Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All Sold Out!

~~Imagine my surprise this morning when Diane Quimby, the owner of Wiley's Book Exchange and a local author, called to tell me that the store had sold out of both A Christmas Walk and An Easter Walk, and people were asking for them by name. Needless to say, I quickly went to Carrollton to take more of both for the shelves. The article in the Times-Georgian is working wonders. If you haven't read it yet, HERE it is. People are buying last minute Christmas gifts and my books are finishing their lists. If you can't get to the store, you can buy my books online at my website HERE.
~~I'm walking on air as you can imagine. This is so exciting. Next time, I won't be as shocked when the store calls and says, "We need more copies, please." ; )

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Sweaters and A Christmas Book

~~Merry Christmas! The big day is nearly here and everyone is planning gifts for those around them. John and I have pared down our shopping over the years. We really don't need anything and our wants run more along the lines of having each other and love, peace, and calm. But we did go shopping for the puppies. ; ) Their winter sweaters from last year were woefully small, of course. They are now nearly two years old. The weather has been a bear and they needed sweaters for their walks. We found lovely ones in a catalog and are proud to say the boys look smashing. Don't you agree?
~~I received a great gift this morning as well. Spencer Crawford of the Times-Georgian and The Villa Rican asked to interview me about my new book, A Christmas Walk. The article is wonderful! Spencer is a great friend to all the local writers and this is one example. Go HERE to read the article if you don't get the Times-Georgian.
~~And have a wonderful, peaceful Christmas.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December? Are You Sure?

~~The calendar says December. The thermometer says it's too cold for January or February. Brrr! Monday and Tuesday will be the coldest yet with lows in the low teens and highs maybe at freezing. Add our colds and sinus infections and you have a horrible mix.
~~Sunday is the day our Angel Tree Gifts are due at church and we are the organizers of this ministry. John suggested it over twenty-five years ago. We get names of needy children from the Carrollton Schools Christmas Sponsorship Program. This year the church is providing gifts for seventy-five children and five adults. The mothers' requests were poignant--flatware, cook books, baking tools, pots and pans. They want to be able to feed their children. John and I are honored and blessed to work with this project every year.
~~On the writing front, I'm doing well. In December I have written 5289 new and reworked words. This includes a comprehensive look at the overarching theme and controlling image of Friendly Fire. To say this is good is an understatement.
~~Book sales have been good. In December, I've been to a family Christmas Party, spoke at Bethel Baptist Church, FBC's Current Events class, and will speak at the Adult I department tomorrow. Add an interview with Spencer Crawford of the Times-Georgian on this coming Wednesday and you have a great sales month. Look for the interview in the "Sunday Living" section of the Times-Georgian on Sunday, December 19.
~~So, enjoy December, freezing temps, snow flurries, gifts, books, good food and family. John and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


~~That's the number of new words I wrote during the month of November. It was an amazing ride. I'm still going to aim for the 600 words a day average for the next four months in the hopes that I can have a complete rough draft for Friendly Fire by the end of March. That would mark the third anniversary of the dream that introduced me to Laura Grace and Samantha. The ladies have been growing and developing ever since. All of the characters who populate Cherry Hill become more real everyday.
~~Over at the Forum, among the crew of talented writers I share the Research and Craft and Writers Exercises folders with, there was an astounding output of words for NaNo month. The final tally is in the neighborhood of 910,000 words. I'm blown away by the number of creative people who reached the 50,000 goal. That includes one, Clarice in NZ, who wrote 100,000+ words.
~~November is a month to celebrate writers and words. May the words continue to flow for all the writers in the world. I can't live without them. ; )

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pat Down? No Problem, Mon!

~~It's all over the news.TSA's new secuity measures are causing a fire storm. I have to admit, I'm not worried by it all. You see, I was patted down several times before it became the norm. Only they weren't hunting explosives, but the 'sacred weed, Ganga.' Really. I know you look at my white bread photo and shake your head. Who in their right minds would dream of this little, middle class woman as a drug smuggler? Well, Jamaica customs would. ; )
~~If you know our travel history, you know we have been to Jamaica nine times, Mexico twice, the Bahamas twice, and Aruba once. What can we say, but we love warm beaches in the winter. I had had to take off  my shoes several times when they began the pat downs. John, of course, sailed on through in nothing flat, when they began to pull me over. Let me tell you, I've had gentler mammograms. The first time, I was shaking in my socks. Remember, I've already taken off my shoes. ; ) But pat down number two was harder. I nearly laughed in the woman's face. For some reason, I don't think that would be conducive to moving on to the plane for Atlanta. I wouldn't be worried now if I had to be patted down.
~~I'm not trying to make light of any one's concerns. I'm just saying there are far worse things than an airport pat down. Like being blown out of the sky.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'll Take All the Help I Can Get

~~It's the Friday before Thanksgiving and I'm up to my ears in chores.
1. Clean the house for company
2. Plan and start the cooking for Turkey Day
3. Keep writing at least 600 words a day and type them all in
~~And I need help! My puppy boys aren't much help unless you count licking my face and wagging tails. Where is my Jesse? Watch this marvelous video clip to see what I mean.

