My Novels

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Let's go for a walk!

The past two days have been gloriously warm, sunny, a preview of spring and how much I'll enjoy living here again during that season. Not only am I looking forward to the wonderful weather, I'm already planning where I'll have my small veggie garden in this yard. I'll post a photo at the end of this with that area -- in a corner of my fenced backyard.

Yesterday I carried the camera with me as I walked the dogs through the neighborhood. Come along and see what we experience on our walks....

Half block from my front door, heading east down the street toward the creek

Street that borders the creek. You can't actually see the creek for the woods, but I can hear it after a heavy rain

At the end of the creek street, looking out across a field and an old house. Not sure anyone lives there now, but the original owner's adult kids own all this open land (sitting on a fortune there for developers!)

Now walking west, the street facing the empty land and other side with houses

Turned left at the corner of that street, still bordering the vacant field, heading south

Looking across field which runs downhill to the same creek behind the other house I will sell; those houses in the distance are on the streets where I walked my dogs in the neighborhood. Only a few blocks and the fields/creek between the two houses.

Turning corner to street that borders the nearby park where I sometimes walk dogs, and used to ride my bike every day (plan to start again when weather is better)

And then we ran into this dog -- who followed me home the other day and seemed to want to live here. However, the young lady at that house came out, said she was having a hard time keeping him without a fence. Said her hubby just got back from Iraq, and they'd found the dog starving at a nearby truck stop, rescued it. Oscar & Rambo had to do their usual "meet & greet" sniffing specific body parts, posturing, etc. The dog was very submissive, probably realized that Rambo is the ALPHA dog. LOL

This the last street, heading back to our house. My niece and her children live just before the end of that street; the kids were out playing, so we stopped and they petted the dogs, etc.

And last, this is the corner where I plan to have my veggie garden next spring/summer. I will have a small fence built to keep the dogs out. It should be an excellent spot, enough sun but some shade for lettuce, fragile greens. The straw from the pines is a bonus, already there to use once raked up in the spring!

I don't always walk those streets; sometimes I head up my street, which is only a block from the historic district. The next time I go, I'll take my camera along and get some photos of the beautiful historic homes. The best part is the sidewalks, which go all the way into town. If only we still had a grocery store I could just walk there to buy stuff. However, now there's only specialty shops, nothing similar to how it was when I was growing up with "mom & pop" grocery stores, department stores, ice cream parlor, the Ritz movie theater, etc. Shame we have to drive to either the north or south end of town to buy from Wally World or big chain crap stores. We lost most of the charm of a small southern town when that happened, starting in the mid-80s and still continues today.

Blustery, rainy day now, and I have several rental movies to watch over the next couple days. A great memoir I'm about halfway through "Perfection" by Julie Metz. It details her husband's unexpected, untimely death and then the horrible discovery he'd been cheating on her for YEARS! Fascinating read.

I'm also looking forward to watching, "My Sister's Keeper" which everyone says is good. Yet I've heard the film departs from the novel's ending -- and I'm curious. If it's very drastic, I can't imagine the author could have been happy about that!

As for Christmas, I already have my gifts: the large plasma TV, this renovation, and my move back HOME. What could have been better, even if I paid for it all myself. A gift to me, from me.

We had a small family get-together last Saturday, went to a restaurant to eat, exchange inexpensive gifts. Now they all seem to have come down with some kind of stomach virus, but I'm fine (so far). Keeping my fingers crossed...

That's it for now. More to come next week when I write my year end summation of this past year and plans/hopes for the New Year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

House tour photos

We're having a blustery day, turning colder (after 70 yesterday!) overcast, rain predicted. Dull, dull, dull...winter in Dixie. I may have a touch of seasonal disorder, because I feel like hibernating most of the cold, dark months. Miss that energizing sunshine!

At any rate, I have photos of the house/yard. The only room not photographed is my second/guest bedroom. I haven't hung pictures in there, decided to buy new ones and still looking. Also need a new twin-bed comforter set too.

Here we go...(as usual, click on photo for enlarged view)

Walking in the front door into the living room. DH & I refinished that hardwood floor, and I didn't want to put laminate flooring over it. Shined it, bought a small carpet rug instead. We also put crown moulding at the top of this room too.

The living room as seen from the hallway door

Hallway with laundry area behind the double white doors

The bathroom...and yes, it's smallish. There is a nice-sized bathtub/shower if I want to soak (rarely do) and the essentials. NOT a bathroom dweller, and have never quite understood the obsession with monsterous, numerous bathrooms in new houses!

My bedroom with wood shutters and the original bedroom suite DH & I bought when we married. Also the door is open to a huge walk-in closet I LOVE!

Another view of the bedroom with my chair/lamp

One of my TV indulgences; this was bought the Christmas before DH died, out-of-date projection TV. However, I was able to fit it in a recessed area of the bedroom. I did this because should I ever become sick, I'd spend time in that bed -- and would appreciate having a big-screen TV.

Walking into the kitchen from the hallway -- there's a kitchen/den combo I LOVE! I can stand in the kitchen, or eat at the bar, look outside into my private wood-fenced backyard. Or watch the new TV I bought in the den.

New plasma TV I bought at Walmart. It's amazing how prices have fallen on those TVs. I paid HALF what DH & I paid for that heavy, projection TV just 4 years ago!!!

Looking from den back into kitchen across bar, my desk beside the two chairs

The loveseat where I sit to watch TV, and usually have the dogs on either side of me!

My fenced backyard -- the view from my porch

View of house from backyard. The patio rocks made a great place for a kennel -- which the dogs rarely use. Mostly they go out the doggie doors, across the porch and into the yard. However, should I get sick I can close that gate on the porch and they could go in/out of house to poop in the kennel area. I'd only need someone to drop by and replenish food/water occasionally. (Yes, living alone, I think of these things & prepare) To the right you will see a sunporch where the cats stay during the day; they come inside at night for play & pet time with me. I use the detached garage for storage now; DH used to have a work shop in there. To the left (unseen) is a carport on the other side of the house, where I park my car.

Oscar on the back porch, a sunny day

I have no picture of the front of the house from the street because next spring I have some extensive plans for "curb appeal." Plan to have stucco foundation bricked, a make-over of the small front porch/steps/sidewalk. That can wait though till warm weather returns.

Last summer I spent hours looking at condos in our city. Most were just ridiculously expensive - and only included maintenance on the outside of the building, yard care. I decided this house would be similar to a small condo, just have a yard (which I need due to the dogs). I can do lawn care here, plan to get an electric mower, already have an electric weedeater. I raked all the tons of leaves already this fall, so I'm pretty sure I can handle yard care. If not, it will not cost nearly as much to hire it done as it did at the other house with the enormous yard.

And most importantly, this feels like HOME since DH & I lived here 25 years.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Stray cat buffet pictures

When I lived in this house before, I always had cat food/water out for the strays. I still see them slinking, starved-looking, around the neighborhood and wanted to re-establish a feeding area in my backyard. I am hoping our community can soon develop a feral cat program: trap, neuter/spay, release. If that happens, then I will already have an established point from which to lure strays into a safe trap for the program.

At any rate, what I have now is makeshift, but works perfectly. It is shielded from the dogs' access, yet that is not terribly important because most stray cats prowl/eat at night when my dogs are inside in their crate.

