My Novels

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010: Year End Reflections

I'm sitting on my back porch in balmy 60 degree weather, enjoying the sunny breeze, typing on my QuickPad. Just this past weekend, snow was on the ground and temperatures hovered at near 18 degrees. Welcome to climate change, or for the disbelieving, unwashed masses, just the normal ups/downs of weather.

Earlier I took the dogs on another long walk, and enjoyed the weather. Rain on the way tomorrow. I've been taking extra long walks with the dogs in order to lose two pounds I gained from Christmas food indulgence! As of this morning, I'm almost there!

At any rate, I wanted to write a year's end summary about 2010, making note of the more significant events in my life. It was a peaceful year, uneventful in some ways, but I did make it through - and at my age, 59, that in itself is an accomplishment. So many never live to see my age, therefore each day is a small miracle.

This past year started with me being back in my house where DH & I lived for 25 years; I was very happy to be back home. And I still am.

A brief list of home-related tasks this year:

1. I did my own lawn care with a battery-operated Neuton lawnmower. No small feat when you consider I'd never mowed a yard while DH was alive. I even managed to rake tons of leaves, cart them to the curb in a wheelbarrow. I only hope I have the stamina to do that next year, since I saved money by not having to hire it done.

2. I had drainage ditches put in to keep the rainfall ruining my carport and had the sidewalk/front entryway improved. Had a nice garden-like shrubbery spot to enhance the front.

3. In the Fall, I had gutters removed, trim work done on one side of the house to improve drainage and eliminate gutter cleaning. Also had new doors put on the garage, some electrical work done in there so I could use the space for the stray cats to eat/sleep through winter months.

4. Rounding out the year in home improvement, I had a new central heat/air system installed with a ten-year warranty (labor & parts). Long overdue as the other system was getting very old.

5. In spring, I wasn't sure I'd be able to sell my other house, so I dropped my medical insurance due to income decrease (losing the rental income). I hoped if the house sold I could use a portion of the money for the pre-existing medical insurance via the new federal program for my state. It was a very loooooooong six months, but luckily I did sell my house and should be getting my insurance card this week. It's expensive: $583.00 per month with a $2,000.00 deductible but at my age, it's sheer folly to be without insurance (especially if you have savings/assets/investments/annuity to protect).

5. In October, I had the triple-flu vaccination, and within two weeks, noticed a swollen lymph node under my arm. It is still there, though decreasing, was never large. I haven't had it checked out due to being without medical insurance and the prohibitive costs of testing. I hope to get that checked next week. I still think it had to do with the flu shot, since I've learned others have had that side effect. But I'm not sure, so I must get it seen by a doctor. I haven't felt ill, other than a brief bout of nausea just about the time I noticed the swelling - two weeks after the flu shot. Otherwise, I feel fine.

6. For Christmas, I bought a Roku and joined Netflix. I'm loving the movies, and may cut back some of the channels I get via cable, saving money.

So those are the main points I want to remember for 2010, a reference for my journal if I need to look back.

Who knows what 2011 holds? January is always a very strange month for me; I've done some wild & crazy things in January's of the past! Maybe I get stir-crazy, not sure...

Thus, another year ends. For the New Year I have only two wishes: good health & living to age 60 so I can qualify for DH's SSI, which will certainly improve my monthly income and, hopefully, allow me to increase my savings.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day After Christmas

Woke to more snow flurries, but by noon, occasional sunbursts. Bundled up the dogs in their new coats (gift from sister), put on my heavy coat, and we went for a walk! Since the wind had picked up, it cleared the streets of snow, no danger of icy spots. Brisk walk, but nice to get out of the house for awhile.

Pictures from the day:

Oscar models his new snug coat!

Rambo models his new coat!

Slinky & Bitty Kitty enjoy their gift, a play cube!

Morning sunlight on fallen snow with dog tracks!

And now I'm about to enjoy home-made vegetable soup that I cooked, yum.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Snowfall!

Just a reminder for myself that we're having a white Christmas in Dixie today!

As beautiful as it is though, I fear a real icy mess tomorrow since temperatures are supposed to fall into the 20s tonight.

