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Showing posts from 2007

Farewell and Good Riddance

Today is the last day of 2007.

Thank God.

Yesterday, I was watching CBS Sunday Morning as they did their annual memorial to those who passed on this year. (Didn’t they use to dedicate an entire show to this? Now it’s barely fifteen minutes!) This piece almost always makes me slightly teary, but I was doing okay until Charles Osgood mentioned the World War II vets who passed this year and I realized that included my dad. I lost it. At that point I stopped watching and veered off into my own personal list of losses for 2007: my dad, my cousin John, my kitty Samantha

It’s been a really crappy year.

2006 was crappy, too. I think I’m due for a good one. So I’m saying a big ADIOS to the year(s) just past and I’m opening my arms wide to embrace the New Year. That doesn’t mean I’m going out partying. I’m too old for that. I’d have to stay up way past my bedtime. No, I’m just preparing myself mentally for new projects. I hope to clear a few things from my desk today and then take in a movie with …

While I was Gone...

I am happy (thrilled, actually) to report that I am once again a member of cyberspace. I have a new LARGE satellite dish attached to the back of my house and a new service provider.

I’ve concluded that the Internet is like so many of the things we take for granted these days. We never think about all that electricity does for us until a power outage hits. Same with the Internet. So here is a list of some of the things I missed while my connection was down:

Television Listings. I no longer subscribe to TV Guide. While I may be addicted to the Internet, I have yet to succumb to cable or satellite television. I mean, I’m distracted from my writing enough already. I don’t need 200 more channels to lure me into a zombie state. But I do have my antenna and network and local TV. TV Guide just doesn’t provide listings for local programming any more. So I get my listings online. But not for the last two weeks. (OK, eleven days, but who’s counting?) Goodness only knows what stupid shows I’ve miss…

Holiday Lull

I continue to muddle along with no Internet service at home. I’m sure I’m becoming quite the pain to family and friends, asking “Do you mind if I use your computer to check my e-mail?” And today I once again sit at Panera Bread to post this. My home Internet may not be restored until after the first of the year now.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the holidays. We made the rounds of family and friends on Christmas Eve. And we spent Christmas afternoon with four generations of family members at my nephew and niece’s home. The big source of entertainment there was their new Wii system. Watching everyone try their hand at virtual bowling didn’t make me want one of these fancy computerized games, but it did make me long to dig my old bowling ball out of the basement and hit the lanes for real. It’s probably been a decade (at least) since I threw my last gutter ball. I was on a league YEARS ago and earned a trophy for most improved score. Which said more about how bad I was when I began…

In the Dark

I’ve been without Internet service since Sunday and I’m beginning to feel the strain. I wrote about being a slave to technology over at Working Stiffs Wednesday after posting it from Panera Bread. That’s where I’m posting this from, too. Maybe they’re meddling with my wireless signal at home just to get me to come in and order something while I use their free Wi-Fi. If so, it’s working.

Once my ISP gets the problem fixed (AGAIN…it WAS fixed once, briefly), I will have several hundred e-mails to sift through. I fear many will fall victim to my delete button just out of necessity.

In the meantime, life does go on. I had Mom in to see Dr. Ray who is pleased with her progress, but doesn’t feel she’s ready to give up the walker just yet. No sense rushing things when we’ve come so far. Besides, she’s pretty well mastered the contraption.

I also took BooBoo kitty to the vet. The poor old guy is down to little more than six pounds, but his bloodwork isn’t all that bad. So we keep on keeping on w…

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As I write this I am listening to the Lynn Cullen Show on 1360 talk radio. I used to listen to Lynn on a regular basis, but lately, I don’t listen to radio or watch TV in the morning because I’m usually working and I choose to write in silence. However, today is special. My fellow Sister in Crime and Pittsburgh mystery writer, Kathleen George, is going to be a guest on the show promoting her new book, AFTERIMAGE.

I won’t go into how my “boombox” blew up as I was setting it up in my office this morning so I could tune in. Instead, I have the volume cranked on the shelf system stereo out in the living room.

Tuesday night, Mystery Lovers Bookshop hosted Kathleen’s publication party. The list of attendees read like a veritable Who’s Who of Pittsburgh Crime Writers. And it was a great party. Good food, good conversation, and good books. Can it get any better? I don’t think so.



To be perfectly honest, I needed that party. I confess. I’ve been a little down where my writing is concerned. There’…

LOST!

Not really. You can locate me over at Working Stiffs where we're discussing losing things. Come on over and share your own story of missing stuff around the house.

Oh, Deer!