Without further ado, here's the photos. (Click on pix for larger version)

This is looking across my back yard; the feeding station is at the far right rear

This is closer, which shows fallen tree limbs I stacked in front of the feeder

Different angle of the feeder showing holly bush

And finally...this is what is behind the wood barrier

I stacked up some fallen limbs in front of the wood to give a bit better barrier for the dogs; they are curious, but do not try to get over it, nor could they do so. I also have another long piece of wood I put atop this area when it's rainy to prevent food getting soaked.

I have seen an occasional stray cat slinking along the top of the fence, then descending down into the feeder area late in the afternoon. Therefore, I know it's working - especially when there's NO food the next morning.


(Tomorrow, the photo house tour. Still have a couple of small details to work out in formal living room before posting pictures.)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Snow pictures

I had planned a long, detailed entry -- but I'm exhausted, again! Spent all day sorting, unpacking, hanging pictures, working. Why am I the kind of person who cannot rest until a project is completed? What's up with that? I've always been that way, and even on a trip I don't like to stop until I'm at my destination. DH & I shared this type personality; needless to say, we were workaholics.

Today has been wonderful! I'm getting over the emotional reactions of moving from the other house, and awoke this morning feeling like I am HOME -- the first time I've felt this RIGHT in the six years I've been gone. I put my play list of favorite songs on my computer while I worked, and as I occasionally stood staring out at the lovely snowy landscape I could feel creativity beckoning. I suppose it is the feeling I knew so well here; life was not just a blitz of somber reality. I lived in my alternate universe of creative imagination, which spawned my novels, stories and poetry. It is tugging at me, and for the first time in a long time, I think I'll soon be inspired to write creatively again.

How is it that a particular "place" can feel so right, so true, so inspirational? Certainly there is nothing special about this house -- it's not even considered a desired property, small, close to other houses. Yet, it holds my heart, my soul and I am so HAPPY to be home. I don't think I'll ever voluntarily leave here again.

At any rate, I wanted to post the pictures of snow today. It created a winter wonderland in the neighborhood. (Click on pictures for enlarged version)

This is looking down the street at the front of my house. In the afternoon when the sun was brilliant, I walked the dogs down that way -- a great walking route. A wooded area borders the same creek behind the other house I own; an open field, no traffic along those streets. (Will take my camera one day and get photos to post.)

This is looking up the same street at the front of my house

This is my backyard -- LOVE the privacy fence! I remember one winter years ago when we had a HUGE snowfall; DH went to the back of our yard, and was up to his knees in snow. I have a picture of that.

The beautiful snowy trees above my garage

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Move

Well, here I am -- in the house DH and I lived in for 25 years. I thought it would seem the same, but it doesn't, of course. The renovation changed the interior to some extent, and then there's the time I was away: 6 years. I think I'll get used to it, but right now I miss my other house.

That is because I'm a silly ninny when it comes to houses: I miss them as if they were a human. A house is not just a house to me; it is the essence of your experiences in that place. A repository of memories, so to speak, and I've cried every time I've moved -- whether I liked the place or not. So I'm grieving a bit tonight, and probably will for the next few days.

In that house I went through all the stages of grief after losing a spouse; I cried, I screamed, I had my fits of despair. I worked at the newspaper while there (though I did so while at this house years ago); I got my two dogs there, and lost several cats. Though I'm not a very social person, and there were no significant people issues there, I still experienced a lot of emotional episodes in that house. I will miss it, and I will surely miss the neighborhood because I knew all the people there. Walking the dogs gets you acquainted with neighbors in a way nothing else can. But I can still visit them, and since I won't put the house up for sale until January, I'll be over there off and on till then. (The cleaning, the touch-up painting, lots of work still to do there.)

Yes, I miss DH a bit more here, but I think in time that will settle down somewhat. Mostly there's more memories of he and I here, our life together, but they are treasured memories. I finally realized I could never sell this house, and I simply cannot take care of two houses. If one had to go, it had to be the one I'd lived in only 3 years.

Anyway, the cats are adapting well. They hid in their quarters on the special sunporch where I always had my cats; but last night they came in and explored. Bitty is still exploring, but Slinky seems to recognize this place; she is the only cat I returned with after the two moves.

The dogs were somewhat unsettled yesterday, mainly because of the noise and confusion of the furniture being moved, etc. Last night Oscar retired to his quarters, slept fine last night. But Rambo kept walking through the house, whining so I let him sleep on the bed with me. Today they are better, and have always seemed to accept any place as long as I am there! They'll have to adjust a bit more, but since they'd been here a lot already, it shouldn't be too difficult.

All the tech stuff, TV/phone/internet is working great. I didn't have phone service last night, and I missed it. Even though I rarely talk on the phone other than to family.

Tomorrow is my 58th birthday, and my sister/mother will be here visiting. I really hate this time of year...starting with Thanksgiving, my birthday and Christmas. Once New Year's Day is here, I'm fine. I guess it orginated with the lousy holiday season I endured as a child; some traumas linger for a lifetime.

Maybe I can get back to writing now, or at least have more time for it once the other house is ready to sell.

With that, I'm outta here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Postman always rings twice

This is an entry to remind myself of what happened yesterday when I was painting at the house where I'll move soon. DH and I lived there 25 years, so moving back is like going home.

At any rate, I installed a wireless doorbell (which I'd used here) at the back porch fenced gate a couple weeks ago. The front doorbell is wired into the house, has been there ages.

Yesterday I was painting in the bathroom when I heard the back doorbell ring. At first I thought it was the front doorbell, so I hurriedly went there. No one was at the door. Then I realized it was the back doorbell, but when I got there no one was around.

Thinking it had been a salesperson on foot (since there was no car around) I went back to painting. Within fifteen minutes, the back doorbell rang again. I rushed to the back gate, but there was no one standing on the carport. I went out, looked all around the house, the front and sides, but nothing, nada. NO ONE COULD HAVE DISAPPEARED THAT FAST.

I went back to painting, and half expected to hear it ring again. However, it never did. I just dismissed it, but was still puzzled. I thought it might have been some kind of interference in the wireless signal -- although I had no other wireless devices in the house.

Last night of course, my imagination got the better of me. I concocted all kinds of weird, supernatural scenarios. Certainly it was wireless interference, or some other unknown problem because there was simply no way children and/or person could have disappeared that quick. You'd have to see how the house is situated to understand that, but the back gate off the carport is especially difficult to maneuver around quickly.

I sure hope this is NOT the start of freakish electrical situations -- of the kind experienced at the old farmhouse leading up to DH's death. But I did want to record this here as a reference for the future.

P.S. No, it wasn't the postman; mail delivery is late afternoon, and I saw him later as I was sweeping off the driveway.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wish I'd written this...


After awhile you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
And you learn that love doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises.
And you begin to accept your defeats with you head up and your eyes open.
With the grace of maturity, not the grief of a child.
And you learn to build all your roads on
Today because tommorow's ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong
And that you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn and learn ....
With every goodbye you learn.

-Veronica A. Shoftstall

Thursday, November 05, 2009

About my writing...

Lately, it's done in fits and starts. Still, at least I AM trying to write on my novel almost every day.

Here's a quote by Peter Rock that defines the world of writing:

“A good writing day is any day where a piece of the clock is given over to the invisible people. In the past I was spoiled, and often had hours and hours to write; now the writing often happens when I wake up and can’t sleep at two in the morning or at five, before my daughter wakes up, or fifteen minutes on the bus, or half an hour pretending I’m not in my office with all the ways the visible people can reach me turned off, shut down, disconnected.

