Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Roll On

The thing about sabbaticals is they allow so much time for contemplation. In the course of my short, unimpressive career, I've written an assortment of genre varieties. My stories are mostly paranormal, fantasy and offbeat.

Occasionally, I am overwhelmed by the feeling I should write something 'important' or 'impressive'. Something that readers will finish and urge on their friends and neighbors and even strangers. The most recent series I've been working on falls far short of my own expectations though I believe it's an neat series with an unusual premise.

The truth is, I'm just not drawn to the important, impressive, life-changing type of book. My true love is the absurd, silly, kinky love story with oddball characters and whimsical plots that make absolutely no sense, but the reader is dragged along for the ride, simply to see how outrageous the story can be.

I haven't written in months.

Then this morning I sat at the computer, writing for my own amusement and wrote over 1800 words--which is a lot for me at one sitting. In that short number of words, the story has lost all semblance of sanity. But it's rolling along just fine.

It occurs to me I might have been trying to fix something that wasn't broken just because I long to fit in somewhere. And maybe, I should just stop trying to fix it and let it all roll on.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Afternoon

There's nothing quite like the dark gray, dreary promise of snow on a winter afternoon. Not even turning on all the lamps in the house or apartment will hold the impending gloom at bay.

These are the afternoons when I close all the blinds, heat up a mug of Ovaltine and snuggle beneath the warm afghan on my bed for a tale of daring-do and romance. Familiar heroes and heroines battle the villains and evil beasts. These are the times such tales are designed for. Through our long history as humans, our story tellers have nudged the darkness back with stories of romance and triumph.

Now...which book shall I choose from my shelves?


Monday, November 25, 2013


Explorers aren't always heroic ship's captains sailing to distant exotic lands. Sometimes--mostly--they're heroic families moving to unknown, unexplored, unsettled territories in search of better lives. These are a few, very few of the hunk's and my ancestors who were explorers.

The bulk of our ancestors arrived in the New World between 1620 and 1750. They cleared land, farmed, defended their homes, served as civil servants and jurors of their peers, attended the churches of their choice, reared their families, buried their dead, marched for months and fought for their freedom.

They laughed, cried, knew anger, joy, and sorrow. They were the face of America.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Aliens Among Us

The conspiracy theorists postulate that aliens have not only visited us, but walk and live among us. Apparently, some of them believe the aliens would be obvious like the ones in Men In Black. I don't think so.

Any spy worth his salt would understand the importance of blending in so seamlessly the rest of us wouldn't even notice them. Where could they go to become 'one with the people'? Ahhhhh. Walmart.

You don't really believe those weird outfits are accidental do you? Really?

Consider the wigs and colorful makeup and strange outfits. How could that be anything but a desperate stab at disguise? Why, they even have their own code name...People of Walmart!

When new visitors land, they know the first place to go for orientation and information is their local Walmart. That's why there's a Walmart in every town. It's the local entry station for space visitors. Once they arrive, they instantly feel at home.

Mystery solved.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Will You Still Need Me?

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?~~Beatles, 1967

Back when this song was released, I was eighteen and newly married--and the idea of being sixty-four was a distant glimmer in my universe. That was forty-six years ago. The time passed with shocking swiftness. AND we're still married.

There are no doubt all sorts of things, thought provoking, serious observations I could make about getting older. But today is a day of celebration so I'll just say turning sixty-four is pretty good!

Thank you to all the lovely people who joined my celebration!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Exploding Turkey

One year, I think it was 1984, we moved into a new house the day before Thanksgiving. This was after spending four weeks in a hotel with four kids, three of them teenagers. It was a move from Houston, Texas to upstate New York. The kids were out of school for that four weeks because we didn't have an "official" address.

So finally, we moved in on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. That year it was also my birthday. The next morning when we woke up we had no water because the pipes were frozen. Nothing was unpacked, but we had the presence of mind to pick up several aluminum roasting pans. For the turkey, we doubled two pans and plopped the turkey in the oven while we rousted out the necessities from the jumble of boxes that were piled high in the living room and dining room.

It wasn't the first time I had moved. Actually, it was move number forty. So the next morning chaos was not something new. There were the usual shouts of "Mom, where is...?" and the usual jockeying for space and attention. My husband was trying to figure out why we had hot water in the toilet. Just the little things in life.

When is was time to take the turkey out, the pan collapsed, burning my husband's hands. He tossed it on the top of the stove and it exploded. In a instant we had turkey, dressing, and broth everywhere...on the ceiling, on the walls and counters, down in the innards of the brand new stove...on the floor. Everywhere.

The househunk took the stove apart and carried it outside to wash the worst of it off with the hose in the yard. The boys got in an argument and my younger son "ran away". I remember kneeling on the floor trying to mop up that greasy mess and crying, "I want to go home!"