As previously mentioned, the weather last week was crappy. At least it was crappy every other day. That means Friday fell on one such crappy day. But it wasn’t bad enough to keep me home. Or any other Christmas shopper either, for that matter. I wasn’t really Christmas shopping. I was just doing my regular weekly shopping. By the time I headed home from town with my trunk loaded with both my groceries and my mom’s grocery order, it was dusk. The morning’s snow had mingled with the road crew’s salt to create a mush that hazed over the windshield requiring frequent applications of washer fluid. I was in the midst of pondering how much of that stuff I had left in the reservoir and making mental notes to check it before venturing out again, when a huge buck, complete with an exceptionally nice rack, appeared in my peripheral vision.

He was running straight at me. My brain kicked into high gear, but things still happened so fast that I don’t know if I’d have had time to react, should my bra…

Christmas Parties-Part 2

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Someone is watching out for me so far this winter. We’ve had snow on Monday, Wednesday, and now today, but on Tuesday for Mom’s haircut—no snow. And yesterday, for the Pennwriters Christmas Lunch that I had planned—no snow.

Well, all right, there was snow on the ground, but none falling from the sky. In fact, the sun came out yesterday and made for a beautiful, if brisk, day.

This was our third year of having our Christmas party at Tambellini’s Restaurant in Bridgeville. Good service, good food, good company, good conversation. What more could you want?


It was also the third year of doing a book exchange AND swap. Everyone brings a wrapped book and everyone draws a number from a bag. Number one goes first and opens their gift. Number two then opens their gift which they can keep or choose to trade for one that’s already been opened. And on down the line. After it’s all done, the person who had drawn number one gets to swap for ANY of the books. It’s all in good fun and sometimes gets a l…

Let it Snow

Winter has descended on southwestern Pennsylvania in the form of soft, silent snow. And this morning, my thoughts are “Let it snow!”

It snowed on Monday, too, but the winds were worse than the flakes. I hear the roads were treacherous further north, but here, not so bad. I thought I was going to have to drag Mom out into it with her walker to see her PCP (as in REGULAR doctor) to get a prescription for one of the meds she was placed on during her ordeal. Thankfully, the doc simply called the script into the local pharmacy, so I didn’t have to deal with taking her out into the cold.

No. We did that yesterday instead. But it was for a good cause. Mom got her hair cut for the first time since July. She’s been looking a little scruffy and was eagerly anticipating the trip to the beauty shop. Thankfully, the snow and wind let up for the afternoon. The sun even made a valiant, if only partially successful, effort at putting in an appearance. After the cut, Mom pronounced that she feels human…

Christmas Parties-Part 1

Tis the season, so they say. I think “they” mean the holiday season. For me, today begins the COLD season. (sniffle, sniffle)

I’ve been dodging everyone’s germs pretty well until now. But life goes on.

Yesterday, I attended my first of the season’s (holiday, not cold) Christmas parties. My local chapter of Sisters in Crime gathered at the Church Brew Works for a lovely lunch followed by a book exchange. I gave Lisa Scottoline’s Devil’s Corner. I received a two-fer: Tribeca Blues by Jim Fusilli and In the Cut by Susanna Moore. But I’d have been happy with any of the books changing hands at the party. Not a dud in the bunch.

No, the dud was my car. It picked yesterday to die. Thankfully the death happened in my driveway, not on the streets of Pittsburgh. Hubby is currently attempting to revive it. I had to “borrow” his car (which used to be MY car) to meet up with my fellow Sister in Crime, Cathy Corn. I was most grateful that she had offered to drive, so I only had to take hubby’s rather …

Staring into Space

It may not look like I’m working, but I am. That’s one thing about being a writer. It involves so much more than writing. I was working this morning while I was making the bed, getting my head into the short story I’m working on. I’m not sure where it’s going next, so I have to roll it around in my brain. It may look like I’m sitting at my computer staring at a blank page, but I’m really…

Oh, who am I kidding? I AM sitting at my computer staring at a blank screen. Only it isn’t entirely blank. There are seven pages of words there. Waiting for eight. It’s page eight that’s stuck in my head.

I also just completed an e-mail to a friend. That’s part of being a working writer, too. Because this isn’t just any friend. This is my major research resource. She answers all my questions about life at the racetrack and how things are done behind the scenes. Since this short story I’m working on is set in the world of Thoroughbred racing, just like my novels, I need to be precise in those details. S…

In Search of a Rut

Now that Mom is home, I’ve decided that I want to dig myself a rut.