“I want to believe and to travel. Sometimes a good writing day is an hour of madly scribbling, vistas opening up ahead and inside, landscapes and synapses of some person rushing at me, and the whole rest of my waking day I carry that like a charm, knowing there’s more and that I’ve been in touch with the invisible again; sometimes a good writing days is ten minutes of crossing out a paragraph or adding a comma; sometimes a good writing day is half an hour of daydreaming with not a word to show for it.

“There are no bad writing days; even those that seem the worst are leading us onward, only in ways that were not expected, perhaps even slower than we believed we desired."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Men & Women

The Man's Perspective

The Woman's Perspective

Why Women Stay Single:

Why Women Stay Single - A funny movie is a click away

And that's all I'm gonna say about that!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Random Stuff & Photos

I have been remiss in updating here, but there hasn't been much going on until lately. At least not with me. However, my sister has had her hands full with my brother-in-law's heart condition. Fortunately, he is doing fine and the procedure should have taken care of that issue permanently.

Then last week I drove to Huntsville, visited with my sister; we did some shopping, ate out, just girl stuff. I had no trouble, and think I'm finally start to like driving again after those two accidents. I admit I was freaked out for a couple months, and hated to drive -- especially on a long trip. I certainly hope no other accidents are in my future, since that would be a setback.

The renters are in the process of moving out, and I am relieved. I had already lowered the rent to the point I wasn't making much, and adding upkeep/tax/insurance the income was hardly worth it. I'm debating having some extensive renovation done to that house, returning to live there and selling the one I'm in now. Two houses are nothing but a maintenance burden, and I just cannot manage the cost. I'm too kind-hearted, and being a landlord is NOT working for me. I end up with more of a charity case for renters, and then I'm unable to put my foot down regarding rent, etc. It's enough to make you pull your hair out, and I really need to get rid of one of these houses.

At any rate, I plan to line up some contractors to give estimates on improvements to the rental house next week. Renters said they'd have everything out by next weekend, as well as cleaning up the place afterward. (I hope, but you never know.)

I'm not feeling well today, think I have a stomach bug plus sinus issues. Quite queasy, and eating makes it worse; feel slightly dizzy too. Hope it's not the beginning of swine flu, but that is everywhere here in the South. I hardly see how anyone will avoid getting it, and I'm NOT out in the public very often. Still, there's groceries to buy, etc. and it's impossible to entirely avoid people.

We are getting more rain, and I'm really tired of it. The temperatures have fallen too, and I've had to use the heat a couple times already. I like autumn, but can do without the constant dreary skies and rain.

I'll end this post with a few pictures:

Bitty Kitty enjoying time on the sofa

Oscar & Rambo on their ramp off the carport to backyard

Grilled veggies, it's what's for supper sometimes! YUMMY too.

Friday, September 18, 2009


This is only a brief post, since I'm involved in writing my novel. I don't know if I ever mentioned it on this blog, but I don't intend to post any of my future fiction to be read online. I am hoping to find an agent and/or publisher for any work I write in the future.

At any rate, yesterday after a productive few hours of writing, it started pouring rain. I went to my window and saw a rainbow -- which I took as a sign that I'm exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I was meant to do in life. A wonderful feeling, truly. And yes, sometimes I do have an intuitive feeling when something happens unexpectedly. Of course, maybe it's just my overactive imagination. Doesn't feel that way though.

Here's the picture I snapped. It's not perfect, but somehow shows that even through the rainy (dark) times there is hope and joy too. (Click on photo to enlarge)

Updates will be sporadic while I'm writing, but then again, I've lost interest in blogging lately anyway. I prefer the brief updates via Twitter at the top of this site for now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Joy of Living Alone

Sounds like the title of an interesting book, eh? Perhaps it IS an idea for a non-fiction book about what I've learned and discovered during the past three years of living alone.

I'd always wanted to live alone from the time I was a teen. Growing up in a crowded house with three younger sisters all in one bedroom we shared, there was no privacy. Though I did live in an apartment for three months, that hardly counts. I moved back home to help my family, then along came my husband-to-be.

The first year was difficult, just breaking away from a 30+ year habit of lifestyle. Catering to someone else, always expecting DH home or planning everything around both of us. The Lifestyle Editor position brought the realization that I did not want to be around people any more than necessary. Sorry if that offends some of you, but that's just my nature. Luckily, I had the choice of not working so I settled in alone to learn about myself and understand my dream.

Now, this doesn't mean I'm extremely wealthy; but having lived a frugal life, DH and I planned for our retirement. That means I am not destitute, have a roof over my head, a car, no debts and savings. Unfortunately, I can't seem to break free of the "frugal" lifestyle, and often do without things I can afford. I often question myself, wondering if I need to be so frugal -- since I'm obviously no longer a youngster, and the future is promised to no one.

Yes, I have trouble I'm concerned about: health care is the top priority. As I've written about at length here, I have "catastrophic" medical insurance, but nothing for preventive care. However, as time passes I'm beginning to wonder if people don't run to the doctor at the least sign of a problem, when usually it will resolve itself. Also, some of the medications prescribed can do far more harm with side effects than the initial problem diagnosed.

Living alone I've also realized just how much time one spends venting to a mate about meaningless issues that one has no control over. Or griping about daily matters that are unimportant in the overall scheme of life. Both mates usually do this without even thinking whether it's necessary to "dump" on the other. It's a customary emotional outlet, but having lived this past three years without it, I've found it is NOT necessary. Usually if I'm upset, I find it dissolves on its own without forcing anyone else to be upset at my emotional reactions.

Today as I walked with my dogs along the path beside the lake, hearing the wind whisper in the tall pines, seeing the shadows of drifting clouds and the sunlight play sparkles off the lake, I realized I am very HAPPY. I have learned that I DO like living alone and enjoy my life extremely.

But it has taken me the three years to truly understand how much I love this life -- and only now am I beginning to know that I don't have to sit here waiting to "do something" with friends, family or a date. I can do whatever I wish, totally alone.

For example, this morning I decided to drive about 25 miles north to visit a flea market. Yes, it's a place I would usually avoid going alone -- yet upon close examination, I couldn't even articulate why. It's safe, even for a woman alone; half the time I went with DH, he'd be off in one direction and I'd go in the other to look at stuff according to our interests. At any rate, I went, I strolled around, I looked at whatever I wanted to -- but there were no puppies or kittens. Nothing but a bunch of sad, sick-looking chickens. Still as I walked around, it dawned on me (yeah, I know this probably would have occurred to someone else sooner) that I can go where I want, do what I want -- without somebody else in tow.

Driving home, I felt so happy and FREE! Really free, the kind of free that so few ever know -- either due to enslavement to bad jobs, bad marriages, demanding kids (even grown ones). I fantasized about a vacation -- planned alone, taking only Rambo (but not necessary, just an idea). A mini-road trip to maybe the mountains, advance reservations at a cabin or B&B somewhere near natural attractions. Why not? Money is not an issue, nor is anything standing in my way.

Or do I really want to do that? Whether I do or not, I have the means to do it should I decide to take that kind of trip. Overseas to an interesting location is also not out of the question either.

I did realize within the second year how much I cherished living alone. Eating what I want (vegetarian) when I want, staying up late reading in bed or writing; sleeping late or getting up early for some special reason. Doing housework when the notion strikes, not on a fixed schedule; shopping on a whim, or delaying it until I'm good and ready. Watching a good movie on DVD in the evenings, or afternoon. Yes, I embraced this sooner than the awakening to understanding that there is no reason I have to sit home instead of enjoy some of the activities I would with a mate or family or friend.

Of course, I've never been a socializing individual; I prefer either a couple people or one person for outings. Therefore, there was nothing to miss in that respect.

