Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blessings To You

Wow, what a year it has been. I don't want to repeat it, thank you very much. I do want to send all of you blessings for the coming year. I pray for you to know peace and to see all your hopes fulfilled. I pray for you to know good health, happiness, and prosperity. I pray for you to know truth and for you to be filled with the light of grace. 

Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty 
waters; Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know
it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:16, 18-19

To all of you who are my contacts, my friends, and my family, thank you. Happy New Year to you all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Late Gift

Thirty-one years ago today I entered Baptist Memorial Hospital to have my youngest son. He was 10 days late and they decided I should get the tax-break by having him before the end of the year. They induced me at 9 a.m. and by 12:30 a late Christmas gift lay in my arms. And he was beautiful.

The years I spent raising my boys were the greatest years of my life. There was never a moment we did not enjoy being with them and sharing our lives with them. They went everywhere with us.

Michael, the oldest, was a sunny child but too busy to sit on my lap for more than a morning hug. He was everyone's baby. His exuberance and zest for life were nearly overwhelming and at times exhausting. He bounced out of bed every morning and bounced in at night. but I did have such fun with Mike. He was always smiling and full of questions.

David was a quiet and contented baby. I'd hear him giggling in his crib in the morning and when I'd peek over the rail, he greeted me with a smile and his arms reaching for me. There is no way to express what that is like. David was my baby. He was content to sit on a blanket and play with toys while Mike darted here and there.

I was so blessed to have these two beautiful boys and I could not have asked for a greater gift. They each have their own place in my heart, each gave me a different perspective on life. They have gifted me with laughter and memories that today make me wish I could do it all, every minute of it, over again.

Happy Birthday, David. You are such a bright light in my life.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Post Christmas Post

After a hectic week of running to and fro, cooking for two days for an army (with the help of my oldest granddaughter), doing dishes resulting from said cooking (with the help of my daughter-in-law --DIL), washing towels for the army, and cleaning house after the troop evacuated, I now sit here to catch you up.

David and his family came in on the 19th and the house quickly felt as if it would explode. There were six of us in here. I marvel that I raised two boys and a dog in this house and sometimes had a sister in residence. A couple of times I had a son with a spouse and then a son, spouse and child. both times it was for more than a year. In less than 1200 square feet. But we did it and I don't recall ever feeling crowded. And yet, when holidays roll around and everyone is here the house feels as if it will explode and I with it. 

But it didn't and neither did I. We had a great time I think. The kids got along well, with only minor nitpicking here and there. The names are withheld to protect the innocent. Wait. There were no innocent children. Still, disputes were few and that's an amazing feat in so small a space. 

I'm a neat freak but with this many folks in a space, it is all but impossible. I know that the DIL washed dishes for two days and that was only what we used to cook. We used paper plates and plastic cups and utensils for eating. Had we not, well I shudder to think of the amount of dishes we'd have had to deal with. Someone needs a dishwasher... {sigh} and the money to buy it with. 

We decided to open gifts and do our dinner on Christmas Eve. My sister had to work Christmas Day. As it turned out, we were so exhausted on Christmas Day that had we been still cooking and gifting, we'd probably been overwhelmed. This way the kids got to play with the gifts, we could eat leftovers, and everyone could sit down and do nothing but relax. We went out in the afternoon so the DIL could take photos. 

On my way back home I stopped by the cemetery and stayed about 20 minutes. It was a beautiful day and the graves were lovely. The office building on the hill began to play Christmas carols at noon. This was a surprise and I just sat and listened to them for a long time. 

Perhaps this seems silly to a lot of people. I don't know if you can understand if you've never lost someone close to you. I know the person is no longer "there" just as they are no longer "here". But I was taught a sense of respect that is virtually non-existent now. My Mama used to say, "You will put me down there (a very rural cemetery) and forget about me." And she was right. We did. I am so far away I can't visit her grave. Yes, I have those memories but there is something about standing beside that grave that brings her closer. I'm never so close to Jerry as when I'm at the graveside. 

I supposed for some it is easy to walk away and forget those who die. Out of sight and out of mind is true. Eventually, you can't even recall the location of their grave. I've been away from Mama's so long I don't know if I can find my way back to that rural location. 

If you think it is foolish, good for you. When it is your turn to leave someone you love more than your life in a six foot hole in the ground among strangers, I hope it is that easy for you. Your time will come before you know it. I hope someone wants to stand beside your resting place and remember you. 

My upbringing was to respect and remember those who have gone and we do that by visiting and taking flowers or just standing beside them for a few moments and remember them. This doesn't take much. I used to go every day. Now, I go when I walk there. I visit on holidays -- his birthday, our anniversary, and on the days we had our children. There are memories we shared, half of which are buried in the ground and forgotten. I spend a few moments giving honor to the man who made those memories possible.  I don't intend to let him lie there forgotten. I do as I would have others do. When it is my turn, there will be no one to do the same for me. It is a dying ethic.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Where's the Revolution

Today's post resulted from these articles regarding Hillary Clinton.

I'm always a little shocked by how gullible the electorate is and has always been. We take everyone at face value. It is an old tradition, or was between gentlemen, that a hand shake was a man's bond. Women always knew that this was a patent lie but we were rarely asked. But it did work to a degree. 

However, there is still this belief in the population that a person in public office should not be questioned, particularly if they belong to one's own party. It is unfortunate that no one investigated the Clintons long before they were elected. I simply mark it up to greasy palms. You grease enough of them and you can cover Mt. Everest. The truth is, that we've grown lazy and complacent with these kind of people. We figure "everyone's doing it" (some of us are too) and so what's the big deal. 

