My Novels

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Want to hide

Have you ever dreaded just hearing what will happen next? Not in a novel, a movie...but real life? Just want to run and hide, maybe never get out of bed, pull the covers over your head?

That's pretty much been my life since two years ago when DH died. One death after another, and every time, though I think I'm prepared, I'm not.

I can't even go into the details, but sister's mother-in-law had surgery today, came through it well for her age (76). Still, I have a really bad, bad feeling about this. One of those feelings you can't quite explain...but it's the same feeling I had when DH first started getting sick (and the stupid doctors said he was 'just fine.')

To top it all off, my youngest sister visited my mother today and mother said she "looked on the verge of death."

I have a truly sick feeling about this coming February -- two years ago DH died in February; my dad died in February (almost the same day as DH)...and many times I've thought our family has some sort of curse or bad karma for that month. I could make an endless list, but I won't.

Who knows, I might not survive the next month myself. As they say, "Elvis is dead, and I don't feel so good myself."

Sometimes, weird as it may sound, you just KNOW. (Evidenced by my past entries about the old house we renovated and DH's death.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bored and tired

Spent most of the day scrubbing and cleaning, doing household chores, since the movement of furniture points out what NEEDS cleaning.

I'm in a blah mood, suffering with allegy problems complicated by the endless dry spell we're having in the South. It's near 60 degrees today, and storms are predicted for later this afternoon, so maybe a little rain will clear the air somewhat.

I quit the Lexapro antidepressant when I left my position at the newspaper. Some of the side effects were starting to bother me, like dry eyes and teeth grinding in my sleep. But I am beginning to feel mood swings, the depths of depression again -- my "normal" state before the meds. Ah well, so it goes.

I found an excellent entry about Bible verse babble on a blog; I want to post an excerpt, which is simply too good to pass up -- and true. So true it hurts.

Courtesy of Jon's Jail Journal

Bible passage:
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

This is a silly one. Whothafuck receives what they ask for? We get shit on so much in prison, there’s a sayin’: ‘You ain’t got nothin’ comin’’ Do you get everythin’ you ask for? Who does? Does Billy Graham? This quote was put together for control of the masses – the great unwashed – years ago, by the priests, the monks, the kings. I’ve read about it. They had what was called scriptoriums, rooms in monastries where they had scribes and monks who wrote shit to keep the mooches and masses in line. The priests thought, Hey, let’s tell this mooch he can come back from the dead and live forever in a mansion in the clouds or maybe have eighty-three virgins. That’s one of the major themes of all these religions: keepin’ the masses in line ’cause we don’t want motherfuckers pickin’ up their pitchforks and tryin’ to jack our shit. Some used Zeus, some Jesus, some Buddha, some Muhammad, some Shiva, some Thor – and we can go on and on since the dawn of early societies. When they were crawlin’ up in those caves at night, somewhere, one of those dudes thought, Hey, maybe I can con some mooches to go hunt today, and I’ll stay back and eat and fuck and lay in the sun. I know, I’ll tell ’em the gods want ’em out there wrestlin’ saber-toothed tigers, and bustin’ their asses while I get to kick it and fuck around with everybody’s daughters. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s nothin’ new. And it’s not gonna end as long as people exist. The strong will take from the weak, but the smart will take from the strong, and the poor unwashed masses will get fucked over. But it don’t matter. Let’s enjoy this ol’ life. I laugh every day. Make the most of it ’cause you’re not here for but a quick minute – and then you die.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Better mood

I think I freaked out my family over the no-show incident with nephew, because two brothers-in-law showed up yesterday to help with the new computer desk unit. So I'm sitting here enjoying it, and LOVE having more space. I could hardly type or use the keyboard very long on the other smaller, enclosed desk, and I'm definitely a happy camper now.

Not without a lot of hard work (on their part and mine), but at least it's progress. I had to take all the books off my bookshelf, and discarded THREE boxes of outdated reference books. I'll probably take all those to the Salvation Army store. It's scary how soon printed material becomes outdated, due to internet access. I kept only favorite writing technique books, beloved fiction and poetry. (Get rid to the clutter, heh?)

Now I'm on a quest to clean out closets/cabinets and whatever else is useless. How does so much useless STUFF collect? I suspect it multiplies while we're sleeping! LOL

I don't have as much appreciation for material objects as I once did -- especially as I age. I like USEFUL things, like the desk/computer, etc. but I detest lots of "objects." Makes life so much more simple if you live as if tomorrow you will die and someone else will have to clear up the mess you left behind. (It happens, really, every day.)

