Tag Archives: real life

My new normal …

The week after

My elder daughter, her husband, and the two granddarlings arrived last week and stayed until this past Tuesday.

Larry and our son-in-law put together this swing set for the girls, much to their delight. Since our SIL is stationed about seven hours away now, we hope to see them often, and we want them to be eager to visit us. Every day, we planned another fun adventure. We went to Carowinds, fed ducks and geese at a local lake, ate out a good bit, made homemade ice cream, watched “Peppa Pig” and “Paw Patrol” along with Cinderella and Aladdin, and went to church.
Family 2017

My younger daughter and her hubby arrived on Friday, but he received an important call and had to leave after a few hours.
Disappointing but understandable. I did get a family photo before he left. Obviously, we are a dog-loving family.

It’s quiet here now, but Larry and I are going to see Wonder Woman at the local cinema tonight. I’m looking forward to it. I also hope to visit my younger daughter often to keep her company while her husband is gone, and I plan to visit my elder daughter after her furniture arrives at the end of June. Gayle says that we must do another sister weekend at the beach this summer, and I’m certainly game.

I have now retired from teaching school, though I’ll continue to work at my church and teach private lessons.

Meanwhile, my plants are still fascinating to me.
It’s hard to believe this plant looked completely dead just a few weeks ago.

I nearly gave up on the second one last week, but look now! I kept watering and pruning it, and it has survived. Plants 7

Here’s a promise: I have two writing projects in the works which I will complete this year (I hope). I’m going to contribute to an Austen Christmas anthology, and I’m going to write the first volume of a YA fantasy series.

Stay tuned. There’s life in me yet.



Never Give Up


During these last days of 2016, I have been evaluating my progress towards my goals for the year.

I did lose forty pounds, and I’ve kept the weight off during the holidays. That’s a large check. Yay, me!

However, I wanted to publish two books, and I have yet to publish even one. Yes, I finished writing Understanding Elizabeth, but I’m in the editing process.

Just as the verses say, it’s time for me to forget what I have not achieved and focus on my goal: to publish the book. Dwelling on my failure will only bog me down and defeat me.

Instead, I need to look ahead. Eyes forward. A new year is coming.

I will pass that finish line soon. In fact, I already have an idea for the book that will follow Understanding Elizabeth.

As soon as I hit the publish button on KDP, I will start writing and posting Mr. Darcy’s Dog Tale on BeyondAusten.com.

Happy 2017 to all of you! What are your goals for the new year? If you have no target, you won’t hit it.

Use Protection, Kids. And Lots of It!

Romance_Travel_CoverFor a while I have been working to arrange a move for my mother. There are lots of moving parts and I’m not all that good at multitasking these days. To keep my sanity, I have been working on a new story.  I finally got far enough in and was confident I would keep with it, so started posting the story on Beyond Austen.  Captain Wentworth’s Guide to Romance and Travel: Lyme Regis is Persuasion without Louisa Musgrove’s fall from the Cobb. This past week I was in the trenches of packing boxes, paper, tapes, and Sharpie markers. Wednesday is the day I had chosen to post and so a week ago I put the flash drive in my computer to retrieve the post, and, VOILA! The drive was emp-ty.

Not a crumb remains.

A few years ago, I took Laura Hile’s loss of thousands of words in a computer crash as a warning and started keeping all my writing on flash drives. A couple of years after that I starting getting serious about organizing my writing, graphics, and private business. Yes, indeedy, I did.

So much for my trying to be grown-up.

I’m thankful for two things: that I was hip-deep in real life and not focused on my writing, and that it took several days to realize that the aforementioned story wasn’t the only thing on the drive.

I’ve now officially lost one whole novel, two partial–each hovering around 175 pages–several outlines of novel ideas, and countless graphics I had created for this and other blogs, and several book covers.

There were many family photos as well, but I have found them on other drives and online haunts of mine.

I am home now and have signed up for an automatic, online, cloud storage service.

Lessons learnt: exhaustion keeps you from going ballistic when the unthinkable happens, and back up your back ups. And then back it all up again.

Nothing is certain.

Except the Web Gods will exact a price.

I will be back next week with Wentworth Wednesday. Anne and Frederick finally talk in the relative quiet of the White Hart dining room with the Musgrove clan dickering over going to the theatre.


