saturdays, sometimes Sunday too.

We lived in a rural area of the South, and I was not satisfied there. I didn't like the southern rural people, and had learned over time that gossip and innuendo spread like wildfire. Whatever one did in public (or private) was instantly known, gossiped about and turned into wild tales, becoming more and more fabricated with each telling. I'd become isolated, no likeminded person with whom to talk, (no internet back then, of course) and fell into a depression. I had worked at various part-time jobs since we'd married, mostly clerical office work which I loathed; but I was not employed at that time. I had always wanted to write creatively, but had no confidence in my talent. I had family nearby, and did see them frequently, but I still felt totally alone.

I'll never forget one late afternoon, around the time most families sit down to dinner, when I went outside for a walk along a country road. A beautiful sunset shimmered on the horizon, but it only seemed to make me feel more lonesome. I could see families sitting at dinner tables, glimpsed through windows...and felt like an alien among them. I actually ached, I was so forlorn and miserably lonely. It was one of those agonizing moments that seems to magnify all that you feel, and I wanted so badly to change my life, somehow make it different. And I knew, in one way or another, whatever it took, I would bring about that change.

And I did. Eventually we sold our house there, moved into a city; I worked at a newspaper; I volunteered at the library. But most importantly, I began to write fiction in all my free time. I had friends then too, but the writing is what truly changed my life -- and my perspective. And I must give credit to many of the postal pen friends I had during that period; they were always encouraging me about my writing talent. I took a creative writing course, and then a journalism course -- which led to my position at the newspaper. However, in time I quit that job and concentrated on my creative writing.

In retrospect, I have to admit that the poignancy of the loneliness I felt during that period was life-changing, so it served a purpose. As I've aged though, I've learned NOT to depend on any other human being to prevent loneliness. I have learned I am my own best friend, my own best companion, and I could live alone now and not be unhappy. Yes, I am still married and I do enjoy the companionship with my DH. But I also know that to depend upon any other person to keep loneliness at bay is a mistake. And the truth of this one apt quote: "We are born alone, we live alone and we die alone."

There are worse things than being alone. If you look around at some of the miserable people in destructive relationships, you'll understand the wisdom of that statement.

It was almost as if I KNEW that I would someday live alone, and had already emotionally prepared myself for it. And also, that DH had abandoned me YEARS and YEARS ago...even before I was 30 years old.

Food for thought...for me, for others perhaps.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

My cats & dogs

"Mom, did you say dogs are in the house?"

"Yeah Kitten, but do I look concerned?"

"What a wimp! Wearing a shirt!

"Huh? So what, I still kick @ass!"

"Oh puhleeese, I'm the ONE who kicks @ss around here!"

"I don't think so guys. Just try it, I dare you!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Supernatural Flicks

Okay, not EVERYONE will agree with my rave reviews of the two following films, but I have to suggest you watch them and judge for yourself. I LOVE a good supernatural/horror film, and NOT a necessarily gory movie, but just one that intriques and keeps you guessing...and has psychological implications. Plus, the "good versus evil" theme of mankind/writerly ponderings.

Here's two that will keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering and yet scary, atmospheric and somehow...indefinable:

Gothika Probably the all-time BEST one I've ever seen, and I watch it every time it's replayed on any channel.

Favorite quote from movie (Chole is mental patient, Miranda is the shrink in this interview):

Chloe: He came back again last night and tore me like paper. He opened me like a flower of pain, and it felt good. He sank into me and set me on fire, like he always does. Made me burn from the inside out.

Miranda: How did you know it was the devil?


Unspeakable Fascinating, disturbing, (some graphic visuals)...and only seen it for the first time tonight. It reminded me of...a man, KC, whom I once wrote/met in prison...and claimed to have supernatural powers. To this day, I'm not sure he didn't. This film was troubling, penetrating, and left me pondering much of my past...and what has occured in the past two years of my life as it might relate to KC.

Now let's see if I can get a good night's sleep! :-(

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving '06

Five things I'm thankful for today:

1. I'm alive and seemingly healthy

2. I'm financially secure, though not wealthy

3. My six cats and two dogs, and that I can provide
for them

4. My home, my simple lifestyle, my freedom

5. My sisters, though at present there's problems


I'm spending today alone, but I learned long ago there are much worse things than being alone on Holidays. I was estranged from DH's family, and always felt quilty that we didn't participate in their holiday gatherings. Ergo, today NO guilt. SWEET! I miss DH, but not his family nor their guilt trips.

I sometimes enjoyed getting together with my family, but not always. It depended on many factors I don't wish to go into here (since I'm rehashing those in my memoir).

Later, I'm planning on a bike ride in the sunny 60 degree weather, then painting the trimwork in my bathroom (which I've put off too long), taking the dogs on a walk, and last, as I do most every night, continuing writing my memoir.

Yesterday I spent FOUR hours in the dentist chair. He had to remove the temp crowns, since one was not fully covering the partial tooth, and gave me a toothache. Then he worked on the front veneers, which look great. I have another appointment in two weeks to get the permanent crowns, and will schedule more work. I want to get all this expensive dental work finished while I have the excellent Cobra dental coverage. Not to mention getting the most out of the $366.00 a month I pay for it!!

As for food, it'll be light and soft. My mouth is sore, and I don't want to irritate it anymore. Maybe some soup, etc.

I bought an inexpensive MP3 player yesterday, and I LOVE it. I can put so many songs on there, and listen as I work on stuff around here. I never carry it on bike rides though, because I like to be able to listen for traffic. Now I need a new digital camera, and I'm looking for one -- that will be my birthday AND Christmas present this year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who read my blog!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Family Conflicts

So often it happens that when an abusive parent is homeless, few of the siblings want to take them in. Such is the case with my mother. But worse, she has a worthless younger brother (my uncle) who is homeless and seems to have decided he has "squatters' rights" on her own home. She is living with one of my sisters (who is furious and resentful and probably will pay with health problems eventually)...and this worthless uncle has literally taken over her home. In fact, he was a source of friction between my mother/father YEARS ago when I was a child of only six. He is a pain in the @ass. I told him so in no uncertain terms, and were it up to me, I'd have his @ss in jail for trespassing. Instead, I have simply withdrawn from the feud.

