Thursday, June 26, 2014


first let's do this because I read it and was bowled over. 
“Grief can destroy you --or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn't allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it's over and you're alone, you begin to see that it wasn't just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can't get off your knees for a long time, you're driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”

--Dean Koontz one of those Odd Thomas books.  

Echoes of Our Town, a play that always annoyed me because it's almost impossible not to be caught and dragged along by that very sentiment.

Still with me? 

Okay. I'm doing the emotional thing because I've spent most of the last week or so in panic mode adjusting to the fact that someday in my future, maybe soon, maybe later, I'm going to have to have heart surgery--valve replacement. The thing wrong with my heart, aortic regurgitation, is something they see in people who are in their 70s or who have bad genes. (The people with really, REALLY bad genes get the operation in their teens.)

One more test and we'll know if I get to be left alone for a while or if I have to have a life interrupted sooner rather than later. 

WARNING: If one more person tells me "it's standard procedure! all good! You'll be fine!" I will deck that person. Once this adjustment period ends, I'll be able to smile and nod and say "so I hear." But first I need to be mad and panicky about the fact. I declare this as my right. I haul up my weenie response flag and wave it high. 

Yes, I know plenty of people have it worse. Yes, I shall get some perspective, Rothwell. Yes, I know--that even if  I keeled over now, I've had a good run, better than many people-- even ones I've known and loved and lost. 

But still: Adjustment period. 

Yesterday I saw a lady walking around in Marshalls in scrubs and almost passed out with the sudden flood of panic I saw in that costume all of it: hospital/pain/helplessness/anaesthesthia/bedpans/recovery/death/[worst of all]panic. For someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in Marshalls,I tend to have a lot of major emotional moments there. 

Today, I had a stress test and passed with flying colors--name them, I saw them RED GREEN YELLOW PINK. All the colors--why? Because I am now allowed to exercise again. 

And yesterday's rush of fear was matched by a rush of joy that almost knocked me over. I don't even like exercise but being told that I'm allowed to run....God, it was wonderful. 

Tomorrow, one of those MRIs with radioactive dye to look for aneurisms.

This is all common, all normal. Part of any life**. I'm still making room for it in mine.


**any life with good healthcare and an excellent GP who does a good exam. And don't you be reminding me of that. Jesus, I know should be grateful Shut. Up. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Latest Chicken Taste Contest

Before you start to slaver and think yum, chicken, no...this is about the chickens' taste not ours.
Yum. Chicken kabobs grilled....peanut satay sauce.

Not that.

This is all about what the chickens prefer. I created A CONTEST!!! I pitted my usual treat for them vs. some Chinese stir-fry vegetables.

Which do you think chickens would prefer? I really didn't know. The last time I tried this test, the apple lost.

 So I turned on the lights of Iron Chef Studio.  I placed the two pans side by side and asked our judges to examine and pick their favorite dish.

 Chicken Three takes the first peck of the New Stuff. She has the most discerning palate of the group, first to recognize the tastiness of oats and moths.

 And, as always, Chicken Three is also the one with the most to say: tap, tap, tap. I think repeatedly thumping plastic is a method of communication.

 Spotchy is also willing to try the food. She seemed most interested in plain rice, maybe because it looks like oats. 
 "What is this crap?" says Shelly Duval. "Are you freaking trying to poison us again? What is it? I'm going to flap around now and give you the cold dino eye, because man, what are you trying to do to me?"

Flapping over, she tries a bit of rice.

judges cluster at winning display
 The clear winner as always: A shovel full of dirt.  Once again, they make it clear that shovel full of dirt with some worms (delivered in my old chicken broiler pan), is heaven.
Home cooking at its best -- always beats restaurant fare.

Monday, June 16, 2014

As Promised

For Pity's Sake

I did this, fool that I am.

All those comments later, I feel the following announcement is the only possible response post-that-particular-post:

Very soon I plan on changing my name(s) and moving to a cabin in Vermont miles from anything, including a public library.

I'm going to raise goats, chickens, and owls and forget how to use the keyboard. I'll write all my stories long-hand and then curse the publishers who send me form rejection letters. I won't be able to get on the internet to curse them publicly, so within a day or so I'll grow hoarse yelling at the sky. 

I will miss's lists and the kitty pictures. I will also miss Gawker, God save me, and that's part of the reason I must go. 

I'll let you know what name I pick, so you and the rejecting editors can send me reponses via USPS. 

Friday, June 13, 2014


I have the worst taste in music. I know because my kids have told me so -- and they know because they've caught glimpses of my running music list. Let's just say there's some Josh Groban on there and leave it at that. Run away.

BIMD (back in my day) you had mix tapes. Party mix tapes, driving mix tapes, dance mix tapes. Now my "tapes" are all about my goals, not to enjoy. Work music and running music--those are the two times I use music. Key point is I use, not enjoy, music these days.

Work music is basically a Pandora channel of movie theme music. Sometimes I listen to Chopin or other classical works, but only when I'm writing a historical. Otherwise my pacing is off. When I work, the music has no words.

Running music...nothing I'd sit around and listen to on my own, except perhaps Bittersweet Orchestra or National. And my kids introduced me to most of those bits.

* * *

In other news, chickens grow up fast. Usually I mean chickens, referring to my own nearly adult (sob) punkins. This time I mean something more literal.

That statement holds true for either value of chicken.

Oh hey, something funny about that picture. On the far right is a pan. I have roasted hundreds of chickens in that thing. Now it's a favorite resting spot for walking, breathing chickens. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What's more fun than getting a contract offer for a story?

Getting a nice note along with it.

Good afternoon. Thank you for submitting “Gent and Lamplighter”—what a lovely story! I enjoyed it immensely and am very interested in acquiring John and Giles’ romance for the Heroes and Heartbreakers short fiction program.

“Gent and Lamplighter” is not only beautifully written, but features realistic, warm-hearted characters that I think our readers would instantly fall for and want to see get that well deserved HEA.

I love this.  My heart cockles have been warmed all day.