Reading, Writing & Other Addictions

Facing Reality Through Fiction

To Be or Not to Be…a Cougar

I’m not.

Okay, here is the story that has caused a little controversy with some of my FB friends. This Monday, while I was sitting at home minding my own business, cutting up a Black Forest Cake that looked like my cat slept on it and making it into a trifle while watching “Major Crimes,” my 19-year-old neighbor (I use the term neighbor loosely, he lives in the next complex) knocked on my door.  He had injured his head and wondered if he could have a wet washcloth or something because he thought he was bleeding.  He was, but not much.  I let him in and got him a wet paper towel, and told him that he probably would want to put an icepack on it when he got home.  Then he started asking me questions.  Our conversation went a bit like this:

He glanced at the television, which was still on and asked, “So, what kind of shows do you like?”

“I like murder mysteries, but not the dark kind.  I like the ones with a bit of comedy in them.”

“So like 21 Jump Street?”

I had though he meant TV shows, since my TV was on, and I wondered why someone that looked so young would be referencing a TV show that was popular in the early 90s.  Then I remembered that it was recently turned into a movie. “I haven’t seen that movie yet, but I do like Channing Tatum.”

“So are you married?”



“No, I’ve never been married.”

“Do you have a boyfriend?”


“Do you have friends?”

“Of course, I have friends.” Who did this guy think I was? A hermit?

“Any guy friends.”

“Yeah, I have guy friends. I don’t hang out with them as much as my girl friends, but I have them.”

“No, I mean, guy friends with benefits?”

Color me clueless, but I still wasn’t getting it.  “No, I don’t do that.  It’s against my religion.”

“Are you a Christian?”

Wow! He got it without having to ask.  I guess we Christians aren’t doing such a bad job being in and not of the world.  “I am, and my life and my body belong to God.  If I ever get married, my body will belong to my husband, but right now, it’s God’s.”

“Do you want to hang out Friday night?”

I thought, why in the world would a cute, young guy like this want to hang out with me on Friday night. He should be hanging out with people his own age. So jokingly, I said, “Oh honey, I am way too old for you.”

He put his hand to his chest and tapped his heart.  “No, you’re not.”

Still, didn’t get it. “Yeah, sweetie, I’m pushing 40.  I’m 36-years-old.”

We went on to talk about magazines and soccer, which is when I found out he was nineteen.  When I walked him to the door, he hugged me.  And it wasn’t until he left that I thought, he asked some pretty personal questions.  Was he hitting on me?  I should have mentioned I have an 18-year-old niece.

I still don’t know if he was flirting with me, or not, but I’m choosing to be flattered, and if I ever see him again, I’ll mention my niece.

I don’t think I’d make much of a cougar.  I’m way too clueless.


NaNoWriMo: Struck

The most exciting thing that ever happened in Euldey, Texas, with the exception of Spencer Dick being struck with lightning three times in the same night, was the disappearance of Tolby Walker.

This year I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (NaNo) for the first time.  I have decided to write Struck, which is a story I have thought about for years, and even started once.  Though I like the first line, I had to scrap the rest of it. I didn’t like the POV, so I’m going to write it in the POV of the town, Euldey, Texas.  Euldey is a made up town, in west Texas around Amarillo.  When I was around 3-years-old, we lived in Vega, Texas, and I’m kind of basing the town on some of my parents memories of Vega, combined with memories of my mother’s family and creations out of my own imagination.

Struck is about  a 15-year-old girl, Joanie searching to know her mother who died when she was born.  Her father never mentions her mother.  It seems to hurt him to think about her.  While searching in her father’s desk for thumb tacks, she discovers a stack of letters addressed to her father from a man she has never met.  In each one, this man makes a reference to her and to her mother and each letter is postmarked from Euldey, Texas.  Joanie decides to go to Euldey and search for this man who knew her mother.  However, finding this man proves to be more difficult than she thought, and what she learns about her mother leads her down a path strewn with family secrets that were buried the night she was born…along with other things.

We’ll see if I can get this story written (and written well) during the month of November.  However, I may have to give up sleep in order to get it done.  Wish me luck.

Find out more information at

Oh, and the title comes from the first line (the one I liked):

“The most exciting thing that ever happened in Euldey, Texas, with the exception of Spencer Dick being struck by lightning three times in the same night, was the disappearance of Tolby Walker.”

Yeah, I liked it too.

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A Legacy is Bourne?

ImageThis Friday, August 10 the action-packed movie The Bourne Legacy hits theaters, and before it came out I wanted to read the book, which by the way is not written by Robert Ludlum, the author of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, but written by Eric Van Lustbader with the Estate of Robert Ludlum holding the copyright.  Now, I have read, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum so I was under no illusion that the book and the movie would be similar at all, which can be very liberating because then you are free to like the books and the movies for their own merits.

