Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Cloudy Wednesday

      (Singing) Oh where oh where have my readers gone? Oh where oh where can they be?
      (Not singing) Since my computer died, I’m only getting a handful of hits a day now. Sigh. How fickle some of you are. I miss a few days posting and you go off and find yourself other blogs to read. You shameless hussies.
      But my faithful remained: Michelle, Crystal, Gloria, Randall, Frenzied Feline and Slim with occasional pop-ins from Trixie. You will all be rewarded! REWARDED, I say! When I’m king of the world, you will be my court and you will be the lords and ladies of this earth! LORDS AND LADIES, I TELL YOU! RELEASE THE ROBOT ARMY! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
      Besides posting here, I’m also posting daily at the Great Slim Down. Stop by and discover what the weight loss word of the day is. Can you say the weight loss word of the day? Let’s all say it together! But let’s use our inside voices -- although that’s hard to do as I don’t have a voice inside me. Oh, my stomach makes noises sometimes and there was that nice opera composed and jointly sung by my kidneys and pancreas, but I have to use my outside voice to speak. I think most people do, don't you?
      Moving on, it’s cloudy this morning if you haven’t gathered that from the title. We actually had a higher chance of rain yesterday than today -- according to those crazy weather people (see yesterday’s post about predictions) -- but it looks more like rain today. I wish it would. We need rain. An inch or two will do. Our area is about 10 inches below the average rainfall in years past. If you have extra rain that you don’t need, please send it our direction. Use airmail and a huge waterproof envelope.
      My friend Randall is off to Boston on a business meeting. He’s going to stay an extra day and see the sights. He’s quite an adventurer, always willing to travel. He once just got into his car one evening and drove to New Orleans. No packing, no suitcase, he just decided to go and he went. I admire that in people. I’m more of a planner myself. When I travel, I always have enough stuff that I could restart life anew wherever I end up. There are expeditions into the darkest jungles of the Amazon that aren’t as well equipped as I am on a daily basis.
      To make Slym happy (see his comment on previous post) it's time to mention the computer again. I’m looking forward to the new computer in July. I appreciate Lori L. loaning me the one I’m using (Thanks, Lori; you’re a peach!) but it’s so sloooooooooooowwwwwwww. It will make me appreciate the new one all the more.
      Well, I have to get ready to go to work now. We still haven’t hired a new secretary, but I hope we do in the next couple of weeks. Otherwise, things are going to get really behind. Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Hazy Tuesday

      Hazy skies today. I didn't watch the forecast so I don't know what is predicted. Forecasters are amazing at times. In May 2001, Dan Milkins of KOZY TV in Ryton, Oklahoma, predicted a tornado would hit Ryton on July 18. And on July 18, Dan stepped out of the station building and was hit by a large halibut that had fallen from a cargo plane. Amazing. Luckily the weather was clear so the ambulance had no trouble getting him to an emergency room.
      If you think that story is fishy, you should put it up there with most weather forecasts. They're wrong about as often as they're right, according to a recent survey conducted by some government agency that spends taxpayers' money to do that. Forecasting is really just an educated guess. But at least they don't claim that God told them a storm was coming.
      Unlike the Rev. Pat Robinson who recently said, "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms." Later he added, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest." Several things bother me about his predictions. Particularly the phrase "If I heard the Lord right." How come Pat wasn't certain? Was the Lord whispering? Does Pat need a hearing aid? Of course, this prediction is coming from a 76-year-old man who says that he leg-pressed 2,000 pounds on a weight machine when he was 73, so I'm not sure how solid any of his statements are. (He says his amazing strength comes from clean living and the protein shake that he invented. If only Samson could have chugged that shake, things would have turned out differently for Delilah.)
      Naturally Pat is giving himself some wiggle room. If bad storms and the tsunami don't happen, Pat can always say that he must not have heard the Lord clearly. I think he's fairly safe on the bad storms part since they get one or two each season, but I hope and pray that he's completely wrong on the tsunami part. No volcanoes either, please. Or plagues.
      Predictions have always been tricky things. Psychics seem to be successful largely because they give a lot of predictions and people only remember the ones they get right. The late Jeane Dixon gave thousands and thousands of predictions in her life, and a handful turned out to be correct. Which only goes to show the truth of the old adage: You can hit more birds with a shotgun than a pistol. (I guess because you could swing the shotgun like a baseball bat and have more reach than swinging a pistol. Although you have to wonder why the birds were attacking, unless, of course, they’re vampire birds. I’m sure there will be a docudrama on the SciFi Channel soon telling us all about those pesky vampire birds and how they prey on hapless teenagers who sneak off into the woods or are at some isolated camp near a lake.)
      I don’t want to be left out of this so here are my predictions for the coming years.
      1. The Republicans and Democrats will continue to fight until one day, after reading several Harlequin romance novels, they will realize that their anger is the expression of hidden hot passion and deep true love for each other. They will marry, but divorce soon after.
      2. Weather will continue to happen, except in Canada, which will outlaw it after discovering it can’t be forced to speak French.
      3. Brittany Spears will continue to have no talent, but will win a Grammy, an Oscar, an Emmy and a seat in the House of Representatives before being chosen as the first female pope.
      4. Several people will eat meals.
      5. Americans will continue to move to Mexico due to the low cost of living down there, and Mexicans will continue to move to America in hoping of having a higher standard of living. Eventually the whole populations will have switched place; then the process will start again. Canada will pass a law against this.
      6. Someone will land something on Pluto someday or maybe not.
      7. 51313 Harbor Street will win the Net award for being the Best Blog on the whole Internet. The author will be given the $10,000,000 cash award and will promptly disappear to an island with white sand beaches where he will be served fruity drinks in coconuts served by half-naked happy natives. Canada will pass a law against this.
      8. Canadian citizens will rise up in outrage and demand reform of their over-zealous government. Well, really, they got up to get something from the kitchen, but they're disgruntled, that's for sure. I sure hope they get their gruntles back soon, poor people.
      9. I predict this post will end after four more words. I got this one right ... oops.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Sunny Monday

