The Joys of Warmer Weather

Enjoying the fish in the pond this morning. We still have some stuff to do on the pond, for instance, hiding the filtration box. The grass will probably do that in the future. I think we have the waterfalls the way we want them. The fish have been spawning.

We had breakfast on the deck this morning. Upon opening the umbrella for the first time this year on this table, we found a frog.

Weird Eats

In the brief time between rain, a major hail storm being the later, we ate lunch outside, vegetarian hot brown. Tonight it will be cantaloupe and guacamole as both the cantaloupe and avocados aren’t long for this world. That will probably be topped off with margaritas in celebration that the hail storm did no damage that we saw.


Book Review: Jessica Lost Her Wobble by J. Schlenker

I was so happy to read this review of my book this morning. Tomorrow I will be doing my first book signing at Empire Books in Huntington, WV (a little nervous – glad that I’m not a lone author – there will be 15 plus in celebration of independent bookstores). And, I’m in the final rewrite before sending the second one off to the editor.

The Page Turner

Jessica Lost Her WobbleJessica Lost Her Wobble by J. Schlenker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book, Jessica Lost Her Wobble is one of those books where you just want to know more and more about the main character. The book doesn’t disappoint. A full life of memories, regrets, pains and love all wrapped up into one amazing book.

Jessica is middle aged when she moves to the island. The same island that she had taken her children, Josh and Gina to for vacations and retreats when they were small. She has seen a lot in her life and she has survived with a subtle sense of humor that makes me smile. Perhaps it is her British sense of humor that is too dry, but when she finds someone that appreciates it she is so happy.

When she moves to the island to live a life of solitude and quiet, she surprises…

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Pond Tales

That time of year again. Working on the Koi and Goldfish pond, along with all the other summer maintenance jobs. The weather has warmed up, and the fish have begun to spawn. You will note the white film areas in the water. Baby fish eggs everywhere, and also disappearing at a rapid rate as they get eaten up.  We have had problems with algae. We completely drained the pond and refilled with mostly rain water from our cistern. The water had become so murky. Even with a new filtering system and UV light which is supposed to get rid of the algae, it began appearing once again. Of course plants are supposed to help, but the fish love to eat the roots of the plants, and are rough on them during their spawning time. So, we tried protecting what plants we had. My husband built a rock barrier around the Anacharis. We hold high hopes for this plant in controlling the amount of algae. The larger Koi can’t get in, yet eggs have drifted in. The idea was to protect both the plants and the eggs, however, we didn’t anticipate the frogs. Nature always wins.

Writing is like Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

img_0952What’s the best thing about being a writer? This is a question I received from someone on Goodreads. And, the first thing that came to my mind was pumpkin pie with whipped cream, plenty of whipped cream. So, if answering a question with a totally absurd mental image makes one a writer, then I have it made. At least it denotes a good imagination or thinking outside of the box.

Basically, what I’m saying is I like the whole process, well, the whole process up to a point. Marketing is another matter. But I love when the story starts to develop in my mind, or maybe more so from my heart, and ends up word by word on my Scrivener app. Then there is the reading over and over, rewriting, correcting. There is my husband reading it and saying “I really like it, but I would just change this one thing.”

There are the different images of cover designs that are going through my head. They begin to emerge before I even place my fingers on the keyboard. It’s the artist in me. I like full control from beginning to the final product, even the aggravation of the technical aspects of getting it in Kindle or paperback form, well, maybe not that part so much.

I’m really appreciative of Martha Perez’s question, because it touched the appreciative part of me as to why I do this.

The day I received my first copy of “Jessica Lost Her Wobble,” which I term “Jessica” for short, because she has become a part of me and has made me feel like an actual author. Maybe it was that first novel feeling. I don’t know. I’m new to all of this. I hope I have even a better feeling, if that is possible, when my next one is completed, “The Color of Cold and Ice.”


As I make the transition from the publication of my first novel to my second I am offering my first, Jessica Lost Her Wobblefor 99 cents from now until April 19th. Click on the link to get to Amazon.

In the meantime, I am working on getting the next one published. The first round draft as gone off to two beta readers. I am ever so grateful to them. After that, hopefully, off to the editor. I am pretty sure that I have finally decided on a cover.The Color of Cold and Ice (3)

Camp NaNoWriMo

Custom (6)Today I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. The main one happens in November, but during the summer two months are set aside for what are called camps, one in April and another in July. Must keep that writing process going. And, just like camp, writers are placed in cabins, where you hone literary skills at your computer or with paper and pen, whatever method works best, rather than the outdoorsy pursuits of canoeing, archery, swimming, or general crafts.
Hey, then, but writing is a craft! And, I suppose, weather permitting, you can contemplate the actions of your characters out of doors, at a picnic table or on a blanket spread across the grass. I do imagine Jane Austin positioned on a blanket, under a tree, scrolling with ink-stained fingers, the next move of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.
As for me, I will be working on “The Color of Cold and Ice,” the manuscript I started in November, doing rewrites and editing, and if time permits, various short stories. Yesterday, I worked on my cover. This may not be the final design. It’s so hard to let go of these things.

