Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Yesterday at the grocery store, frustrated with driving around and around the parking lot--to no avail--I went home cranky and foodless.  So this morning, I'm up early to walk the boys and hit the market before the rebel hordes arrive.  And it worked.  I had no trouble finding a space, the sun was shining, the dogs were content in the back seat of the Blazer.

It was wonderful to traipse through the store, up and down nearly empty aisles.  I breathed a sigh of relief that the end is in sight for 2014's holiday craziness.

I'm standing in line, dinking in my purse for wallet and coupons when behind me I overhear this conversation...

A deep, manly voice says, "Sweetheart, we forgot the ice cream."

Soft-voiced woman responds with a giggle, "Well, we can't celebrate the new year without ice cream."

He chuckles.  "No my love, we can't."

"I'll go," she says.  "Shall we have vanilla & caramel this year, or will it be rocky road?"

"Both," he says without hesitation.  Then they laugh, history mingled in the sound, something private, intimate shared between them.

"Be right back," the woman says as I turn and see her kiss the man, full on the lips.  He whispers, "I love you.  Hurry back."

"I will, baby.  Back before you know it."  And she hustles down the ice cream aisle.  The man watches her go, never takes his eyes off her as we both see her grab two flavors of ice cream.  Walking back toward the checkout line, she smiles at him, he beams back at her, and I have to turn away and blink hard against the tears.

The man leaned heavily on his cane, the woman was hunched over with age. They were in their eighties, if not older and yet their world was filled with love and kindness, memories and secret moments.

Such a beautiful thing to witness, poignant and heartwarming.

I cried all the way home.  I can't help it.  I'm a sucker for love...

Monday, December 29, 2014

Enough Already...and Other Stuff

Okay, I've maxed out on the whole holiday thing now.  I just want everything to go back to normal. Like being able to get a parking space at the frigging grocery store; not having to wait for over half an hour just to get to the gas pumps; no more inching, inching toward the traffic lights as they change at least four times before I can get through.  Seriously, would all you non-locals just go home now! And kids: get back in school!  Parents, go to work!  Normalcy peeps, that's all I'm asking for...


Amongst my excellent and thoughtful gifts this year, my dear friend, Susan--who lives in Yorkshire with my adorable godson, Eddie--gave me the cleverest thing.  An online class at the Craftsy.com website.  My particular course is called Snazzy Stitched Portraits which looks really cool and fun.  I've signed up already, but will wait until the new year to take the class.  After browsing the site, I found a few other intriguing classes that I might take, too, so maybe my new goals for 2015--not resolutions!!--will be to expand my creativity.

Susan and I initially met through an AOL chat room years ago, before the internet was the twittering, facebooking monster that it is today.  We became friends over Jack Russell terriers and a love of quilting.  Then when wee Edward was born, I was honored when asked to be his godmother.  My first trip to Great Britain was for Eddie's baptism, then a few years later I was in Scotland and met Alan. Funny how life goes...


I finished my Goodreads book challenge the other day.  Originally my goal was to read 175 books in 2014, but NaNo threw me off--no reading for the month of November--and I dropped the goal down to 160.  Surprisingly I had a great run of good books to read in December and easily made the 160, so expanded the number to 170 and yippee...I made it.

One thing I didn't finish this year was the 1000 Cranes project.  Even though it's right there, on the left margin of my blog to remind me, I totally forgot about it. Has that happened to any of you? Where you see something every single day until it becomes invisible?  (There might be a moral in there somewhere...)

I kept the little basket of origami papers at one end of the dining room table, but clear back in May, when my sister was coming to visit, I put the stuff in the cupboard...and there it languished, forgotten and unfinished. Until the other day when I was looking at the blog, wondering about changes, and suddenly--like a magic trick--there it was: the box, the birds, the meager numbers. Although I had no success this year, I still intend to carry on, adding the origami cranes to my 2015 projects list.


On a spiritual level, one major goal I have is to meditate more.  I used to do it daily, then it was a few times per week, then once a week if I was lucky, until it became something I said I would do, but somehow never found the time.

You make time, silly woman.

Meditation is a powerful, insightful tool to calm the mind parasites, recharge the body and find a measure of tranquility amidst the chaos--something I sorely need these days. I'm looking forward to having some of those peaceful moments in the coming year.

Aren't we all, dear readers, aren't we all...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Nearly Over

Well peeps, did you think I'd run off with Santa?  Though tempting, no.  I really just needed a break from writing, blogging, thinking.  Course, I talked to mi familia and friends on Christmas, and the dogs and I always have long conversations, but for the most part these last few days have been peaceful, quiet.  I spent an enjoyable Christmas morning opening my gifts and laughing as the boys had more fun with the wrapping paper then they did with the toys inside. Later, I made a great dinner, drank wine and watched sappy Christmas movies.  It was a drama-free zone at my house this year and I loved it.

Although...the day before Christmas was overly dramatic with wild torrential rains and flooding, howling winds and snapping tree branches.  I thought about all the folks out in the deluge traveling for the holidays, and remembered several times when I barely made it myself because of the weather.  Once I was caught in a freak snowstorm and it took me nearly twelve hours to make it the last 100 miles; another time there was a silver thaw--stunning with everything encased in ice--but I was stranded for two days.

As the storm rampaged on Christmas Eve, I could only be glad that for once I didn't have to be out in the chaos.  The tempest died sometime in the night and Christmas Day dawned bright and clear with sunny, intensely blue skies.  A beautiful contrast.


Over the next couple of days, I will do all the filing in my overflowing inbox and start 2015 with a clean slate.  There's something really nice about a new year...but also a bit scary. For some reason, starting a new day doesn't bother me, but a new year does. Weird, I know. There's the chance for disaster, dismay or mayhem on any given day, but facing a whole year of the unknown where anything can and might happen?  Daunting, butterflies-in-the-stomach intimidating.  But okay, exciting too, maybe even thrilling because fun and adventure are always a possibility.

So I guess what I'm saying is, regardless of what mysteries and challenges await, I have high hopes for 2015...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays...

My wish, dear readers, is that you all have a joyous, safe and wonderful Christmas...and that you'll love and appreciate your gifts as much as this little puppy...

Merry Christmas !!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice !!

Today is the shortest day of the year.  Right now, in the throes of an unrelenting storm that has raged all weekend (and yes, that's a big ass smile I'm wearing), it's already heading toward the gloaming and it's not even noon yet.  I think in my last life I must have been a cave dweller--I so love dark and gloomy.  Though on the other hand, I was born in a place that has six months of winter darkness, which probably explains a lot.  Is it nature or nurture that makes the child? In my case, I'm going with nature.

After today we'll be slowly inching our way back to the light.  I've barely had time to revel in the rain, cooler weather and the coziness of staying indoors, surrounded by the soft, enveloping shadows.  Sigh.

Ah well, seasons ebb and flow, peeps, no matter what's going on around us, so I'm off now to enjoy the short day...but mostly the longest night.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Nothing Really...

This has been one of those weeks where it's just...a week.  Not memorable, fraught or in any way exciting.  I can condense the past four days into a paragraph, which is kind of creepy in a way, if you think about it.  96 hours reduced to less time than it will take me to type the words.  (And the reason why I don't read those epic saga-type books where the main character ages from a child to an old crone in 500 pages or less.  No thanks.  Life is fleeting enough without reading about one that goes from start to finish in a matter of hours.  Ugh.)

