Monthly Archives: July 2009

Writing in the Country – An Idyllic Life?


One might assume, if one saw me sitting in the corner of the Parlor of my 100-year-old Victorian home where my ‘office’ is located, that with the views of my 5 acres of grass and trees and no houses or kids playing in the street, I would be happy.on swing reading

It’s not that I’m NOT happy. But I’m a city girl. Raised in a suburb of Ft Lauderdale in the 60’s, then when married lived in population-bursting Orlando for 8 years. Moved to population-exploding Jacksonville for 25 years, now living in Lake City, with a total population of about 12 has come as quite a social shock to my system.standing by dragon at pond

I didn’t really choose to live here, either, which is part of the problem. I didn’t even choose the house and property. (Looks up to Heaven) Not that I’m complaining Mama and Daddy, but I wish I was back in Jacksonville. I’m glad I had the ‘old house’ experience I always dreamed of, but we’re over it now and want a brand spanking new one.

You see, 5 years ago Mama died of a massive aneurism in her brain. My parents had been married for 52 years, so Daddy had no idea how to take care of himself. He took care of the house and property, she took care of him. So when she left so abruptly it fell on me to take care of him. He wouldn’t leave his home, so we left Jacksonville. And our beloved, remodeled home. And pool. And pleasant to stroll around, safe for the kiddies  gated neighborhood.

hs frm gdn crnrAt first glance you’d say, But don’t you love having no traffic or accidents?  Yes, of course. But I miss shopping at a mall. Ours has about 5 stores. I miss a big, plush movie theatre. Ours is from the 70’s and has never been remodeled. We just got a Starbucks last year. We have NO Target! We have to choose from the same 20 restaurants every time we eat out. Sure, we can drive to Gainesville for all of these things, a hour away, but who wants to drive that far to eat out? Besides, my husband drives 1.5 hours to Jacksonville daily to work then 1.5 hours home….DAILY. See what I mean? I’ve done more Internet shopping since moving here than ever. All the money I used to spend at Target goes to Shell Gas now.

Our house has been on the market for 2 years. It’s a beautiful house and property, everybody tells us so. But Daddy died as the market collapsed, so we’re stuck.Even if someone wanted it, they’d have to sell their first and so on and so on.

BUT, I have beautiful views from every window and quiet to write. I guess that’s worth a lot. Not to mention a house we own, today that’s priceless.  Even if I have to drive 25 miles a day to get the kids from school.


Dragons -Real or Imaginary? Extinct? Actually a Dinosaur?


Have you ever wondered whether dragons really existed at some time on Earth? I mean, if you take a good look at some of the newest dinosaur fossil finds it’s not that far a stretch to imagine that once upon a time those magnificent beasts soared over the hills and dales of our lands. After all, there are animals that once existed but are now extinct; like the Dodo bird, Irish Deer or Cave Bear.

Can’t you just imagine searching the skies for leviathan shadows before making a mad dash to the well for water to cook dinner or to visit your friend at the hut in the distance?  And if you were a sheep or cattle rancher, you pretty much figured a certain amount would go to the King of the Skies whenever he was hungry.

Or maybe they were completely benign, like antelope or lemurs. They raised their young on the craggy mountainsides, hunted wild creatures and left humankind alone. Or maybe they were wise and people sought them out for their wisdom, which would account for the piles of treasures they supposedly slept on top of (ouch?) and hoarded.

Why DID they hoard treasure? It’s not like dragons could go shopping at the local marketplace. What good did treasure do them? I guess that brings me back around to their being evil, right? Hoarding is greedy, greed is a sin, sinning is evil, therefore dragons are evil.  Sounds like good logic to me.

That must be why I chose dragons to represent demons in my book, Between the Dark and the Light: Vigorios for Alcedonia. They make great bad-guys! Dragons can have all sorts of looks. They can be Pokemon cute or Lord of the Rings horrifying or anything in-between.  My dragons are well-mannered, clean, shape-shifting demons, some of whom prefer to stay in their person-guise because of the attention they attract. Others prefer to remain as dragons because they enjoy being fierce and terrifying.

What kind of dragon do you prefer? Do you think dragons talked, if they existed? Should they talk in literature? Since mine are demons, they have to talk. Do you think dragons really shot fire? I can’t imagine a dragon without the fire feature – it would just be a dinosaur. Of course, they were pretty terrifying, too.

Which would you rather confront on a field, a dragon or a T-Rex? Why? Leave me a comment with your answer.

