Friday, December 11, 2015

Ten Blatant Workout Myths Debunked, by Yuri Elkhaim

I did not start my afternoon searching for exercise tips yesterday but a video on just happened to lead to Yuri Elkhaim addressing exercise as mentioned in the blog post title. What a fortunate find (though creepy Internet cookies are probably at the root cause)! Anyway, if you are interested and have fifteen minutes, I recommend watching. You can click on the link below:

Yuri Elkhaim Presents Ten Blatant Workout Myths Debunked

Meanwhile, I’d like to mention some of the points. Some were no surprise, as I was fortunate as a young person to join a health club under my father’s membership. So I knew that resistance training does not automatically lead to bulk. Actually, it’s quite difficult to achieve a huge physique even for men. So ladies need not worry about turning into The Incredible Hulk. You’ll just become stronger and healthier, though please things slow to avoid injury.

Now a high protein, low carbohydrate snack shortly before resistance training seemed logical to me. That turns out to be a wise choice. It’s fuel for your body. But Mr. Elkhaim doesn’t insist you avoid carbs, either, so I’ve been correct in balancing the rest of my meals accordingly. Pure protein post workout does not seem to add any additional benefit, by the way.

Regarding the stability ball, these do not necessarily provide the benefits that have been touted. I’m glad. Frankly, the things make me fearful. The risk of a falling and potentially causing serious injury has not seemed worth the benefits of “strengthening my core”. I’ve achieved better strength and posture just by using progressively heavier weights. Those who use them are no fools, but they do need to think about their goals. Slouching negates the benefits, too, by the way.

A fact I learned recently is that sitting for eight to ten hours a day is not healthy. On that note, I'm going to take over one of my cats' "trees" as a standing desk. ~grin~ Really. Check it out:

As for sit-ups, they are not going to automatically give a person that washboard flat belly shown on television. You must get rid of fat. Even I knew that. And weight training is going to provide a longer caloric burn rate than aerobics. This leads to the best tip of all.

Yuri Elkhaim recommends combining aerobics with strength training. Yes, you read that right! The key is how you exercise. Instead of taking the recommended breaks between lift sets, rotate between machines without pause. What does this do? It increases your heart rate for an extended period just like jogging, cycling, or what have you.

I plan on trying that tomorrow. Wish me luck. I definitely plan to take that idea slow. The phrase “No pain, no gain,” as Mr. Elkhaim points out, is not wise either. We want to avoid damage and keep the momentum going.

Good health to you, dear reader! Do you have any additional recommendations? I’d enjoy reading them in comments.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Extortion Scam Alert - Beware!

Twice today I jumped when the phone rang, half expecting news about my ill mother, only to hear an ominous recording each time. The voice indicated a possibility of imprisonment if I failed to stand before a United States magistrate for a federal criminal offence. Skeptical as I am of mysterious threats, I looked up the phone number given and all kinds of scam notices popped up.

I doubt residents outside of the United States are being targeted, but beware of a David Gray threatening you with enforcement action by the US Treasury. The number left on my answering machine, 551-497-4103, pulled up a News Center article providing an alternative alias of Dennis Gray using phone number 567-203-4082. Below is the link if you are interested.

Washington County Sheriff's Office Warns of Scam

This is one of those times I am truly grateful for the Internet. Scams are all around us, whether through false advertising schemes or more insidious illegal fear tactics like this. I actually fell for such a ploy as a child, promised in the back of an Archie comic book that mailing $1 would buy me a stuffed animal in return. It sounds comical in retrospect but I was mildly brokenhearted. I wonder how much money that jerk made. Sad that I learned my first lesson so young, I am grateful it was not more costly and for my resulting tendency to be a little more wary.

What about you? Do you have any scams that you'd like to report?


Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Perfect Peanut Butter Milkshake

My very dear friend, A. Catherine Noon, is part of the Nice Girls Writing Naughty blog. And right now they are sharing some awesome recipes along with spicy book snippets for Better Than Sex November. As if all that isn't good enough, they are providing a baking goody basket as a prize to readers who leave comments for each post.

The only caveat besides posting comments (and who doesn't enjoy leaving a kind word?) is that you need to also share a recipe. So, I'm sharing with you a delicious dessert drink and will post a link to this in one of my comments for those Nice Girls. Have a delicious November! I hope you'll join in the fun.

The Perfect Peanut Butter Milkshake

For two servings - because who wants to drink alone? ;)

Two cups ice cream

One quarter cup of milk

Two tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Place ice cream, milk, and peanut butter in a blender; blend until smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes.



Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Cheap Travel Solution

It's been almost two months since some dear friends and I attended a weekend writers' retreat. What a wonderful time we had! But this non-veteran traveler encountered one minor problem.