I'm sure there were people in Cuba at one point that really believed that Castro was a wonderful man. There still are. There were people who believe Chavez was a wonderful man. There were those who believed the Russian revolution was a great thing. All of those proved extremely false and devastating assumptions. 

I suspect that true or not, there will be those who will elect such people here. Why? Because ethics, integrity, and honesty are old fashioned ideas and accountability is considered abuse. No one is to be held accountable for their sins in the modern world. It is simply not acceptable to be ethical.

Revolution is just an election away at any time. If we viewed every election as a sort of revolution, we'd have no vested politicians and no chance of one. There would be a reshuffling of the deck every 4 years. 

It is important to keep in mind that real revolution means "change". Beware of those using the word change. What they really mean is revolution and not all revolutions are good, as Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia, to name a few, discovered.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ultimate Outcome of Inevitable Change

Dallas, SD. 1936
Source: US Dept Agriculture - Public Domain
Mineral Wells is  a small town in Texas. They have an impending disaster. Their man-made lake is drying up at an astonishing rate. Faced with imminent disaster, they're talking about piping water from a bigger lake or shipping it in some way.  Mineral Wells Facing Water Shortage

Part of me thinks that's terrible but another part of me thinks this is simply nature doing what it has always done: changing the face of the planet and demographics. 

Historically, the face of the country changed every time there was a drought or other natural disaster. In fact, the face of the world changes in natural disasters. But in the United States, this is more current in our memories and history. Two hundred years ago, if the well, lake, creek, or river dried up, people packed up and moved, usually farther west. 

The Dust Bowl event created a huge relocation of people because everything dried up and was buried beneath blowing sand. The causes of the dust bowl even are pretty much the same ones causing this lake to dry up. Too little rain, over use of resources, and poor planning that upset the ecology of the region. 

In Hawaii right now, lava is devouring roads, yards, homes, and businesses incrementally. People have been forced to leave their homes and watch from a distance as they disappear. Other lakes in the US have also been in the news. California is constantly short of water. Texas has had several years of drought. 

The interesting thing about most natural disasters is that in most scenarios, once you remove people from the location, the environment recovers over time, usually in less than a lifetime. In fact, even the lava covered areas in Hawaii will eventually repopulate with flora and fauna and the nature of the soil will be such that it will be a thriving environment. Until the next time.

Laws of nature don't change. Droughts occur, lakes dry up, wildfires happen. Often our very presence actually increases the effects of the natural events. And now people can't move because they've set down roots. We've chained ourselves to a location in a way that doesn't allow recovery of the resources.

So, we see an even bigger drain on resources farther away because we pipe water from some other lake. Or we ship it from another region in tanks to where we need it. Or we use backhoes and bulldozers to move sand. Or we build towering buildings on former forested tracts. All further attaching us to an area that needs to recover. Modern technology provides us with a means to ease some of the effects without actually solving the problem. 

We've sunk money into land, houses, and businesses. We can't lock up, load the SUV and drive into the sunset. Not only because of the financial loss but because the number of places where disasters happen seem to have increased with the population. We're draining our resources. Excessive and unrestrained usage was never factored in by the Creator. 

In my honest and non-scientist opinion, I don't believe there is a solution to the shortage of natural resources. Natural disasters will continue to change the landscape because they are supposed to do that. Lakes dry up by drought and forest die by drought or fire. They are the means of rebirth. Ultimately, if these events are large enough in scope, nature will force a change in demographics. 

Change is inevitable and we either follow the course of change or we will be buried by it.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why Selfies are Weird

I had to change one of my head shots tonight. I thought about taking a new one but I hate cell phone selfies. I don't know why but I can't bring myself to use a cell phone selfie on my blogs and other pages. I have used them but they're usually just terrible. Selfies are just...well, weird and there's no way I can say it any nicer.

They're everywhere, the people who take selfies. On street corners in Washington D.C. or Bangkok, China you will see them. They're easy to recognize. They're the ones standing at an odd angle, arms extended over their heads, making faces at the cell phone, which is held at an impossible angle and their heads canted awkwardly to get just the right look. Only it isn't.

I'm vain. I admit it. It is my biggest fault, aside from my tendency to tell the truth to unwilling victims listeners. No, my vanity is truly bad. I heard a joke once, long ago. A little girl asked her mother if it was vain of her to stand in front of the mirror and think about how pretty she was. The mother replied, "No, that's a delusion." No, I don't do that. I'm making a point. I'm vain.
Image courtesy of  stockimages

It is my vanity that won't allow me to stand in public and contort my body and face just to take a photo that will look horrible. I mean it. It's just too tacky. But apparently, most people don't think so. I can only say, you should have someone else take a photo of you taking a selfie. It could change your life.

You may say that not all selfies are weird but I say name one. There are only a handful of types of selfies. They're very repetitive. The only thing that changes are the subjects and their various protuberances and apparel, which is another blog post entirely. Let's review.

1.  Duck lips: Really, does this need an explanation? I mean there have been videos, expose', slideshows, and blog post about how awful these look. But they keep making them! Did you really even look at those things before you put that up? Your mouth looks deformed and it isn't cute. No one, at least no one I ever knew, made that expression in real life. Seriously. When have you ever looked at your Mama and did that? Had you done so, she'd have slapped you silly. Rightfully so. Really, I don't think anyone but television hookers do that. Are you sure that's the image you're going for?