It’s Me Again, Lord

Wallet 2Walmart_exterior
Sunday after church, Gayle, Larry, and I had lunch, and then Gayle and I went to Walmart for a few things. I wanted poinsettias for my porch and some snow for my Christmas villages (pictures to follow), and she was looking for kitchen accessories.

We made our purchases, and we stopped at the exit by the little lady who checks receipts. I always put mine in my wallet, forgetting that I have to show them to the greeter every time. I’m there at least once a week, so you’d think I’d remember – but, no.

I drove her back to the church to get her car, and I went home. When I put my purse down, it seemed too light, so I looked into it. I had forgotten to zip the top – again – and noticed my wallet was gone. That’s the wallet with my driver’s license, debit cards, credit cards, cash, photos – THAT wallet.

I immediately began to pray that God would show me my wallet. Then I took action. I called Gayle, thinking my wallet may have fallen out of my purse into a bag of hers, but she was in that wonderful dead zone between Lancaster and Pageland, so I called Walmart. They checked, but no one had turned in a wallet. Still praying (because I don’t have to close my eyes to pray), I headed out to the car. I looked through all the bags and searched my car three times, but there was no wallet.

I decided to check the last place I knew I had my wallet – Walmart, where I had unzipped it to look for the receipts. Since I knew it wasn’t in the store, I swallowed past the big lump in my throat and drove to my parking space – a prime one, row 6, four cars down. Folks, no one had parked in that space though the parking lot was full, and my wallet was just lying there on the pavement, in the open, in full view of half of the population of Lancaster County, because that’s how many people were at Walmart the weekend after Thanksgiving.

I know I’ve written about answered prayers a few times on this blog. This year alone, Mel’s puppy Chloe ran away and we found her twelve hours later; Toby ran off and was returned to us three weeks later; the rain held off on my daughter’s wedding day, only to release in a cloudburst the second the outdoor reception ended, and our son-in-law was signed to an active NFL roster after being undrafted and spending half the season on a practice squad. I was told by a dear friend (who was also praying for him) before he was signed that if it happened, it would be a miracle akin to an act of God.  She was thinking of me, wanting to protect me from disappointment. Well, guess what? God still works miracles, and He always answers prayers. How wonderful is that?

I’ve always taught my daughters that nothing is ever lost, because God knows where it is. I pray to find whatever I’ve lost with full confidence that God will show it to me unless it has been destroyed and is irretrievable. My daughters call me if they lose anything important, and God hasn’t failed us yet.

James 5:16b “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
I don’t pretend that I’m righteous, but for some reason, God loves me, and He answers my prayers. You might think I’m lucky; I think I’m blessed.

Hail to Mr. West

Kim-Kardashian-and-Kanye-West-There are a lot of people already fed up with the political campaigning for the 2016 presidential election. Me included. However, if you think you’re going to get any relief from the two-and-three year campaigns, buck up, sissypants. Kanye West announced the VMA awards that he intends to run for the 2020 presidential election. I’m sure this means he will start getting the exploratory committee, nonprofit PACS, and campaign theme anytime now.

BTB, I don’t listen to Kanye (SURPRISE!), so if any of you know his music and could make suggestions from his song catalog, that would might be a fun exchange.

I’m just guessing but I would not be surprised if his mother-in-law, Kris Kardashian is his campaign manager. His wife, the prospective First Lady–let THAT sink in for a moment–Kim Kardashian West, will surely be the official campaign photographer.

If elected, the Wests will be the first couple in the White House in which she is arguably more famous than him. I remember when Ronald Reagan ran for president and all his movies were embargoed due to campaign advertising rules. In the comments, please discuss just how we keep Kim’s sex tape from influencing voters.

West is like Donald Trump in that he is loud and proud of his opinion. Who can forget the good times when he has stormed the stage of an awards shows to rebuke Taylor Swift for winning instead of Beyonce? I’m thinking this might come in handy in his foreign policy. He could do a riff on Pink Floyd: “Hey, Putin, leave Ukraine alone!” And would maybe stay on key.

Celebrities making ridiculous remarks is now the foundational staple of the Internet. IMO. And West’s comment will be replaced with something else more ridiculous soon enough. The only question is, will the commenter be another celeb or will it be West-topping-West?

Anyway, the weekend is coming. Think about a West presidency and tell us how it would affect you. And Beyonce. Because I’m sure West would use his power of the pen to do something magnificent for The Queen Bee.