Hope everyone's having a great Christmas 2010!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Review of Roku HD Player

Originally submitted at Roku

The new HD, with built-in wireless, delivers top value in high-definition streaming.

Best item I've ever bought!

By Cara from Alabama on 12/22/2010


5out of 5

Pros: Reliability, Easy to set up, Great value, Compact, Easy to use, High quality picture, Built in Wi-Fi

Cons: Want more video choices

Best Uses: Bedroom, Living room

Describe Yourself: Netflix fan

I love my new Roku. I'm 59, female and somewhat tech-challenged -- but I had NO trouble hooking up the Roku to my HDTV. Worked right out of the box, no problem.

Then I joined Netflix, and enjoy each night choosing a good movie to watch! I have never had a DVR or pay-per-view/pay-movie-channel, so this has provided me with countless hours of excellent movies/TV programs, etc.

My only concern is that Netflix will eventually have to raise their monthly fee; I'm on the one-movie-at-a-time with no limit for streaming movies. If the fee went up a lot, I'd probably have to drop it - and that would be a real shame. The Roku/Netflix are a great alternative to high cable costs for such a selection of entertainment viewing.

I'll be recommending Roku to all my friends and family.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

December Update

I wish I had a valid excuse for not posting more often, but I really don't. I have no desire to hash out some private issues I'm going through right now, so I've resorted to little snippets of my life via Twitter.

I will probably have some news to share within a couple weeks though, about something I've been going through. If I can convince myself there's an incentive in writing about it here, I will.

I always thought, as a writer, you have to be willing to put yourself/beliefs/thoughts/feelings out there and be open to sharing in personal ways that many people aren't. Even in fiction, there is a part of your heart & soul in the characters, story, theme. Until a year or so ago, I continued to openly share via this blog, but gradually I have withdrawn somewhat. Not sure what has caused this, maybe just seeing how the internet has allowed everyone (it seems) to let it all hang out for the world to see. Privacy is now becoming a premium few have any longer. It's one thing to write a personal postal letter or email, and another to blather on at length about the most trivial, inconsequential elements of one's life for the whole world to read.

NOT to say all personal blogs are that way, and in truth, the few writers who can eloquently describe their lives/thoughts/feelings with meaning and significance are a joy to read. Yet for every one good blog, there's about a million that are pure trash complete with bad grammar, poor spelling, etc. Just like reality TV ...too many trashy lives being hailed as entertainment. NOT. And the sad thing is, most people can't tell the difference between a humiliating reality TV program and good drama with theme/characters/meaning.

Enough of this rant though. Suffice to say, I'm going through a re-evaluation about my own writing at this blog. In the meantime, I am writing by hand in a journal, which has rekindled my love of writing in general. I can't explain why that would be so, except to say that when I close the journal I can put it safely away and know that my thoughts are not splashed all over the world for anyone and everyone to read and judge/comment on. Perhaps as I grow older (59 as of Dec. 3rd), I'm becoming a more private person?

For now, I'll close with this excellent video regarding a vegetarian diet being healthy and why we have an epidemic of obesity here in America:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Photos & last

I am not sure why I've been reluctant to write posts more often. Perhaps I just have nothing to share since life is peaceful and I'm content? Or perhaps I'm not really as motivated to write lately, other than my regular creative writing. Nanowrimo is during the month of November, but instead of writing a novel, I think I'll try to work on my memoir.

We had awful thunderstorms last night, some wind/hail damage downtown. I woke at 3 AM and thought I heard hail on the roof, then a crack of lightening and the power went out. I was so sleepy, I turned over and fell asleep again. When I woke at 6 AM the power was still off, but came back on shortly. We really needed the rain, it's bone-dry here and my allergies are a constant misery. Hope the rain clears that up some.

Otherwise, life sails along as usual. I want to post a few photos of the stray cat shelter in my garage, so without further ado, here they are:

This is the front of my garage with the newly installed cat door; I have it propped open right now, till the strays learn how to use it. I painted the garage door recently too. Last night the strays followed me inside for some can food; they were all still in there this morning, even though the cat door was open. Glad they had a place to be inside, out of the storm.