       Did you have a good three-day weekend? I did. I wrote, shopped, watched a couple of WWII movies and basically puttered around. I'm trying to get back into the habit of posting every day again. Amazing how quickly that fell away. Of course, not having a computer readily available was part of it.
      I posted a recipe over at the Great Slim Down and will be attempting to post daily there, also. GSD is, I think, too important a resource and a support to dieters for it to be allowed to fade away. I'm hoping I can lure a few people over and help keep the ones there fired up about losing weight.
      Remember when I was bragging about how I had all my data backed up and hadn't lost anything when my computer died? Well, this will teach me to run my mouth. Turns out that the directory containing a lot of the local theater group patron drive info is gone! We're talking hours and hours of work there to replace it if I even can. I had backed the files up to a CD, and the CD is unreadable. So once again, I learn that terrible lesson: You always need at least two backups of important data. Do you ever think that Bill Gates is the love-child of Satan?
      By the way, I wasn't thrilled with the Lost season finale. I don't know what I was expecting, but that wasn't it. I was hoping for some real explanations. Instead we got more questions and naturally several cliffhangers. Don't mind the cliffhangers, but the confusing story is getting old.
      Time to get to bed. I'm not looking forward to work tomorrow. The secretary quit last week -- no notice, thank you very much -- and I will have to cover her job as well as mine. I hope we find a replacement soon. You have a good tomorrow, and we'll talk then. Night!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Book Reviews and more

All-Star Zeppelin Stories
Edited by David Moles & Jay Lake
      This collection of twenty stories that feature zeppelins is a must for fans of lighter-than-air craft as well as anyone who enjoys adventure stories. The collection is very strong, with only a couple of stories that missed the mark with me but might be up your ally. My favorites are:
      "Voice of the Hurricane" by Paul Berger, where you're introduced to the idea of herds of zeppelins who roam the Great Plains the way the buffalo once did.
      "Instead of a Loving Heart" by Jeremiah Tolbert in which a mad scientist is undone by his creation.
      "Sky Light" by David Brin, where the Internet and the future of mass media co-exist with fleets of zeppelins.
      "You Could Go Home Again" by Howard Waldrop, in which Thomas Wolfe gets the chance to choose a different life.
      I'm hoping there will be another collection of zeppelin stories because I really enjoyed this one.

Bio Rescue
By S.L. Viehl
      This well-done space opera introduces us to Dair mu T'resa, a SEAL (surgically enhanced/altered life-form) who heads up a Bio Rescue unit, which responds to off-world medical emergencies. That would be exciting enough on its own, but add in the opposition of her own species and the arrival of a race of refugees who have their own agenda, and you have a true thrill ride. There is a twist at the end -- an almost Deus ex machina -- that I hope will be explored in a sequel. Viehl seems to specialize in strong heroines. Diar joins the proud ranks of Stardoc's Cherijo Torin and Blade Dancer's Jory Rask.

By Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor
      This hard science fiction novel starts with a paleontologist discovering an alien fossil on Earth, a fossil that dates back to the K-T Boundary, which marked the end of the Mesozoic Era. The story eventually leads the paleontologist to join the first expedition to Mars to study an alien installation. The characters in this story don't have much depth, but the story moves quickly and the science is given in nice, easy chunks. It's good summer reading, and hey, it has a spaceship and a dinosaur on its cover. What more could you ask?

Dead Days of Summer
A Death on Demand mystery
By Carolyn Hart
      Annie and Max Darling are back in this latest entry in the Dead on Demand series. This time Max disappears, and the body of a murdered woman is found near his abandoned car. Annie has to find Max, and then she had to clear his name of murder. Carolyn Hart is the undisputed queen of the cozies, and she's at the top of her form in this book. If you like your mysteries flavored with humor, compassion and intelligence, you need to read this books and all the rest of the excellent books in the series.

By Sean Williams with Shane Dix
      This Science Fiction Book Club edition combines two novels: Ascent and Descent. They tell a story that takes humanity from the future to the far-future to the end of time and beyond. I want to warn you that these books take careful reading. The tech lingo comes fast and furious with little or no explanation, and you have to carefully sort out what the characters are talking about and what they're doing. However, after you wade through the first 50 or so pages, you'll find that events start making sense. There's an interesting philosophical statement running underneath the books, but it has enough action and emotional content to not overwhelm the story.

