My Novels

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday night

It was indeed a sad time at the funeral home visitation; everyone was in the same shock as when DH died. Walking around in a daze, zombie-like, and looking like they hadn't slept since the news arrived.

I, however, was much more emotional. I don't know why it hit me so hard, but I just started crying and really had a difficult time getting control of myself. I suppose it was partly just knowing what my sister-in-law will have to go through; there's no words really to explain that to anyone, even if you wish you could. Even nearly two years later, I think I'm just starting to truly come out of that "daze" and realize I'm going to be alone the rest of my life. NO ONE can replace my husband, and after 35 years of marriage, I could never even try.

Now it seems the loneliness is the worst ordeal. At first there's the shock, the business that has to be taken care of; the feeling of "I must be strong." But eventually all that pales compared to the yawning abyss of loneliness that is a single person's life. I never thought I'd feel that, because I'd always considered myself a solitary person, a loner. And I still am to some extent, and cannot abide constant socializing. On the other hand, if you want to find out if you are really a loner -- just live alone 24/7 and see what it really means.

I don't regret leaving my position at the newspaper, because it was the flipside of being too lonely and aloneness. TOO much interaction, pressure, expectation, social events, etc. On the other hand, I do want to find some kind of social network -- perhaps a less stressful part-time job, and some volunteering. Just enough to get me out sometimes, and yet have plenty of alone-time and time with my pets.

At any rate, it's all over now for my brother-in-law. Only one sibling, a sister age 52, sill living. And of course, DH's mother -- who I always told him would outlive us both. Looks like I might have been right!

I'm in a transition phase -- don't know exactly what I want to do or will enjoy in the coming New Year. But I suppose it's another adventure. That is, as long as I stay healthy.

Till next time...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bad, sad news

My brother-in-law (husband's younger brother) died this morning from a heart attack. He was the exact age my husband was when he had his first heart attack: 57.

Everyone is in shock, of course. I'm not sure of all the details yet, only know he was in Florida on business.

It's exactly these kind of repeated episodes, sudden heart attack deaths, which compelled me to resign my position. Too much stress takes a toll, and exacts a deadly price.

More when I'm able to get over yet another shocking death in the family (too many to recount here now).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Optimist? Opportunist?

Good question, don't you think?

I made "contacts" during my somewhat brief stint at the newspaper -- important ones. Ones that can lead to employment in a better environment. I don't want to elaborate on this, but suffice to say, the "fruits" of my labor are looking productive.

Otherwise, I'm in an upbeat mood -- which must be a 'first' for me during this season. I'm enjoying the lack of pressure/stress, take the dogs on long walks every day, have lost 3 pounds and eating much better.

I rented some movies to watch over the holiday, and plan to hibernate and enjoy myself. I had hardly watched a movie during the past six months, due to being so absorbed by work/ideas/stress. Now I can play catch-up with movies AND novel reading. I've read two novels in less than a week, with more ready and waiting. I have MISSED novels/reading; it's like missing my soul.

Later this afternoon, my sister/bro-in-law/nephew are arriving and have several items we've swapped out -- I let them have my laptop (which I never used) in exchange for a TV/DVD player for my bedroom. Plus, they'll set it all up for me.

Not mentioned in this blog yet, but I bought a new Emachines desktop computer for my xmas gift to myself this year. 21.6 inch flat screen, Windows Vista, nice. Love it so far. My old Emachine got infected with viruses/spyware, and I plan to wipe it and restore to factory CD when I have time. Nothing else was wrong with it, just the malicious virus/spyware.

Soooooooo, I'm still happy. And wondering what is beyond that next closed door.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm baaaaaaaaack!

I'm Nobody! Who are you? (260)
by Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us?
Don't tell! they'd advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog.

That means, quite simply, I have resigned my position. Why?

I had just written a long rant about all the problems with the position, stressful office environment, demands of the job, deadlines, you-name-it. But accidentally hit the wrong key and destroyed the words. Probably for the best.

I think brevity is sometimes preferred: Emily's poem says it best. I have learned I prefer to be an anonymous "nobody" than "somebody" out there in the public. Having to attend social events (what could be a worse nightmare for a loner?), dealing with disgruntled people, demands never-ending to perform, be more and more creative, etc. They were always "raising the bar," and no matter how much you did, how much praise you got, they expected MORE. That, my friends, is PRESSURE unending.

Job description went out the window, and it turned into a situation where I was expected to fulfill my duties AND take up the slack in any other area when necessary. I'm a bit old to be climbing over wrecks, or forcing my way into a wild fire for an interview.

Suffice to say, stress got to me. I KNOW when I'm too stressed, and had realized it building for at least the last two months. I've seen too many people in their late 40s and 50s keep working when they KNEW they shouldn't. And then drop dead of a heart attack or suffer with cancer, starting with my husband less than two years ago.

We all die in the end, and I know stress is not the ONLY contributing factor to illness and death. But I DO believe it plays a much larger factor in today's society than even doctors realize.

At any rate, I'm a nobody again. However, I will occasionally write freelance articles for the newspaper. The editor and publisher DID NOT want me to resign, but I was determined. And hey, I boosted my savings account too. And I must admit the most joy I got was writing about everyday, ordinary people and their lives. That was also when I got the most compliments from the public. There is a weekly "Friends & Neighbors" column I will probably start to write sometimes in the spring for the newspaper.

What next? Have no idea. I do like working occasionally, but I'm the type who cannot possibly do a loooooong stint at ANY job. However, I can do three to six months easily -- and keep boosting the savings. Or at least if I get so bored here at home, I'm sure I can do SOMETHING like volunteering or clerical work long enough to send me screaming back to my privacy and peace.

I'm looking at it like this: When one door closes, another opens.

And I wonder now what is beyond that next door...or, which adventure I'm destined for next?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mastering the skills

I admit, I've always been a challenge junkie. Give me a very difficult task, I'll do it. The more complex, the more challenging, the better.

The problems usually start when I've mastered the skills, level off to feel that I'm finally at the peak of performance...and then, yup, it's downhill.

I don't want my present position to be that way, but I admit, once I learned the basics, began to hit my stride, the pressure and stress lessened. I LOVE the work, I do. There's always going to be NEW challenges, especially since I have deadlines. There's some aspects I will always hate, such as attending events, getting interviews and making sure I do justice to the people who've shared their lives with me. But now that I can design pages and I feel a bit more confident, I wonder if I'll be able to stick with the mundane grind?

I guess it's the money that will keep me coming back, even when all else fails. That is what was lacking in my creative/fiction writing: didn't make money. Without that basic incentive (as in -- need it to survive) why bother? Wish I could say I love art for art's sake...but I doubt that proves true for many.

Unfortunately I had a sad event to get through: one of my last living uncles died. My father's only brother suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack a week ago, and of course, it was totally unexpected. He was 78, very active and had no advance warning, just keeled over at the dinner table with my aunt. A chest x-ray showed an aeorta in his heart burst, which killed him almost instantly.

Emotionally difficult time during the last week, but I got through it.

And my renters moved out this past weekend, which means a lot of work ahead for me. However, I am going to hire house-cleaning services to clear out the rental house this time. I just don't have the time or energy to do that kind of hard labor. Not sure yet if I'll keep the house and rent it again, or put it up for sale early next year. Don't want to sell it now, due to tax issues for this year.

I don't really need that income any longer, and it's a difficult job to take care of rental property. If I sell, I'll use some of the funds to do improvements to the house I live in now.

Dogs are happy and healthy. Rambo got his rabies booster the other day, which means he's been here a YEAR! Woot! And at the end of November, Oscar will have been here a year. I love them a lot.

The cats are thriving too, haven't lost another one and that is good.

And so it goes...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Long time...looooong time, no entry

Sorry folks (for the few who still read my blog) for seeming to have disappeared into the ether. I'm actually still alive and kicking (LOL, Saturday Night Live lady 'fifty & fabulous' ringing in my ears)...but so busy I can hardly see straight.

I LOVE my job, being the Lifestyle editor. I've finally, finally, finally MASTERED pagination (designing newspaper pages) and though I'm a tad slow, I CAN do it. A couple weeks ago, I designed the ENTIRE lifestyle pages alone. Not bad for an old lady!

Maybe I'll get more creative now with design, since I have the "basics" mastered. I hope so.