I do have valuable, treasued items that I keep in two antique trunks, but it is always amazing how much useless crap ends up stuffed here or there, and in the way. Freecycle online is great way to get rid of larger, unneeded things, like furniture you don't need but someone might use. I have listed several things in the past, had someone come to pick it up.

And that's it for today.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Par for the course

Nephew and friend never showed up. Didn't call, so I called him and left a message saying "Let me know if you can't do this today?"

Nothing. Nada.

Also didn't hear from the electric company, though the owner promised to let me know if they got the part for my unit.

See why I'm exasperated with hiring so-called help?

I was so furious with my nephew, I'll probably never speak to him again. (Not an idle threat, since I've carried this out to the fullest extent in the past.)

I've just had a bad, depressing day, the kind that makes you want to die, which is still a possibilty on the table.

It's fairly obvious, but when you can't even hire relatives to help you -- what makes folks think they will without money?

Sad, isn't it? I feel sorry for all the people breeding and thinking they will have someone to take care of them in their old age. Not going to happen.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Happy...for now

Today as I was driving along the highway, I had one of those totally "in the moment" feelings: I'm happy! Free! Not dreading what next assignment, what next person I'll have to interview...just EXISTING. There is no way to describe this 'zen' moment, but I imagine it is similar to when I'm immersed in creative fiction writing: feeling blissful.

No reason in particular, except I have that burden of a 'job' lifted off me for now. No one with expectations, demands...whining or shoving or wanting me to do something for them. Sweet. (A huge clue I never want to be married again, and I'm slowly but surely adjusting to being alone the rest of my life.)

At any rate, I was on my way to look at that corner computer desk again, and decided it was indeed exactly what I need. I called my nephew later, and he and one of his friends will come tomorrow to help. First we'll go get the unit from Big Lots, then they'll put it together, move some furniture around and take away some stuff I am clearing out.

I made a vow after DH died that I would NOT start collecting "stuff" again; when I buy new things, the old have to go -- and I do mean, leave the premises. This is a good policy, because not only does it reduce useless clutter, it can help those who might need/want it, and not burden your kin when you die and leave behind a big mess to sort through. Stay organized, you never know when you'll take your last breath!

I haven't heard from the electric company yet, but hope to soon. The worst temps are tonight, near 18 degrees, and warming trend over the weekend. Not terribly important the unit is repaired tomorrow, since I'm nice and toasty now that I can use the electric heaters without worry.

That's it for today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Amazing good news

First, all the plugs/light switches in my house have been replaced. The ones near my kitchen sink/bathroom sink now have an electronic detector so that IF an electrical appliance falls into the water accidently, I won't be fried. Ah, electronics!

Additionally, I have a new light fixture in the bathroom, replacing the old, dangerous and weak lighting.

But here's the amazing news: the electric company I hired also does central heat/air repairs and I asked them for a second opinion about my ailing heating unit. Guess what? For only $550 they can order a part, get it fixed. AND guarantee it, stand behind the work/part.

Today's total was $450 and trust me, if I can get the electrical work I had done today, as well as my heating unit running again for around $1,000 I am going to be a happy camper. Truly.

Hopefully the part may be here tomorrow, since one of the workers is going to Huntsville today to pick it up. That means I'll have a working central heat unit by the weekend, and can use these other heaters for spot heating only.

I think this experience is the difference between hiring a "jack-of-all-trades" guy instead of professionals. The first guy I hired to look at my central heating unit did several kinds of work, in addition to electrical work. He wasn't willing to "guarantee" replacing the part on the unit, which meant I'd just be out the money if it didn't work. The jury is still out, until the unit is working again -- but it's less than 10 years old, and should NOT have to be replaced so soon.

Now I'll probably be inspired to set off on a spending spree of getting everything around here updated that I'd put off while working. The list includes:

A new storage shed outside, and having an old metal one torn down and taken away.

A larger corner desk unit for my new computer. I priced one at Big Lots the other day, but it would have to be assembled at home. I may hire one of my nephews to do that, as well as change/rearrange some of my furniture for me.

Plantation shutters from Lowe's, installed throughout the house. Or at least in the living room/bedroom first. I'd love to have these in every window, easy cleaning, never have to be replaced. Expensive initially, but long-lasting and no need for curtains...EVER.

A backdoor from my den into the backyard. With either a small porch or patio. I have no backdoor going directly into the backtyard, just the one that goes onto the carport. It would be so nice to get out into the backyard easier, since I have to walk around the house to get to the large backyard. And it would also be nice to have a doggie door leading directly out that way, instead of across the carpot. My long-range plans here, when the cats are all gone, is to reclaim my carport for a car, and have a doggie door to the backyard via a patio.