Just inside the door in the left corner is an old computer desk with pillows/blanket, the braided rug and cat food buffet! I know one of the cats has been sleeping on the blanket due to an indented area. Above this area is a heat lamp, which will help during the cold winter months.

To the right just inside the doorway is another place for cats to sleep -- the two plastic boxes with blankets, plus more shelves I will eventually put bedding in.

The dogs being lazy on a rainy day not long ago; they love the sofa IF it has a comforter for them to lie on!

I've raked my backyard twice already, but after the storm last night, leaves were everywhere. And it will be like that until December!

I finally decided on names for the two male feral littermate cats (they are nearly identical, but different personalities)..."SorePaw" & "SourPuss." Why? SorePaw had a sore paw when he first showed up, but got better when I gave him antibiotics; he has tamed down a bit, will let me pet him and purrs alot. SourPuss looks very healthy, but is skittish -- yet not above meowing for his share of the can food each day. He just has this pissed look on his face, as if he doesn't like having to ask for food but loves it too much to resist! Will NOT let me touch him. I'm working on softening him up though. (LOL)

With that, I'm outta here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Small living space

For various reasons, I've not updated in quite awhile. I'm immersed in doing research, which tends to occupy my thinking -- even when I'm busy with physical labor/exercise, etc.

My research is focused on living in foreign countries. I don't want to elaborate on exactly why I'm doing this research, but all will be revealed in due time here.

I'm mostly focused on England, Ireland and Australia. However, in browsing around YouTube I often come across interesting videos that strikes me as educational for Americans.

I wanted to post a video in comparison to how we Americans live large. So many other people in foreign countries have learned how to adapt to small living space. My own home is modest by most American standards: 2 bedrooms, 1 small bath, living room and combo den/kitchen. It is entirely enough space, and I have never understood why only one or two people need extravagant houses. It is just more upkeep, maintenance expense and work all around. Keeping a small space neat & tidy, decluttered, is possibly why a lot of Americans can't imagine it. We have entirely too much useless stuff as evidenced by a TLC program entitled, "Hoarders" about people who are living in piles of filth because they can't part with stuff.

Here's the video of a Japanese apartment in Tokyo:

And here's a video from the show, Hoarders:

I am waiting for the handyman to call me back with an estimate for some necessary work around this place. Ah, more maintenance expense! Sigh.

Monday, August 23, 2010

How to be Alone

Many, many years ago I learned that solitude can be a gift, not a burden. While creative writing is a solitary activity, I don't think that was why I came to value my solitary time. In fact, I would venture to say that my solitary nature came first, the writing was secondary. This would explain why I never quite liked working at a newspaper, the hustle-bustle hectic pace of never-ending social demands in the workplace, as well as constant interviewing and aggressive attitude to get the news.

Some people will panic if left alone, grab a cell phone, start calling random family or friends. Or run out to get a movie, or simply head to a friend's house. It must be extremely painful not to be able to just accept being alone -- and actually enjoy those moments of time for reflection, doing nothing, simply sitting quietly. In today's society, such moments are becoming endangered; either one is engaged with people in the workplace, with family, friends, tethered by a cellphone, ipad, ipod, unable to soar above the noise to hear their inner voice.

That is why I've once again resumed letter-writing via postal mail. I finally realized that it is a soothing, reflective activity -- being alone with pen & paper and quiet thoughtfulness in sharing. Lately I've even started writing some of my creative work by hand, then typing/editing it later. The internet, at times, is a distracting, disorienting, disjointed venue which deprives one of the ability to be totally alone with their own thoughts.

At any rate, I wanted to post a couple of videos for those who have never quite mastered how to be alone. Here is a video regarding North Carolina Modern-Day hermits:

The following is a wonderful video about learning how to be alone in an urban environment, and though slanted for young people, it can apply to anyone who can't accept that being alone doesn't mean being lonely:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living Dangerously & Not Knowing It

I like to think I'm one of those people who tries to avoid problems, whether it's being frugal, saving for the future, keeping fit, eating healthy, being careful when doing anything that has risks, and always having my car serviced on time.

A couple weeks ago, I had my car serviced -- oil changed, a new fuel filter, tires rotated, and new brake pads put on at the suggestion of the mechanic at Express Oil Change. I'm a regular customer, never had any problems, have found their work trustworthy.