      And now you know what I've been doing without a computer. I've been reading. You can find all these books at, Barnes and Noble and other online retailers.
      However, I do have a computer now. It's not a replacement; a friend offered her old one, but it will let me work and write until I can afford a new one. And speaking of a new one, I should be able to purchase it in July. I've decided to treat myself for my birthday.
      I appreciate all the contributions to the computer fund. Randall, Crystal, ETC, JNE and Slym, you guys are very cool. I'll have to dedicate some books to ya! (Note: I may be able to afford the computer on my own, which is what I'm working for, and if so, I will return your money with much thanks that you believe in my writing and this blog.)
      Anyway, how's your holiday weekend going? Anything interesing going on? I'll be posting later at the Great Slim Down as well as back here. Talk to you later.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


      I was having lunch with a friend the other day, and she was telling me how her boss hadn't bent the rules for her. The infraction was minor, but she felt he should have given her some leeway because she and her husband and her boss and his wife had gone to several social occasions together, including a couple of trips to the lake.
      "I thought we were friends," she said. "But now I can see what his friendship is worth."
      Because she is my friend and she wasn't asking for advice, I didn't point out a few things that I personally believe about the boss-employee relationship. I just sympathized.
      But I learned a long time ago that rarely is your boss your friend. It's a hard thing for some people, but let's look at it for a few moments.
      Your boss -- if he's doing what he is supposed to be doing -- is trying to make money for your company. Ultimately what he does impacts the bottom line. I have a jaded view of businesses -- particularly corporations -- and I believe a corporation would cheerfully sell your bones to a fertilizer company if they could get away with it. They exist to make money and to grow. If they demonstrate caring about their employees, it's because having their employees happy and sane usually means their employees are working harder for the company. (There are many companies that run counter to this stark view, but we're going to deal with the basics on this.) My point is that your boss has to follow the rules or he won't be your boss very long. He has a different set of priorities than you.
      We'd all like to believe that our bosses support us and would go to the wall for us. Sometimes they do. But to expect as a condition of the boss-employee relationship is a mistake. I've had more than one boss who would leave his/her employees hanging in the wind to protect himself/herself. I don't expect anything else now and make sure that I cover my butt as much as possible. That's the way of the modern corporation. To expect otherwise is to endow capitalism with virtues that only naive people give it. Capitalism is not about charity or compassion. It does what it does and it does it well. It does what it's supposed to do.
      It may be impossible to be truly be friends with anyone who has a superior or inferior position to you. Lord Bacon said that true friendship is only possible between equals. Despite being named after the delicious portion of a pig, he has something there. Naturally I'm over-simplifying things, but I think it's hard for unequals to be friends.
      This applies to money, too. I'm friends with a person who has quite a bit more money than I have. He is totally baffled by my computer budget woes. He doesn't understand why I don't just go and buy one. He doesn't understand being broke. So sometimes that puts a strain on our relationship. He's a good guy and he does try to be sensitive to my budget constraints usually or we wouldn't be friends at all. But the money gulf between us does cause strain on our relationship at times.
      Basically I approach the boss-employee relationship as follows:
      1. I resolve to be friendly to my boss and to my employees. Being pleasant and polite is simply good business sense.
      2. I don’t make the mistake, though, of thinking that being friendly is the same as being friends.
      3. I don’t presume that a relationship outside the office will translate into any advantages in the office. I don’t expect favors nor grant them. I know that office politics often makes this impossible, but our work life would be better if cronyism was a thing of the past.
      4. My personal life is just that: My personal life. I don’t want to mix the two. What goes on in my life outside the office isn’t anyone’s business in the office unless I have a relationship with them outside the office.
      I know this sounds like I favor a cold, impersonal office environment. That’s not true. But I think there has to be a clear-cut line between your personal life and your office life. I also think that if your office life is your personal life … well, you’ve got a big problem because jobs will come and go. You need a life and identity separate from your job. Otherwise, someday you’d going to be fired, laid off, downsized or retired, and then where will you be?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lunch blogging on all sorts of things