Dog Walk

  Getting ready to go out for another walk. This picture was taken yesterday. Not a great one. Binka is in the forefront. The sun was in my eyes, and I was basically pointing and guessing.
The dogs did well together. The day before when Odin arrived, Binka was not pleased. But, they are adjusting to each other. I’m still missing Barney and thinking it was too soon, perhaps the same thing Binka was thinking. However, I’m trying to make it work. My husband kept saying he looks just like Barney. He looks very little like Barney. The only similarity is the size and black color, and even that is different. So, I ask him, “How soon after I die would you move another woman in? A younger one. Would you say she looked just like me?” Okay, I’m joking here, I think.
The whole scene the day before when the dog arrived was like something out of a cartoon. One of the first things we did was take Odin and Binka for a short walk, a half mile around the field, just to show him around. He was on a leash. We don’t normally keep dogs on leashes, but since everything was new we thought it was for the best. He has since broken two leashes. We are now out of leashes.
He dragged my husband around the field, really giving him a workout. He didn’t see the five deer that ran in front, but went after a rabbit, dragging my husband behind him. After the walk, he discovered the cats. Barney, Binka and the cats were always best buds, but this dog does not like cats. They might have thought he was playing at first, but soon found out he meant business from the growls. The chase began. They ran furiously around the fish pond, until the cat took a high dive in from the waterfall. You can only imagine how bad it must have been for a cat to dive into a pond to escape a dog.
We were both astounded and frightened by this whole situation. I say, “Tie him up out near the deck where the cats stay so he can get used to them, maybe grow to love them.” That was when he broke the second leash. That was the leash that we occasionally used on Barney when someone who would visit didn’t like dogs. They were usually scared of Barney and his affectionate ways. Barney broke leashes rather easily, too.
So, anyway, we have a cat in the fish pond. I’m worried about the fish, as the cats are always eyeing them. But, due to the situation, I’m sure the cat was too stressed to think about consuming fish, even if he could have caught them. I asked my husband, “Can he get out on his own.” He said, “Yes.” How he knew this I didn’t know. But he did. The cat was so pathetic looking. Who knew a cat was so skinny under all that fur. He looked like a nervous stick figure drawing. I’m afraid they all might be getting skinnier before this is over. We put their food out, but don’t know exactly who is eating it, since we have seen very little of them since Odin has come on the scene. We are pretty sure they are hiding out in the greenhouse. My husband has been putting cat food in there. I know they must be coming out from time to time. I suspect that every time Odin growls. There have been no more chases that I know of.
And there has been no more climbing over the car. No, I didn’t mention that. My husband went to the car to get something, and the dog must have thought he was going for a ride. He jumped up on the car, trotting right over it like a sidewalk. I was afraid of dents, but I only see paw prints.
There is a herd of deer that usually walk from one field to the other through our front yard every morning. They have stayed away. These same deer have been eating from our garden for the past two years. One morning I woke up to see all the kale gone. And, yes, we tried everything short of an expensive fence. Barney used to keep them out, but quit after he got older. He just didn’t have it in him anymore. I am seeing a bright ray of hope of having a deer free garden this year.
All I can say is that we have made it through two days. I’m sure it will work out. Going for that third walk now.

Losing a Beloved Friend

Picture of Barney and Binka in their younger days.
Today my husband is bringing home a new lab, named Odin, aged somewhere between 3 and 4. Or at least that is the plan. I asked him to please make sure he is agreeable to coming home with him. His current family is moving to Hawaii and can’t keep him.
Part of me thinks it’s too soon. We just lost our lab, Barney, who was around thirteen. Barney was just a puppy when we got him, dropped off at someone’s house. That someone asked if we would want a dog. The rest is history. Barney was actually somewhere between a lab and rottweiler. Barney had the stubby tail of a rottweiler but most of the characteristics of a lab.
Barney has been with us since we started building trails on our farm. He was both a problem dog and fantastic dog. We still have Binka, also part lab, but not as much as Barney. She was dropped off at our house a year after we got Barney. People know we are suckers. When I say Barney was a problem dog, I mean he was like the rock star dog, living to the fullest and totally sacking the yard the way a rock star might sack a hotel. Yet, he was super friendly and a great protector. One day while out walking a pack of neighbor dogs came through the fence and attacked me. There were five of them, and Barney held them off. I fell down the hill, but ran back home safely. Barney came back limping, a little beaten up. My husband fortified the fence after that.
Binka is Barney’s complete opposite, a very polite, obedient dog. Actually, they made a perfect team, like an old married couple.  Now my husband says we should get another dog right away so that Binka can train him. Binka has even trained our cats to catch mice.
I so expect Barney to be sitting by the front door, but he’s not. Binka has now moved over to his place. It’s ironic that just a couple of weeks ago
I finished “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” That book will forever stick with me. Maybe one day soon I will meet a little boy named Barney.

Winter Reflections from Inside a Snow Globe

  Still snowing, although the weather app says differently. My husband says not too far past our house the snow has melted and the roads are clear. I think we live inside a snow globe.
Yesterday, I realized that I use my library card(s) more than I use my credit card. Maybe part of the reason is because I’m walled inside this snow globe. But then, no, the library cards would still win out. I’m reminded of the foreign film, “The Wall”. No, not the Pink Floyd movie. 
I also came to the conclusion that I check Goodreads far more than I check Facebook.

Tomorrow Last Day

“Jessica Lost Her Wobble” is listed on Goodreads as a Giveaway until tomorrow. So, if you are not a member of Goodreads, sign up, certainly friend me, if you want, and sign up for a chance to receive a paperback copy for free.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Jessica Lost Her Wobble by J. Schlenker

Jessica Lost Her Wobble

by J. Schlenker

Giveaway ends February 14, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Last Day Free

Amazon Link for Jessica Lost Her Wobble

This is the last day for the free download of my book, Jessica Lost Her Wobble, the Kindle Version.

I download lots of Kindle books. I also buy lots of hard and paperback versions of books. About half of what is in our bookshelves are unread. We have lots of bookshelves in our house.

imgresThe main reason is I believe I’m saving them for the rainy day or for some disaster that may happen, wiping out the internet and/or electricity. One of my most favorite episodes of the Twilight Zone was one of the earliest shows, Time Enough at Last. You might recognize the episode from the picture.

My Kindle Version Free

Through Friday, January 19, “Jessica Lost Her Wobble” is free on Amazon 12643026_10206177359858282_7424323914318400345_nKindle. Click here for book link. I took a screen shot because it made it to the top three on one list. I don’t think that means a lot. I’m so new to all of this. But, it impressed my husband. Really easy to do. So hoping for reviews from this giveaway.

