I’m sitting here, reading a Melissa Foster book, rounding out a day that started yesterday with rain and then snow ❄. Its cold outside, but my glass of cabernet savignon is warming me.
The book is sexy, the temperature is 40°, and I’m looking at my sleeping German Shepherd Millie curled up on the couch. Also watching my polydactyl calico cat Cleo curled up dozing in the rocking chair.
Snow is low on the mountains, and the clouds are low in the sky. There is a hard freeze warning for our area which means I will have to cover the outdoor plants that are vulnerable.
I’m enjoying my solitude. I have times when being alone and quiet gives me comfort. I think with age we find these times exceptionally valuable.
So to all you lovely folks waiting for inspiration – gaze at the stars, listen to the soft breathing of a sleepy puppy, and relish the complexity of a good wine.
I found out I am poisoning my cat. Not on purpose, but from a lack of information. For the last couple of years, ever since I bought Jerry and installed him in my house my cat has been eating pieces of Jerry’s leaves.
Jerry is a big beautiful dracaena or Dragon Tree.
His name is in memory of the amazing musician Jerry Riopelle. What I failed to find out was that dracaena is bad for cats, in fact bad for dogs and cats.
I would hear that cat puking sound, you know that sound – it can wake you from a dead sleep – and she would puke up what looked like grass. Okay this cat doesn’t go outside and we don’t grow indoor grass so this led me to discovering she was munching Jerry!
Two days ago when she once again puked up pieces of Jerry I looked it up, low and behold:
“Dracaena species plants contain saponins which may cause drooling, vomiting, weakness, incoordination and dilated pupils (cats) when ingested.”
Oh man, this was bad! Another site said it can cause seizures! What to do?
I remembered I had this plant pest spray that was not harmful to animals so I pulled it down and checked it out. It is made with Cayenne Pepper and a couple of other non-hazardous things. I thought maybe she would leave it alone just because of the taste and smell.
I sprayed Jerry and waited. I’m happy to report Jerry and Cleo are now safe. She moved on to the Boston Fern and it got sprayed as well.
Guess it’s time to buy some indoor cat grass for my silly cat. Cleo the calico polydactyl weirdo.
Last Friday hubby and I drove to Phoenix so he could help Melissa put down new flooring on the stairs and a powder room, while I occupied Charlie. We got there around 1pm and they got to work straightaway. Charlie and I made Chocolate Chip Banana bread, then once that was done and cooling he and I left for my sisters house so Charlie could swim (burn off energy) and visit with them. She has a wonderful kids room for her grand kids and when Charlie saw it his first expression was “Whoa, wow!” He proceeded to be occupied for a while as us grown-ups chatted.
I did a Marco Polo message to Melissa asking if they were ready for our return and was told only if we brought food! I can do that – it meant a Whataburger trip.
What I love best about her place is the nearly next door proximity to a Whataburger.
So Charlie and I headed toward home via the Whataburger stop – drive thru only – and while we waited for our order Charlie got more and more annoyed that everyone else seemed to be getting their orders “Too long!” “Nannie where’s ours?” After at least 5 minutes of this grumpyness we got the order and drove home.
The next hours were spent eating, Charlie playing on the iPad, and Melissa and her dad getting a lot done. It was dark and I worried about our dog Millie. We left her outside for the day because we were going to be home that night and we didn’t need a big dog and Charlie underfoot during construction.
My niece Trinity called her mom Heather (who is my go to house/cat/dog sitter) because she has a key to our house to ask if she would go over and let Millie in. Heather went over and Millie was no where to be found. She always comes when you call. Heather called me back very upset and I told her I would call my neighbors to see if they might have spotted her or had her. Heather headed home with the statement she was going to drive around the neighborhood looking and calling.
I called Sandy, then Jayne, left a voice mail for Jan, and then called Sylvia. Sandy also contacted the neighbor behind her. Sylvia went outside where her husband and son where hanging out. While she was telling them about Millie they heard a bark in the direction of our house, it didn’t move around the acre, but seemed to be coming from one spot. We share a property boundary with them. Sylvia called me to tell me and I gave the guys my okay to check. They looked into the back yard and said the barking was coming from our back porch. As she was telling me this, Sandy called to tell me she saw the guys and heard Millie’s bark.
I called Heather again to ask if she could go back and see if she could get Millie from under the porch. She was able to get my very scared girl out, with lots of hugs, and inside the house. The porch is enclosed with one small opening, but when she pushed her way in it prevented her from getting out. We don’t know how long she was there, but there had been a quick thunderstorm come through late afternoon with strong winds and noise which make her very nervous. We think she hid from it.