Getting My Beauty Rest

Last week, I used my royalties to buy something absolutely wonderful. I joined the ranks of those who sleep comfortably through the night by doing my daughter and her husband a favor. She had purchased a king-sized Beauty Rest mattress made to his specifications here in South Carolina, and it was delivered to my house in its pristine plastic coverings after I finally convinced her that they do, indeed, sell mattresses in California. That took only three months. My daughter can be a little stubborn. I don’t know where she gets that from. (I know not to end a sentence with a preposition, but that’s an expression down here in the South.)

She would have had to rent a U Haul to drive it across the country, so by selling it to me, she saved a bundle, and I got a great mattress for the first time in my life.

To call my husband frugal is a vast understatement. The man will squeeze a penny until Lincoln hollers. Since I paid for this out of my own non-budgeted money, he remained silent and just enjoyed sleeping well.

bed king

I believe he was also torn between the pangs of seeing his daughter waste the money it would cost to ship the mattress to California and the alarming notion of his wife spending more money after the summer of THE WEDDING. The medicine went down a little easier when I pointed out that I was saving her the expense and him the trouble of driving her across the country in a U Haul and purchasing a plane ticket to fly back. All of that would have cost more than simply buying the mattress from her. She agreed with me, partly because she saw the vast wisdom of shipping a few things through the mail, packing as much as was allowed in her car when it was shipped, and checking two fifty-pound suitcases with her clothes when she flew out Sunday morning rather than driving across the entire country. (We bought her a second, super-large suitcase from Christian services for $5.00!) We returned her gifts to Bed, Bath, and Beyond for giftcards to replace it all in California. The Belk in our town agreed to ship all the gifts which came from their chain to her apartment at no charge to her. We also returned gifts from Target, Macy’s, and a local jewelers for giftcards. They’re so much lighter and easier to pack, and they’re free in your carry-on when you fly! And she gets to shop! And she can pick out everything she wants to decorate their apartment! And she didn’t have to listen to her dad’s taste in music for two solid days of driving! (That was the deciding factor.) Wins all the way around!

I had no idea mattresses had changed so much. This is the Taj Mahal of mattresses. It’s twenty-nine inches high. Someday I’ll have to post a video of myself climbing into bed. That’s true. I now literally climb into bed. I’m sure it would be funny (especially from behind). I simply have to remember how high it is when that alarm goes off. I’d hate to break a leg getting out of bed.

By the way, that’s not my room in the picture. I have the bed, but the redecorating will have to wait. I need to finish Understanding Elizabeth and write my new story, Pride and Pageantry, before that can happen.

I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes

Jim_Stafford We may be stuck in a 70s time warp here at JSI. Last week Laura Hile quoted from The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” writing about Robin Helm’s daughter’s wedding. This week, I’ll be going with the top ten hit, “Spiders and Snakes” by Jim Stafford. Because moving from the sublime to the ridiculous is a specialty of mine.

I live in Oregon and we’ve been having a heat wave. I’m not asking for sympathy. We haven’t had a hot summer since 2012 so we are due. On Tuesday, I got up while it was still dark so I could open all the doors and windows, flush out the warm air left over from Monday–who doesn’t want to flush away Mondays?–trapping as much cool air inside before battening down the hatches. My mission was accomplished by eight so I decided to take a shower while everyone was still asleep. (Everyone in the house is on swing shift and everyone but me can sleep until ten or so.)

I gathered my clothes, turned the shower on, and got in. I caught a glimpse of something in the corner of the shower moving.

It’s not odd to have bugs in the tub. This is a rickety farmhouse and wildlife, inside and out is part of the deal. But I draw the line at showering with them.

I got close enough to see what was strolling through and it was a katydid.


Graphic from: fcps.edu

Graphic from: fcps.edu

There is actually a window in the shower so I am pretty skilled at shufflin’ crits out. But this one was big. BIG. There was no choice. Time to hunt up some tools.

I ended up covering Katy with a large yogurt container my granddaughter plays with in the tub and sliding a piece of construction paper underneath–also my grandgirl’s–to trap him/her inside.

Success in the first try. No small feat as my hands were wet and construction paper is not as tough as it used to be. Out the window he/she went.

Blessed solitude in the shower once more.

The 70s are gone, but they still seem to speak to the everyday. If you squint really hard.

Has a song ever encapsulated the mundane in your life? Does it ever feel as if a popular artist is playing the background music of your life? Or do you just want to spill about a quirky event and its tenuous tie to music? Let us know.