~~By the way, my new word total for Friendly Fire in November is now 14,270. That includes my "monster day" on Thursday when I wrote 1700 words.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Middle of November

~~It's a gorgeous fall day. The leaves are lovely. Just look at our maple and the ginko at John's mother's house. The weather is changing, though. The forecast is for one to two inches of rain by the end of the day on Tuesday and by then, the leaves will be nearly gone. In fact, the maple tree has dropped three-fourths of its leaves today. Be glad I took the photo yesterday. ; )
~~Today marks the end of NaNo week 2 as well. I'm excited to report that I'm officially over ten thousand words for the month. 10,120 to be exact. And they're mostly good words with very little dreck. Now don't get me wrong, there's still a lot to do on these new scenes, like adding bits of underpainted setting and emotional feelings. Still, I'm very pleased with my month. I've typed all these words in and they're ready for play later. On to new words. At this rate, I'll break 20,000 by November 30. ; )

Sunday, November 7, 2010

First November Update

~~It's the seventh of November and I'm widing up my first week of NaNo inspired writing--4900 new words for Friendly Fire. And I like the words. John does too and that's a wonderful thing. Now if I can keep writing at this pace for the rest of the month, I'll add 19,600 words by November 30. Cheer me on. ; )

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


~~If you looked at my blog title and said, "Huh?" you might not be a novelist. National Novel Writing Month (Here) is a concerted effort for novelists to turn out words on their novels. Some opt to start on something new. Others work on their novels-in-progress. Which ever plan a writer has, the goal is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. That's an average of 1,667 a day. It's a staggering number of words. To do it, the writer can't stop and edit. Words have to flood onto the page.
~~Before you question my sanity, I'm not an official participant in NaNo. I know the physical limits of my wrists. But I do have a group of friends on the Forum who are. We have a thread going so that we can share our output and number of words created every day. I'm piggybacking on the energy and momentum of the group. Some of then have already written nearly 10,000 words in two or three days. I'm proud to say, I've been productive if nowhere near their output. I wrote 600 new words on Monday and 900 new words on Tuesday. If I maintain an average of 600 per day for the month, I'll create 18,000 new words for Friendly Fire by the end of November.
~~I'm going to try. Keep your fingers crossed. ; )

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Ghost Speaks

~~What do you do when a ghost refuses to shut up? If you're a writer, you take dictation. I thought I'd tell you about my ghost. It is nearly Halloween, after all.
~~During the Cherry Hill House Party on the Forum--Here, we found some of the characters in the past of my mythical west Georgia town of Cherry Hill. My novel-in-progress, Friendly Fire, is set in the present, but as I created back story for the other writers, I created a history for Laura Grace Chandler's hometown. That history included the founder, Lawton Cherry or "The Law." As we wrote, he became more than than just a name in the "history book" of Cherry Hill to me. Law Cherry began to speak and tell me his story. I thought you might enjoy reading two snips about my ghost. Who knows, someday I might have to write his story.
~~Lawton Cherry was six foot eight and weighed a bit over two hundred pounds. It was the ranginess that fooled them into thinking Cherry was weak. That mistake was apparent the minute they challenged him. Law Cherry could out reach and out punch anyone. For one man, it was his last mistake. But he wasn't worth a cuss any way.
~~"Law, I know you is prodigiously wealthy," Josiah Barnes spat a brown stream dangerously close to the large mud-caked shoes, "but why you won't buy a slave that's cheaper than any 'cropper is beyond me."
~~The light brows drew down over the slate blue blue eyes. Anyone else knowing the man well, would have run then.
~~"I might consider it, Josiah, if I needed all my money for 'bacca and lightning like you do." The voice was quiet, but full of disdain.
~~There were only two vices in Lawton Cherry's book--wasting time and wasting his money.
~~Have a happy Halloween. May your ghosts all give you good stories. ; )