2. Close-up, really, really, really close up: Do you know how large your pores are? They look like a Florida sinkholes.--- What's those brown blotches on your face? Freckles? Really? --- Wow, I never realized how big your nose is. --- Gee, I never realized how many wrinkles you had! --- had broccoli for lunch.

3. Downward angled shot: I took photography in college so I know that you can shave off age a bit by taking a photo from slightly above level. Overweight folks can slim their features a bit by looking up and using gravity. Older women can reduce the saggy neck in this manner and it does make a better photo. But good grief, you're 20. And a photo taken at an 130 degree angle makes it appear as if you're being attack by a vulture wearing a camera. He's probably after the duck.

4. Mirror,  Mirror: This has to be the golden fleece of all selfies. It often accompanies one or all of the above maneuvers. But think about this. Your head shot is an image of an image of you taking an image of yourself. Really. See, you had to think about that a second, didn't you. And that's weird. Then you add the duck lips.... down right freaky.

5. Location: Bathrooms seem to be the best (in someone's mind) location to take these cell phone selfies. Why? You should think about this. First, no one is looking at you. Take my word for it. They're looking at the room and comparing it to their own bath and thinking:  So, when did you clean that mirror last? Who is your decorator? You should fire them. Uh.... that outfit.... you've gained weight, right? Who's that peaking around the door?

I know there'll be some who think I'm wrong and that's o.k. You just keep doing what you're doing. It provides fodder for writers and comedians everywhere. I probably won't use it again but hey, it got me one post.

Now, I'm not an expert but here's some free advice for anyone planning on creating a new cell phone selfie head shot. First don't. They're horrible. Really horrible. Cell phone cameras are usually bad, I don't care how many mega pixels it has, they take terrible close ups and even worse if you have a flash. Unless you're going for the washed-out, demonic look.

Get a good camera, even computer webcams usually take better photos. Sit back from the camera. You can crop a photo if you want a lot of face in the shot but you can't reduce the same in a close up. If you must use a cell phone, do it outdoors, in good lighting.

Next, fix your hair, brush your teeth, put on something classy if clothes factor into the photo, and for heaven sake, don't poke your lips out. Try a smile. If that doesn't work for you, you can scowl. If you're really in a nasty mood you can snarl. If you want to look cool you can put the sunglasses on and keep your expression blank. Please try not to see if you can look at your own lips.

Use angles with restraint. Tilting the head too far over, looking too far up, looking too far down all do weird things to your face and probably don't help your spine. Experiment with slight angles. The beauty of digital is you can try multiple poses and examine multiple shots, then choose the best one. You can touch up the imperfections with photo software.

Oh, and one last thing. Get a real person to take your photo or get a tripod. Ditch the mirror. Really.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

We Went Down To Georgia

 All times are Central despite our crossing over the time line to Eastern.

On Wednesday, we left left at 9 a.m. going down to Georgia. It was a cold day and the weather gloomy. We expected to arrive by 5 p.m. However, the expected 7 hour trip became something much longer. We didn't get there until nearly 8 p.m. We hit construction at the junction of I-65 and I-24 in Nashville, as we always have for the last four years. That slowed us about half an hour. Then, we were 34 miles from Chattanooga when traffic came to a virtual stop. If we moved at all it was between 10 and 30 miles an hour. It took us 2 hours to move 34 miles. As we rounded the last curve we saw the cause of the delay.

On the left hand side of the east bound highway the median was a large grassy section that slopped up to the interstate going in the opposite direction. An east-bound trailer hauling apples had turned over. I guess his load shifted as he rounded the curve too fast on the mountainous road. At any rate, there were thousands of applies lying in a pile next to the road. They'd managed to take all the empty boxes and pile them up on the incline of the median. I've never seen so many apples and was very tempted to roll down the window and ask for a sack full. I resisted. We continued on our way and made pretty good time from that point on. But then, it was already after 5 p.m.

We arrived without further incident. I did have a couple of hours where it felt as if I was riding with two five year olds, rather than a 35 year old and an 8 year old. Their voices were beginning to take on a similar whine. I had no cheese and wished again for apples.

Checking out the dolls.
Our Thanksgiving holiday was a lot of fun. Sarah was so excited to be there that she went from one to the other hugging and kissing them for some time. Poppy and Uncle Dale (who is actually Aunt Phillis) had a grand time with Sarah during the morning. A few times Poppy and Sarah appeared to be about the same age and they were having the best time of all. 

This actually worked in my favor. I was able to sit and relax and watch. They had decorated the house for Christmas and Sarah had presents under the tree. She got to open one gift a day and she loved that. 

Giving Amy a little attention
Sarah found my cousin's dolls and my aunt pulled them all out for Sarah to enjoy. Generally she doesn't care for dolls but these seem to captivate her and she played with them the whole time she was there. 

We celebrated communion at my Aunt and Uncle's house Thanksgiving morning. That was nice. I'd never seen that done before but I would encourage anyone to start that tradition.

Dinner was to be at 5 p.m. at my cousin, Dan's house. My aunt and I went early to help out, although, as it turned out, I was more of a referee than anything else. I sat at the bar and watched as the bout progressed.

Cousins: Janie, Me,
& Alexis
Dan and my aunt did all the cooking. Please do not ask them who did more or who the best cook is. I listened to the debate for about two hours. The argument was never settled to either of their satisfaction. I remain neural, although I felt a bit like I was back in the car with the 5 year olds.