The writing continues. At times I feel it is overwhelming, but then I remind myself that, hey, in my heyday of doing creative writing (fiction) I was polishing off entire NOVELS in a mere three months. How bad can daily 300-600 word articles be? Even IF I'm shooting them out daily, constantly -- all kinds and styles?

Stressful at times, I admit. But I'm not a quitter, or I wouldn't be here now, would I?

Soooooo, just to say...I'm hanging in and hanging on. For now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday update

Maybe I'll have time to write an entry on Sundays. Every other day is busy, hectic -- I worked yesterday. Now I'm writing front page news stories; we're still short one reporter, and I'm filling in. I attended an amateur radio swapfest yesterday morning, and wrote a piece for the front page. I now have two news stories online, as well as my lifestyle articles.

Our Sunday newspaper was HEAVY, THICK...we had a back-to-school special in the Lifestyle, a quarterly magazine senior magazine insert (in which I wrote every article from interviewing several local volunteers) and the usual other newspaper stuff. I'm becoming better and better at writing any kind of article; I've written for the business section and the farm section in addition to my other work. And I've taken several photos, when our photographer was not available. Being versatile is an advantage at any newspaper, because you often wear many hats.

I have three interviews lined up for next week. I'm planning stories for our special health section; it will be about heart health. After DH's heart attack, I learned a lot, so research won't take much effort. And two of the men I'm interviewing were DH's horse buddies, and have struggled with heart problems for years. I was glad they agreed to be interviewed, but it is always better to have local people in the paper than just general info and AP stories.

I have several good ideas I'm working on for future lifestyle articles, and which have already been approved by the new managing editor. If I can get ahead with Lifestyle, it'll make my job easier.

A couple of days next week I have to attend cooking demos and do interviews for a feature next Sunday.

And all that as well as still learning pagination. My job duties keep expanding, but I'd rather be TOO busy at work than not have enough to do.

Otherwise, Saturday afternoons and Sunday are reserved for house-keeping, extensive pet care, maybe some cooking to freeze for the next week. Oh yeah, and laundry/ironing my clothes for the following week. I DO try to sleep in on Sunday morning, a luxury I took for granted till I went to work!

I finally hired someone to mow my yard. I just didn't have time, and absolutely loathed that chore. I may let my renters use the riding mower/weedeater, and make those available to anyone who rents in the future. We're getting rain more often, and that is causing the grass to grow -- which just means MORE lawn-mowing!

I confess I haven't been able to find time to ride my bike lately. I do take the dogs on a walk very late, just before dark, when it has cooled down. However, I've actually lost a couple of pounds (don't eat much), and my knees have improved. I fear the biking was the major cause of the continuing knee problem. Oh well.

With that, I'm outta here for today.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Shhh, I'm happy, don't tell!

Guess I'm always a bit stupidstitious about feeling happiness, as if something will suddenly darken my life. Can't have good without the bad -- don't know if that is just my training for drama/fiction writing or growing up with an alcoholic dad. For this moment in time, I AM happy.

I am being paid for writing.

A GOOD salary for where I live, in any kind of job.

Bringing recognition to average people who trudge on, doing the best they can, but NEVER get a pat on the back, much less public exposure. The average people are the ones who NEED to be acknowledged, and I'm trying to do that in the Lifestyle section of our local newspaper.

Receiving praise at work...but more importantly, from the people I write about. That feels GOOD. Still have more to learn about pagination and that is a challenge.

And I'll tell you, my readers, a secret: Lexapro. I am fairly sure that ALL my life, and especially past menopause, I've suffered from depression. And that my father did too, trying to self-medicate with liquor. When my husband died, my G.P. put me on Lexapro -- an antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication. I took it for several months, and functioned GREAT. Then decided I didn't need it, and boom, depression returned before long.

When I was lucky enough to get this current position, I went back to the G.P. and she wrote me a prescription for Lexapro. For now, it's only three months...but I DO attribute some of my ability to focus, stay out of the depths of deepest depression, to the anti-depressant. I truly have come to accept that some people NEED anti-depressant medication -- otherwise, we'd be suicides.

If you don't believe me, just read some of my blog entries when I was at my darkest hour.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Working at writing... a nice thing. All the office politics aside, hassles with people, you-name-it...I LOVE writing. And today, I spent most of my time at work actually WRITING. Ah, the bliss, the joy...the agony. Yet when a piece is finished, headed for print, you feel an accomplishment that is indescribable.

I can't say I'm a whiz at pagination (designing pages) at this point, but I'm still learning. And attending events is not my favorite thing; however, when you have a badge on you reading "MEDIA" you almost an alien. Not really part of the crowd, just there to "observe and record." Not a bad thing, if you're somewhat introverted as I am. The "badge" emboldens you, and allows you to think of yourself as only there on a quest -- which is informational. Later, you find the creative aspect of the story, and rely on facts to back it up. I doubt this makes any sense to anyone except reporters and/or writers.

I'm always in another world when I write, and it has taken several weeks to find that zone as a lifestyle writer. Yet when I do, it's sooooooooooooo great! And the people, the ones who are modest people I have chosen to feature, they are incredibly...amazing. Some have labored YEARS, DECADES without ANY recognition, and just giving them a face, a voice makes it all worthwhile.

Those are the unexpected rewards I've found in this position. I'll get back to you on the downside.

Oh yes, tomorrow night -- a senior dance. Argh, I don't dance, but I can attend and write about it!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Long time, no entry

I've been so busy with work, it's been impossible to update my blog. I did have some time this Sunday afternoon, and wanted to give a rundown of what has been happening with my new position as Lifestyle Editor.

Frankly, there's been a lot of confusion, a horrid workload and uncertainty since I went to work three weeks ago. There are not enough reporters, since the main news reporter quit the first week I was there. Our managing editor will have his first day tomorrow, and we're all hoping to breathe a sigh of relief. It's difficult to begin in a position and have no one to discuss ideas with or get feedback, which has been my situation. All the staff have been so overworked, only a couple have had time to instruct me and help me learn the computer system and Quark.

However, on the bright side, I have managed to have several interviews and write about four feature articles while I've been there. It's nice to see my byline in the newspaper again, and though I will eventually be designing pages, I still hope to write articles. We need a full-time feature reporter though, because I just will not have time to do new articles two or more times a week. Ah, so it goes!

I received my first paycheck Friday, and let's just say, it's more money than I ever earned at one time anywhere. Nearly what my husband was earning after 30 years in his career! If I can do the job adequately, hold up physically, then I do hope to stay there -- even if just till I turn 60 and start receiving SSI.

Early last Monday morning Oscar dug out, got loose for about ten minutes, then reappeared at the back gate. I was busy getting ready for work, had not even realized he was gone. Apparently, when I was mowing the backyard last Saturday, the riding mower knocked a piece of wood loose at the bottom of the fence -- and that is where Oscar dug out.

When I let him in, I saw he had puncture wounds on his front shoulder, but just thought it was due to the fence. However, that night when I got home (about 7 p.m.) he was lying down, looked very sick. I took him to the vet the next morning, and learned a big dog had bitten him! There's a big Lab with her pups running loose in the neighborhood, and I'm fairly sure she bit him. I've seen her watching us and following us on our walks, and the pups always want to play with Rambo and Oscar. I guess the female dog was being protective of the pups, but I called animal control anyway, because if she would bite a dog, she might bite a child or person.

At any rate, Oscar had to have a drain put in, kept it all week. I'm still giving him antibiotics, but he got the drain out Saturday. He had an abcess under the skin where the dog bit him. He's back to normal, but it sure taught me a lesson: big dogs will bite small ones.

I've often passed people walking big dogs, but didn't realize they would bite my smaller dogs. A lady at the vet told me her Doxie, like Oscar, got bit by a big dog when she was walking him on a leash! These are my first dogs, so I'm learning...and hate that Oscar got hurt. I guess eventually I'll buy either an electronic fence or have a wood fence built around the backyard.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day at work when we all meet the new managing editor. I hope we get along, otherwise, yours truly will be sooooo outta there!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Like the far...

Friday was my first day, of course, and it was a bit overwhelming! First off, the QuarkXPress/NewsEditPro IQue programs for editing/designing newspaper pages runs on Apple iMac! I've never used a Mac in my life, and though similar to Microsoft PC features, there's some differences in keys, etc. That will take time to be comfortably familiar with, as well as learning the tools in the IQue programs.

I did sort through some ad sheets for an upcoming special, helped other editorial staff do write-ups for that feature. Basically that consists of condensing three pages of information to about 4 or 5 paragraphs of writing. Fun, yep! There will be quite a bit of this type material to do in my position.