And my husband leaned down and calmly pointed out, "We are home."

Heh. Well, the runaway came home. My daughters helped set the table and my sons helped wash walls and counters. Amazingly, we sat down to dinner, thankful to be in a home instead of that hotel. And every year, we retell the story of the exploding turkey dinner.

After all, it was way better than the fire in the furnace on Christmas Day. Trust me on this.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013


This year many, many of my friends and family have faced tragedy, loss, incredible hardships and pain. They're good people. Hardworking people who just keep going because the alternative is not within their makeup.

One of my friends says we keep going because we are strong. That is true. But I think we also move forward because we don't know how to quit. That's a tribute to our hearts and souls.

Quitting would be easier.

Some say they couldn't continue without the support of their families and friends. But there are others with no support network at all. And yet they persevere.

I salute all the folks who pick up, put up, shut up and keep on going. They're the true winners in life.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Ponders

Things to ponder while sitting in the dentist chair trying to ignore that dang drill...

Why are there split toilet seats in the women's restrooms? Are they cheaper? Or is there something I don't know?

Back when they only had outhouses did men still stand up to pee? Or did they give the outhouse a pass and just find a handy tree?

Lately, the hunk's taken to going commando. Is this something new in the 60+ crowd or is he just special?

Reading a 'western romance' now. The author has the heroine waving around a Colt Peacemaker. I wonder if she (the author) has ever held one...cause they're HEAVY. And I don't know many women with the wrist strength to wave one around one-handed...

And the author has the hero wearing wool long-johns in August. Now, I have it on unimpeachable authority that the fellows shed those as soon as possible in the spring. Actually, going commando isn't new, at all. My authority got his first pair of under-drawers when he moved to town in his mid-teens...So, that would make the hunk retro...



Monday, November 18, 2013

Yearly Rant

I sometimes wonder if certain authors take their readers for granted. In the last couple weeks I've visited a lot of author's webpages, searching for news about upcoming releases and making sure I didn't miss anything over the summer.

One author last updated her page in 2010. Another had multiple broken links and she'd last updated hers in 2011. One had one page only with a note it was closed for updates. It was dated 2009.

So why have a webpage? All three authors are still writing and have had releases in the last year. I found out about the most current releases purely by accident.

Authors, if you're not gonna update it, take it down. An out-of-date webpage just sloppy. Whatever the issues, post something more than every three years. Your readers could be forgiven for believing you died.

As for the three authors I cited? Meh. If I find their books, okay. If not, apparently it won't be much of a loss.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The ONE Way

When I was young, very young, I thought there was only ONE way. The RIGHT way. But an indication of maturity is when we finally realize there are many ONE ways, dependent on cultural background, education, and personal preference and experience.

This is true whether we consider the correct way to make scrambled eggs or ponder the identity of a higher power. Our way is not necessarily our neighbor's way.

In the last few months I've noticed an elitist attitude creeping into discussions about writing. This attitude has nothing to do with grammar or spelling or plot. No, it refers to Point Of View. One group will castigate writers who use first person. Another will vociferously protest third person omniscient. Some folks self-righteously proclaim all romances should be written in third person with no POV changes.

I just want clarity.

As long as I can tell who's saying what, I don't give a flying fig leaf how the writer conveys that information. Is the story interesting? Does it engage my heart and brain? If not, it could be the most meticulously written book of the year, but I WON'T FINISH IT.

AND I WON'T BUY ANOTHER ONE by that author.

Since I've been on sabbatical, I've paid close attention to the writing style of my favorite authors--authors I read over and over, even to the point of nearly knowing the stories by heart. And what I discovered is POV is not all that important.

I grant you, it's best not to leap around, paragraph to paragraph, but CLARITY is the thing. There is no ONE way to present the story. Writer after writer after writer has proven that. Many of those stories we all had to read in high school were written in a mish-mash of POV. They must have been doing something right. Right?


Saturday, November 16, 2013


I remember a time when Saturday was a day of leisure. I think I was twelve. Then a new day dawned and every Saturday was cleaning day. Until the day I left home and married.

Then it was the day we slept in, rolled out of bed late, and had pancakes for breakfast. If we were especially ambitious we might walk down to the grocery store, do a bit of shopping, and maybe do a load of laundry.

Of course, that all changed when the kids came along. Kids never sleep in. Children don't know about time. They only know hunger, discomfort and fear. Day, night, all those other arbitrary times we assign to anchor our lives--those have no meaning. Saturday? Just another day.

After they start school, Saturday takes on a new sheen. Yay! There are cartoons, soccer and baseball games, cold cereal and trips to Home Depot.

By the time they leave home to make lives of their own, the parents have no idea what to do with themselves. It takes a while to figure out what to do on Saturday.'s just like any other day, except we deliberately stay home on the weekends to avoid crowds. After all, we have the five other days of the week because we're retired. Every day we can sleep late. Or stay up watching a movie. Or reading a book. Wanna stay in the jammies all day? Fine. Wanna watch cooking shows all day? No problem.