However, yesterday I had a truly scary experience with my car. I had taken the dogs to the nearby wooded park for their walk, which was fine, then returned to the car. When I tried to start it, there was the sound of the battery working, but the car wouldn't start. I smelled gas, thought I'd flooded it (something most drivers are familiar with), but did think the gas smell was awfully strong. Since it was so hot, I let the dogs out and we went back into the wooded area. I had my cell, and called AAA, thank goodness. The representative had a bit of trouble figuring out exactly what to tell the tow truck for location, since there is no physical address for that little park. However, there's a Walgreen's within sight, so she took that address and noted that I was at the nearby park.

Did I mention it was HOT? For a short walk, even in the early afternoon, the wooded park is great -- there's usually a breeze stirring and since the trail is completely shaded, it's nice almost anytime of the day. At any rate, the longer I had to stay there, the more uncomfortable I became; I didn't have any bottled water with me, but did have some for the dogs which I gave them. They seemed to be coping better than I was, because I was sweating and beginning to worry the tow truck might not locate us. Not another person was anywhere near, no one drove up to walk, so I was totally alone.

Of course, my sister/bro-in-law who live fairly close are in Florida this week on vacation, which meant I was pretty much stranded.

After about thirty-five minutes, I was about ready to walk over to Walgreen's and buy some bottled water...but the tow truck arrived. Once the guys checked my car, they asked if I'd run over something -- or into a ditch. I said no, but I'd had the car serviced/worked on just a couple weeks ago. One of the guys laid down and looked underneath the car, and discovered the problem: the fuel line had fallen off! Every time I had hit the gas peddle, gas was spurting out from under the car! They inspected it, said that it looked like the techs had not tightened the clamp enough on the gas line after replacing the fuel filter. And further, both were looking alarmed, upset and told me I was lucky the line hadn't fallen off while driving down the street -- because had that happened, a spark could have caused an explosion/fire! In other words, I could have been killed!

They said we should take the car back to Express Oil Change, and have them repair it -- free, of course. So that is what we did -- and by the time we got there (about 3 miles) I was very angry as well as shaken. I didn't care how I looked, hair plastered to my head with sweat, and told the techs exactly what had happened, the tow truck driver confirming it. Those techs were instantly aware of how dangerous it had been, looked almost freaked out! Said they'd get right on it, should be fixed shortly.

I took the dogs into the cramped waiting area, which was at least air conditioned with a water fountain, and announced to everyone waiting for their car to be worked on what had happened. I mean, here I had the dogs with me, and looked like a maniac, sweat-soaked hair, red-faced. I guess they would have thought I was nuts, looking like I did AND having two dogs with me there! However funny it all looked, no one was laughing when they found out what had occurred. Two of the women were quite alarmed.

We sat there about another hour, and finally the car was ready. The manager asked, "How can we make this up to you?"

I was considering asking them to fill my car up, since I didn't know how much gas had leaked out. But when I started the car, it looked like I'd only lost about 1/4 tank, and didn't really need any. The manager ended up giving me a bunch of "discount" coupons for oil change, tire rotations, etc. Frankly, I doubt I'll go back to that particular place, but there is another Express Oil Change in town too.

I was sure glad to pull into my driveway. And honestly, I was just too upset to make the long trip to my sister's house 70 miles away today. I called her, explained what happened...and she understood. I would have been imagining every little odd sound to be something wrong with the car, had I undertaken that trip. Also, this kind of heat (95+ every day) makes it dangerous to break down and have to wait on the roadside for assistance.

I will give a shout out to AAA -- the tow cost me NOTHING. It's well worth the yearly fee, and anyone who drives (especially women) should have AAA; it's truly a good roadside service.

Today the Internet has been down since noon. I called my service provider, and they said they were working on it. Who knows when it'll be back up? I will post this when possible.

In the meantime, today I have felt drained from that length of time in the heat yesterday. I have stayed indoors, managed to do some housework (mopped/waxed floors) and may do some batch cooking shortly.

And that's it for now.