Monday, October 18, 2010

Entitled To Be the Best

~~If every sentence of your novel's elevator pitch--the four or five sentence synopsis--doesn't tie back to your title's image and theme, it may not be the right title for your novel. That's what I've discovered was the problem with my novel-in-progress' original working title. Mother's Day referred directly to Laura Grace Chandler, my main character, and indirectly to her daughter, Samantha. The novel is so much deeper and broader and the title wasn't big enough to cover it.
~~Before you remind me that a novel's title isn't set in stone (or ink) until a publisher prints it, let me assure you, I know. My need for the best working title is all for me. When a friend, who knows the story of the novel commented that she wouldn't pick it up if all she knew was the title, I knew something was wrong. In fact, I think I already knew that. I'd been having trouble answering the question, "What is your novel about?" for some time. As I mentioned the characters Rosemary, Dean, and Mack, my subconscious was telling me that Mother's Day didn't fit. So, I went on a title hunt.
~~My first try was Lady in Waiting. At least I could tie this title to Laura Grace, Samantha, and Rosemary. Some of my fellow CCWC members liked it better than Mother's Day, but something was still wrong. Lady in Waiting sounded like a historical romance. And my book isn't either. It's a contemporary and not a romance at all. So, back to the drawing board.
~~On the Forum, the October Exercise in the Writers Exercise folder proved to be fertile ground. And yet, I still didn't see it. John did. The exercise centered on Mack Singer, a retired Marine, now teacher. As he spoke through the free association exercise on physical and emotional abuse of Dean, he used the term "friendly fire" and it was perfect. It just took me a week to realize it.
~~During MeccaFest, I was asked constantly about what I was writing. As I used Friendly Fire to describe my novel, I was struck by how easy it had become to explain my theme. In other words, the perfect title had appeared.
~~So, here it is--my new elevator pitch for Friendly Fire. Tell me what you think. ; )
Our deepest wounds come from the friendly fire of those around us who should be our strongest support. Laura Grace Chandler, a retired, recently widowed teacher, finds her friendly fire comes from losing her husband of many years and childlessness. The foster child she adopts has been sexually abused. Laura Grace's best friend and her son are abused by their husband and father. Healing must come by helping each other. Their new friend, a retired Marine, has wounds from his own friendly fire. Together they will learn to heal and love again. Friendly Fire is the first of two novels set in Cherry Hill, Georgia.
~~By the way, as an added bonus, I've found the title for Friendly Fire's sequel as well--Line of Fire. I'll save that story for another day. ; )

Friday, October 15, 2010

What a Weekend at MeccaFest!

What a weekend! MeccaFest was a blast, a wonderful weekend, and a great couple of days for the Carrollton Creative Writers Club. The photos above come from our tents where T. L. Gray, Diana Black, Mary Cunningham, and I sold our books. The second photo is of Amanda from Bowdon, one of my customers. I sold a lot of books--more than I really dreamed I would. It's a really good feeling to simply tell someone about your work. When they turn right around and buy a copy, it's beyond good. ; )

Along with selling our books outside amid the art, CCWC also read our works in the Mabry Threatre. Here's a shot of me reading from my novel in progress, Friendly Fire. Applause is as good as a purchased book for a writer's ego.

Penny Lewis, Director of the Carrollton Cultural Art Center, had warned us that there would be some subtle performance art on Sunday. She wasn't fooling! Our 'Bronze Man' was wonderful! He moved through the crowd with deliberate stealth and began interacting. One time I watched him turn a shy 4-year-old ballerina into a fast friend without a word, simply by mimicking her dance positions.
All in all, MeccaFest 2010 was beyond all my expectations. Great job, CCWC and the Artist Guild of the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center. On to next year. ; )

Sunday, October 3, 2010


It's coming this weekend--October 9 and 10, from 10-5, MeccaFest 2010. If you like good books, come by the CCWC tents near the steps for children's books, devotionals, and novels. Throw in a little women's humor and you have a great selection. My devotionals--An Easter Walk and A Christmas Walk will be on sale both days. Members of the Carrollton Creative Writers Club will be presenting "Local Voices" in the Mabry Theatre of both days. Saturday is 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM and Sunday's readings will be 11:00 AM to 3:30 PM. We will read excerpts from novels and memoirs, poetry, and children's stories. I'm reading at 11:30 on Saturday and at 1:00 on Sunday. Both days will be excerpts from my novel in progress, Mother's Day. Be sure and stop by and say hello.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Summer's Farewell

Since summer ends today, I thought I'd say farewell with a few pics of my glorious summer flowers. Enjoy! ; )

May's Stella d'Oro and Lollipop lilies

June's Star Hibiscus and Hydrangea

July's Star Gazer Lilies and Lantana and miniature Crape Myrtle

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Temple Founder's Day--hot, hot, hot!

It was HOT! When you sit in the middle of a parking lot, surrounded by asphalt, you expect the heat, but the reality is way beyond expectations. John said it was only 89 degrees, but it might as well have been 95. There was a breeze and that helped. T. L. Gray and I had a good day selling our books and making contacts with various people. Check you T. L.'s website Her book is wonderful! Be sure to read all the reviews. I recommend it highly if you like good stories that are well told.

