The Best Christmas Ever

Christmases have been kind of hard for me since every single member of the large, close, happy Waller has clan passed on, or left for parts unknown. I'm all about kith and kin and for the past couple of decades I've spent the holidays feeling terribly "family sick". There's just something that felt great about spending Christmas with people whose DNA I shared. After I met Nettl it got even harder because her immediate family tends to look at me as a nice but unredeemable antichrist, they being dyed-in-the-wool Southern Baptists and I being their once-preacher's-wife daughter's same sex partner and all. We spent our first decade together celebrating the holidays within our own blended family: Nettl, myself, and our five kids who are now all grown up and out of the nest...


Almost California

This was our house two Christmas Eves ago. This year it looks more like California out there: sparkling blue sky, birds singing... At least we had weather (rain) the last two days while I was shopping...


Boxing Day at Bookends Cottage

This year, while Nettl plans her Christmas dinner (traditionally, she makes the three major holiday meals because I do the "every day" cooking throughout the year), I'm working on my menu for Boxing Day. People in the States aren't blessed with this December 26 day of friends and food—most poor suckers are back in their cubicles at work—but I was introduced to it when I lived in England in the way back when, and I liked it so much, I brought it home with me...


85 BPM

Since Badger is inquiring after the state of my pulse, I thought I really should make another entry. I'm sorry I've been so remiss in posting lately. I'm just not sleeping well, the result of which is Thyroidzilla making my day times rather sluggish. Not sleeping soundly and comfortably play hell with the Hashimoto's and it has been years since I've had any consistently good sleep. And then, editing "War and Peace" takes out of me whatever little physical and mental energy I have left...


Thirty-One Years

With your bravado and your pain, your merits and your faults, your voice and your silence, your ideals and your shortcomings, I miss you. I shall not canonize you, I shall only remember.


Chips and Doors

Thanks to Mrs. Anke's blog entry today, this is what I'm craving, and it is what I'm getting us for dinner tonight.

I'm sitting in the living room listening to our eclectic mix of holiday music, freezing. The heat's on, but it's bloody cold today and our front door leaks. It's an old house, you know, and I've put a rolled up blanket on the floor to block some of the cold air, but what I really needand really wantis one of these. Well, maybe not that ornate. Seems a bit over the top. A simple tapestry on a swinging rod would do just fine.

Anyway, not much to write today. Just got over a migraine. They're not lasting three days like they have for so many years; now they pass in about half the time and they're not as severe. Anyway, that's it for me today.


No Snow, Yet

I don't know why this year is different from any in the past 10 years or so, but I got a big dose of Christmas Spirit fairly early on. It's not from the televised hype because we don't watch TV, and it's not from the radio stations that began their 24-hour Christmas playlist as soon as Halloween was over because I never really go anywhere. I think it was Thanksgiving that brought it on. We had such a perfect one this year, we could have made Norman Rockwell's famous painting look like a portrait of a dysfunctional, crack house family. Yeah, it was that good...


We Don't Need No Steenkin Humbuggery!

On this day, December first, for the past decade, I have woken to a depression the sort of which could drive a less lighthearted person than myself to self-harm. This is no joke. We've been so broke that one year we could only buy each other (meaning the entire family) one thing from the Dollar Tree. On that year our Christmas meal was provided by gift cards that Nettl had received from co-workers. It was dismal, and I seriously wanted to die. Last year, we had no money for Christmas until the mail arrived at 3:30 on Christmas Eve, and that was only $300. Talk about a mad scramble. It's no wonder my health has always taken a nose dive every December. With Hashimoto's  disease being strongly triggered by adrenalin, good or bad, this stuff nearly kills me.

But this year is different. We seem to be slowly reaching the end of a long, terrifying chapter in our life as a family. I woke up this morning with food in the pantry, the rent and utilities paid, and a slowly increasing income. Oh, it's not huge, but we can go get a Christmas tree tomorrow afternoon (we borrowed an artificial tree from Ville and Beau last year, which was a real lifesaver. If not for them, we wouldn't have even had a tree), and presents will begin to appear beneath it over the next couple of weeks.

This is all too good--and I'm still glowing from Thanksgiving! The humbuggery is over at last! Last night, while buying groceries, I even found myself singing along with the Christmas music.

We've learned huge lessons over the past decade. We've learned to tune out the holiday hype (not having cable has separated us from so much stress and propaganda, it's not even funny) and we've lost the drive to spend, spend, spend (not having credit cards has taught us that we don't need to go into debt over silly, extravagant gifts). We've learned to keep the holidays centered on being with the people we love, making music, sharing laughter, and all that good, old-fashioned, Home For the Holidays stuff. These have been very hard lessons--devastating lessons, in fact--but we've learned them.