Friday, July 23, 2010


No joking, it's verrrrrrrrry hot here in the South. Don't believe me, here's a photo of the temperature gauge on my back porch (click to enlarge)

Looks like either 101 or 100!

I went to the park around ten, walked the dogs in the wooded area. Also picked up a Redbox movie, "The Hurt Locker." It's been out for some time, had rave reviews/awards, about time I watched it tonight.

Summer in the South, everything slows down to a crawl. After five on weekdays, nothing is is deserted, no cars, no one walking or biking. The air seems to stagnate, not even a breeze, suffocating.

I bike in early morning, and the park is mostly shaded. My back yard will have to be mowed tomorrow morning, but I'll do it very early, stay hydrated.

From near noon till sunset, it's just unbearably uncomfortable to get outdoors. Air conditioning in this weather is a necessity, and almost no one is without it. The stray cats retreat to their special hiding places, under houses, in deep shaded grassy spots and only come out near dark for the can food I feed.

I'm absorbed with a writing project, and the heat gives me an excuse to hunker down and WRITE!

However, I did want to write this brief post as a record of the extreme heat wave we're having here. We've had 95+ temperatures for over a week now, culminating in 100+ for the past two days!

Now back to the work-in-progress...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Walking, Biking & Lawn mowing

What do all three have in common? GREAT exercise!

I know some people hate any kind of exercise that actually works up a sweat, gets the heart racing, requires serious exertion...but I've always enjoyed it. Really.

When I was in my teens, I loved to bike, practically lived on my bike except when bad weather prevented it. During my 20s/30s, I always enjoyed a variety of activities for getting exercise. I usually walked, gardened, biked and did an exercise routine of Calisthenics, stretching, bending, etc. at least five times a week. I'd love to say I was so dedicated because I wanted to be healthy, but in fact, I wanted to stay slim.

Or at least that was what I told myself, and it worked. I weigh the same today as I did in high school.

However, eventually when I couldn't exercise, I'd miss it terribly. Nothing compares to the great feeling of your body getting a thorough workout; there is a deep relaxation that comes afterward, a sense of total calm.

In my 40s I started jogging/running, and did that for several years till I developed knee problems. I used an indoor Nordic Track ski machine for a few years, continued biking, using a stationary bike in bad weather. I did that up until about a year ago when I was diagnosed with back problems. I could still ride my bike, but not on hills; it hurt my back. Unfortunately where I was living then was a hilly area, so I just stopped biking.

I had already started walking my dogs daily. And walking is good exercise, but it still can't compare to a long brisk bike ride. I missed the biking!

Now that I'm back where I lived for 25 years, I have access to a park with a perfect biking path. I can ride to the park, and get in a good long bike ride almost daily.

As for the lawn mowing, I could never have mowed the huge yard where I last lived. Serious up/down slopes, tons of weed-eating around a chain link fence, curbs, etc. Plus, the Zoysia grass was a pain to take care of -- temperamental and thick. I even tried a riding mower, which I loathed. And I hated dealing with gas, ugh!

My yard now is modest-size, smallish and I am able to mow it with the Neuton Battery lawn mower. No bother with gas, and somewhat lightweight. Yet it IS good exercise, a real workout too. It was more difficult at first, but as the muscles in my upper arms and shoulders developed from the task, it has gotten progressively easier.

I do some gardening too, mostly vegetable gardening in the summer months. Yet I have to use caution in not hurting my back or knees due to bending/stooping for ground work. It's not really easy or pleasant, but I like the fresh veggies.

So this is a blog post in praise of exercise. I dread the day when I can no longer get serious, healthy exercise due to aging issues, but hope I have more years for activities I've come to love and need.

My only advice to those younger and able to exercise is find an activity you really enjoy -- otherwise you will never stick with it. If you're a gregarious person, there's lots of gyms, sports, groups to join for exercise. Or if you are somewhat solitary like myself and prefer being alone for workouts, there's biking, walking, hiking, gardening, etc.

I'll end with a few random pictures around here.

My antique British-made bicycle, a rare Raleigh Sports bike, love the ride!

Tomatoes/okra in my garden, looking wilted due to heat and lack of rain lately

Rambo rolling around in the yard -- he loves that!