You see, I wanted to make sure my toiletries followed NSA guidelines as strictly as possible. With all my lotions and potions for good skin care, carrying everything proved a challenge. So I poured shampoo and conditioner into little food grade plastic containers. It seemed perfect.

Until we reached our lodge, that is. Everything within my two quart plastic bag got covered with goo when my flimsy jars collapsed. What a mess. At least my friends are generous; Tina Holland kindly gave me shampoo and conditioner as I'm sure they all would have gladly offered.

Recently I shopped at a local dollar store. They are everywhere around here, more plentiful than the so-called "Five and Dime" stores of my earliest childhood. Cards are a particularly good deal in these shops. But then I found this:

Designed for arts and crafts, these should stand up to the rigors of my rare airplane travels. I'm tickled pink and ready to board a flight to our next meet-up!

Do you, dear reader, have any travel solutions you'd care to share?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to Win at NaNoWriMo

It's National Novel Writing Month! Come check out the Writer's Retreat blog and read how I survive and thrive...

Darla's Writer Wednesday

Happy writing!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

You Know it's November When...

It's National Novel Writing Month again! As a result of procrastination, I decided to share a late night notion.

You know it's November when...

Your friends and family know better than to call just to chat.
Comfortable pajamas become a wardrobe cornerstone.
Laundry day results in writing sprints between loads.
You memorized the keyboard shortcut for strikethrough rather than delete any output.
Timers aren't used for baking.
You mine every experience of your life (and everyone in your vicinity) for plot ideas.
Headphones have become a daily accessory.
Online chats inevitably include cat photos, talk of weapons, or word wars.
You type until your hands are numb because leaving the patio for a sweater would cut into your writing time.

How about you? Notice anything unique about the month?

As a bonus, here are two of my distractions:

Are You Done Writing Yet?

Yogurt Face


Monday, October 5, 2015

Flipping Over Flippers

My house's so-called master bathroom is very small. To make it more pleasant and usable I chose a pocket door and wall cabinets to open up the floor space years ago. A pedestal sink also helps the spaciousness, though I now have no counter top.

That sacrifice proved worthwhile, though toothbrush storage plagued me all this time. Holders all tend to be over-sized with multiple slots not needed here. We are only two.

Then an online search brought me to the Flipper brand. Two suction cups secure the individual holders to our medicine cabinet mirror as you can see here:

What you cannot see here is how seams in the animals' bellies part to allow easy removal of the brushes. They pop back into storage with equal ease, a simple press toward the mirror closing them securely.

I used rubber cement to ensure they stay in place. And so far, I am thrilled with the neat solution. If you would like to read more, you can check out the website here:

Flipper Hygienic Toothbrush Holder

There are numerous styles (I wanted a cow to accompany the pig but my partner liked the lion too much). Just be warned that these cute critters seem available only online in the United States.

Happy Brushing!


Monday, August 31, 2015

Dancin' the Night Away

Apparently my late night dancing sprees do not impress my cat Jezebel. The face says it all, really, as she apparently can't bear to look at me here.

Must I Watch This?

That's okay. I have determined that my clubbing days may be over but rhythm remains in this body and music still gives me joy. So why not turn pleassure into exercise?

As a bonus I managed to mask my camera moves with dance, capturing that effervescent cat in a rare still.That's a win in my book.

What gets you moving?


Friday, August 28, 2015

Gratitude Circle - August 2015

I really do have much reason for gratitude. Thanks go out to monthly Gratitude Circle hosts Vidya Sury and Corinne Rodrigues for reminding me to share. Since I list five things every morning to start my day's journal writing, I'll stick with that format. And if you'd like to join us and link up, here is the badge which you can put on your blog:

I'm actually posting this a day late, but here goes!

#1 My lower back pain went away after a few days and I never needed to take the muscle relaxants or pain reliever my doctor prescribed.

#2 A trip to the store provided me with four rather flattering new blouses with which to refresh my wardrobe. And coupons on top of sales made the foray satisfyingly affordable.

#3 My old winter coat's ripped seam can be repaired, saving me from searching for a replacement.

#4 For loving friends and family.

#5 That my parents' health insurance is allowing my mother to stay in a nice rehabilitation facility while awaiting surgery on her broken leg (at least for now! I pray this will continue). The surgery scheduled for early October will hopefully help her walk again.

I hope you find many blessings in your day. And please share them in the comments!