Millie was well and truly traumatized by this and it has taken several days for her to relax completely. We took her for a drive to Tractor Supply where they love up on her and give her treats. Then spent lots of time cuddling and spoiling her.
All this to say I have the BEST neighbors ever! We have all lived in the neighborhood for decades. Hubby and I won the neighbor lottery. I cannot express how grateful I am to know I can call when I need help, and they are there for me, and they know the same from me.
Well fantastic followers, after two weeks and nearly 4,000 road miles later I am finally back online and ready to blog. I have a ton of photos and stories to share with everyone. Still getting the pics downloaded and sorted so it will probably be a series of blogs.
Hubby and I had fun visiting (in order round trip from Arizona) New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, ending back home in Arizona of course.
Our sweet little 15 foot travel trailer we have fondly named “Daisy” performed exceptionally well. She is a vintage 1982 Sport and we look forward to sprucing her up. We got a lot of attention and great comments about her.
We spent a week with Aaron and Chelsea. Hubby and son working on some RV repairs, going to Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom at DisneyWorld, watching Chelsea be excellent in a production of Beauty and the Beast, and eating way too many donuts!
Our place and our pets were well cared for by Heather Herman, with help from Kristopher and Trinity. It was such a relief not to have to worry about anything. Millie was crazy to see us again, and Cleo was mildly interested that we returned.
I finished the laundry, we’ve got most of everything put away, Daisy is cleaned out and now it’s the getting back to normal.
I love historical research. I love history – that’s probably why I enjoy writing historical fiction. This past weekend hubby and I spent two days scouring the southern Chiricahua mountains for the site of a firefight between the US Army and Cochise’s Chiricahua Apaches in 1869.
My fictional Army officer will be engaged in this event. I had questions about the location, and after searching through books and historical papers I managed to pinpoint the place I needed to see. To put myself in my character’s mind, explore his emotions, and find out who he would be after this was over, seeing the location was important for the story.
Much to her great pleasure Millie came along on the road trip, riding comfortably on her bed in the back seat.
There was so much for her to see and smell, so much to experience. She was so good, and when we stopped for pictures or to explore she was happy to do her own research of the area. 🙂
Rucker Canyon was where we were heading. It runs between the Chiricahua Mountains to the north and the Pedregosa Mountains to the south west. The creeks were running thanks to snow melt, and the dirt roads were well maintained, with a few places I wouldn’t want to drive on if they were wet.
My driver did a good job getting me where I wanted to go, and he loved exploring those crude trails disguised as roads. I’m not so fond of the bouncing around on these, but he was having a great time.
Considering we were very close to the international border we saw this sign going either direction. Gave me pause.
Using our topo map and the references, we were able to pin point the bluff where the Apache warriors held off the US Army. This series of fights lasted for a month beginning in October, and resulted in both sides suffering injuries and loss of life. It also prompted Cochise to examine the cost to his people of the continued fight against the whites. He was dead five years later.
Walking the area where these two groups struggled to control the land was profound for me. The area is a pristine, rugged, and beautiful wilderness area of oaks and junipers. The bluff was found by us, and we spent time examining it and imagining the humans surrounding it, climbing, it, hiding behind its peaks, and moving in a strategic dance of combat. I was thrilled.
Left – from the south, right – from the north.
The south view was a steeper approach the Army attempted but were pushed back by the well entrenched Apaches.
The Army circled around to the north side which was a gentler slope, but still unapproachable. It was this activity that leads to my character’s encounter with a warrior and a crisis moment for him and his life going forward. After a bit more driving and a bit of hiking hubby suddenly stopped and said, “Here, it happens here.” He found a perfect place for the confrontation. In this area there were signs of human presence at least 100 years old. Nancy was in her happy place!!
Down this slope my character will struggle and his life will change. At the bottom is a creek, and beyond that a meadow lined with trees that are good cover for the warrior.
Boy did Millie like this place. She could wander and discover, glancing back at us to make sure we were near.
It was getting late, so we headed out for Douglas, Arizona and to the ranch home of old family friends of hubby. When I say old friends, I’m talking before marriages and kids, my father-in-law and Mr. Christiansen were BFF’s.
This ranch house was built in early 1960, and is one of the most comfortable, and welcoming homes I’ve visited. We chatted, laughed, looked at books and photos, walked around the land, and hubby’s memories were tickled. Millie loved this as well. She had plenty of room to run, sniff, and do her business. Our beautiful hostess, Mrs. Ursula Christiansen, made us comfy, fed us, and loved Millie. Ursula, born in Germany, married an American military man, and moved to this country. I asked her what she thought of southern Arizona when she arrived and she said she wanted to see Indians, she didn’t realize they were on reservations.