Now, I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the book is based on Jason Bourne (not Aaron Cross. As far as the book is concerned Aaron Cross does not exist).  Jason has been framed for the murder of two of his closest friends, and now he is on the run from the CIA, the Virginia State Police, the Quai d’Orsay and several other law enforcement agencies, not to mention an international assassin who has a personal vendetta against him, and the power-crazed head of a humanitarian organization who is secretly planning on destroying all the delegates at the terrorism summit in Reykjavik with a newly developed chemical pathogen. (How’d you like that sentence?)

At work, several people in my department write blog entries for the company blog, some with a sales intent but most just for entertainment’s sake.  In doing this we often research (by use of a Chase’s Calendar of Events) what is going on during any given month.  August happens to be “What Will Be Your Legacy” Month.  (Do you think that’s why the movie is being released this month?)  Now, a legacy is anything handed down from the past.  The legacy you leave behind can do with property, skills or even a set of values or ideals to which you adhere.  In the movie (from what I gather) Jason’s “legacy” was more about the secret program he first volunteered for.  In the book, Jason’s legacy has more to do with the impact his actions have had on others, including his children (that’s right Jason Bourne’s got kids), and how your past–your legacy–can come back to haunt you.

The question asked in “What Will Be Your Legacy” Month is more like what is written in the book.  How do your actions affect those around you?  I don’t know if I can answer this question for myself.  I don’t know if anyone can.  Do I say the right things to my nieces and nephews? (Sometimes.)  Do I maintain my integrity when under pressure? (Not really.)  What kind of example am I setting?  And that’s when I have to remember grace.  And I’m so glad that the only legacy that I have to leave is one of loving the Lord, knowing I’m forgiven and extending that forgiveness to others.  I still have a lot of work to do on my legacy, and it’s not as exciting as Bourne’s.  But on the bright side, I get my nose broken a lot less often than he does.

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Computers, Cats and Cars, Oh My!

This July, I took the first vacation I’ve had in a long time where I actually left town and it didn’t deal with anyone getting married or dying.  I went to Galveston with my mother for just a few days to hang out and relax.  The week before I left my brother and his family came to visit me at my apartment complex and swim in the pool.  Now, I had adopted my brother’s ex-wife’s cat Ranger a little over a year ago, right before they split.  So, Kent was sitting in my living room with the cat on his lap and he asked me, “Does Ranger not purr anymore?”

I said, “Of course he purrs.”

Kent replied, “Just not as loud?”

I started to think about it and he was right. Ranger had been quieter the last couple of days.  The wax in his right ear had also been bothering him, and I had been cleaning it out every day for almost a week.  He had also not been as playful the last couple of days.  So the Friday before I left on vacation, I decided to take him to the vet (Kent’s family was there on Wednesday for the 4th of July).  Ranger was indeed running a fever so the vet gave him some antibiotics and something for his ear. Ranger was also given a cortisone shot, as I had said he was lethargic.  Ranger bounced back and was doing fine.  On Tuesday, I gave him some of his medicine and commented that he probably wouldn’t need anymore.  I packed my car and went on vacation.

When I returned home that Friday, Ranger wasn’t doing well at all.  He looked and felt like he had lost weight. He wasn’t moving well, and he wasn’t eating.  I called my niece who had looked in on them while I was gone and she confirmed that he hadn’t eaten a lot or moved around a lot while I’d been gone.  I gave him some of his antibiotic and waited to see if he would eat anything.  He didn’t. So Saturday morning at 8 o’clock, I put him in the car and called my vet, letting them know I was on my way.  They took blood and urine and said it was probably one of two things: diabetes or a urinary tract infection.

Heavy of heart, I went to work on Monday and thirty minutes into the day my computer died.  Not crashed.  DIED.  They worked on it all morning and then said I needed a new one, which I didn’t get until almost 4 p.m.  So after a wasted work day and three increasingly impatient calls to my vet. I headed over to his office to pick up some special food a co-worker had told me about that was supposed to be good for diabetic cats.  It didn’t work.  Ranger still wouldn’t eat. And none of my begging or pleading with him seemed to work. He also wan’t drinking.  He was dehydrated. I tried to force feed him some water, but he threw it up.

Tuesday morning, he looked like death, and I was scared.  The vet called and let me know that the test confirmed that Ranger had developed diabetes, and I would need to schedule his first injection so they could teach me to do the injections from home.  He said bring him in on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.  I told him Ranger still wasn’t eating and he already looked like he was dead.  He was barely moving.  The doctor told me to keep giving him the antibiotic, but I had run out of the antibiotic that morning.  So I stopped by his office on my way home from work to pick up a refill.  I scheduled Ranger’s first injection for Thursday at 8 a.m. as that was the soonest time they gave me.

Wednesday morning I gave Ranger his meds. He barely moved.  He was so thin and weak.  His skin was just sitting on his bones.  But he was getting his injection tomorrow morning, I told myself, and then everything will be fine.  He will get better.  He just needs to make it through one more day…but he didn’t.  His poor little body couldn’t take it.  And he was gone by the time I came home from work.  My precious, easy-going little guy was gone.  I blamed myself.  I blamed the vet.  All he needed was one more day.  He was getting injections on Thursday.  He would get better on Thursday.  Just one more day.  I called in sick that Thursday and mourned my guy.