I can vouch that both are excellent cooks . All the food was good... except the green beans and that is another argument that was not settled but rather depends on who you ask. Nothing was burned and there was tons of smoked turkey, ham, pork chops resembled steaks, dressing, Ford hook beans, potato salad, broccoli rice in a cheese sauce, mac and cheese, sweet potato casserole, and dessert. 
L-R: Uncle Dale, Garrett,
Aunt Phillis, Alexis, Me, Mike.
Front: L-R: Harper, Sarah

I may have forgotten something  but no one went away hungry. We took food home, except for green beans, and ate it the next day. It was still good.

There were probably a dozen of us at dinner. I didn't count but someone did take photos and I'm sure I'll get some more of those later. There are a couple here. I have no idea why Dan wasn't in the family photo. Probably cooking. Which segues into our next item of interest.

Friday we just spent time back at my aunt and uncle's house. No shopping for me. I don't do Black Friday anyway so wasn't disappointed. Sarah was able to play more and we even braved the outside. It had warmed up and was a beautiful sunny day in the back yard.

We debated coming home on Friday but I was concerned about the traffic issues on Black Friday. After Wednesday's problems, I wasn't in a hurry to deal with that again so soon. We waited and it was a good decision.

The traffic was not a problem except around Chattanooga and Nashville and even that was so tame Mike was able to navigate without any help at all. He's doing much better at it with each trip. 

We're always a bit nervous coming over the mountains. Not because the roads are bad, but the diesel trucks are problematic. They move too slow or too fast and you don't want to be in front of or behind them. But there isn't any place to go, so you bite your nails and stay as clear as possible. However, this time, there were not nearly as many as I've seen on weekdays.

Sarah slept for a couple of hours in the early morning, which made her trip less stressful. We stopped at Cracker Barrel at Clarksville, TN around 11 a.m. for lunch. This is about two hours from home. Sarah likes to shop there. She got a Ty Baby owl named Owlivier. He's rather cute but we now have a fairly well rounded zoo. She brought a whale back from Uncle Dale's garden. I bought another cape, a red one trimmed in black faux fur. Sarah said I look like Big Red Riding Hood. We are not amused... very much.

We finally were on the last leg of our journey. After we left we more or less counted the miles. I slipped the camera over the back seat to see if Sarah was excited about getting close to home. I'm not sure....

We made it back to Evansville from Atlanta around 2 p.m. Considering we got up at 5 a.m. and were on the road by 6 a.m. , we made relatively good time. Now, I'm going to bed. I hope you've all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Real Thanksgiving

Courtsey of: MorgueFile Free photos
Thanksgiving Day ends for us. We've had a wonderful time surrounded by lots of family. I forgot how it felt to hear half dozen people talking, children squealing, the house filled with good smells and twinkling lights. I haven't had a holiday like that in a long time. I grew up with that but those days are long gone and there is little to no joy in them for me.

So to say I'm thankful for opportunities like this Thanksgiving would be an understatement. Sitting in a restaurant of other strangers is not a celebration. It's a meal. Being surrounded with the noise of people you love is a celebration. My children have so little of that because the military took us to distant places and dropped us where we had no family. These days death, divorce, and distance has left me with even less.

Christmas is around the corner and I know how very empty a holiday can be for widows who are far from their extended family and for whom a trip home is impossible and a visit from any family is unlikely for a number of reason. If you know someone who will have an isolated holiday meal, you might consider the gift of sharing your family celebrations with them. Invite them now, introduce them to others, and involve them  in some way in the coming weeks with your celebrations. Have them bring their family recipe to share with your family. For widows or single parents with little to no family contact, isolation around the holidays is very painful.  They may have known the warmth and chaos of a house filled with kitchen chatter, half dozen arm chair quarterbacks in front of the t.v., and running children. The absence from their lives makes holidays miserable.

Be thankful if your house was full. Let it overflow to someone who's isn't.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Just an Update on Life

Today is Thursday and the 20th day of NaNo. I have ten days left to beat this but it isn't looking good. I'm officially over 5000 words behind. I might be able to pull it off if I can write about 2030 words a day. If I couldn't write 1667 a day, why would I even thing I could do more than 2000? It isn't reasonable.

I've managed to bully  my neck into some sort of uneasy truce. I try and not put it in awkward positions, give it medicated patches that make me look as if someone attacked my neck, and take a pill to help the nerves and it leaves me alone for the most part. Now and then it sends signals to my brain that remind me it is still in bad shape. Just so I don't forget who is in charge, I think. I've been fighting severe fatigue all week. Three hour naps in the morning. I hate that. Brain isn't working before noon. Doesn't work well afterward either but I'm functional. I'm on the tail end of my steroid dosage and I will be sorry to see it go in one sense only. My pain has been minimal. I won't be sorry to lose the constant hunger.

Any plans I had of getting a part time job have sort of fizzled. I've been ill nearly every week since I retired. I'm looking for work at home things. At the moment, I'm doing some online surveys which will get me Amazon money or Paypal money. Not much but you know, you can do a lot with $20 on Amazon. Really. I've also signed up for as an Amazon affiliate. So, I'm plugging that in this post. If you shop amazon, use the links on this page, PLEASE. There is one in the menu bar above and a search box to the right.