Maybe a new car, (and IF I get one, definitely needs to be in a carport) but I'm going to take a good long time in looking/deciding on that. No real trouble with my car now, but if I buy a new one it should last me the rest of my life. Plus, I want a gas-saver, maybe a hybrid, even though mine now is no gas guzzler.

There's more, but those are the top priorities. We shall see in time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Funny lol-dog photo

Oh hai, I created a funni pix of my pupz.

Look at dis:

You can see more funny cat/dog pictures at:
I'm back on my regular PC, using a super heavy duty extension cord. I'll be keeping an eye on it, make sure it doesn't overheat. Can you say: addicted to the computer/internet.

Electrican coming when you call: impossible. I guess if you spot a serious electrical problem, you just have to get in line and wait till they can pencil you in. In my case, I had to call ten different electricians before finding one that would come out TOMORROW. Today would have been impossible, they said.

I could have said something snarky, like: "If you show up and my house is burned to the ground, do I still have to pay for a service call?" (sigh)

At any rate, I'm making do for now. I didn't leave the electric heaters plugged in last night, and with only one propane heater, it was COLD in this house when I got up this morning. Bummer.

We're having a long, rainy day -- at last. Hope it helps alleviate the awful drought conditions here in our area of the South.

It seems I'm back to writing again, at least blogging and emails. Since I'm between assignments, it's freed me to write what I WANT -- and I've got to say, it feels liberating!!! Maybe a short story is not faraway, and in fact, I've been writing poetry on my little Eee late at night. Good signs for me, I think.

Till later...

Nearly burned the house down

Yep, I almost did tonight. Had bought two electric radiator oil-filled heaters, had them plugged in when I smelled a strong burning scent. Finally traced it to the plug/outlet, and pulled the plug...but the smell continued.

I called my brother-in-law and he helped me throw the circuit breaker so no power would be coming through the faulty outlet. I knew some of the outlets in this house needed replacing, because they were so loose stuff would almost fall out. I had no idea a fire could start, even AFTER the heater plug was pulled out.

To top it all off, all my PC was on that same circuit. That means I wouldn't be making this post if I didn't have the alternative of my little Eee laptop. Always have a backup 'puter if you want to stay connected.

And oh yeah, maybe not overtax your outlets with too much power -- especially if they need replacing. Jeesus H. Christ, I could be toast by now if the smell hadn't alerted me. There was a house fire just today in our county that is suspected to have started from a faulty outlet. Burned the house to the ground.

Ya know what I'll be doing tomorrow: Getting an electrician out here, pronto.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Breeding versus not breeding

Just a brief post, possibly not an accurate title.

Tonight I watched "March of the Penquins" which I just found sad and tragic. Animals basically follow their instincts, and have no choice in breeding. Humans should know better, but often seem victims of biology.

I thought of the book: Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and pulled it out of my bookshelf. It's a beautiful allegory about being different from the herd, paying the price of labels, yet truly being free. Spiritually and emotionally free. It reminded me of why I couldn't stay with the newspaper, why I have never followed the rule of corporate America...and the price we pay who are loners, seeking our own individual paths.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Freakish snow today

About noon, I took the dogs on a walk and halfway round the block, felt sleet hitting my head. I knew it was supposed to be a cold rain, but not sleet. As we walked up a long hill near woods, I could hear the sleet spitting down through trees. The dogs kept trying to shake off the wetness.

We hurried home, and not long after, it started snowing. Great big fluffy beautiful snowflakes that look as if a fog is rolling in. At first none of it was sticking but within the hour, rooftops, yards, bushes, trees were starting to be outlined by the snow. BEAUTIFUL.

I couldn't resist taking some photos of the landscape around here in the neighborhood, so I'm going to post one at the end of this. The snow had stopped by dark, nearly all melted by 9:00 -- it warmed up instead of growing colder.

Ah, but for a few hours we got to experience a "winter wonderland" we don't often see in the South.

Here's a photo of the snowy landscape:

The wooded vista beyond my almost-deadend street where woods prevail

And this is what the dogs were doing while it snowed

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm using the Eee!

First thing out-of-the-box, it connected to wireless internet. Heck, I didn't even know I had wireless here....but most of the city has hot spots for wireless, so maybe I picked up a free signal? I don't have a wireless router, so that has to be it. At any rate, it IS taking some getting used to the smallish keyboard, but I'm confident I can do it; if nothing else, I'm a great typist. LOL

No problem learning Linux, simple as pie. Still discovering features, but that's part of the fun.