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Eight Photos of Happiness

How delightful that my Miniature Schnauzer blogging pal Riley nominated me for the Eight Photos of Happiness blog hop. Thank you! I urge you to visit Riley’s page for lots of adorable photos and joyful, fun facts lauding canine companionship.
Now, let me list the guidelines:

Thank your nominator and link their blog, then:
  1. Link the creator of the tag, Ariel's Little Corner of the Internet
  2. Display your 8 photos of happiness
  3. You can add a little description of the photos
  4. Tag up to 10 other blogs!
Okay so here I go with my 8 happy pictures. They are a memorial to my cat Luna, who passed away last August. This may seem sad, and we still sorely miss her, but I'm thankful for the happy memories.

A Cat's Idea of Packing
Luna Demonstrates the Proper Treatment of Laundry
If You Don't Talk to Your Cat About Catnip, Who Will?
This is a Dog Bed? I Don't Think So...
Luna Strikes a Pose
The Feline Use for Stationary
No Scaredy Cat Here
Now I need to tag up to ten other bloggers. There are some great folks out there, so here is a short list in no particular order:

Please enjoy the great blogs while I go tap all these folks on his or her virtual shoulder. I hope everyone will have the opportunity to join in the fun!


Monday, August 17, 2015

The Darker Side of Chalk Pastels

At the risk of showing further ineptitude at drawing, I have decided to share another chalk pastel foray. With this one I portrayed what I know well, vultures, in a scene inspired by a "Twilight Zone" apocalyptic classic and my own back yard view of local wildlife groupings. For the birds' fascinating presence, I'm very grateful.

Burning Sun

Of course "The Midnight Sun" has a classic twist ending and for that reminder 
 I thank Wikipedia (Huge Spoiler Warning). Additionally my gratitude goes to About.Com for the information on vultures. I always thought of a grouped flight as a tornado before finding this awesome information.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

By Popular Demand...

Well, since two dear commenters asked to see my fledgling artwork with chalk pastels I decided to share. It's all in fun, so please don't judge me too harshly. ~grin~ Here goes...

A Crabby Day at the Beach

The important thing is that I enjoyed myself in this endeavor. And I'm sure Julia Cameron would approve of that. In the meantime, I'm studying more advanced techniques than my initial YouTube discovery offered.

Have you played today?


Monday, August 10, 2015


The Sky's the Limit (or at Least a Beginning)

Blessedly, I still have both my parents. They have reached an advanced age and I’ve mentioned before that my mother suffers numerous health issues. For now, Dad is doing pretty darn well. And I thank the Lord. While Mom hangs in there getting regular occupational therapy, she’s in limbo waiting for more leg surgery. We hope she will walk again.

Meanwhile, Dad is slowly working toward a decision that my siblings and I consider long overdue. He has begun cleaning some of the accumulation from nearly four decades at their current main residence in a long-term goal to downsize (and hopefully dwell in a single story home). During my last visit he surprised me by handing over a box of unused chalk pastels. Mom probably purchased them back in the 1980’s and I’m tickled that he opted not to toss the set out of hand.

To tie into my serendipitous notion, I actually looked at buying a set of these very art supplies a few months back. Deciding I shouldn’t spend the money, I forgot the notion just like I’d forgotten my mother buying the set I currently possess. Received a week ago, they saw some preliminary childish play today.

A video on YouTube introduced me on their use, which is simple but not necessarily intuitive. As a writer, I tended to want to hold them like pens or pencils. ~grin~ It will be fun to see what I can create.

I won’t mention Dad’s gift to Mom out of fear her sometimes confused mind will misconstrue the event as a sign she’s never coming home. Perhaps, however, I’ll get good enough to draw a past beloved pet. Or at least a sunrise…

How about you? Any serendipity blessing your creative life these days?


Friday, August 7, 2015

Stereotyped Women a la 1989

I’m a big fan of many Tim Burton directed films. In particular, I like his collaborations with composer Danny Elfman, whom I just learned wrote not only the theme songs to “The Simpsons” and “Tales from the Crypt” but also “Desperate Housewives”. But I digress.

Last night I wanted to watch something light and fun. 1989’s “Batman” grabbed my attention while I perused my DVD collection. Perfect, I thought. Jack Nickolson’s Joker is unforgettable. (Nothing against the late, great Heath Ledger, of course.) And the visuals are stunning.

Alas, I had forgotten Vicki Vale. She probably showed as much dimension in the original 1948 comic book appearance. What a painful character to watch.

Vicki starts out as a strong concept, a prize-winning photo journalist. Yet she never once acts the part besides pulling out a camera once or twice. Throughout the film, which Tim Burton proclaims he mainly considers boring (!), Kim Basinger gets to do little besides shriek, faint, and follow Bruce Wayne around like a puppy. At the end she meekly gets into the car with Alfred as if she has zero interest in championing the world.