We'll both be at MeccaFest, October 9-10, at the Cultural Arts Center in Carrollton. The Carrollton Creative Writers Club will not only be selling our books, but also will be presenting "Local Voices". We will read excerpts, poems, and stories from our works from 10:30 till 3 on Saturday and 11:30 till 4 on Sunday in the Mabry Auditorium. I'll be reading three excerpts form Mother's Day, my novel in progress. At least the readings will be inside. Come and see us at the tents or enjoy the creativity of the members. We'd love to see you all.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Flowers for Our Anniversary

Aren't they beautiful! Imagine our surprise and delight on Sunday morning to find that one of our friends--Barbara Billert--had bought the flowers for the Sanctuary in honor of our anniversary. We had no clue until someone pointed out the notice in the bulletin. Our dining room table is five feet wide and the flowers are over three and a half feet wide. They made an amazing centerpiece. And if you wondered what was piled up around the flowers, it's stacks of A Christmas Walk. Where else did you think I'd put them? ; )

Saturday, September 4, 2010

33 Years! You have to be kidding!

No, I'm not kidding. Thirty-three years ago on September 4, John and I got married. We were twenty-one years old and ready to take on the world. Since we met at what was then West Georgia College in a Political Science class titled "Foreign Relations", you might not be surprised that we get married at Kennedy Chapel on the Front Campus. At eight in the morning. Really. We knew how busy Maple Street was during the day and wanted the ceremony to be outside on the steps amid the trees and flowers of Front Campus. So, early in the morning on Labor Day Sunday, we said our "I do's". Pleasantly cool air greeted the twenty-three guests. I had made my dress and John's shirt and tie.

After the ceremony, we ate brunch in place of a reception. So is it any wonder, that we celebrated our anniversary with a buffet breakfast this morning? What could be better?

We drove to Savannah for our honeymoon and loved every minute of it. In fact, on our honeymoon, we found that we have a very special freight line. Really. One day during our week in Savannah, we were out on Tybee Island and saw a containerized freight ship coming in the Savannah River channel. It was the Arnold-Mersk. Later stopping at Pulaski National Battlefield, we saw the same ship coming up the river. Hurrying into town, we found the ship sailing slowly past River Street. So now, when we see railroad car after railroad car of Mersk containers, we turn to each other and grin. Some couples have a favorite song. We have a freight line. ; )

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Leaving So Soon?

I really wanted to create a four seasons cherry tree montage for the blog this year, but my cherry tree had other ideas. It's only August and the tree is dropping its leaves like it's October. So, I find myself showing you the aftermath of a record-breaking summer. There's been plenty of rain, but the temperatures have stayed in the 90's almost every day. That's taken a toll on my cherry tree. The photos above are from top left and going clockwise--August, February, April, and June. I'll admit the winter photo of snow-laden branches is not the norm for winter in Georgia. ; ) Usually the tree is lace-work limbs in the winter, clacking in the stiff northwest wind. I couldn't resist the lovely shot I got this year with our snow.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And the Cover Is...

~~A Christmas Walk is at the printer and will be here in September--right on schedule for Temple Founder's Day on September 18. The cover is glorious! I found the image at and Diana Black designed the cover around it. Check out Diana's website at It pays to hire the very best as you can see. ; )

Monday, August 9, 2010

House Party Alchemy

~~Cherry Hill is magic! When I volunteered to host a Forum house party, I saw it as a chance to try out my novel's setting on a group of talented writers. If Susan, Claire, Deniz, Adderbury, Marilyn, Spesh, Becky, Ron, Jill, and Tara could interact with my small Georgia town well enough to create a story, I would be happy.
~~Well, I'm ecstatic! We had a stellar house party. Among us, we wrote 180,976 words from Thursday night, July 29, to Saturday night, August 7. I had prepared about 10,000 words before hand. I didn't use all of them, and some had to be reshaped to fit the story as we went. As the other writers interacted with their characters, I found myself describing more and more about Laura Grace Chandler's home town, Cherry Hill, Georgia.
~~My characters--Laura Grace, Samantha, Rosemary, and Dean--had to respond to the story as well. I wrote a total of 13,646 words across the nine days of the house party. My total original words of all types connected with the house party is 18,410. That's amazing! Much of this material will be useful with some reshaping in my novel, Mother's Day. More importantly, my understanding of the relationship between Laura Grace and Rosemary has become clear. This is one to the emotional cores of my story. I hadn't seen a way to tell this part of the story until my fellow writers reacted to my town. Now I can write Mother's Day as it should written.
~~To my Forum family, thank you, one and all, dear friends for this gift. It's beyond anything I could have imagined.

Monday, August 2, 2010

House Party? Am I invited?

