I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reflections on 2013

Free Clip art

Life is full of happy times and times of conflict, work and play times, sad moments and joyful ones.  I prefer to look back on the best times, as I’m sure most of you do too.

I feel lucky in the fact that I got two trips this year, although neither was long enough, but isn’t that always the way it is when we’re having a great time?  But I won’t complain because there are many years I stay home and don’t go anywhere all year except to the grocery store, post office, pet store, and the herb store.  Yes, I’m usually writing and my life is that boring, although I don’t really look at it that way when I’m off on an adventure with the characters I’m writing about.

Seeing all my friends in southern CA was a great trip last May as I ran my legs off for the five days I was there.  I wore my husband out because he doesn’t like to go that much.  However, I don’t let any grass grow under my feet because I never know when I’ll be there again.  I have to make every minute count.

 Me and my friend Kara

 My friend Cec and me

 Me and my friend Bonnye

Me and my friend Sharon

Then seeing my family was wonderful in Sept.  Those ten days flew by.  I kept up the non-stop schedule there too because it had been four years and is likely to be four years again.  One never knows for sure where the future will lead.  There are way too many people to see and things to do in Texas.  As I mentioned earlier, I made every minute count.  I can sleep when I get home and that’s what I did.  I was pretty beat by the time I returned to the desert.  But if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

My family (mom and siblings)

In the writing department, I did a little freelance.  Times are slow there, but I did finish the family book I’ve worked on with my little sister for the last ten years, so that was a big accomplishment.  More importantly, all my siblings were happy to get their copies as we all collaborated by phone on this from time to time, amid many laughs at our childhood recollections..  My mom loved it, which is so very important since she’s in the early stages of dementia now.

I’m working on the corrections for my first mystery novel with help from the nice gal who’s doing the edits for me.  Thank you.  You know who you are.  I also entered the NaNoWriMo again this year because I don’t know when to quit.  It’s hard for me to turn down a competition because it’s a challenge and I love challenges.  So I wrote the first 51,000 words to the sequel of the mystery being edited right now.  Aside from that, I managed to write 210 blog posts this past year, plus a lot of other scribbling, so I feel pretty good about my writing time.

I do have a large house to keep up and life to live aside from my writing life, which takes up a lot of my time.  Naturally, I didn’t read as many books as I wanted to, but there is only so many moments in a day.

All issues on the health front have to do with other family members and not me or my husband this year.  Living parents have problems that come with old age and there isn’t a lot you can do about that.  I have a brother whose health issues are usually a result of his own stupidity, but no one can really do anything about that either because he’s grown.  If it’s one thing I know, you can’t change the thinking of a grown person.

We lost another cat this year.  That was difficult, but I try to remember that we gave her the best life she could have had and I like to think she’s having a happy reunion with her friends in the afterlife.

Comet - the cat I lost

I look forward to a better 2014, hopefully with more peace in my life.  It is fruitless to ask for more time each day because that will never happen.  One thing is certain; it will be an adventure with moving in the picture.  We all know what that entails, lots of energy, boxes, and packing tape.  At least next winter will be warmer, I hope, and the summer won’t be 115.

I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed myself here because I’ve seen a lot of things over the last nine-and-a-half-years that I would have never seen if I hadn’t called the desert home.  The landscape here is awesome and the wildlife incredible.  There are national and state parks close by and an outdoor amphitheater I’ve enjoyed.  I’ve also met some new friends to keep in touch with and rescued my little baby, Koki, who is such a love.  I hate to think what would have happened to this precious darling if I weren’t here to take her in.  She is, by far, the best thing that’s happened to me while living here.

 Koki - my little angel

Thanks again to all of you who follow my blog and read my meandering posts.  They tend to get a bit long sometimes.  I appreciate every one of your encouraging words.  You inspire me to do better in my writing.

I hope most of you realize many of your dreams in the coming year.  I think the advice we writers receive is good advice for everyone.  Don’t ever give up on your dreams.  Always believe in yourself.  All the battles you fight will only make you stronger.  No one can ever take away your imagination and determination unless you let them.

May peace, happiness, and good health be yours in 2014.  First on my agenda will be a trip to southern CA after New Years to see old friends again and take advantage of the seventy-degree weather for a few days.  I can’t wait.  Love and good wishes to you all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Isn't this picture beautiful?

