Saturday, December 28, 2013

By the Numbers

Much of our culture revolves around numbers. Social Security. Driver's License. Telephone. Bills. We can't function or apply for anything with the government without the proper numbers.

Our performance at our jobs is tied to numbers. How we're doing as authors, entertainers, artists--all tied to numbers. Every measure of achievement is based on numbers. The higher our numbers, the more successful we're perceived.

Except! Numbers can be manipulated. When we're assessing our personal success, we would do well to analyze exactly what the numbers mean.

For instance, I randomly chose one day to assess the number of hits I received on my blog. Depending on the particular service and report I chose to read, the numbers ranged from 6 to 137. The average was around 30. Now, I could look at that 137 and leap around ecstatically that so many people had read my blog. (Or at least clicked on it.)

I could sink in deep gloom and depression because only SIX people clicked on my blog. And convince myself that's probably the real number because people rarely comment on it wherever it shows up.

Or, I can sensibly use the numbers as a yardstick and get on with life. I always have to chuckle when folks post on social media about their ranking in this list or that list. The uncomfortable truth is this: the only numbers that actually count are those on your royalty check. The rest? They're just someone's manipulations to make things look better.

Numbers? Enjoy them...and then go back to work.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Feng Shui New Year

New Year's resolutions are like Feng Shui for our future. We push bad habits around or even pile them near the door to take out to the dumpster while we ponder how to arrange the remaining bits and pieces of our lives. Maybe we even try bringing in new odds and ends to liven things up a bit.

Part of the problem is we don't notice our surroundings after a very short time. They're no longer fresh and new, blending into the hurry-scurry of our busy schedules. Unless...we shake things up a bit.

Most resolutions and changes last less than a month. Perhaps that proves we collectively have more short term memory than long. How to combat that fading determination?

Rearrange things again. Why do we only assess our lives once a year? Why not on the first day of each month? Oh, it doesn't require a major shakeup and cleaning, but maybe we just move that bit over under the window where it gets more light and we shove something else into that shadowy corner, something that will add a warm glow to the gloom.

If we sparkled up our lives more often, would we have as much to fix up at the end of the year? Consider. Why wait until the darkest, most depressing part of the year to assess our short-comings? That just adds to the depression. If we nudged things around all year, then we could look back with a more positive outlook.

I'm planning a Feng Shui New Year, month by month. We'll talk next year to compare notes.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Tacos

We have tacos every Christmas Eve. Why? As a remembrance of friendship above and beyond the usual. In this vignette, I tell the story.

Christmas 1981. We lived in Houston, Texas, far from our families. My dad called to tell the hunk he needed to come home. His father was very ill. We could not afford for everyone to go and our daughters were both in bed with the flu. We decided he would take our sons with him (mostly because I knew he would have to make frequent stops if they were along). When they arrived in Chicago, my parents planned to take the boys to Indiana to stay with them.

I was fine until Christmas Eve. Then the loneliness engulfed me. My friends were all busy with their extended family gatherings. My extended family lived far away. My daughters were sleeping the holidays away, too sick to care if they had gifts or not. I was feeling underprivileged and deprived as I stood at my kitchen counter eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The telephone rang. My friend, Linda, inquired about my plans for the evening. I admitted that I didn't have much planned except a shower and bed. She told me to get my purse and coat ready. Lester, her husband, was already on the way over to pick up my girls and me. We were invited to her home for the evening. I protested that the girls were sick. She pointed out they could sleep at her house as well as mine.

When Lester arrived, we wrapped the girls in blankets and carried them out to the car. The trip to their home was only a couple blocks away so the girls slept through the journey and were soon cozily asleep in bed. We spent the evening quietly, playing board games, eating tacos, and singing along with Handel’s Messiah. It was a lovely peaceful evening. Just after midnight, Lester drove us home.

On Christmas Eve our family has tacos as a remembrance of that Christmas Eve spent with loving, compassionate friends. Of all of my friends, they were the ones who saw my need and acted. It was an action made more remarkable because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not believe in observance of holidays… not even Christmas.

A miracle.


As a footnote... in 2011 I found Linda on Facebook and we've reconnected. Isn't life grand?