Yes, my SISTERS did help me after DH died. I kept apologizing to them that they had to help...although I think I would have managed without them. I'm a survivor. Still, I APPRECIATE what they did -- but you can believe I made sure they got PAID for all they did, in cash. There was NO charity involved.

Am I done yet? No.

It appears there will be no family gathering at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Which suits me fine. Without the crap of the holiday stuff, I can concentrate on my OWN life. I suggested they do the same.

Should you think I'm being unreasonable, just consider this scenario from my memoir:

One night after daddy had left on a long-distance trip, he suddenly reappeared at our backdoor. He whispered my name, and I came to him...and he asked where mother was. I said she was in the living room.

He showed me a gun. He said he was going to kill us all.

I begged him NOT to kill us, and cajoled, pleaded until he said..."Okay, but I want to know why your mother always lies."

(Truth is, she always did...for NO good reason.)

I had no idea what to say...but at the age of only eight, I got him calmed down a bit. I managed to persuade him to take us to my paternal grandmother's house, which he did. But he insisted he was going to kill mother. For once, she didn't escape to the neighbors; instead, she had to go with us in the car. (Most often, when this stuff happened, she would escape to a neighbors and leave us girls to suffer the consequences of daddy's rages.)

We were fortunate to be left with our grandparents, but he took mother with him. And she later said he made her stand in front of the headlights on a deserted country road while he aimed the gun at her.

Yet, she wouldn't leave him, or divorce him...until I FORCED the issue after I graduated high school. We had divorce proceedings in progress when she suddenly let him come back.

That is when I married DH. I simply could not take it any longer.

Today, in most courts, if a wife allows her children to be killed by an abusive husband/boyfriend, she is charged as an accomplice.

How glad I am that SOME laws have addressed this issue.

In some ways, I still feel my mother was a potential accomplice to our possible murder as children. That's not really a mother, is it? Just someone who got pregnant and gave birth, but NOT a parent.

Damn if I'll ever take her in NOW.

On the positive side, my fencing is finished; the dogs LOVE it, and so do I. For once I actually hired the RIGHT professional help. In fact, I think my problem with "hiring people" has been NOT hiring PROFESSIONALS. Sure, it costs a bit more...but you get what you pay for. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Unconditional Love

Three Minutes

Look into their deep, dark eyes
For only three desperate minutes
And you'll see looking back at you
Confusion, sadness, lostness
Of a past human that let them go.

Look into their sweet, simple eyes
For only three long minutes
And you will see haunting you
The eyes of suffering, fear
And hope that you will rescue
Them from a tragic fate.

If you take them home with you
Someday soon you'll see
Looking back at you
The unconditional love
And total acceptance
You'll never get from another
Human being.

Only domestic pets
Whether dogs or cats
Can ever give us humans
The surrender, the trust
Of full acceptance and forever
Eternal unconditional LOVE.

VERY rough day today. Had two crowns pulled off, cavities drilled out, the feeling is just coming back and it throbs awfully.

I DID write the above poem last night in honor of the many pets that have literally "saved my life" over the past 30+ years.
Here's a pix of Oscar in his sweatshirt:


I think for Christmas this year I'll buy a really good digital camera; and get it at Wal-Mart, which at least guarantees returns if the camera is defective. Loved the Nikon I had, but got it online as refurbish and only had a 90 day return.

The older cheap digital is truly having problems, so maybe after the dust settles here from the latest tragedies/fencing improvements/dental work/vision exam, I can afford what I WANT, instead of NEED. A good digital camera.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Hey, this place is going to the dogs! :=)

I'm sitting here at my computer watching Oscar and Rambo have a chew-bone extravaganza. When one tries to snatch the other's chewy stuff, they dodge away or growl. I guess that must be some mighty tasty fun stuff for dogs. They sure do provide lots of zany entertainment for me, like the cats do in the evenings.

So far Oscar seems to be doing exceptionally well after being neutered Wednesday. I put the outside dog-house in the storage house, fixed access, and have food/water out there for when they are in the fenced backyard playing/exercising. Oscar didn't like the windy cold day, and went into the dog-house almost immediately. But Rambo, always energetic/active, ran laps around the yard, played with this toys, and aggravated the dogs across the adjoining backyard fence.

I found some tiny baby outfits at the Salvation Army store the other day, sweatshirts, sweaters for about 50 cents apeice, and they fit both Rambo and Oscar just like the more expensive pet clothing. Oscar has on a sweatshirt right now, and has no problem wearing it. These will be good when it's cold outside.

Otherwise, we're all coping with my step-dad's death. My mother is back home, a younger brother planning to stay with her next week. After that, we'll just have to see what happens. I know she wants to be where my step-dad was last...that's how I felt after my DH died last February. Everyone kept urging me to stay away, and though I knew I'd eventually have to move from the farm, I did want some time there...somehow still feeling close to DH's presence.

I have a slew of appointments lined up the next few weeks: Dental, Vision, etc. AND all the outside work, new fence, seamless gutters, extension to my carport, doggie door. Ah, the fun never ends here. (sarcasm)

Last night my renter brought the rental cash. That's two days ahead of the date to pay, so perhaps I chose wisely in renting to them? Time will tell.

With that, I'll close with this picture of Rambo and Oscar curled up in their favorite chair.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Introducing Oscar

Without further ado:

Oscar...coming atcha!


It's difficult to get a picture of the little rascal, since he's always trotting around, moving.

And now I have to go pick him up from the vet, where Oscar was neutered and checked out yesterday.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Life is nuts!

First, my step-dad who had NO symptoms of being sick or unhealthy, passed away in his sleep last Sunday night. My mother found him the next morning, dead beside her, and thus ensued several days of shock, grief, misery, the ritutal religious customs (funeral/burial), family gatherings, turmoil, confusion...all the usual emotional/financial upheaval dealing with death.

My mother cannot live alone; my step-dad was her support system, since he could drive, etc. Now we (the four daughters) are faced with a delimma...of how mother's life will unfold. She is 75, diabetic, disabled, and will have very little income. Her home is mortgaged to the hilt, and it looks like disaster is looming.

Due to our horrific childhood (dad alcoholic, mother enabler) we all have our various hang-ups in trying to care for her. Absolutely, I cannot have her live with me; the resentment about our scary, abusive childhood would surface soon, and I'd be a basket-case. Additionally, I'm still trying to cope with my OWN loss of a beloved spouse.