Most important of all though, I am happy, at peace and open to whatever comes my way, not dependent on anyone else to complete my sense of joy in living.

I can't help but think so many other people would benefit from this knowledge -- and not feel compelled by society or psychology/counselors to seek what they, in fact, might not need in the first place. Companionship. Romantic love. Unrewarding friends.

[Good friends are worth gold, and so is close family members.]

Yes, there is serenity in the joy of living alone.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Health care protestors

This picture is worth MORE than a thousand words, and that's all I'm gonna say about that! ROFL


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vegetarian Anniversary, Tenants & More

Tuesday July 28

Midnight. I just finished reading Alice Sebold's memoir, Lucky. It deals with her violent rape at the age of 18, while in college. Excellent memoir, highly recommended.

I have chosen to read memoirs that are somehow related to either family violence or violent acts by strangers. There is much to learn in simply reading these memoirs, and studying how the writers can take you inside the mind of a victim. Though none of my dysfunctional family experiences include sexual violence, just being in the presence of repeated domestic violence -- witnessing it occurring to others -- has a lasting impact. Usually in the form of lifelong post traumatic syndrome from which few ever fully recover. Instead, they learn to live with it.

It takes awhile for me to actually attempt the writing of traumatic memories, because it is truly like reliving them entirely again. I think it has to be experienced in this way in order to create the reality for others, though it takes a toll on the writer.

On to other matters, this month marks the first year anniversary of my becoming a vegetarian. I'd love to say it has been easy, but it has been a struggle. I adjusted to the diet easily, enjoy experimenting with veggie recipes, but it's the lack of understanding here in the South that truly creates difficulty.

It's no secret why the South has the most obesity; eating here is a pastime, a social event, impossible to avoid. And that means socializing for any occasion includes lots of fatty foods, sweets, fried meats, unhealthy eating. Trying to explain this to the average southerner brings puzzled looks, awkward questions about "why" I don't eat meat. No matter which tact I take, the route of trying to eat healthier to placate people or in frustration, declaring I love animals and do not want to eat flesh, I just can't win. Frankly, this has caused me to hate socializing that requires eating, as does almost all such occasions.

Now I've never been an extrovert and can do without the added friction of explaining my food choices...but I'd never realized exactly the magnitude and scope of how difficult it will be to entice people into eating healthy diets. The ONLY way I see this happening, for the sake of health and the impossible costs of paying for obesity in medical care, is to implement a gradual increase in costs of unhealthy foods. Taxes, fast food, restaurant meals along with educational efforts, and then hopefully, over time reorienting social events that include such crippling foods. It will not be simple or easy and I know that from my firsthand experience.

I can say honestly though, I have no intention of ever including meat in my diet again. I don't miss it, and can't even stand the scent of cooking raw meat or the taste of it either. It was more than just a one year process though; I'd gradually begun this process when I turned 50. Basically it has taken 7 years, the last one finally achieving vegetarian status.

As for my health benefits, I eat all I want and never gain weight. My blood pressure is low, and I feel well too. I haven't had a cholesterol test, but will do that soon; I did have my blood sugar tested, and it is normal. Since I have a family history of diabetes, this is definitely good.

I do not think that vegetarianism is the cure for anything and everything, nor do I try to force my diet on others. I don't even mention it unless someone asks why I'm not eating meat -- usually they try to force it on me. Illness happens, because frankly, humans are mortal and mortals die from one ailment or another eventually. However, I do know that eating excessive fat, salt, sugar (all of which are in abundance in fast foods and most restaurant menus) will cause serious chronic health issues and/or heart attacks and cancer that costs everyone. That in turn creates more need for pharmaceuticals to treat these chronic conditions that could, in most instances, be avoided simply by diet alone. It's impossible to even discuss this here in the South; people don't want to hear it, or accept that bad eating habits cause many chronic problems. Especially if they are involved in the cattle, chicken or meat processing, restaurant, fast food businesses for their livelihood. And many are, since the county I live in is considered the leading poultry producing county in this state. Huge poultry factory farms dominate the rural landscape, blighting what otherwise is beautiful countryside.

You can see where this puts me at odds with the majority, and I've learned to keep silent when socializing. But then again, I don't socialize that much.

As for dating, I always suggest a restaurant where I know there's a buffet with vegetables, and you'd be surprised how often a date will not even notice I am not eating meat. On the other hand, if it looks like there might be future dates with the same person, I have to explain I won't prepare meat for them...which leads to the discussion. Truthfully, they usually seem to think I'll change my mind; but when I see someone will not respect my choice, then I start to withdraw and eventually never see them again. Of course, that limits the dating arena, but then again, I'm not looking for a marriage partner anyway. Just a fun companionship date now and then.

Wednesday Noon July 29

I was talking on the phone to my sister earlier, explaining my sessions of writing the memoir. She has always been supportive of my writing, but today she asked, "Why would you want anyone to know about what we went through as children?"

I told her the fact she even asked that shows why I have to write about it; the "shame" factor, keeping it a big hush-hush secret pervades that kind of childhood. To this day, we all feel a sense of shame -- and we were not to blame, instead being innocent victims, struggling to survive dysfunctional parents. The shame factor is what keeps so many children (and later adults) from revealing the truth of their home life and until this is overcome, no progress can be made. Progress starts with revelation, hard truths and realizing one is not responsible for abusive, dysfunctional parents' behavior.

I have already taken the dogs to the nearby wooded park. Windy, sunny but shady in the park, a perfect walk.

Now for the renter saga. I could write a novel based on the tenants I've had in my rental house and maybe I will someday. At this point though, the house is becoming a liability financially. For all my compassion, working with S&W, trying to let them stay's just not working out. I reduced the rent with the condition they would help me when needed. And also help with my garden, which started out great, then went downhill from there. Once the planting was finished, they didn't want to do any weeding and I ended up doing what little I was able to. I hurt my back several times, and every time I asked them to come over and help, they had an excuse.

Increasingly, they seem to take for granted I'll let them stay there, even if they pay no rent. I'm all for helping others, but I also know the point at which one is being taken advantage of. As a landlord this has been the case in every tenant except the very first one, while my husband was still alive. It's finally dawned on me that I am not going to be capable of dealing with tenants, and the house is costing me more than its worth. Hence, it has to be sold.

Getting S&W out won't be easy, I'm afraid. I told them over a month ago to start looking for a place, that I was going to put the house up for sale. When I saw them a couple days ago, they started in with the usual:

W: "I don't want to move, this is home, we have nowhere to go."

S: "If W gets his disability started, we can pay you $600.00 a month." (That's a long shot, and even then they couldn't afford to pay that amount.)

On and on, and eventually I say I'll only sell the house if it's necessary. But will give them 30 days notice to move. And I'm thinking of doing just that by mid-August, asking them to leave by the end of September. I may go ahead and have the realtor list it in September though.

As for the condo two blocks from here that I looked at last week, I'm still keeping it in mind. Saturday the realtor wants to show me another condo across town, a bit less pricey. However, I just fell in love with the floor plan and decor of the one near here, and wouldn't have to leave this neighborhood either. In order to get it though, I'll have to sell both my houses or at least the one I live in first. I don't want a mortgage, so unless I have enough to buy it and some substantial savings left, it won't be possible.