I had written a column for Sunday's newspaper, about my step-dad and it came out today. I thought honoring a good step-dad would be a little different than the usual biological father material for Father's Day. My mother called, had read it, and just loved it, said I "captured" step-dad's personality perfectly. Nice to know.

Yesterday I worked all afternoon, helping proof/edit the front page and hard news features. Wrote brief headers, some headlines, etc. Stayed completely and utterly absorbed, which is what I LOVE about working in a news room. You literally cannot worry/fret about life, since the activity level and concentration keep you completely occupied. I also observed the news editor designing pages, explaining various features/tools of the IQue program, and brought home several technical books I've been wading through slowly.

I like everyone I've met there, so far. Two women will be helping me with Lifestyle sections, and we also use freelancers. That is great, because I have a packet of notes about story ideas for Lifestyle, and can sometimes assign these to freelancers and/or other reporters. I would like to have a full-time reporter working just for Lifestyle, but that probably won't happen until after July 8th, when our new managing editor arrives.

Since I am on salary, my hours are flexible. So long as I get the work done, I can arrive/depart when I wish. I'll have two major week-day deadlines, and if I can stay ahead of those, it should be easier. Nothing like trying to deal with daily hard news deadlines, which can be exhausting. When I did copy editing, NOTHING went to press before I looked it over. That meant sometimes I didn't leave the building till around midnight. I don't mind working past 8:00 but don't think I'd like staying much later.

Tomorrow morning I have medical tests scheduled for daybreak at the outpatient center. Doctor wants an ultra-sound to see if my gall-bladder might be causing this constant acid reflux. My stomach has improved over the past two days, since I quit drinking so much skim milk. I read an article that stated even skim milk has a kind of protein that can cause stomach irritation. And I was drinking a lot, since it first soothed my stomach -- but noticed it rebounded, and got worse. We'll see, I guess; just glad it's not hurting as much.

Next Sunday afternoon we're all having a "company picnic" at a nearby lake. Should be interesting, and I only have to bring plastic plates/glasses.

Rambo has a case of "separation anxiety." Poor fellow, he followed me everywhere when I came home the first day, whining, giving me reproachful looks. I'm trying to adapt them to another routine, and even let them mingle with the cats last night. No incidents, though the cats hissed and growled. Oscar went out the cat-door onto their porch, and when he didn't come back, I looked out to find him eating the cats' food! It is Iams, and he sure was thirsty later. He seemed to like being out there, but the cats were aggravated; I'd never leave them together when I'm gone. But they all need to learn to get along at night, so I can spend time with ALL of them in the evenings. I'll be gone most of the day, and I know Rambo and Oscar will need more attention at night. I do take them on a walk soon as I get home in the afternoon. And they still love it. I'll end with this recent photo of Rambo:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Got the job!!!

If that doesn't call for three exclamation points, nothing ever will!

I am now officially the new Lifestyle Editor at our local newspaper! This is one of those times you want to pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming. I waltzed into the publisher's office and put on my best presentation, and he, obviously, was sold. And as icing on the cake, I am getting a FAN-TAS-TIC salary! More than I've ever earned in my life, and very close to what DH was earning when he died. Not quite as much, but close enough that I'll be back in the same wage bracket. Additionally, health insurance coverage within three months!

I start Friday morning, and will probably just get the "lay of the land" that day and Saturday. There is a Saturday edition, and I guess I'll get one weekday in addition to Sunday off. I don't really care, to be honest, because I'm about to go stir-crazy here. And if there's one thing for sure: I'll be forced to write articles. I'll have plenty to keep me busy there, and no reason to hurry back home -- long hours are on the agenda.

Apparently the managing editor (who is still in Texas) was impressed with my online writing and/or website, and this helped me get the job. Whooboy, now I must live up to their expectations -- but I will try my best NOT to disappoint them. I'm sure there will be a few sharp learning curves in my future, but such deep concentration will allow me to end the frustration and recurring memories that have had me mired down here the past few months.

I dug out my small tape-recorder today, checked it out, just in case I have to go out on an interview soon. It's always good to have one handy, so you can use it and refer back to get quotes. Notebook and pen are good too, but a recorder is an asset.

I will miss my pets, particularly the dogs during the day, but they will be allowed access to the doggie door, and can stay either inside or outside. The cats, of course, have their own quarters. I can be with them in the afternoons/evenings and off-days.

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment; my acid reflux has been acting up, along with my allergies. NO MORE LAWN-MOWING for me, yippee!

Of course, this calls for a shopping trip -- and maybe not to a thrift store this time!

This has been a day to remember, a real gemstone found amongst the rough-edged pebbles of my life for the past year-and-half.

Wish me luck on accomplishing the tasks, fulfilling my wishes to be a successful editor.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Interesting development...

Just a brief update: Got a call from the local newspaper publisher, wants me to come in for an interview tomorrow at 10:00.

Good, bad, indifferent?

I'm not sure how I feel, but I am going for the interview, and see exactly what they have in mind -- workload, hours, PAY/BENEFITS. I am covered by Cobra insurance (full med/drug), and should be for another two years -- but any money I make will surely help build funds for paying that. Or if, by chance, I get this position and LIKE it, I can switch over to their insurance benefits.

At least I have something to look forward to for now, though of course, an interview is just an interview. And like I stated in my last post: "Just roll with it..."

Sister will be here around noon, may go shop for a decent clothing outfit.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday afternoon thoughts...

I'm feeling in a fine mood this afternoon, just thought I'd write an update.

I haven't heard from the newspaper yet, but the new editor isn't starting till July 16th, so I'm sure they are in the midst of mind-boggling change. And IF I don't hear anything, that's okay too. As the lyrics of a pop song says, "Just roll with it..."

Anyway, I went shopping a bit earlier, just picked up some supplies and stuff for my spoiled-silly pets! If I die and ever come back (reincarnation) I sure hope I'm a spoiled silly dog or cat!

I bought a great pair of walking shoes several months ago when my knees were giving problems, but had not really worn those much due to needing a lot of padding. Today the cheap pair I'd been padding with inserts finally gave up the ghost, and I put a padded insert in the expensive shoes -- which prevent pro-nation (why I have knee trouble, partly) and wow! these are wonderful! I walked through several stores, NO pain, NO problem. It's almost like having a new set of knees, really! So many people have knee/foot problems that relate to the specific way their feet hit the ground -- rolling inward or outward. Any shoe store that has running shoes can help you with that, even without an orthopedic doctor. Anyhow, I'm hoping this will mean I can keep walking my dogs...

Every now and then, I revisit my own website The Prose Menagerie and read a story I haven't read in a long time. It's like some authors say: we have forgotten just exactly how the story unfolds...and it's as if...we think, "Wow, did I really write that?!" I'm astonished sometimes to realize I do have a gift for story-telling, and feel guilty for not writing more now. Maybe I'll have to resort to the tactics in Stephen King's horror novel, Misery in which a writer is trapped by a psychotic fan who forces him to write again! I hope not, but sometimes I think FORCE might be the only way to get me writing fiction again. And the irony is that I actually LOVE writing fiction, living in the fictional world, but...just getting started seems to be daunting these days.

Otherwise, still dry, hot, arid. Are we living in a desert or what? Starting to feel that way. I did get out and use the riding mower to knock down several large spots of weeds in the backyard yesterday afternoon...and stirred up a dust storm. Won't do that again till there's some rain!

Outta here for now...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pain or Paralysis?

For out of nothing comes nothing. But out of suffering may come the cure. Better have pain than paralysis. --Florence Nightingale

And this has been my dilemma after passing the first sad-anniversay of DH's death: Do I let the pain cause paralysis, or throw myself into SOMETHING, no matter what? At times these past few months I feel like I have become invisible, which in itself is not that bad. And I DO like my alone time, but after 24/7 day after day, a couple of weeks being begin to feel, well, a little strange. No matter how you enjoy the solitude, it's a different ball-game 24/7 unending.

Sure I get out -- take the dogs on walks, ride my bike (unless it's been too hot, like the last couple days), go shopping, see family occasionally. Yet I feel adrift, lost in the sea of my life. I know that a certain cure would be to force myself back into creative writing, a story, a novel. But for the past few years, having been so busy with renovating the farmhouse, loss of husband, selling house/farm, moving, etc. I have gotten out of practice. Discipline is necessary for any writing, but especially for writing fiction. I have, of course, written the memoir -- and in all honesty, I can't say it was cathartic, more like the MOST depressing thing I've ever had to write. And I can still tinker with it, improve possibly here and there, but have simply had to "let it go" for now, or go completely mad.