Why would I ask yo to do this? Because every time you use it they give me credit and if you actually buy something, I get credit. I'm a bit strapped for cash. I lost half my income and part of my health care. I have a disease that causes bouts of severe pain and limited mobility at times. Some days I can barely walk. So, use my page to go to Amazon. They don't charge you for it. Believe me, you're not helping me get rich.

I have a lunch date with a girl friend who is moving away. Loraine has been such a good friend for five years. We met through NaNoWriMo and I've enjoyed meeting up with her for lunch and having some nice long chats. She and her husband and new son will be starting a new chapter in Nashville, TN and I wish them well but I sure will miss her a lot.

I won't bore you with my whining today. I should start making my New Year's List of Lies soon. You know, those things you say you're going to do or stop doing next year, only you never seem to accomplish any of them? Yeah, that list. I'm thinking I'll do one this year just so I can rub my nose in my failure next December.

Have a great day.

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Holiday

The day dawned blinding white and bitter cold. Sarah and I were trapped in our cozy shared habitation and we were happy about it. She because there was no school. I because it was a sunny, snow-filled day and I could curl up and do nothing. Well, these days I usually can. 

We did our gratuitous standing-in-the snow photos shoot and she wandered around for about 10 minutes before coming in and getting back into her PJ's.  I put on a pair of sweats and proceeded to vacuum and put away the laundry, both of which warmed me nicely. She has since gone out again due to boredom but is back again because it is "freezing". She says she will be glad there is school tomorrow.

It is November again. I hate holiday months. There are no good ones. None. Even if it weren't NaNoWriMo, I'd know it was November. I can count on my mind to play home movies that will insure that I remember. I was reviewing my posts for ideas and ran across a post from the early part of this year: Hauntings. And realized that for several weeks now, I've been a bit down in the dumps, not wanting to write, not wanting to read, not wanting to decorate or celebrate. It served as a realization of why I feel so depressed.

For me, for the entire holiday season, this is the norm. November, December, January and the first part of February are really awful months. So, how do my holidays roll? Thanksgiving Day, November 27, usually I eat out with Mike and go our separate ways. Christmas Day, December 25, depends on if anyone is here but usually a repeat of Thanksgiving, except I have to fix something. Since Jerry died, it is usually sandwiches.  My wedding anniversary, January 11, uh, there's no one but me to remember it. Anniversary of the death my husband, January 29. This is my black day. Valentine's Day, Feb 14, what would I celebrate?  

Gotta tell you that you haven't lived until you sit through all those holidays hearing a clock tick in your head, and on the wall, waiting for the next miserable day to pass so you get through it and not think about it. I hate November. I hate December. Most of all I hate January. They're cold, empty, isolated, and are generally the most awful time of year I've ever lived. It doesn't even end there. Mama had a stroke December 24 during our family celebrations and died January 2. I was 17. Daddy died December 10, during my college finals, and we had a funeral instead of Christmas. 

Apparently, all my holidays were to be hell of one sort or another. I could go really whinny and tell you about all the holidays when daddy lay drunk while I, Mama, and Billy tried to have a real holiday on virtually no money (cause it went for the liquor). Thankfully, family always saw we had gifts. But I don't remember opening any gifts. I do remember the spirits that insured there would be very little Christmas Spirit and having to be quiet in case we woke him up. We won't do those stories today.

NaNo is usually the only bright spot of the season and has probably become my one real holiday. It ends quickly but leaves a much happier memory. This year, it isn't working so well, I'm afraid. I'm three days behind on word count. 

Don't get me wrong. I don't sit around and brood about the miserable holidays. I don't have to think about them. There is so little fanfare for me that I could easily forget them if I didn't look at calendar, watch t.v., get online or go shopping. They're thrown in my face with all the images of children, turkeys, huge family dinner tables, and people laughing, hugging, cuddling, and sharing. Here, in this house, there are no bright spots, no laughing  people, no gifts, no tinsel, no shiny lights, and an empty table. I'm not inclined to manufacture them for the sake of saying I had them. They add nothing to my days except a lot of work. It is no wonder people commit suicide more during these months than at any other time. 

No, I don't think that way. I try not to think about anything. Let me give you something to think about. 

This year, when you sit down with your family, if you see a family member that seems not quiet with it, sit down and actually have a real conversation with them. Ask them what's bothering them. Tell them how very much you love them and mean it. Make an extra effort for each person.  I don't care how busy you think you are or how bad Aunt Lou smells. Just do this. You never know. In a few months, that very person may disappear from you life forever. And your last memory will be the one where you were just too busy to notice or take a minute of your time to make their last holiday a good memory. 

If you're a family member with a problem that will alter the lives of those around you in some profound way, you have a duty to inform those people you care about most. It isn't your right to carry it alone. Stop trying to spare anyone. You're selfish if you think you're doing a good thing. You're not doing it for them, you're doing it because you're a coward. Sit down and tell those you love what is wrong and leave them with a memory of how much they meant to you by allowing them to share the load and to be the best they can be for you. Caring for someone else's needs, sharing the heartaches, bearing their burdens is the greatest gift to give and to receive. No one had the right to cheat their family of an opportunity to do that. So, if you're not around in a few months, they'll know you were honest, that you loved them, and they had a chance to make everything right.

Believe me, the alternative... is no holiday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day 12 & Assorted Maladies

What a long week and a half this has been. I was lagging behind on word count most of the first week of NaNo but managed to catch up yesterday. If it were not for our write-ins I'd be further behind. My Co-ML had a write-in Friday night at Panera Bread and I went to that. We had 11 people attending. That's the largest we've had in a while. 