~~The short answer is yes! You're invited to travel to Cherry Hill, GA, the setting of my novel in progress.
~~The long answer takes some explaining. ; ) I'm a member of the CompuServe Books and Writers Forum and an active participant in the Writers Exercises folder. My fellow members and I do writing craft exercises every month and every few months, we hold an online house party in the setting of one of our works in progress. This time, my Laura Grace Chandler is hosting over forty characters that range from contemporary to historical and fantasy to scifi. Twelve different writers are adding to the running story that started late Thursday night and will continue into the coming weekend. They are from all over the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We trust each other with our characters and, as the story evolves, we can find our creations doing all sorts of strange and wonderful things. The greatest thing about a house party is that, as you write by the seat of your pants, you have to respond to suggestions and situations you could not have thought of by yourself. Characters have a way of deepening and stretching in reaction to the scenes and the writer's grasp on the person that inhabits their stories deepens with it.
~~If you would like to sample the story go to:
You do not have to be a member of the forum to read the story. But a word of warning: It is wickedly fast, well over 200 posts long, and no where near to completion. You just might find yourself hooked. ; )
If you want to get a glimpse of how we communicate with each other outside of the story, try the commentary thread here:
~~Happy reading! ; )

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Queen's Court

~~Darkness became an only cat again when Snow died. She took it in stride as with everything. We never saw her hunting for him, but then, she had watched him like a hawk as he felt his way about the house in his last days. She was about fifteen years old by then and we really didn't expect to get more cats until she had purred her last. In fact, she was starting to sleep more and more by the time she was seventeen. Cataracts, reduced hearing, and arthritis were slowing her down to a crawl. We began to talk about what we would do when she was gone from our lives. We thought we might hunt for siblings this time. A yellow tabby and a calico were on our wish list.
~~Then it all changed. Living by a church and across the street from another seemed to make us a animal rescue center. For years, we noticed that people thought that someone who went to church would have pity on a poor abandoned animal. Many dogs and cats had been dropped off in the neighborhood. We weren't in the position to care for them at all. So they either wandered off or found the wildlife to their liking. The woods in the backyard were full of squirrels, birds, rabbits, and chipmunks. It seemed that many a cat made a good living on the edges of our yard.
~~One day in the fall of 1997, we found a young female cat hanging at our door. She was striped like a tabby, but she was not all yellow or gray striped. Her legs would be both in the most interesting fashion. The vet would describe her as a calico tabby. At John's parents' house next door, there was a young yellow tabby male. They were obviously siblings with the same light green eyes and markings. We couldn't resist them, but the male had a lump on his abdomen. We were hooked and decided to keep them outside to spare Darkness the upheaval kittens would cause her very sedate life.
~~Named Sunshine and Meow, the twins had to come in when Sunshine's lump turned out to be an umbilical hernia and he needed surgery. Trying to keep the three separate was impossible. The cats decided that they were going to investigate each other and that was that. We soon realized that the kittens were just what Darkness needed. They would trot just fast enough to keep their tails in her eyesight. She would run as fast as she could, but didn't catch them. That's when we noticed that she was feeling much better. Darkness lived another four years thanks to Sunshine and Meow. They were Maine coon cats while Darkness was a small domestic short hair. She never weighed more than ten pounds in her life. The kittens would top 18 and 22 at one time and yet, Darkness was the undisputed queen of our home. Regal until the end.
~~Sadly, Darkness developed severe dementia at 21. She ceased knowing who we were and began to bite. When she latched onto my hand and refused to let go for minutes at a time, we knew she was ready. She had ceased to purr the last month until we took her in to the vet the last time. Then we were rewarded with the loving little girl we had lived with for so long. In the fall of 2001, Darkness passed into her reward. We have never forgotten her. She'll always be the queen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Darkness and Daylight

~~Darkness remained an only cat until she was about two years old when a small white kitten turned up at out house while we were added the garage in 1982. He was a plush, sweet little boy and we had no clue where he came from. But that didn't deter us from feeding him. We quickly decided on a name. Surely it was Daylight to contrast with the Dark girl who already called us family. Until he disappeared...We hunted, but didn't find him. The church next door had been full of kids for Vacation Bible School that week and we thought someone recognized him or picked him up. Sad to say, but the Daylight had gone from our lives.
~~Until...two years later, a sleek white tom came calling at our door. Neighbors nearby had moved and we couldn't find any owners for the cat, so we took him in. The vet said he was about two years old and we had to wonder--had Daylight returned? Not being sure, we named the tom Snow. As you can see from the photo, Snow had a preference of laps--John's. (By the way, this is the only time I convinced John to grow a beard. I think he looks dashing, but the itching thing was red and his hair was blond, so bye, bye beard.) For about ten years, I had fun telling my new students that I had two cats--white and black. I always said, "The white one is named Darkness and the black one is named Snow." The two seconds it took for the information to click was priceless and set a tone of ease for the new class. Of course, some of the kids never believed me that both cats had learned to blow kisses. Snow was not less a champ at that than his sister. ; )
~~Darkness and Snow were our two kitties for about ten years until Snow had a stroke and went blind. He was miserable and wouldn't get out from under the bed. Sadly, we had to let him go. Darkness went back to being an only cat. I'm not sure it mattered to her. After all, she got the choice of laps with no competition.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Lost Photos