Hence in a weak moment, I sent off a resume/clippings for the Lifestyle Editor position open at our local newspaper. Really didn't think I'd hear anything, but yesterday afternoon the guy who will be managing editor (and is still employed in Texas) called and said the publisher had given him my name, information. We talked awhile, he asked various questions and I answered -- probably not enthusiastically enough. (Hey, age will do that to you! Ha!) Nevertheless, I emailed him some ideas this morning, and don't know if I'll hear back or not. Either way, I'm okay with it. IF interviewed, offered the position, I'll consider it right; if not, I can surely deal with that. I DID suggest I'd be more interested in part-time work, should something become available; at my age, and not NEEDING to earn income, don't know if I'm capable of a full-time, stressful position.

At any rate, that is what has been happening here. It's so dry, we're in such a draught, I can just take the electric weedeater out and whack down any stray weeds that happen to thrive; most of the yard looks practically DEAD. Don't dare mow, for fear it'll kill what is left. And I'm certainly not going to water grass, only to create a lawn-mowing job which I hate. I simply cannot LIKE the nasty, gritty, horrible physical labor of lawn-mowing, even with a riding mower. Should I go back to work, I'll hire it done.

It is smothering, stifling HOT outside, so bad that I've not been on the bike ride in two days. Late in the afternoon, I do take my dogs for a walk around the block, and even then, they (and I) are exhausted upon return.

Haven't slept well the past few nights, have no idea why -- possibly just feeling uncertain about the future. I think tonight I'll read Jane Eyre, the novel I've been rereading lately (GREAT) in bed before trying to sleep.

Sister/bro-in-law returned from vacation, and other sister went home. Don't mind saying, it was a stressful week for all of us -- since sister brought mother here several times, and frankly, it is getting more and more difficult for me to keep up a pretense of mother's presence NOT causing me emotional turmoil, due to the ongoing situation at my sister's home where mother is living.

Now I think I'll go eat some of the delicious chicken breast/brown rice I cooked in the crockpot today. Yum! I'll end with this recent picture of Oscar -- he's getting a bit tubby!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mixed Emotions....

Hmm, it seems the local newspaper (where I once worked) is seeking a Lifestyle Editor. There's been a lot of recent turn-over in reporters/editors/etc. lately, and they are having trouble finding replacements. I had submitted a resume/published news article clips some time ago, never had any response, but today the managing editor (who is quitting tomorrow) sent me an email, and told me to re-submit my resume/clippings to the new publisher.

Do I? Or not? I'm very tempted, because though the daily grind can be stressful, it would give me some daily structure. Besides, then I'd have evenings/weekends free for other writing pursuits, or whatever. Just thinking it over, haven't decided yet if I really want to return to work (don't have to, financially, but it might be good for me).

My sister/bro-in-law took off on their vacation yesterday, and other sister is staying with mother -- not a happy camper either. I will probably help out some tomorrow, but as I've stated before, can't do that 24/7.

Hot, smoky, hazy and stifling out today. I still took the dogs on a walk, then biked. But it gets more difficult when the air quality is so very poor. And on the news today, there were reports of fires breaking out in south Alabama. If we don't get rain soon, this is going to be a wasteland. I did weed-eating, front and back yard, the past few days -- but unless we get rain, the whole yard doesn't need mowing. In fact, the grass looks like its dying. {Guess what? Less mowing!}

I went to the library earlier, got three good books, two movies. Nothing much on TV, since I only have basic cable and it's re-run season from now till the Fall.

That's it for now.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Get a will made...soon!

Be warned, this is not for the faint of heart...but necessary. If you are at all concerned about what will happen to your life's work/possessions, etc. you need to get a legal will made by an attorney. I can assure you, it will NOT be a happy experience -- because you HAVE to face the fact you will one day die, be gone, cease to exist.

Yeah, yeah...I know...YOU already know that. Or do you? Only when you truly CONFRONT it by putting down in black-and-white what you want done after your death in a legal document you KNOW will only be valid after your death, does it truly hit you as reality. Try it, you'll see what I mean.

I know because, even though I've contemplated suicide often, contemplation is abstract, not concrete. I don't think I'm afraid to die (as long as I don't have to suffer terribly long), just that trying to work with documents you know will be left behind for family has a depressing tendency. Especially since I had to write a letter for my family, explaining my decisions/wishes more clearly, and what would happen to everything after my death. I wanted to do this because I know the squabbles and hassles families get into after someone dies, and this is MY personal handwritten message from beyond the grave.

Then I had to get all my necessary papers together, such as house deeds/car title, living will, you-name-it, and put all this stuff in a fireproof box where it can stay in one of my antique trunks for access should something happen to me. Not a fun way to occupy a couple of days, let me assure you.


Get on it, if you haven't already. And this goes for those of you married, otherwise your spouse will end up in probate court involved in legal hassles UNLESS your state law honors the joint ownership of property and EVERY SINGLE THING YOU OWN is in both your names on legal documents.

{Of course, if you just want to leave behind a big mess for your family to deal with, and get into fights over, then heck, just ignore making a will.}

I'll end with this link to an excellent article for those of us in our mid-life passages into old age:

The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fait Accompli

Yes, the will is being processed, and I should have it signed by early next week. I can rest a bit easier now, but won't feel entirely comfortable until the will is "signed/sealed & delivered." The attorney (a friend of my late husband's) was wonderful, and even made some useful, helpful suggestions about dispensing of personal items, cherished things, etc. Additionally, I dropped by the bank and changed beneficiary names on two remaining accounts: IRA & Roth IRA. Between those and the will, I can die with a smile on my face knowing I've helped ease the suffering of countless animals in this county. Not a bad legacy, methinks.

Otherwise, it's still hot, dry and miserable here. Sister stopped by for a brief visit earlier, and said mother is doing a bit better. Looks like they can't get mother back in the nursing home at this point, due to red tape, and medicaid possibly not paying. Just have to wait it out, and hope for the best, I suppose.

Next week sister/bro-in-law where mother lives are going on a vacation, so my other sister will stay there (alone) with mother. I will assist some, but not overnight or all day long. To tell you the truth, vacations aren't part of a care-taker's job description -- so I'm NOT sitting out there with mother for long periods of time. Sister volunteered to have mother live with her, and will just have to "live" with the consequences.

With that, I'm outta here for now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Random Stuff

I have an appointment with an attorney tomorrow afternoon, hopefully to get a will drawn up, and get advice about an Executor of my estate. If he's willing, I plan to have him be the Executor. I know firmly what I want done with everything I have, down to the last item, and this is the only way I can rest assured my wishes will be fulfilled. Over time (should I live into old age) there might be more or less, depending on unpredictable events. But for now, I need to get this done -- just in case I should die in an accident, have a fatal heart attack, whatever.

Speaking of heart attacks, here's a little lighthearted tidbit:

A mechanic was removing a cylinder-head from the motor of a Dodge SRT-4 when he spotted a well-known cardiologist in his shop.

The cardiologist was there waiting for the service manager to come take a look at his car when the mechanic shouted across the garage, "Hey Doc, want to take a look at this?"

The cardiologist, a bit surprised, walked over to where the mechanic was working on the SRT. The mechanic straightened up, wiped his hands on a rag and asked, “So Doc, look at this engine. I open its heart, take the valves out, repair any damage, and then put them back in, and when I finish, it works just like new... So how come I make 39K a year, a pretty small salary, and you get the really big bucks, about 1 mil, when you and I are doing basically the same work?"

The cardiologist paused, smiled and leaned over, then whispered to the mechanic...

"Try doing it with the engine running."

Later today I have an appointment to get Rambo's nails clipped. Oscar sits in my lap, lets me clip his without any problem. But Rambo starts squirming, squealing like I'm about to kill him -- perhaps someone once cut into the quick, and that's why he's afraid of it? At any rate, I can easily bath them in my utility sink (about once every two weeks), and except for Rambo needing his nails clipped/trimmed, manage their grooming myself.

Here's a recent picture of my pups wrestling in the yard:

And a picture of my recently mown backyard:

--Mowing courtesy of yours truly!