I've been doing virtual write-ins online with several members of the group and we've combined them so that if there is wifi where we're hosting a live write-in we also do a virtual write-in. Saturday we were at the library and last night I did a write-in at Panera Bread on the east side of town while Tammy was at the library on the west side of town. I'm actually ahead slightly today and don't have as far to go to hit the day's goal of 20,000 words. 

I woke to heavy, grey skies and a horrendous headache and pain in a variety of places. Went for blood work and everyone who saw me said, "You're not feeling well today, are you?" I wonder how they knew? I wasn't moaning and groaning or writhing in pain. I carried my Kindle and tried to read while I waited, answered check-in questions, got my blood work. I didn't even have to argue with the lab tech about getting the blood from the back of my hand and what gauge of needle to use! She just agreed and got the butterfly. 

It is cold. It is a painful cold. Despite the Prednisone I'm in pain in my hands, neck, shoulder, and feet. Small bones. Not good. Once I start decreasing the dosage of Prednisone the pain escalates in proportion. If I could take it all the time, I would. 

I see the doctor in three weeks. I wish I could see her sooner and get it over with and maybe, just maybe find something that works. Nothing is working. 

Back to NaNo. I don't care for the story. It isn't that I hate it. There just isn't a story there. I wish I'd gone rebel and worked on one of the other stories I have in progress. I'll get my 50K, more than likely but it will be 50K of boring prose with no purpose. I think this is the first time I've had that happen. I usually know when there is a story. Generally, the problems I face is painting myself in a corner and having no idea of where to go from there. This is different. I don't feel any interest in it. 

Of course, you should pay no attention to this any of that because we are in the middle of the 2nd week slump and this happens every year. We'll see how things look next Monday. By Saturday, the 15th, we need to be at 25,000 words. After that, things tend to move pretty fast.  I'll keep pounding away at the keys.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

To All Who Served and Who Now Serve

You were not chosen to serve this nation. 
You chose to do so. 
The choice to defend those who would not or could not defend themselves is a calling of which few are capable. 
It requires strength, determination, and dedication to something beyond oneself.
Some of you gave your youth, some gave your lives.

The hope our nation offers to her people 
is only as good as those who defend her. 
You not only guard this nation, 
you guard all that she represents.
You are the watchmen on the wall and 
our last defense in perilous times.

To those who gave their all to protect this land, 
to all who have served and are now serving,
we are forever in your debt.

For your service and your sacrifice, I am eternally grateful, not only for myself but for my children 
and their children's children. 
May the God Heaven forever guard you and protect you as you guard and protect all that I love.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Swimming with the Fishes

So... it begins. I got my first day of NaNo done and I'm nervous at how easy the words flowed onto the page. On day one. Without much effort. I ended up with 2122 words. The required is 1667 a day.

I think I'm terrified.

However, I'm rather impressed with my cover. This year NaNo allows you to create a cover for your novel and put it on your profile. Well, you could before but they created a special place for it this year. I couldn't resist. I love playing with the photo program and I had fun once I got started. I only had one problem.

Did you know there are not many free photos of dead bodies floating underwater? Really. I mean, I couldn't even find one on Google! I finally located a photo of a woman floating underwater with a copyright that would allow me to alter it. I used her head.

To top it off, there are plenty of fish photos but none with a dead body floating in the water with the fish. I got lucky in that the fish in the photo happens to be rainbow trout. This matters because I got the idea for the story during a visit to a fish hatchery in Branson, MO, a rainbow trout hatchery. Wasn't that lucky.

With my two free photos I started to work in and the end result is shown here. I like the way her head is surrounded by a fish and algae. It sort of just happened. It isn't a perfect but I think it came out pretty good.

My friend, Doug, asked if I was writing a gangster novel. Actually he said, "Please tell me you're writing a gangster novel?" I'm not but then, it's early days yet so, who knows.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Net Effect

Friday, October 17, 2014

For the first time in a long time, I am without Internet. I don’t know how it happened. I’ve had problems with it for months. Originally, they told me it was my router. Since it was 4 yrs old, I thought it possible, so I bought a new one for nearly $70. I don’t like it as much as my old one.

Today, the net went down again. For good. Tech support for the ISP said it was my modem. I went and bought a new one, for $96. No, I do not have a pot of gold. I don’t even had a wallet of quarters. I got home and hooked it up. Guess what. I still have no Internet.

After a second call to tech support they thought “something else” as going on that they couldn’t fix. I explained the economics of my situation to him in a fairly irate voice. I pointed out if my equipment was new then it must be his network that was the problem. He didn’t want to agree with me but when faced with my obvious knowledge in this area, he said, “I can’t fix whatever it is.”

“They why don’t you connect me to the person who can.”

A tech will be out on Tuesday morning. Yes, Tuesday. So, no internet between now and then. Oh I can go somewhere and get online and that’ll be fine. I’ll be at a writers’ meeting tomorrow afternoon. I can run over to the library or McDonald’s in the morning. I’m not upset by not having the service. I’m upset at the $170 I’ve spent on their say so. I don’t believe I even needed new equipment.

So, as Mike pointed out, “You’ll have plenty of time to write, Mom.”

This is true. 

October 21, 2014

That was then. I didn't write much. I spent the time doing laundry, at a writer's meeting, and at church. Today, the internet is up. The tech, James, came by and stood in the office door and said, "I know what your problem is. They didn't set up your modem in our system. Did he ask for your modem information?" 