Otherwise, I've inherited my step-dad's miniature daschund who has become a buddy to Rambo. Picture coming soon. Oscar, the daschund, hasn't been neutered...ergo, I must have that done at the vet tomorrow, as well as an overall checkup and preventative shots. Woe is me. BUT Rambo seems happier with Oscar as a playmate, so all is not lost.

Life gets too confusing makes you wonder if there is some frenetic jester in control who loves to stir up trouble. And this has been the WORST year of my life, though I would have never thought one could be worse than 2005.

Somewhere the Gods (if there are any) are laughing their @sses off.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Rambo still Rules...

Considering I never had a small, companion dog, I'm sure enthralled with Rambo!! He continues to fascinate me with his antics, and his intelligence. I can't believe how emotionally bonded we've become...but suffice to say, he and I are BOTH enjoying ourselves.

Rambo was neutered last week, and recovered quickly. He was heart-worm negative, and I have him on preventive medication to rid him of fleas/ticks/internal parasites.

Here's a picture I took today with my cheap digital camera of Rambo and I...

Rambo gets a hug!

More good news: I went to a new dentist, and since I still have Cobra medical/dental/vision insurance, will get new, bright white veneers for my upper front teeth covered at 100%! I do have two crowns needing replacement on my lower left side, but my share of the cost is not very steep. Unfortunately, I'm in for several sessions with the dentist -- but this one uses "gas" for relieving anxiety. Whoopee!

I've scheduled wooden fencing/doggie door installation two weeks from now, so I can have a dog run/place for Rambo to go and and come at will. Also, will have an addition to the carport in front of the house, an awning-type cover, so my car will be have a place out of the weather. And the seamless gutters installed within two weeks also. Looks like November will be a noisy, busy time for home improvements here!

I've been riding the bike daily, then taking Rambo on long walks around the blocks here afterward. He LOVES that, and it's more good exercise for me.

That's it for tonight. Chilly autumn nights, glorious days...Autumn is spectacular here in the South.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Rambo...a Keeper!

Yep, he's all settled in -- and we're bonded. And while I say he's the "perfect little dog," he does have quirks. He IS house-trained, but I still have to take him out early in the morning, late at night.

Rambo is not fond of the cats, nor do they like him. Kitten was very curious about him, since she's never been around a dog in her life. Soon as she got close enough for a "sniff" though, she hissed. Slinky growls worse than Rambo, so he leaves her alone. He mostly scares them with his bark, but sooner or later, maybe they'll adjust. If not, maybe I can keep them apart...though over long enough time, they may call a truce.

I had a remodeling guy out here this morning, and he'll give me an estimate on taking out these two windows in the den/dining area, putting in French doors and building a smallish deck on back. I will have a small doggie door put in to, for Rambo; then he can come and go as necessary. He loves to run and play in the fenced yard, but doesn't like to stay out too long if it's cold or raining. I have an insulated dog house out there, with thick pillow/blanket, and he can get in there if he wishes...but I could never leave him out all the time. He can do some of the cutest antics, a real jester. He prances at times, doesn't know he's a little dog, and barks at any and all dogs in the neighborhood. I bought him a harnass the other day, just in case I decide to take him on walks in the neighborhood.

Tomorrow morning he'll be taken to the vet for neutering, and a thorough checkup. He sure seems healthy to me though.

This afternoon I have a dental appointment for a cleaning. I've been having problems with my bottom teeth, the enamel is wearing down and there's sharp places that irritate my mouth. I know I'm going to have to spend serious money on getting all that remedied, but dread it!!!

And that's about it for now.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another dog here...

Yeah, I just keep trying to find the dog I want.

And though it may be premature, I think I found him today: at the local animal shelter. His name is Rambo, he's a Miniature Pinscher, and has the sweetest, lovable nature of any dog I've ever known. He loves to be cuddled, and loves lying my lap. He has obviously been socialized (the shelter people said he must have gotten lost from his owners, or they abandoned him but he'd been there a long while, and his days were numbered) is outgoing, but also quiet-natured. He likes to play, but he'd rather cuddle. After paying the fee at the animal shelter, I took him by the vet for a rabies shot/checkup, and next week he'll be neutered. First I want to spoil him here, and let him settle in a little.

I still have the crate I got for Otter, which is huge, so I'll try to crate train him, and allow him and the cats to get acquainted...gradually, and without direct contact. Rambo is definitely going to be an indoor dog, my doubt.

Here's his picture from the shelter:

Meet Rambo!

He weighs only 10-12 lbs, and I could actually get him in my small cat carrier! :-) I can easily pick him up, and he isn't a biter/nippy, lets anyone hold him or tote him without trouble.

I am SO happy I found the little rascal.

More later!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Unexpected Grief

Sometimes you think you are doing fine, coping with the loss as a widow, and then, bam!, right out of the blue it's as if someone hit you in the gut with a sledghammer. Such was one of my intense moments today.

Not that it is bad in all ways, because it wasn't. In fact, in one aspect, it was a HAPPY event, something I know DH would have been satisfied with.

I got my mail this afternoon, and saw an envelope from the young couple who bought our farm. I knew it was a wedding announcement, since they were only living together, not married. When I opened it up, there was the most BEAUTIFUL picture of the barn DH had started and the couple had finished. It looked just like DH would have wanted it to, and I gasped, happy/sad at the same instant. Happy because I knew the couple (the boy knew DH well, went horseback riding with him often) had created exactly the barn DH would have, had he lived.

Sad, bereft that DH wasn't here to see it, to realize his dream HAD come true...just like he'd always imagined it!!! The big barn was his fondest dream, and he couldn't have done a better job of it himself had he been here.

This is what the announcement said:

The couple's name above the barn picture

And then inside:

Come celebrate a new beginning with a wedding reception for _____ and ______ at their barn for a "hoe-down" on Friday October 27, 2006 at 7:30 p.m.

I am definitely going to be there, and tell them what a WONDERFUL job they've done with the barn AND the old farmhouse and the land. I can't wait to see them, and their parents. At least one of my sisters and brother-in-law will go with me, today, I'll probably burst into tears.

I KNOW they will be happy there, and whatever was in that farmhouse, on the land, haunting me and DH has gone.

I only wish I could tell DH about this, and share it with him. I hope he would have been satisfied with who has the place now, and how much they wanted to please him with their hard work and efforts. I know I will be sure to tell them how much it means to me and would have meant to DH.