Monday, December 23, 2013

No Snow

Christmas 1959. I was ten years old. Our family lived in Globe, Arizona, but we had traveled by automobile to Gary, Indiana. It was before the days of interstate highways and my parents drove many hours, late into the nights, to arrive by Christmas. My younger brothers and I occupied ourselves by discussing and boasting about the snowmen we were going to build when we arrived “up North.”
We arrived safely (our first miracle) in the cold pre-dawn hours. It was a cold, damp, windy morning with nary a snowflake in sight. Dad stopped at a gas station so that we could freshen up. The restrooms were unheated, providing us with an excellent reason to speed through our clean-up. With our faces washed and our hair combed, so that we were presentable, we piled back into the car and traveled the few blocks to my Aunt Betty and Uncle John’s house.
There, as we shivered under a barely lightened sky, my Dad was struck by an inspiration. He gathered us in a tight group on the small front stoop—and at 6:00 AM—we began bellowing out the strains of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Now it stand to reason that SOMEBODY would want to shut us up, but nobody came. Dad led us into a second verse, urging us to sing louder.
Still no reaction.
The wind whipped up, cutting through our light coats. Lips turned blue and strands of hair blew across our eyes as he led us through a third teeth-chattering verse.
Nobody came. Mom rang the doorbell as he launched into the first verse again. Uncle John flung the door open and demanded, “Who is it!” before he recognized us and invited us in.
Later there were a few chuckles when he described his mad dash from room to room searching for the radio that someone had left on. During our visit, my brothers and I waited in vain for snow, knowing we only had a few days to spend there. At last, our hopes for snow dashed, we headed home. Oh, we had a great time milling around with our cousins, roaming in small packs from room to room, but in some small secret place within, a little snow would have been perfect.
After a long boring trip, suffering from holiday letdown, we arrived home safely (another miracle). Dad parked in front of our small house. We sat in the car staring out the foggy windows in amazement at our snow-covered yard. The cactus plants in the corners had spiky snow beards. There wasn’t enough snow to build a snowman, but we had a great snowball fight before we unpacked the car.
A miracle.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solstice: New Year

Today (in the Northern Hemisphere) is the shortest day of the year. Astronomically, tomorrow we begin a new year. So it seems an appropriate time to assess the past and look to the future.

This last year was...stressful. Multiple levels of stress, physical issues, professional difficulties, and personal epiphanies all rolled into one ball of frustration and...a bit of depression. I freely admit I don't deal well with illness and frustration.

But things are going to change. They say you don't change until you reach that bottom point where you're tired of the current situation. And I've reached that point. Things are a mess. Some things I can't fix. But those I can, I will. It'll take me a few weeks, but my physical surroundings are going to change so I have a positive place to work and think.

My schedule is chaotic. Once January 1st arrives, I'm going to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up before noon. And have a life. What? Don't you think I can? Yes, I can.

I'm going to tame the Dragon and get back to writing. Not writing depresses me and it's just stupid to fail to deal with it when I can. So, Crispin, you're on notice. You and me--we're going to rumble. And I'm going to win.

Finally, I'm going to put those things I can't change away in the closet or out in the trash heap. Some things are just the way they are--beyond our control, in the past, in the future, or none of our business. I don't have time for them anymore. That includes getting involved with the general idiocy of my fellow man. I can only work on myself. The rest of y'all are going to have to deal with your decisions.

These aren't resolutions or promises or any of that other stuff. They're more like serving notice to myself that life matters and if I want a life, I'm going to have to change.

So, I wish for all of you a Happy Solstice, a productive new year, a Blessed Christmas.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let There Be Peace on Earth

The first time I heard this song was at my oldest daughter's Christmas pageant the year she was in fourth grade. The elementary school had no place big enough to hold the pageant so it was held in the high school auditorium. The program was creative and joyous and enjoyed by all the parents and families.

Near the end of the evening, teachers dressed as reindeer took the stage with a rolicking skit and song. As I was enjoying it, awareness of a shuffle and hiss crept in and I realized that the children were silently lining the walls around the auditorium.

The lights went out. A deep silence filled the huge room.

And then one young voice soared in the darkness. "Let there be peace on earth..." A tiny light flicked on lighting her face.

A few more voices joined in...just a few from points all around us. "And let it begin with me."

More lights. More voices until we were ringed in light and earnest small voices singing about peace on earth. I think about that song often. I think about how we still don't understand the underlying truth of the words..."let it begin with me" for peace does not begin with warriors. Peace is protected by warriors when all else has failed. Peace begins with each of us.

Most people believe that peace is an absence of war. That isn't true. Peace is an absence of conflict. And true peace will not arrive until we as humans refuse to countenance abuse, intolerance, genocide, greed, and famine. As long as we turn away from the less fortunate ignoring the needs of the many in favor of the wants of the few, there will be no peace on earth.