Oh! Speaking of Home For the Holidays, Nathan will be here! I haven't said much about it, but he's been in the Army since last summer and we haven't seen him since he left. Needless to say, Nettl is fairly dancing on air over this. I can't think of a better gift: our boy home, safe and sound.

So today, instead of editing, I'll be putting together a Holiday playlist for our household music. We just never use our CDs anymore and I prefer music to be shuffled anyway. I'm going to start a shopping list for the holiday foods I want to make, and I'll be making my gift list and checking it twice. It would be perfect if we got snow sometime between now and the 25th, but I'm not going to complain if we don't!


Sometimes When I Write

There is a part of me—a part that even my family and my best friends have never met—a part that feels everything too deeply, internalizes everything, absorbs everything. It weeps easily, feels for others easily, feels for itself easily. It is tender, yielding, and has nothing to do with the Good Time Charlie that I am in my everyday life. It is solitary and is happy to remain so. It hears the deepest nuances of music, the undiluted meaning of words spoken and unspoken, of charged air. It is the real me, without the trappings of Steph, SK, Kaye, or The Berg...


What's That Noise?

All night, either in the wall behind our bed, or under the floor, or maybe outside, there has been a weird noise. I can't really define it... a scraping, gnawing sound. Too loud for a mouse. I'm listening to it now, as a matter of fact. We have a lot of "critters" here: opossums, raccoons, a skunk, even an armadillo, so I figure it's one of them, but what the heck is it doing? Of course, I've seen far too many bad sci-fi movies, so my imagination tells me it's...


It's Done!

Man, was that a tough writing year, or what? This afternoon at precisely 4:30, With A Bullet, Book Two of my Beyond The Bridge trilogy, was officially a published work. Since I've already written about what comes next on my writing to-do list, I won't repeat myself.

The book will be available at Amazon in both print and Kindle formats in the next week or two. I'll let you know.

All I want at this moment is a bottle of champagne.



There are enough red poppies in the fields to cover every brave human soul who has served his or her country since time began. In peace time and in war, these people have served and continue to serve from a deep belief that they are working for a common good and a higher purpose. Let us bestow upon them the greatest honor and show them our deepest gratitude by ending war. Throwing more seeds out into the field does not say "thank you", it says "you are expendable".

Thank you to all of the soldiers and veterans!


Put Your Head Between Your Knees and...

This is crazy shit. Tonight, in the middle of one of the biggest thunderstorms of the year—and while in a tornado watch—we had another earthquake. A 4.7 aftershock, actually. That's three nights in a row that we've had a 4.7 or higher quake, and we've been feeling all those little 3-pointers, too. I wonder what I should do when an earthquake happens during a tornado. Can't go underground. Can't stand in a doorway. Guess I'll just go to the wine cabinet. WTF ever.


Only in Oklahoma

I just have to update this entry to include the following clip. The earthquake hit just as the OSU/KSU game (played at the stadium just a few blocks from our house) ended, OSU winning by a hair at the last minute. We were having mimosas with a couple of friends in our livingroom.

Welcome to Oklahoma!


A Night to Remember

I know I say this a bit, but that was the best party, ever! Friends (Bonnie and Glen) from California whom I hadn't seen in 33 years, new friends (from Facebook), and the usual crowd all made it a very special night. And we had an earthquake, too! I slept through that, however. A 4.7 is a mild tremor to a California native like me. Sorry that the camera flash destroyed the ambiance in these pix. I've added some more pix that Bonnie and Glen took...


How About a Cozy Opium Den?

I don't know why or how these things happen, but they do. Last year I planned a psychedelic 60s party for my birthday. It was a lot of fun, but not nearly as many people came as I would have liked. I'm one of those who really needs to own a huge, rambling country house so that I can have tons of guests for an entire weekend. Anyway, tomorrow night we're celebrating my son Micah's birthday, as well as Dr. Kielbasa's...


Eye-Level on the Mainstream Shelf

We got some great news tonight. The Special Edition of Lynette's So Faithful A Heart is now for sale at the Stillwater Hastings. But that's not the best part. The best part is that the woman who selects the books for the store read it and liked it so muchthe story, the composition, the cover, everythingshe didn't shelve it in the Local Authors or Self-Published section, but with the mainstream novels (famous authors, and legacy published books)...