Thanks to all my readers and my blog followers who put up with me and read the crazy cat stories and adventures in my life. A happy holiday time to all of you and to my family and friends. It's great to have all of you in my life. I hope 2014 is wonderful, bringing you much happiness, good health, and many blessings.


Friday, December 20, 2013

It Was a Very Special Ornament

This is a “free write Friday” prompt from Sharla at catnipoflife.  I never write blog posts on Fridays, but this subject caught my eye because my sisters and I started a tradition of exchanging Christmas ornaments about twenty years ago.  Four of us are participating in this, so every year we have to come up with three ornaments to mail out.  Two of us live in different states.

Koki - my holiday helper

 Of course, these are my most special ornaments because they are from my family and not just a box of globes you buy at Walmart.  I’m sure they feel the same way.  I know one of my sister’s strings hers from garland that she puts up around her windows and doesn’t even put them on her tree because, like me, she has cats and cats love shiny and sparkly things.  This is a very good idea.  I think I’ll start stringing mine on garland to save the stress of wondering if they’ll survive the season.  I always put them close to the top but this is no guarantee.

Koki in the tree

The cats will always climb the tree and bulbs get broken every year.  These special ornaments are irreplaceable.  I always hear the ornaments crash to the floor in the night and I know there will be a mess in the morning.  But I can’t keep my cats off the tree and I would never try.  It’s too much fun for them.  Who knows what kind of adventures they are thinking about as they take breaks and doze under there?

Koki under tree

I haven’t taken any pictures of mine, but I have pictures of the ones I’ve sent my sisters because it reminds me the next year, so I can buy or make something different.  Many times, I make mine because I think it’s more special and I have a lot of fun doing it.  Have any of you made ornaments to give away?  Here are a few from past years.

Merry Christmas everyone

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How to Gift Wrap a Cat

Okay, I’m always getting cute cat things and a friend sent me this by email.  It’s too cute not to share – especially for you cat lovers out there.

Enjoy this YouTube:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sometimes desperation calls for innovative thinking

I’ve been working on Christmas gifts – homemade this year since money is in short supply.  When that happens, you have to use your head.  Think about what you’ve got around the house.  So I got creative. 

I made my mom a family calendar using family pictures I’ve been collecting from any of the relatives that would send them to me.  Plus I took quite a few new ones when I was in Texas to visit the end of September.

This is the calendar front

I have some experience with Photoshop, so I put the pictures in there, cropped, resized, etc, and put them on the pages in collages for each month.  I took a sunset picture from here in the desert to use for the front of the calendar and put a collage on that too.  Once I had all those pages made, I used a desert sunset for the back page and resized each collage to fit on there to make a summary of the calendar.

This is the calendar back

In Word, I used the tables feature to make a calendar template.  I looked up all the dates for next year on the internet, along with the holidays for next year.  Then I added family birthdays to the calendar and made up pages for each month.

Inside Calendar page using tables in Word
Once that was finished it was a matter of printing it on back-to-back pages to make a flip calendar.  The only photo paper I had was only appropriate for one-side printing, so I used a white card stock I had in the house from a different project.  The pictures aren’t as sharp as they could be, but it’s still okay and actually looks better than I expected.

This is both flip calendars

 In fact, I ended up making one for one of my friends too, but I used nature pictures and landscapes that I’ve taken around the desert where I live.

Yesterday I used my binding machine to put both calendars together.  Once that was done, I measured for the holes for hanging and punched those in each page.

Finished Calendars

With the calendars ready, I started on the ornaments for my sisters.  Four of us exchange Christmas ornaments every year.  We’ve been doing this for the last twenty years.  I had to put the thinking cap on again because my car is out of gas and I won’t have any money for a while, so going out was out of the question.  I decided to use pictures again, hoping the ink in my printer would hold out after the two calendars.  After all, how much would an ornament take?  I decided not to chance it, so I put all the pics I wanted to use onto one page once I had them cropped and resized.  Then I printed them on photo paper and cut them out.