Woke this morning to smoky haze, stifling; the smoke from forest fires in Georgia and Florida are blanketing this whole region. If we don't get rain (and none is predicted for TWO weeks) there won't be a need to mow (yippee!), but the air quality is very poor, and people with health issues are urged to stay indoors. Hitting close to 90 degrees every day, hot and stagnant, stinky air -- not going to be a happy summer outdoors, I fear.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Good luck & bad luck...

That seems to have been the theme of my life this past week: some things fell into my lap by coincidence (although when that happens while working on a writing project, I often think it's almost supernatural) and bad things as well.

First the good luck: The house where I grew up is still a renter house in a block of row houses. I bike past it almost every day, and already had a picture of the outside for my memoir, but now it's empty. At first the door was locked, but then painters started working inside -- and the other afternoon as I biked by there, I saw the door was ajar. I checked, and the door was unlocked. The reason I didn't ask to go inside, while painters were there, is that I wasn't sure what kind of emotional reaction I would have -- had never been back inside that place since I was eighteen, and moved mother and the girls out; I wanted to be alone when I saw it. Anyway, I hurried home, got my camera and drove my car back to the house. I must have taken 30 or more pictures of the inside of the vacant house! Talk about haunted, I had vivid flashbacks of so, so many horrors lived in that house! But I kept an objectivity as a photographer, and got pictures of everything...especially certain views that captured volatile, violent episodes in our lives.

The one of the backdoor, curtain pulled aside, is especially evocative: One time daddy left on a trip (he was a truckdriver) and then near dusk, he suddenly appeared at that backdoor. His eyes were wild, glazed (probably on benny pills/liquor) and called me, in a whisper, to come to him. He said he was going to kill us all, and showed me a gun. That'd he sneaked back to check up on mother (he was always convinced she was cheating on him, paranoid no doubt)...and thus began one of the scariest nights of my life. Suffice to say, it took considerable persuasion to convince him NOT to kill us, and instead take us to my paternal grandparents' house.

Anyhow, I can use these photos (in sepia) with my memoir -- which I'm still submitting. Have had a few nibbles about publication, and the pix will greatly help.

The bad luck: Looks like my washer is toast. I happened to check on it the other day since it sounded odd -- and found a small pool on the utility floor! Spent hours soaking, mopping up the mess. I think the lint filter (which was full of lint) may have caused this problem, and it did pump the remainder of the water out after I cleaned that. I just haven't been willing to test it yet, since I don't feel like mopping up water again. This set was here when I bought the house, and both are high quality but old. If the washer is history, I'll buy a new set at Lowe's, have them delivered and installed. I asked at Lowe's today, and they will take away the old set.

Mother is not doing well -- and my sister and bro-in-law with whom she lives, apparently have reached the limit of their coping ability. They are trying to get mother back into the nursing home, but finding there's as much red tape this time as the first time. Had they left her there then, mother would have been settled in and have had better 24/7 care. Home health is NOT a substitute for institutional care, not at all. I would say, "I told you so," cause I did -- told all of them, wrote it here in this blog. Hey, though, live and learn, huh?

I mowed my backyard the other morning, and had no problems. Still one of the dirtest jobs on earth though! Ugh. I do love the electric weedeater though. I wrote to the company that makes electric rechargable battery push mowers, Neuton, and suggested they come out with a small electric riding mower with rechargable batteries. They respsonded, and thanked me for my input; said it helped them decide what products to offer in the future. I predict whoever comes out with such a riding mower will make a quick fortune!

I've also been trying to decide on an estate lawyer to draw up my Will, and act as Executor of my estate. I don't want my sisters/nephews to have to deal with the hassle of all that when I die -- even if not soon. I want to get it all worked out in legal terms, cut-and-dried, so that I won't have to worry what will happen when I'm gone. DH had several lawyer-friends, one of whom lives across the street from my other house, and who did DH's Will. I'll try him first; he's only in his 30s, so chances are he'll outlive ME. Important, you know. It's taken me this long after DH's death to figure out what I want done with everything I own, but let's just say: "There's gonna be some happy animal critters when I shuffle off this mortal coil."

I took the dogs on a walk in the nearby park earlier; our weather is gorgeous! Mild temps, sunny, makes it hard to stay indoors.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Snake in my backyard...

That's right -- I saw a snake in my backyard this morning! Worse, I think it had been under my house, since the screen I have over the open door there seemed to be ajar. I believe it was a harmless snake, not sure, but there is a creek about half a block away, and I've seen snake skins all along the street where I walk the dogs. {Pictures of the creek/street in an earlier post.}

At any rate, I was sauntering around the yard, not paying much attention when I looked down and saw my foot about an inch from the snake. It was completely still, and at first I thought it was dead, but then I moved, and it began slithering away. The dogs were romping around, and I stood very still, watching the snake head toward the bordering yard that is situated on the street beside the creek. I didn't want the dogs to get snake bit, and for sure, they'd have been after if it they'd seen it.

I inspected the screen, saw it was ajar and fixed it...but wondered if other snakes were under there? For one thing, it's been awfully dry the past weeks, (finally some rain last night though!) and the creek is nothing but a pitiful trickle. I've seen snake skins along that street, and one whopper of a snake that someone apparently beheaded -- lying in the gutter.

Then I remembered a couple of small holes in my utility/laundry-room floor, and wondered if snakes were able to get INSIDE. Woe is me, when my imagination kicks in!!! (sigh) I made sure all the holes were covered, just to be on the safe side. Plus, I believe the dogs and/or cats would find a snake inside the house. Last summer the cats attacked/beheaded a small green lizard, which I found in the laundry room later.

Then last week I had a strange, whispery voice left on my answering machine; my phone number just came out in the phone book (not in there for most of the past year since I moved) and it frightened me. So much so that I let my sister listen to it, but we both thought maybe it was just a wrong number by an elderly person who was having trouble breathing.

Saturday morning someone was ringing the doorbell very early, before eight, and the dogs woke me up barking. I heard the doorbell once, but no one was there by the time I got to the front door. I thought maybe it was my renter, dropping by with the rent (since it was due), but asked her Monday when she paid, and she said it wasn't her.

Just when I was feeling safe, secure and settled, these weird things. Again, an imaginary leap -- but I wondered if DH is trying to tell me something from that vague, shadowy other-world? (I know, I know...stupidstitious.)

Oh well, so it goes...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Busy Weekend

I spent Saturday afternoon mowing the front yard, and finishing the weed-eating. I still love the small, lightweight rechargable battery weed-eater (Task Force).

Then the usual: took dogs on a long walk, biked and spent the evening reading a new novel. The title of the book from which I posted an excerpt below in a post: "Anyone You Want Me to Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet," by former FBI profiler, John Douglas. It is based on the real-life case of John Robinson who lured women (most in the S&M alternate sex lifestyle) to his trailer, via the internet, and then killed them and disposed of their bodies in large metal barrels. Ugh. Such a sordid story, but true -- and a cautionary tale for anyone meeting strangers online, then in real life. John Robinson was married, had several kids, gregarious and well-liked in his community, by the way -- NOT a loner. He simply had a secret, sadistic side and was a master manipulator. Highly recommended.

Sunday I drove around to some of the car lots in town, looking at cars (without the pressure of salesmen). There's nothing wrong with my present car, but I have been thinking of trading it for a newer model -- perhaps one that would even get better gas mileage. Mine is a 2000 Ford Escort, and gets very good gas mileage, and only has 61,000 miles on it, so it should have good trade-in value and/or resell price.

I looked at a Toyota Prius - which is a hybrid, part rechargable battery, part gas. It was a 2001 model, had 68,000 miles on it, and that mileage has me a bit concerned: the batteries are very expensive to replace and possibly the one in that car could be on the verge of needing replacement. I also looked at the 2007 Ford Focus, but all the Ford place had was sedans and I want a hatchback this time -- it'd be easier to carry larger items than a sedan. I don't know, still undecided. Half the fun is "searching/looking" though!

That's about it for today.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

So, Friday I saw the most amazing Oprah show in which, OMG, celebrity moms had such amazing, incredible, astounding wisdom about not only being a mom, but how to praise your own mom. LOL. I mean, these celeb moms (especially Maria Shriver) probably haven't seen, much less actually raised their kids, in forevvver. It would have been sad if it wasn't sooooo hilarious...particularly the Demi Moore interview in which she espouses maternal wisdom when, clearly, she hated her own mother MOST of her life, wouldn't even speak to her. Yeah, gotcha (good PR).