"Yes they did. How do you know they didn't?"

He held up his phone. "I can see it right here."

He made a call and in moments the net was up and working. So, we chatted for about 45 minutes and he suggested I buy a Mac.  Hey, I paid for his time. 

That doesn't sound right but I'm letting it stay.

Now, the laundry has been folded, hung up, and put away. I have another load to wash soon but I'll give it a bit. I've answered NaNo emails, personal emails, and caught up on FB. I'll catch up on G+ but lately there's been precious little of interest there. I need new friends or maybe I just need a real life. November will give me lots to do. 

On Sunday, my new Co-ML, Tammy came by and we got out gift bags set up. I have some other items I need to run off and put in there. We're going to have our kickoff party on November 1 at the library. 

Sarah will be home shortly and my evening will become a bit hectic for a few hours. Once she's done her homework, she'll hit the road and play for a few hours before bedtime. I've spent far too long online this afternoon but hey, I did without for 4 days! I told Sarah last night we'd have internet back on tonight. 

She said, "Oh, I don't care." Then a few seconds later she glanced over her shoulder at me and asked, "When will Grimm be back on?" 

I laughed and told her I'd check. 

She said, "It's usually Saturdays."

For those uninformed, Grimm is a tv show based on the legend of the Grimm Brothers and the fairy tales. It is not your average fairy tale. When she was about 4 or 5 I was sitting at the computer watching it and she came in and climbed on my lap and asked me what I was watching. I wasn't paying attention but then realized, it might be a very scary show for a child that age. (It took me a while to get readjusted to younger minds.) Something slithered across the screen and I gasped and covered her eyes. "You don't need to be watching this!" 

She pulled my hand off her face and in her sweet, little voice said, "Oooo, what's that?" The deed was done. From that point on, she was a fan and has watched every show she could with me. Since I watch online I could always wait to watch until she came over and that was generally on Saturdays. Each week she ask, "When is Grimm on?" She never gets scared and thinks the werewolf is very cool. I do, too. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

In My Neck of the Woods....

One room done. Yes, one room. I worked on the Red Room all week and finally have it all sorted out, closet cleaned, and everything arranged. That is "Sarah's room", if she ever sleeps in there. 

After I did the one room I decided to just move down the hallway, one room at a time. I'm now working on the middle room, the smallest bedroom and where the desktop computer is stationed. I began work on the closet today. I did pretty good but there is still too much stuff.

The small room is like an office but I'm really tired of the huge desk I have in there. I need to get rid of it but I hate to just dump it. I don't know if anyone would buy it either. It is a beautiful desk but too large for most places. I just really want it gone. I have a smaller, more efficient desk at Mike's that I can get back. Just needs painting. And I should do it. It would make things much easier. I just have no place to put all the stuff in the current desk. I'd  have to buy a cabinet and that's just more stuff. 

I have way too much furniture and I think about getting rid of some of it but never do. Every stick is used. Except for all the seating. I seldom have company but when I do, I need it. My house is small with very little efficient storage. Even my bathroom has no cabinets. In the 50's people lived with less. So, I'm considering shelving in some areas. Sarah has my huge bookcase in her room because all her books and toys fit on it. 

Sometime in the last couple of weeks I've caught a cold. Sarah has one, too, so I've probably got it from her. I think it all started as allergies. We both have them. It has turned into to a upper respiratory issue. She's worse than me. She has asthma and her colds turn into something worse this time of year. 

I'm going to bed now. This isn't a very good post but it is what is happening here. Frankly, I can live with very little drama. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Golden-Haired Angels and Monkeys with Leprosy

Sarah has two sock monkeys that she received as a gift from Jilly, my friend in England about three or four years ago, after Jerry died. When she got them she just loved them and played with them a lot. Then she grew bored and they ended up in the toy box. Because of their special nature, I put them in a safe place. Off and on she'd play with them for a bit and then forget them again. 

They're rather calm about it, as if they know Sarah's quixotic nature when it comes to toys. She never discards them permanently, each one has a name and a turn to enjoy her company. She decides when that will be.  

On Wednesday, Sarah brought in her green sock monkey and said, "Mawmaw, I think he has leprosy. Can you please fix him?"

I was briefly speechless. I looked at her, laughed and said, "Leprosy! What are you talking about." 

She held him up and said, "See, he's got leprosy. Would you fix him?"

One look and I realized that she was fairly accurate in her diagnosis. The green guy's left arm was falling off and his tail was in serious trouble as well.

 I looked at Sarah and remembered that some time ago, and I can't remember how long it was, I'd had this conversation with someone about leprosy and that you could catch it from eating armadillos. Sarah was present and overheard me. I remembered her asking what is leprosy. I told her it was a disease that causes nerve damage and explained the loss of fingers and other body parts as a result of it.  

I examined the patient and agreed that, indeed he had leprosy. I gathered my instruments and prepped the patient. Surgery took about 30 minutes. Recovery was rapid indeed and the newly renamed Socky was released to his keeper. 

Today, he is very busy. He, his brother/sister, and Sarah are involved in some sort of adventure in one corner of the living room. I've heard the word 'jungle' and am a bit concerned about the recurrence of the leprosy. Still, I suspect Sarah will keep an eye on them and report if there is any indication of a relapse. My instruments are nearby and I am certain we can repair any damage.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Doom, Gloom, and the Elephant in the Room

I sit here in my living room tonight with lot of stuff in my head. Some is good but I wonder if the worries will ever end. Sarah is asleep down the hall. She's moved in with me and it is very strange having a child here all the time. She's a fairly good child, if a bit spoiled. Our fault. Anyway, Mom asked if I would take her and I won't go into her reasons here but they were valid. I appreciate that she recognized the need and put Sarah first.