      I'm trying to do a brief post during lunch so that you, my faithful readers, have something here to look at rather than just my computer laments. Did you read in the comments a couple of posts ago where I thanked all the contributors to the computer fund? I haven't actually received any money yet -- and I totally understand if your budget turned out to make that impossible -- but the thought of people caring about this blog and my writing really lifted my spirits. Thank you.
      Not much else to tell you. I'm busy pricing computers, trying to get the most computer I can get for my money. I did watch the Alias series finale last night. It was okay, but I expected more. It answered many questions and ended the story as well as giving you a glimpse of the characters' lives afterward -- the ones who survived, that is -- but I thought it would go out with more of a bang. After all, we were talking about "the end of nature."
      Wednesday night, I'll be watching the Lost finale. I'm hoping that we will finally get some answers instead of just more questions. I also hope they stop killing cast members. Eventually there won't be any left if this keeps on, which could be how that series ends. I also detest the whole Michael storyline now. I'm quite willing for him to be killed as soon as possible. But I've always thought he whined too much.
      My flowers and other plants outside are doing well. I'll try to post some photos when I have a way to do so. My lawn needs help, though. It's more like a dirt and mud patch than a lawn. Oh, I shouldn't forget the weeds. The weeds grow well. Why doesn't science create a grass with the growing power of a weed? Someone needs to get to work on that.
      A three-day weekend is coming up. Woohoo! Except ... ordinarily I'd use that time to write ... I guess I can write without a computer, but I haven't done so in such a long time that I'm not sure how it will go. It will be an experiment of sorts. Do you have big weekend plans?
      Are you tired of me mentioning that I don't have a computer? You're probably not as tired as I am of the whole thing. Let's talk of other things. Stop bringing it up, okay?
      It got warm here this week. Unseasonably warm in the upper 90s. That reminds me: One of my customers came in the other day and talking about the weather and how it was predicted that we might hit 100 this week. She said, "If it hits 100 in May, it'll probably hit 200 in August!" She was totally serious.
      I got my fountain going on the patio again. I might have mentioned this in an early post, but I set up my patio table and chairs, set up the fountain, set up the grill, and am now ready to spend some slow lazy days back there. Except for the mosquitoes, it's very nice. Those bloodsuckers treat me like an all-you-can-eat vampiric banquet. Not fun.
      Mikey and his mom have moved down to Texas. So far, it seems to be going well for them down there. I hope so. Both need some stability in their lives. Please keep them in your prayers.
      My niece is doing much better. We hope she will get to return to school this fall and finish her nursing degree. Ditto her on the prayers. Thanks.
      I need a nap.
      All the wonderful spring produce at the local farmers market! I love this time of the year. And the selection will improve as the summer progresses. Good eating.
      I have to work now. Y'all have a good day. See you soon.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Moving forward

      The computer is dead. I spent all weekend working on, even buying a new hard drive, thinking that might be the problem. No go. I got it to boot and even reinstall the operating system, but the errors, shutdowns and blue screens multiplied unrelentingly despite everything I did.
      Last night at 1:30 a.m., I sat back in my chair and realized that I couldn't fix the computer. Somewhere in its silicon innards something has broken. Perhaps the motherboard has decided to give up parenting electronic impulses. Maybe the computer chip itself is gone. I've replaced everything I know how to replace and then wandered into places where I had to tread lightly because I had no idea what I was doing. Basically it's broke, and I can't fix it so it's time to move on to whatever computer is next.
      That might sound ludicrous to phrase it in such dramatic language. After all, it's not like the computer is a person, but strangely enough, it is a relationship. I've spent more time with it than with anything else. It's seen me through numerous poems, five plays, four books, my first NaNoWriMo, several hundred blog entries, thousands of emails and a lot of goofing around. Like most geeks, I've grown attached to it. It's not quite an electronic friend, but maybe it comes closer to that than I'm willing to recognize.
      But it's gone, and I have to let it go and move on. I'm not good at letting go of anything. I have this pack rat tendency, this little voice that says maybe someday I will desperately need that piece of paper or that broken gadget. Accordingly, I have parts of every computer I've ever owned somewhere in my house. I've been working on getting ridding my life of debris -- electronic and otherwise -- but I have a long way to go. I do recognize there has to be point where you say, That's broken. I can't fix it. Time to let go. Time to move on.
      Of course, I'm not just talking about gadgets now. I'm talking about relationships that have gone bad. That don't fulfill your needs. That are keeping you mired in pain, lost in sorrow and defeated in depression. Somewhere in there, you have to have the courage to say, This is broken. I can't fix it. Time to let go. Time to move on.
      Otherwise, you will stay trapped for the rest of your life. I know people like that. They stay in an ugly place, their past controlling their present and crippling their future. A friend of mine, divorced for seven years now, can't let go of her hatred for her ex. She watches him from afar, makes vicious remarks about his new wife and their baby, resents any happiness in his life. She'd be happier if he were dead, but maybe not. Maybe she'd still cling to her pain. For some people, their pain is what defines them.
      When I was younger, I used to think that was noble. "Pain is good because it lets us know we're alive." Now I see that pain is only an indication that something is wrong and you're supposed to fix it if you can, even if means cutting free of the thing that harms you. There is nothing noble in choosing pain and sorrow.
      Naturally I'm not saying you should cut and run at the first sign of trouble. You're supposed to get in there and fight. Put your best foot forward. Accommodate as much as you can while retaining your self-worth. Bend. Have faith. Give it everything you have and then some. If you do and it still breaks ... Well, you take what you're learned and earned and you move forward.
      Anyway, that's what I'm going to do now. Move forward. A new computer is out there just waiting for me to muck it up. Time to get to it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Warning. Core meltdown. This is not a test.

      My computer has died. So far I've been unable to get it to boot again. I don't have enough money yet to purchase a new computer. I hope to by July. Posts may be scarce around here until then. I'll post when I can and when I have access to a computer. I'll be thinking of ya no matter what. When I do post, I'll try to post lots and lots. Anyway, that's what's going on. Wish me luck. Take care.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