The next step was what to use for the background.  I had some card stock, but nothing red and the green wasn’t a Christmas green.  In addition, I didn’t think this was heavy enough, and then I remembered that I still had quite a bit of mat material in the garage.  I found the perfect green out there.  I think I told you guys that I’ve dabbled in many things over the years.  I was glad I still had this lying around.  I have a mat cutter, but I couldn’t find my blades for it, so I had to use a ruler and a box knife.  That wasn’t perfect and I had to clean it up, which took a bit of time.  I ended up cutting out two frames for each ornament.

Once all that was ready, I glued the frames together back-to-back inserting red ribbon between the two frames for hanging, and then glued the pictures in the center.  This was a messy job because the glue stick I was going to use was too old, clumpy, and about dried up, so I had to use Elmer’s and be extremely careful.  When that was dry, I dug around in my sewing supplies and found some red rickrack, so I glued that around each picture.  Then I set heavy books on them and let them sit overnight.

The ornaments in progress

Today they were set up and looked very nice, but they need something extra.  Going back to my craft room, I found a bag of sparkly silver pipe cleaners.  Perfect.  So I dug out my hot glue gun only to find that the battery won’t hold a charge.  Oh boy, now what?  This is where desperate measures come into play again.  I started wondering how I could melt that glue without the glue gun because Elmer’s wasn’t going to work for this job.  Then it hit me.  I got a lighter and a glue stick and little by little, I heated the end enough to melt it and apply around the picture, so I could stick the silver pipe cleaner down around the rickrack.  I could only do a couple of inches at a time, but eventually I got that task completed.  The silver touch makes the perfect holiday adornment.

The finished ornaments

Now all that stuff is ready to mail.  So if you set your mind to it, you can always accomplish the task.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Still cold and snowy

Free Clip art

It hasn’t been above freezing here in almost two weeks.  It did make it up to 32 today, so maybe there is hope we’ll see most of this snow melt before we get the next batch.  There’s still a lot of it around.  Our driveway is covered and in places, it is treacherous to walk around because of ice.

A couple of nights ago, it was only six degrees here so I dripped the cold-water faucets, as I always do here in the winter if the forecast is for twenty or lower.  Well dripping the cold water wasn’t even enough in the master bathroom because the hot water pipes were frozen.  That has never happened here before.  I never drip the hot water, but you can bet I’ve starting doing it now.  Last night it was ten degrees.

We borrowed a space heater and kept it aimed at the bathroom cabinets with the doors open.  It took over a day, but the pipes finally thawed and thankfully, they aren’t broken.  Until this cold spell is over, I’ll be dripping those faucets with hot and cold water every night because that wall is on the north side of the house.

One of my sisters called me tonight and said they have an arctic blast coming on Christmas day.  Now this is south Texas and it’s supposed to be in the mid-teens that night.  That rarely happens there.  We had many cold winters growing up, but the weather has gotten a lot milder there than it used to be when I was a kid.  She goes on to tell me we’ll probably get it first because many times that’s what happens.  What a lovely thought this is.

Now I’m wondering how much of this snow will actually be gone before we get the next batch.  We went to Costco today and the parking lot reminded me of some of my days in Alaska.  It is so unusual to see big uneven chunks of ice in the parking lots and snow shoved to the sides of the road.

Our birdbath and water pans freeze solid every night and it takes boiling water to get that ice out of there.  We have to refresh the boiling water several times a day because it’s not long and it’s frozen again.  The strangest thing is that the birds jump into that steaming water and take baths.  That is so unbelievable.  They must be very cold when they emerge all wet and dripping.  I need to download my camera card.  I had to take a picture of that.

I guess that’s all for now from the high desert – a place of extremes.  I’ll post more pics soon.  Stay warm everybody.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

We had more snow today than we’ve seen in years.

It really was a staggering sight to see it snow constantly all day beginning at 9:30 am.  At first, it was like fairy dust coming down, drifting and fluttering gently to the ground.  Then it got heavier and thicker as the day went on.  Our eyes were glued to the scene outside the windows much of the day.  I ended up taking 118 pictures of the white stuff – a bit carried away I guess when I think about it.

It hasn’t snowed this much at one time since we lived in Alaska back in the 1970’s when it would snow for days.  This hasn’t stopped and I’m wondering what kind of wonderland will be outside the door when we get up in the morning.