The monthly maintenance fee is low for that condo, and I can see me living there the remainder of my life. I love having the garden and fresh veggies but frankly, the herniated discs in my back will prevent me doing that again. The back problems are something that are going to get worse, not better, with time and I have to make arrangements accordingly. I've accepted that I am not able, physically, to do the required outside maintenance here -- lawn care, exterior upkeep, etc. Hiring it out is more expensive than the fee on the condo, and also likely to cause me to have an accident when I try to do that. With a high deductible on medical insurance, I can't afford an accident that might be preventable.

At any rate, that's where I stand on this issue. Still undecided, but definitely going to pursue the possibility of selling/moving. Unfortunately, there are not many condos in this town, so my choices are limited. But I am looking, and hope to find a suitable one at some point.

I'll be writing posts more often, using this method of entries via the QuickPad.

Now I'll end this with a photo of a delish veggie sandwich I had last week. Grilled pattypan (or scallop squash) with ripe tomatoes, light mayo, and wheat bread.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Memoir Excerpt

I haven't exactly been idle as a writer. I've been working on my memoir over the past couple years. I did not have a happy childhood (to say the least) which makes it emotionally traumatic to relive; therefore, I can only write the memoir in sessions, experiencing the intense memories, then taking time to recover.

At any rate, I've decided to post the rough draft of my first chapter. I have written five chapters at this point, but hope someday to complete it. I have an outline and plan to have this memoir of my early years cover to the age of 19 when I got married. And future memoirs to develop in 20-year time periods. I guess the ending will write itself, so to speak. (Or I might combine all of these into one work as I rewrite/edit, not sure yet.) I have changed my sisters/family names, although will use real names in the final version.

I spend time reading memoirs these days, learning from others who have traveled this path. I signed up for a memoir course in the fall. Writing is a lifelong learning process, never complete. There will be ten memoir writing exercise tips at the end of the chapter.

{Please do not save/copy/post this, and consider it copyright protected.}

Working title: Backward Mirror

"In early youth, as we contemplate our coming life, we are like children in a theater, before the curtain is raised, sitting there in high spirits and eagerly waiting for the play to begin. It is a blessing that we do not know what is really going to happen." --Schopenhauer

Chapter One

Part I

Memory is often a trick of the mind.

Do I recall what I think I do? Or have the family tales oft told created a false memory?

For the first five years of my life, my mother and father, both nineteen, lived in the house with my paternal grandparents. They had a modest-size farm in the South, a big old frame house, some crops, livestock...but my grandfather still had to work. He was a county bus driver during those five years, a bus that traveled the rural back roads picking up farm wives to do marketing in the small nearby county seat.

I was born in December, 1951. Here is the imagery that lingers from my earliest years -- the happy years, the years before turmoil tainted everything.

A quilt pallet in front of a screen door, cool night wind whispering over me as I lie there looking out at a bright summer moon.

A quilt pallet under a shade tree in the sweltering heat of mid-morning, sitting and playing alone while my mother and grandmother work in the field of cotton.

Playing on the dirt-floor porch, hearing the hiss of doddle bugs circling in the dirt, heat so intense it scorched your skin if you ventured out at noon. A bucket let down into the deep cool darkness of the well, the glug as it hit water, then the clank as it was pulled up for us to drink tin dipper-fulls of sweet, clear well water.

My dog, Nikki, a large black German Shepard that followed me everywhere. Sneaking off into the nearby woods, finding the creek...stopping at the mossy bank, with Nikki yipping and yapping until his excited barks brought my mother and grandmother to our side, scolding and spanking me for venturing away from the house.

My daddy insisting I should sleep in the bedroom with him and mother, when I begged to sleep with my grandmother. [I was already devoted to my grandmother, because often my youthful parents left me in her and my grandfather's care while they went out.] Sometimes during that night, I got out of their bedroom and headed for my grandparent's bedroom -- but a shut door stopped me. As I struggled to open the door, I began to whimper and cry. At last daddy discovered me, and opened the door, spanking my bottom, and making me declare later the words that would be repeated at family gatherings, "Daddy spanked my butt-oh!"

A Christmas filled with all kinds of gifts. I was the first and only grandchild for four years; they all loved lavishing me with presents, and not just at Christmas. I was, in the space of those four years, pampered and spoiled, doted on by my paternal grandparents and my daddy's older brother and sister, my aunt and uncle.

I scarcely recall the birth of my sister, Mary, when I was four. But I do know that when she came along my mother seemed to prefer her to me. Perhaps I was already alienated from my mother, completely bonded emotionally to my grandmother.

It was in this idyllic first five years that I possibly developed the capacity for love, sensitivity, loyalty and devotion. These qualities had serious repercussions later in my life, sometimes even to the detriment of my own happiness.

Part II

By the middle of my fifth year, my daddy and grandfather were working in a local saw mill. My grandfather labored in the mill, while daddy became a log truck driver. Mother stayed at home with my grandmother; they took care of the house, the farm and us girls.

However, soon daddy moved us all, my mother, myself and my baby sister, to a rural area one-hundred miles away from my grandparents' farm. We lived in another large rambling frame house situated on a hilltop, with a barn and some land for a garden. My mother had a big garden that summer, and I remember the ripe tomatoes filling baskets, overflowing onto the cracked linoleum kitchen floor...and Mary, now a toddler, grabbing a tomato, dropping it and the brilliant splash of red juice splattering everywhere when it hit the floor.

I remember the ramshackle barn out back, and the litter of kittens born in a corner of the hay-scattered loft, which began my life-long love of cats. I loved to spy on the mother cat nursing her kittens, though she would move them, hide them, if I came too near.

I remember a girl several years older than me lived nearby, along the country road. She would come to our house, and I'd occasionally go to her home. Her name was Brenda, and she often would lie on the couch in an awkward position: with her torso on the flat seat, head hanging off, her feet up over the back. Her long brown hair would fall straight to the floor, and she'd chew gum and talk to me upside-down.

Oddly, I developed a stutter when we moved there. My mother's name is Bonita, and instead of calling her 'mother' or 'mama' I tried to pronounce her given name, but it came out, "Buuhha..." My parents took to mocking me, perhaps hoping to cure my stutter by embarrassing me.

I missed my grandmother fiercely. I began having nightmares about her dying, and would wake crying. I recall one over-night visit from my grandparents, and how good, how right it felt to have my 'Momma' (as I called her) there with us.

During that visit she and I walked down the country road, and stopped to visit with an elderly black woman who lived in one of the rundown shanty houses. She was very friendly, and I can remember her saying that her grandmother had been a slave; that her grandmother had been treated well by good owners, and that she'd never adapted to freedom. My own grandmother asked her questions about what her grandmother had said about slavery, and though I cannot recall all of it, years later my grandmother would repeat some of this to me and I would find it astonishing and shocking.

Another incident that occurred there was often repeated to relatives. Daddy installed a window fan, and instructed me not to go near it. He took a blade of grass and fed it into the spinning fan-blades as an example of what could happen to me if I touched the fan. Later, while he and mother were in the kitchen, I went outside, got a long blade of grass and proceeded to feed it into the fan...except that I let my fingers get too close to the blades, and got a nasty cut. When daddy heard me crying, he came out and spanked me. This tale was often told as an example of how precocious, and impertinent I was.

We only lived there six months, and then we moved about two-hundred miles south to a small town. The house was a duplex, and my grandparents moved in one side, us in the other, a door connecting the two separate living quarters. My stuttering stopped. Daddy worked as a log truck driver, and my grandfather worked in the saw mill situated near a national forest. By now my grandparents were in their early 60s, as they had their three children in their 30s.