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me..."

©2006 Anny Cook

Monday, December 16, 2013


The thing about wedding anniversaries is...except for the 'biggies'--one, five, twenty-five, fifty...they're mostly only important to the folks directly involved. For the rest of the world, they're a shrug (and possibly a passing wonder if their fellow men and women marvel at their staying power.)

In the beginning, the bride is usually more enthusiastic about celebrating. And she's also soooo proud of their accomplishment. Look! We've been married three years! Or ten! Or fourteen!

Little do they know the future that awaits them if they stick it out. They don't know there will likely be a year or two they won't even be speaking to each other on the important day because they're arguing over something so stupid they can't remember what it was years later. There will be 'forgotten' anniversaries. And there will be some where the best they can do to celebrate is a snatched peanut butter sandwich in between wearily caring for several puking kids.

Some years they'll be too broke to do more than kiss and smile in commemoration. In a few rare, memorable instances, their kids might fix them a special dinner. And yet--if they stick it out--life together will roll on. Eventually, they'll grow to understand a simple dinner at the local steakhouse is quite all right.

Because that anniversary is really a private day to mark a personal accomplishment. It's when two people acknowledge they're doing just fine. They made the right decision all those years ago. And they'll keep on going.

On that day, they'll look back and maybe marvel they didn't kill each other off in the bad times--and inevitably, there were bad times. They'll smile when they remember the good times. And life will go on, but now they'll know how fragile that life together can be so they'll treasure it a bit more.

Today the hunk and I mark forty-six years. Impossible...we're not that old!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Long Road Home

Every year I reprint a few of the Christmas memories I've shared from the past. This is from Christmas 1989. May all those traveling this Christmas be safe...

Christmas 1989. “Please come if you can. Uncle Charles has terminal cancer and probably won’t be with us next Christmas.”

For many years in my family, holidays (Christmas and Thanksgiving) have been alternated with the in-laws. This year was not a our family Christmas, but the family was trying to get together anyway. It wasn’t a great year for us. My husband was on disability because of an accident at work. I was on unemployment because my company, Waldenbooks, had moved their warehouse operation from New York to Tennessee. The boys, recently graduated from high school, were out of work, since they had also been employed there. Jobs were scarce with 700 unemployed warehouse workers suddenly in the job market. I was attending school as a dislocated worker, hoping to obtain the skills for a new job.

“Please come.” Our car was shot. There was barely enough for a gift for each of the kids. Friends had provided Christmas dinner components for us. The trip from New York to Indiana was out of the question. Reluctantly, I called my parents with the news.

The kids asked us if we could talk for a few minutes. “Suppose we give up our present money…would we have enough gas money to get there?” one of them asked.
My younger son offered to change the oil and do a quick check up on the car. The older one pointed out that we could take turns driving. The car had very little heat…but my older daughter suggested that we could take extra blankets.

Slowly, one objection at a time, they showed us that we could make the trip. I called my parents in LaPorte, Indiana and suggested that they make some extra beds.

We traveled to LaPorte, stopping only for restrooms and coffee. Our car was a tight squeeze for five small people. We had six large people. The kids said that was a good thing as we all stayed warmer that way. Meals were sandwiches eaten in the car. In Ohio, we ran into snow. The car heater didn’t work well enough to defrost the windows so they began to freeze over. There were frequent stops to clear them, but we made it. After eighteen hours on the road we arrived in LaPorte. There was close to a foot of snow on the ground.

 It was a great Christmas, rendered more poignant because of Uncle Charles’ illness. There were more family members there than at anytime before or since. Two came from Guam. Others came from all over the United States. Close to 70 people sat down for Christmas dinner. Afterwards there were games, carols, and visiting.

A couple of days later the trip home was longer as there was more snow to contend with. In Pennsylvania, the snow was so heavy that it melted on the headlights, creating a sheet of ice that coated them. We stopped frequently to clear them just so we had light. Cars were sliding off the road. It was night. Plows couldn’t keep up with the storm. The rest areas were closed. We had no money to stay anywhere so we kept moving. Twenty-six hours later, we arrived safely home.

Anyone who has traveled with teenagers knows that it’s impossible to travel far without petty squabbles and picking. However, our entire trip, bad weather, extremely uncomfortable conditions, with limited money, there wasn’t a cross word from anyone.

A miracle. Several, in fact.