In the stray cat post I had a picture of the limping cat, SorePaw; this is his litter mate. You can see by his expression he has no intention of being domesticated! LOL

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Flash Fiction Writing Exercise

I love writing challenges -- or exercises. Found this one on the web recently:

Tell a story in fewer than 101 words.

Use these words:

Raggedy Ann
double agent

Here's my story:


The former beauty queen looked peaceful lying on the bed, moonlight drenched. I saw a Raggedy Ann doll propped nearby, Miranda's good luck charm.

Heading out the door, I glanced back at Miranda; she still looked beautiful, except for the single bullet hole between her eyes.

Shrugging, I hurried outside, grabbing a thermos of coffee in the car. My regular job: double agent. I moonlight as a contract killer, love the razzmatazz.

The drive back to Jersey should be uneventful, moonlit roads. Billy, Miranda's husband, would be glad to get my call; old friends deserve a favor now and then.

----Word count: 100

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Stray Cats

"If you feed, they will come."

So true whether it applies to stray cats, dogs, wildlife, or even some people! In my case, if I see a hungry critter, I'm apt to drop everything I'm doing, hurry to get some grub for them. When I lived at the farm, I had a feeding area where I put out leftovers and scraps -- a family of coons raided it nightly. Had I been there longer, I'm sure my menagerie of wildlife would have grown exponentially.

At any rate, I have a crew of three cats who not only never miss the feeding time, they also have started to live on my enclosed carport. I did create a place for them to sleep in one corner, out of the weather. Occasionally they wander off, but calling will fetch them, pronto. I captured a few photos of them the other day, and wanted to post those.

In addition to these three, there's several other regulars that I see off and on, depending if I happen to be outside at certain times. Two solid black cats that look like overgrown kittens, obviously not even a year old. Probably litter mates; several tabbies that drop by time to time in the day. I have no idea how many are eating during the night, but there's never any dry food left in the morning. Since cats are nocturnal, I'm sure a wide assortment saunter through after dark.

We just had a fairly loud thunderstorm, lots of rain, but at least it cooled the air. If this front moves through fast enough, it'll be nice to walk the dogs in the neighborhood later. I've been taking them to the wooded park every day, just too hot for Oscar, the doxie, to walk on the hot pavement.

Without further ado, here's the stray cats:

I named this male stray lying underneath my car, "SorePaw"...he was limping terribly when I first saw him. I mixed up some antibiotic in can food and he ate it gratefully. He still limps slightly, but never misses that can treat! He'll hang around, get fairly close, but will not me allow me to put my hands on him. He has what appears to be a litter mate, almost identical to him, but much more scared. Not sure if it's a she/he, but see that cat a lot too. They used to always be together, but SorePaw is always around for the meals whereas the littermate only shows up now and then when I'm outside.

These two are big buddies now, although the gray tabby only showed up about three weeks ago. He's a neutered male, very sweet, incredibly loving...would almost rather be petted than eat. Goldie, the yellow tabby, has been here almost since I moved in. If I open the door, she will quickly run inside the house and proceed to claim a spot as hers. It's apparent she is extremely domestic, as is the gray tabby. I suspect someone dropped the gray tabby, but haven't decided whether Goldie is/was a stray or some one's pet nearby. Occasionally she is not around in late afternoon, so it's possible she is owned by someone nearby who lets her stay outside most of the time. She seems to be a spayed female.

I'll post more photos if I ever catch a chance to get pictures of the other strays. Not easy, since the feral cats don't hang around for a photo op!

Life continues as ever, and I'm hanging in on the lawn mowing. Never thought I could do it, especially in this kind of heat wave -- but I stay well hydrated, and stop frequently to cool down when mowing. I have to give a shout out to the Neuton Battery operated mower, it's a gem and does the job without having to recharge the battery! Highly recommend it if you have a smallish yard.

And one last photo of my house. It's difficult to get an accurate photo of the entryway to my house, but I think I finally did just that today. This photo shows the revamped sidewalk, improved shrubbery area with lava rock, and the porch in better detail. (Click to enlarge)

Once the work on the shrubbery was done, I found some gold-looking knickknacks to enhance the door and wall around the porch. The porch/steps were also painted. I've been pleased with the reddish lava rocks, and had landscape edging and fabric put down so grass/weeds will not intrude.