Anyway...so far:

Stubbed my broken toes twice (yes, shrieking ensued), walked the dogs eight times, let them out in the backyard 700 times, did laundry, read two books that totally absorbed my attention, cooked, cleaned, went grocery shopping, took some photographs for a project I'm working on, tried to sleep but insomnia has me in a tight grip right now, worked on and posted the second chapter in my book, watched the last two episodes of Sons of Anarchy that I recorded (the ending is still running through my head), cried over two news stories that I'm trying desperately to delete from my brain, watered all the plants, answered several emails and balanced my check book.

See?  Nothing really.  Just a week...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Short Recap

The can't find a book to read curse is finally broken.  I found a book that totally captivated me on Saturday, plowed through it in record time, then lucked out with the next one in my TBR pile which I'm finishing today.  Whew.  I was worried for a bit there. Six weeks without reading was torture and my worst nightmare.

No.  Wait.  My real worst nightmare has been with me since I was a kid.  I used to love watching those old Twilight Zone shows, but only one episode has stuck with me for most of my life.  In fact, the BFF and I initially became friends when we discovered we shared the same nightmare, thanks to the episode, Time Enough At Last.  It makes me shiver just to think of Henry Bemis.  When I was that young girl, laying on the floor in the TV room and the final credits began to roll, I was filled with such horror, that I still haven't recovered. I wasn't bothered by aliens, supernatural stuff or scary things, but that episode terrified me.  And still does.  I think it's the reason I always have spare glasses around the house. Really.  I must have five pairs stashed in various places.  Ah, the influence of television on a child's mind...


Hopefully writing the words won't jinx things, but Max's eye has improved greatly over the weekend and I'm encouraged that by Friday (his follow-up appointment) he'll be totally okay.  Seriously, I could use a break in the drama.

Speaking of breaks...my toes aren't swollen anymore, though they don't like being stuffed into shoes.  The colors are pretty spectacular too, and now I have an interesting click coming from one of the gnarled toes when I walk.  It doesn't hurt, but my days as an undercover operative are apparently over.  No sneaking around when I sound like a deformed one-legged cricket.


The storms are over, the fog is back, but the temps are still unseasonably warm.  Even during the monsoon rain and winds last week, it was in the 60s.  It felt like a tropical storm...in the mountains, in the middle of December, peeps.  Not good.  So, along with killing each other, we're taking out the planet as well.

I just find it inconceivable that we're really this stupid.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sometimes All You Can Do Is Laugh...

Yesterday was one of those days, a stay in bed with the covers over your head kind of day.

It started out okay, although the West Coast is being hammered by an epic storm of torrential rains and super high winds that reached monster proportions by late morning. I really just wanted to stay home, but one of my neighbors called and needed a ride into town.  All went fine and we'd just made it back up the mountain when all hell broke loose, weather-wise.  It was really cool, with a dash of scary as the house shook and the rain overflowed my gutters.

I sat down to blog, but Max freaked out when a really hard blast of wind hit the front windows. He started to cry, then climb my leg where I'm sitting at the laptop.  I look down to reassure him and WTF??  His eye is once again swollen shut!  I can't freaking believe it. When did that happen?  His meds were done on Monday, he was fine on Tuesday.  Crap.  I glance out the windows.  Serious weather, sirens going nonstop down in the valley, looks like night though it's barely noon. **Sigh**  So much for staying safe at home.

I call the vet, get the last appointment of the day--5:00pm--and resign myself to a wretched drive in the dark, fighting a storm.  I hope things will improve by 4:30 when I have to leave the house.

Brief aside:  On Saturday my satellite receiver began to make noises like a 747 taking off at full throttle.  I called the company, they're sending me a new one, should arrive on Wednesday.

I give the boys some lunch and sit down to blog.  The UPS guy shows up with the receiver box. Yippee!  The box is a bit ungainly, but not heavy so I pick it up and head to the bedroom.  The dogs, of course, are curious about the box and are darting around me as I'm walking down the hall.  I can't see directly in front of me because of the large box, so I'm telling the boys to get out of my way, just as Max walks between my legs.  I do this hop, skip thing that might have saved the day...except Ozzy is now directly in my path so I twist to the side, hit the box on the side of the door, lose my balance and slam my toes into the jamb so hard I fall to my knees in stomach-churning agony.

I'm now hunched over the frigging box and I pretty much think I've just broken my foot. Waves of excruciating pain are shooting like lightning from my toes all the way up my leg. I roll off the box and sit up.  Holy crap. Why does my sock look...weird?  I hiss and yell and cry as I peel off the sock. Between the big toe and the little one, the three in the middle are...horrible.  One is pointing down, one is pointing up and the other is bleeding. Okay then.  Not a broken foot after all.  Just broken toes.

I hop to the phone and call my neighbor who's an ER nurse. Thankfully, she's home.  She comes down, laughs at my toes, says, "take a deep breath because this is gonna hurt" and yanks those little puppies back into position, then after bandaging the bleeding toe, she tells me to lay a bag of frozen peas over them and try to stay off my feet for a day or two. (Yeah, right.  In an alternate universe where I have servants and a dog walker).  I give her half my Swedish Chocolate Cake, just baked the night before, with profuse thanks for the rescue.

Then I install the receiver, which works like a dream.

I rest for about 14 seconds, but now that the excitement is over, the dogs decide they need to go out.  Hobble down two flights of stairs, hobble back up when they're done. Then I spend quite a bit of time trying on different shoes because it's almost time to leave for Max's vet appointment, the storm has gotten worse and I can't wear flip flops or go barefoot.  We're nearly blown off the mountain by the wind, I had to pull over twice on the trip to make way for emergency vehicles, and the roads were so flooded, I couldn't see the lanes. Though, throbbing toes stuffed into boots and teeth-grinding pain at every press of the gas pedal, I hardly noticed all the drama around me.

Long story short: Max had to have his eye abraded, then they removed a section of his eyelashes as several were growing downward and rubbing against the wound so it couldn't heal properly.  More swabbing, more meds, more money.  And I have to go back again next week to make sure the injury is healing properly.

Today, the storm is raging even worse than yesterday.  I fear for several of the old oaks up here on the mountain and expect some to fall before this is over.  Max is looking better, so hopefully the treatment and the medication are working.  My toes are swollen and hurt like...they got slammed into a door jamb.  I'm particularly fond of my new toenail polish: shades of black, blue and yellow.

I'm telling you, peeps, the fun just never stops...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday Madness and Music

I spent the better part of the day out in the craziness that is Christmas shopping...and whew, I hope that's the last time.  I was surprised at how many people were out on a Monday, in the middle of the day.  I live in a small town, yet still had trouble finding a parking spot, had to backtrack out of aisles too crowded with carts, stood for about a year waiting in line to pay.  And drove right on past the Post Office when I saw the line was out the door, down the block and winding around the corner. Ah, the joy of the holidays.


I've been meaning to blog about this, but keep forgetting.  By now this is probably old news and everyone is already aware of Bookbub, but if not, and you own an e-reader, this is a very cool place to check out. They search all the e-book sites (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc) to find free or very cheap ($ .99) book deals so you, dear readers, don't have to. It's like having your own personal shopper. And it's totally free.  Just sign-up, pick what categories you're interested in, and ta da, every morning there's a list of books (with cover, synopsis, price) in your inbox to look over. I've found several really good books to download on my Kindle that I'd never have discovered on my own.

It's a good site to remember if you're giving an e-reader, or getting one, for Christmas. Nothing like new books to download, guilt-free.  Though beware:  Habit-forming...