The two German girls got on pretty well. They’d had German Shepherds on the ranch, and she missed them. I think Millie sensed that. After a good nights sleep, Ursula wanted to take us to her favorite Mexican restaurant – El Pato (The Duck.) Chuck and I loved it, fresh and delicious Sonoran food.
Ursula was greeted warmly by the lovely owner Alba, she introduced us, and we ordered. If you ever get to Douglas, AZ go see Alba at El Pato.
After our wonderful meal, and full bellies we headed back to the mountain for a few hours, then home.
My mind was racing with ideas, scenes, and plots. I can give the writing an authentic feel, and take the reader into the action with authority.
The best part was the chance to be there, on the spot, in the location, walking the same paths, seeing the same landscape, being in history, and becoming my character.
I remember in school hearing the comment, “why would I need math?” and I admit, I said that too. But then I grew up and got a checking account. Yeah, that is math folks.🤑
I only took one algebra class in high school and said “why would I need algebra?” and then I got a job in a cell culture lab where I was taught to grow cells. I called on that algebra to count cells, make cell culture growth medium, and titer antibodies. Yep, that was math too.🔬
Now…I love to sew and quilt and y’all there is plenty of math in it. Math in real life. How many yards, make sure to have the right seam allowance. Sizes, blocks, binding, and elastic, you gotta have the right amount or the dang thing won’t work.
I’m just finishing some small projects: a valence for the guest room shower, and a dog bed for Millie. These are the whip them out in a day and clear out some space type of jobs. I also started on my next project which is the Doctor Who theme quilt for Charlie. Cutting a bunch of 2 1/2″ strips to make into blocks. I’m stalled because I need more blades-those suckers get dull pretty fast!😜 I also have the stuff for two small quilts for two wee nephews, and one big one that’s a surprise for one of the humans I love. Not telling 😉
So back to the sewing machine (I love my machine-thanks mom) and the creative fun of construction.
We have lived in Catalina, Arizona since January 1991. We have seen this rural area slowly become developed as a bedroom community for Tucson, spreading north into Pinal county, and south toward Oro Valley on the north end of the Tucson city limits.
We moved out here to get our kids away from the growing gang threat and gun violence in the southern part of Tucson where we lived. We would be in bed, listening to gun shots, and the constant police helicopter and vehicle presence in our neighborhood.
My young son was harassed, bullied, beat up, and was being forced to adapt in the 2nd grade. These little gangsters were targeting boys like my son, a mellow, kindhearted fella and he was changing, withdrawing, and was happy only when he was at home with family. I was frightened for him.
My lovely, 8th grade, ginger haired, freckle faced daughter endured teasing, bullying, sexual and racial harassment while trying to enjoy school. She always liked school. It hadn’t been a problem for her prior to entering junior high.
We started looking for property and with the hand of providence my husband found an advertisement for the acre we now own. The acre had two little mesquite trees, was nice and flat, and was very near the Santa Catalina mountains. A perfect spot for us. Melissa had been commuting to a different high school where she had several good friends so she was in her junior year when we moved, Aaron was in 4th grade. We have been here since then watching the area grow up, people moving in, and developers building housing developments. It still has a rural feel to it.
Fast forward to the first of this month. I got a call from my neighbor Sandi asking if my dog Millie was inside and when I confirmed she was, she said to keep her in because there were a pack of pit bulls that had attacked and killed her next door neighbors two alpacas, and she was holding a gun on the pack to stop their attack on her neighbors horse. It was a killing field and my neighbor was heartbroken and furious. She had called 911 twice and was waiting, gun in hand, for the sheriff who took about two hours to arrive.
The people who own the pack exercise no control over these animals. These dogs escape and roam the neighborhood at will, harassing and fighting with animals that are securely and responsibly contained. This behavior has altered some of these otherwise tame animals, provoking aggression in them. When these irresponsible pet owners are called to come get their animals they always have an excuse. They do not get these animals fixed so it is a puppy mill at that place. Just this past Saturday the ringleader, a large white one, was out roaming and fence fighting. At this point there has been nothing done other than the three who carried out the attack were removed, but have since been returned to them. Animal control has yet to interview the alpaca owners, the neighbor who witnessed the attack, or any of us who have witnessed this repeat behavior.
I worry that one day the news people will be out here interviewing us because this pack got out again and attacked a human. We will tell them of the lack of response from the appropriate authorities, and maybe something will be done. Please God, don’t let that happen!