Most folks might consider being “stuck in a rut” to be a bad thing. But when you’ve been on the roller coaster ride I’ve been on for the last year, a nice, reliable rut sounds like a good thing (apologizes to Martha Stewart). I even have my “dream rut” all worked out. It goes something like this:

6AM-8AM: Rise and shine, exercise/yoga/meditation, check email, blog, get dressed and eat breakfast

8AM-9AM: Check on Mom, get her breakfast and whatever else she needs for the morning

9AM-Noon: WRITE

Noon-1:30PM: Eat lunch, get Mom her lunch and whatever else she needs for the afternoon

1:30PM-3:30PM WRITE

3:30PM and on: Fix supper for us and for Mom, make sure she has her evening pills, etc…

Evening: crash with a good book

In theory, this is do-able. In reality…HA!

It works! On paper.

You see, I didn’t figure in the visiting nurse, helping Mom with showering, or picking up prescriptions and groceries. Nor did I calculate in veterinar…

Playing House

One of my favorite TV shows is House. This week, I felt like I’d stepped into my own personal episode of the medical mystery series.

My knee has been bothering me on and off for quite some time now. Lately, it’s been more on than off. So I decided to make an appointment for myself at the same time as Mom’s appointment Tuesday. I don’t know what I expected. I wasn’t in enough pain enough of the time to warrant surgery. I hate needles. I guess I just wanted to find out what was happening in there. So off I went to x-ray.

When the pictures came up on the computer screen (all digital now, you know) even I could see something weird, not in the joint, but in the bone below the knee, the tibia. Ah, I thought. That’s my lumpy shin.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a lump on my right shin bone. I contributed it to being gang-tackled during a game of dodge ball back in bible school. One doctor told me it was a greenstick fracture. Another called it an extended tibia. No one ever x-rayed it. It hur…

Home for the Holidays

After over three months of bouncing back and forth between Allegheny General and the Washington Health Center, my mom is finally home today. (Sound the trumpets, release the confetti!)

I stopped talking about it after her discharge date was postponed for the second time. But now that she’s back in her house, I can breathe.

Not that it’s all smooth sailing from here on. She’ll be on a walker for another month. She’s weaker than she thought she’d be. But I’m happy to run back and forth to her house two doors away to help out. Much easier than driving an hour or more to Pittsburgh or even twenty minutes to Washington.

The house missed her. I can’t believe how many things have stopped working. Two clocks quit. Not just in need of new batteries…the clocks DIED. The kitchen faucet had sprung a leak, which has been fixed. The shower curtain rod fell down…also now repaired. The toilet wasn’t running too well, but seems to have corrected itself after a few flushes. However, the hot water tank i…

I hate football

Well, not really. But right now I do. Yesterday’s game (Steelers vs. Jets) sucked. Maybe not so much if you happen to be a Jets fan, but as a hardcore Steelers fan…

I’m not usually a bad loser. Heck, I’m a writer. I’m used to rejection. It’s just that the guys have lulled me into a false sense of security. We’ve been pulling games out of the hat in the second half this season. So when we were down by ten points early on, I didn’t worry. We were 7-2 and knew how to win. They were 1-8 and only knew how to lose. When we started moving the ball, I felt confident. When we took the lead by a measly three points, I felt assured of victory. However, that 100 yard in penalties nagged at the back of my brain. The fact is a team cannot win when they give the other team 100 yards by being stupid. We shouldn’t have won that game yesterday. And we didn’t.

I’m thinking of my dad today. I learned to love football from him. But I didn’t develop my love of the Steelers from him. Dad HATED the Steelers. I…

Skye's the Limit

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In the whirlwind of Mom-related activities lately, I thought I should let you all know that Skye has not been forgotten or neglected. Granted, there were a couple of long days at the hospital when the poor girl had to deal with being home alone. But she seems none the worse for wear. I don’t think she worries about being abandoned anymore. She does, however, glue herself to me when I get home.

Skye has been a part of our family for just over two months now and she has definitely carved out a spot for herself.
She has taken up residence in my office chair and likes to keep an eye on the printer. She also likes watching certain cartoons on You Tube. I fear this one gives her ideas.


Her coat is thick and soft and shiny, no longer showing any of the signs of the skin problems she had when she entered the shelter. She loves to play with (and lose) her favorite toys. They usually stay lost until I buy her a new one.
THEN the old one shows up again, usually under a piece of furniture, waaaayyy…

Do Not Disturb: Writer Writing

I’m actually writing! Thoroughbred Times has an annual short fiction contest and the deadline is December 31. I’ve been thinking about entering. Unfortunately, just THINKING doesn’t provide me with a story to submit. Yesterday, I started brainstorming ideas and came up with a seed. I don’t have a real solid idea on what the story is about, but I’m honoring my fellow writers who are taking part in Nanowrimo this month by just WRITING. Let the words flow on the page and worry about details such as quality after there’s something there to work with.

So I’m writing.

