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Rude Awakenings

A Very Young Maxx

Yesterday I woke up in what felt like the middle of the night. I listened for a moment, fearing the insistent, clamoring sound of the alarm would go off. Instead, there was nothing but silence.

With a smile, I pulled the blankets closer around me and let out a contented sigh.

And that's when the %@$*& alarm went off.


Last night I woke up in what felt like the middle of the night. Again, I listened to the silence. As I curled back into the covers, one of our cats came up for some late hours love-on time. I rubbed Maxx's head and ears. He laid down alongside me. After some good belly rub time, he stretched his arm over mine and went to sleep.

I sighed and began to do the same.

And that's when the %@$*& alarm went off.


My (Un)Surprising Lack of Memory

Screen Shot from Email
October, 2014

When I was in my late teens I had a degree of memory that impressed even me. I could recall life events down to the month -- and often the week -- that they occurred.

During that time I once asked my father about his childhood. He replied that he didn't remember much about his life until he was older. That seemed odd to me, but I dismissed it as something that came 'with age.'

My own memory has gotten fuzzier and fuzzier over the years. Still, I'm pretty good on major events. Things like having gone on stage with Penn and Teller should be one of those ego-gratifying things I should remember. Quite clearly, in fact.

At least I remember going to (and enjoying) the show. I even remember getting there early and watching the stage hands hoisting a glass jar high into the rafters that was used as the finale of an impressive mind-reading trick.

That whole being on stage part... nope. Not in the slightest.

* sigh *


Writings and All That Social Media Mess

Thoughtful Bear

Thoughtful Bear
Tennessee, October 2014

A few weeks ago toddpage was kind enough to give me an invite code to Ello. As a blogging platform it's pretty sparse -- there's no easy way to find people you know, there aren't any good editing applications yet... and yet I've found myself posting photographs and a brief line or two to it on a daily basis.

I find all of the social media choices overwhelming. Between Facebook, Twitter, LJ, Blogger, RSS Feeds, Google+, Ello, and all of the others I don't even have accounts for, it seems to me that keeping up to date on all of them would be a part-time job in and of itself. And I have neither the time nor, frankly, the interest in doing so.

LJ has always been my long-form essay place. I would write here to keep my writing chops from getting overly rusty. Over the past few years, however, I've found I have less and less to say. There are days when I think about posting a specific observation (the first day the weather is warm enough to not need a coat in the spring; the first day the fluorescent yellow-green pollen covers the black hood of my car, starting to play the mandolin) but the effort to write a full entry just seems so heavy.

That, and my Nikon D50 finally died. I'm now left with my iPhone for a camera. (When I first started carrying an iPhone I took hundreds and hundreds of photographs with it. I've become frustrated by the iPhone's limitations, however, and haven't been doing much with photography lately, either)

Writing time, now, is supposed to be time spent with The Book. That means more (seemingly endless) revision time -- something I don't have much enthusiasm for these days. (It's getting done, albeit more slowly than I wish)

Posting to Ello makes me feel like I should be doing the same here. I miss the community that was here in the past.


Maggie Turns 17


Last July I wrote about how the last of our original five cats, Maggie, wasn't doing well. What we thought might be her last days instead turned out to be an indication of her inability to tolerate certain foods. Certain of her favorite foods.

She had already shown she couldn't tolerate shrimp any longer, something I still don't think she fully admits to. (Or maybe she just wants us to feel guilt any time we eat shrimp around her.) Back in July the problem turned out to be her favorite part of her morning rituals: cream. Bonn would make tea in the morning and give Maggie a small saucer of cream. They had done this for years without any problem. Now cream makes her miserable for 3-5 days straight. She won't eat or drink anything -- something that can be deadly for a cat.

We have her off all dairy now, meaning no cheese, no butter, no whipped cream. She still cries out for her cream in the morning (and by "cries out" I mean "demands in a highly annoyed voice") and we have to keep an eye on any plate that has had butter on it.