On top of other things, Sarah was having a very bad time at school. At the end of last year she was ahead of her class in all but Math and loved school. After a few weeks into the school year, she was a mess and hated school, the teacher, and was non-compliant. She was having headaches. She needed reading glasses. We held discussions with the teacher and the counselor and the principal and all were unsatisfactory. Basically, just make her do the work. Make her come to school. Of course, we did but it was getting worse. We asked about changing classes. They weren't willing to put her in a different classroom. When the teacher said she was fidgety and inattentive, I suggested that rather than putting Sarah in the very back of the class where she had her, she move her to the front to keep her focused and where she could see the board (another complaint of Sarah's). After another week, she still had not moved Sarah. So, as of three weeks ago Sarah was failing all subjects. Everything. Reading, comprehension, math, spelling. So, last week she moved in with me and started in a new district this week. She came home today smiling and giggling and saying she loved school. Her first papers have good grades.

I really don't understand some schools. It was obvious that the teaching style of the previous teacher was not appropriate for Sarah. Her 1st grade teacher had warned that she felt Sarah would not do well with that teacher but she'd not been allowed to have input in the selection. The fact that they wouldn't consider alternatives was just stupidity. A child doesn't suddenly start failing class work at which they excel. Anyway, for now, she's happy again and seems to be doing well. We were nervous that first day until we met the teacher. She's young and excited and shocked Sarah out of her shoes when she walked in and mugged for her. From that point, Sarah was caught and she loved this teacher.

I saw on the news that Ebola is now in Texas. I wonder how many stores that person visited in Dallas, a city of millions of souls who could now be at risk. Now what? We have this deadly virus on the ground. Viruses mutate and become resistant to treatments. How long do we think we can prevent a global epidemic when there are no longer any barriers to coming into this country? Poor Sarah heard me comment when I saw the report and I had to reassure her she wasn't going to die. But I can't promise that. We have a unrecognized virus in California and Colorado. It is in 45 states and it is killing or paralyzing children. We now have a second even more deadly and horrific virus in Texas. This one could wipe out this country. In a matter of months. Wake up, people. We've effectively brought about our own destruction.

Today I had lab work to check my vitamin D levels. As of 3-4 months ago my D level was 130. Toxicity is at 170, so they say. My doctor pulled me off D saying I was too high. Because she closed her practice I couldn't go back and have it checked again. I told my RA doctor last month that I believe my levels had fallen because I'm having unbelievable fatigue. I'm talking sit down and fall into a deep sleep for hours because I'm wiped out after 4 hours of any activity. The results were in by 5 p.m and my Vitamin D level is now 47. Still considered normal range (30-100). My concern is that it fell from 130 to 47 in less than 100 days. That's radical to me. It took me months to get it to 130. I felt very little fatigue at that level. It doesn't seem to impact the RA but the fatigue and brain fog have become almost impossible in the last several months. I've requested to start taking the 10,000 IU I was on before I reached the 130 level. See how that does and go from there. Obviously I'm not absorbing it well at all and it definitely had a huge impact on my ability to function. The RA medicine Plaquenil  prevents the absorption of D and I don't know about Methotrexate. My primary care doctor didn't know about Plaquenil and I suspect my Ra doctor doesn't know either.

I'm going to bed now. Have to be up early to get Sarah on the bus.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Happy Birthday!

At 5:09 AM on September 22, 1979, I was introduced to the most wonderful creature I had ever seen. For 35 years he has been one of the greatest loves of my life. 

Happy Birthday, Mike. I love you. You're the best son I could ever have asked for. Thank you for all you do for me. I'm so proud of you!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Week to Regroup

I'll be heading home tomorrow from a week of vacation in Branson, Missouri. My sister and I joined my aunt & uncle there and we've had a wonderful time.  The days were sporadically sunny and mild. We've had lots of clouds and some rain. Today was quite cool. We caught a couple of shows, rode a riverboat, took a train ride, visited a fish hatchery, shopped, and just sat around reading and watching movies. I visited the tiny pool once and it was freezing and not really big enough to swim in, which is what I like to do. Oh, and we had the usual photo ops.

For the whole week, I didn't write anything, not even emails. I did check my mail and visit Facebook but for the most part, computer time has been less than an hour a day, virtually unheard of for me. There were a few times I thought I should try and write but it just didn't seem to happen. That doesn't mean I wasn't thinking. During our trip to the fish hatchery, which was actually quite interesting, I began to think about a possible NaNo story involving the hatchery. I realized after we left that I should have asked questions but I was too busy looking at the layout and figuring out exactly how this story might work. I have a couple of months to plan.

To tell you the truth, I've benefited from it. I just didn't think about anything much, just let myself take each day as it came. That's probably what a vacation is supposed to be like. Just do whatever, with no real itinerary and enjoy the moment. Yes, we planned things, but usually around breakfast. My uncle was ill a couple of times and we just stayed in and relaxed.

Friday will be a long ride back to Indiana and I'm hoping the weather will be nice. It has gone down hill rather quickly and it is quite cool tonight, in the 50's. I think most of the week at home is to be sunny and in the 70's so that will be good. I have lots to do when I get back.