Friday, October 13, 2006

House is rented

In the post below, WHO would you choose to rent the house?

I finally decided on the young couple -- the guy and the pregnant girlfriend. She wanted the house SO MUCH, and upon close inspection of their application, he has a good-paying plant job (as forklift operator) and I wanted to give them a chance/break. At some point, someone HAS to trust you when you start I decided I would give them that chance.

We shall see how it works out. They had the first month's rent and cash. That is a fairly good sign.

Stay tuned for what happens in the future.

Monday, October 09, 2006

WORSE Than a Hard Day's Night!

I really didn't think it would be so difficult to rent the house; honestly, I didn't. And it's not even that there aren't prospects, there are! In one weekend, I had three different people want to apply for the rental. Today, Monday, I met them -- and it has shattered my confidence in being able to choose a reliable renter.

Shall I introduce you to the people? Of course.

First there is the "retired" gentleman, age 58, who has had two heart attacks, claims he is retired as a sales rep for a well-known nationwide business. He moved to a nearby large city from Florida, but doesn't like where he is living and wants to move to a "smaller town." On the surface, he seems middle-class, perhaps well-off financially...charming, and as we talk, he says he's so certain he'd like living in the rental house, he'll write me a check on the spot. OR he'll pay the ENTIRE year's rent right now. [At first, I'm excited...then recall the worst "renter-from-hell" movie ever "Pacific Heights" in which almost this exact scenario occurs and the guy gets in, then his check bounces and ergo, chaos ensues when the young couple (landlords) can't get this nutcase out of their house.] I declined, told him to fill out the application, which he did half-heartedly. Upon close inspection later, it looks like the man doesn't have any income except $895.00 from "other sources."

Second there is a young couple who looked at the house Sunday afternoon, and said "their parents" needed to see it today. The young lady is pregnant, abundantly so, and the young man (both in very early 20s) looks like he'd rather be ANYWHERE else than trying to rent a house for them to live in. He shuffles from foot to foot, anxious, worried...a look not unlike a deer caught in the headlights in his eyes. The couple (not married) are now living with HER mom, but his parents also want a look-see, and since the young prego girl is SO anxious and excited about the house, they all (no surprise) like it too. The thing is, I felt sorry for the girl and boy -- for her, that she didn't have sense enough to get married and have adequate housing BEFORE becoming pregnant. Him, because he obviously is feeling trapped and (I fear) at the first chance will bolt. Leaving the girl and a screaming, hungry baby to fend for themselves. He does have a good-paying plant job, but the salary would not be enough to pay the rent AND provide for essentials. It goes without saying the girl had no job.

Third was a mid-40s couple who looked like they'd seen the hind-end of life and made extremely BAD decisions to boot. The man was a talker, likeable and kept up the conversation throughout the whole time. The woman just walked through the house continuously, looking wistful and sad. They both work full-time, but seemed evasive about actually filling out the application, which I gave them anyway. The woman seemed so very sad, and I felt bad about realizing they probably couldn't rent the house.

In short, I don't think I'm cut out to be a rental agent. I have too much compassion for the sad stories, sad people, and it overcomes my better judgement. Thus, I'm thinking about turning the rental house over to a real estate agency to manage. Better to let them take a percentage of the rental fee than to lose it all because I'm a sucker for a sad story and hopeless cases. Not to mention the emotional toll this took on me when I'm already emotionally vulnerable. Bad day, sad stories, NOT fun. And I haven't even run an ad, just put a "For Rent" sign in the yard!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Hard day's night...

Long, long week of hard labor on the rental house. Don't even feel like writing about it, I'm so tired. But now the place is ready to show...

I have had several people interested, but I'm being selective, since I DO want at least a year's lease and someone without children. Would like to have either a single male or female (who can do the lawn care) in there, and I'm fairly sure I'll get exactly that.

Gotta close, late and I need some rest!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ain't That Lonely Yet...

Too busy to be lonely. LOTS of work at the rental house, every day more and more cleaning. I finished painting the foundation this afternoon, still more to do inside.

It was sad the first afternoon after my renter left; we hugged and cried, remembering DH. But I'm moving on, doing my best to get the house ready for the next renter.

Thinking of meeting online male friends, I had to post the lyrics from a Dwight Yoakam song. Just subsititute "he" for "her." and "man" for "girl." Men are fun, but "I'm not that lonely yet..."

--Dwight Yoakam

You keep calling me on the telephone
You say you're all alone well that's real sad
And you keep leavin' notes stuck on my door
Guess you're hungry for some more, girl that's too bad.

'Cause I ain't that lonely, yet
No, I ain't that lonely yet
After what you put me through
Oh, I ain't that lonely, yet.

--- Instrumental ---

Once there was this spider in my bed
I got caught up in her web of love and lies
She spun her chains around my heart and soul
Never to let go, oh, but I survived.

'Cause I ain't that lonely, yet
No, I ain't that lonely, yet
After what you put me through
Oh, I ain't that lonely, yet.

There's nothing left that you can do
To try and bring me around
'Cause everything you do just brings me down.

Oh, well I ain't that lonely, yet
No, I ain't that lonely, yet
After what you put me through
Oh, I ain't that lonely, yet.

'Cause I ain't that lonely, yet
No, I ain't that lonely, yet
After what you put me through
Oh, I ain't that lonely, yet.

'Cause I ain't that lonely, yet
No, I ain't that lonely, yet
After what you put me through
Oh, I ain't that lonely, yet.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Friday....THE Big Day!

If everything goes according to my renter's plans, she'll be handing me the keys to my house around noon Friday. This will only be the second time I've been in there since DH and I moved out nearly three years ago. I biked past there earlier, and felt expectant, not really anxious. I always loved living there, and DH and I were happy in that house for 28 years. Though we weathered the usual ups and downs, there were no awful tragedies, like what happened at the farm. It will be interesting to see how I feel as I walk through the empty house for the first time, yet I may be so focused on what needs cleaning/updating, I might forget the emotional impact. I'll know soon though.

Today I spent several hours printing out the rental application/information, and will put the "For Rent" sign up Friday in the yard, with a few applications attached in plastic. I also need to get the gas/power transferred to my name, until I find a renter.

And now...for something I was hestitant about posting here. But what the heck...