This past Sunday was Easter, which means it was also her birthday. She enjoyed a baked chicken in her honor, although she did point out that it wasn't grilled, which is her favorite.

I will be very happy if she outlives us all.


Word for the Year (2014): WRITE

Crow Doorway

Downtown Raleighwood

February 2014

I've been choosing a Word for the Year since 2006.  It's an alternative to making New Years Resolutions, something which I never found to be very effective.  I got the idea from Christine Kane, a former singer-songwriter turned Life\Entrepreneur Coach and have liked how the process of choosing a word makes me reassess where I am in life and where I want to be.

Last year I chose the word LIGHT.  The idea was to find a word that balanced giving positive energy while still being true to my somewhat cynical side.  It was a lofty, esoteric word that was well-meaning but lacking in any direct Call to Action.

This year I've chosen the word WRITE.  It comes with the clear intention of changing my lack-of-writing ways, to stop feeling sorry for myself and my never-good-enough book, and to just get the work done.

In December I set a series of goals for myself:  (a) have the latest revision completed by Feb 1st and (b) sent out to my Trusted Beta Readers so comments could be back to me by mid-February.  (c)Further revisions to be completed and the polished manuscript sent back to my agent by the first week of March.

The first part of that meant both revisions and new writing.  (Three new chapters, as it turned out)  I took time off from werk to complete the manuscript and finished work on it before the end of January.

WRITE.  That's my word for the year.  What's yours?

Maggie, The One Who Stayed With Me

Self Portrait in Maggie's Eye

Over Easter weekend, 1997, the cat Bonn had brought home from where it had been abandoned weeks before, gave birth to five black cats. Those five cats became one of the focal points of our lives. They were our family, our feline children, our constant companions and the source of much joy, laughter, and love.

Maggie was the firstborn. Her statement, "I was here first; everything's mine" was taken as a simple truth by all of her siblings. She wasn't the Alpha of the pride, she was The Big Sister. If anyone was not feeling well -- feline or human -- she became Nursemaid Maggie and stayed with them until they were better.

For more, click on through to the other side…Collapse )



Ceiling Fan
Outside Raleighwood
June 2013

Recording for posterity:

I play Pente with amlaped and sakkijarvi over at Pente.net. (If you play Pente and are interested in playing, leave me a comment))

There is an area to the left of the board that allows us to leave comments to each other. Sometimes we talk about the game, sometimes we talk about whatever is on our minds. It's a great way to keep up with one another on an almost daily basis.

For Father's Day, sakkijarvi's older sister posted a photo of herself as a baby with her parents. I was struck by how much sakkijarvi looks like his father in the photo -- something I had never noticed before.

Here's our conversation from the Pente comments, (without the comments about the game):

sakkijarvi: The odd thing is that, when you compare us at similar ages, I didn't look much like him until my mid-20s or so . . . as a young man he was handsome, whereas I was, at best, plain . . . in some ways I think I've actually become better looking with age

Me: I think I peaked in my early 20s. It's been quite downhill from there.

sakkijarvi: Maybe it's just that that wise-ass smirk of yours plays better coming from a pup!

I'm going to say that's partially the benefit and the problem of long-time friends.


Random Acts of Gratitude 051013

Self Portrait in Kings Entryway Ceiling
Downtown Raleighwood
May 2013

Three Bits o' Gratitude

1. Taking the Time to Take it Easy; Taking the Time to Take it Slow
Between being tired, feeling run down, and frustrated with werk, earlier this week I decided to take this coming Monday off. After yesterday, I decided to take Tuesday off as well. (Unfortunately I've scheduled a meeting for early Wednesday morning, so I can't keep extending the number of days off)

2. Ground Rules Laid
Last night during a long walk through the neighborhood park Bonn and I were discussing some of the as-yet-to-be-planted plants we have on the side porch. "That's something you could do on your days off!" she suggested. "Don't start trying to set me things to do!" I interjected.