Technology: The More I Learn the Behinder I Feel


I’ve always considered myself pretty tech savvy. Always had the latest (or nearly) computer, digital camera, Blackberry, etc. And guess who the IT person in our house is….

So how did I get so far behind on all of this internet stuff? I’ve been on the internet since its inception; have 3 websites; but only recently discovered Podcasting, Twittering, and Blogging.

I guess I’m one of those old-fashioned people you hear about who’s clueless, or nearly, so now I’m running breakneck to catch up. The only problem with new technology is the more you try to stay current, the behinder you get.

So, now that I have this ‘fancy’ blog up and running and my websites are finished, I’ll move on to my podcast. All I have to do is figure out how to get it from my computer to the internet. But that’s what Google is for. Shouldn’t be hard to do, right? I’ll let you know.

One thing all writers with blogs or sites SHOULD have is a Social Media Page.  Check out mine and feel free to copy. Look at Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s. Hers was the first I saw. But add one of your own and make life much easier for yourself and followers.

Stay tuned for future blogs, I’m researching one that will be a HUGE benefit to all writers but especially if you’re building a platform.

Pump that Dye: A Heart’s Tale


Once upon a time, in the early 1960’s, there lived a little girl. She played in the streets of a new type of neighborhood called a suburb. Her house looked just like all of the others on the streets. She wasn’t anything special, either; not a beauty, not an athlete, not a genius; she was just a little girl.

HOWEVER, she and her dad loved to watch football games on their b & w television. Especially the college games. In fact, it was so much fun, her dad had stacked four tvs on top of one another so they could watch all of the really important teams play each week.

Now, it so happened that during the football-game-watching afternoons the little girl and her dad would enjoy a large bowl of crunchy Cheetos and potato chips and fresh fruit from the yard. She would sit on his shoulders and together they would finish off the bowl.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings the little girl was responsible for cooking the slabs of bacon in the frying pan.  Her mom had put it in the utility room with a windowfan on to suck out the grease, but no one thought about a way to suck it out of their bodies.  After frying the bacon her mom taught her how to fry everyone’s eggs by spooning the hot, delicious bacon grease on them. Then they would pour the rest of the ‘gravy’ over their grits.  Not one drop of bacon fat was wasted.

On Sunday nights they would enjoy a rich, fatty steak.  It was always the little girl’s job to start the charcoal and get it hot enough. And the mom would put real butter and real sour cream on the table for the potatoes. Everyone ate happily and had to clean their plates because, “There are starving children in Africa.”

Some special weekends about once a month the little girl’s family would host a huge fish fry in their large back yard. All evening everyone would gorge on fresh fried fish, fried hushpuppies and baked potatoes with all of the fixings, especially that real butter and sour cream.

And DESERT!  There was always a desert about an hour after dinner. Apple pie, rhubarb pie, real ice cream, puddings, brownies, cakes, cookies. Everything in the little girl’s house tasted delicious because that’s what counted.

Year 2009: Intervention Cardiac Physician’s Office

Sitting in the doctor’s office I recalled our lifestyle of the 1960’s, ‘70’s, even ‘80’s until doctors and advertising finally convinced some of us that fat in foods and no exercise was bad for us.  That combined with the deaths of many from that era by heart failure with massively clogged arteries (atherosclerosis).

My father, after being obese his entire adult life, died of a massive coronary two years ago, his second one, after a quadruple-bypass. And that was after living with congestive heart failure for ten years and taking high doses of rat poison (Coumadin) so his blood was thin enough to flow through his arteries.  After the heart attack he changed his eating habits, because mom forced him to, but it was too late. The damage had been done when he was a youngster and then a young adult. AND he had passed on the family bad HDL genes as well, so I was now fighting for my health on several battlefields.

The real story started in June after dinner. For many years I’ve tried to prepare fairly healthy meals and with three vegetarians in the family it’s not always hard. In addition, my husband and I will have a glass of red wine with dinner a few times a week. So I was working on my book when my heart started doing flip-flops in my chest. Literally.

I froze and waited anxiously. I could feel my heart stop, wait a second and then BOOM it would beat again for a few strokes then stop. I broke out in a cold sweat and became very nauseated. I didn’t want to upset anyone, so I got my husband’s attention and softly told him what was happening, in case I passed out or something.  I sat, listening to my body and fearing the worst.