I stumbled across a site this morning over breakfast, Playbuzz.  They had a quiz to find out which song by the Eagles you would be.  I confess that I love the Eagles and have no qualms about singing along when one of their tunes comes over the speakers at my grocery store.  I ponder for a minute before taking the quiz. Which song do I think I am? Desperado is a long-time favorite, though there's also Heartache Tonight and Victim of Love.  And I can't forget another killer song, One of These Nights.  (And yeah, read those titles, peeps.  Think I've got issues??)

What was my song after doing the quiz?  Take It Easy.  I could sing this song in my sleep. Not only do I love this one, but I actually drove miles out of my way on a road trip once to stand on that corner in Winslow, Arizona, just to say I did.  And it was so cool...

Today, while being jostled and elbowed, sneezed on and flipped off--all in the name of Christmas cheer--I kept singing that totally apropos song in my head. This verse was especially pertinent:

...Don't let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy
Lighten up while you still can
Don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy...

And if I didn't have to address Christmas cards right now, I'd be doing that very thing...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Show and Tell Friday...

I've been paying heavily for letting the housework slide for a month.  Holy crap, at one point I wondered if a woman can drop dead from too much cleaning...and yeah, I pretty much think you could.  Still, house is now back in order.  Woo-flipping-hoo.

I've put off some pressing business and the soon-to-be urgent Christmas shopping until next week, because, hey, I'm just one little person and can only do so much.  Okay, only want to do so much...


Yesterday I finished the last of the turkey by making a most excellent soup, with dumplings.  I always feel so, I don't know...nostalgic?...wistful?...when I make a recipe that comes from my mom (soup) or grandmother (dumplings).  Every bite last night was filled with kid memories, sitting around our big kitchen table with my two sisters and the Golden Child--otherwise known as my baby brother. We were a wild bunch, and I smiled a lot while savoring my soup, remembering.

I had to buy some fresh veg for the soup and whilst grocery shopping yesterday morning, I just couldn't resist the huge display of Poinsettias.  I found a small pinkish-red one with delicate, ruffled leaves that said take me home.  So I did.


The gloaming last night was almost surreal as the valley filled with fog, undulating like waves in a wispy sea.  The colors were shades of blue and lavender, gray and white.  And very beautiful...

The weather has been damp and foggy for days--typical December climate for this area.  Today it's dense and thick, dripping like rain off the eaves, the trees.  I decided not to take the boys down the mountain for their hike, so instead we walked our one lane road.  The dogs took a right out of the driveway and totally missed what was standing barely ten feet away to the left.

Although, she was kind of hard to see...

So was the house as we made our way back home.  I know it's near that bend in the road...somewhere...

I love the fragrant scent of pines, but these oaks, all gnarly and twisted, are my favorites, especially in the fog...

As the dogs ran ahead, I stopped to look closer at the trees, moss-covered and eerie, glittering with Nature's Christmas baubles..


I really and truly plan to sit down and read a book this afternoon.  I've hit some kind of snag: started five books, set them down after a short perusal.  One paragraph or one chapter, nothing is working. I think the story I'm writing is still rattling around in my head and I can't concentrate or something. Cripes, who knows.

In any case, it's time to jump into the weekend, peeps.  I'm taking it easy, hoping to find the right book to break the curse, because after waiting for a solid month to read, I'm finding it irritatingly ironic that now I can't.  Go figure.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dancing Into December

So peeps, here we are, starting the last month in a year that has flown by faster than should be possible, what with that whole space/time continuum thing going on.

I had a great Thanksgiving dinner, simple but delicious, followed by two nights of the best hot turkey sandwiches ever.  Honestly, it makes me wonder why I don't cook a turkey more often just to have those sandwiches.  Oh wait, I remember why--because I don't want to weigh 500 pounds and have to be lifted out of my house by crane.

I didn't make a pie this year, but I did make dessert.  Lynn had posted a recipe for her No-Brainer Fudge that sounded good and easy.  I had all the ingredients, plus some salted peanuts, so I made that instead.

And it was so very delicious....


The weather today is atrocious--my favorite--with howling winds and rain.  The boys weren't thrilled for their walk in the park this morning, but hey, if I'm out there getting soaking wet, then they're going to join in the fun.

And speaking of dogs.  I had a few inquiries about Max's two trips to the vet...

Last Friday morning I got up, fed the dogs and was making my coffee when I noticed Max looked...weird.  I lift his head and am shocked to discover that his eye is swollen shut, like he's been punched in the face.  A few weeks earlier, he had a slight case of doggy conjunctivitis, got some drops from the vet and by the weekend he was fine.

So what is this then?  I call the vet, take him right in and they do all these ophthalmology things--don't ask, it was gross--and ultimately find an deep abrasion on the surface of his eyeball.  No clue how it happened, though he's a dog and is always sticking his head where it doesn't belong.

Finished, I fight my way through Black Friday traffic, make it home and at first Max looks better, less puffy.  The vet had given him the first dose of medication, I gave him the second at lunchtime, then was finally able to sit down to write while both dogs took their afternoon naps.

Around 4:00 or so, I take a break from typing, make myself a cup of tea then take the boys out for a pit stop and cookie treats before I get back to work.  I toss Max a cookie and he missed it by a mile. I frown, get down to his level for a good look, and bloody hell, half his face has ballooned up and I can't even see where his eye is supposed to be.  He looks like a lopsided Cyclops.  Holy crap.

I rush him back to the clinic, there's more swabbing and flushing and other eye-related treatments that I thankfully wasn't privy to.  At last it's determined that he had a severe allergic reaction to that particular medicine.  So, third time's a charm.  The new meds did the trick and by Saturday afternoon he looked ever so much better.


My big plan to stay in my jim-jams and peruse my new books, whilst drinking copious amounts of whiskey, on my first free Sunday in a month didn't pan out.  Whenever I want to shut out the world and do absolutely nothing, I end up being more busy than if I'd planned a day's hard graft.

I'd let the housework slide during NaNo Madness, managing only the basics. Yesterday I took a good look at things and just couldn't sit down and do that elusive Nothing until I'd taken care of a shitload of chores.  So, I watered all the plants, did the laundry, washed the kitchen floor, plucked my chin hairs (and omg...I went out in public with those??), changed the bedding, walked the dogs twice and removed a tick from my neighbor's tiny little Chihuahua while she screamed like a banshee--the dog, not my neighbor.  And for a wee three pound dog, that little girl can make a prodigious amount of noise.

So, by the time I finally had a moment to myself--after dinner--I fell asleep in my reading chair, books piled all around me, and didn't read a single word or take one sip of my whiskey.  Buggers.

I'm sure there's a moral in there somewhere.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Knees Might Be Bleeding...

...but I don't care because I just crawled across the finish line in the NaNo challenge...!!!!!  I'm totally fried, wrote a gazillion words today to reach the end and can hardly string two sentences together now, so this post will be short and sweet.

I freaking did it, peeps. Against the odds and two trips with Max to the vet yesterday through Black Friday traffic...and I still somehow made it.

So, in celebration, I'm taking Sunday off.  No typing, no laptop, no sitting in this chair. I'm going to savor the moment, spread out all the books I've been dying to read for a month, stay in my flannel jammies, and drink whiskey way too early in the day.

Oh, and smile a lot, because thanks to my cheerleaders, I didn't quit, even when it seemed the only sane thing left to do.

Thanks, you guys:

Lynn -- You're the best, honestly.  Best-selling author and you still gave me encouragement and support every step of the way...

J  --  Missed four Sundays in a row, kid.  You can call me now, back to business as usual between us BFFs...