I'm impressed! And this from an older woman who thought the screen would be too cramped, but surprisingly, you can adjust the text size and have ease of vision.

And oh yeah, did I mention this wireless speed is smoking FAST?!

LOVE it so far. More to come soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

In Love....

No, not with a man. Not even with writing (though I always will be to some extent). I'm in love with ELECTRONICS!

I probably should be buying new window treatments, getting my outdoor crumbling storage building replaced and a million other things. What am I doing? Enjoying my new computer, the great digital speakers nephew gave me for Christmas and anticipating the arrival of a new tiny laptop Wednesday.

I sold/exchanged my larger laptop with my sister for a TV/DVD player in my bedroom over Christmas. I never used it, because it was too heavy to lug around.

I found this NEW innovative laptop too promising to resist:

Asus Eee

Look at the link if you're interested in new technology. I can't wait for it to arrive: Not only will it be great for almost all my laptop needs, but word processing. And so small it can fit in my purse! Wow!

I did write several stories for the newspaper. And I got a great job offer, but unfortunately it's with the county -- and if I work for the county, it cuts into the pension. Bummer.

I'm doing okay, in spite of this being close to the dreaded two-year anniversary of DH's death.

Thursday night I will meet with the other two ladies from local animal welfare, and see what they have in mind for me as a volunteer. Should be interesting.

This weekend I interviewed one of DH's friends, for a profile section in the newspaper. This is the first time I dared approach seeing DH's horses: the guy has two of them. I was pleasantly surprised.

Buttercup, DH's longtime riding horse, seemed to instinctively KNOW me! She walked up to me, not nudging for treats, just looking at me (sadly I thought). It was as if she was asking, "Where's J?"

I thought I was okay with it, until later that night when I had another crying fit. And that's why I haven't been to visit DH's horses, though I know where they all are. Maybe next spring. At least I know Buttercup is in great condition, and being well taken care of.

Guess who got a new sweater?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

New year, new beginnings

And then again, return to some familiar territory.

First, I have accepted several freelance assignments from the newspaper. There's a special section coming out in March profiling local people, and I had already written two profiles before I left. When I picked up my check Friday, Amanda (news editor) asked me if I'd like to finish the other three profiles I'd started and I agreed. I will get paid a set fee per article, and can sign out and use the camera for assignments.
So this is a good compromise; I get paid for writing, but can work on my own, do interviews when convenient, write the articles at home. No office position, and that's good in that I can still have lots of time for other activities and yet get out among people for interviews AND still have my byline in the newspaper. I also have ideas for regular columns, but will wait and see how I like this new arrangement.

I have already lined up one interview for next Saturday, and trying to set up another one for this coming week.

The bitter cold abated today, and I went on a long bike ride, then took the dogs on a walk. Overcast and mild, just right for being outdoors. Temps will remain in the 50s/60s for the next week, which will help keep my heating costs down.

The woman over the animal shelter volunteer group also called me, and we must have talked an hour. She was thrilled I plan to do some volunteer work, and also write some articles for the newspaper about the rescue efforts, etc. Additionally, I may help out with their website, and take photos of fostered pets up for adoption to update on Petfinder. In a few weeks, the woman and another volunteer are going on tours of animal shelters in two nearby larger cities, as a way to get improvement ideas for our local shelter. They invited me to go along, and I plan to -- possibly taking pictures and writing an in-depth article for perhaps Lifestyles.

Today I talked with my mother-in-law and the reality of bro-in-law's death seems to have sunk in. I don't want to go into things here, but there's a cloud of uncertainty still about his death. There was an autopsy and the results haven't come back yet. So we'll see, I guess. About the only thing that could have made DH's death worse would have been something unsavory about it all. I feel so sorry for my sister-in-law.

Sister's mother-in-law is having health trouble again, back in the hospital. They are all so stressed out by her situation, it's a real ordeal.

And with that update, I'm outta here for now. I added Twitter to the sidebar, so there may be more frequent updates than on the blog.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Too Funny!

Found this little bit of humor on the 'net today:


I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could all use a little more calmness in our lives. By following simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace. Dr. Phil proclaimed, 'The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started and have never finished.' So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel, a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream, a bottle of Kahula, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos and a box of chocolates. You have no idea how freaking good I feel.
Nice day, even if brisk. At least the wind died down from yesterday, when it was literally bone-chilling. I haven't been on my bike ride for three days, but hope to go tomorrow.