I’m also blogging over at Working Stiffs today, doing a little reminiscing about my earliest efforts at crime solving. I was eleven at the time. Come on over.

A Happy Horse Story

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About a year ago, my trainer friend Jessi Pizzurro had a horse come into her possession for a whooping forty-five dollars. I immediately fell in love with him. Count reminded me a lot of my dear old Jenny mare. Oh, sure, he was a gelding and she was a mare. But he had the same star and stripe on his face that she had. And he had a similar ornery disposition.

When Jessi decided that she had to sell him, she offered him to me for the same price she paid for him. How could I turn down a forty-five dollar horse? Well, it wasn’t easy, but I did. Since Hurricane Ivan took out ALL of our fence and the barn has been gutted and turned into a tractor shed and I know how much veterinary and blacksmith bills are, I basically couldn’t afford him. My hubby is prone to saying that the cost of buying the horse is the cheapest part of the investment. He’s right.

Count eventually went to another home and I thought I’d never find out what happened to him.

Then Jessi forwarded an email to me the other day. …

Help! My head is going to explode!

After five long days in the hospital, my mom is back at the Health Center. There’s nothing like a few days in Allegheny General to make us appreciate the wonderful care she gets at the Washington County Health Center. According to plan (and we all know how well our plans work out) she’ll be there for another week and then HOME.

I sure hope it’s just one more week. I’m beginning to literally break out in hives from the stress. Or maybe it’s the Retin-A that my dermatologist started me on to combat the sun damage my face suffered in my youth, before we knew about skin cancer. I’ve had two pre-cancerous sunspots frozen off already and this treatment is supposed to keep more of those things from marring my face further. But the treatment is playing its own particular havoc in the form of red splotches and peeling skin. What joy. So my face is sore and itchy.

But that’s not what’s causing me the most grief at the moment. It’s the pounding in my head.

No, I’m not becoming a hypochondriac. And …

Working Stiffs Wednesday

I am now posting every Wednesday over at Working Stiffs. Come on over and join the fun.

Starting Over

Mom made it through yesterday’s surgery. My brother and I set up camp in the tenth floor waiting room of Allegheny General…a room I’ve become much too familiar with. He read a David Baldacci novel (Last Man Standing) between naps. I read Laura Lippman’s The Last Place. When we noticed the common theme of our reading choices, we agreed that we hoped this was also the LAST hip surgery Mom would need.

The prognosis is good. Dr. Ray doesn’t think she will dislocate again, though being a smart man, he admits to making no promises. She shouldn’t need the brace anymore, but will be on a walker for another six weeks. We can live with that. She will be in the hospital until the end of the week. After that it’s anybody’s guess.

I had an interesting drive home. I don’t know that I’ve ever been in the city on a night when the Steelers were playing Monday Night Football before or not. I rather think not. Perhaps last night’s festivities were kicked up because of the presence of the Steelers’ All-Tim…

The Train

Last Friday, I wrote about the light at the end of the tunnel and how I feared it might turn out to be a train. Well, it was.

Mom was supposed to come home today. I had her to the doctor on Tuesday and he took her out of her brace, pleased with the healing shown on the x-rays. All was good.

And then yesterday, while sitting in her chair reading the newspaper, the hip dislocated again.

I followed the ambulance into Allegheny General Hospital as it transported her to the emergency room. After more x-rays and a thorough exam, they asked me where the brace was.

It was at home.

I had to drive home, get the brace, and drive back to the city, a two-hour round trip, while they put Mom under and put the hip back in joint. Thank goodness for Starbucks. I was cruising on the strength of a venti white chocolate mocha.

Once it was all done, I was able to drive Mom back to the Health Center, arriving there around 10:30 last night. What a day.

So she’s scheduled for more surgery next week. Obviously, t…

Happy Haunted Halloween!

Last Wednesday, I mentioned that I was taking my mom to a haunted house at the Health Center. Well, we had a blast. I write about our adventure and other haunted houses of my past today over at Working Stiffs. Come on over and join the spooky fun on this Halloween

Nearsighted Witches and Pumpkin Snowmen

I’ve come to the conclusion that the witch’s union has pressed for improved benefits and added coverage for eyeglasses to their health insurance. You may have noticed a couple of years ago there were tons of nearsighted witches splatted face-first into houses and telephone poles. This year, I haven’t seen one.

I’m talking, of course, about Halloween decorations. The first time I saw one of those witches, it was wrapped around a telephone pole in Burgettstown. I laughed so hard I had to pull off the road. I took friends by there to see it. I wanted to rig one of those up at my house!

But then I started seeing them EVERYWHERE. One house had three or four of them flattened against the front of it. Those poor nearsighted witches.