Middle Earth

What's this? A door in Rivendell? The gates of Moria? No, these are the doors of  St. Edward in Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds, Gloucester. It's pretty plain to see where J. R. R. Tolkien got a lot of his inspiration. Britain is a fabulously ancient and enchanting land! I think I could look at this all day and one day, when I can ever get back to England, I plan to sit and look at the real thing for a long time.

These photos were taken by Liz Ringrose and are used with her kind and generous permission.

At Brill on the hill
The wind blows shrill,
The cook no meat can dress;
At Stow-in-the-Wold
The wind blows cold,
I know no more than this.


My Perfect 36-Hour Day

I know precious little about astronomy, but I do know that Earth got it wrong when it set itself into orbit around old Sol. We should have 36-hour days instead of 24. I can easily put in a 12-hour work day and not even feel it, something my former bosses and my bank account both enjoyed. And, although I need very little sleep to get by, I wake up feeling much better if I can somehow manage (always with the help of Tylenol-PM) 12 hours. That leaves 12 hours left over for other things like enjoying off-time with family and friends, writing music, going places, etc.

I suppose I need to find myself an alternate universe, but then a whole lot more than the hours would change. I'd have to rethink exactly what "work" is, and that just gets too complicated. Even after 12-hours of sleep.


Live, Don't Muddle

‎"Cheerfulness is the best promoter of health and is as friendly to the mind as to the body." Joseph Addison

I was doing some math this morning and I realized that I might still have 40 years left on this planet. A lot of people are living to 100 these days and there's no reason to believe that I couldn't do so as well. I have my health issues, but none of them are organ-related or life-threatening. Forty years is the same amount of time it's been since I was 20. That's a long time ago and I've done a lot of living in that 40 years. In fact, I've done most of my living in that time...



Google image searching has become quite a sport. A hit-and-miss sport. Do you remember when you could type in a search word and the pictures that came back actually had something to do with that word? Just now, when I typed in "olio", I'd already predicted what they would send back to me, so I added, "-oleo -oil" and still, I got pages of olive oil.

Olio: A miscellaneous mixture or collection.

Does anyone even use this word anymore? I mean, apart from crossword puzzles and Scrabble? Eh, well. Here's my olio:
  • I really don't understand groupies. I especially don't understand 60+ year-old women with bleached blonde hair who think they're still 18, and act like groupies with all the jealousy, gossip, and backbiting. Especially when they're abusive bitches, and crazy as a March Hare besides. That filtered, blurry, Photoshopped profile picture doesn't fool anybody, chickie. Grow the feck up. Or maybe you should see a shrink, or get hormone replacement.
  • Mondays are no longer a usual work day for me. Since Nettl has begun to get voice students again, Monday will now be spent dusting and vacuuming. Might as well make this my housework day. I never feel like editing on Monday, anyway.
  • I'm loving Keith Richards' autobiography, Life, so much. I especially love his long dissertations about music, and how he plays certain things the way he does, and how he discovered those things. I guess a lot of readers just want to read the dirt, but I appreciate that he's kept his musician's slant in the forefront where it belongs.
  • We had nearly two solid days of rain over the weekend. It was lovely! Because the temps lingered in the high-70s, we could leave the doors and windows open. So fresh and so perfect for reading! And today is a beautiful, sunny day. I could live with these weather patterns forever.
  • At this very moment, Nettl is giving a lecture about her book at the local chapter of the Twentieth Century Women's Club. Go Nettl!
  • I have Book Three (With A Song) of my trilogy outlined. I know who all the characters are. I know the plot. Somehow, though, I can't seem to get the nuts up to start writing it, I'm so burned out. So I'm giving myself until January 1st to start writing. Meantime, I'm working on the supplemental eBook, Enharmonic Intervals, which is Gordon's memoirs. That's coming out very well. Book Two will be published just as soon as I get it back from my "second pair of eyes".
That's it from me. I'm all olioed out and I have stuff to do. Have a great Monday!


Sloe Ruin

Mrs. Anke's Ruin
Ah, nothing I love better than a good challenge! Mrs. Anke has thrown down the gauntlet and I of course must rise to meet it. Seems she's been fermenting a batch of sloe gin since last November, which she's labeled, Mrs. Anke's Ruin. I imagine it's aptly named. Now, I have been able to stomach neither the smell, the taste, nor the idea of gin ever since an elderly lady in London served it to me mixed with Orange Crush and no ice, but Mrs. Anke states rather confidently that although she doesn't like it either, she can imbibe in copious amounts of her Ruin. And a lady should be able to enjoy her own ruin, should she not?