51CgDFB+W1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In the meantime I finished “My Life on the Road,” by  Gloria Steinem. I found it hard to get into at the very beginning and put it down. Then I picked it back up a few days later and read it in two mornings. 

I particularly loved the other people’s perspectives that she brought into the book as well as the passages about Native Americans. I have Native American blood myself, although, you wouldn’t know it to look at me. But, now I want to visit the Serpent Mound.

I admire her work, although the term feminism has always bothered me. I like its definition – the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Still, in my mind, the word or label creates division. I think most labels do. One day I hope we can just be humans, coming together through our similarities, but still appreciating and respecting our differences.



Barefoot Snow Run

Continuing Saga of Snowmaggedon 2016 Our heat pump quit sometime during the night. Zero Degrees. Of course, if it is going to quit, it would be on the coldest night of the year. I hope this is the coldest. The temperature can only go up at this point, right? But, then our weather for the last several years has been askew, at least unpredictable, in my opinion. I’m just thankful, that at 42 degrees today, it seems like a heat wave.

But why is my husband running around the field, half-naked? Well, we have been practicing something called the Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof is also the guy they call the Iceman.

My husband said that he promised himself that if he could fix the heat pump that he would run around the field barefoot. He didn’t quite run around the entire field which is one-half mile, but he at least did one-half of this. I think you can see his tracks in the snow. Also, most of it was fifteen inches deep. Proud of him. Also, proud that he was able to switch our cistern water over to city water in our bathroom this morning. Our cistern water had froze because we were optimistic enough to not leave the water dripping in the shower last night. After all, the temperature was predicted at twenty degrees, not zero. We were hopeful.

Snowmaggedon 2016

img_0846First deep snow walk of 2016. Yes, that’s me. My husband was taking the picture. I was trying to lift my foot out long enough to show off my pedicure. Useless. At last measure it was ten inches and still coming down. Twenty degrees. I don’t last long in that temperature – two minutes tops. I lasted a little over three minutes in an ice bath. Cold showers, ten minutes.  #WimHofMethod   We are practicing something called the Wim Hof Method. It involves walking barefoot in the cold among other things. It’s been one of the best things we’ve ever did. We started it in October. Work was called off for my husband. We enjoyed a veggie burger with sprouts that I had made and split pea soup. img_0837

A Night of Firsts


Last night was a night of firsts. My husband and I went to our first author reading. Pictured is Red Dawson. He read from his book, A Coach in Progress:  Marshall Football — A Story of Survival and Revival. Other authors who read were John Hash, Laura Treacy Bentley, Carter Taylor Seaton, and Pam Marie Thompson.

I plan on reading the books by these authors. I just finished Ten Saturdays by Pam Marie Thompson, and have Falcon Strike by John Hash and The Silver Tattoo by Laura Treacy Bentley awaiting me on my Kindle app. And then on to Red Dawson’s book and those by Carter Taylor Seaton.

And, then as we neared the front of the store, I looked for my own book and found it on display on the table in the front of the store. Having a book out is a weird and exciting experience, kind of other worldly, akin to a parallel universe for me, hmm, which is kind of what I’m writing about in my next book.


The Wickham

If you like Pride and Prejudice and Star Trek, as I do, this is a story I did combining the two. This story can also be found in the Wicked Wordsmiths’s anthology book, “Stories From the Stacks,” which can be found on Amazon.

The Wickhamflying-saucer2

“Did you get it?”

“Yes, well, sort of.”

“What do you mean — sort of?” We are on suspension as it is. If we don’t pass this exam, we’ll be thrown out of the library program.”

“I got what counts. At least I got the gist of it.”

Kalal grabbed the book from Bulan’s hand. “This won’t do. It’s not all here.”

“Some strange creature with a ribbed forehead was in hot pursuit,” Bulan exclaimed as he waved his hands in the air. “He ripped it from my hand, all the while shouting, “It is a good day to die!” What was I to do? This was all I could salvage.”

“I should have beamed to the location with you,” Cand said exasperated.

“I don’t think that would have been a good idea,” Bulan said sarcastically. “Everyone started out friendly enough. A cordial gent with pointy ears, dressed in blue, greeted me. He made some sort of hand gesture and said live long and prosper. I did my best to emulate it, but lacking in digits, I couldn’t quite get it right. I smiled in my embarrassment showing my best four fangs. He just kept a straight face.”

“Was he angry?” Kalal asked, hoping they hadn’t caused an interplanetary incident.

“I don’t think so. I gleaned no emotion from him whatsoever,” Bulan said, trying to reassure him.

“Well, as long as we didn’t start any kind of incident. Burns wouldn’t be none too pleased. So what happened next?” Kalal asked.

“That planet is strange. Are you sure we got the coordinates right?” Bulan interrupted, looking over at Cand.

“I’m sure I was close,” Cand said.

“Close! Close won’t cut it with Burns,” Bulan said.

“Well, I did the best I could with what time we had left. Whose idea was it to stop off at Risa?”

“That planet does have some wicked attributes,” Kalal said with a toothy grin. Both Bulan and Kalal fumbled awkwardly, their tails wagging behind them, as they looked at Cand with sheepish guilt.

“Well, back to the business at hand. We have at least got something. And, Bulan, you are absolutely sure this is the planet’s most authoritative literature?” Cand asked.

“As sure as you were close to the coordinates you gave us.”

Cand threw imaginary darts from her third eye while rolling the other two.

“There was someone named Uhura in charge of all of the planet’s communications. She was reading it between rolls and cuts,” Bulan said, defending himself and dismissing her feminine rebuttal.

“What are rolls and cuts?” Kalal asked.

“I don’t know as I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. That is about the time the gruesome creature with the ridged forehead started chasing me and threatening me with death. He had some weird contraption with jagged blades in his hand.

“Well, you survived. Did you at least get the name of the planet?” Cand asked. “That will most definitely be on the oral examination.”