For the most part, the day was quiet with no wind or noise at all.  A bird of prey came and stayed a long time looking for any rustle in the bushes, so he could snatch a meal.  A lone jackrabbit frolicked in the snow in the desert behind the house.  Later, a few birds showed up trying to get anything at all that wasn’t covered in snow.

I wish my camera took better night pics because after the streetlight came on, it cast a soft glow on the glistening snow and the streets in the neighborhood turned white as the flakes kept swirling to the ground.

Here are a few pics I managed to capture today.  Enjoy.  This will be around for a few days as the high tomorrow will be 26 with a low of 6 degrees.  We aren’t warming up above freezing until the middle of next week.  I’m glad I don’t have to leave the house for anything.

 Video pics by Sunni Morris
Music by Aine Minogue - my album

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We lost a furry friend today

Comet 10-31-1998 to 12-4-2013 RIP

Today, 4 December, we had to make a hard decision to put one of our cats down.  In the end, it was really the only thing we could do and the right thing because she was struggling to breathe.

Comet had been sick since August, first with allergies, then a bronchial infection.  Finally, x-rays showed an enlarged heart so we had to give her heart pills and a water pill twice daily.  The last month or so she’s been very congested, so has been on children’s Benadryl periodically.  The sneezing got better, but we had to do something about the congestion.

Well things deteriorated with constant drainage out of her nose.  One side had become bloody and we had to wipe her nose a couple of dozen times a day and try to clean her up.  Poor little thing.  She hated that and didn’t want us touching her face.  She was getting thinner because she could no longer smell very well.

The funny thing is that she would still run up the stairs and sleep in the chair up here most of the day.  She started that about two weeks ago after not coming upstairs for two months.  That made us think she was getting better at first.  This afternoon she found a sunspot on the floor of the loft to lie in.  Cats hate the cold weather as much as I do.

If you’ll indulge me, I would like to share a little about her life.

We rescued her when she was about five-weeks-old.  We did many shows in the 1990’s and she was living under a porch with a bunch of feral cats at one we did for Christmas.  This show was outside.  There was frost on the ground as this was early December.  There were many babies under that porch and a lot of adult cats too.  The babies had to eat last because the big ones would push then away, so we did what we could and were able to rescue four kittens.  One we kept and the other three we gave to various vendors at the show.

We called her Comet from Corona and took her home with us on a Saturday.  She was so small she could fit in the palm of my hand and didn’t make a peep the whole forty-five minute drive to the house.  I cradled her to my chest and she slept and nestled in.  I think that was the first time she had actually been warm.

Of course, the next day it was back to the show, but my husband drove home to check on Comet in the middle of the day.  On Monday, we took her to our vet.  She weighed a little over a pound, so we figured she was born right around Halloween.  In those early days, she smelled just like baby powder and was very gray all over, even her eyes.  I’ve had a lot of cats in my life, but none that smelled like baby powder.

The boys, my other cats Wizard and Ceaser, took her in, cuddled, and protected her.  The three of them had a strong bond.  Comet missed them so much when they left us a few years ago.  I’m sure they are welcoming her with open arms tonight, saying, “and what took you so long?”

She took a special liking to Tootie when we rescued her and they played for four hours and then lay flat out on the floor exhausted.  It was as if they had known each other all their lives, but they’re two years apart and strangers before Tootie came in the door.

This cat has always loved water.  When she was a baby, she liked to play in it a lot, so I bought a new litter pan and would fill it with water so she could splash about and have fun.  I put it in the middle of the kitchen floor so I could easily mop the water up.  I have a picture of this somewhere, but it was in the days before I had a digital camera.

She liked water all her life and would constantly wash her feet and drink from the faucet if we let her.  We didn’t dare leave a glass sitting around that had any water in it because she wasn’t picky about where she washed up.  When we got the cat water fountain about seven years ago, she used that to wash her feet, so we had to change it often.  All the cats love that fountain.

Comet was a headstrong cat, especially after the boys died because she knew she was at the top of the pack then.  She made the other girls fall in line, particularly the tuxedo girls, Sukie and Koki.  We used to joke that she was upstairs strapping on her pistol.  Well her pistol is now retired and she’s having a long reunion and lots of fun lying in the sun, chasing butterflies, and cuddling with the boys.  I like to think so anyway.  It makes it easier not having her around.