© 2007 Anny Cook

Friday, December 13, 2013

Taming the Dragon

Well, Crispin (the dragon) and I are slowly coming to terms. I've agreed not to bug him first thing in the morning before coffee (I tend to slur my words) and he agreed to be patient when I lose track of my thoughts.

Today is day three of our Dragon Wars...and I've managed to dictate a page of notes, make corrections, move around, add punctuation, and try out a few commands. All but one actually worked. I've been making frequent use of the cheat card and that works well.

Now...if only I didn't freeze up when dictating. You know those brain pauses you have when you're older? I tend to stop and meditate when I'm physically writing. When you do that verbally, you sound very...disconnected.

Dictating the notes was actually a good thing as I practiced a list of questions, three paragraphs of synopsis/notes, and compiled descriptions for some of the potential characters. Some of those items I would not normally use while actually dictating text for a story.

In the meantime, while I'm waiting for various electronic devices to charge up, I'll go back to the previous stories in this series and re-read them. It's amazing how many details we forget...


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowy Day Thoughts

Yep, it's snowing today in Baltimore. The Ravens are slip, sliding around on the football field. Sane folks are all staying inside.

On Friday, my daughter got married! Here's a pic of the new family...

I don't do tagging games, but I DID have to consider the 'ten books' question floating around on Facebook... Which ten books influenced/stuck with me?

1.The Bible. It was the first book I read back when I started reading at five. We lived in tiny, tiny towns in Arizona and books were scarce. But a ministers home had multiple copies of the Bible.

2.Dick and Jane. A few years ago WalMart carried hardbound copies of Dick and Jane and I confess I bought them. My two granddaughters read them when they were around six. There's just something about Dick and Jane...

3.Little Women. This was the first book I read that centered around GIRLS. It was so amazing to me that someone had written a book with girls as the central characters.

4.Little House on the Prairie (and all the others in the series). What a gift Laura Ingalls gave to us! I still re-read them every year.

5.Last of the Breed by Louis L'Amour. I love all of his books but this particular one...just stunned me. And the ending? Whoa...I never expected that!

6.Windflower by Laura London (Tom and Sharon Curtis). After all these years readers of the Windflower still wait in vain for a sequel. It was the absolute quintessential pirate novel. I've read lots of others...but never one to equal this one.

7.Morning Glory by Lavryle Spencer. There are love stories. And then there are LOVE stories. This one, set in the rural south in the 20s-30s is so unexpected and lyrical. Yes!

8.Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer. I own all of her books and there are others that I favor more (These Old Shades, for instance), but Sprig Muslin was the first of her books I ever read. I discovered the book at the library after we moved to Houston. I didn't know a soul, had three small children and my husband worked two fulltime jobs to support us. I was incredibly lonely. I vividly remember sitting on the closed toilet seat in my bathroom with the door closed so I didn't wake anyone up and LAUGHING so hard I slipped down between the toilet and the tub. Georgette Heyer gave me the gift of laughter when I needed it soooo desperately.

9.The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. And of course the rest of them! I've thought a lot about why this book touched me so profoundly. I believe it was because of her scholarship and the way she wove the bits and pieces of the legends into her books to form a wonderful whole. I marvel at the details every time I re-read them.

10.Midnight Man by Lisa Marie Rice. This was the first erotic romance book I read. I was electrified by the possibilities. And then...I read the material in the back of the book about E-BOOKS! Books I could read on the computer! Hey...maybe I could even WRITE books. Yeah, that was the starting point. And look at me now!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chistmas Bikes

Christmas 1979. That was the year we stretched the budget to get the kids’ bicycles. At our house, Santa always brings a stuffed animal. It was my feeling that Santa bringing tons of presents sets up kids for unrealistic expectations. No matter how the year goes, a stuffed animal is always doable. And after that, whatever Mom and Dad can come up with is great.

My kids had a realistic idea of our money situation from the time we sat them down and let them pay the bills with real money. My house hunk had his check cashed at the bank in $1 bills. Then we sat down with the kids and let them count out the money for each bill. We did that for six weeks. If there was any money left over after the bills we let them do the grocery shopping with a calculator and count out the money for the food.

After that when we said there was no money, they understood that reality. To this day, they’re all very good managers. This particular Christmas was important to us as a family as the previous Christmas had been very, very bad. We didn’t have a lot of money, but there was a bit more than usual so we decided that we could afford to buy bicycles.