I just love the way it looks. That alone is enough for me to enter her contest to win a free bottle. However, she has stated that she hopes I don't win because of what she would have to endure at the post office. If I do (which I doubt), I think I'd just ask her to hang onto my bottle until I can get over to Royal Tunbridge Wells. There's nothing I want more from that trip (when/if it happens... a booksigning, perhaps? I mean, since my trilogy takes place there...) than to go pub crawling around the Wells with Mrs. Anke, but I fear that after a few nips of this beautiful brew, we wouldn't see many pubs. And if we did, I doubt I'd remember much about them.

If you haven't checked out Mrs. Anke's Ladybits, then you really should. And you should enter the contest, too. Tell her I sent you.


Relief At Last

Good-bye you literal hell of a summer. Don't let autumn's door hit your butt on the way out!

My beef isn't only about being uncomfortable. Lawns, trees and flowerbeds died, kids couldn't go outside (NObody could), so everyone has cabin fever, the state was riddled with wildfires and drought, and families had to decide whether to buy food or pay criminally high utility bills. And, of course, this is the summer that the AC in the car went out. Have you ever driven around in a black automobile in 115-degree heat with no AC? This is the worst summer I've lived through and I'm glad it's nearly over.


I Can See My House From Here!

This photo of Earth and the moon was taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft last Friday (August 26), when the spacecraft was about 6 million miles away. It was taken by the spacecraft's onboard camera, JunoCam. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida (it's no longer Cape Kennedy?) on August 5 to begin a five-year journey to Jupiter.

As I look at this photo, I feel two overriding things. First, I feel pretty insignificant, then I realize that we could take it at all, and I realize how significant we are! Click to enlargerate.


How Rude! Indies Need to Hone Their Social Skills

Lately, I've been receiving a lot of friend requests in Facebook. Because most of them are indie musicians and authors who find me through mutual friends who are indie promoters, I accept them. Hey, a little mutual backscratching never hurt anyone. So far, everyone has been polite and very careful about not being guilty of obnoxious self-promotion. They're all quite friendly, in fact. Some of us are even building nice online friendships....


Swan Song: The last Day

Although I'm still a big fan of Donovan's music, I've kind of lost my fondness for him on a personal level. I've read his autobiography, I was a subscriber of his website, and I "friended" him on Facebook. I still have the book, of course, but I withdrew from the rest a few months ago because in each of these he comes off as self-aggrandizing and pretentious. I hope I'm wrong, but frankly, he seems to be a colossal boor. It makes me sad because I've loved him most of my life.

Yesterday I read an interview with him at Clash and, although his tone remains the same, the interview questions were worth the read and I thought that as a meme they might be thought-provoking. Feel free to use them if you want. The premise is simple: how would you like to spend your last day?

Where would you like to wake up?
On my last day I'd like to wake up in California, near the beach and with a great view of the mountains.

What’s left to achieve on your last day?
Seeing friends and family and making amends wherever necessary. I haven't accomplished most of what I set out to in this life, but I have done a lot that I didn't know was in my cards. More than accomplishing acts and meeting goals, I've learned much and in my opinion, that's a life of true accomplishment. So, if tomorrow was my last day, I'd say that, outside of finishing my trilogy, there's little left unfinished.

Who would be at your final dinner?
Everyone I've ever known and loved who's still around.

What’s on the menu?
People could have whatever they want; I wouldn't be interested in eating.

What would be the after-dinner entertainment?
A live performance of my choice, with no limitations? How about the Beatles? Realistically, good music on the stereo is fine. Maybe some of us would pull out our guitars and jam a while.

How would you like to die?
Painlessly and fully conscious.

What would your final words be?
"I love you."

What would you have written on your gravestone?
"There are only two emotions, fear and love. I chose love."

Who would you like to meet at the pearly gates of Heaven?
My friends and family who have gone before me. I'd simply leave one party to join another!

What is your vision of heaven?
A place of my own creation, with green, rolling hills, trees, gardens, an ocean, and mountains in the distance. I admit I'm very attracted to the vision of heaven as depicted in the movie, What Dreams May Come. The idea of a self-created 'afterlife' appeals to me.

If you could be resurrected the next day what would you come back as?
The next day? That's too soon. I need a good, long rest, say about 500 earth years. But when I come back I'll still be me, only the body will be different.


Recycling Compassion

Sometimes, no, frequently, life really amazes me. One of the reasons I've never been a suicidal sort is because I know that things always get better. Not in a linear sense, but cyclical. When things are bad, they eventually get better. Then they'll get bad again, and then better. I've recognized this rhythm from an early age and it has helped me to hang on when others have cashed in their chips to take their meager winnings home...