This Caturday I'm reading a book and enjoying a mug of cocoa. That's the deal!


Friday, November 15, 2013

And then...

Most stories begin with a 'what if' idea. The author then proceeds in an orderly fashion to discover the answer to all the what ifs. Occasionally, something happens and the story wanders off (or heck, it even flees!) the track. Dragging a rebellious story back where is belongs isn't always worth the effort.

I think the rebel story is more interesting. I once had a notion to write a trilogy about three sisters who go to Camelot with their father in search of husbands. It was a valid idea. I chose names for the characters and began the story setup. By the end of the first page, I knew the story wasn't going to cooperate.

The characters blithely romped off in quest of adventure, new characters insisted on shoving their way onto the stage, and none of the sisters behaved like they were supposed to. One married the butler. Their father turned out to be a traitor. One of them ended up with Merlin as a father-in-law. There were dragons and trolls and unicorns.


Once I let it roll, I had a great deal of fun. Some of my most memorable characters strolled on the stage during the days of Flowers of Came-a-lot. Percival and Bart, the dragons. Robin Hood and his wife, Delphie. Peter and Dick, the firebird twins.

I sometimes wonder if we try too hard to fit in the acceptable mold instead of allowing ourselves to explore 'what if'? Maybe there's a reason the vast majority of books all sound alike. Why not see where the story goes when it runs away?

We might discover entirely new territory.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Safety Blanket

A while back the hunk crocheted an afghan for me. It's purple--grape purple--silky yarn and cuddly. If I leave town, it goes with me. When I go to the hospital, it goes with me. It's as well traveled as I am.

You may ask why on earth I would want to drag around an afghan, but matter where I am, there is a bit of home. It keeps me warm when I don't have any control over the climate or indoor temps. If necessary, I can wrap it around me in the car. Or roll it up and use it for a pillow or cushion.

I'm very sensitive to odors. My blankie 'smells' right. Other blankets are too stiff or fuzzy or scratchy. Mine isn't. It's a defense and bulwark against that big hostile outer world.

We all have 'safety blankets'. Maybe it's a favorite pair of socks that don't match anything but make us feel better when we're wearing them. Or that one pair of boxers that feel exactly right. Our lucky tee-shirt. Those battered running shoes that should have been thrown out years ago.

My blanket combines a lot of sentiments and love. It's a gift, something created with care by my spouse who deliberately chose that particular color and texture of yarn. It's home.

I cuddle under it when I take a nap. When I'm feeling really crappy, it makes me secure so I rest better.

Some folks would say I'm too old for a safety blanket. I say I've just reached my stride and my blanket anchors me in an uncertain world. Every time I use it, I imbue it with another layer of love. That's magic.

When we give afghans to people we love, we always ask them to use them rather than keep them for display. That's why they're washable and dryable.

Someday I'll die. We all do. I'm sure there are a few things my kids and grandkids will want. But the blankie...well the blankie will stay with the hunk until he's gone. Because the blankie is love.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Roll of the Dice

My regular readers must wonder if I was born under an unlucky star or if I'm just that terrible at taking care of myself. No... According to my doc, I had a really bad roll of the genetic dice.

Yesterday I was at the doc's (AGAIN) for some follow-up blood work. And the hunk was there for his six-month check-up. I left the room to get a cup of water and when I returned, the doc said, "Don't hit me. I know it isn't fair but the hunk's numbers are soooo good, I'm taking him off his meds."

Now the hunk and I eat the same thing, pretty much, EXCEPT he eats more of the bad stuff, plus a lot of stuff my body can't tolerate. If we make cookies, I eat one...and he eats the rest. It's what you might call a division of labor.

Even though his mom and brother both had insulin dependent diabetes, HIS numbers are perfect--NAY, they're even a bit low. Mine? Not so much, though I have no diabetes in my family history.

It's the same with all that other good stuff. Cholesterol, thyroid, high blood pressure, blah, blah, blah. He has all the family history that indicates a high possibility of having the same issues. And I have none.

Evidently, he ended up with a really good roll of the dice, which is a great thing because I didn't. So what can we conclude from this? Sometimes, we just have to stop beating ourselves up and do the best we can.

It's easy to play the could have, should have game, but here's a clear cut case where the rules don't apply. Some folks really do just have inexplicable health issues. They aren't because of bad behavior or bad choices, but simply because they had a bad roll of the genetic dice.

Such is life. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

High Ground

"Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." Psalm 23.

I've noticed something interesting the last week or so. A LOT of folks are floundering in the deeps. Some are fighting physical issues, others financial or family problems. On facebook, some are sharing their hardships, not in a moany, whiny way, but simply reaching out to say, "I'm in a tough spot."