I guess she is too busy being some overshadowing dude’s girlfriend now and must attend his needs. To use an eightie’s valley girl euphemism, gag me with a spoon.

Audiences purportedly disliked that Vicki earned a tour of the bat cave. But honestly, what does it matter? It’s not like this namby-pamby smudge upon female characterizations will do anything with this information. This flick shows Ms. Basinger even more mincing than as Elizabeth in “9 1/2 Weeks”.

I have no idea what might have ended up on the cutting room floor, of course. Was some redeeming scene left out with final cuts? Maybe I should write a converse sort of fanfic for myself, just to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Or maybe not. I’ve got more interesting things to do.

If you’ve seen the movie, what did you think of this portrayal?


Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Cohabiting with Cats Versus Adult Human Beings

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my beloved Luna's death. I didn't exactly feel like hanging out with people, fortunately able to keep to myself beyond a visit to the health club. I did admittedly talk briefly to her memorial stone, otherwise acting normal and finding comfort in her memory.
By NawtyKitty ( Picture by: Banazer)
Thanks to

At around four this morning when hungry cat Jezebel woke me, I thought of nothing sad while lying upon my Luna-free pillow. Instead humor came to mind as the above title proclaims. This post is for you, little Luna.

My Itty Bitty Pretty Kitty

As advertised, The Pros and Cons of Cats Versus Humans:

A cat won't complain when you turn on a light in the dark
But she is more likely to wake you for food at three AM
You won't hear complaint about the thermostat setting
But a human might offer a fun way to warm up
Cats won't gripe when you continually hit the snooze bar on your alarm clock
But don't expect him to make sure you aren't late for work
Cats never much care what you wear
But she will think nothing of clawing your favorite shirt
A cat won't complain when you pass gas
But some produce their own stinky emissions (fortunately, not my girls)
Cats don't gripe when you have stayed out too late
Nor are they likely to greet you at the door unless hungry (or like doting Luna)
Fall asleep on the couch half the night? Fine - no hard feelings
But remember steadying claws may come out when you unbalance your sleeping pal
Felines never fear the future
They also can't offer solutions to your concerns
You never need worry about your cat's college debts
But she won't help pay the bills, either
A cat will never undermine your writing goals
Unless she wants to lie on your keyboard

All in all, animals of all shapes and sizes are welcome additions to my home. Well, except for the mole digging up my front lawn. Sigh...

What furry family member rules your roost?


Monday, August 3, 2015

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge - Day Five...


Scrolling through the images on my new camera, I thank Virgil for the delightful gift. He grins and tucks a strand of hair behind my ear.
“I’m enjoying it, too. This is so much better than when we had to wait days to see how the photos turned out.”
“And I can snap away without the dread of wasted film,” I add.
He points to the image of a resting dragonfly. “Did you just take that?”
“Yes. A field beyond the campground is teaming with insects.”
“What are we waiting for, then?” he asks, folding his newspaper. “I’ve been sitting on my behind entirely too much this trip.”
I haven’t complained because seeing him relax so completely has been wonderful. But if I were to be completely honest with him or myself, this sedentary side of him got a bit dull this third day of camping. I’m ready for a little adventure.
“I have a better idea. Why don’t we go into town and rent some bikes?”
Usually I’m the one happiest setting a sedate pace on foot. My suggestion clearly delights my guy. I just hope [i]my[/i] behind doesn’t regret this departure from the norm.
An hour later, I think I’m doing pretty well. We’ve ridden past some really neat historical buildings. Even better, Virgil points to an ice cream stand.
“What do you say, Gladys? Ready for a break? I’ll buy you whatever you want.”
I’m almost off the bike before it coasts to a stop beside the shop’s cluster of picnic tables. Virgil laughs. I tell him to purchase another of whatever he decides to get just as long as he makes mine smaller. It’s not often that our tastes are not in accord.
And this is not one of those times. A scoop of pistachio ice cream on a waffle cone tastes great, a cooling treat after our exertion. Virgil groans when it’s time to pedal on our way.
“Want to head back to the rental shop? You look ready for a nap.”
“I should work off some of those calories,” he says, “but yeah. Let’s go.”
“Just one second.”
A teenager walking by is kind enough to take our picture as we pose before the bicycles. Then I'm ready to park myself by our tent until time to light a fire and start dinner.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge - Day Four...