May newsletter

      I spent most of the evening working on the May family newsletter, and it's printing now! I will actually be caught up. Well, not tonight because I will only get half of it printed, but that's all it lacks. Tomorrow it will go into envelopes and off it will go.
      That gives me a good feeling. I get to check it off my list and move on to other creative projects. Awesome.
      Otherwise, not much is going here. I did take on a part-time, commission only job. It will end in August, but if it works out, I should be able to finally fully fund my emergency fund, buy a computer and maybe even help pay off a credit card one month ahead of time. Be thinking of me and sending positive vibes this way. This summer could be a good one for me financially. I'm hoping so and working for it to be so.
      All this sunshine and wonderful weather are helping my mood lately. Apparently it's supposed to get hot over the next few days, but yesterday and today were nearly perfect. They would have been completely perfect if I could have been outside enjoying the rays fully, but I had to work. Sigh. Oh well. It keeps me off the street where I would certainly start a vicious gang and rise up through the underworld until I was the top crime boss of the world and be surrounded by beautiful women and live in luxury ... Wait, I know there's a downside in there somewhere. Give me a moment... Nope. I got nothing.
      Yours in crime.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A rose by any other name I'd forget

       "What's in a name?" Shakespeare asked in Romeo and Juliet. "That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet." Maybe so, but if it did have another name, I doubt I could remember it. I have a terrible time remembering names. Let me give you an example.
      Recently a man approached me at a restaurant. After making sure he wasn't serving me another protective order, I shook his hand.
      "Hello, it's good to see you," he said heartily. I replied, and we spoke for a few minutes with him asking about my job, my work with the theater group, my friends and my family.
      He left to take a seat after we decided we needed to get together soon for a real visit. I still don't know who he was. His face looked familiar, but I couldn't recall his name. I'd like to blame this on age, but the truth is I've never been good at remembering people's names. I'm introduced, and their names just flow right on by, like our tax money through a Congressman's hand.
      I've worked at remembering names. I tried those association tricks you're supposed to do. Like, if a guy is named Bob White, you're supposed to link his face with the mental image of the bird bobwhite. But when I meet the guy again, I can only vaguely recall he's named for a bird. Or maybe that's his wife.
      And what do you do with a name like Andrew Simmons? I can't think of any association to go with it. This is why I always look distracted when I meet people. I'm wondering, Do I know them? Do they know me? Have we met? Is there anything to eat? I'm thirsty, too. Why am I here? My feet hurt. Who is this guy and why is he talking to me?
      And then the person I'm talking to you finally gives me a clue as to his/her identity, and I realize that it's my doctor or the girl I dated for six months or my current parole officer. So I remember him or her, but still not the name.
      I read in a book that you can sneakily get them to tell you their name by saying something like, "Say, I was wondering what nationality your name is. How do you spell it again?" Unfortunately I seem to run into too many Smiths and Jones. After someone spells J-O-N-E-S to you, the only thing to do is to set fire to the place as a distraction. At least that's what I do. Your mileage may vary.
      Not remembering names is a problem I have at work. I see a lot of people daily. Some of them I remember, but most I do not. Naturally they remember me. After all, I'm always at the office behind that desk and so they have something to jog their memory. And let's not forget how devastatingly handsome I am. I sure that helps them, too.
      That's why I'm great supporter for name tags/badges. Admittedly there's those awkward moments when you’re staring at their chest trying to make out what their name is, but after that, it's clear sailing.
      Badges can be tricky, though. A friend of mine went to a business meeting and was talking to an older woman. He kept trying to read her badge and then realized it was upside down. Without thinking about it, he reached out and swiveled it right side up. Then he realized the room had got quiet. He also realized where his hand was. And if that wasn't awkward enough, the woman's husband had entered the room just then.
      Things were a bit tense after that, my friend told me, but luckily a fire broke out and distracted everyone.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