Saturday night I met a very nice man with whom I'd gotten acquainted via the internet. He lives just across the county line on a 40 acre farm, we had some things in common, he's same age, so we met for coffee (yes, in a public place in my town). He was extremely well-mannered, polite, soft-spoken, easy on the eyes AND even opened doors for me. Been a loooong time since a man did that for me! Will we meet again? I don't know. He was very compassionate about DH, listened while I talked and talked about him...and I found that wonderful. I was afraid he'd think my unending praise of DH to be a bore, but quite the contrary, he could understand -- his wife was killed in a car accident years ago. It's really up to me, whether we see each other again...and I haven't made a decision yet.

Now, as I've written previously, I WILL NEVER marry again. Nor will I live with a man, or have one living with me. But if I learned one thing from DH's sudden death, no one is promised tomorrow. Time is fleeting, and we do not have unlimited, endless days, years in which to sit around and bemoan our fate. I want companionship, and since I really have no close girlfriends (and yes, my family has been wonderful but they do have their own lives too) would be pleasant to enjoy a Sunday afternoon drive, or a good movie, or dinner with a gentleman friend now and then. I only dated two boys before I married DH at the age of 19, and in some ways, that was a mistake. I've been granted a chance to meet interesting people now, on my own terms, and that is ALL I'm planning to do -- have a few male friends whose company I enjoy.

Additionally, as soon as I get the renter house ready and rented, I plan to start looking for employment, even if part-time. It will get me out of the house, and help pay the exorbitant Cobra medical insurance.

I'm still writing the memoir, and it is coming along...but oh-so-slowly. Like pulling teeth at times, not the happiest topic I've ever engaged!

Tomorrow my sister and brother-in-law will be here; he is supposed to pressure-wash the vinyl on my brick house, and mow the yard. This past weekend we had severe storms and gully-washer rains...the grass has grown a lot. The autumn weather is here now, and I LOVE the cool, fresh breeze, letting it sweep through my open windows every day and night.

Now I'm heading for a shower and then some TV viewing -- if there's anything on tonight.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Long delay in posting

But I DO have reasons: I've been a painting fool lately. Our weather has been so nice, I had no excuse to put off some painting.

I have a small storage building out back, and though it has some leaks, the rusted spots on the outside made it an eyesore. Ergo, I painted it with tile red oil-based paint I had left over from the red barn at our farm. That was a two-day job, done entirely by brush! Whew! It looks GREAT though, and I'll try to get some pictures soon.

The cool breeze meant I could also open my windows/doors and finally paint the exterior doors on the back and front of my house. That was another two-day job, two coats, done with a brush. I painted the doors a dark grey, and will also paint the shutters the same shade -- which matches the dark grey roof and some darkish bricks on the house. Then I plan to have grey seamless gutters all across the front of the house (which is needed for drainage problems) and that should give the exterior an entire MAKE-OVER! Will have pictures when it's all done.

Unfortunately it turned warmer today, humid, and uncomfortable outside. I did some errands/shopping in town, and hope to just stay indoors this weekend since we're supposed to get rain, whoopee! My memoir is coming along, but still slow-going.

Cats are well. Family is fine. What else is there to say? Life goes and goes...until one day, it's all over. Till then, we just keep on keeping on...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Best EVER bike ride!

We had a looong day of much-needed rain today, downpours which continued until around 6 o'clock. I had to drive to a my G.P.'s office for my regular six-month checkup in a drenching white-out -- since I found a great female doctor near the small town where we owned the farm. She is so understanding though, that I want to continue seeing her as my primary physician. Everything is fine, my health seems good, and in mid-October I'll have a blood test done just to make sure there's no problems.

At any rate, though I like the doctor, I've realized I HATE going anywhere near that farm; it is SO depressing, because I keep having flashbacks of the frantic middle-of-the-night trips taking DH to the ER and how scared we both were. That place has bad 'ju-ju', so far as I'm concerned.

When I got home, I did a few household chores, talked to my sister on the phone, ate a bite for supper...and then, since the rain had almost stopped, I took off on my bike. My FAVORITE time to ride is when it's cool and a fine mist is falling; PERFECT! And that is exactly how it was this afternoon...ideal. The droplets of mist hit my hat, keeping the moisture off my face, and the cool misty air prevented me even working up a sweat. I LOVE that kind of ride, but it seldom happens!

Got to go now, get busy on my memoir. My doctor asked me today if I'd been able to write (she knows I'm a writer) and I told her about the memoir. She thinks it is great I'm writing again, and the last thing she said when I left was, "I want to read that book when you're finished." that a great doctor, or what?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Are you a nerd?

Here's my results of a test to determine how "nerdy" I am:

I am nerdier than 76% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

About 9/11

Let me just say, as a fairly recent widow, that I think there is entirely TOO MUCH coverage EVERY year about 9/ll. I'm having enough trouble adjusting to the death/loss of my husband, but at least I don't have to watch a "new version" of his death every year on TV. For God's sake, how many, many more versions can there be of that awful day? Give it a rest, I say.

How much of it is politically motivated? MOST of it, I think. Whipping up a Bush supporter base because the elections in November are important to those morons who think the Repugs have fought terrorism successfully. Smoke and mirrors will help cover up the fact that there was NO REASON to overthrow Sadddam in Iraq, of what a horrifying MESS that is, and will remain, for years.

Oh yeah, and about those falling gas prices -- I'm sure it has nothing to do with the upcoming elections in November! (sarcasm)

My life goes on, and I'm still writing the memoir. I'm into Chapter Four, but it's still slow-going. I just read a heart-wrenching memoir (always read/study similar material to what I'm writing) titled, "The Glass House." A must-read for anyone who came from an impoverished, neglectful childhood.

Enough ranting. It's in the wee hours of the morning, and I'm about to finally shut off this laptop and go to sleep.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fun Labor Day

I had a fun day Monday with family. Lots of laughter, talking, EATING! I ate too much, and if I don't watch myself, I'll have to endure the dreadful "cabbage soup" diet again soon.

Here's a photo of me and my nephew's daughter, Sarah. She is only a child, but stuck by my side, giving me tips on not drowning in the pool. I can't swim, hence the life-jacket. Pitiful, but I had fun anyhow and DID get in the pool!

The memoir is coming along; I'm on the last part of Chapter Three. Dredging up old childhood memories isn't all happy and light work, but I am handling it well. Still feel this IS the right time to get this down in writing.