“Hollywood,” Bulan nodded with an air of authority.

“Are you sure?” Kalal asked.

“Of course I’m sure. It was in big bold letters, on a hillside, where all could see.”

“Well, we don’t have long. I have the ship set on autopilot. We must start studying what we have of this literature,” Cand said.

“I have already read it – in the decontamination chamber,” Bulan said.

Both Kalal and Cand flipped through the pages, committing them to memory. They both looked up at the same time.

“The Wickham rules,” they said in unison.

“My conjecture also,” Bulan agreed.

“We will act it out, in preparation for our quiz with Burns. I will be the Wickham,” Kalal said.

“I suppose I must play the villain,” said Bulan.

“It’s only fitting since you only brought us part of a book,” Cand said.

The rehearsals went on until their ship’s computer announced entry into the Romo atmosphere. Kalal took over the controls, bringing the vessel into an uneventful docking. They all stiffened in their demeanor, as Cand set the beam-out coordinates for the library’s archives where Burns would be awaiting their return.

Kalal held the book forward in his three digits toward the professor. “Sir, we offer the most brilliant piece of literature from the planet Hollywood to the library’s archives.”

“It’s in fragments. What is your explanation for this?” Professor Burns said, aghast.

“Sir, I can explain,” Bulan said, looking to the others for support.

They all looked at each other as Bulan elaborated with wild arm gestures, hoping that Professor Burns would buy their story. “I just only made it off world as the planet was erupting into war. I was chased by a most ferocious creature, which was threatening me with death. And, it’s no wonder. The good of the planet have been sorely persecuted. This George Wickham fellow was greatly shunned and frowned upon by the villain Darcy.”

“Yes, sir. They regarded fortune as everything,” Cand blurted in. “Elizabeth was after it. Yet, she found the Darcy to be utterly contemptible, although he had it. It was all a world of pride and prejudice. You can plainly see why they were on the brink of destruction.”

“Yes, they started out well enough, loving the good guy, Wickham, but quickly turned against him,” Kalal said, adding his part to the mix.

The three space travelers, Kalal, Bulan and Cand, stood frozen with their digits crossed behind their backs.

Professor Burns, after a deep breath shouted, “Long live the Wickham! Passing grades for all of you.”


My First Book Interview

From the Blog of

Mercedes Fox ~ Author

Howdy fans! I’d like to welcome author J. Schlenker to the interview hot-seat.

Why do you write? Expression, creativity, mainly because it’s cathartic. An emotional release comes from it, and even sometimes, satisfaction.

When did you decide to become a writer? I wrote poems in high school, but it wasn’t until retirement that I entertained it seriously. I thought, what now? My husband said, “Why don’t you write.” I think it was that very same day that I heard about a site called Gather (now defunct) on NPR. It was a group where people shared what they wrote. My husband came home and started to tell me about it as he heard the same story. I said, “I’ve already joined.”

What genre are your books? I think I would categorize them mainly as women’s fiction, or mainstream fiction. Establishing a genre for what I write has possibly been harder than the writing and even editing for me. I just can’t seem to narrow it down. I currently have only one published book, “Jessica Lost Her Wobble.”

What draws you to this genre? I would say instinct or intuition. It’s what comes out when I sit at the computer.

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? Other than belonging to the group Gather, it was the challenge of NaNoWriMo. It was during National Novel Writing Month that I completed “Jessica Lost Her Wobble.” That was in 2013.

Do you write full-time or part-time? Full-Time, although on some days other projects need doing. On those daysJessica book cover it would be part-time.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? I start out in the mornings. If I’m on a roll, I may still be at it when my husband comes home from work. At that time I look up and say, “I guess you want dinner.” He then says he’ll fix it, which is merely a feeble gesture on his part. I usually work at the kitchen countertop. He starts asking where everything is, and what steps to take. It’s at that point that I say, “Okay, I’ll fix dinner. You sit here and read what I wrote.” He’s great about doing that.

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? I learn something new everyday, at least I hope. As far as evolvement I’m most likely still in the kindergarten stage.

What have you written? A work of fiction, “Jessica Lost Her Wobble”

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you? The plot is in my head. I just sit down and write until the well runs dry for the day.

How do you market your books? My downfall. But, I’m doing this interview. That’s a start.

Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures? Basically word of mouth. I know a few people have recommended my book to others, and of course I announced it on Facebook. I just joined Twitter, and I have a blog. I’m rather technically challenged, but I’m learning (evolving).

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special? My main character is Jessica (Jessie). She is a middle-aged woman, who after many upsets, is trying to find herself. She is special in that she is like so many other women. People who have read it have said, I see so much of myself in Jessie.

Where do your ideas come from? The idea for this book came from a past life regression. However, when I actually sat down to write, the time frame changed, as did many other things.

What is the hardest thing about writing? Just sitting down at the computer and starting, or maybe editing. It’s a toss up.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? As in latest manuscript? That is still in progress. Probably, the research part has been the hardest.

Which writers inspire you? Yogananda, (“Autobiography of a Yogi” is my all time favorite book.) Wally Lamb, Elizabeth Gilbert There are so many authors I read. Since I’ve started writing myself I pay more attention. So many times I think, wow, I wish I had written that.

What do you do to get book reviews? Ask people who I know have read it. Currently, at the time of this interview, I have five reviews on Amazon, one on Goodreads.

How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?It’s a little soon, perhaps as my book was just released less than a month ago, on December 11.

What is the current book you are promoting? “Jessica Lost Her Wobble” I entered the very rough draft into a contest, The William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, and placed as a finalist. That inspired me to continue.

Who is your favorite character in your book and why?Definitely Jessica, the main character, although I loved writing them all. Mrs. Gibbons has a small part, but I also enjoyed writing her.

Who is your least favorite character and why? I don’t think I have one. There are supporting characters who are not so developed.