      My mother took nearly a week to die. She struggled in a Tulsa hospital as long as she could, but at the end, her body betrayed her.
      It was a Sunday when she was stricken. A stroke or blood clot. One minute she has walking to her bedroom, and then she was struggling for her life.
      And I don't doubt she fought. She loved life fiercely. Loved her children even more. She came from a poor background. My mother was the oldest, and she had to start caring for her sister and brother when she was a child herself. She kept the house clean, cooked meals, got them and herself to school each day, went to bed exhausted each night and dreamed of a far off time when she'd have a home of her own and it would be different.
      I don't know that girl she was then. When she talked about her childhood, it was like she describing a stranger. A tall, skinny girl who played basketball and went to movies. She had large, expressive eyes that my father once told me were like looking in the blue sky.
      They married young. Made a home. Traveled to California and other places. The photos of those years show a woman of movie star beauty. Like Stanwyck or Hepburn, she was at her best when in motion.
      They were trying to have children, but it wasn't happening. My mother prayed for children. Finally my older sister arrived. A year or so after, my older brother. But that seemed to be that. My father came from a large family, and he wanted more children, but perhaps it wasn't to be.
      My mother told me that she told God that she was grateful for her children, and while she wanted more, she wasn't complaining.
      My older sister has told me how glowing and bright my mother was then. My sister said, "I wish you could have known her. She was a different person."
      After three years, I arrived. A complete and welcome surprise, my mother told me. My dad's family ran to girls, and they never thought they'd have a second boy. A year later, my younger sister joined us. And then my youngest brother.
      My mother said it was the happiest time of her life. It didn't last long. My younger brother was born with a heart defect. He was what they called a "blue baby." Now they have surgery to fix the problem, but then, he died.
      It crushed my mother. It broke an unspoken contract between her and God. She told me that she had always thought that, if she kept her children clean and fed and loved them, that God would protect them.
      I don't have many memories as a child, but I remember parts of my brother's funeral. I remember being carried by my Uncle Jack past the casket. The hearse had electric windows, and I had never seen them before. I played with the buttons all the way to the cemetery. I don't remember my little brother at all.
      His death changed my mother. She held us tighter. She lost a lot of faith in the world. But she was a fighter and a lover and a Christian. She didn't give up. The world was darker, though, and she often dreamed of holding my younger brother. A friend of hers told her that the Mormons believed that children who passed away were given to their parents in heaven to raise. She didn't become a Mormon and later on would find that wasn't exactly true, but she would be sympathetic to their faith her whole life and passed that on to me.
      She rebounded. Recovered. She began to experience fainting spells. Dizziness. At first, she thought it was the strain. But it wasn't. A tumor was growing in her neck, cutting off her blood supply.
      She had surgery. They cut nerves to remove the tumor. It took away her voice. She had always loved to sing. Now she could only talk in a harsh whisper. Even worse, she had trouble swallowing. If she wasn't careful -- and even when she was -- she could choke on food and liquid.
      Life became a struggle. She lost a terrible amount of weight and never really regained it, but she had a will that didn't know defeat. She told me that sometimes she wanted to die, but she had her babies to raise and she had to see to that before she could let go.
      So she hung on and raised us. Kept us fed. Encouraged us to make good grades, to go to church, to live life as fully as we could. Oh, she held on too tight at times, and she made us afraid of some things, but she kept pushing. She was a little woman made of iron will and stronger love. And she could be so funny. She had a sharp wit and a clear eye. She was one of the best judges of character that I've ever known. And she never let us doubt that she loved us.
      Her health got better, but it was never good. She had bad spells of skyrocketing blood pressure and terrible bouts of pneumonia. She endured another surgery for another tumor. But she got us all through college and launched on our lives. She and my father made a home for all of us to come back to at holidays and any time we wanted or needed to. We were always welcome.
      Grandbabies arrived, and how their Granny loved them. She called me and my brother -- we'd both moved away from our hometown -- at least three or four times a week. My sisters were always on the phone to her and visiting her.
      Until that Sunday.
      I spoke to her the night before on the phone. Nothing important. Just catching up. She told me she loved me and I, thank God, told her that I loved her. I wouldn't get the chance to speak to her again until I held her hand in the Tulsa hospital in the ICU, and she wouldn't be able to respond.
      My father was with her when she slipped away at night. He would never really recover. She had been the sun that he had orbited his whole life. It would cast him free, aimlessly wandering in the empty night.
      After my father called me and told me that she was gone, I called a few friends. I remember one conversation well. I told Peggy that my mother was wonderful, that my mother was a remarkable human being. And then Peggy said one of the nicest things that anyone has ever said to me. Peggy said, "Of course, she was. I know she was incredible. After all, she made you." I never told Peggy how much that meant to me or how much it comforted me. But she'll know now.
      It comforted me because I realized that something of my mother survived in us. Her children. We were her work. All our accomplishments she shared. All our joys were hers. It was the legacy she fought for. It was the life she chose.
      If I am anything good in this world, I owe it to her.
      I miss you, Mama. Love you. See you someday.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sunny Saturday

      Busy day working outside in the warm spring sun. I planted flowers, set up a fountain and table on the patio, and picked up tree limbs. Then I went to WalMart, shopped until my feet couldn't take any more, returned home and did housework and laundry. Hey, did I mention that I mailed the April family newsletter yesterday? Yeah, that was cool to have it off my list of things to do.
      Tomorrow, I have church and then a board meeting for the local theater group. I hope to do some items on my list. I had 72 items on it when I started this morning. Now I have 49. Wanted to get more done, but I'm pleased with what I did get finished.
      Anyway, how was your day? Did you have a good one? Are the alligators getting you? Or are you sinking in quicksand? Might I suggest that you turn those reptiles into luggage and grabbing a vine and pulling yourself out of the muck? We are too good to let the weasels beat us down.
      Al Gore is on Saturday Night Live. Frankly, I don't know what to say about that. I've often thought our politicians were bad comedians, but I never thought to have any of them admit it.
      And on that snarky note, night!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A few thoughts about writing plays

      I can't say I have enough experience in writing plays to set rules for any playwright, but I do know what I want to see in a play. I want to see a play that doesn't make me want to throw up or pass out from boredom. Here are few thoughts along that line.
      1. Unless the play is set in prison, I think some of the cast members should be women. Preferably attractive women that I can dream about. An ideal production would have lots of attractive women who would single me out in the audience and realize that I was their one and only, but were willing to share me with other women.
      2. I don't want to see the uncut version of anything. A few years back, I saw a long, long, long production of Twelfth Night. I thought it was actually going to take 12 nights to finish. By the time the curtain dropped, I felt that I had given up several bad habits.
      3. Because the rampant use of profanity in movies and modern society, it doesn't amuse, shock or move me as much as it bores me. And having children say four-letter words is only funny to people lacking maturity and taste. Likewise, I outgrew my fascination with body noises when I was 13.
      4. I prefer happy endings because I see plenty of unhappy ones in real life and don't need the reminder. But if you must write a tragedy -- and apparently some people are so driven -- it should be meaningful. Having a character die of a heart attack at the end of the play even though there's been no mention of heart trouble is just stupid. And don't lay the doom and gloom on too thick. I watched a play in which a abusive husband beat his wife, his daughter, his son, their dog, two neighbors, his brother and a policeman. After the fourth beating, it started to become funny in a horrible way. Oh, he tripped during the last five minutes of the play and broke his neck. Sadly enough, it was part of the play, and so the actor came back to the next night to beat again.
      5. When the characters laugh a lot on stage, I've noticed the audience rarely joins in. That is significant.
      6. I like some sort of resolution to the problems raised in the play. There are enough loose ends in real life. I like to feel that the playwright has done a bit of work before we enter the theater.
      If you have a play you're working on, try to keep in mind these suggestions from a dedicated audience member.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