~~Well, technically not lost. Only not available to upload. Here are three of the photos I've mentioned in other posts. The first one isn't the best one of toddler me and Snowball, but it is the one I found. The best photo shows me center frame with Grandmother's arm holding me back while I'm reaching for all I'm worth for Snowball's tail. ; ) The middle photo is about a year later and, as you can see, I loved Snowball's kisses. The third photo is much younger. I'm probably about 15 and I'm holding Etcetera the Siamese. My how young I look!
~~I bet you're wondering how I scanned these in since my scanner and computer seem not to communicate. What I did was use my Corel Paint Shop program. I was using it for some other task the other day when I noticed the drop down menu included scanner. On the off chance that it would work, I tried it. And lo and behold! It did. So, now I'll be able to illustrate the rest of the Darkness posts correctly. I'll be back later with "Darkness and Daylight".

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Kiss of Darkness

~~When you have had a pet since you were eight years old, you really feel the lack of having a warm, little, furry animal to love. When we married, we didn't have a choice to take our beloved elderly pets with us to our apartment. It was clearly a NO PETS ALLOWED sort of place. So my kitty, Etcetera, and John's dog, Trouble, had to stay with our parents. How the two would have gotten along is a question that will never be answered. Neither lasted very long, though, and we were soon truly petless. Until...
~~...1980 when we began to extensive renovation of John's grandparents' house in Temple. It's the lovely lady home you've seen all spring in my posts. We moved on September 1 and on September 5, I had us a new kitten. She was small and all black. In fact, she was too young--only five weeks old, but she was ours. I named her Darkness. No usual name like Blackie nor Midnight for my kitty. ; ) Her yellow eyes glowed in contrast to the glossy fur. The vet did ask me what I paid for her. I told him nothing. He grinned and said, "Good. Because you now owe for flea treatment, testing, and worming." I guess $70 wasn't so bad...
~~The first night we took Darkness home, we put her to bed in a large appliance carton. It had all the comforts--litter box, food, water, and bedding. But in the morning, Darkness wasn't in it. Her tiny claws had nicked the side where she climbed out. Now where would you go in a 2000 square foot house when you are only the size of a person's palm? We began the hunt among the boxes and the furniture and finally found her. She had scaled the sofa and was sitting, paws tucked in regal splendor on the folded afghan in the living room. And so the Queen had arrived. ; )
~~From that day forward, she took over our hearts and settled in. And never stopped amazing us. We knew cats greeted each other by touching noses, so we would touch her nose and make a kissing noise. Imagine our surprise when she began to "kiss" us back, smacking her lips. We then would make the sound when we came in the room and would then come over a repeat the nose touch routine. Darkness began to kiss back from a distance. But the day that she kissed us first from the other side of the room was a red-letter day! Who has ever had a cat who blew kisses before? ; )
~~I'll continue Darkness' story in later posts. You've not seen anything yet!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Day After

~~It's the day after the 46th Georgia Author of the Year Awards and I didn't win. And that's okay. I have learned so much and I still get warm fuzzies from seeing my book on the table with the other nominees. Check out the photos. My book is the third from the left on the top row. It's a funny thing how something so simple as seeing the cover you designed standing out and shining can be. Simple and moving. An Easter Walk was nominated in the Creative Nonficiton Inspirational category.
~~I'm thankful to John for taking me to the ceremony. We met Joann Dunn, and Frank and Mary Rogers for supper then went to the KSU Center. Joann was nominated in poetry for The Implied Now and Frank's book, Upon a Crazy Horse, netted him a nomination in First Novel. That's a fine sampling of the creative output of the Carrollton Creative Writing Club. Here's to all of you for the lovely words you spin. ; )