If your book were made into a movie, who would you cast? Ironically, I was just thinking about that yesterday while out hiking. Meryl Streep as the older Jessie, and her daughter as the younger version, as the book spans over decades.

What is your next project? I have two other books in the works, both done during NaNoWriMo. I will be editing “The Innkeeper on the Edge” and “The Color of Cold and Ice.” And, I’m also working on a collection of short stories, “The Missing Butler and Other Life Mysteries.”

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? Darcy I guess, probably because he has been so romanticized.

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? Jesus, because he would have all the answers. I picture him as kind, smiling and always laughing, not judgmental at all.

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? I would change myself into total love, peace and contentment. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.”

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?Patience

What is one thing you hate about being a writer?Marketing

Tell us something unique about you. I was a weaver before I was a writer. I wove cloth. I am now weaving stories.

Thanks so much for taking the time from your writing to chat with us. I do hope you drop by again!

For more about J. Schlenker follow the links below:

Blog / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / BookLink

Children, The Meaning to Life

A picture of our grandson I did last night on my iPad using Art Studio.

This morning I started reading “Tying Rocks to Clouds,” by William Elliott. It’s a book I have been meaning to read for several years. I first came across it in a friend’s home. It is a book about the meaning of life. I guess all books are in one respect, if they cause us to question. The innocence of children, I would say, definitely brings us closer to finding the meaning to life.

Strange and Exciting

  This morning my husband came back from the post office with our stack of mail that was on hold while we were on a Christmas holiday road trip. My first published book was in the stack of mail. Having the e-book on my iPad was nice, but this somehow made it more real.

I was pleased with the way it turned out. Everything looked to be in order. I was especially pleased considering I self-published doing all the design and layout work. It was a learning process, on some days a down right struggle, but it paid off. 

I took various pictures of the book this morning, but ended up using the one I took of it on the kitchen counter, which is fitting, since that is where I wrote it during the NaNoWriMo in November of 2013. And, then there were the many edits, rewrites, and edits which came after.

On Monday I plan on plunging once again into the process of writing, editing and rewriting my current two other manuscripts and collection of short stories. I tend to use the word plunging quite a bit. Maybe because my father was a plumber.

Happy New Year!

IMG_0369We spent the holiday break traveling, a road trip. The plan was to surprise my husband’s family on Christmas Eve. And, that we did. They said, best Christmas present ever.

It was a long trip, two days down, three days back, three days on the way back because we decided to rest an extra day. 

Our first overnight stay was in New Orleans, actually, where we spent our honeymoon. Finding vegetarian places is always a challenge. It has gotten easier over the years. We were in the mood for Mediterranean. The hotel recommended Cleo’s. At first glance we were a bit hesitant. It was nothing fancy, one side plain tables, the other side a grocery store. At first we thought we were to place our order at the register, but we were directed to sit down by a waiter who took our order. We did choose our own drinks out of the cooler. 

The food, pictured above was excellent. I read later that the owners were Egyptian. Our brother-in-law is also Egyptian. We were on route to his house. While there he fixed us some excellent vegetarian dishes.

IMG_0523_2One of my new year goals is to learn to cook like this.

Oh Christmas Tree and Margaritas!

On Saturday we finally got our Christmas tree up. It took two rounds of margaritas, two bowls of popcorn, Dr. Who, and a roaring fire in the fireplace to do so. You will note the extra balls on the table. They are still there. The margaritas were running low, and dizziness was running high. Maybe today I will get to them.

Not All Starbucks are Created Equal

IMG_0697While in Cancun during the Thanksgiving holiday we frequented a Starbucks which was fairly close to our hotel. My husband and I were amazed at their pastry selection. We are talking big portions, and they were as good as they look in the case. A couple of times we got their sandwiches, which did not shrink up, and were a full meal. They also brought it out to our table served on a real plate. The round tart in the lower right hand corner is white chocolate with blackberries. I had been eyeing that from the first day we were there. I finally had it on the morning we departed. It was well worth the wait.

What made them extra good was the price. We converted pesos to dollars and compared to back home. Definitely cheaper, but then considering the difference in quality and size, it was hard to actually compare.


Jessica Lost Her Wobble is finally on Amazon. Click on the link for the Kindle version. The print version is currently being processed. It should be up soon. This is all new to me, a learning process. Now, hopefully, I can get back to some blogging and catch up with other people’s blogs. The last couple of months have been edit, edit, edit. And, there was some travel, as well.

Jessica Cover Paperback


Yesterday’s Walk

Yesterday’s walk was a treat through vibrant fall colors. We trekked through the woods to get to the top of the hill that overlooks our house.
IMG_1638The next is a next door farm.
IMG_1641A group of rocks along the trail.
FullSizeRenderComing out of the woods into a field area.
IMG_1643Coming out of the woods and back towards the house. Two mile loop.

Mexican Night

I think we started a Wednesday night tradition – Mexican night. A couple of times we went to a new Mexican restaurant near us on Wednesday nights as margaritas were half price. More times than not the food was swimming in oil, so much so the last time that I didn’t eat mine. The margaritas certainly had a kick, but I could just feel the high fructose corn syrup melting in my mouth. Then there was the indigestion and heartburn afterward. 

So, on a trip to Whole Foods, my husband looked over the margarita mix selection. Even after buying the most expensive one which had the most wholesome ingredients (of course, I’m sure there is nothing wholesome about the liquor), we concluded our margaritas would come out to about half of the half price ones at the restaurant.

Except for the fajitas and cheese, all of the ingredients I used were organic. Since we bought Trader Joe’s brand fajitas and cheese, there should have been no GMO issues. I always feel that when we eat out we are getting high doses of GMO. Plus, I used no oil. I sauteed in a small amount of water.