Of course when your kids are pre-teen age, hiding bicycles is a pretty tricky proposition. Finally, we simply made the garage off-limits. Late Christmas Eve the house hunk and I were out there trying to assemble three bicycles. The store would have assembled them, but that cost money that we couldn’t afford. One needed training wheels. Things did not go well.

Around 2 AM, the door opened and my second son trotted out there with his hands in his pockets. First of all, I was startled that he was still dressed. And then of course I demanded to know why he was awake.

“Well,” he said, “I thought I would see how long it took you to put them together. But it’s late. I’m tired. And I would like to ride my bike tomorrow. So I gave up. Do you want me to put them together?”

His father handed him the wrenches. “If you think you can do better than we are, go for it.” Thirty minutes later all three bikes were assembled and parked by the tree.

My son was nine years old that Christmas. Until he left for the Navy, it was always his responsibility to assemble all the gifts marked “Some Assembly Required.”

That year Santa brought the kids stuffed Safari animals—lions, tigers, and such. Up until a few years ago, they still had them. And then they decided to donate them to a kid’s program. As I recall, that was the sum total of Christmas gifts that year, except for the perennial favorite… new underwear. To this day, that’s a family in-joke. Every Christmas the kids receive new underwear. Now of course, it’s pretty fancy stuff.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Here Be Dragons

Yesterday I had my second post-op visit with the ortho man regarding my finger. Recovery is on schedule... for an individual who doesn't use their hands more than a normal-living-way. I, on the other hand (hah!) do depend on my hands for numerous occupational/hobby things (writing, typing, calligraphy, crochet/knitting, drawing).

After a brief discussion with the doc about why my hand--not just the finger, but all the knuckles, etc.--is generating considerable pain, he very gently broke the news. Other than normal day-to-day stuff, the hand needs a rest. A loooong rest. He estimates it will be completely healed around the six month mark. In my efforts to compensate for the non-use of the finger, I'm really aggravating my arthritis and delaying the healing process in the finger.

So. Peace.

I actually own a voice-to-text computer program--Dragon. And now it appears I'm going to learn and implement its use. I've heard good and bad and really ugly things about it, but that's all right. I'm persistent and I'm tough. If it will allow me to do ONE of the things I love, that's reason enough to do it.

So a couple people have been gracious enough to share some tips and pitfalls. If anyone else out there has experience with Dragon, speak up!

And for the curious, I'll be reporting back on my experiences. Now I'm off to tickle the dragon. I believe I'll call him Herb.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

At My Feet

Those of us with short stubby legs suffer a particular irritation when sitting, whether it's a chair, the couch, or even the bed. Our feet don't reach the floor.

After a short period of time my legs start to cramp and ache. I get up, walk around, but within minutes once I sit down again, the aches and pain start again. Over the years we've tried all sorts of solutions. None really worked well.

Then one afternoon a few weeks ago the hunk spied a rejected stool in a pile of furniture next to our dumpster. I stopped the car and he fetched the little stool. Except for a frayed corner, it was in excellent shape.

It's exactly the right height. I can watch TV or read in comfort. Problem solved.

But the hunk wasn't happy with that frayed cover. So he crocheted a cheerful new cover for my little stool. Last night he finished it--and wielding his staple gun--recovered the stool. Not all gifts cost hundreds of dollars. The gift of thoughtfulness and love is worth the most.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Roll On

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

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

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

I haven't written in months.

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

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


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Afternoon

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

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

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


Monday, November 25, 2013


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

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

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


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Aliens Among Us

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

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

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

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

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

Mystery solved.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

Will You Still Need Me?

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

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

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

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


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Exploding Turkey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013


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

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

Quitting would be easier.

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

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


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Ponders

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

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

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

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

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

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



Monday, November 18, 2013

Yearly Rant

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, November 17, 2013

The ONE Way

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

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

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

I just want clarity.

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

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

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

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


Saturday, November 16, 2013


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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, November 15, 2013

And then...

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

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

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


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

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

We might discover entirely new territory.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Safety Blanket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Roll of the Dice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such is life. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

High Ground

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

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

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

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

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

Because we can never have enough high ground.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

This and That

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy days...


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insurance Bargain

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, November 4, 2013


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

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

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

There are no unimportant parts.

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


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fall Color

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

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


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Freebies or Not?

My friend and fellow author, Julia Barrett, wrote a blog about the perceived value of FREE merchandise. There's an on-going debate about what the perfect price point is for a book. Some folks won't read anything they have to pay for. Others have a top dollar price point of five dollars. Still others will tailor their book dollars to the product.