I didn’t want one any more. One was clever. Four thousand, nine hundred and twenty five was overkill.

That’s the problem with decorating for the holidays. Any time I see an idea that looks original and different, three days later, EVERYONE has one. Those icicle li…

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

Four more days until Mom’s next doctor’s appointment. Soon we’ll put it into hours and minutes. I’ve suggested that she might want to stay in rehab for a little while after she gets out of the brace just to get some SERIOUS physical therapy. What they’ve been doing up until now has been minimal due to her restrictions.

Mom says she’s coming home. And the way she says it leaves little room for argument. Fine by me.

So there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Then again, it could be a train.

I had nightmares the other night. I had brought Mom home and as soon as I turned my back, she was dusting and trying to run the vacuum. I kept pleading with her to stop before she dislocated again, but she just brushed me off saying “I’m fine!”

I laughed when I woke up. It’s not hard to figure out the “hidden” meaning in THAT dream.

I’ve contemplated giving her house a quick once over before she gets home. But I’m not the immaculate housekeeper that my mom is. That gene skipped my generation. And I …

Witches and Writing

Have I mentioned lately that I am ready for life to slow down? What I wouldn’t give to know what “boredom” means.

Monday, I had my regular appointment with my dermatologist. Being fair skinned and of the generation before all the hype about sunblocks, I have had my share of sunburns. Now I’ve reached an age where they are coming back to haunt me. My freckles have turned to age spots (I hate that term). It seems every time I show the doctor a freckle or mole that I think might be something, it’s actually nothing and those that I expect to be nothing turn out to be something.

That was the case Monday when I had to have pre-cancerous sun spot frozen. On my nose. Dead center on my face. In case you don’t know, when they freeze one of these things, you’re left with a nasty red welt for a couple weeks. Dead center on my face. I’m thinking of getting a black pointy hat and just pretending to be in a Halloween witch’s costume for a while. I’ve got the wart on the nose thing taken care of.

The…

Plotting a Wild Ride

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Here we are, the week before Halloween, and the thermometer reads eighty degrees in our little corner of Pennsylvania. The only word I can use to describe it (besides beautiful, which is getting a little overworked around here) is UNREAL. The weekend was as stunning as they come around here. The leaves are finally getting some color and the sky was a brilliant blue.

And I spent the entire day Saturday INSIDE.


Okay, it was worth it. My local chapter of Sisters in Crime put on a daylong workshop on plotting the mystery novel with fellow Pennwriter Victoria Thompson sharing her wisdom with all in attendance. I took pages and pages of notes, including some ideas specifically pertaining to my third Jessie Cameron Mystery, which I hope to get working on after the holidays. I think I can also use the techniques I learned to plot out the short story I’m currently playing around with. Of course, I need to find the time to actually DO the work. At least I’m getting some of it put together inside …

Having My Say

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Last month Arbitron asked us to report our radio-listening habits to them for one week. It was kind of fun, even though I don’t listen to the radio very much. That week, I made a point of listening to the stations that I especially like, just so the ratings people would know.

I’m not sure if the Arbitron thing had anything to do with it, but we’ve now been chosen by the Nielsen people to keep a diary of what we watch on TV for one week. Beginning today. THIS excites me. As much as I complain about what’s on television these days, NOW I can actually do something about it. I can make a point of watching and noting the shows I like and NOT watching the ones I don’t.

I really wish Big Brother were on right now. I would NOT watch it. Never have, never will. Same goes for all those silly “reality” shows. And the current glut of game shows with their harsh, hi-tech lighting effects. I won’t be watching those, either.

Okay, so we will watch Survivor. But it was the first of the reality shows. Th…

Counting Down

My mom has always told me not to wish my life away. Nonetheless, I’m counting off days right now:

Four more days until I’m done giving Skye her Zithromax.

Eight more days until I finally get my hair cut. I’ve had to cancel twice and I feel like a ragamuffin.

Thirteen more days until Mom’s next appointment with Dr. Ray. If all looks good (and we feel that it will) he’ll free her from her brace and up her weight-bearing to “as tolerated.” And then, hopefully, she’ll be able to come home.

But coming back to the present, come on over to Working Stiffs today, as it’s my day to post there.

An Autumn Ride

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It’s mid October in southwestern Pennsylvania, which means that beautiful days are treasures not to be wasted. Soon, the skies will become a deep, slate gray and will stay like that until May. Soon, icy rains will move in followed by wind and snow. Winter is lurking not too very far away.