I hope you’ll enjoy the video clip I’ve put together of her life.  I’m not good at making these yet, but I wanted to try to do one for her in remembrance.  I don’t have any baby pics because I didn’t have a digital camera in those days.  I do have some in a box somewhere that are 35mm.  Maybe someday I’ll find them and scan them to my files.  Meanwhile, I hope you’ll enjoy these.

Cherish your animals because we only have them for a short time.  Often they are more loving and loyal than humans are and are such great friends who love you no matter what.  I’ll miss her laying on my keyboard when I’m trying to type, even though it was annoying at the time.  The years fly by before we know it.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Did It!!!

Somehow, I managed to finish NaNo two years in a row.  This undertaking definitely takes stamina, courage, and determination.  It’s not easy to make this happen, especially during the month of November when we have a holiday and perhaps family visiting.  There’s always lots of prep work when you’re entertaining guests, cooking, cleaning, and shopping, etc.  That extra added onto daily life events doesn’t leave a lot of room left over for creative endeavors.  Then, when you really think about it, is any month any better?  In today’s world, we have a lot going on in our lives all the time.

I received a note from NaNo that said over 300,000 people signed up this year.  Out of that amount, 41,940 writers made it to the end.  You reach the end by writing 50,000 or more words by November 30.

The thing about NaNo is that there is a whole community of support should you need it at any time during the process.  The writing community there gives you pep talks and if you’re stumbling over something, you can go to their blog and get the answers you seek.  They’ve got all the categories covered when it comes to helping you reach your goal.  There’s even tracking so you can see how far away you are from the finish line.

 Free Clipart

I don’t partake in any of these forums because I don’t want to use my writing time conversing with other writers if I don’t have a particular problem to discuss.  I sure don’t mind helping others out with their problems, but I usually try to use the little writing time I have strictly for writing.  It’s a different story once I reach my 50,000.

For those of you who would like to enter but shy away because you think its undoable, please think again next year.  I know they recommend that you write everyday, but this isn’t necessary as long as you can make all your writing time count.  I was thinking about my NaNo project even when I was doing other things.  I made notes for my WIP in my head, or on scraps of paper that I had in my pocket. 

There is one thing to stress and keep in mind.  When you right you need to be in create mode only – DO NOT, under any circumstances, edit as you go.  I always hit the keyboard running and would crank out between 3,000 and 5,000 words at a time.  Tell yourself you can do it because you can.  Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that you’re writing a first draft.  Believe me; you will need to fix many things later.  That’s okay.  The purpose is to write, letting creativity take over while avoiding distractions – not an easy thing to do.

I salute all of us who took on this creative endeavor.  Even if you didn’t finish, you’re still a winner because you tried, so you didn’t procrastinate and say “maybe next year”.  On top of that, you also started a novel and that has to feel good because at least you’re making it happen.  You’re writing.

Now we can all breathe again and say, “thank God that’s over,” but I hope all of you will finish what you started and not just put it away in a drawer.  Now’s the time to tie up loose ends, polish it, do rewrites, have it edited, and eventually published.

On another note, I’m still taking care of a sick cat and organizing things to move in the spring, depending on how fast the house sells.

Comet is now getting children’s Benadryl along with her heart and water pills.  We have a humidifier running day and night and hoping she gets over this soon.  So far, she’s been a little trooper about taking all this medicine, but she isn’t crazy about us cleaning up her nose all day long.


We did go out very early the day after Thanksgiving for the first time since we’ve lived here.  It was still dark outside with tons of stars twinkling away in the sky.  The thermometer on the patio said 34 degrees, but on the north side of the house, there was ice on the windshield we had to scrape off before we could even get in the car.  What was going through my mind?  We had to scrape ice every morning in Alaska.  Someday, I’ll write more about those years.

Alaska Sky in Winter

We covered the rest of the plants today because by Wednesday, we’ll be in the deep freeze for a while.  The last forecast is for fourteen degrees at night with low thirties for a daytime high.  Ugh!  Drag out the sweatpants, thermals and fleece.  I definitely won’t be a happy person to live with.  I swore when I left Alaska that I was done with that, but this time I really mean it.  This is fine for all you snow and ice lovers, but this is not me.  At least by February the worst of it will be over with for this year.  I’m counting the days.  As I'm writing this tonight for posting in the morning, it's started to snow.