That's it for today.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Around the house

I thought I'd post with updated photos -- approximately six months after I moved back home. And yes, it does indeed feel like HOME to me. I suppose it always will. When you've lived in a house for 25+ years, it becomes a part of your heart and soul. Just driving down the street toward my house, I always feel a sense of belonging, of coming home. Call me old-fashioned, whatever, I just know this happy feeling when it washes over me!

Before the photos though, just a few random thoughts. I find it so sad about the ongoing tragedy in the Gulf; it will never be the same, and though I haven't been to the seashore in years, I hate that it will now be changed forever. Perhaps never returning there will allow me to remember it as beautiful and pristine as it once was back in the 80s, when DH & I last vacationed there.

I get nearly nauseated when I see the oil-drenched birds and think of how truly devastated nature will be in the coming months. As I write this, fish and fowl are their last surviving moments. Yes, I feel badly for the people along the coast who earn a living off the fishing industry, but the waters have been over-fished for years. My main sympathy is for the wonderful wildlife that had nothing whatsoever to do with the man-made destruction going on around them.

My daily life goes on as usual: writing, gardening, walking the dogs, cooking veggie food, and being serene and at peace. It's nice, probably what I imagined it would be years ago when I envisioned a solitary lifestyle. Marriage was wonderful in its own way, but so is living alone and enjoying the peace that brings. I'm content, and that's more than most people can say.

And now, here's a photo tour around my house and yard. Click on photos to enlarge.

Front of house from across the street

The living room, what you see as you enter the door

Another view of the living room taken from the hallway

My new comforter set for the bedroom

The $25.00 sofa in my den which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! And Oscar is in his bed at the end of the sofa, asleep.

The view of my backyard walking out the back door onto the back porch/deck

My small veggie garden

A close up of garden -- left to right, tomatoes/pepper, okra, green beans and purple-hull peas

The white grapevine, growing and growing!

And this is Rambo, doing what he does a lot in the back yard -- sniffing and enjoying something only he can detect in the ground

Of course, Oscar only leaves the porch to do business...and the rest of the time he sleeps

There was a brief rain shower earlier, and the street was literally steaming mist due to the heat!

Now I'm about to cook some fresh yellow squash my sister brought from her garden yesterday. Yummy! I have some squash plants (not visible in the garden photos) but no yellow, just patty-pan. They are blooming, so it won't be long. I do have one tiny well as some tiny cukes, can't wait for the first ones.

And finally, I'll end with a link to this fascinating article in the New York Times about older people being happier. Sure seems to be true for ME!

Happiness May Come With Age, Study Says

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rainy Day Thoughts

Not that all day has been rainy, but with intermittent rain showers and occasional burst burst of sunshine, it was mostly a day to stay indoors. Good for reflection and writing. Which I did earlier, but wanted to end the day with an updated blog post.

When I hear of others taking a vacation I feel somewhat sorry for them. Why? Because honestly my life has become an every day vacation...nothing that I can truly complain about. I do what I want when I want; I am financially secure, saving money; I am healthy (at least right now) and able to take care of my house, my yard, and, most importantly, my critters. I don't have to work, nor do I have to have a lot of forced involvement with others, including family. For me, this is HAPPINESS. I have no need to take a vacation and "get away from it all."

However, I am absolutely certain that at any moment anything unexpected can happen; I know from brutal experience how quickly life can turn into a nightmare. Therefore, I never take today, each moment, for granted; rather, I appreciate it all abundantly. If humans could only be happy today, this very moment, and realize that no matter how much they plan, the unexpected, unpredictable DOES happen, they'd live more fully in the moment and let their perilous plans fall by the wayside.

As for my life, I've been living as I always do lately: joyfully in the moment. I wish I could say this kind of life could be attainable with a lot of human interaction, but honestly, it's not. Human interaction brings about friction, anxiety, disagreement, misery and many times, violence and death. Only in solitude can the peace we all seek be found.