Our weather is a bit cooler, even a hint of fall in the early mornings since overnight temps are in the 50s. Hope we get an early autumn. I'm able to go on my bike ride earlier, around six o'clock instead of seven.

With that, I'm otta here for now.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Brief Update

Finally, finally....finally I am writing daily again. Hurrah! I was afraid I'd never find my voice again, or be able to actually stick with a project. (Not counting the numerous entries at this journal, that is.) And while I'm not sure how long it will take to finish the memoir, it FEELS right, moving along almost effortlessly.

I usually spend part of my afternoon making notes, either from my memory or stuff my family remembers when I ask. Then I go on the bike ride by the old neighborhood, carefully observing everything -- surprisingly little has changed. I see little kids playing, and it's as if they are US, staring, yearning, hoping, wishing...making believe they aren't living in poverty.

Around ten, I get ready for bed, then sit down in my comfortable chair in my bedroom, and fire up the laptop and write, write, write. The memoir is taking shape -- each chapter has three parts, and moves time forward, as well as exploring various people, places, events, family trouble, dysfunctional neighbors on the block, etc. I have even located two of the children I grew up with there who are in prison for murder. I sure know how THAT could have happened, coming from abusive, violent, most often alcoholic homes.

I am not sure what I'll eventually do with the manuscript. One of my nephews, who is in college studying architecture, has taken an interest in creative writing. He is writing stories occasionally, and if he continues to show signs of the writerly affliction (as well as becoming an architect), I may leave ALL my past and future work to him. Some of it is already online, but I could still arrange for him to have CDs of my work to do with as he wishes in the future. Time will tell, I suppose. I've never had the great ambition necessary to pursue print publication, and don't see it developing at this late age.

Otherwise, life goes on smoothly here. I'm thinking of turning the rental house over to a real estate agency to manage for a small commission. They screen tenants, do credit/background checks, handle all the tenant/financial details...and I can deduct the fee at income tax time. I'll decide when my tenant is gone, at the end of September.

Our family has a get-together planned for Labor Day. A nearby sister and brother-in-law just had an above ground pool installed, and invited us to come there for a cook-out, and to enjoy the pool. I don't know if they can get me in the pool (I can't swim), it just depends on my mood that day! The only bad thing about family get-togethers these days is that it makes me miss DH more; it always seems he should be in the other room, or just out of sight, teasing the kids, wrestling with the teens, which they loved. Everyone misses him so much!

I haven't started on the novel about the past two years, but I am thinking of leaving that for November and NanoWrimo -- an online group who strive to write the rough draft of an entire novel during that month. Could be a fun challenge too.

As some of you know, I collect news articles about people who live past 100 -- and the enormous farce that we can "control" our lifespan by diet, etc. Yes, I DO believe in eating sensibly, exercising daily, avoiding being overweight (I've had bouts with anorexia)...but in truth, I have begun to wonder if we all aren't "destined" to die at a certain time. Fate, if you will, determines our lifespan. Or maybe Karma. Who knows? I do believe genetics play a large part in a few deadly diseases (such as what happened to my DH), but genes alone DO NOT determine longevity. I read an article about that recently too, and when identical twins were studied, it was found that one usually died a decade or more before the other. Genetically, they are as close to similar as you can get.

At any rate, here is another article with a curious situation of a man who lived past 100:

Man Lives to 112 Despite Junk-Food Diet

Sep 1, 2:00 PM (ET)


LOS ANGELES (AP) - George Johnson, considered California's oldest living person at 112 and the state's last surviving World War I veteran, had experts shaking their heads over his junk food diet.

"He had terrible bad habits. He had a diet largely of sausages and waffles," Dr. L. Stephen Coles, founder of the Gerontology Research Group at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Friday.

The 5-foot-7, 140-pound Johnson died of pneumonia Wednesday at his Richmond home in Northern California.

"A lot of people think or imagine that your good habits and bad habits contribute to your longevity," Coles said. "But we often find it is in the genes rather than lifestyle."

Johnson, who was blind and living alone until his 110th birthday when a caregiver began helping him, built the Richmond house by hand in 1935. He got around using a walker in recent years.

Johnson was the only living Californian considered a "supercentenarian," a designation for those ages 110 or older, Coles said. His group is now in the process of validating a Los Angeles candidate who claims to be 112 years old.

Coles participated in an autopsy Thursday that was designed to study Johnson's health.

"All of his organs were extremely youthful. They could have been the organs of someone who was 50 or 60, not 112. Clearly his genes had some secrets," Coles said.

"Everything in his body that we looked at was clean as a whistle, except for his lungs with the pneumonia," Coles said. "He had no heart disease, he had no cancer, no diabetes and no Alzheimer's.

"This is a mysterious case that someone could be so healthy from a pathology point of view and that there is no obvious cause of death."

The family was in favor of an autopsy. Relatives said Johnson wanted them to allow it if it would help science.

Born May 1, 1894, Johnson's father managed the Baltimore and Ohio Railway station in Philadelphia.

Johnson was working in 1917 as a mail sorter for the U.S. Post Office when he was drafted into the Army. The war ended a year later, and he never served in combat.

Two years later, he and his wife moved to Northern California.

"It was a great adventure in those days. We were young and wanted the experience," Johnson said in a March interview with the Contra Costa Times.

The couple settled in Fresno and remained there until 1935, when they bought property in Richmond. They used lumber salvaged from dismantled buildings to build their house.

During World War II, Johnson worked at the Kaiser shipyard in Richmond and later managed the heating plant at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland.

He remained in good health and continued driving until he was 102, when his vision began to fail.

Johnson's wife died in 1992 at the age of 92. The couple had no children.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

In the Box

I've just finished reading the two writing books I'd mentioned in a previous post. And I'm about to start writing again. It has finally dawned on me that ALL the transition I've been making since DH died was to put myself in a box, create space/time to write again. Sometimes the subconscious moves us without our being entirely conscious of what we are doing -- similar to a hot, productive creative writing session!

I have two projects that I will work on daily: finishing my memoir and a new novel about the last two years. The memoir MUST be written now, while I'm biking daily into the old neighborhood where I grew up -- so many, many memories come flooding back in vivid detail. My family lived in a rental house there from the time I was six until I had graduated high school. Really, the majority of my childhood and teen years were spent in that neighborhod -- which is about six blocks from where I live now. I had stopped my memoir at just the point we'd moved to that house, and now is the time to continue.