Personally, I will spend more dollars on a book I covet than almost any other item. For instance, the St. John's Bible is on my wish list for Christmas, Birthday, and any other gift day. A) Because I'm a calligrapher myself. B) Because I consider the Bible a sacred text.)

If I am particularly interested in a subject, I will spend a significant amount of money on a print book--especially for research purposes. I know fellow writers and readers who think buying such a book is insane. To each, his own, I say. In my experience, such a print book is far more satisfying than an e-book. If I have room to store it, why not?

But when it comes down to it, most folks buy novels and it's impossible to place a value on a novel. A title one reader will wait impatiently for will have zero value for another reader. So the excitement and anticipation for Book A won't mean anything for the individual waiting for Book B.

I call it the Sam's Club Syndrome. If you go to the club on certain days, you'll be bombarded by freebie food samples. Folks try them out--whether or not they would normally eat the item. Then they walk away, without buying the item, because they don't like that item. Never did. Never will.

Free books fall in that same category, somewhat. I cannot tell you how many readers have downloaded my books when they were offered as freebies who then wrote to me complaining about the book they downloaded. Inevitably, there is one sentence included--"I don't like fantasy (erotica, romance, shifter, vampire, etc.)"

Then WHY download it?

Because it was FREE.

Heh. Well, I'll bite. I'll pool all the commenters on THIS blog post and pick one or two to receive a free book. Only one caveat. The comment must be about this blog post.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rescuing Clarice

“I’m not going to have an affair with you.”

“I don’t believe that I asked you to have an affair. Actually, I haven’t even suggested you have sex with me. So relax.”

She buried her face in her hands and muttered curses. “What kind of alternate universe did I wake up in this morning? I am not here. This is some kind of erotic nightmare. I’ll wake up in a little while and discover that Mr. Larssen is a vampire or something.” She peeked through her fingers as he turned into an underground parking garage.

“Vampire? I was thinking more along the lines of a werewolf. An alpha werewolf, naturally. Alpha werewolves seem to be popular in women’s fiction if the books my mother reads are anything to go by.” He whipped the truck into an empty space and turned off the ignition.

“You’re insane. Who let you out of the asylum, anyway?” she snapped. Then it occurred to her that she was talking to her new boss—the man who would be deciding whether or not she received her raise—and she moaned again.

“Haven’t you heard?” he asked. “The inmates are in charge of the asylum this week.” Otis opened the truck door, happy that he’d chosen to bring the truck instead of his low-slung sports car when he agreed to fill in for Uncle Shamus. Clarice wasn’t likely to jump down from the truck and take off. When he made it around to the other side of the truck, she was still hunched over in the front seat. He opened her door, released her seat belt and lifted her down to the pavement making sure she had her purse, all without her saying a single word.

After slamming the door shut, he took her hand and led her to the elevator. When they were finally inside his condo with the door locked behind them, she stood in the living room uncertainly while he loosened his tie and slipped his suit coat off, tossing it over the couch arm. “I’ll make some coffee,” he said. “If you want to freshen up, the bathroom is just down the hall.”

She turned away, moving as though she was sleepwalking. Otis frowned while he made the coffee and set out sandwich fixings on the counter. If he wasn’t mistaken, Clarice was very close to the end of her resources. With her bank account depleted and no money coming in until payday, her options were nearly nonexistent. According to the employee notes Shamus had sent him, Clarice was alone, except for her younger sister, with no family network to fall back on.

By the time Clarice reappeared, still quiet and withdrawn, Otis had lunch on the table. “Ah, there you are! How do you take your coffee?”

“Cream and sweetener.” Her voice was low, a bare breath of sound.

“Fine. Have a seat.”

Following his brisk, no-nonsense direction, she set her purse and coat on one of the chairs and sat down. He deposited a steaming mug of coffee in front of her, added a cream pitcher and bowl of pink sweetener packets and went back to retrieve his own mug of black coffee. More to have something to do than because she wanted coffee, Clarice added cream and sweetener and stirred until it was a pale au laìt color.

With a small grin, he watched her stir as though her life depended on it. “If you don’t like the color of that mug, I have others,” he observed quietly.


“No need to scrape the color off. If you would rather have a different colored mug, I’ll be happy to exchange.”

Startled, she realized that she was nervously stirring the coffee so vigorously it sounded like she was mixing a cake. She froze, staring at him in paralyzed embarrassment.

“Clarice,” he said firmly. “Eat your lunch.”