Yesterday was one of those gorgeous autumn days that make you forget what’s ahead, though. After the sultry heat of the first part of the month, sixty degrees, blue skies, and a light breeze felt like heaven. I had plenty of things I needed to do. I needed to finish the housecleaning I began on Saturday. I needed to wash and wax my car before winter descends on us. I needed to clean up my garden AKA weed patch. But did I do any of those things? No. I went horseback riding.

I took my camera along for a change. Admiral kept mistaking the soft whrrr sound it makes when I turn it on or off for a large bee. Admiral isn’t always the brightest bulb in the package. Every time I hit the power switch, his ears…

Some Life in the Old Boy Yet

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I haven’t written much about my BooBoo kitty, largely, I suppose, because he’s always been his own cat and has never really felt like MINE. He originally “belonged” to my cousin Patty’s daughter, Jen, when she was little. But about the time she became more interested in boys than cats, Boo’s brother was killed on the road and he decided to move next door to my house. For a time, he paired up with my barn cat, Charley, but was always the independent one. Charley would come when I called. Boo would take a message and get back to me when he was good and ready.

Then Charley died of a rare cat illness and Boo became THE barn cat. His personality changed and he loved not having to share me. His favorite thing to do was to climb up on my shoulders and lick my hair. The look was somewhat punk and I called it getting a Boo-do. He also loved to help me sort laundry on hot summer days, rolling around in the piles of dirty clothes.

When Ray built his workshop out back, Boo moved in there from the…

Autumn at Last!

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Autumn has finally arrived in southwestern Pennsylvania. You can argue that the calendar has been saying it’s already fall, but with temperatures on Monday hitting 90 degrees and shoppers out in shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops, you could’ve fooled me.

Today is gray and rainy and chilly. Typical October weather. I think we can finally take the air conditioners out of the windows. My biggest concern is that we’ve missed all of those lovely, crisp sixty and seventy degree days that are so perfect for horseback riding. Last Sunday, Admiral didn’t want to move. Already wearing his furry autumn coat, he broke out in a sweat just breathing. I’m sorry, but the sun is not supposed to bake your brains in October!

Having said all that, as long as we still get some nice, low-humidity, cool (not COLD) days, I won’t complain about the extended summer.

Another weird thing about this year’s weather is the leaves. Usually by now, they’d be orange and yellow and fiery red.
Instead, a few of the trees a…

Back in Business

Back in June I wrote a gut-wrenching essay about dealing with Sammie’s cancer and declining health. At least it was gut-wrenching to write. I hope it has some emotional impact on the reader, too.

Anyhow, I submitted it for an anthology for cat lovers, was informed that it had made the finals, happily signed the contract and waited.

A couple weeks ago, I received notice that, while I had made the final 60, I did NOT make the cut for the final 50. Bummer. But such is life in the publishing world. You get rejected, you polish the piece a little more, and you submit it somewhere else.

I have to confess, this is one piece I was hoping to see make it to print. AND I really didn’t want to have to re-visit it. It was hard enough writing it the first time.

But I am back at work this morning, as I promised myself. And I figured I might as well start off my return to writing by facing those demons again. Besides, I found there is another cat lovers anthology in the works.

So I did it. I just revi…

Heading in the right direction

I’ve made darned little progress in my determination to eke out a little writing time. Everyone seems to require my immediate attention for one thing or another. When I mention that I really need to write, I’m told to put it off until next week because their demands are more urgent. Considering some real deadlines were involved, I allowed myself to be swayed. THIS time.

However, today I took a step in the right direction. I met with my critique group.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t seem like such a big deal. But we’ve had a number of ailments afflict our little quartet. As a result, we took a couple months off to mend and so that I could deal with my mom. Today was a bit of a reunion with lots of hugs. Of course, my manuscript that we’re working on is the one that has already been sent off to my agent. Fortunately, they didn’t catch any major, embarrassing mistakes. Phew!

Spending a few hours focusing on writing has strengthened my resolve to get back to work. So to all my family and friends…

Home Again

Everyone survived the “trial separation” this weekend. I returned home yesterday to find no disasters of any kind.

However…

Skye steadfastly refuses to warm up to my hubby. He’s waving the white flag of surrender, declaring the relationship hopeless. He figures when the cat chooses to walk away from her food rather than have him pet her while she’s eating, he doesn’t stand a chance.

I’m not willing to throw in the towel just yet. After all, I’m not getting rid of either of them. I figure at some point, Skye will have to accept that the noisy human who is sometimes careless with his feet isn’t going anywhere and she might as well tolerate his presence. Pretending he isn’t there isn’t going to make him go away. Call me a hopeless optimist.

Speaking of hopeless optimism…

I had vowed that I was going to get some writing done this week. How is it that an almost blank appointment book can fill up so quickly? How can a short to-do list somehow blossom into a full page? And it isn’t, as my husba…

Trial Separation

No, I’m not talking about my hubby and me.