The other new novel is going to be fiction, but closely following all that happened in the past two years -- including DH's death, though all characters will be fictionalized, not real.

If this journal isn't updated regularly, consider it GOOD NEWS, for it simply means I'm writing daily.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Writing Exercise

Writing Prompt: Imagine you are looking at a notice on a bulletin board. It tells about the end of the world. Write anything. 25 minutes.

Fear. Relief. Joy. Sadness. Sorrow. Panic. Happiness. Acceptance.

Fear: Because it is human nature to fear the unknown, to fear the abyss in which the ego self has been demolished. Because it is human to think there is no end. Human to be overly optimistic, to think the world will go on, that the earth and humanity are special, without end. Fear that there will be personal pain, suffering for oneself and all others. Fear that no one will rescue us now, the aliens haven't landed (and if they did, they were hostile), God doesn't exist (why would He let this happen), there is no Heaven, no Hell....unless it is in this moment of clarity, of realization there is NO TOMORROW for humanity.

Relief: Because now each of us has no more burdens, no more suffering, no more hopes, dreams, desires, vanity, evil, grand schemes, romance, love, salvation, worry, pain, mortal hungers and lostness. At last, we as a species have found our resting place, along with the dinosaurs and all extinct species.

Joy: Because humanity has finally ended in oblivion, ended the long adventure in flesh that always results in death of physical beings. No more pain, no more mortal suffering of the flesh, no more false hopes in religion, spiritual dreams, imaginary realms.

Sadness: Because the human animal has now proven that no intelligent species can survive beyond the vanishing point of its own creation. No sentient witnesses to the glory that was Earth, Universe, Cosmos. Ended as it began with coincidence.

Sorrow: Because we humans didn't understand the beauty, the melancholy of our own sweet, sad existence. Some do, but the majority don't. Most are too busy with survival (translated today to mean MONEY), having luxuries beyond ridiculous, striving for something that doesn't exist: security. Only in the exact moment of perishing do we humans realize our doom, and our ignorance and futile striving leads to nothing except death. (True even without the end of the world.)

Panic: Because for one split second we have glimpsed our narrow, useless lives as they truly are on the grand scheme of an indifferent cosmos and know we are meaningless. Nothing more than ants, eliminated in a nanosecond.

Happiness: Because for millions and millions of starving humans and animals, reprieve has come at long last. Deliverance is at hand, they will suffer no more.

Acceptance: A sweet surrender, serenity, detachment and knowing that in the grand scheme of the cosmos,humanity is about to be declared a failure. No need to fight, to argue, debate, nor cry...for it ends soon in the dark night of nothingness.

Unfortunately it didn't work out with Otter. I felt he was regressing instead of progressing. Plus, I just couldn't lift him, even fell once trying, and he simply would not budge sometimes on the leash. At least I know he is where he grew up, in familiar territory: the vet's. Maybe, he is like me, and sometimes there is no way to change such nervous, anxious behavior?

My knees have been killing me lately, due to all the crouching to get underneath the house to put out water for Ottie. At least that is what started it, but now the pain persists. If it continues, I'll have to see a doctor.

We had rain for two days, which has helped with the dry conditions, but not enough.

So it goes...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dog Days of August

What an apt title for today's entry! I'm still struggling along with Otter, even with his hang-ups and neurotic behavior. I thought cats had the corner on neurosis, but Ottie puts them to shame. I haven't given up, but have moments when I think I must have lost my mind to have gotten a dog -- especially one with serious "issues."

Here's how it goes with him and me: He sleeps underneath the cool house all day, then comes out when it's dark. No matter how I try to entice him out in daylight, he just won't come out. Probably that is due to the sweltering heat during the day, and him staying up all night romping in the cool night air, rolling in the damp grass, being brave when it's quiet. I go out there about an hour after dark, call him and he comes running eagerly; he loves being petted, is very affectionate, lets me rub his belly while he's rollling around on the ground. He has now found his full-voice bark, and will occasionally race over to the fence, and bark deep and low, which sounds ominous! I wouldn't want to meet up with him if I were an intruder, though he'd probably just run and hide under the house. However, he seems much braver at night.

I stay out there a couple hours, dressed in long pants and long-sleeve shirt, in order to prevent being bitten by the hoard of buzzing mosquitoes. He plays like a puppy, fetching a ball when I toss it; dragging his toy bones to a hiding place, burying them one night, digging them up the next. And he runs, runs, runs. Maybe I should have him at a race track; I've never seen a dog run so fast. Sometimes he'll just run big circles around a tree in the back yard, as if he can't enough of his own physical power! Perhaps this is due to him being raised in a crate, not having access to outdoors where he could run freely?

Tonight I plan to put his halter on, tighten it better, use the leash to walk beside him around the fence. I'm hoping gradually he can adjust to my pace, and I can control him better. Eventually I will try to change his routine (eating/sleeping) to day instead of night. According to the books I've read about shy dogs, this may take months...and I don't know if I have that kind of patience. The jury is still out, and I don't know if he'll be here indefinitely.

Otherwise, I went to Books-a-Million yesterday, spent a long time browsing. I bought two great books by writers about writing:

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamont
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg

I'm reading "Bird by Bird" first, and here's a quote I just couldn't resist:

"One of the things that happens when you give yourself permission to start writing is that you start thinking like a writer. You start seeing eveything as material. Sometimes you'll sit down or go walking and your thoughts will be on one aspect of your work, or one idea you have for a small scene, or a general portrait of one of the characters you are working with, or you'll just be completely blocked and hopeless and wondering why you shouldn't just go into the kitchen and have a nice glass of warm gin straight out of the cat dish. And then, unbidden, seemingly out of nowhere, a thought or image arrives. Some will float into your head like goldfish, lovely, bright orange, and weightless, and you follow them like a child looking at an aquarium that was thought to be without fish. Others will step out of the shadows like Boo Radley and make you catch your breath or take a step backward. They're often so rich, these unbidden thoughts, and so clear that they feel indelible. But I say write them all down anyway."