“This is nice,” I say, patting Virgil’s knee.
He grunts in a way that tells me my intrepid man is dissatisfied just sitting around the campsite. I take a deep breath. Dare I ask what he’d rather be doing? Dare I not?
I don’t want the dear man bored. Life is too short. And I’d much rather get off my backside than have him insist on going back to work. His father worked until the day he died and I want more for us. Besides, Virgil’s mother made me promise to someday make my husband retire and do the things of which she’d always dreamed.
Like camping for days at a time.
“You want to go for a walk?” I ask. “Or maybe take a drive?”
His face lights up, visibly erasing a decade off his age. I can’t help chuckling. The years have flown by, with plenty of amusing adventures sprinkled in despite his busy career.
“I’m just remembering the time we got lost in that reserve.”
“Geez, how long ago was that?”
Standing, he stretches his arms toward the sky. I can hear those shoulders pop from here.
“Ten years. Can you believe it?”
His gaping expression is comical. I don’t laugh. The man’s eyebrows have grown into a thicket while the hair on his head recedes further every year, yet I still see the features of the teenager who stole my heart. I used to go blocks out of my way to intercept his walk home from school when the year between our ages saw him still in junior high when I started high school.
“Well, time moves on,” he opines. “And on that note, we have plenty of daylight left for a hike if we get going.”
I try not to groan, gathering myself from the comfortable seat. The exercise will be good for me. It only takes me a few minutes to gather some things.
“We’re going for a stroll, not an overnight excursion,” he teases.
It probably is overkill to take the first aid kit, but my mother’s voice always tells me a person can’t be too careful. Unfortunately, I’m so busy stocking my little backpack for unforeseen calamities that I forget my cellular phone. And Virgil didn’t even remember to bring his along on this camping trip.
We have a repeat of the decade before, getting lost for hours longer than we planned to be gone. But we do find our way to the road before dark. And I thought to take trail mix, so we didn’t even go hungry.
As I lay in my sleeping bag later that night, I imagine us laughing about this in another ten years.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge - Day Three...


I walked the shoreline while the sun rose, enjoying the quiet. It’s nice to just stand here now with the surf washing around my ankles. Virgil will be joining me soon, I hope.
Always considering him a morning person, I find it surprising that he seems to need more time to get motivated when we come here. Perhaps he just gets into a slower vacation groove. That’s fine by me. As long as we’re both relaxed and having fun, it’s all good.
“Gladys,” he calls, and I turn with a wave and a smile.
The corners of my lips fall slightly when I realize he’s carrying a surfboard across the sand. What in the dickens? He’s too old for that kind of nonsense. And I don’t feel like spending holiday time at the local hospital.
His eyes track over my expression. Instead of looking chagrined, he beams at me, his grin widening.
“Just kidding,” he says upon reaching me. “There are predators in these waters! But you’ll never guess who the board belongs to.”
I don’t get the chance to try. As if Virgil’s renewed laughter is a cue, the young couple we met back home a few weeks ago crests the stairs over the dune. Rick matches Virgil’s amusement. His young bride, Susan, rolls her eyes in sympathy toward me. We’ve both married a couple of jokers. She gestures for me to come closer.
“I’ve got coffee and muffins up here,” Susan calls. “Why don’t you join me?”
That’s all the invitation I need. My husband takes my hand and we start up the steps. He politely declines Susan’s offer, though, saying he wants to stay at the top of the stairs to watch Rick surf. I have a sneaking suspicion he’s planning to stay on a lookout for sharks.
My husband’s thoughtfulness warms my heart, though I soon become engrossed in conversation with the younger woman. She tells me that they delayed their honeymoon because of Rick’s job.
“But now I don’t mind so much. How neat to have found you here!”
I agree with her. We make plans to go souvenir shopping later in the day. For some reason, I find myself telling her about Virgil’s surprisingly languorous morning routine. Of course it beats talking about the shark attacks the area has been recently seeing.
“The only days he gets moving early are when we’ve made specific plans. It’s odd.”
“No, it’s not. We found Virgil up here by the pool and Rick asked why he wasn’t with you.”
“He said he enjoys watching you, Gladys. Just don’t tell him I tattled.”
I won't. Thanking her for breakfast, I ask to borrow some of her sunscreen. Virgil's bald patch could use some protection.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge - Day Two...

Title: Treed

“You’re not serious,” I say to my husband, pointing upward. “We’re in no shape to climb that.”

“Sure we are,” he offers. “That couple just did it.”

He nods toward a pair barely out of their teens. They smile at his wayward enthusiasm. The gal looks at me and offers a thumbs up sign. I’m not sure if she is being sarcastic or just hiding pity. I feel a tug on my arm.

“Come on, honey.”

The young man holds up his camera. “If you make it to the top, I’ll take a picture of the two of you as proof.”

“You’re not going to want to stand around that long,” I reply, “though maybe you could wait here long enough to call an ambulance.”