Sis  -- You can put the pom poms away...and let's talk next week...
Mom --  same goes...

Jenny, Bunny, Chanel and Kat -- Yeah, I did it ladies, just like you said I would...

Morag and Lorna --  Your cheers from Scotland were so welcome and appreciated.  Miss you guys so much...

And special thanks to the always supportive barista babes at Human Bean for spiking my mochas on the bad days...

It might take a village to raise a child, but believe me, it took half the planet for me to accomplish this feat.

And hey...I did it...

~~ Regularly scheduled programming will resume on Monday ~~

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Family, Friends and Food

Happy Thanksgiving !!

Wishing everyone a most excellent and wonderful day and for those of you who don't celebrate this holiday, still take a moment to be thankful.  It's good to remember that no matter how small or insignificant, there's almost always something to be grateful for.

I hope, dear readers, that you, your family and friends have all landed safely wherever you were headed.  Enjoy!


I know this post is a day early, but I'm trying hard to knuckle down and finish the NaNo challenge so won't be blogging for a few days...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Photos, A Donut, And Maybe A Tee Shirt

This morning when I opened the blinds at the front of the house, the view was wonderfully ethereal. It looked like nothing but forest and trees and wilderness.  I don't take many photographs in this direction--the town in down in that valley somewhere--but the early morning light as the sun was rising, and the soft blanket of mist wafting in lazy drifts, was irresistible.

Out untangling my prayer flags yesterday afternoon after a serious wind and rain squall, I had a perfect O. Henry moment.  One my favorites stories, The Last Leaf is about an old man who paints an ivy leaf on the side of a building outside a very sick woman's window; she is sure when the last leaf falls, she will die.  There's a great twist at the end, which all his stories have.

I have a lovely Oriental Cherry tree in the back garden.  After the storm, this one beautiful red leaf was the last one still clinging to a branch...


Did my Thanksgiving grocery shopping this morning after dog walking.  Already a madhouse at the store, but yippee, I'm done and don't have to go back until the dust settles, which will be sometime next week.

So, I'm wandering in the bakery department.  I've talked myself out of baking a pie, so I'm looking for one to buy, but change my mind because they just don't taste the same as homemade. I pass the donut display.  I hesitate.  Surely, just one jelly donut is okay, right?  I never eat donuts anymore. Too sugary, too bad for anyone over 40.  But crap, that jelly donut, yeah, that one at the back?  With the oozing jelly?  It can't hurt to just have one little donut, can it?  I bag it up and plan on having it for my late morning snack when I get home.

The checkout girl is new, very young and I think probably Christmas help.  She's sweet, flustered and doesn't have a clue how to bag things up.  Whatever, everyone's gotta start somewhere.

I get home and start putting the groceries away.  At the bottom of one of my burlap grocery bags is a smaller plastic one, a strange, flat, pancake shape inside. **Sigh**  She set a quart of milk, two containers of butter, a clump of six bananas and a large head of broccoli on top of my jelly donut. Seriously. Don't new grocery people learn tips, are taught how to bag, know that soft stuff never, ever goes on the bottom?

So much for having an illicit snack.  That'll teach me...


If I really knuckle down and don't get too sidetracked--like writing the blog instead of writing my NaNo story--I just might, maybe, could possibly, finish by this weekend.  It will be close, but there's some good action stuff right now in the plot, which is almost writing itself and yesterday I was so on a roll, I could have kept writing into the night.  Except, I was getting too tired of typing, and sitting at the laptop, so when my fingers began typig hte wodrs lik ths, I knew it was time to stop.

Because of my sudden forward momentum, I'm back to feeling optimistic, and hey, it's just a few more days and the madness is over. I can do it. Besides, I really want that blasted tee shirt...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bits and Pieces

I had an epiphany last night as I finished another chapter in the NaNo disaster challenge.  Just at the edge of 30K, I counted the remaining days, figured my word counts...and came to the realization that unless I lock myself into a bank vault and don't come out until Thanksgiving, I'm not going to make it to 50K by November 30th.

What threw me into a tailspin of no way and you gotta be kidding me, was losing Monday and most of Tuesday to errands and appointments and dog issues requiring going to the vet (twice) and grocery shopping and dog walking and champagne/dark chocolate hair stuff and wrapping/winterizing the outside spigots because temps were dropping below freezing and changing furnace filters and washing windows and cleaning gutters.  And, and, and.  You get the picture: life is getting in the way of accomplishing my goals.

I haven't given up, yet, though my level of enthusiasm has plummeted.  Kind of hard to stay motivated when it seems pointless.  Thing is, the writing is going really good and I love the characters, the plot.  It's just trying to force myself toward that nebulous 50K that's become the issue.


 Ozzy, my wee Papillon, has to take six different meds for his heart condition--and the side effects from the heart meds.  Monday I needed to get one refilled.  I call in the prescription, the office person tells me it's a special order because they don't carry this medication--which I dispute because they filled this very prescription in June.  Back and forth, two more phone calls and okay, it might be a case of they've just run out.  She's ordering, will call me when it's in.

Later in the day, I'm running on empty from all the errands and chores and weaving back and forth across town (always in the back of my mind: when am I going to find time to write today?), I get a call from the vet's office.  A different person is on the line and just wants to confirm that I really want these meds because it will cost $386.00 for 100 tablets.

Holy Crap and WTF?????

Course, this leads to several more phone calls, plus I have to dig out all my paperwork and receipts to verify--to myself and the vet--that I absolutely did not pay that amount six months ago.

Sigh.  Long story short.  The original meds were free, a fact I did not register amongst the other charges that long ago June day, charges that came close to $300 for check-ups, blood work, chest x-rays, blah blah.  Apparently, when my vet prescribed the pills, they had a donated bottle and just gave it to me.  Which is very cool and I appreciate it.  Except, now what?  It's been hard enough to buy the other five meds, let alone an additional one that costs more that a car payment on a Porsche.

My vet managed to scrounge up another donated bottle--slightly different ingredients, but whatever--so I'm good for the next six months, but then what?  Inquiring minds want to know, as will my bank manager when I have to go in for a loan.

And then Tuesday, I got up, fed the boys and whilst getting ready to take them for a walk, discovered Max--who rarely has health issues--had something wrong with his eye.  Another trip to the vet, more meds, more aggro.  It never stops, peeps, it just never stops.


Not much else happening up on my mountain at the moment.  My main focus is writing, though there's all the daily stuff that needs to be done too, so I'm sort of getting a bit worn out.  And I'm pretty sure this will be the last NaNo challenge for me.  I can appreciate the crazy-wild intensity of the experience, but frankly, I'd rather write at my own speed and whenever the mood strikes.  However, if this is my last hurrah, then I really want to finish this year's competition by...well, finishing.

I may have lost my motivation, but maybe I can just concentrate on crossing the finish line as my incentive and call it good.  Because I'd much rather go out with a win than a whimper...

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Yesterday I made it to the halfway point in the NaNo challenge.  By my reckoning, I'm 4K short of where I should be in mid-November, but nothing I can do about it now--lost those two days in the first week, no margin for error left at this juncture.  It was enough that I reached 25K right on the day I needed to.

Still, I expected to do more.  I had a long chapter fleshed out, just waiting to be out of my head and onto metaphoric paper.  Then, two paragraphs in, I realized I'd described a scene differently several chapters back, leaving out something crucial that I needed in this new scene.  Buggers.