My Amazing, Death-Defying, Brave Face Trick

I've had enough of this crap. I'm sick of it, and I'm bored. I'm bored with myself for being so damned boring. In fact, I'm so sick and bored with it all, I don't want to talk about it, don't want to blog about it, don't want to think about it...


Bait and Tackle

Before I commit myself to a week of heavy editing, I'd like to take a moment to leave some semblance of a blog entry for those of you who still come here. Since I began writing my trilogy, many regular readers have flown the proverbial coop and, where I once used to get up to twenty comments on each post, I now get one or two, if that...


Just a Nothing Day, Please?

"But it wasn't a dream. It was a place. And youand you, and you, and you were there."

Last night, sometime during the 6:00 hour, a storm blew in from out of nowhere. I'm not sure what to call it. It was a tornado without the circulation, a hurricane without the ocean... it was a storm from hell. Straight-line 80 to 100 mph winds that peeled roofs off of houses like sardine cans, thunder that shook the house like a series of earthquakes, trees falling down all around, or uprooted, terrifying lightening strikes, torrential rain, flash flooding, and fires. And that was just in our little neighborhood. We were without power for over five hours. Sirens screamed all night. It was like a war zone. Some neighborhoods still are without power.

Across the street is a huge sycamore tree. It has to be at least 80 years old. I love that tree and I look at it every day from my window. There is now more of it on the ground than, well, in the tree. Four giant branches came down as I watched, just ripped off by the windit was unreal. All of our trees lost branches and our yard and drive are covered with debris.

After the storm passed, everyone came outside to assess the damage and the neighborhood men (my sons included) worked together to clear our street so that emergency vehicles could pass. For a while the entire corner was blocked. It's still a huge mess. Everyone's in shock. No one knows what to do. The trees need to be cleaned up, but what do you do with limbs that are as large as a house? I'm beginning to hear chainsaws outside and our landlord is trying to remove parts of the old tree by dragging them with his pickup.

What a week. Today, all I ask is for a Nothing day. No plumbing backing up, no computers breaking down, no apartment complexes on fire, no emotional outbreaks, no life-threatening weather. Just... nothing.


Maybe I'll Post on Saturdays

So, yeah, I've been busy with this writing thing. Actually, I only write late at night because the daytime is spent editing and doing all of the other things I have to do. But I'm finally addressing things on my indy author/publisher to-do list. I'm staying off of Facebook except for first thing in the morning and later in the evening when I take a break from working for an hour...


Bring it On

It isn't much and it won't relieve the drought, but we're getting a much-needed rain as I write this. I went out onto the front porch for a bit and just savored the sound and smell of it and the way the breeze wafted an ever so slight mist on my face. Even the cat didn't run away from it. It took the temp down to 90 degrees, which is a lot when you understand that we've been dealing with 114 lately. We're expecting more around three o'clock in the morning.

As I say,it's not enough to ease things, but it surely does restore my spirit and make me less grumpy.


Why I Love Ventura #10: The Beach

Well, the weekend was a success and we all had a really fun time. Everything that got all jacked up last week seems to have been resolved (not all of that was easy, believe me) and this week has started out quite well. Outside of the heat that is, but everyone's sick of hearing about that. You should try living in it. Seriously, it's making people go a bit barmy. I thought, in honor of the California summers of my past, and how homesick I am right now, I'd share my little corner of the Pacific Ocean with you. All pictures enlarge if you click them nicely. Photo credits follow at the bottom...


Not Sure How Much More of This We Can Take

112° on Tuesday? Seriously? We're moving into three solid months of triple digits. I'm really looking forward to winter.


Weekend Be Good

As one of my characters, Noel, would say, "Bollocks, it's been a fookin' week!" And no, that's not me in the picture. I considered taking one of myself in the same pose, but it's just too much work. I did take two Excedrin along with my usual Thyroidzilla repellent this morning. Hey, two of those caffeine-laden puppies and a cup of coffee get me feeling half-human...


Lost Post #3 - Adrenalin Rush

Post Title: Adrenalin Rush
Post Date: May 13, 2005

What an evening. This morning I moved all the plants back outside and set up the patio furniture again. Considering we have 6 chairs, a table with 2 chairs, 5 hanging plants, 7 floor plants, 9 pots of herbs, 1 long planter, perhaps 6 table plants and numerous candle jars, all this moving about is quite a job...


When the Worst that Can Happen Happens

I'm one of those people who, when things get really bleak, asks, "Well, what's the worst that can happen?" Usually, the final deductionwhen I go through the long "doom" list of possibilitiesisn't as scary as I'd imagined and, often, it turns out to be a good thing in disguise...