I was happy to have my grandmother practically living with us...but soon after I began my first year of school, a violent event took place which was the beginning of the turmoil and terror that would rule my life for the next thirteen years. I didn't know it then, but those first five years were to be the only peaceful, happy years I'd ever know as a child.

Part III

I can't recall too much about the time prior to starting first grade at the local elementary school, but a few moments do stand out.

I got a gray-striped tabby kitten, and loved it devotedly. I made friends with a girl who lived at the end of our street on a hill. Her name was Sandra, and she lived in a huge old rundown house; in her back yard, she had a pet cemetery. Any time a beloved pet died in the neighborhood, she would insist on giving it a proper burial ceremony.

When school started, although missing my grandmother during the day, I enjoyed making friends and learning. I was quick, smart and had no trouble learning. From the beginning, I was always in the advanced reading group. Soon I was able to escape into books, and this would later prove to be a life-saver for me.

Sometimes during that first four months of school, my grandparents would go back to their farm and stay either a few days or a week. Any time they were gone, I missed them terribly. But also, there was a subtle change taking place within daddy. I don't think I noticed it, but surely my mother and grandparents did. He'd always played guitar, but now he started hanging out with a group of musicians and staying out with them very late -- or even all night. These guys were his age, in their mid-20s, looked disreputable and I'm sure were not a welcome sight to my grandparents. Most of the time daddy would go out for a gig when my grandparents were away. He also continued to work as a log-truck driver, and this kept him away from home too.

I do recall the brick schoolhouse, which was set back off the street in cedars, and had a wide circular drive out front. Each day my mother would drive me to school, let me out in front, and I'd wave goodbye. Toward the end of those four months, I began to dread leaving school at the end of the day.

I don't know how alcoholism begins, and I was really too young to know how it started with daddy, but it must be a slow progression, insidious and deadly as time passes and drinking increases. That's how I remember it taking over daddy's life -- destroying him, and wrecking our lives. But at first, I only remember him coming in from gigs and being 'different'...quick to anger, ill-natured, foul-mouthed. He never said or did anything in front of me or my sister, Mary; but we could hear him yelling from our bedroom. Still, we were basically innocent of his growing problems.

Then all that changed, changed forever.

One Friday afternoon when I'd come in from school, I couldn't find my cat, Tiger. I looked everywhere, and was frantic with worry. Worse, my grandparents were away at the farm; mother never seemed to care for Tiger, so I knew she wouldn't help me hunt him. I had run all over the neighborhood looking for Tiger, but had no luck. Finally I slumped down, defeated, on my grandparents' back doorsteps.

It was getting dark and cold as I sat there, but I was heartsick at not finding Tiger. Then mother yelled that we were going to get groceries, and daddy drove us to the store. Mary and I waited with daddy in the car, and I do remember he seemed preoccupied. When we got back home, daddy began unloading the groceries and mother went to the kitchen, ready to put them up.

Mary and I went into the small living room, but before we could turn the TV on, there was a loud crashing noise from the kitchen. I ran out to see what was wrong, and daddy was yelling, cursing, and swiping the grocery bags off the table. He looked furious, his face twisted and his mouth snarling, his eyes too bright...and oblivious to my presence, he snatched a carton of eggs out of a bag, and opened it, began tossing the eggs against the wall, where they burst and ran slickly down to the floor.

Mother was crying and cringing in a corner, and saying nothing. Daddy just kept tearing up the groceries, cursing and screaming at mother. He was saying something about one of our uncles (mother's brother) who had stayed with us a few days recently, something about long-distance phone bills. Mother stayed silent, just staring...staring...

Finally, I guess daddy ran out of steam, because he started for the door, but said, "I won't be back tonight."

I can't explain the feelings that went through me while experiencing all this. I was scared, upset and yet...worried about mother and daddy. I wondered if he was sick, ill? What had made him act like that, he'd NEVER done anything remotely like that. The violent outburst was a mystery to me, and I just didn't know what to make of it.

I wanted to ask mother what was wrong, but she began cleaning up the mess and ACTED AS IF NOTHING had happened. I was then confused and still upset, but went to sit again on my grandparents' doorsteps. Soon I saw their familiar car turn the corner, and was so relieved! I thought they would know what was wrong with daddy, and make sure it never happened again.

When my grandmother got out of the car, I ran to her and began crying, telling her what had happened. She looked stunned, then angry...and my grandfather urged us inside. My grandmother told me to stay with them that night, and she and my grandfather went next door to talk with mother. I don't know what was said, but they were gone a long time.

When my grandmother came back with Mary, she said we should spend the night with them. And when we all finally went to bed, she told me not to worry, that there would be no more such 'fits.' I felt sure she was right, and that whatever the trouble, my grandparents could take care of it.

Unfortunately, this was only the first in a long line of such incidents when I put my faith in my grandparents to no avail.

The next morning when I got up, Sandra was at the door. She said she'd found Tiger, that he'd gotten run over by a car, and she wanted to give him a burial in her cemetery.

We stood near the small mound of dirt, Sandra and I, and she said a brief prayer. I'd been in church often during those first six years; my grandmother and mother were devoutly religious. And growing up in the South, the Christian religion was hammered into all young kids. But as Sandra closed her eyes and chanted a prayer for Tiger, I felt so empty and lost, so guilty about letting Tiger get hit by a car, that I couldn't say a word.

I'm sure I was too young to really understand the concept of 'God' but somehow it all seemed unfair -- that a God would allow people and animals to die. I think that was the first of my doubts, and as time passed, and as family life became more and more of a horror, I decided there was no God, no such Being that could allow such abject misery and suffering for innocent, good children. If there were a God, He'd answer prayers...and over time, my prayers for peace and a change for daddy went unanswered.

But on that long-past morning, I only knew that my beloved Tiger was gone, and I felt it was all my fault. Mother and daddy wouldn't let me keep him in the house though, so what could I have done? After Sandra and I turned away from the grave, she told me that she had chores to do, and left me.

I wandered back home, and when I came into our house, mother said my grandmother wanted to see me in her bedroom. Once I got there, she was sitting up in bed, and asked if I'd help her get her bra fastened in back; she was suffering from arthritis, and often became too stiff to reach her arms behind her. As she slipped it on underneath her gown, I hurriedly moved around to fasten the strap. I felt so glad that I could help her, proud to be there for her...and as she thanked me, and gave me a hug, I felt very much loved. Unlike being with my mother who seemed at best indifferent and at worst, uncaring toward me, I could always FEEL the power of my grandmother's love. This was a saving grace for me, and though she and my grandfather often let me down so far as changing our living circumstances, they DID try...and I knew without doubt that I was loved by them both.

Later that week daddy returned to work driving the log truck, and I hoped that the awful experience in the kitchen with him was something that would never happen again. Life returned to normal, and for awhile, everything seemed fine. I went to school, came home and did homework, helped around the house, played with Mary, and spent time with my grandmother. I was not allowed to have another cat, and in fact, Tiger and Nikki were to be the only pets I ever had as a child.

After a couple weeks, one of my aunts, my mother's sister June, came to visit. She stayed and stayed, and when daddy came in from his job, he was irritable and hateful around June. Finally I overheard my parents having a bad argument one night, more about long-distance phone bills, and then he stormed out of the house. That was on a weekend, and he didn't come back until time to report for work again. My grandparents simply stayed out of the situation, perhaps thinking it was none of their business.