Anyway, if these women did NOT have children, would they dare speak out about being happily childfree? Methinks proably NOT. I'm just saying...celeb moms giving advice on parenting is like Anna Nichole advising us on sobriety. Or Oprah even hosting this topic, since she herself hasn't married OR had kids and by all accounts, left her mother to live with her father who helped her become who she is today. But never mind, it's Mother's Day.

Hmm, what really got me to thinking was the segment where Maria Shriver/Terminator said the best thing to do for Mother's Day is write your mom a letter listing what you learned from her.

Okay, here goes my top ten list of what I learned from my mother (who gave birth to me, but who I DO NOT consider my actual mother since my paternal grandmother is who I bonded with):

10. How to act childlike and stupid

9. How to deny anything and everything that happens and pretend life is just rosy

8. Keep pretending even when you are slapped in the face, beaten to within an inch of your life by your alcoholic husband

7. Have a bunch of kids and then ignore them, neglect them

6. Be especially enabling to your alcoholic husband so he can't face the consequences of his addiction

5. Always choose your husband over your children, even if their lives are threatened

4. If all else fails, burden your husband's parents with demands and know they'll help

3. IF your husband dies and leaves you and your children penniless, make sure your grown daughter/son-in-law feel guilty and responsible so they'll help you (Keep up this act if you end up alone and penniless in old age, so one of the daughters -- the religious one -- will take you in though it may destroy her life)

2. After your alcoholic husband dies, start dating as soon as possible and ignore your children so you can go out and have a good time

And the Number ONE thing I learned:

1. Be selfish, self-centered to the exclusion of everyone else in your life

I have to say I learned the #1 lesson best, though the others obviously didn't seem to make much sense to me. It took a long, long time...but I finally realized that #1 lesson is worthy of following (and pretty much what makes America a great country of capitalism -- greed/selfishness rules).

So Happy Mother's Day all you ladies who think you'll be different than your mom's and that YOUR kids will really, really love you and be good to you, even as you truly (deep in your heart, though you SAY otherwise) don't care much for your own mom.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What do you believe in?

I've been reading one of the books I got at the library today, and discovered the most amazing quote:

Everyone is looking for something to believe in. You just have to find out what it is they're looking for.

Sooo, do you believe in hope? Believe in Jesus? Believe in happy-ever-after-endings? Believe the world is going to end tomorrow? Are you cynical or optimistic? Believe in the good in humans? Believe in the evil in humans?

This line of questioning could go on FOR--EVER. I mean, truly, do YOU know what you believe in? Do you know what you DO NOT believe in?

Well, ladies & gents, I don't believe in the power to manipulate others, I absolutely KNOW it. How?

Who was the person responsible for this quote? No other than the infamous Charles Manson. He could have spoken for the advertising media, the so-called religious/preachers, politicians/politics, popular fiction writers, etc. ad nauseaum. For people are vulnerable, IF you know what that vulnerability is: What they want/need to believe in.

Soon I'll reveal the title of the book I found this quote in -- which I'd never seen before.

Brief Update

For those who don't read my daily/constant updates at Twitter (sidebar), just wanted to mention what I've been doing lately.

Yesterday I spent most of the day cleaning my outside windows, then hosed down the cats' screenporch/carport. The dust here, since we're in a drought, has been awful -- all that work was long overdue.

I also found a lightweight weedeater with rechargable battery at Lowe's and LOVE it. Came with two batteries, so I have plenty of power for doing this yard perimeter.

We're having suffocating, hot weather and need rain soooo desperately. I've decided not to mow the front lawn again until it rains; afraid I'm going to kill the grass, it's so dry.

I went to the library earlier, found a couple of good novels and several DVD movies. The library has DVDs, which are free to checkout for two weeks. Nice! One of the movies I'm looking forward to: "Rumor Has It" with Jennifer Anniston and Shirley MaClaine, a comedy.

I was informed via email this morning that my blog (yes, this blog you're reading right now) won an award at "Famous Blog of the Day." Makes it worth the effort, though I consider it an expressive outlet I couldn't do without.

Lastly, I'll leave you with a few photos of last week when we went to a nearby lake park:

Baby ducks on the lake

Lots & lots of ducks around the lake, tame, but dogs didn't know what to make of them!

There's a great paved two-lane path around the entire lake, for biking and walking. May take my bike there someday to bike

Monday, May 07, 2007

Just when you thought it was safe...

and your life was secure, this happens. Of course, the news agencies only got ahold of it today, but apparently astronomers have been observing this somewhat curious massive super-nova since last September.

I won't bother to educate you folks on what a super-nova is, since google will most aptly teach the uninitiated. However, since Eta Carinae is in our own Milky Way and could potentially go the way of this other peculiar super-nova, I think you can all conclude that life as we know it would simply cease to exist. Here. There. Everywhere in our universe. Put that in your deep-thinker cap, and see how it relates to your daily grind. I've followed Eta Carinae for a long time, and in fact, I started a sci-fi story based on just that kind of scenario -- doomsday. {Um, you ain't gonna get no stinkin bad news about life ending from that via most sources; after all, we don't want to know if today, this second could be our last, do we?}

Mowed the lawn this morning; one of the dirtiest jobs ever, no matter how you cut it. I did buy some very good safety glasses, as I hate the blowback of grass in my eyes. One reason it's so bad lately is that we're in a drought, and there is nothing but dry ground under that sparse grass. Ugh.

After a shower, I went to Walmart and planned to buy the rechargable battery weedeater, but they were sold out. There was another one for $79.00. I could barely lift it, much less USE it. Woe is me. You know, I'm beginning to believe this quote from the movie Fight Club: The things you own will eventually end up owning you. Argh. Maybe I should just downsize to a tiny rented apartment somewhere, and let the management take care of upkeep!!??!!

Will bike later, though it's much cooler here today, only in the 70s. Nice for a change.

My MIL called today, and we talked for over an hour. She seems to have had some sort of crisis about DH, asked her church members to "pray" for her...then said she had a dream/vision that DH came to her and told her he was okay, not to worry about him any more. That seemed to comfort her, so she said she is coping better now.

Another of DH's friends told me (not long after DH died) that he had a vision while driving his truck (uh, that IS scary, he drives a gas tanker) of DH sitting beside him, silent.

You know, DH doesn't visit my dreams. Neither of us believed much in spirituality (though I can be stupidstitious at times) -- and certainly were NOT religious -- so maybe that is why. I've had a few vague dreams of him, but nothing I could remember clearly. I know, even IF he could, he would NOT come back to haunt me, harass me, advise me. Why? Because he knows I've always been an independent person, and will cope -- one way or another. And IF (a big IF) there is something beyond this world, he/his spirit is at peace. He was a GOOD person, whether he believed in God or not, and that is what truly matters. But frankly, he's just gone...dead...not coming back -- in any form. Like all humans will be eventually.

On that cynical note, I'll end this.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

My cats in photos...

Yep, they are all still here. When the dogs go to their crate to sleep at night, the cats come inside to play! The cats routine hasn't changed at all; they've always had their daytime special home (a screeporch/indoor haven attached to house) and only came inside at night for a few hours. And that is still true.

I have some photos of their playtime:

The two Queen B*tches (Pretty & Ms. Bitty)-- always vying for dominate cat

Pretty wins, always does...though Bitty will be next to take the ONE Queen B*tch status

They are contemplating a smackdown!

Except for Princess, who could care less & prefers to watch

Been a lazy day, just the usual slow Sunday. I did take the dogs on a walk late, after the temps cooled down somewhat. Didn't bike, since I often take Sundays off from biking. Tomorrow we're supposed to get a cool front, and with temps only in the 70s, so I'll probably mow the backyard.

Monday, April 30, 2007

A Walk Around the Block

Let's go on a walk around the block where I live in photos. This is where I usually walk my dogs nearly every day, except when I take them to the nearby park.

This is taking a left and heading down the street which deadends

Turning left at the deadend, this is the street that borders a vacant wooded lot

At the curve in the previous street photo, a trail leads down to a creek; several hundred acres of woods/land there is owned by a monastery/retreat

This street is steep and borders the creek

And the creek runs downhill alongside the street

And we're back to the street where I live, white car in my driveway

With the exception of the short block that connects the three sides of the block, that's pretty much where I walk the dogs. It's actually a span of two blocks, and as you can see, it's up and down hills. I think that contributed to my knee problems, but the main reason was the dogs PULLING and RUNNING. I finally taught them to WALK on the leash, not run; to HALT when I say to. And I got some very expensive walking shoes, which helped. Slowing our pace to a sauntering walk instead of a jog truly made a big difference. My knees occasionally still hurt, but usually only if I've been climbing stairs or not wearing proper shoes. At least I CAN take the dogs on walks, and it's very enjoyable for them as well as myself.