We actually don’t get to go to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods that often, as we live an hour and a half away. I’m excited because I just heard they both may be coming to the town where my husband works. One day I followed a woman I had seen in Trader Joe’s into Whole Foods. I had noticed her because I liked her blouse. So, I commented that I liked it, and said, weren’t you just in Trader Joe’s? She said, “Yes,” and that she went there first for the cheaper prices and then to Whole Foods for the rest. That’s exactly what I do. So, I guess a lot of people do that. 

But, then we get sucked into the dessert department, and those extra things that only Whole Foods carries.

Whole Foods, also known as Whole paycheck, is supposed to become more affordable. I have noticed that their 365 brand is just as cheap.

In our immediate area we have Kroger, and I’ve found that as far as their organic department goes they don’t compete at all with Whole Foods, and certainly not Trader Joe’s. I’m guessing Whole Foods buys tofu in bulk. 

Luckily, in the summer we have a garden, and we are still working on that greenhouse.

I remember forty year ago grocery shopping. I adhered to a strict budget, and could buy a weeks work of groceries for $20. And, that was back when we ate meat. Now a loaf of bread from the bakery can cost a fourth of that. I so need to learn to make my own bread, and I’ve tried, but I must not have the baking gene. I’m more of a casserole, stir-fryer, sandwich maker, soup maker. 


A Novel of Color

IMG_1404As November approaches, once again I am gearing up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

I recently completed an online writing course, Writeriffic, taught by Eva Shaw. There was an assignment were we had to write as if we were a color. I chose orange. I Am Orange 

Originally I had other ideas floating around about what to write about, but this idea about color kept coming to me in different ways. One might say signs or omens. I already had a picture I did on my iPad, one of the most favorite things I’ve done, thus far. The design came easy. I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. Now, if only the writing comes easy on November 1st. Honestly, though, the writing has usually poured out. It is the editing and rewriting that don’t come easy for me, even though I’ve had help with that. I’m still in the process of bringing my first NaNoWriMo project to fruition, which I hope will be coming out prior to starting National Novel Writing Month. 

Magic Mushrooms and Other Marvels of the Forest

A couple of days ago I saw my first blue mushroom in the woods. I’ve been walking the trails for a decade and this was a first, maybe a sign of some sort. I believe it is known as an indigo milk cap.
  Today, out on the trail, I saw more.
 And, here was one of the many spider webs.
 A deer jumped out in front of me, and got tangled a bit in the fence. I’m not quick with the iPhone, (what I took these pictures with), therefore, I miss out on quite a few opportunities. I see deer everyday. Still, they are a marvel. Perhaps I should have drawn a deer instead of this giraffe, which we have none of in our woods. I wish.


Giraffe drawn on my iPad.

The Plans

IMG_1389“Monsieur Beaumont, perhaps you could start from the beginning and tell us what prompted you to attempt the theft of a giraffe from parc zoologique de Paris?” inquired Monsieur le president.

“Monsieur, I was not stealing Henri. I was liberating him. It was his wish,” replied Philippe.

The judge asked, “Henri?”

“His name, Monsieur. He said his name was Henri.”

“The giraffe talks to you?”


“Monsieur Beaumont, I am told that you wanted the giraffe for a pet.”

“He wishes to be called, Henri, Monsieur. And, no, I don’t want him for a pet. I wished to liberate him. It was his wish.”

“The giraffe told you this?”

Philippe sputtered and spat, answering in a nervous stutter, “Monsieur, Monsieur, he wishes to be called Henri. The giraffe, you call him the giraffe? Very disrespectful, indeed. No, no, that won’t do at all. You must call him by his proper name.”

The judge winced and proceeded. Monsieur Beaumont, it has also come to the court’s attention that you were dancing barefoot on Jim Morrison’s grave.”

“Oui, Monsieur le president, it was Henri who gave me the exciting news.”

“Exciting news?” inquired the judge.

“Oui, I am the reincarnation of Jim Morrison. I only wished to reconnect, so to speak. I go to his grave, in essence, my grave, whenever I am sad, or sometimes happy.”

“So, which was it Monsieur Beaumont.”?

“Monsieur le president?”

“Were you sad or were you happy?” The judge gave a side-glance toward the court psychologist.

“Why, happy, Monsieur le president. Henri and I had devised a plan for his liberation. We were to steal out of the zoo in the dead of the night and hide in the catacombs. I was elated to tell my former self of the plan. That is when the gendarmerie took hold of me and, well, now I am here. I fear for Henri. He must truly be worried.”

“I’m sure he is. I’m sure he is,” replied the judge.

A lawyer approached the bench, whispering something to the judge.

The judge said, “We will take a recess for lunch.”


“We would like to call Monsieur Labore to the stand, Monsieur le president.”

“Monsieur Labore, you were recently fired from your job at parc zoologique de Paris?”

“Oui,” in a barely audible voice.

“Would you speak up, Monsieur?”

“Oui,” Monsieur Labore shouted.

“And, you were caught pretending to be animals talking to the zoo patrons?”


“And, what did the patrons do?”

“Most laughed. Some thought they were on television. They looked for cameras.”

“But not Monsieur Beaumont?”

“No, not Monsieur Beaumont?”

“What did Monsieur Beaumont do?”

“At first he acted surprised, but he believed the giraffe was actually talking to him.”

“And, you were standing behind some rocks, making believe you were the giraffe talking?”


“Can you elaborate on some of the conversations?”

“I would tell him things, like how I was tired of being imprisoned. We concocted a plan for my freedom. Philippe was to bust me, the giraffe out.”

“Did you tell him he was the reincarnation of Jim Morrison?”

“I don’t remember that conversation.”

“Perhaps you didn’t remember it, because a lot of these conversations took place while you were drunk?”

“Oui, maybe, but I don’t remember anything about Jim Morrison or reincarnation.”

The lawyer turns toward the judge, “Monsieur le president, as you can see this whole episode has been a cruel hoax on Monsieur Beaumont. By the psychologist’s own report, Monsieur Beaumont may be a bit on the impressionable side, putting it mildly.”