However, even after June left, daddy was sullen and withdrawn. He would have quiet spells, when he seemed to be a million miles away, in deep thought. Or he'd strum his guitar, and stare off into the middle-distance, as if in a trance. He was tall, blond-haired, fairly nice-looking, and my mother was also blond, but short, petite. She had a nice figure, and was attractive. Yet even at that young age, I could sense a deep dissatisfaction in daddy, and because I didn't understand about their marriage, I began to think that daddy's brooding and silent withdrawals were somehow due to Mary and myself. That we were not wanted, were a burden to him. To this day, I still bear that scar, the deep emotional wound of always feeling unwanted and a burden to others, no matter how little they do for me, or how independent I am.

Within a month, there was another violent outburst by daddy. I woke late in the night once when he'd come in from a gig drunk, and raving. I heard him crashing things, cursing, and yelling at mother.

Mary and I shared a bedroom, and soon she came over to my bed, scared. I pulled her under the covers, and we huddled together, afraid and hiding. I kept thinking if only my grandparents would come over, and I just knew at any time they would. Sure enough, soon we heard my grandfather's voice, reasoning, cajoling with daddy. There was a tense quiet. Then I heard my grandmother's voice and she was furious, chiding daddy for his behavior. That seemed to end the confrontation, and soon all was peaceful, quiet.

I thought that would always be the case, that daddy would be controlled by my grandparents, his parents preventing him doing any real harm. But I was wrong, because a week before Christmas, daddy announced that we were moving back to the area where my grandparents' farm was located. He was going to take a job as a long-distance truck driver, and would be making trips to the distant northern states. Mother explained it was a better job, that he'd make more money. And he said that someday he wanted to own his own rig, be an independent trucker.

I was happy at first, but then he said we'd be living in a small town about twenty miles from the farm. I would again be separated from my beloved grandparents! Worse, there were not even telephones in the rural community where my grandparents lived, so we could not even communicate unless visiting. Twenty miles seemed a tremendous distance to me, and I dreaded the thought of being out-of-touch with my grandparents. I would lose my few friends at the school, lose touch with Sandra...

I'll never forget that move: it was bitterly cold for the South, and as we packed things that weekend, the weather forecast said there was a snowfall in the northern part of the state, where we were going. By the time we arrived in Smallwood, the town was buried knee-high in snow. When we drove up to the renter house, the snow was so deep it had buried the front yard, and was piled up to the waist-high porch.

The house was a white-shingle box-like shape, with two-bedrooms, living-room, kitchen, and small bathroom. It looked similar to the other houses around the one square block of renter houses, large old oaks in the neat yards, sidewalks lining the street. As we stared at the seemingly ordinary house, I had no way of knowing when we walked through the door I'd be entering a hell that would last until I graduated from high school, and left home.

End Chapter One

Here are some tips from a memoir course you can try as writing exercises, should you be interested in writing your own memoir:

Memoir Writing Exercises

10 exercises to get you started

* Write two pages of something you can't deny.

* Write two pages of what got left behind.

* Write two pages of something you wrote or did that you no longer understand.

* Write two pages of apologizing for something you didn't do.

* Write two pages about a physical characteristic you are proud to have inherited or passed on.

* Write two pages of what you had to have.

* Write two pages of humiliating exposure.

* Write two pages about a time when you felt compassion unexpectedly.

* Write two pages of what you have too much of

* Write two pages of when you knew you were in trouble.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saturday Night

Since I seem unable to write a lengthy entry on my computer, I decided to write in segments on my QuickPad. If you aren't familiar with it, the QuickPad is simply a small word processor with full-sized keyboard and 4 lines of text on-screen. There's a file system which allows different documents to be stored until sending via infrared port to your PC. At any rate, I've had mine for several years, and to date it is the most convenient way to write without the distractions of the Internet, being online. It does nothing other than function as a word processor, and runs on 4 AA batteries -- and gets amazing battery life.

So what's going on in my life? Not much, as I've mentioned in my last post, as well as my daily brief Twitter messages. Yes, I occasionally get bored with the lackluster lifestyle, yet never quite enough to actually take serious action in changing much of anything. In some regards, I'm contented with my peaceful, predictable routine; the mad moments which sometimes occur (car wrecks, etc) serve to make me realize I LIKE my serene life. I'm lucky, in most regards, and do not take that for granted.

My worries mostly consist of fretting about health care insurance; though I have a fairly good Blue Cross, Blue Shield coverage, it is $4,000.00 deductible and that means I have to pay for anything (including doctor visits, lab tests, etc) out-of-pocket. As a result, I do NOT get checkups, nor preventive care -- other than my regular prescriptions and twice a year visits to my G.P. for those. And yes, this is a counter-productive kind of insurance coverage, but the only policy I could afford ($386.00 per month) that DID NOT have a pre-existing clause. Primarily, this is what I call "ransom" money for a policy that would protect my assets in catastrophic illness.

I'm always sleuthing the online sources for news updates on the latest "health care reform" going at any time, since I have my own personal health invested in HOPE for change. Frankly, the pessimist in me thinks not much will change, regardless of the announcement that "some kind" of reform has passed legislation. The private medical insurance companies and major pharm business will never change UNLESS they go bankrupt (like what occurred with the auto, financial, banking industry). I'm convinced though that in time, that is exactly what will happen without serious changes in reform. So, you heard it here first.

As you can see, I spend a lot of time preoccupied with the latest news on that issue, and it's absorbing TOO MUCH of my time, but I'm somewhat obsessed.

Here's a couple of informative pieces about the current reform efforts:

Health Care Reform Noise

Who Is Against Reform: Lobbyist

And a last word on this topic: How many of you are aware that drug advertising by big pharm is subsidized by income tax breaks? I'm positive that if even half the money spent on lobbyist, ads, PR, on and on, were spent on ACTUAL medical care, there wouldn't even be a need for a public option. Without that option though, there is NO CHOICE for those of us held hostage by the private, for-profit health care industry.

As I type this it's nearly 11 PM, I'm halfway watching an updated "It's Me or the Dog" with Victoria Stillwell on Animal Planet station. LOVE her show, and always learn a trick or two to help me with my own dog's behavior. I also like "The Dog Whisperer."

Today I dropped off a couple of DVD movies at the library, and checked out two more, as well as several good books. Though I have strong reading glasses, I'm having trouble with small print. Haven't been able to read paperbacks in years, and if possible, I get large print books. The selection is very limited at our library, so I usually get regular print novels. I've found I can only read for about an hour or so without serious eyestrain, and this is truly ruining the enjoyment I get from reading. Reading has always been my "drug of choice"...and next, of course, is writing. I despair of a life without books.

I have thought about the Kindle electronic book reader, but cannot accept the ridiculous idea of having to buy practically EVERY book you read. That's why we have libraries, in order to have free access to LOTS of books. Until there is something similar to libraries for electronic readers, I'll pass. I wouldn't mind a small yearly fee, but that's my limit. Yes, I do occasionally buy a book, but NOT the majority of my reading material. (Perhaps this is a hint to the electronic reader market!)

I had a stupid moment yesterday. Took the dogs to the lakeside park, and we had a terrific walk very late when it was cooler. Got back to my car, popped up the hatchback to get out the water I carry for the dogs. Gave them their water, and at some point, apparently laid the keys in the hatchback area. Slammed shut the hatchback...and you guessed it, had locked myself out. KNEW that was going to happen, since the older car I had didn't have electronic locking. At any rate, it was irritating, but didn't cause me to go into a panic. I just looked around, saw a couple playing miniature golf with their kids and asked to borrow their cell. (Mine was locked in the car, of course.) I called the Sheriff's Department, asked for a locksmith's number and got one there within 30 minutes. A bit pricey, but doable. And, I learned a valuable lesson: DO NOT PART WITH CAR KEYS! (Sigh)

I think that's enough for tonight. Will continue next entry as time permits in segments covering my rental/tenant issues, the anniversary of my first year as a vegetarian, my gardening experience, my auto accident lawsuit/settlement and dating.