And here's where I screw up, every time.  You would think it helps my writing, having been an editor, proofreader, worked for years in publishing, know the ropes, yada yada. But you would be so, so wrong peeps.  At least, that skill set doesn't work for me.  I over think, can't stop myself from editing, rewriting, staring into the hazy distance searching for that elusively perfect, just right, word.  I spent the better part of the afternoon doing all of the above, first searching for the original scene, then debating which part to change--old or new.  And it cost me, this editorial angst. I need to just write, let the words fall where they may, and sort out the deets later. Anytime after November later.  

Frankly, I'll be leaping up and down with joy on December 1st, hopefully having survived another grueling year of why do I do this to myself agony.  I had a great plan yesterday, a chapter all worked out, speed writing here I come.  Instead, I was proofreader, editor and idiot.  Exhausting.

It also doesn't help that I have a pile of books to read, the chorus of "pick me, pick me" growing louder by the day.  Unfortunately, I can't immerse myself in my own story and read someone else's at the same time.  A defect for sure, but for whatever reason, I can't do it. So, I've been reading magazines and Christmas catalogs to give my brain a break from writing...but the books, whingeing and wailing, calling out to me?  If anything makes me throw in the towel this year, it will be that stack of books.

Though really, only two weeks to go and the madness ends.  Seems doable, doesn't it??

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


After taking Friday off from NaNo, recharging the brain, making cake, and reading, I figured I would be raring to go on Saturday.

Totally not.

After walking the boys in the morning, I had an hour or so before lunch and couldn't resist reading the first chapter in a book I'd set aside for next month, after NaNo.  Just a quick read, make lunch, get back to writing.  And this is exactly where things went off the rails: I couldn't stop reading.  The story was too good, the writing was compelling. Lunch over, I looked at the clock: 1:30. Okay, okay, still time to write...just let me finish this last paragraph...

Then time folded in on itself and next I looked up, it was 4:20, the dogs wanted a walk and I was hosed.  Resigned, I knew there was no way I could stop reading, I was so close to the end, I might as well just finish the book and be done with it.  I would work harder tomorrow to catch up.  Yeah, that's what I would do.  So I walked the dogs, then poured myself a glass of wine and settled in to read.

Needless to say, major tactical error. Two days, zero word count.  I never should have taken Friday off, never opened that book, because not only did I lose my momentum, but the evil twin managed to sneak up the back stairs and subvert my intentions with her insidious voice, whispering, whispering.

And she almost got me. I tossed and turned Saturday night, feeling like a failure, and in the first week of the challenge no less.  Two days wasted.  WTF?

On Sunday, I kicked the evil twin back to the sub-basement and sat down to write, but it was too hard to focus, I wasn't feeling the story, I reworked every sentence.  Frustration set in and by the end of the day, my word count was such crap, I didn't even record the meager number.  I went to bed disappointed, discouraged, but I wasn't going to give up. Not yet anyway.  I just had to get myself sorted, forget the whispers still wafting like toxic smoke in my head.

Monday was good.  I caught up with the plot, wrote enough to boost my word count and now I'm back in the game.  I might have lost my advantage of having a good start on the challenge in the first week, but at this point, I'm just glad to be here at all.

Seriously.  I need better locks for that basement.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ah, Those Rewards...

I reached the 12K mark yesterday on my writing challenge.  A great feat for the first week, though I'm blowing it today by not writing at all.  Ah well.  All work and no play, yada yada.  So today, instead of typing with wild abandon, I've baked a cake, read a book, done some chores...and will just have to hope I haven't screwed myself out of the momentum I had going.

Deal is, I had to take a break.  It's not that I can't write day after day, but I don't want to lose sight of the fun factor...as in, this should be fun not some kind of torturous or agonizing experience.  So, time out today, back to work tomorrow.  It's all good.

Besides, my perk for getting such a good word count was to make a cake.  And man, was that a great idea.

Earlier this week, over breakfast, I was reading an article on the web about this 18-year old girl in England who has this incredible food blog, Top With Cinnamon, that is winning awards for the desserts and photos.  The recipe they focused on in the story was her Swedish Chocolate Cake.  It looked beyond delicious so I printed out the recipe--a very simple one with ingredients I had on hand--and made it for my 12K reward.

Can I just say, wiping the drool off my chin, that this is one of the most unique and totally scrumptious cakes ever invented?  Bar none?  It was gooey in the middle like pudding fudge, but chewy on the edges like a brownie.  Seriously, amazingly, wonderfully good.

As with many of the cakes I used to make whilst living in the UK, it was one layer, only a few inches high; not overly sweet even with the dusting of icing sugar on top.

Here, let me show you...

And OMG, the gooey, pudding-like center.  Swoon-worthy.  It was so yummy, I could hardly stop myself from just picking the whole slice up and shoving it in my mouth.  I'm not even kidding.  It's soft, like melted fudge, but not too over-the-top sugary...

A close-up--and I realize with these shots that I will never be a food photographer.  Still, that forkful of deliciousness looks pretty good, don't you think, peeps?  Imagine what it tastes like and you'll still not come close to the reality...

Luckily for my waistline, and to spare me from a chocolate overdose, my neighbor popped in for a minute to ask me how the writing was going.  She took one look at the cake, sitting all gorgeous and to die for on the kitchen counter, and gave me the I'm begging you for a piece of whatever that is look.  I sent her home with half.

So, if you need a reward, dear readers, want to make someone deliriously happy, or just want to indulge in a pudding-fudge-brownie dessert that comes in one luscious cake, than this is it.  No question.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On A Roll...

I'll been pounding away on the NaNo novel.  It's been wild and crazy and exactly why I love writing. The characters have taken over and I'm just the conduit with fingers flying to tell the story.  This is the best part to me.  It's like I'm reading the story as it's being written.  How cool is that?

Now, before I get all carried away with my exuberance...there's a catch to this.  For some reason, in Week Two of the challenge, the brain freezes up, the story falters and all bets are off.  Every word has to be ripped out like pulling teeth--with dirty pliers in the grimy back room of a drug-addled quack.  Dramatic?  Yeah, and so is the agony of hitting the wall.  My evil twin will rise from the sub-basement to torment me with novels unfinished; wake me in the deep dark hours after midnight to blast me with self-doubt and a whole bucket load of flagellation about my lack of writing skills.  One year she won and I quit, bowing to the truth: I can't write worth a damn.

Another year she beat on me until I cried uncle, but Alan talked me into just writing whatever came into my head and by some miracle I got through the Dreaded Week Two and finished the book days before the challenge ended at the end of November.

It's a crap shoot, really.  How strong am I in resisting that devilish whisper that I'm going to fail?  Can I withstand the evil twin's negative input? Do I believe I can write?  Today I do. Ask me again next week.

Here's a slapped together cover for the book.  I wanted something to put on my NaNo web page though this isn't in the least impressive or professional.  Still, we know not to judge a book by its cover...don't we?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sleep and Slums

Whirlwind writing weekend...and hey, say that three times really fast.

I wanted to establish a routine for November, though the time change pretty much screwed that up from the get-go.  I had a great beginning on Saturday with my first installment of the NaNo challenge and a good word count, then that fall back hour threw everything out the window.

It also didn't help that Max has developed this weird fear of the house creaking. Seriously. I have no idea why--after three+ years--the sound has suddenly become his new scary monster.  The house creaks quite a bit in the fall and winter months as things cool outside and heat up inside.  This is nothing new, though apparently for Max, it is.  He woke me up several times in the night all fraught and wild, then both dogs got me up at 6:30 on Sunday.  What?  Can't they tell time?  Is it too much to ask that they sleep until it's really time to get up?