I’m heading out of town this weekend for a Pennwriters board of directors meeting. I will leave early (REALLY early) Saturday morning and return home late Sunday morning or early afternoon.

Skye will be staying home with hubby. This will be the first time I’ll be away for more than a few hours since Skye came to live with us a month ago and I’m not sure how she’s going to react. Especially, the staying home with hubby part.

She and my husband haven’t exactly bonded yet. He has tried. Perhaps too hard. I think that’s the problem. That plus the fact that he accidentally tripped over her in the middle of the night. She firmly believes he kicked her. Intentionally. Now, he comes home and if she acknowledges his presence at all, it’s to fix him with a withering stare.

I’ve been trying to mediate a truce. I’ve been coaching him on how to casually stroke her ONCE and then walk away before she bolts from his touch. She needs to learn that while he may…

Updates-September 25, 2007

After a rough couple of weeks, the results are all in.

My biopsy came back negative…NO CANCER.

Skye, while negative for cancer, is a very strong positive for Bartonella. I’m still learning about this nasty little infection, but I’ll take it over oral cancer again in a heartbeat.

Mom had a check-up this morning with the surgeon. Her hip is healing well, but slowly. She’s stuck in that dreaded brace of hers for another four weeks. If she can go that long without dislocating, we’ll be in good shape and we can beef up the rehab. For now, it’s more of the same: hanging out in the Health Center with light physical therapy.

I’m thrilled that the x-rays look so promising. Of course, he didn’t tell her she could lose the brace and go dancing tonight, so Mom is less than happy.

Enough of this medical and veterinary stuff. Now I need to free up some time on my calendar and get back to writing!

The Bliss of Cantering

It has been years since I cantered a horse. Then a few months ago, one of my Sisters in Crime pulled me aside to tell me she’d just learned to canter. Her face lit up as she spoke, relating how much fun it was.

I remember loping through the pasture on old Jenny who was like riding an over-stuffed sofa. And one of my favorite movie scenes is from DANCES WITH WOLVES when Kevin Costner’s character attempts suicide early on by cantering his horse between the two warring sides. He dropped the reins, closed his eyes, and opened his arms to fate.

Ah, freedom. I can feel that sense of sweet surrender every time I watch that movie.

I’ve been back in the saddle on a fairly regular basis all summer since my friend and neighbor, Sara, issued an open invitation to ride with her whenever I want. So why haven’t I cantered yet?

Fear, basically. I’ve never been one with a personal need for speed. I enjoy watching horse racing, auto racing, just about all kinds of racing. But I’m always rushing around h…

One down, one to go

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The answer to the question I asked at the end of yesterday’s post came about five minutes after I hit the “Publish” button. My vet’s office called (not the actual vet who is always the one to break bad news) to inform me that Skye’s biopsy results showed no signs of malignancy.

YAY!

So one good report down, one more to go.

Why You Should Never Ask Certain Questions

I’ve always said don’t ever ask what else could go wrong? Or say that things can’t get any worse. The universe has a way of laughing in your face. And, honest, I didn’t say either of those things. The cliché I mistakenly toyed with was that which does not kill us serves to make us stronger.Why the hell do I need to be that strong? I cried out to the heavens.

Okay, add that one to my list of things one should never ask.

During my annual mammogram yesterday, they found “something.” When I went back this morning for a biopsy, they gave that “something” a name. They called it a nodule.

The last nodule I had grew into a monster uterine fibroid that had to be surgically removed six years ago. But I’m not getting into that.

I saw two different doctors and both agree that most likely this nodule thing is nothing. One went so far as to say she was 100 percent certain. She must have seen the look on my face as I prepared to ask: What the hell am I doing here, then? Because she back-peddled and we s…

Deja Vu

Two days ago I took Skye back to the vet for her dental. I admit, considering the result of the last dental I had done on a cat, I was a little apprehensive. But I knew that Skye had severe gingivitis and needed the work done, so off we went.

A few hours later, Dr. Marshal called me on my cell phone to tell me they had found a tumor under Skye’s tongue.

My head reeled. This had to be a bad nightmare. I must be hallucinating.

I wasn’t. Here we go again. Déjà vu.

He took a biopsy, which has been sent off to the lab. He also drew blood to test for Bartonella’s as we’d discussed at our previous visit. Results for both are pending. And after a brief bout of hysteria and tears, I am now settled into a blissful state of denial. I refuse to think about things like squamous cell carcinoma and chemo and pain meds until I absolutely have to. After all, Skye is young. These cancers usually hit older cats. It could very likely just be a benign mass. However, I fully expect the Bartonella test to co…

Time to Write

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With everything going on in my life these days, there has been one aspect that has fallen by the wayside. WRITING. Other than blog posts, I haven’t written a word since Mom’s surgery a month ago. I’ve been feeling the ache from deep in my psyche for the last week or so, but I just haven’t managed to steal any time to do anything about it.