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Puff, Malek, and Etcetera

~~The title says it all--at least to someone who knows about my first three cats. I received permission to get a cat when I was eight. I never looked back and thought about what that really meant until much later. What I received was permission to love a being outside of myself on the level I could understand at the time. It was my duty and privilege to care for my cats. No one else would except my mother. My daddy and siblings were dog people. I think all children need this responsibility to learn how to give love, but they also have to have been taught that little animals deserve our best love. They are not toys nor are they ways to express rage. Unfortunately, many never learn this basic truth.
~~My first cat was Puff, a large tuxedo tom in the classic markings. His white, dipped-in-cream feet and white chest were perfect. But why would a tom cat be named such a frilly name? I didn't remember for years until someone reminded me that our first Dick and Jane readers had more than one pet. The cat's name was Puff. That tells me more about myself than the cat. ; ) I loved to read and my cat bore the name with dignity. We lost him to a mouse or rat that had been poisoned with strychnine. I didn't immediately add another cat. Daddy didn't let me. But another cat thought differently about the situation.
~~When a full-grown, plush-coated tom took up with us, I fed him. His smoky gray fur was soft and thick. Pale green eyes watched everything carefully. He had survived without help and he didn't relinquish control of his life. He came and went as he wished and lived with me for several years. I named him Malek after a wolf-human hybrid character in an Andre Norton book. As you can see, I was still reading. Malek was a comfort and a hunter. His skill at catching squirrels from what looked like a deep sleep never ceased to amaze me. He wandered off one day and didn't return, always the independent operator who allowed me to share his life for a while.
~~When I reached ninth grade, my piano teacher raised Siamese cats. She had several and offered to give me a tom from a litter of chocolate points. Daddy agreed and that is why my last cat before graduating from high school and college was named Etcetera. My sister Thea suggested it because the king of Siam always loved saying "et cetera, et cetera" in the "The King and I". And it fit. The long, sleek, sophisticated cat clearly knew he was special. Daddy even allowed him to live inside for a few years. In that time, I became very accomplished at meowing in Siamese. It has a distinctive sound all its own. Etcetera was my confidant when teen-aged angst hit and even took revenge for me when my siblings teased me too much. Have you ever had a large cat pounce into the back of your knees and make you nearly fall? That might be why Daddy decided that in the house was just too close for comfort. Etcetera had a room in the garage with the freezer to keep him warm in the winter. He continued to be my listener as I grew up.
~~All these cats hold special places in my life. That might be why, when John and I moved to a place that would allow us to have pets after three years of marriage, our next cat was home within a week of our move. I'll tell you about Darkness next time. ; )

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hidden Treasure Found

~~I know what you are saying to yourself right about now--Wait a minute, doesn't Zan Marie have poodles? The answer to that is, yes. But before Casey and Max, I proudly belonged to seven cats. The two in the photos above are the last two, Meow and Sunshine. When I had a problem finding my photo of the boys in their new harnesses, I realized that the memory card wasn't seated fully and the photos saved to the camera's memory instead. Once I downloaded it, I found wonderful photos of the cats. I didn't have a digital photo of Meow at all. At least I didn't think I did. ; )
~~This treasure trove has allowed me to show you the kitties. These two were throw aways that someone left on our doorstep. They were Maine Coon cats and weighed between 13 and 22 pounds during their adult life. Sadly, we lost Meow at eight and Sunshine at 13, both to cancer. It was during Sunshine's last days that John said he wanted puppies and the rest of that story is history.
~~As you can see, Brother Sunshine (Shiney, Shine-Shine) was a gorgeous yellow tabby and huge. The shoe he posed by is one of John's size elevens. The shoe is exactly a foot long. Sister Meow (Yowy, Yow-Yow) was a beautiful calico tabby. She had stripes of both gray tabby and yellow tabby that met up and changed color down her legs--one side gray and other yellow. I truly think she is the most beautiful cat I've ever known.
~~I'll have to tell you about all my cats as the next few posts continue. Unfortunately, my scanner doesn't "communicate with this computer" and I'll not be able to include photos. That is unless you want to come and fix this glitch for me. ; )

Friday, May 28, 2010

Harnessed Power

~~When the boys were little bitty, the only little bitty harnesses we could find were pink--and embroiderd with flowers. Not the image of our 'brawny' boys at all. ; ) So we waited until they grew up a bit. Now we have have harnessed our puppy power.
~~They walk much better with the harnesses and we aren't afraid we'll choke them by attaching the leashes to their collars. They're growing up and we love it. Now walks are fun. Unless the cats, squirrels, birds, and what have you are out and about. ; )

Monday, May 24, 2010

All Dressed Up

~~The fine, old lady house is finished and the new paint color is beautiful. When we describe it as a green house, no one will wonder which one on the street we mean. Her old craftsman style trim now stands out. She's got her jewelry on in the form of her Asiatic Lollipop Lilies in full bloom. We are thrilled this project is done. Now, John can go on to his next project. Believe me, I don't create the lists.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Waggle Speed

~~I've always been fascinated by doggie tails. There's a photo of me as a toddler grabbing for the waving tail of my sister's dog, Snowball. He was half Spitz and half whatever and white all over, of course. Hence the name. In the photo, I'm center frame, Snowball's tail is just out of reach on one side and my grandmother's arm is holding me back on the other. Needless to say, I'm a frustrated little girl. ; )
~~Casey and Max's tails are no less interesting. They go from the fastest pace of a metronome to sweeping slow with tentativeness. When your tail is only two to three inches long, it effects your waggle speed. How is up to each puppy's personal style. Though when they are excited, the difference in the two is very apparent. Max's tiny arc ticks in time to his vibrant, vivacious personality while Casey's slower wag covers a full half circle. He wants only a foot more tail and the feathery fringe of a golden retriever to make a big show. Both have a way to let us know what's up and they're wagging most of the time. ; )