I did take the dogs on a long walk, and we enjoyed that.

Also, I bought a new electric heater and now have two, along with the propane gase heater. The central heat pump is kaput and I don't want to install an entire system just now. Last night it was in the teens, and very cold, but I survived. The new heater I have looks like a radiator, and has oil that heats up. I really like it, and along with the other electric heater and gas, I hope to survive the winter without the central heat unit. There is nothing wrong with the air conditioning, just the heating unit.

I also took some dog food to the animal shelter, and browsed the dogs there. I saw two cute feist mixes I just loved, and one in particular was tiny, begging for love.

When I got home, I sent an email to a new rescue group in town, and asked about fostering one of the small dogs there. I wouldn't 'own' the dog, just let it live here until a good home is found. Through this group, I would take the dog to Pet Depot each Saturday where it would be in a crate so potential adopters could see it. And that is repeated over and over, until someone takes it and then I get another dog from the animal shelter. This is a great way to prevent having to euthanize the dogs at the shelter, and getting some good homes. I think I can do this, and will give it a try. Plus, I could possibly write some interesting articles and/or a column for the newspaper about this experience.

We'll see. At least I have made a step forward about my New Year's Resolutions!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Resolutions?

Do I have any I really want to list. Yes, I do:

1. No more funeral home visitations/funerals this year. Without exception, meaning if family/friends/whoever dies this year, I'll send flowers/card, but not attend. I NEED a break, and this year I'm on sabbatical from that whole ritual. (I never liked it, have my will/last wishes so that when I die, it'll be simple, done, finished without pomp and circumstance.)

2. Find a meaningful outlet, either with part-time job or volunteer work, which gives me a way to get out of the house but NOTHING full-time, or perhaps even regular hours. (Learned my lesson in the past year on that - what I want and don't want/can't tolerate. Life is too short to waste it dreading each and every day in a stressful job AT MY AGE, 56.)

3. Try not to gain weight, get some exercise every day (biking and/or walking the dogs) but not starve myself. Eat healthy and in moderation.

4. Writing? IF a have an idea that grabs me, won't let me go, I'll write either a story, article, poem and maybe do some freelance writing for the newspaper. But the ONLY article I will write for the newspaper will be MY IDEA, something I feel especially passionate about and not a routine 'assignment.'

5. Make a positive attempt to do more for the local animal welfare groups and animal shelter. I know it won't be easy, but there are so many needy dogs/cats in need of just a hug or direct interaction. I think it will be difficult emotionally, but the reward should be worthwhile in knowing I'm doing something (other than where my money will go when I'm dead).

And that's it. We shall see if I fulfill any of these resolutions.


Here's a New Year's meme I grabbed off the net:

What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?

I worked at the local daily newspaper -- learned a lot, realized I'm still capable of developing new, difficult skills (pagination). Felt great about some of the average people I wrote about, found that the stress of public pressure plus acrimony in the office was intolerable.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Did anyone close to you die?
My uncle and brother-in-law and a host of others less related. This has been going on at shorter and shorter intervals ever since DH died almost two years ago.

What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
More peace, less stress, true friendships and fulfilling work that makes me glad to be alive. Perhaps another small dog; I've been looking at Yorkies.

What dates from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm not good with dates, but late May 2007 I went to work; late December 2007, I quit. And of course the deaths of my relatives.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning pagination (designing newspaper pages) with Quark. Learning I can write almost anything, given the rules. That I CAN hold down a demanding, stressful job with excellent pay; but that I DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT, because it leaves me no time to relax, smell the roses?!, love and pamper my critters, take care of ME. Not to mention no time to read novels, watch good movies, daydream and write creatively.

Where did most of your money go?
Savings, baby, savings! Ladies (married/single/widowed) here's a word of wisdom: save some money that is untouchable for any reason. You may need that one day, and that day is probably coming sooner than you dare realize.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Happier
b) thinner or fatter? Same
c) richer or poorer? Richer

What do you wish you’d done more of?
To my everlasting breath, I'll always wish I had written another novel. It's just so difficult to be chained to a year+ project at my age, but that is something I regret not having done at the end/beginning of every year. Which tells you where my heart is when it comes to WHAT I want to write.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm about to cook and eat some blackeye peas for good luck in 2008. (Not that I'm stupidstitious! *wink*)

Sunset from my backyard last week. Happy New Year Everyone!

Oscar enjoys being a pampered Doxie, apparently!