Now then, I find this happens less often in the past few years. I've only written short stories and poetry during this time, but I KNOW that the real-life experiences I have had in the past three years ARE novel material. And while I'm not totally obsessed with it, the basic idea is floating around somewhere in my subconscious. I NEED to get started on it, even if just outlining a general plot and where it might lead. Of course, there will be supernatural aspects, since something inexplicable DID happen to my husband and I during our time in the old farmhouse. I have PROOF. From past owners, right up to my husband's death. Signs, for lack of a better term. I don't even know how to begin, but the storyline will follow closely all our experiences -- and most of those are captured here in this blog. All I have to do is go back and re-read them, if my memory fails me.

The other night I was dozing, almost asleep when this poem demanded I get up and write -- then and there. {All this writerly behavior is seen by some as totally selfish, self-centered; but it is necessary if you become a writer. Friends get upset with your absence; family wonders if you're daffy; and people in general wonder if you are a potential ax-murderer, since you are anti-social and a loner! Such is our cross to bear.}

Speed of Light

Moving in a blur
Faster and faster,
Don't look back
Get caught unaware
Soon, I'll be in a snare
Of loss, heartache & tears.

Dance, laugh, live
In dizzy wildness,
Don't look too close
Or I'll drown down
Into those sad memories.

Move, stay busy, crazy,
Never let yesterday
Catch up and overtake
Me. Spin, tilt, twirl
Like those glittering stars,
Distant, cold, untouched
By human sadness, suffering.
Stars, Time, Life,
Moving at the speed of light
Destined to burn brightly
Then die, done forever, silenced
Like you were one February night.

As painful as the past three years have been, it will be a sad journey to revisit and create/shape a novel out of the wrenching experiences. But maybe that is my way of getting through it, past it?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Brief Update

Hmm, been a few days of "dog adjustments" going on here, too busy to write an update. Otter is still here, though it appears he prefers to be an outside dog. I had a big dog-house sitting near the back of my house (which is always shaded) as well as a securely fenced yard. A couple nights ago I took him out around 10:00 at night, and he had a great time -- ran, ran and ran. I couldn't believe how FAST he could run; he'd circle the yard, come back to me and let me pet him, then off he'd go again. He has figured out he has space to RUN, and I've always thought dogs and horses should have plenty of safe space to RUN!

Anyway, he came back inside willingly that night, but seemed depressed the next day indoors. When we went out the next night, he simply would NOT come back indoors. So I allowed him to stay out there, and due to the heat, gave him access to get underneath the house...which is rather high off the ground and cool during the day. He is adjusting, though still doesn't like loud noises during the day and will hide. It is definitely going to take some TIME to help him, and I don't think he'll ever be a "normal" dog...but he does have so much fun at night. He will lie on his back, let me rub his belly, then lick my hands, almost like a "normal" dog. I love seeing him happy like that, and last night he even barked a couple times: low, deep "woof, woof," when he was patroling the edge of the chainlink fence.

It's LOTS of trouble and effort, like just about ANY living creature is. I'm not giving up on him, but if I ever think he'd be happier at the vet's I'll take him back there. Imagine living his whole life in a crate, with just intermittent periods of exercise/voiding. He is just discovering he can "run with wolves" at night, and I don't want to do anything to discourage him getting his exercise.

During the days though he wants to hide, and lawnmowers, etc. scare him. As long as he has his "safe place" (under the house in a crate) I think he feels okay. Time will tell, I suppose. I DID put a leather collar with his rabies tag/name tag on it just in case he should escape.

Otherwise, it's hot as Hades here. We have been getting thundershowers late in the afternoon, which helps somewhat. Horrible during the day. I guess it has nothing to do with global warming though. (sarcasm) Try to imagine EVERY summer being this HOT and DRY, and you may understand what the next generation will have for an environment.

Thank goodness I got moved back to town before the gas prices started soaring and soaring. No relief in sight on that front either.

And that's it for today, since my sister and nephew are arriving shortly. Jonathan goes back to college next weekend, so this will be his last visit for awhile.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Otter is home

Wow, what a hectic Saturday! I went to pick up Otter at Pet Depot, and he wasn't there yet so I visited Big Lots next door. While shopping, I ran into my uncle; then while we were talking, I saw my mother-in-law enter the store. Now, I've never had a good relationship with her, and see no reason to start now that DH is dead.

But, as ever, I was polite and talked a few moments with her. I asked if she'd visited the VA and ordered the footstone she'd wanted to put near DH's dad's grave. She said she had...and then dropped this bombshell: their family was thinking of getting a headstone for DH -- a double one, so my name could be put on it when I died. Um, what do you say to that? I was aghast, probably just mumbled, "Whatever."

The thing is, DH and I had talked about this lots and lots of times and he said over and over HE DID NOT WANT TO BE BURIED IN THAT CEMETERY. No more than I want to be buried in the cemetery ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTY where MY father is buried. So I'm in a quandry: Should I just ignore what they intend to do, or let my mother-in-law know that DH WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED a headstone. The footstone from the VA I think is okay; DH did serve during the Vietnam Era War. But to go so far as to put a headstone where NO BODY OR ASHES will ever be? That seems a bit extreme...and a waste of money, space and worse, just plain ridiculous. I'm debating what to do.

Back to Otter, he's a perfect pet. No barking. I've never heard him utter ONE bark, though he will occasionally whine when I am out of his sight. The Pet Depot was a mad-house Saturday; the local animal welfare organization had about ten dogs, numerous cats/kittens and all were excited. Dogs barking, except Otter. I got him a bit later, and brought him home. Of course, he's going through a period of adjustment, but so far, so good. He is the sweetest, quietest dog imaginable, and I love him to pieces.

I haven't introduced him to the cats, though I have had his "smell" on me when with the cats, and the cat's smell on me when with him, and none of them seem upset. Today I bought a huge crate at Tractor Supply, and when I eventually introduce them, I'll have Otter securely in the crate until I feel sure they can all get along. Or not. For now, Otter (or "Ottie" as the rescue people called him) is living part-time in my empty bedroom.

Also, it turns out that my vet raised him from a tiny pup. Someone dumped him there, and they took him in, raised him; he's spent his entire life of one-and-a-half years in the vet's boarding quarters. His health is superb, but of course, staying in such an environment, he has "emotional" issues. He's lovable (due to some attention by the vet and family and assistants) but also feels more "secure" in a small, confined space. Outdoors he is very nervous. I don't know that some of this behavior can be changed, but heck, he reminds me more of a cat than a dog! Scared of everything!

We'll see, and time will tell. For now, it's great to have him here and enjoy learning about him, trying to help him feel secure and loved.