Be a responsible pet parent. Get your animals spayed/neutered, train them, and keep them under control. Everyone will be happy, especially your animal.
Some people don’t seem to understand what it takes to focus on writing. Just because the music is playing and I am walking around talking to myself doesn’t mean I am not in a writing zone and it’s okay to barge in and start chatting. I am seriously thinking I need a “Do Not Disturb” sign on my door.
Some people need silence, solitude – space to make the words flow and the jumble of thoughts to become a cohesive body of narrative. Me, not so much. That works at times I’ve found, especially when I am editing. In most cases I have music – all kinds of music – filling my work room. I dance, pace, wander, talk to no one, and fiddle with my muse.
Right now the playlist is soul/pop from the last forty years. Prince, Jimmy Luxury, Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, The Temptations. Whoa baby, digging it.
Then the interruptions….
Thus the blog refuge to focus my mind on creating and my fingers a needed a warm up – you get me?
Had a fun thing happen yesterday while hubby and I were gardening. Lots of soil was moved, reseeding the back yard and planting flower seeds by the pond. I asked if the spa was hot and he said yes, and I replied after this day we need a soak and alcohol, and who knew what next. He agreed and by 8:30 pm we were in the hot water, staring at the stars, planning our next adventures. It was splendid. In my mind I thought “I’m going to use this in a story!”
Isn’t that great when that happens?
We have introduced Cleo to the outdoors and she is digging it. She has gotten big enough and savvy enough to know to stay near the house while she explores. One interesting aspect is Millie, as the big sister German Shepherd, pays attention to her and when she gets out of Millie’s sight the search is on. Millie kind of whines as she tries to find the wee cat, only calming when she is back. So adorable.
They are so cute and are pretty good buddies. Cleo loves Millie’s big swishey GSD tail, and Millie will nudge and lick Cleo when she is laying on the floor. Their food bowls are in the same place separated by a water bowl they share.
We had Jake for a while but he went back to his family once they were again able to house him, much to Jake’s happiness.
I have always liked having a dog and a cat. I love the difference in the two animals, and they both nourish the variety of pet lover needs I have. Chuck and I are both this way.
So now the words are flowing. Time to ease back into the past as Jude Tremaine arrives at Fort Bowie, Arizona Territory. It could very well be a bloody night in the mountains around him. Ready for a rowdy ride, a betrayal, and a heartbreaking loss? Volume II of The Tremaines is in progress. Pray for no more interruptions unless the house is burning down or the wine is running out.
While I’ve been working stories, especially fiction, the one thing I discovered is the complexity of character names. How do other people come up with names? Sometimes I’ve had a name from the start. In the case of my current story the main characters’ names have been in my head from the beginning. I also had several of the other background and ancillary characters with names I knew I wanted to use.
But this one guy. My main female’s ex-husband. What the crap is his name? Todd, Alec. Oh he’s dead, a jerk, and only referred to in past tense.
I’ve come up with those two names so far, but they just don’t strike me as the right one. All you writers out there. Where do you look for names? Do you have a proven method to find the one that works?
I am currently trying to blog, listening to classical music and eating a sandwich while trying to keep the cat from my food.
So let me know the way you find the best name for a fictional human.
Good news on the writing front. I sat here in the living room, casting You Tube videos, with my tablet nearby, and the words just came rolling out. The scene I just finished set up an important relationship that will affect several of my characters and will drive the big drama between the main characters.
I looked back at some of the stuff I wrote a few days ago, being a bit more critical and immediately noticed necessary edits. But I’m not going to touch those until this first draft puppy is done. I know better than to mess with it like that when so much is yet to be written. I’m at 16k+ words right now.
I’ve been working on a design for our Galifrey One t-shirts. We are going to wear matching T’s on Friday. I think what I’ve come up with is pretty nice. Simple but gets the point across. I’m so ready to to be there. My kids live on opposite coasts which makes it hard to get together. I need to sell a bunch of books so I have the money to fly to Orlando more often. My daughter in LA is easier, just a eight hour drive from Tucson. Flights are also cheaper from Phoenix to LAX. Next month will be wonderful with all six of us together. I was telling my sister this a few days ago and almost started to cry.
We have some cold nights in the forecast this week so the dogs are spending the nights indoors. It’s 7:30 pm and 38 degrees. It’s been hilarious watching the dogs as they figure out the little furry boss in our family. Cleo runs the show, this teeny calico kitten running the two big German Shepherds around. She isn’t shy of them, and she will play, especially with Millie. We weren’t sure how they would all get on once they were introduced, but with patience they are coexisting.
Hope all of you are enjoying what ever is happening at your place.