      I spent all evening -- and I do mean all -- working on the April family newsletter. It's now three-fourths done. I should be able to finish it tomorrow night and mail it Friday. Woohoo!
      Unfortunately, I'm worn out, so good night!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma

      The corridor descended into the limestone. They had been walking steadily for nearly a half hour.
      "Is this natural?" Darcy asked, touching the smooth walls.
      "Could be," Luke said. "Darkness has a lot of underground springs." They reached steps that descended into the dark. "But someone carved these." He looked at her.
      She gazed back.
      "Things have gotten real crazy," he said.
      "That's the word," Darcy said. "But what can we do? We have to stop the Bone Queen."
      "If I can get you out of this, I will," he said. "You're not like me. This wasn't meant to happen to you." He reached out and touched her cheek.
      She covered his hand with hers. "If it hadn't, I wouldn't have met you. That would have been too high a price to pay."
      He stepped forward and kissed her, drank in her scent and sweetness. He pulled back, feeling his heart ache in ways he hadn't felt before. "We've got to survive this," he said.
      She nodded.
      He turned the flashlight to the stairs and led the way.
      They descended more, the stairs dropping them faster into the depths. The air became damp and heavy.
      "Look," Darcy whispered. Ahead of them, a glow cut into the dark.
      "Get behind me," Luke said. He drew his gun and led the way into a huge chamber of straight rock walls. A vein of clear crystal glowed in the rock above them. The chamber had no seams, the rock seemingly having flowed to form these impossibly straight angles.
      Darcy stepped forward and then stopped. She looked back at the stairs, fear on her face.
      "I sense her," she gasped. "The Bone Queen, she's following us. Alice failed."
      Luke grabbed her arm and ran with her toward the other corridor. It led them to a smaller chamber with no other exits.
      "Luke," Darcy breathed.
      A sword in a plain silver scabbard floated in the middle of the room, lit by some light that didn't seem to have a source.
      Luke started to step forward, but Darcy gripped his arm.
      "No, look." She pointed to the floor. A labyrinth path was worked into the stone. "We have to walk the Way. Carefully. I don't know what will happen if we misstep, but it won't be good."
      Luke took a deep breath. He could hear something coming down the stairs, heavy steps echoing like a monster walked it. He made his decision.
      "You walk it," Luke said. "Get the sword. I have to stop her."
      "You can't, Luke," she said. "She's too powerful. I can feel her."
      He looked at her. "I am the Protector. I'll stop her. Or die trying." He turned away. His body blurred as he raced down the corridor back to the outer chamber.
      "Luke!" Darcy called. He didn't turn back.
      Luke reached the outer chamber as a tall woman stepped into the room. He stopped. He didn't know what he had expected, but this tall, beautiful woman wasn't it. He saw her eyes then, the glittering hatred and spite chilling him.
      Luke aimed his revolver at the woman. "Stop."
      She smiled. "And if I don't, human, what will you do?"
      "I'll shoot you, but I don't suppose my gun will do much," Luke said.
      "No, it will not," the Bone Queen said. "I am Senkarn, the Bone Queen, and no weapon of this realm can harm me."
      "You will pardon me for trying," Luke said and emptied the gun into her body. She jerked with each hit, but remained on her feet.
      She laughed. "This is the Protector? This is the best Substance can do?" She closed the distance between them. "I shall feast on your heart."
      Luke backed up, keeping himself between her and the inner chamber.
      "Maybe, but you should know one thing," he said. He raised red glowing eyes to stare at her. "I'm not human." And with that, he cast his humanity aside.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 08, 2006


He whispered as he held her

This could get messy --
this thing between us.
We could lose everything
for a stolen moment.

Stolen from this empty world
that breaks everything
eventually. We will break
too, you know.

A cross word, a sideways glance,
a silence at the wrong instant.
I'll be cold, you'll be hot,
timing is everything and all
clocks wind down.

We shouldn't. It's not wise.
It's beyond stupid. We're
risking battered hearts.
We might not survive.

So we walk away now.
We forget. We go back.
We do the smart thing.
The smartest thing.

She whispered

I'm sure you're right
but if it's so,
why then am I
still in your arms?