The judge stifling a smile said, “Agreed. The court rules that Monsieur Beaumont must undergo weekly counseling.” The judge turned to face Monsieur Beaumont, “Monsieur, I would strongly recommend you stay away from the zoo and Mr. Morrison’s grave. Do, I make myself understood?”

“Oui, Monsieur le president.”

The judge continued, “And, might you find some sort of work, nothing too taxing on the brain, to occupy your days?”

“Oui, Monsieur le president.”


“How did it go today?”

“I am to find a job.”

“A job?” the voice from the toaster asked.


“Might I suggest an iron chef?”

“But I am afraid of knives,” Philippe stuttered. “I am afraid of knives.” Philippe repeated.

“Philippe, you must overcome your fear. Pinky and I will help you. Didn’t we help you overcome your fear of death? You must think about how brave your former self was.”

“Oui, Mr. Brain, you are right. Mr. Morrison would not be afraid.” Philippe let out a heavy sigh.

“What is wrong?” came the voice from the toaster.

“I am worried about Henri.”

“Not to worry. You worry too much,” came the voice from the toaster. “Chew on your mint leaves and remove your shoes. You know how those two things calm you.”

“Oui, you are right. I am feeling much more relaxed all ready.”

“You should be, and we can free Henri yet. You must bring knives, all the knives you can smuggle from the restaurant after you obtain the job. With the knives, we will rule the world. Then we can free Henri. We can free all the zoo animals.”

“Oui, Mr. Brain,” you always have the answers.

“Now, today is Friday, remember to pack your ‘p’ foods for lunch. You have a busy day. You must be strong.”

“Oui, peanuts, parsley, persimmons, potatoes, parmesan, pumpkin seeds. I must remain strong to rule the world.”

(This was for my writing group. I was given the prompts:

Repeats themselves often

Has a pet giraffe

Hates to wear shoes

Believes they are the reincarnation of Jim Morrison

Chews on mint leaves

Only eats food beginning with the letter P on Fridays


Has a fierce desire to become an iron chef but is deathly afraid of knives.

Believes cartoon characters Pinky and The Brain are real and living in his toaster oven.)

The Adventures of Butterscotch

Synopsis: A dog has a harrowing day, finds a hero and changes her name.

The Adventures of Buttercup Butterscotch

IMG_1385“Surprise!” Bernie removed his hands from Doris’s eyes.

“An amusement park?”

“Not just any amusement park. The Jungle Park. Action and adventure for the whole family, that’s what the brochure said.”

“But Bernie, there is just the two of us.” A slight whimper emerged into the air, and Doris covered her purse with her hands. “This is our second date, and we’re a little past the family stage,” Doris blushed.

“Did you hear something?” Bernie asked.


“Do you want a piece of candy?”


“Are you sure? It’s butterscotch.”

“Butterscotch? No.” Another whimper.

“Are you sure you didn’t hear anything?” Bernie looked around. “Oh, well. Let’s get in line for our tickets.”

“The gates are certainly big and pearly white,” Doris said, as she clasped tightly onto her purse.

“What do you have in that thing?”


“Your bag. Sure is big.”

“Nothing, just stuff.”

“How about the roller coaster?” Bernie asked.

“Hmm?” Doris looked at him.

“For our first ride.”


Doris sunk one hand into the front bar, and the other one around her purse. “It sure is a long way down.”

“Don’t worry, Hon, I’ve got you,” He snuggled closer putting his arm around her. “”Whoa, what was that? Something moved. I felt something wet on my fingertip.”


  You have a dog in that bag?”

“He’s so small, Bernie.” Doris pleaded. “I just got him last week. I couldn’t leave him home by himself.”

Bernie looked at her and back at the dog’s minute head peeking from the purse. “Oh, well, no harm. He’s already here. Just keep him hidden.”


A zillion screams began with the descent.


“The dog is a she. Her name is Buttercup.”

“What?” Bernie shouted.

Millions of shrill dog whistles. I think I’m going crazy. We’re up so high. Don’t they know I’m scared of heights? Why didn’t she leave me home? Fill my food and water bowl, leave a few dog biscuits scattered around. Pop in a “Lassie” DVD? I would have been fine.


“The jungle boats, let’s head that way,” said Bernie. “Push that dog back down into your purse. We don’t want to get in trouble. What did you say his name was? Butterscotch?”

A herd of preschoolers ran by, talking and shouting all at once.

“Buttercup, and it’s a she.”

“What? I didn’t hear you Hon.”

“Oh, never mind.”

“Be careful, now. Don’t rock the boat.”

What are those sounds? They are coming from that jungle next to the water. Water! Don’t they know I can’t swim? What do they think I am? A lab? I’m a Dachshund, for heaven sakes. Look at these paws. Do they think I could maneuver in the water with these? And these ears. I’ll sink faster than an anvil. Oh, no, I remember my master saying pearly gates. I’m doomed.

That was a lion’s roar. I know that sound. He’s coming for the boat. I just know it. Dog overboard!

 “Bernie,” Doris screamed. “He’s headed for the falls. Do something.”

“What can I do? Butterscotch, Butterscotch!”

“She can’t hear you. The waterfall, it’s too noisy. And, it’s Buttercup.”

Is this what it feels like to die? I’m sinking, sinking. Everything is in slow motion. What is that sound? Is it the waterfall? No, I think it’s the sound of AUM. I’m going home. My life is flashing before my eyes. It’s times like these I wish I were a cat.

I’m caught. Oh, no, my red kerchief is caught on a branch. Now, I’m not only going to drown. I’m going to choke as well. What was my master thinking?

 What’s that? The hand of God? No, it’s Bernie. He’s saving me. You’re all wet, Bernie.

“Come on, Butterscotch, I’ve got you. You’ll be fine.”

It’s Buttercup, Bernie. Oh, never mind. You’re my hero.