So I started Sunday with a handicap: restless, disturbed sleep and up too early.  It was also BFF Sunday; we kept the talk under an hour for a change and by 1:00, I was back at the keyboard, madly trying to write through the fog of sleep deprivation.  Then, at the end of the day, I tried to post my numbers and NaNo was out of commission.  This has happened in the past, mostly in the first week as everyone who signed up is participating and posting and feeling all fresh and excited.  My count wasn't as good as Saturday's but still, I wanted to see those damn numbers!

This morning everything at NaNo worked just fine.  Numbers posted.  I'm good.

My schedule--assuming I recover from the time change and the dogs quit waking me up at 6:30 in the bloody morning--is to write in the afternoons.  That gives me all morning to walk the dogs, run errands and have lunch, freeing up the rest of the day to write until it's time for the mailbox walk and dinner.  Good plan, in theory.  Time will tell.


Remember my birdhouse?  This shot was accepted for a photo contest a few years back...

I loved that little house, but time and weather finally took its toll and this summer the roof collapsed and the top floor crumbled into the bottom.  It was screwed onto a tall pole that stands in the lower portion of the back slope and last month Jack, my ever helpful gardener/handy guy, climbed a ladder and took the old decrepit house down.

Then he totally surprised me on Friday with this...

Turns out, he builds bird houses along with his other handy guy skills.  It was very cool of him to do this, and it's wonderful to look out the back and see a brand new house waiting for new occupants next spring.

It's nice to no longer be a slum lord...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Tempus Fugit

My 2013 Hallowe'en Pumpkin

I can hardly believe it's the end of October already.  I never got to Kruse's Pumpkin Patch for the ghost pumpkins I love, mainly because I kept thinking I had plenty of time.  I should know better than to think that way.  Experience has surely taught me by now that there is never plenty of time.


Tomorrow begins an exercise in self-discipline--not my strong suit--as I write like a crazy woman through November's NaNo challenge.  On one hand I'm looking forward to it because the plot swirling around in my head wants to be told, but on the other, I just want to burrow in, read books, make great simmering pots of...whatever and enjoy the quiet solitude that comes with crap weather, storms and the early darkness. Hibernation beckons, though conversely, I find it easier to write when it's cold and dreary.


Time changes this weekend.  And honestly, how long are we really going to keep doing this? Flipping time back and forth is just pointless. We're humans.  We'll adapt to one time frame, whether it's standard or daylight savings. Besides, time isn't a piggy bank; no matter how it plays out, time can't be saved.


So, dear readers...Happy Hallowe'en!   I hope all your treats are sweet ones.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Books, Bill and Ted

I spent the better part of the afternoon working on a cover for the alleged wtf am I thinking? NaNo book.  I struggled with ideas and fonts and photos until I was finally satisfied with the end result. But now I can't get it off Word or into a different format to post on my NaNo page or the blog.  A quick cut/paste operation that, yeah, you'd think would be simple, wouldn't you?  Instead, nothing's working, another hour wasted--and believe me, at this point I wish I was wasted. Doesn't bode well, does it?

On the NaNo site, they're always giving pep talks and encouraging advice on ways to forge ahead, persevere, never say die.  Today I read that if you have a cover for your book, your chances of success increase by 60%.  That's huge.  And I'm pretty sure I will need every percentage I can get to make it through November.

I don't know what it means that I have a book cover but no one will ever see it.  I'm sure there's a message in there somewhere...


Remember Bill and Ted, my Darwin sunflowers?

Here they are, just a few weeks after sprouting all by themselves...

Barely a week later and growing like magic beans.  Bill is the smaller one in the back, Ted is smiling for the camera...

This was last week, just before the storms and high winds came.  I wanted the flowers to keep growing for as long as possible so I could use the seeds in the winter for the birds. 

Unfortunately, when I was outside working in the back garden on Monday, I found poor ol' Bill and Ted laying in the dirt, so I dusted them off and set them in the garage out of the damp.  Earlier today I cut the stalks off and brushed most of the dried flowers away to see if there were any seeds under all that golden yellow and was so pleased to find there were.

And here's a funny thing.  Bill was smaller throughout the whole growing period, but look at him now. He ended up the size of a large dinner plate...

Ted, though he might only be equal to a salad plate, made up for his smaller size with bigger, perfectly formed seeds that the birds are gonna love...

Nature.  Mesmerizing, amazing and a thing of beauty.  Symmetry in the spirals of a sunflower...

So now they're hanging in the garage to dry out and sometime around Christmas I'll hang them in the pine trees for the birds.  Maybe by then I'll have figured out how to get my book cover posted. Sigh...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Miscellany

My stormy, turbulent weekend was just about perfect. Lots of rain and wind, dark clouds and gloomy skies.  Makes me smile just to remember it.

Saturday afternoon...

Sunday morning I made a big pot of chili, something I've been wanting to do for months. It simmered all day, making the house smell heavenly, feel warm and cozy.  As the rain pounded outside, I had a great dinner of chili and cornbread; the boys had dog food with cornbread crumbles.  Everybody was happy...

This week I'm attempting to organize myself, and the month of November, for my imminent NaNo adventure which starts on Saturday.  I'm not sure I have the stamina--or the brain cells--to actually follow through, although I've done it in the past and will give it my best shot this time around.  I've got several plot scenarios playing in my head, except being a pantser I pretty much let the characters run the show and they often wander off in a different direction than where I'm headed. This style of writing can make things very interesting and exciting, but also difficult and crazy.

Two books I've been waiting to read for over a year are both out tomorrow.  I won a random drawing for them on the Wicked Scribes website weeks ago and now can hardly wait another minute for them to arrive. The FedEx truck pulled into my drive half an hour ago and I was all yippee and wow, a day early, but no, he was just using the driveway to turn around.  Way to fire me up for no reason, FedEx guy...

The weather is mild today, with clear blue skies and about 72*.  I've got the doors and windows open, the breeze is soft and warm.  **sigh**   If summers were like this, I would be so totally incredibly wonderfully pleased.  But alas, they're not.  Still.  I'll take this ideal autumn day and let the memories of the scorching, sweaty misery of an exceptionally hot summer fade into obscurity.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

It's The Little Things...

This is the kind of weekend I've been waiting for since June: cold, rainy and no reason--except walking the dogs--to venture outside. I'm going to finish a few household chores this afternoon, then it's books and cuddles on the couch with the boys and maybe a movie or two.  No lawn mowing, pruning, watering, gardening, sweating, cursing at the heat...nope, none of that.  Just rain and chilly weather and toasty warmth indoors.

And yeah.  I'm totally smiling.

At the park this morning, all dark and gloomy, I took a shortcut behind the theatre whilst walking the boys because the rain was really starting to come down hard and I wanted to get them into the car before they drowned.  As we came around the building to cross the parking lot, these wonderfully beautiful flowers caught my eye.  They're so vivid and cheerful against the dreary backdrop of gray clouds and rain.

When I got home after the walk, this was the view across the valley from the back deck. Great contrast between vibrant yellow and blank void...

Pizza for dinner tonight, not something I do regularly but the occasion calls for it, at least to my mind, especially washed down with a nice cold bottle of Dos Equis.

Happy Hour at my place, peeps...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wild and Crazy

The winds have been ferocious, strong enough that I almost didn't take the boys down the mountain to the park this morning, but since they don't care about wind or rain as long as they can have an adventure, we went anyway.

Things seemed calmer in town, more a stiff breeze than Cat 1.  I parked by the Arts Center, we walked across one edge of the soccer field to the path between the park and the old VA cemetery and began to stroll toward the river.  A cop drove into the parking lot, went to the end, turned and parked.  I'm now walking toward his car, though still about twenty feet or so away when out of nowhere this incredible blast of wind strikes.