“I’m too young to die. I have young children and an unfinished book. I can’t die yet. God, please don’t let me die this young.”

It lasted about half-an-hour then just eased away. The next day I made a doctor’s appointment.  When I explained what had happened she immediately gave me an EKG in her office.  The result?

I had had a mild cardio infarction. A heart attack.

She asked why I hadn’t gone to the ER, but I hadn’t had any pain or numbness, no tingling.  She put me into the hospital overnight for tests.

The nurses, technicians and doctors gave me several more EKGs with the same result, an EEG (abnormal) and monitored everything I did.  The doctor wanted me to recreate the event so the heart monitor I was wearing could pick it up.  I walked and literally danced down the halls, listening to my iPod, after visiting hours, of course, but to no avail.  The nurses waved as I passed their work station for the fifth, eighth, tenth time.  No reaction.

“Come back tomorrow for a stress test.”

So I went home to my own wonderful bed and slept like a log. Although hospitals are meant to make people feel better, they wake you every two hours for blood pressure, vitals, blood samples or just to listen to you breathe deeply and make sure you’re still alive.

The next day I went in for the stress test which took several hours. They injected a radioactive isotope called Thallium into my bloodstream after taking a set of pictures of my heart at rest. Then I waited a while before they took more pictures and compared them.

Meanwhile, I went upstairs for the chemical part (stress without the exercise) of the test. They injected Dobutamine, a form of adrenaline, directly into my IV causing my vessels to dilate instantly.  It was the weirdest medical test I’ve ever taken. My whole body instantly flushed hot, my head felt about to burst and it felt like elephants were sitting on my legs.  This passed in about a minute, but that was a verrrrrry long minute. The headache remained for several hours.

After this injection I went back downstairs for the pictures of my stressed heart which would show where the blockages were.

The result? 90% chance of blockage leading to my legs.  I would need a heart catheterization.

The next test was the quickest and most definitive of them all, but also one of the most expensive.  The cardiologist made a tiny incision in the artery at my groin, where the right leg is attached, then inserted a dark dye through a catheter. This is called coronary angiography.  Pictures were then taken of the heart and arteries, following the dye progress. In my case the dye remained dark and highly visible all over the place, NO BLOCKAGES!  Yay!

Dye results in heart

Dye results in heart

Had they found blockages, the doctors would have inserted a stent, a small metal basket-tube on the end of a balloon catheter. Once in place the balloon is expanded pressing the stent against the walls of the artery and opening it for better flow.  In my case that was not necessary.  My father, however, had that procedure before his bypass.

So I have a follow-up appointment with my regular doc next week to discuss everything.  I know he’s going to insist that I lose weight, and I’ll try harder this time. But the prognosis is pretty much this:

  • Eat healthy
  • Small portions, even if it means 5 meals instead of 3,
  • Low fat,
  • Low salt,
  • Plenty of fiber
  • Drink plenty of water or green tea (antioxidants)
  • Reduce caffeine
  • No smoking (I don’t anyway)
  • Drink red wine occasionally
  • Exercise! Even if it’s just walking for 30 minutes every day.

Will I listen to these guidelines?  Absolutely.  I was given a wake-up call.  Just glad I answered.

Here are just a couple of awesome sites to check for even more information  about heart fix-ups.–(dupe)

Blogging Nightmare, Say It Isn’t So!


It’s amazing how difficult and time-consuming it is to do anything on the internet.  In the olden days you went to someone who was an expert, usually a friend or neighbor, and they showed you how to tie a fly or bake a cake.  If it was something really big, like building a playhouse, you could hire someone.  And while those options are still available, but sometimes costly, or you just want to figure it for yourself, today it takes a newbie hours and days to read various blogs, websites, threads and then play around trying to figure out how all of this stuff works.

For an old gal like me, who’s fairly tech savvy, or so I thought, setting up this blog has been a nightmare.  I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing.  Haven’t yet figured out what all of the lingo and buttons are on the dashboard (I always thought those were in cars?), but I’m working on it (much to my family’s abandonment-feeling chagrin).

But I shall perservere and accomplish what I set out to do.  Eventually this blog will host a Podcast of my story and whatever else I think of saying, a Social Media Room where all of the various sites I’m on will be available for your perusal, a webpage about the book I wrote, Between the Dark and the Light, a Video about the book and possibly one of me reading it.  And if more technology shows up, I’ll consider it, too.  So keep checking back, put me on your FEED, ’cause, baby, I’m here to stay.