Everyone laughs but me. Now my husband scoops my hand in his calloused palm. It’s my signal to stop arguing. Taking a deep breath, I turn toward his goal.

Looking up again I must admit that the very structure of this so-called tree tower is striking. Cedar shingles appear red-gold in the sunlight. But I would much rather admire it from here. Nonetheless, I take my first upward step.

We reach the first landing without too much gasping and moaning. Soon, though, my knees start to twinge. My man turns to look when I pull my hand free, his pace being just a little too fast for me. I lean against the rail and try to not to wheeze.

“Do you need to stop?”

“Just let me rest a moment.”

It really does rejuvenate me, though my joints soon begin popping upon each stair. Halfway up, he calls a halt. My dear hubby wipes sweat from his forehead and the motion causes his brows to spike in beetled disarray. I’d poke fun if I could catch my breath.

“You were right, Gladys.” He waves to the couple, telling them not to bother waiting. “We’re coming down, anyway.”

“Pose for me there,” the young fellow urges. “I can Photoshop you at the top from my computer.”

To my surprise, we end up exchanging email addresses. The picture turns out fine, if falsified. Our new friends made out better when we buy a state-of-the-art blender for their wedding three weeks later.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge - Accepted! Day One...

Thank you for the nomination to the Five Photos, Five Stores Challenge, Joan! I look forward to playing along. Your Joan Somers Design blog is a delight, by the way. So here is my first ficlet.

Title: Beached

“Where are you going? We shouldn’t leave the path,” I warn to my husband’s back. “You’ll fall in the river.”

Looking over his shoulder, he says, “No I won’t. Come see.”

My stubborn man, continuing to pick his way through the undergrowth, almost immediately disappears from view. After a pause at least no splash sounds, so I glance both directions for right of way before following him off the bike trail. I dressed for a paved stroll, not a wooded hike, and am cautious not to let my bare calves brush against the taller weeds.

I can’t help but roll my eyes. The last thing either of us needs is a tick infestation.

The incline turns out to be more gradual than I expected. Several paces bring me easily to his side. Instead of looking at the nearby rushing river, he points down.

Very clear in the mud I see raccoon tracks. I stoop to get a closer look at the fainter marks shaped almost like arrows with truncated shafts.

“See those claw tips? Those signs are from the cranes,” he explains, the birds being this area’s namesake.

I stand, smiling. “This is neat.”

“And it’s perfectly safe just like I said. In fact, we’re clearly still on the beaten path.”

I swat his shoulder. He gives me a comical flinch. Then bushy eyebrows bounce nearly into his receding hairline.

“How about we go skinny dipping?”

“How about we get on with our walk,” I retort, turning to grab a branch for support on my return.

“Spoil sport,” he mutters, following close behind.


Now, here are the rules:
1) Post a photo each day for five consecutive days.
2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.
3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation.

And here are my two nominees:

Keith, the wonderful flash fiction writer of the Keith's Ramblings blog.

Drusilla Barron, who inspires me mightily with her Loved As If blog.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tuesday Tidings for July, 2015

Finding hope in this world is a precious commodity, especially when each day brings something new to fear. Pick any modern social media and you'll find that mainstream sources seem to focus on the negative. That's what sells, after all.

My friends at the Writer Zen Garden blog decided to try and spread uplifting messages. In my small way, I like to share five simple blessings in hopes others will look more brightly toward their own lives.

And so, let me list some joys I find in this day:

1. Our pet groomer can get Tilly the cat in on Friday morning instead of later next week.

2. I got to enjoy camaraderie with writer friends last night, one of whom has a deck surrounded by lovely old trees.

3. Caregivers discovered a blood clot in my mom's leg in plenty of time to save her life...

4. ...and the extensive knee surgery thought needed to help her walk again may be unnecessary!

5. The whole afternoon and evening remain for me to write to my heart's content.

Have any good news to share? Please leave a comment and spread the word.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Keith Hillman of Keith’s Ramblings for offering me this award. I appreciate the thoughtfulness. And if you enjoy flash fiction, his blog showcases some excellent examples.

In accepting the award, I have been asked to do the following:

1. Display the badge
2. Thank the person who awarded it to me
3. List seven interesting things about myself
4. Nominate up to 15 bloggers for the award.

As Keith himself stated, finding interested bloggers can be tricky when folks tend to have so much going on in their lives. I will try my best. Listed in no particular order, each is a treasure.