I was knocked back about five feet, literally just hammered almost off my feet. The air was suddenly filled with swirling leaves and dust. Ozzy--the 9-lb wonder--was rolled like a ball for several dizzying spins, but Max, 18-lbs of solid, was literally lifted into the air about six inches, then dropped into the grass several feet away. For a brief moment, Max became Toto and there wasn't a single thing I could do...

Except laugh like a crazy person.  Seriously, it was wild and scary, and so totally unexpected, there was nothing else to do but laugh.  And then it was gone.

The cop immediately drives his car toward me and rolls down his window.  "You alright?"

I'm still half stunned, half laughing.  "Wow, that was bizarre."

He looks at Max, who has now glued himself like Velcro to my left leg, then looks back at me and smiles.  "Thought he was going airborne for a minute there."

I reach down to reassure Max, then call Oz to me to make sure he's okay after rolling like a child's toy. As I'm picking leaves and debris out of his long hair, I say, "For a minute there, he was."

We both start laughing.  He reminds me to beware of falling/snapping limbs from all the trees that line the river and drives off.  The rest of the walk is quiet, uneventful--except for my occasional bursts of laughter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Storms and Sun Tea

Last night the predicted storms arrived.  I woke up, sometime before dawn, to rain and wind and the low, faraway rumble of thunder.  One of my favorite things is to listen to the elements whilst snuggled in bed. It must be some kind of primal thing...or childhood memories of waking in the dark, the house quiet around me, warm and toasty under the covers as I listened to the chaos outside.

I've always, always loved a good storm, the wilder the better.  There's just something so raw and scary about the unpredictability, the sheer force of nature, that resonates to my soul.

It's been raining for most of the day--storm after storm--though it's not in the least bit cold.  I have the doors and windows open, the breeze wafting in is warm and humid, almost tropical.

Five minutes ago.  A brief vision of blue skies, though it's raining far across the valley as the clouds roll over the mountains from the coast...

Over the weekend it was still unseasonably warm--82* on Saturday.  I mowed the lawn, hopefully for the final time, and made my last pitcher of sun tea.  Then I tried to drink it sparingly, savoring the unique taste of Chai brewed and mellowed by the sun, because it will be months before I make another batch.

Except.  I didn't restrain myself enough apparently.  This afternoon, and my last taste of sun tea...

Ah well.  I'm ready to make the switch to hot tea, and cocoa.  Definitely.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Abyss Was Deep

I've had a weirdly bad week.  A crisis of faith (not religious) one day, slogging through the Slough of Despond yesterday, then this morning I woke up as Eleanor Rigby.

Like I said, weirdly bad week.

My crisis of faith?  I don't think I have one shred of belief that, as humans, we are worth saving. Honestly.  If aliens came down and took a look...we'd be toast.  Though at the rate we're going, we'll nuke ourselves way before they get here.

I opened my laptop on...Thursday?...and all the despair and horror and crap that makes up our world these days just overwhelmed me.  Normally I skim the news, try to save my head and heart from the torture of details, but for some reason the headlines were graphic and succinct enough to give me more info on the stories than I wanted.

Who decided it was okay to bring the most deadly disease on the planet to our shores? How many women have to be murdered, abused, subjugated and treated like chattel before we say fucking enough already because--believe it or not peeps--men are not superior beings.  And what kind of parent forgets their baby is in the back seat of a car and goes off to work?  Why is it that every day--every single day--some person goes nuts and kills his entire family.  Take yourselves out instead, you crazy bastards, leave the innocent alone. How many wars can we fight?  How many ways are there to kill the environment, living creatures, people?

My crisis of faith dropped me headfirst into the Slough.  I wallowed. I tried to crawl out but kept sliding back down the slippery slope.  The hopelessness was just plain daunting. I stayed off the internet, didn't turn on the television.  I walked the dogs for miles; spent long hours in silence with just them, my books...and whiskey.  By last night I'd gotten a grip...maybe seeing life through whiskey fumes helped in that endeavor.  Whatever. When I went to bed, I felt marginally better.

Then I dreamed.  About love and sex and bone-crushing hugs and sharing a life.  It was so vivid and wonderful that when I woke up this morning, I forgot for a second--just a tiny little second--that it wasn't real.  My man is gone.  There is no love, no sharing, no sex. I'm just a different bloody version of Eleanor Rigby.  Without the Beatles to sing my song.

I'm out of the Slough now, and though I'm still shaking the mud off my boots, the turmoil in my mind has eased.  I kept my head in the moment today as the boys and I walked through the VA complex, the Sumac and Maple trees turning such incredibly beautiful colors, I couldn't help but smile.

And I learned something.  Smiling is like good whiskey...minus the burn.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I was walking the boys at the park on Monday.  Light drizzle, cool air on my face, and for the first time since, I don't know...maybe April?...I was wearing my hoody.  And a flannel shirt, jeans and my boots.  It was heavenly and comfortable and felt so...right.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love my Hawaiian shirts and flip flops, but after six months?  I'm so done.

As I'm walking, enjoying the freshness, dark clouds, totally great crap weather, I was thinking about my plan to head down south into northern California next Spring with my sister on a fact-finding mission.  I'm considering a move to the coast and away from the brutal intensity of inland heat. There are a couple of unfamiliar places I want to explore, and I want to refresh my memory on areas I already know.  This part of the world is very beautiful, with rugged mountains and dense forests that run from the stunning coastline to the Nevada border.

So.  Walking, thinking, wondering about starting over.  Again.  And then this story pops into my head. The whole first chapter was fleshed out before the boys and I got back to the Blazer. I couldn't wait to get home and write out my thoughts.

Yesterday, torrential rain squalls off and on all day.  I spent a fair bit of time thinking about the story, debated starting something new before finishing the serial. Then NaNo strolled down a neuron pathway and meandered to the front of my brain and I knew two things immediately:  I was going to write this woman's story, and I was going to do it for the NaNo challenge next month.  So I signed up. What better way to spend November than by losing your mind, right?

Connections.  Weather, wanderings, writing, and full circle...

My new mattress topper is holding up perfectly.  Over a month and it's still as lofty and cloud-like as the first night I slept on it. This morning I woke to a chill in my bedroom accompanied by the ferocious sound of pounding rain, but the pleasure of burrowing beneath my duvet, enveloped in the warm and cozy topper as the weather howled and raged outside was just so incredible, I seriously didn't want to get out of bed. Maybe ever.

Probably a good thing then that I have the dogs...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Movies and Musings

This has been an...oh I don't know, introspective...kind of weekend, I guess.  Songs, movies, the perfect sentence in a book, have been enticing me to ponder and mull.

Friday night, cozy on the couch, dogs snoring away, book in hand, low hum of white noise (television) in the background. Opening my book I glance up at the screen and see 47 Ronin, (Keanu Reeves version) is just starting.

Absolutely no idea in the world why I set down my book and turned up the volume...and then got completely absorbed.  The movie was about honor, and doing the right thing even knowing there's no way to win, brotherhood and sacrifice.  And heartbreaking love.

Near the end--in more ways than one--I'm blowing into a soggy Kleenex, tears rolling, heart swelling with an odd sort of pride at the strength and bravery of these men, the real 47 Ronin, because of course the movie is based on actual events.

At about the point where I finally realize things aren't going to turn out well here, Kai, one of the Samurai, tells Mika, the woman he has loved all his life:

I will search for you through a thousand worlds and ten thousand lifetimes until I find you again.