 “Now where is the doorway out of here?” Bernie scratched his drenched thinning hair with one hand, while grasping onto Buttercup firmly with the other.

Oh, Bernie, I’m sorry. I bet that watch is ruined. What was that sound? A tiger, I’m sure of it. Are we lost, Bernie? I need to pee. Is that a real tree? It looks fake. The grass, it looks like AstroTurf. I’m sure of it. Is this even a real jungle, Bernie?

 “Do you want a piece of candy? It’s butterscotch, Butterscotch. No, I don’t suppose so. You might choke.”

We’re lost in the jungle, and you’re worried about me choking on a piece of candy? Bernie, did you just throw that wrapper on the ground? That’s littering. We are so, going to get in trouble. Oh, no, what was I thinking? Hansel and Gretel, right? You’re leaving candy wrappers, so we won’t go in circles. Smart thinking, Bernie.

 I see light, Bernie. You saved the day. You saved my life, again. You’re my hero.

“Sir, did you know you are not supposed to bring pets to the park? I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”


“Bernie, Bernie, are you okay? And, my precious little Buttercup. Are you going to be all right?” Doris took her from Bernie’s arms.

Butterscotch, Doris. I’ve changed my name to Butterscotch.






A Walk in the Woods

While out walking in the woods, I came across this. I’ve been out in the woods a lot this week. My husband and I recently saw the movie “A Walk in the Woods,” and were inspired to work on the trails around our house.


You can see another spider’s wed in the lower right hand corner.

Most of the pictures I post are taken by my husband, as he is the photographer. I took these with my iPone. I am particularly pleased with the way the first one turned out.


I Am Orange


Taut strands of warp swallow soft fibers of weft as the shuttle makes its way through to create me. I am carefully removed from the wooden frame and then boiled in a mixture of roots and tubers, plants, bark, leaves, flowers and fruits, and then beaten against rocks to assure my hue. It is a labor of love and one of humility. I trek the far reaches of the Himalayas on the body of a holy man who carries only a walking stick and a bowl for sustenance. Vibrations of Sanskrit chants are absorbed into my substance. I bathe in pristine water and sit cross-legged on the top of a mountain. I feel the cold, crisp air, but my soul is warm. I behold beauty in every direction.

The pendulum swings. Industrial looms ran by disgruntled workers formed me. I’m utilitarian and serve a lone purpose. My fibers are stiff. I feel the chaffed skin and smell the stench of sweat of the man I cover. Self-loathing and anger penetrate my fibers. I sense the condemnation and mocking from the man pushing the metal rod against my backside as it clangs against the metal cuffs. Hollywood tries to add romance to my situation and calls me the new black. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

In a small village I am yet again handled with care. I am the earth, a rich vein of clay. I am rolled out flat and baked in the sun. I love the name I have been given, Terracotta. It flows on the tongue. I am trodden upon, but I don’t mind, except for possibly spiked heels. Bare feet are my favorite. But, also I love the bare hands. I am massaged into shape in the form of adobe bricks. I am placed one by one on the Terracotta. I make a home, the home of an artist, a potter. He molds me and sits me spinning atop a wheel. The motion makes me ecstatic. I am a Whirling Dervish. I become a beautiful pot, admired by many. I am passed down through generations. Someone is careless and knocks me to the floor. I crash on the beautiful Saltillo tile of a Mexican restaurant. What is that I hear? It’s my song. A mariachi band is playing. All my colorful cousins stand playfully against the stucco plaster. I am happy. In my elation I drift back to another time.

I purr and strut along a cobblestone street, elated and smug after a victory over a mouse, a worthy prey. I stop to lick my tabby fur, and am caught off guard. A man scoops me up and begins caressing me, the stench of linseed oil strong on his bony hands. He looks up at the moon and down at my fur, an ah ah moment for him. In haste he carries me back to his studio giving me a place of honor on a cushion in the corner. I watch as he skillfully captures my very essence on canvas, as he translates it to the rising moon and hayfields below. He signs his name, Van Gogh. I think, superb. This man understands me. My hunting prowess takes second seat. I am humbled in his presence, and I meow my approval.

For a brief time I am followed by the paparazzi. Yet I evoke reverence and respect. Awes and oohs can be heard with the snap of Cannons, Nikons and Hasselblad’s. I am sublime. They call me autumn. I fade and fall, as all things do. A chill invades the air. I am earthy and fragrant peering out of pots on porches. It is the season. I am everywhere – chrysanthemums, pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns. The air grows more frigid.

I am transformed. You can find me crackling and popping inside a hearth. I look out to see a family playing a board game, drinking hot chocolate. Outside it is snowing. In another instance I look out taking in the hungry gaze of lovers and blush, if that is indeed possible for me. In the distance I blaze against the backdrop of stars, comforting a lone hiker on the Appalachian Trail.

I am a color chart in a hardware store, a smear of paint across the top of a can. A woman eyes my different tints and shades, choosing two. To the clerk, she says, I will take these two. The clerk walks away and then comes back and says almost in shock, “You did say these were for the outside of a house?”

She replies, “Yes, I did.” This woman is bold. Once again, I am reminded of the painter a century ago.

My progeny of tints and shades are many, apricot, peach, amber, burnt sienna, vermilion, salmon, tangerine, pumpkin…the list goes on. Simply put a child calls me orange, the color of juice, or the fruit, or a carrot. Bugs Bunny likes carrots. I am a pumpkin pie with whipped cream. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am a scary jack-o-lantern. I am both yin and yang. I am the ten thousand straws of The Tao.

At my root I am the sacral chakra, second up the ladder, between red and yellow. I am both sensual and sexual. When I’m balanced I give grace to movement and pleasure without guilt. I am positive and spontaneous, acting on pure gut or instinct. I give freedom and inspire. I won’t steer you wrong, except in the kitchen. I am a stimulant and will definitely wet your appetite.

(This was for a writing class. I added to it, so am posting again. I’m working my way through the colors.)

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