Contrasted with this sharing is another practice. Folks (many of them the SAME folks from the paragraph above) are posting things they're thankful for. This is the high ground in our dark valleys. This is the opportunity to ponder and acknowledge the high spots in our lives, even when the rest is a sucky quicksand.

Maybe the best we can do is say, I don't have it nearly as bad as my neighbor or the guy down the block. That's okay, because that means we realize it could be worse. There's hope. The high points allow us to pause and reassess what's going on.

In the USA, November is a month dedicated thinking about all the things we can be, should be, might be thankful for. I've read statements that listed family and friends, jobs, transportation to get to work, shelter and food, and pets. All of those are excellent things. Some of mine are the ability to get out of bed in the morning, my parents, children and grandchildren, and a nice place to live. But every day I try to find something small to be grateful for.

Because we can never have enough high ground.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

This and That

When I left the house this morning, I planned to blog about my trip to the Motor Vehicle to renew my license. However, I was in and out--complete with the new license--in twelve minutes. The employees were polite, helpful and gracious. And it was during the lunch hour. Other than praising them all for making my experience very pleasant, there is very little to blog about.

Ditto, Logitech, that company that markets mice and keyboards. In July I bought a fancy mouse. A couple weeks ago, it decided to go rogue. After spending considerable time on the phone with the help desk folks, they promised to send me a new mouse. Last night it arrived. A complete new mouse and extras, including charging cords, etc. It works like a dream.

After our visit to the MV, we stopped at the Bath and Body Works at the mall. My skin is picky so I only have a few products I can use. The woman there was extremely pleasant and cheerful. They had exactly the items I wanted--and I qualified for two free items. What more could I want?

Next we went to WalMart where we found exactly what we needed. Yes, yes, I know. This is beginning to be boring. Our check-out person was efficient and cheerful. We were in and out of that store in about fifteen minutes.

What can I say? Traffic to and fro was light. No crazies tried to mow us down in the rain. We found parking spots close to the stores each time. La, la, la.

And I confess I'm smiling as I write this.

Happy days...


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insurance Bargain

Back in the bad old days when the hunk and I first married we didn't have medical insurance. No one I knew had insurance. If you got sick and you didn't have any money, you just did what you could with home remedies. There were a few over the counter medicines, but not that many. Besides, prescriptions were horrendously expensive.

We had no insurance for our first two babies. Hospital bill total for a five day stay with the first one? $371. Yes, you read that correctly. The doctor's bill was $275 because we had our son circumcised. Otherwise, it would have been $250. We paid the doctor in payments. And when we paid the second child's bill ahead of time, our doctor called me and suggested I schedule a visit since he suspected I was pregnant. (And I was...)

When my kids hit the pre-teens, our insurance was upgraded, but it still didn't cover prescriptions. However, more than once our local privately owned pharmacy took a postdated check so our kids could have the antibiotics they needed. I can't imagine that happening now with all the big corporate pharmacies.

I started full-time work and had my own insurance through my job. It was excellent insurance, but strangely enough didn't cover podiatry. Go figure. Of all the specialties why was that not covered?

Now we're approaching the end of our lives. In that weird way things work out, we need more care than we did in our youth. I have a vague worry we'll end up like the guy in the picture, dealing with substandard care.

And in this day and age? I can guarantee a five day stay in the hospital won't cost $371.


Monday, November 4, 2013


I've been on an enforced medical sabbatical for the last few weeks and discovered I apparently have no life. Partially, that could be the issues I have with a one-handed life. No dishes, no cleaning, minimal dressing... and I won't even discuss the personal grooming difficulties. The experience gave me a new appreciation of the truly, permanently handicapped folks among us--especially those who cope gracefully day in and day out.

I tried to take a picture of the pesky finger responsible for my sabbatical, only to discover multiple difficulties with the process. That's okay. The general public doesn't need to be exposed to my stitches.

What I discovered on this little enforced vacation is the importance of our hands. There is little in life that doesn't involve our hands, from brushing our teeth to opening a door. The more surprising discovery was just how much work our pinkie finger performs in our day-to-day business. It serves as a balance when we pick things up. It's the finger that ensures our grasp when holding items. Working without it was more difficult that I imagined. So what did I learn on my sabbatical?

There are no unimportant parts.

Even the smallest joint in the smallest finger has purpose. If this is true for the body, how much more is it true for humanity? There are no superfluous people. Everyone has a purpose. Sometimes, we only realize that purpose when they're gone.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fall Color

We await the fall colors with vague anticipation. Then with one windy rainstorm, they're gone, leaving bare gray tree branches and the promise of winter.

Some winters here where I live, there isn't even one snow storm to dress up the bare branches. Other winters there's enough snow to weigh the branches down to the breaking point. I wonder which it will be this year?