While I probably will get the cherry tomatoes and the tiny blueberry bush into pots or buckets, I don't want anything on my schedule for two days. And Bonn's even agreed to it. : )

3. First Author Interview Agreed To
I had a visit from my favorite kid of someone at werk. He's nine years old and wanted to know about my book. After telling him a bit about it his mother asked me if he could come back sometime soon and interview me for his fourth grade class newspaper.

Random Acts of Gratitude 050613

Sunday Afternoon at Joe Montague's Farm: Barn Front Porch
May 2013

Three Bits o' Gratitude

1. This weekend was the first Grower's Market in Fuquay-Varina, and Bonn's first show selling her soap. The weeks leading up to this show were stressful for her, so it was good to get the first show done and over with. Considering all, she did pretty well. Her soaps got a very good reaction from the strawberry and greens buying crowd and she sold a respectable number of them as well.

2. Apparently there has been a Farmer's Market in this location for a number of years. Many of the sellers are Good Ol' Boy North Carolina farmers who grew up farming the land and have kept right on doing it well into their sixties and seventies. The Market had a strong community vibe -- the majority of the sellers all knew each other and greeted one another with handshakes and hugs.

What struck me the most about this was that the greetings were all very genuine -- race, ethnicity, spoken accents making no difference at all. It's things like this that give me hope for our species.

3. One of the many things the manager of the Market forgot to mention to Bonn was that, as a member of the Market, she was supposed to show up at the home of one of the farmer's on Sunday to have her picture taken for publicity purposes. Before we left the Market, we met the farmer whose home we were supposed to go to. He was an older gentleman, with a white beard, well-worn overalls, and a black felt hat with a John Deere tractor pin on the front.

When Bonn learned his name was Joe Montague she told him that she had Montagues in her family tree. He turned a mean gaze to me as if to say, "You mean you're claiming kinship to me?"

"She's done her research!" I quickly responded.

To be safe, though, I had Bonn print out some of her research that linked her to the Montagues. (13th Great-grandfather)

Turns out the glaring gaze was all an act. Mr. Montague turned out to be the most gracious and amusing of hosts. He gave us a quick tour of the downstairs of their house -- a house built in the mid-1800s and to which he has added several additional rooms (like a living room with a 25' cathedral ceiling and an octagon-shaped kitchen) all constructed with wood originally hewn in the same time period, gathered from old tobacco barns and local buildings. Oh, and most of the windows came from old churches, just for a bit of artistic color.

The front porch of the barn at the head of his driveway looks like it should be an antique shop. Old license plates, a doctor's horse-drawn carriage, an old washing machine, old signs, tools, and rocking chairs.

I spent most of my time there with my mouth gaping open from saying, "WOW!" so often.


Random Acts of Gratitude 042613

Bedtime Maxx & Me
Bedtime Maxx & Me
April 2013

I love this picture of Maxx. During the daylight hours he's a very aloof cat who is frustrated by not being able to go outside (where he would, undoubtedly put his extensive leaping skills to work by escaping from the fenced-in back yard… which is why he isn't allowed outside). Once it's bedtime, though, he frequently wants to curl up against me and sleep.

Three Bits o' Gratitude for Today: Online Radio Edition

1. The Iain Anderson Show
Iain Anderson's show is broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland late in the evening (Scottish time) but is available online and through the BBC iPlayer. He plays a good mix of folk, older rock, and various acoustic singer/songwriters. He's only on Monday through Wednesday, so I download the show the next day and listen to it the next day.

2. Late Night with Cherrie McIlwaine
Cherrie McIlwaine's show is on BBC Radio Ulster (Northern Ireland) and overlaps Iain Anderson's show, timewise. Luckily, I download her show as well. She plays a similar mix of music, frequently on the quieter side, but every bit as good.

3. Wrecking Ball Radio
Wrecking Ball Radio originates just down the road from where I werk in Carrboro, NC. They promote themselves as playing "eclectic folk rock" "cosmic americana" "bluegrass + jamband" and "soulful alt.country" which pretty well sums it up. Their daytime playlists have been good this week, so I'll keep tuning in.



5 Long-Necked Blinking Cats

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