Wordlessly, she picked up a sandwich quarter and began eating. When that portion was gone, she sipped at her coffee, apparently deep in thought while he ate his own lunch.

He finished and sat back with a sigh, regarding his guest with such intensity that she finally frowned at him and asked, “What?”

“Nothing. I’ve just been considering your options. You’re in quite a tight spot.”

He was deeply relieved when she seemed to snap out of her unnatural resignation. She set her mug down with a thunk on the table. “Really? What was your first clue?”

“Now, Clarice—”

“Don’t you now Clarice me! You’re not the one with four dollars and seventeen cents to your name! You’re not the one sitting at this table with a broken bra and no panties! You don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll have electricity!”

“No, I don’t,” he admitted. “That doesn’t mean that I’m not worried or concerned.”

“Concerned? Concerned? Are you crazy? What am I going to do?” Tears trickled down her face as she stared at him in bewilderment. “What the hell am I going to do?”

Otis swallowed the last of his coffee as he studied her thoughtfully. He suspected that she was not going to take his suggestion well but he wasn’t inclined to let her escape when he held all the cards. There would never be a chance like this again. Fighting the urge to gather her in his arms and assure her that everything would be all right, he sprawled back in his chair, folded his hands over his flat belly and dropped his bombshell.

“I think that you should marry me.”

And then things happened... Want to know more? It's now just 99 cents! Click on the book cover...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Between the Sheets

About three weeks ago the hunk and I purchased a new set of sheets online. The next day we discovered we'd been charged twice and when we discussed it with the support staff at the site, they told us we'd been sent two identical sets of sheets.

After some dickering, we sent one set back and they refunded our money. Now, my skin is sensitive to the finish in new fabrics (sheets, towels, clothing) so we always wash everything before using it. When we washed the new sheets, the seam across the top hem on the top sheet unraveled.

Another call to the support team. They were very pleasant. And then we waited for resolution. Waited... Waited...

Yesterday we received an e-mail. They're sending us a new set of sheets. Please dispose of the defective sheets. Hmmm. We'll see.

In the meantime, it's a good thing we had another set of sheets on hand. We woke up to a nippy 39º this morning with no heat. I would say fall has arrived!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Killer Smile

Some people fear spiders. Others aren't crazy about snakes. But for sheer terror, I think the dentist comes in first. If you're like me and have difficulties with local anesthetics (they don't work!), then dentistry takes on an entirely new level of fear.

For MANY years, I simply refused to go because dentists didn't believe the local wasn't working. But I finally reached a point when it was cave in--or lose my teeth. Fortunately, this time around I stumbled into a clinic that genuinely understood and believed in me.

So I had a hygienist appointment today. And the news was pretty good. Gums are in great shape. Teeth required minimal cleaning. But there the gravy train ground to a halt. I have two cavities back in molar land. And one of those teeth has a hairline crack. Seems that fall yesterday probably did more damage than I thought.

On the other hand, when I go back to fix them, my dentist (very hot!) will numb my mouth to a fare thee well, and take care of my ancient senior teeth.

Life is good.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Back to Front

The more you write, the stranger the process. I've written a book or two...or three. My current work in process is the first book I've written from ending to beginning. At forty thousand words, I realized I'd started in the wrong place.

After considerable cogitation, I went back to the beginning. Who were these people I was moving around on my internal chessboard? I had no idea. It took me three chapters to begin that discovery process. I still don't have it all down, but at least they've captured my attention. This is no small thing for the author. It's always a good thing if you like your own characters. Otherwise, why would anyone else?

As I've learned about my current crop of characters, I've also discovered things about the characters from the previous books in the series. Hmmmm. What will I learn about the couple coming up in the last book?

I admit this delay is costing me. I'd hoped to have this book finished long since. Life interferes. Perhaps that's another lesson to be learned.

Sometimes, life has to be lived back to front.


Friday, October 18, 2013


As I get older, I find my outlook on life is less steady. I suppose that could be general life circumstances. Bad health. Crappy economy. Or hormones. Yeah...hormones are good. Hormones have broad shoulders and take the blame for a host of things. Sex. Rage. Murder.

So my bad attitude is due to hormones.

So glad that's settled.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Playing Dress-up

Back in the dinosaur ages, I loved to play dress-up. I suspect most folks out there have done so at one time or another. When we're small, regardless of gender, we put on our parents' shoes or shirts or hats and stroll and clomp around the house, carrying on animated conversations with our imaginary friends.