Vidya Sury

A. Catherine Noon

Joan Somers 

Corinne Rodrigues

Rochelle Bradley

So, you obviously see the badge and my list of victims, er… nominees. Now, to find seven interesting things about myself.  I don’t know how interesting they will be, but here goes…

1. I utterly dislike going barefoot
2. I’m in a desperate struggle to reduce the weight of an eighteen pound aging pet cat
3. My body seems to have no internal clock whatsoever - a handy thing being able to drastically change up my schedule
4. I used to burn up the dance floor in my teens when I had a willing partner
5. My canine teeth look like fangs…
6. … which I refused to allow a dentist to file down
7. The only times I’ve been struck by sickness from a bacteria or virus in the past three years or so directly corresponded to the health issues of my cat Luna, whom I still miss terribly after her death last August fifth

Thank you again, Keith. And Happy Independence Day to fellow US citizens. Be well.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Word of the Day

Your word for the day is: Fulgarophilia. Try saying it. Isn’t that a fun one? One could call it a fetish for storms, but I think ‘fascination’ is adequate. Of course, arousal does not have to mean the sexual sense.

The sounds of rain, thunder, and flashes of lightning awaken my senses. Many draw me out on my covered back patio to watch their arrival out of the western skies. If wind doesn’t drive a downpour too far beneath the tin roof, I’ll stay for as long as it lasts. Or at least until my partner gets impatient waiting to resume watching a movie or something. ~grin~ Anyway, I think I can officially call myself  a fulgarophiliac and I’m proud of it.

I wonder if I can work it into my latest tale? Alan Watt, author of “The 90 Day Novel”, would probably be amused. And I’m quite sure he would approve.

What about you? Is there something family friendly that gets your blood pumping? Perhaps riding rollercoasters, hooking a nice bass from a fishing boat (that’s something I don’t get out and do nearly enough ~sigh~), or maybe you're a tightrope walker?


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Another Day, Another 1,667 Words (Give or Take)

I can hardly believe it’s July second. In my case, that not only means that summer is well under way but also that I’m in day two of Camp NaNoWriMo. I must say that the rules are more relaxed than November’s National Novel Writing Month.

We can even choose our word count rather than automatically committing to the fifty thousand required for the November challenge. However, I decided to shoot for 50,000 as I did in April. Time is not really an issue for me these days. Dedication and a goal, however, are things I can use.

The fact I’m also following author Alan Watt’s “The 90 Day Novel” is actually a perfect fit with Camp NaNo. It’s an exciting time. A story I wrote as a short many years ago deserves a larger format, I think, and this combination of promptings feel as if they are making a difference.

You see, I’ve tried writing this tale in a longer format before. I ended up with long streams of rather pointless dialogue and not much else. Some of you have surely read similar complaints from me before (even about this very story). But I am of the opinion that those self pitying days may be at an end. We’ll see. Meanwhile, some favorite music is helping the flow, as well.

The album “Vol. 1” by the band Hurt contains just the right of driving instrumentals and emotional angst. Lead singer and main lyricist J. Loren Wince and his crew really deliver. I may have to go through the rest of their music catalog today and see how much more I can accomplish, whether I’m writing or cleaning house or whatever.

What motivates you, my dears?


Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Haiku for the Day

Furry Alarmclock

Whiskered nose poking
Tail dragging from head to toe
Time for food, human!

 Aren't I Angelic?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gratitude Circle - June of 2015

Is it really the fourth Thursday of June already? That means it's time to join the Gratitude Circle and link up with Vidya Sury. If you care to join in, you can pick up the badge below.

Please be sure to read Vidya's post here: Vidya Sury - Focusing On the Good Stuff. Now, on with my list.

I'm thankful...

1. For my ability to swim.

2. That I am writing a lot with Alan Watt's "The 90 Day Novel".

3. To have a hardworking neighbor who conscientiously cleaned a messy water leak for a fair price, actually enabling us to bypass an insurance claim. (Thanks, neighbor Dave!).

4. For having harvested several delicious tomatoes already.

5. To be financially well off enough that the new water heater and cleaning the basement did not drain our bank account.

Well, I hope you find many blessings in your day. And please share them in the comments!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday Tidings for June, 2015

I can hardly believe this is the ninth of June! So far, it has brought ups and downs. But this post will focus on the upside, to be sure.

  1. My mother seems to be doing better despite ongoing and recently exacerbated health issues.

  1. Loved ones have kept me updated and been supportive when I update them.

  1. At least seeing Mom’s strength and health issues inspire me to work out.

  1. I impressed a fitness trainer today with my strength.

  1. My strength and will allow me to keep my house and gardens lovingly (if not perfectly) maintained.

What brings you joy today?


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The 90 Day Novel

I'm so excited to have joined a daily novel workshop created and published by author Alan Watt - "The 90 Day Novel". Some friendly local authors will be meeting weekly during this summer project, and now I'm actually facilitating the workshop online!