Friday, June 26, 2009

First small harvest photo

Though we need rain desperately, I still got a few gems today out of the large garden. I've been watering it every evening with the hose, and that's helped; at least the grass hasn't grown anymore!

Anyway, just a brief update to post this photo of what I got out of my garden today:

Two ears of corn, a zucchini, cucumber and small tomato (which needs to ripen a bit more in my kitchen window)

Though it's scant pickings right now, I do intend to start gathering corn late this afternoon. Some of it is ready, some not yet. I will blanch the corn on the cob, then freeze for later meals.

My smaller garden is thriving, but still no ripe cherry tomatoes! A couple of the tomato plants are at least 6 feet tall, no joke. Loaded with cherry tomatoes, yet none are ripe...yet.

I don't think there will be an abundant supply in the larger garden, due to so much rain this spring, and then this awful heat and dry spell. However, I do have cantaloupes up, a few watermelon plants, as well as some gourds I planted for fall decorative purposes. The okra is thriving, after I sprayed it with Sven spray; the cut worms were destroying the tender plants. Of course, zucchini is always prolific, and I did see a few small crook-neck yellow squash today, so I'm sure there will be plenty for fresh food. Just don't know how much I'll be able to preserve for the winter.

Live and learn, that's the motto when it comes to gardening. Next year I'll remember what I've learned this year, IF I am still physically able to have a garden then. I have to be very careful with my back, due to the herniated discs; however, my arthritis has improved, nearly disappeared with this hot weather. Definitely a good thing in summer.

Regarding my last post, and aging... I found an article via a blog: "Time Goes By - What it's really like to get old" and was impressed by the 90-year-old Rabbi Haberman's 6 reasons to grow old. My favorite was this: He’s learned “the art of submission.” Americans are activists by nature, but “more happens to us than we cause to happen,” he has found. “You have to accept the unalterable.”

Maybe it's inappropriate, but let me just say: AMEN! People are sometimes just plain silly in their attempt to "control life events" -- but when you're younger, you just don't get it! I'd say those past 50, who are insightful, have realized this -- or at least I know I have. I actually think I always knew this as a writer, but as life events happen randomly and chaotically, the truth of that hits home like a sledgehammer.

Try to remember that when you are being "controlling" and/or fretting over the small stuff that, in the long run, just makes YOU miserable.

Click HEREto read the full article.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Writing, gardening & random photos

It's been awhile since I updated my blog. Of course, I post at least twice a day with Twitter, but all too often, just never get around to writing a longer entry.

And I have concluded that I've lost faith in writing -- the kind of faith it takes to think that what you write actually matters to anyone, might make a difference in someones life, or that there is any reason to write at all. I've been going through this for years, at least since 2000, and it's not getting better, rather worse.

Perhaps that can be applied to just about everything in my life nowadays: nothing seems to matter enough to bother with it. Oh sure, I get up, take care of my critters, do the usual housekeeping, read, garden, whatever. But I have no driving passion for anything, and that includes dating and/or wishing for another life partner. I am beginning to think that this is what older people experience as they age -- sitting and watching/observing the world go by. I admit, there's a peaceful contentment in this lifestyle, so I'm not complaining. It's an adjustment though that takes years of gradually easing into this different serenity, yet I don't long for the wild upheavals of younger years, nor the roller coaster swings and dips of frenetic activity.

In fact, this may have always been my inner, true self -- which is what precluded being a writer: observer, watcher and then, recorder/writer. Now the only thing missing is that I no longer feel compelled to write about anything and everything in my life, other than a few words each day. I'm sure many would find this appalling, but not those past a certain mature age. Some of us arrive at this serene path sooner than later, but I'm convinced if we live long enough, we all find ourselves in this peaceful contentment.

Ah well, life goes on.

My large garden is still doing well, if a bit dry; I usually water it late in the afternoon. Corn, squash, green beans, cabbage, tomatoes (none ripe yet), beets, sweet peppers...still growing, not yet producing. However, S&W helped me dig the potatoes last week, and we got a ton. Very delicious!

My smaller space beside my carport is doing well too, cherry tomatoes are monsters, but no ripes ones yet.

Here's some picture I'll share:

Monster tomatoes beside my carport

Cucumber in one corner near carport

Squash in another corner

It's been scorching hot lately, and the dogs can't endure the heated street pavement, so we go to a nearby wooded park. Located about 15 blocks from my house, it's a quick drive and by six o'clock usually cool enough to walk the 1/2 mile loop. This was once called the "hobo jungle" since it runs parallel to the train tracks, and was overgrown, a horrid eyesore. The city cleared out the area and created this small walking trail, which is truly enjoyable. There's a few picnic tables, garbage cans but rarely do I see anyone there late in the afternoons. Nice.

The path loops down close to the train track first...

And the train track is very close! A train screamed by today and both dogs wanted to run back to the car!

Lest you think it's all wilderness, the upper loop shows the nearby shops lining the street.

Rambo & Oscar love it, even though the heat is relentless even in these woods...

With that, it's time to water the gardens. Then a movie and later, reading a good novel in bed. A good life, I've decided.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Garden Photos...Again!

I'd love to say I'm bored, but in fact, I'm in a nice lull after the high misadventures lately. My damaged car is once again in the carport, no sign it underwent a front-end makeover. I've recovered somewhat from the two wrecks, but still not as comfortable driving as I was previously. Hopefully time will cure that, so I'm trying to adjust.

Of course, with gas prices heading north again, it's a good time NOT to do any unnecessary driving. I'm catching up on watching good movies with a free Netflix month trial, reading some excellent novels...and of course, gardening.

Before I post the photos, I do want to make note of something here just as a reference for myself. A week ago I walked from the far north end of the city to the southeast, where I live. I returned the Enterprise rental car, and though they offered to drive me home, I just decided to walk.

Our town was once walkable, and still is within the main old-town section. Sidewalks, huge shady trees, very pleasant. Enterprise was located off a major highway though, and had I not known the back-way onto two-lanes, a short cut to old town, I couldn't have ever tackled that busy four-lane. Fortunately for me, I know all the off-streets, and managed just fine.

I consider it quite a feat, walking ten miles at one time, and NOT resting, not even getting winded. I guess that means all the long walks with my dogs (and I went twice today) has benefited my walking stamina! I'm just surprised my back and knees held out as well as they did. Of course, I was wearing my expensive walking shoes.

At any rate, I was proud of myself. At least I know if I get stranded somewhere, I can just set off walking...and eventually I'll find assistance. I wonder how many sedentary Americans couldn't even make it home from their workplace if a disaster ceased transportation? A fair amount, I would wager.

Without further ado, here's the photos. (Click on photos for large picture.)

This was made after a heavy rain shower. The corn has been having issues about falling over, and I worked on that twice but once we got this rain, I went out and finally got mud packed around the stalks. Don't know if the squash and green beans are visible, but they're all up and thriving between the corn plants.

My small patch beside the carport, cherry tomatoes becoming monsters!

Cucumber plant in corner of fenced yard

L to R: zucchini, yellow crookneck and patty pan squash in another corner of yard (Making use of space!)

Fig tree in front of my house

Scuppernog vine planted this summer

And with that, I'm outta here!