Oh man.


After much nose blowing, throat clearing, and more wine, I take the dogs outside, stare up at the stars and reflect...on the nature of love, what honor really means, and the cost of owning it.


Saturday night. This time I'm really going to read.  I reach for the remote to find a music channel on the television just as Fast and Furious 6 comes on.

Okay, you know what happened next, right?  Yeah, I watched the whole movie, every car chase, explosion and annihilating crushed-by-tank scene.

Except, know what? This might have been an action film, fraught with violence and danger, but it was also about honor and doing the right thing, brotherhood and...love.

Two movies that couldn't be more different--

And here's exactly why I've had a pensive weekend: two stories, two widely divergent cultures, three hundred years apart and yet...

47 Ronin/Fast 6

Band of brothers?  Check
Weapons?  Check
Martial Arts skills?  Check
Honor without question?  Check
Man's love for his woman?  Check

I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time to see both movies this weekend. I love that honor hasn't become a cliche, disappeared or died, that honorable men can stand together and not hesitate to do right.


I also love getting up early on beautiful autumn mornings to mist and mountains...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bugs and Bounty

My post yesterday was very short because what I'd planned to do was show some photos but in the mysterious world of Blogger, the photos wouldn't load.  I wasted way too much time and effort, even using two other browsers, to no avail...hence the quickie post before my frustration grew large.

Today everything works fine.  Glitches, nanobugs, solar flares...who knows what the problem was.

So. Let me finish what I'd started yesterday...

Remember this?  It's the harvest basket of squash and apples that my sister brought me a few weeks ago when she was visiting...

All the exotic and unusual squash are edible, though I've never eaten any of the ones in my basket. Tuesday, whilst rummaging through the varieties, one very cool name on a little sticker made me smile, so I decided to try it for dinner.

Sweet Dumpling.  How did this odd looking plant get such an endearing name?

I cooked it like I do an Acorn squash: wedges with a butter and brown sugar glaze, which gives the squash a wondrously nutty/caramel flavor...

The Sweet Dumpling tasted much like an Acorn and was delicious.

Earlier in the day, I also realized I had to do something with the large apples. I'm not much for just eating an apple.  I prefer them in stuff, like pies and salads and crumbles. Or best, apple butter or sauce.

I decided on applesauce.  I got three small jars out of the four apples, and promptly ate half of one jar before dinner and the other half with dinner.  I added honey and a dash of maple syrup to the mix while it was cooking and, oh yes, this is definitely the perfect way to eat apples...


Bill and Ted have big ol' flower heads, now bursting with little seeds.  I'm hoping they will keep maturing so I can hang the heads in the pines for Winter bird food.  I love that Bill and Ted showed up on their own, dug in and are thriving.  

Nature.  You've just gotta love the power, the beauty, in always finding a way...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Last Hurrah

Still overwhelmingly hot--yesterday edging over 100* and today high 90s--but the latest weather forecast has the temps dropping into the mid-70s by Sunday.  And maybe rain by next week, though I think that's just a clever ploy to prevent people from going nuts. Sadly, way too late for me...

As it's apparently the Frigging Summer That Won't Die, I'm going to have one last hurrah for my dinner tonight, a sort of picnic-style affair with my world famous potato salad (hey, it was loved in Scotland and America...world famous counts), sweet & sticky pork ribs and bourbon baked beans. The salad is already made, the ribs are marinating, and yummy goodness is on my dining horizon.

Then I'm going back to dreaming about Kodiak pancakes with raspberry syrup and maple sausage links while winds howl around the house and rain runs in torrents down the driveway. And more dreams of chili bubbling away in a cast iron pot on a cold Sunday afternoon, cornbread and honey balancing the hot spice; pasta and garlic bread as the snow falls; Irish stew and biscuits after a freezing, mile walk to the mailbox.

Oh such wondrous dreams...such flights of fancy.  Dreams so hard to believe in today as the heat builds and humidity rises.

Monday, October 6, 2014


After walking the boys this morning, I had to take Ozzy to the vet for his semi-annual heart checkup. Every time I hope he's improved enough to drop even one of his five meds. He's just a wee dog but has to take eight frigging pills a day.  To say I worry about what's ahead for him doesn't come close.

The place is mobbed.  I'm glad I have an actual appointment because nearly everyone in the waiting area are drop-ins.  Bad weekend for critters it seems.

So, long story short.  I tell him Oz has been doing this weird cough thing and after an intense listen to his heart and lungs, the vet whisks him away for a chest x-ray. Back in twenty--I paced for fifteen--to hear that his heart has enlarged a bit more and is pressing on one of his bronchial tubes--hence the coughing.  My own heart expands with every frantic hammer blow as I wonder what this means.  Then I wish the doc wasn't such a good guy as he shares each and every problem with me as I stare at the x-ray. Ozzy weighs ten pounds.  His heart looked nearly as big as mine and I could see it squishing stuff in his chest.

I hate knowing this shit.  Now I can't look at my boy without imagining his Frankenstein heart or his bronchial tube looking like a collapsed subway tunnel, or his tiny little ribs keeping it all in.  Dammit.

Anyway.  Sorry...I said long story short, didn't I??

Bottom line:  He has to take a cough syrup-like concoction.  Whatever happens over the next few days will determine where we go from here. I guess the stuff is supposed to do something for his tubes--relax or shrink or widen?--unfortunately, the vet was explaining whilst I was frozen in horror looking at the x-ray, a quivering dog in my arms with a heart as big as mine.

It sucks, getting old.


On the way home, I decide to stop for a coffee after the bad news and the vet's bill so pulled into my favorite drive-thru.  I like all the baristas--they're funny and goofy and really nice twenty-somethings. I'm handing my money to the girl and she notices the bracelet I wear on my left wrist.  I love this bracelet, it's cool, handcrafted in Tibet and the beadwork is amazing.  I've got several bracelets on my right, but only this one on the left.

She hands me my change, then takes my hand and turns my wrist so she can see what the beads spell out.

Frowning, she says, "What's a tibbet?"

I blink.  What?

She shakes my hand back and forth like I'm a dolt, then says again, pointing at the bracelet, "Is it a whale or dolphin or something?"

Free Willy blazes across my frontal lobe. I thought she was kidding and I start to laugh but immediately realize she's looking uncomfortable, wondering why I might be about to laugh at her.

Biting my tongue, because really, it's totally unacceptable to laugh at someone when they're genuinely clueless, I twist the bracelet around my wrist--showing first the word FREE, then the Tibetan flag, and finally TIBET, all spelled in beadwork, and I read, "Free Ti-BET.  You know, that country over by China."

Another frown, then she grins.  "The place where the Buddha man came from.  The one who's always smiling."

My tongue is sore.

"Yes, and my bracelet is saying to Free Tibet from China, so the...ah...Dalai Lama can come home. To Ti-BET."

She nods sagely.  "Yeah, that's the Buddha guy."

I nod back, smile, and drive off. I get across the parking lot and can't help laughing. Oh come on...tibbet???  That's definitely funny.  And I needed the humor after the vet stuff. We won't look deeper into this odd conversation to question the American educational system, or the fact this young woman is in her third year of college. I'm serious.



Moving on.


Another reason I love Fall, especially while on this mountain: The mists begin to wind around the hills and dales in the valley below the house.  I can watch them slither and undulate, crest and fall like otherworldly waves.

Up early this morning, dawn just breaking...

Even a Monday can have some redeeming value...yeah?