He didn't reply
and held her close
as the moon sailed toward
the shores of morning.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


      I'm back. Finally. I can concentrate on my projects. I can't tell how relieved I am. I'm looking forward to days to come where I can have some downtime and me-time and general all-around creative time.
      First up, get caught up on the family newsletter. I have most of April done. Just have to get one more article and write a humor column. Then I'll turn about and do May. Concurrently with that, I want to get some more wordage (significant wordage) on Darkness, Oklahoma and Murder in the Witch's Cottage. I've been jotting down scenes and ideas on both. I'm eager to get started.
      I've also been playing with the idea of self-publishing my humor pieces and trying to sell a book of them here. I have over 200 columns, and it would be nice to get them down all in one place. And if I raised any money from it, I would put it into my computer fund. Speaking of which, I have $100 in it so far. I sold some photos and have been eating lunch at my house to save the money I usually spent on eating out. And I have a little web page design job lined up to do this week that will make me some money. Might not seem like much, but every bit helps. I don't want to go into debt to buy the computer. I've been working too hard to get out.
      So now I'll close. I should be blogging regularly again this week. Hope you have a great tomorrow. Night!

Saturday, May 06, 2006


      The play is taking all my time. At least it will be finally be over this time tomorrow, and I'll get my life back. When I'm not at the theater, I'm either doing theater things or frantically trying to do the things I usually do when I'm not at theater.
      Anyway, I have about 15 minutes and thought I'd let you know that I'm still breathing should that happen to be a concern of yours. I did get some things done today. I started out to find some notes for Darkness, Oklahoma, including a scene that I hadn't incorporated into the book yet, found those and the scene, then started sorting papers, found other stuff that needed to be filed, found a bill that needed to be paid -- yikes -- last week, filled a trash can with junk mail and other stuff that needed to be discarded, did all that between doing laundry, dusting my living room and bedroom, cleaning the kitchen, watering and caring for the flowers and the plants, filed some stuff but not enough, and now I have to go to WalMart and shop before I go to the theater tonight to work in the ticket booth.
      Speaking of which, I have go now. Be back tomorrow. I hope.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In case you were wondering

      I've not been here blogging because I've been running lights and sound for yet another play. It ends this Sunday. Then I'm going to back away from the theater group for a while. It's trying to swallow me whole. There's always some work that needs to be done down there, and I'm apparently like Annie in Oklahoma! -- I can't say no.
      So it's best that I get some space for me. I have several writing projects circling me, waiting for a free moment to swoop in. I'm a month behind on the family newsletter, although I intend to catch over the next two weekends. At least that's the plan. I'm behind in a lot of stuff; it's hard to keep up when you're losing three hours a night to rehearsal. My house is slowly sinking in a state that can only be described as Health Department Orange Alert. Not only could you write in the dust on my coffee and end tables, you could also plant corn and expect a good harvest. Yesterday the sheets on my bed declared themselves emancipated and went to Paris to explore Cubism. Yes, I know that's silly. After all, Spain is where Cubism is most prominent today, but you try telling that to headstrong sheets.
      As for email, I download it and promise myself to read it someday. I really will read each missive that you have sent to me. They're all precious to me. I print them out and paste them to my body, that's how precious.
      And I have four books that need to be read: Dead Days of Summer by Carolyn Hart, Bio Rescue by S.L. Viehl, Fortress in the Eye of Time by C.J. Cherryh and one whose title escapes me at this moment. They're piled up on my bedside table along with a stack of last month's and this month's magazines.
      I also have bills to pay, accounts to do, and a play that needs to be sent off to another publisher so that they have a chance to reject it, too. And I'd like to plant some flowers and do some yard work before my lawn is declared a nature preserve and the Republicans vote to drill for oil there.
      To top it off, it's spring, and I don't want to do any of this. I want to find me a like-minded love and run off to the islands and bask in the sun for a few weeks. I want to get bored on the beach and sip cold fruity drinks with umbrellas in them. I want to listen to the ocean and see if it's calling my name or is it that taco stand up the street.
      Anyway, that's what happening with me. What's happening with you? Are you out there or are you frolicking in a field somewhere with your love? I hope the latter, but if not, you're always welcome here at 51313 Harbor Street.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SEX ... and now that I've got your attention ...

      Remember that old joke? I think it originated on Saturday Night Live. At least, that's where I remember seeing it first. It's a good example of the classic bait-and-switch advertising tactic.
      Except we are going to talk about sex. The other day I went driving through the country. We've had rain, and the green plants are shooting up everywhere. The birds were calling, insects were chirping or buzzing or in the case of lightning bugs, igniting their rear ends. Frogs croaked loudly.
      As I drove slowly around a small lake near my house, I thought, how utterly wonderful. The birds, the budding plants, the frogs, the insects ... and then it occurred to me. What the birds, insects, frogs and plants were really saying. They were saying, "Let's mate! Let's get to it! You want me! I want you! Now! Let's make babies!"
      I can't say it was an epiphany, but it did make me pause and consider how uncomplicated that was. Oh, sure, they've got predators trying to make a meal of them, and it's quite possible that they might have to actually fight another member of the species to the death for their mate, but it sure beats going to a bar or a disco.
      Not that I go to either one these days, but I know people who do and invariably they talk about how depressing it is, how desperate everyone there is, how they'd like a change.
      And then I got to thinking how weird it would be if humans did have mating calls. We'd stand on our front porches and holler, "Hey sweet thing! Mate with me! Let's make babies!" In the twilight, some of us would set fire to our rears to send out a light to guide our new mates to us.
      Seriously, I'm not sure if it would be any stranger that what we do now.