Then Victoria Thompson, who is guest blogging today over at Working Stiffs (I’ll be there on Wednesday), hit on this very subject.

Time to write.

It’s a topic that comes up anytime a group of writers get together. Especially aspiring writers. When you have a contract and a deadline looming, you MAKE the time to write. Time is money, as they say. But for those who WANT to write, but haven’t figured out a way to make that happen yet, it can be daunting to squeeze out a few more hours in the day.

I’m fortunate to have a supportive husband. I’m also fortunate that my “day job” takes place in the evening and only TWO evenings a week at that. But there has…

You know you're too busy when...

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Last night, hubby called from work to say, “Guess what? I’m on vacation tomorrow and Friday.” And sure enough, there is was on the calendar.

You know you’re too busy when you forget about having vacation days.

We have to turn in hubby’s vacation request form in January. On one hand, it’s nice to dream about vacation days when you’re knee deep in snow. On the other hand, it’s darned hard to be realistic about what you plan on doing eight or nine months down the road. Let’s face it, if I’d have know back then what all was about to transpire in 2007…well, I’m not sure what I’d have done. Crawling under a rock wouldn’t have changed anything. There was just no escaping it.

Anyhow, I have no idea what we were thinking about, what plans we imagined when we selected September 13 and 14 as vacation days.

As of yesterday, Mom is back at the Washington County Health Center. And as of yesterday, I have a cold. So the idea of a vacation sounds good, but I’m not sure about the reality of it. Perhaps…

More Than I Ever Wanted to Know

As a writer, research is a big part of my life. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. Very often, life experience brings me a certain level of expertise that I’d rather not have. Because of my dad, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about cardiovascular disease, dementia, and the extreme amounts of paperwork involved in the medical assistance process.

My cousin has given me a look at brain injury and its after-effects.

I am now an expert on squamous cell carcinoma and administering medications to cats courtesy of my dear, sweet Sammie.

Now, I know a lot more terminology about hip surgery than I ever cared to learn. For instance, we all know about hip replacement surgery. But did you know that when a hip replacement is replaced, it’s called a hip revision? I learned that a few weeks ago when my mom had one. Now I also know that the procedure to put a dislocated hip back in is called a reduction. When done without cutting, it’s a closed reduction. If surgery is required, it’s an…

Nothing's Ever Easy

I’ve spent the last two days in veterinarians’ and doctors’ offices hearing not the greatest news. Nothing horrible or life-threatening, mind you. Just not the “all’s right with the world” news that one always hopes for.

Yesterday morning, I took Skye for her first post-adoption vet check-up. It seems her gums are terribly inflamed and she’s missing a few of her little front teeth. So I’ve scheduled a full dental cleaning and exam for her. Hopefully that clears it up. Otherwise, the doc wants to do bloodwork to check for something called Bartonella, which I’d never heard of before. The good news is that it’s treatable with some heavy duty antibiotics. Hey, after what I went through with Sammie’s mouth, I’ll happily do whatever it takes. At least it IS treatable.

And Little Miss Skye was a perfect angel at the vets. Didn’t even protest when the tech trimmed her nails.

Now for the other less-than-good news. My mom had her post-op check-up this morning and x-rays show that her hip has di…

A Sympathetic Villain?

I'm blogging today over at Working Stiffs and we've got what I think is a pretty interesting discussion going regarding a local news story involving a guy who was a friend of mine back in high school. Come on over and join in the conversation.

Ahhh, sleep!

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After being on a 36 hour buzz, Skye kitty has finally demonstrated that she is indeed a cat. She does sleep. And she has begun to let us sleep, too.

Night two with the new family member found me so beat that I slept for a solid eight hours. I don’t know if Skye quieted down or if I was so exhausted that I tuned her out. Probably a little of both.
Yesterday, she finally crashed and snoozed most of the day. Which meant she was wide awake most of last night. And, yes, she talked. But she didn’t really keep me awake. I did jump up at one point when I heard a crash. However, I have yet to find the source of the crash. Skye gave me the innocent “I didn’t do it” look and nothing seems out of place. Oh, well.

She finally quieted down when I invited her to join us in bed. She spent the pre-dawn hours snuggled between my husband and me.

She’s still a very busy girl when she’s awake, always looking for something to get into. Or out of. Yesterday, she decided that she wanted to go outside. She was…