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Avian Acrobatics

~~The cherries are nearly ripe and Mother's Day is here. We can't help but wonder if our avian acrobatic troup is about to appear. Let's be fair, though. We've only seen them once. On Mother's Day 2008, we looked out the solarium windows and found our Yoshino Cherry trees buzzing with wings. Small birds were going in and out. We had never seen them before and had to look them up. They were eating the tiny cherries that our trees create every spring after their glorious blooms are spent. Ornamental trees often produce small fruit that birds and squirrels eat. Our trees are no different. The event inspired a scene for my novel in progress, Mother's Day. The point of view is my main character, Laura Grace Chandler. The child is Samantha, her newly adopted daughter. I hope you enjoy it. ; )



I jumped at the sink and water showered my chest not my face. What could be so important this morning? Grabbing the towel, I went to investigate.

“You’ve got to see this!” Her excited voice drew me to the bay window of the living room. Raucous calls of “zeee” rose from fluttering birds in the Yoshino cherry tree on the other side of the deck.

“Oh my.”

“There’s hundreds of ‘em!” Samantha stared, mouth open, as the birds fluttered among the leaves. Acrobatic feats of flying rewarded them with choice, ripe cherries.

“Get the Peterson’s Guide.” My hand rose to my heart. “I can’t believe this, but I believe they're cedar waxwings."

She bounced back and handed me the book. “Waxwings?”

I flipped the pages. “Let’s see. ‘Crested brown bird. Yellow band at tail tip.’ Yes.”

“Look at the wings.” She pointed. “Looks like red Christmas candle wax on ‘em.”

“Guess that’s where they got their name, don’t you? I’ve heard of them all my life, but I’ve never seen one.”

Samantha ran back to the bookshelf and grabbed a book on North American birds. She giggled. “It says sometimes they get drunk if the fruit’s fermented. Calls them ‘tipsy birds.’”

“That would make flying difficult, I imagine.” I laughed. The delight of the birds' antics warmed my heart. “I think they’re tanking up to fly north to their mating range.” I looked back at the field guide. “Yes. Here’s the map.”

“It says they have to sober up to fly again. That’s just weird!” She stared at the birds again. “Wonder how long it will take for them to eat all the cherries?”

“Not long at this rate.” I glanced at the clock. “Oh, Samantha! We have to hurry. The Mother’s Day service won’t wait on us.” I grinned. This was a special day. It was my first Mother’s Day since I had become Samantha’s legal mother.

“Okay. I just got to dress. Then I’ll watch the birds till you’re ready.”

She skipped down the hall in front of me. Thank you, Lord, for the gifts of this day. Samantha’s mine and cedar waxwings to entertain us. I grinned at my reflection. “I don’t deserve this. I’m so happy,” I whispered to the wrinkled face, wreathed in smile lines. As I grabbed my purse, I heard Samantha singing. The child was a happy as I was.

“Momma, I just can’t imagine a tipsy bird staggering on the deck. Bet it’d be as funny as Dale stumbling around when Craig let him drink beer.”

I stopped. Closing my eyes a moment with my hand clinched, I felt my heart thud. Would Samantha ever escape that horror? I took a deep breath. “Let’s go, angel. We’re late.”


~~Happy Mother's Day to all of you. May your day be filled with delights of family and nature!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Ninety Years Old and... need of a face lift! Our house is a lovely lady, built in 1920 for John's grandparents. It's the first house in Temple to have electricity. His grandfather had a generator that he powered the church, the house, and his stores with. The wood used in construction was cut off the farmland he owned. We started renovation in 1980 and in successive waves, we have lowered the ceilings from twelve feet to ten, refreshed the walls with paint and wallpaper, and added a solarium and second bathroom. The house survived a direct hit from a hundred year old pecan tree during hurricane Opal in 1995.

~~During the last two weeks, John and Rayford, a family friend, have removed the ninety-year-old siding from the west side. It was beginning to show its age. By the way, this is the side of the house with the cherry tree referred to in my blog title. They have replaced it with plywood weather sheathing, house wrap, and new concrete fiber siding. Then they are painting her with a new, darker coat of green paint. If you look at the photos closely enough, you will see the name of the building supply store we purchased materials from. ; )

~~John plans to tackle the east side next spring. Around here, I don't create "Honey do" lists. He creates his own "Honey, I'm going to do this next" lists. It's great to be married to a handyman. ; )