The time comes, though, when we understand playing dress-up is a form of fantasy. Unless it is necessary for our job (such as acting or performance art), we know we have to get on with the business of life so we put away childish things in our public life. Except for those special events like masquerade parties or joining our children in a game, we mostly stop playing dress-up.

But it strikes me that some folks never got the memo. They don't understand the rules about playing dress-up. Over the last few years an increasing number of individuals are dressing up as congressmen and congresswomen and heading off to Washington. Our nation is paying for their pretense and playtime.

Perhaps we should require uniforms so we can tell the real congressmen and congresswomen from the ones impersonating them. Or maybe we should pass a law against such impersonation. I'm tired of watching them sashay and pretend, carrying on their conversations with their playmates instead of doing the job.

I say no more playing dress-up. Time to work for real.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Old Rituals

When I was a kid, trick or treating wasn't a deal. In Bible-belt country (and most of the U.S. was Bible-belt country back then) Halloween wasn't even on the radar. Small local communities might have the annual gimme candy festivities, but most didn't. I think I went trick or treating twice in my life.

By the time my children were old enough to be interested, it was a big deal, both in the communities where we lived and in their schools. Then came the poison candy scares and the allergy scares and the no-kid-is-safe-anywhere scares and trick or treating is slowly dying out in favor of private parties. We haven't had any trick or treaters here in the last three years.

Most of the television programs I catch are produced and set overseas so I get a flavor of how various holidays are celebrated outside the U.S. Their customs are vastly different than here. With a bit of ingenuity and research I can figure out most of them, but the variety completely amazes me.

The other thing that I find interesting is the shift in observing various holidays. For instance, when I was a kid, Easter was probably the highest, most important holiday, even more so than Christmas. There were numerous rituals and observances attached to that week. Now it's difficult to find anyone who even notices.

Christmas has been reduced to an orgy of buying and greed. Thanksgiving is a feast of gluttony. And our patriotic holidays--Memorial Day and Independence Day are picnics and fireworks. Flag Day...well, who flies a flag? Who owns one? As for parades, those are reserved for Santa and football.

In the past--two or three centuries ago--there were no doubt very different celebrations and observances. I suppose human nature dictates changes and the passing of old rituals and memories. But for every ritual lost, we also give up a bit of our human history. There were reasons the old rituals and celebrations existed. With their loss, we lose a bit of ourselves.

I wonder. What will the face of our celebrations look like in fifty years? Will we be gathered in stadiums, cheering for the gladiators and lions? Or will we be hiding in caves to serve our gods in secret?

Maybe, there will be no rituals at all...


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Back, way back when I first started writing, I belonged to a particular editor's group called the Frogpond. It was mostly composed of writing tadpoles, beginners in the astonishing, bewildering world of publishing and romance.

One of the frogs was a writer named Amarinda Jones. Right off the bat she wrote a story duo titled Swift of Heart and Last Man Standing. They're imaginative romances set in contemporary Australia and a parallel world. And of all the many, many stories Amarinda has penned since then, they are still my favorites.

I re-read them last week. At the end, I had that satisfied smile all readers have when they finish a good book. There's romance, betrayal, daring-do... Just what we all look for when searching out new stories.

If you'd like to check them out, just click on the book covers!  

Or check out her webpage at AMARINDA...


Monday, October 14, 2013

Take it When?

I'm retired. Part of retirement is the privilege of sleeping...late (or as long as I wish). Yet I was up and about this morning at seven AM. And why would that be? Um, I needed to take my first morning med.

"Take in morning with full glass of water at least one hour prior to eating. Do not take with other medications."

"Take in morning with full glass of water at least forty-five minutes prior to eating."

"Take with food."

"Take before bed with food."

"Take before bed, at least one hour after eating, with full glass of water."

Hah. I need a spreadsheet to figure out when to take what. If I get up at seven and take my first pill, then I can eat around nine. I might point out that also means NO COFFEE until nine. My diabetes constrains me to eat early--and regularly--so those evening meds with food require a small snack at least one hour before I plan to go to bed so I can take the second evening med. With a full glass of water. Now what do you suppose is the result of a full glass of water just prior to bedtime? Uh-huh.

I'm a reasonably intelligent individual with problem solving skills so I can work it all out. But it does make me wonder about those elderly folks who can't work it all out. How do they manage?

And my schedule? Well, it revolves around when to take a pill. I have a full page of instructions about when to STOP taking my various meds prior to my surgery at the end of the month.

Aside from the financial consequences, wouldn't it be easier to figure out a way to take all this crap once a week?