I live about a block from the wooded forest retreat land of a monastery, which means there won't be any housing developments there. This is a settled neighborhood, and living on a deadend street there is little traffic; it's very quiet here, and I LOVE it, after living in that farmhouse on a busy county road!

I mowed the backyard yesterday, no problem. Either this afternoon or tomorrow afternoon I'll mow the front yard. I'm getting better and better at using the riding mower, and if this continues, I may buy a new one when this used one breaks down.

I saw a great rented movie Saturday night: "Notes on a Scandal." Highly recommended!

For my latest daily activities, check my Twitter sidebar; I update frequently day and night.

I'll close with this snippet from (a forum I visit often for widows/widowers). A widow wrote this, and it is worthy of consideration:

What I've learned about men as a widow:

1. They think I have money
2. They think I am horny
3. They think I need someone to "mother"
4. They have major health issues and think I'm a nurse
5. They need a place to stay and be taken care of
6. And they think, last but not least, I'll accept anything.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New Photos

Another beautiful day, even though we were supposed to have storms today. Maybe later in the afternoon, or not -- who knows? My yard will have to be mown probably next Monday; I don't like to keep it butchered, and also waste gas when it doesn't really need mowing.

Yesterday at Walmart I looked at a lightweight weedeater with recharable battery. It only costs $56.00 and I am considering buying it if the weed killer doesn't control perimeter areas of the yard. I have a long curb in front of the house, and alongside my paved driveway...not to mention the chainlink fence. I will probably get the weedeater, since I think it's light enough for me to use -- and doesn't need gas or cord.

I'm enjoying the new feature at Twitter, which allows my brief (you're limited to about four lines of text) updates to appear in the sidebar of my blog now.

I finished a good novel last night, and need to head to the library shortly. Reading novels helps me deal with the random, seemingly mad world we inhabit, as well as inspire my own writing.

Now here are a few random photos around my place:

The azalea at rear of my house, survived the late frost

Weird tree beside my house is flourishing

Old mailbox (for bird nests) in backyard fig tree, which didn't escape the late frost

Pecan tree stump has become bane of my existence, tried all kinds of methods to kill/stop sap

Pups tuckered out after getting back from walk

Otta here for today!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Poem

This was written recently when I was alone, lying in bed, a thunderstorm approaching.

Distant Thunder

Off in the distance
A roar and rumble
Scents of rain on the wind,
And I lie in my bed
Unafraid of storms
Tornados or hurricanes
Cancer or disaster.

I have lived long
And hard and for Art,
Stood in downpours of rain
And raging rivers of heartache,
Kissed and loved and lost
Lovers, scoundrels and the cost
Has been monumental sorrow
And aching and surrender...
But -- I have lived.

Thunder rocks and rolls
Across a perilous world,
Where no one is promised

To be dangerous
To be alive
And give your ALL
Your soul, your heart
For Art
For Love
For Life
Then distant thunder
Will never threaten.


Though I've not mentioned it recently in my blog, I have almost finished my memoir. It will end with my marriage, not continue into that landscape. My childhood/teen years were so difficult, dangerous and yes, loveless, that I decided to end that first part of my life in one book.

No, it will not be online...because I intend to search for a publisher.

Tired, had a busy day, and ready for bed. Just wanted to post this before I go to sleep.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

V.Tech Shooter Was Loner...

So what? Ted Bundy, by all accounts, was outgoing, charming, involved in politics -- and oh yeah, a serial killer.

Here's an article with comments from my hero -- the author of "Party of One."

~~From the New York Sun~~

Loners Vs. Loneliness
April 18, 2007

The minute she heard about the massacre in Virginia, author Anneli Rufus knew what was coming next. "It was almost a countdown," she said. "Five, four, three, two, one — here comes the L word!"

And so it did.

"He was a loner," school spokesman Larry Hincker said of the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, "and we're having difficulty finding information about him."

Oh, so the homicidal maniac responsible for the deadliest shooting rampage in American history was a loner? That explains it. He got sick of eating lunch alone, so he killed 32 people. Happens all the time. It's a script as old as "Taxi Driver" — older, even. The only problem is, it's wrong.

Ms. Rufus, author of the loner manifesto "Party of One," would like to set the record straight: Loners don't kill people. Lonely people kill people. There's a big difference.

"The loner is a person who feels very comfortable alone," she said. "Loneliness doesn't even occur to them. A whole weekend could go by and it's 6 on a Sunday and they say, `Oh! I haven't talked to anyone,' and that's cool."

Loners harbor no hard feelings toward the world that didn't stop by for tea. They didn't want to chat anyway.

Lonely folks, on the other hand, feel frantic when they can't connect. "Loneliness is associated with just about everything bad," a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, Harry Reis, said. "Lonely people die earlier, they have all sorts of problems. It's the no. 1 cause of suicide."

Unlike the loner, "a lonely person craves others and feels bad when they aren't there," Ms. Rufus said. "I've done a lot of reading about criminals, and often I find that these are people who could not get accepted into a clique, a club, a relationship. They're hurt and they want revenge." In other words, people who need people are (potentially) the most violent people in the world.

People who don't need people, however, are the ones nobody trusts.

Happy-go-lucky loners get lumped together with needy nuts because, to the outside world, these very different groups look the same: They're the ones sitting out the picnic. And since it's hard for most people to imagine anyone choosing this solitude, onlookers assume they must be sad or snooty — or packing heat.

Then, too, there's the self-fulfilling headline writing (we) the press are guilty of.

Google "loner" and "gunman" and you will find a slew of slayers, some of whom held very social jobs, like hairdresser and doctor. Was there ever a loner hairdresser? But Google "gossipy" and "gunman" and — forget it.

Though we automatically think of our criminals as loners and vice versa, the fact is some of the most admired people in history have preferred solitude to speed dating. Ms. Rufus has compiled a whole list of them, beginning with Isaac Newton, who didn't even like playing with other boys as a child.

J.D. Salinger, Albert Einstein, and the author of "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson, all enjoyed spending more time with their thoughts (or at least fish) than with other people, as did John Lennon, Franz Kafka, and Stanley Kubrick. Emily Dickinson spoke to people through a partly closed door for a good part of her life, "a veritable poster girl for reclusiveness," Ms. Rufus said. Dickinson was a loner, yes, but her poems don't sound lonely. They sound full of life.

In fact, the desire to be alone has zero correlation with any kind of psychopathology, a psychiatry professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Robert Archer, said. "The preference to spend a quiet evening reading a book rather than being at a party has no [correlation to] mental illness at all," he said. "The world is quite full of introverted people who are quite safe to live next door."

And if by some chance the one next door to you isn't — well, at least we know how you'll describe him to the 1010 News team.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mad news of the world...

I'd love to tell you that all the other news agencies were suddenly attacked by a sincere feeling of guilt over the airing of that hideous video by the V.Tech shooter to MSNBC, but let's face it folks, just ain't so. (Um, does JEALOUSY/COMPETITION ring a bell here?) Frankly, to think that FOX (Faux news as intelligent people call it) actually had a serious bout of conscience after all the crap they spew...well, it defies credibility.

S*it happens, all the time. Just glad I didn't bring forth any more humans into this world to experience it.

Why the V.Tech shooter did what he did: Only he knew for sure, but it seems fairly obvious he was picked on and bullied as a shy youngster. And I read he might have been autistic too -- or at least once diagnosed as a child. The media has an obligation to report news; that event is news, and in general the public wants to know WHY it happened.

Though this may seem bleak, I'm actually in a GREAT mood. See Twitter (on sidebar) for recent updates about WHY...

Still, I believe that humans and the earth and the solar system and the nauseam, are, indeed, doomed.

For more newsworthy events as evidence of this, I give you these links:

Man Kills Houston Complex Manager, Self

Nurse Guilty of Dismembering Husband

Quantum physics says goodbye to reality

Two of World's Oldest Women Meet in Indiana

I don't know, but I'm thinking I might like to be one of those old ladies in that last article!!! Of course, as the quantum physics article states, apparently reality doesn'exist without us to observe it. I think I once stated in a previous post that maybe we're all in some elaborate computer game, and the plug could be pulled at any time.