And now I'll end with this photo I took in early spring of my backyard trees:


Friday, May 14, 2010

Cat Adventures

Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for my two cats, since they are indoor critters. I used to take them out on a leash when I lived at my other house; since moving here, just haven't done that. Every night they sit in front of the doggie door that leads to the back porch/yard, sometimes poke at it, trying to get out. I treated them with Revolution a couple days ago, and felt it was time they got out to explore.

Late yesterday afternoon I let them out to roam in the fenced backyard. I stayed out there, walked around with them, then sat on the porch to watch them.

First they slunk around, sniffing, but all of sudden, both just began racing around, realizing they could run, run, run to their heart's content. Bitty ran up the wood fence, slunk along the top looking over it and all around other yards. Slinky never attempted the fence, but did run up a tree, then shot back down. Missed a pix of that, since she was too fast for me. However, when Bitty came back to the ground, she raced up a tree and paused -- at which time I snapped a picture.

This went on for over an hour, no attempt by either to leave the yard. I went in to get me a tall glass of ice tea, and of course, when I returned Bitty was gone! I figured she'd went over the fence, and called her - nothing. I thought she'd come back in time, so Slinky and I went into the house. When Bitty hadn't come back in an hour, I went out and walked along the fence, calling her. Finally heard her mewling at one corner of the fence, apparently in the yard next door. Coaxing her didn't help; she was stumped, didn't seem to know how to get back over the fence.

I had to go next door, ask for access to their chain link fenced yard, and find Bitty. She was crouched under a big corner bush, but came right to me when I saw which point I put her atop the fence and she went down into my yard. By the time I got back to the yard, Bitty was sitting calmly on the back porch, looking at me as if to say, "What? You knew that would happen, didn't you?!" LOL

At any rate, I will probably be allowing them out a short time in the late afternoon, but ONLY with my supervision, keeping a close eye on them.

Here's photos from the adventure. Click to enlarge.

They spent a LOT of time doing this, sniffing and nibbling on grass

They also checked every inch of the yard, including the back porch, garage and dog kennel

Slinky, preparing to race up a tree

Bitty up a tree, photo not great... I was across the yard, and the focus/distance blurred it somewhat

Bitty enjoying the neighbor's fig tree hanging over my fence

Bitty looking at top of the carport: "Hey, I see a street, more houses and wait! Oh no, stray cats!!!"

They sure were interested in the grape vine

Bitty heading to the corner of fence where she apparently went over later; I found her on the other side under a corner bush

And that's all she wrote, folks!

Monday, May 10, 2010

How my garden grows

I've encountered some problems with the small corner areas of the fenced yard for gardening space. Mostly I've discovered it doesn't get enough sun, but I've cut back tree limbs so that at least there's several hours of sunlight daily.

Of course, the garden plots are very small -- which means these veggies are probably just to have fresh vegetables during the summer, not for storing in a freezer or canning. I could buy a small chest freezer, but will not make that decision until I see how much these small spaces produce.

Here's some photos I took yesterday of my gardening. (Click to enlarge)

For perspective, this is the backyard and my gardening spaces are at both far corners with small sections beside the fencing.

In the left corner, I have green bush beans, purple-hull peas, large tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and sweet pepper, okra -- and one yellow squash plant. The bush green beans, purple-hull peas and okra are shown in this picture.

In the right corner I have lettuce and Swiss Chard. The lettuce is in the center; the chard on the outer perimeter. Yesterday I also planted a small spot of turnip greens and several Lima bean plants.

Small spot beside fence with cherry tomato plants

Several cucumber plants beside the fence

Patty-pan squash plants beside the fence

White grape vine I planted between two trees. Plan is to put something between the trees for the vine to run, once it outgrows the cage I have around it now. Maybe I can get enough grapes one day to try my hand at home-made wine again!

And now, here is a picture of the beach at Dauphin Island Alabama. This island is 3 miles off the coast of Alabama, and these two photos show some of the oil coming ashore. I found these on a forum discussing the topic, and the poster lives there...but gave permission to repost them. There is apparently more than just tar balls coming ashore, also fine oil particles in the ocean waves washing in and mixing with the sand.

Small dark oil particles mixing with fine white sand

Tar ball the media is reporting

Such an unfolding environmental tragedy, with no end in sight.

Till next time...