This is a new venture for me. It's my hope to encourage creativity in others as well as to write a complete novel length manuscript over the next three months. Whatever happens, I like the idea of getting on the page and having fun telling story.

Thankfully, I have an emotionally safe place for my debut facilitation. The Writer Zen Garden has been my online home for many years now. The people are talented, open-minded, and generous. Let's hope I do right by them.

It helps that Alan Watt seems to have the same gentle approach to creativity as Julia Cameron. And my beloved Zen Garden forum group has not only invited me to join in on Ms. Cameron's various workshops but encouraged me to guest host one. Writing some of those essays gave me a little experience, at least.

Do you have any exciting plans over the coming months?


Monday, June 1, 2015

The Liebster Award - Bloggers Making Connections

Today I was honored to find myself nominated for the Liebster Award. It’s sort of a blog hop party but in the form of a chain letter. Before that notion turns you off, think of this as a way to meet other bloggers. I look forward to it, having enjoyed the A to Z Blog challenge in April.

For my involvement I’d like to thank the delightful Strayer, an advocate for stray cats in need. Her blog, Cat Eyes --- A Cat Woman's Photos, includes some really great photos as well as stories, both about cats and life in general. Stopping by is certainly part of my daily routine. I hope you’ll visit her.

As for the Liebster Award, here are the steps needed to participate:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to their blog.

2. Give readers 11 random facts about yourself.

3. Answer 11 questions from the blog of the person who nominated you.

5. Nominate 5-11 bloggers for this award (those with fewer than 200 followers is recommended).

6. Come up with 11 questions for your nominees.

7. List these rules in the post, along with said nominees and the questions you wish them to answer.

8. Last but not least, notify your nominees.

9. And, of course, have fun!

Having achieved the first and seventh steps, I will now offer 11 random facts about me.

1.  I have had two-tone dyed hair since before the style became popular.

2.  My most complete music collection is Marilyn Manson.

3.  If I won the lottery, I’d open an animal shelter.

4.  I usually prefer the company of animals to people.

5.  Most of my life was spent in denial that I am a science fiction geek.

6.  Resistance training is my second favorite form of exercise behind swimming.

7.  I want to invent a force field that lowers gravity immediately around a person’s body for both safety and convenience.

8.  It just occurred to me that the aforementioned invention would also be a fantastic beauty tool (!) – no more sagging.

9.  The ocean is my favorite type of vacation spot.

10.  One goal is to learn something new every single day.

11.  I can go days without Internet access and not feel deprived.

With that last admission, I still must say that I enjoy connecting with fellow writers online. Anyway, here were the questions Strayer asked of me:

1.  Cats or dogs? Well, my partner prefers cats, so we have feline companions but I greatly appreciate most dogs.

2.  Your favorite book? Ooh, that’s tough. I suppose I’ll go with Stephen King’s “It” which I return to every few years, but Mr. King’s “The Stand” is a close second.

3.  Your favorite movie? That would have to be “Cousins” with Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini.

4.  Mass transport commute or your own car? My own car, for sure. I don’t like crowds and really enjoy freedom of movement.

5.  Eat out or eat in? That depends upon my mood, though there have been a lot of restaurant bills racked up recently. ~grin~

6.  Noise or silence? Silence is golden. As much as I love music, it’s rarely played loudly.

7.  Crowds or Alone? I definitely prefer being alone. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a lake, on a mountain trail, or sitting at home. I’ve even attended movies and concerts by myself.

8.  Have you ever been to a county fair? Absolutely! They are fun even now that I’m grown up, though I hate that they always happen when temperatures are high.

9.  Jet ski or kayak? I would probably prefer a kayak, if only for that noise issue. Interesting question!

10.  TV or book? I much prefer to read, though I do adore movies.

11.  City or country? I’m definitely a country girl for the most part. However, I have enjoyed visits to St. Louis and Chicago.

Now I will list my nominees in alphabetical order. I hope they have the time and inclination.

And here are the questions which came to my mind. I’ll be interested to read how any takers of my nomination respond.

1.  Do you prefer rainy days or sunshine?

2.  Have you ever been to an opera?

3.  Would you prefer to say you climbed Mount Everest or took a deep sea dive?

4.  Are you afraid of spiders?

5.  What is your favorite morning beverage?

6.  Would you rather walk or ride?

7.  Do you own a motorcycle, or would you perhaps like to?

8.  What would be your dream job?

9.  Would you prefer attending a music concert or a comedy show?

10.  What is the last book you finished?

11.  Which would you choose, a romantic comedy or a horror flick?

Now, I’m going to devote myself to the first exercise in “The Ninety Day Novel” alongside some local writers. Should be a fun summer project.

Happy June first, all!