So there you have it, more evidence of our mad, mad world.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

V.Tech Shooter

...achieved his goal: infamy, notoriety, and unending obsession by the media.

How else can anyone explain his huge, info-packed mailing to MSNBC received today? Isn't it entirely obvious? He wanted that minute of fame that so many in America crave, whether negative or positive.

Sure, he could be labeled insane, nuts, whatever...but to have the clarity of mind to plan his mass killing, do video/writings, photos and mail it prior to the slaying? To KNOW in advance the media feeding frenzy that would result? Methinks he was focused, intent, determined, and methodical (not unlike the 9/11 terrorists)... Is this insanity?

Or is that we are simply living in a mad, mad world?

I just wonder if seeing all the media coverage of the tawdry Anna Nicole saga is what finally drove him over the edge? LOL Seriously, when he wrote of debauchery in his suicide note, I couldn't help but wonder if he'd seen too much of that, as I, indeed, have.

As for the media, eat your hearts out CNN, CBS and ABC -- MSNBC hit the motherlode today! (sarcasm intended)

In news from the mundane of my life: I finally used the riding mower to mow the yard. I'm learning more as I practice, and it is going well. It took less than an hour, and I think it'll prove to be a task I can manage. And true, there is a sense of accomplishment, just seeing the lawn mown, and knowing I did it! Beats paying for it too!

I went on my bike ride earlier, and plan to take the dogs for a short walk later. Tomorrow I will go to the library, try to find some novels/fiction, which at least makes sense. Life, lately and unfortunately, does NOT -- and in fact, never has and never will. That is the SECRET all novelist know.

UPDATE: Just wondering about the shooter: there are vague references/snippets about physical abuse in his writings and I am wondering if any intrepid reporter has tried to interview his parents, look into this aspect? Or what about his theatrical play in which student characters attack/kill a teacher/professor who raped/abused them? I guess we'll all know eventually, via the media...but I have to speculate that there might be more to this than we currently know. {Or maybe his parents are busy negotiating the movie rights to his life story via a lawyer -- sarcasm intended}

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Past Revisited

The conflict I've always faced with my mother is that I feel torn between feeling sorry for her and anger at her past neglect/abuse. She is getting old, in failing health (serious, under Hospice care) and when I am with her, I feel compassion. Yet I also recall all the pain and horror of our childhood when she WOULD NOT get us out of that dangerous situation. And she could have, in one way or another. Living with a raging, violent alcoholic father, our mother always chose either her own safety or staying with him over her children. I cannot and will NOT forgive her for that. Ever.

As the eldest child, it was I who intervened and tried to save my younger sisters. So many, many times I can't even recall all those dark events. We were in serious danger of being killed by my father, on numerous occasions, and I've always wondered why it seems to be acceptable (for society/religion) to forgive parents who might kill us moreso than those dangerous strangers who might do so. We seek the death penalty for killers, and the fact that potential killers are your parents has no bearing on this fact in my mind. The simple answer is that a child needs to feel loved, no matter if the reality is that they ARE NOT loved -- at least NOT in a safe, protective way.

So that may be my ultimate conflict: That I cannot feel loved by my mother (nor father who died years ago), and cannot forgive them because of the abuse/neglect and lack of protective parenting.

Yes, we as a society are MORE aware of child abuse now than in the past. And Yes, there is progress in that more abusive parents/killers are held accountable for their actions. Still, there is no way to ever heal the wounds of a damaged child -- and no way to resurrect the dead children.

As I've grown older, and mother has to, I've found that all the grievances I had for her have come back to haunt me. I cannot look at her and NOT see all the pain she inflicted upon us children -- which only invokes fury. Mostly, I cannot bear to be near her any longer, and I have this awful premonition that I will not even attend her funeral.

In this photo below, she is standing at my step-dad's grave. She started dating him shortly after our dad died, and while my three younger sisters were still in high school. Instead of taking care of them, she was always on the phone with him, off on an outing, while my husband and I took care of the girls. You see, she had many opportunities to correct her selfish behavior, but she never did. It was always ALL ABOUT HER. And to this day, it's the same: She is living with one of my sisters after my step-dad's death (instead of going into the nursing home which would be paid for by medicaid since she had NOTHING after his death)...and causing all kinds of problems. In fact, today I learned that my sister's husband (with whom she is living) is having health problems, probably stress-related.

Mother has always thought that her children should take care of HER, instead of HER taking care of them -- from our births. Draw your own conclusions.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

I had been busy all morning, running errands in town, and was shocked to hear on the radio about the Virginia Tech shooting spree. Horrible. Worst in this country, to date. But I've noticed that every new spree shooting (seen in timelines on the news) shows that the victim count continues to rise. It will be interesting to learn exactly what kind of weapon was used, since the shooter killed so many so quickly. He must have planned this with exquisite detail, leaving nothing to chance, and carrying it out precisely -- including his suicide. I have a nephew away at college, and it's easy to imagine how devastated the families of all the victims will be for a long, long time.

Otherwise, I had thought about mowing my yard today but it really doesn't need it just now. We are supposed to have rain tomorrow night, and after that, I guess the front yard will need to be mown. The back yard is still in good shape.

I went on my bike ride after returning from errands, then did some long-overdue housecleaning -- mopped the floors, dusted, etc. Yesterday my sister stayed all day with me while bro-in-law took his mother into Urgent Care since she was feeling sick. Doctor didn't think it was anything serious though. Anyhow, we had a great visit and the dogs loved having her here; Oscar sat in her lap almost the whole time.

Tomorrow she is returning, and we'll take mother to visit my step-dad's grave -- he's buried in a local veteran's memorial cemetery, since mother will be buried beside my father. Mother seems to be stable, but I don't talk to her as much; living with my other sister, she's in a chaotic household and with only one phone line.

The television I had in my bedroom went on the fritz over the weekend, so I'm looking for a replacement. I don't use it that much, but it's nice to have it on for company when I can't sleep. I'm debating between an LCD TV and flat-screen cheapie at Wal-mart.

I am becoming addicted to Twitter, since I can make constant updates about what I'm doing during the day/night. If you want to find out my latest, brief updates, do check it out at this URL:

Frequent Updates At Twitter

There's also a permanent link on my sidebar.

As for the post on snakes in potted plants, I'm not sure that was true, after all. I asked my sister, who sent it to me, if she was SURE it happened to her neighbor and she's checking into it. Quite possibly, it was a forwarded email -- and that is how urban legends get perpetuated. I may remove that post if I find out it IS a hoax, and I must say that looking at the photos, they seem a bit too posed: If I found snakes in a pot, I wouldn't be calm enough to take photos, I'd be killing those little monsters! LOL

Enough for today.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Snakes in potted plant

Just a brief word about the following pictures and a warning. One my sister's neighbors received a potted plant as a gift, and when she was taking it out of the pot to replant...she found that, apparently, a snake had laid eggs in it, and they'd hatched out! Yikkes! Here's the proof and a warning: be careful when repotting plants!

I have no idea how this happened, but it DID. Again, just be cautious when you are taking plants out of a pot. I know there are stories on the net saying this is a hoax and/or urban legend -- but this happened. In fact, looking on the internet, I read a few news articles about people being bitten by snakes in pots at the garden department of several large stores, such Wal-mart.

Rainy day, I'm doing some housecleaning, and hope to catch up on email later this afternoon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New camera photos

These are experimental first photos with my new camera -- which is a Samsung Digimax U-CA 5. Although I have a lot to learn about all the features, I'm impressed with it. Especially the movie-making aspect, since there's no limit on the movie length if you have a large capacity SD card (and I already had one I'd bought for the Nikon).

Anyhow, here's a few first pictures:

~~Rambo in his favorite chair beside my computer~~

~~Rambo and Oscar on their "doggie trail"~~

~~My new sofa in the living room~~

~~And the matching loveseat~~

~~Slinky, one of my bobtail cats~~

My sister has been here all day visiting, and we had a great time talking. Then took the dogs for a long walk in the nearby park -- Oscar and Rambo LOVE that! Also, my new sofa/loveseat are VERY comfortable, and I am glad I finally bought them. I did buy the riding mower from my sister today, and next up, a picture of it!

Must head out for my bike ride now, since we're expecting rain tomorrow and I want to get in a good ride before the storms.