A week to the day after he died.  I celebrated my birthday (not a significant birthday, just a birthday). And two days later, my car overheats in traffic.

Moral of the story: Don’t go out of town.

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A co-worker of mine has recently encouraged me to try and get some of my poems published, or even self-publish a book of my poems and at least give them to my mom as a gift.  I don’t know if I will do that, but I have been reading through the poems I have written in the last few years.  I ran across this one, which was inspired by  the times when my family drove from Central Missouri to West Texas to see my grandparents.  As I am currently planning a road trip with my mother, this poem seems like a perfect one to share.

The poem is aptly titled–



To distraction

By your constant whining.

No, we’re not there yet.

Please stop playing with the radio.


To Confusion.

By your navigation

I don’t have another left.

What do you mean we’re on a toll road?


To Insanity

After 12 hours with no bathroom break.

I’ve really got to pee.

No I can’t make it 50 more miles


To Murder

Everyone else in the car.

There’s a shovel in the trunk

No one will even notice you’re gone


To Grandma’s house

Barely able to walk inside

It’s lovely to see you.

We’re never leaving.



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Gone to the Dogs

So, I have a new petsitting client–my friend Tami, who asked me to housesit for her while she and her husband, Michael, go to Hawaii with their family.  They have two shih tzus, Marley and Chewy (or Chewbacca (pictured to the left), though if you ask me, he looks more like an Ewok, which makes me wonder if George Lucus had a shih tzu.)

Anyway, Tami and Michael have their house set up where the doors automatically lock when they are closed.  In other words, you can get out, but you can’t get back in.  They also have pad locks on the gates to their back yard.  Now, they do have a lock box by their front door just in case you lock yourself out.  But that does you no good if say you go outside around midnight in your pjs to make sure the dogs pee before they go into their kennel for the night and end up locking yourself in the backyard.

Now, I haven’t climbed a fence since I was like nine, but after ripping a couple of nails past the quick and falling at least three times, I finally got out of the backyard and made it to the lock box in the front.  (I am very lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you look at it) that the neighbors did not call the police.  The next morning I looked like an accident victim with bruises running down both arms and one leg. After toying with the idea of telling people I was training to be a kung fu master and had just won my first battle with my arch enemy Lo Mien, I decided the truth was actually more funny, besides Lo Mien would kick my butt.


Thought of the Day

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Where have I gone wrong?”  Then a voice says to me, “This is going to take more than one night.”   –Charles Schultz

I guess, we all have our Charlie Brown moments when nothing is going like it should and it seems like everything we touch just falls apart.  Everything we do backfires. And we are left tired, and discouraged and angry.  We just want to throw back our heads back and scream, “AAARRRGGG!” (Hey, I did that in traffic yesterday!)  So right now, I say “Scream if you want to scream.  I know how you feel.”  Just remember, this too shall pass.


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This Day in History–Feb. 17, 2012

Did you know that Madame Butterfly premiered on this date in 1904 in Milan, Italy? It seems that the composer’s lack of originality caused the crowd to heckle so loudly that the performers couldn’t hear the orchestra and Rosina Scorchio, the soprano playing Madame Butterfly broke down in tears on stage.  Fortunately, the enraged composer revised the score, and today Madame Butterfly need only cry over her sad story.



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Word of the Day: Sakura

Sukura as a girl’s name is Japanese in origin and means “cherry blossom.”  So why is the three-day anime convention held in Washington state called Sakura-con?

Well, it seems that the conference was originally named Baka-Con, baka being the Japanese word for idiot (I am not making this up).  So maybe it’s no wonder that they changed the name, especially since the best loved flower of the Japanese is said to be the cherry blossom.  In Japan, because of their fragility, cherry blossoms have been used to symbolize the transience of life.

Sakura is also the Chinese word for cherry blossom. However, in China, cherry blossoms are the symbol of feminine dominance, feminine beauty and sexuality, which also fits in with anime. So is guess the answer is:  Why not Sakura-Con?

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The Anniversary of the End: A Tribute to Anne Frank

“Little bundle of contradictions…” That is how Anne Frank’s last entry into her diary, dated Tuesday, 1 August, 1944, begins.  She goes on to describe the struggle between our true self and the self we allow others to see.  Rarely do you see such truth and insight from a girl just 15-years-old, but her life was not exactly typical.

Although born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1933, when Anne was only four, her father, Otto Frank moved to Holland.  Otto could see how the majority of German sympathies were leaning toward the Nazi-party, who had before that year been thought of as troublemakers, if they had been thought of at all.  Holland had always been a place of refuge for the persecuted, but all that changed when the Germans invaded Holland in 1940.  Ever perceptive, when the Nazis began rounding up Jews in 1941 to deport them back to Germany, Otto Frank began to make preparations to hide his family.  On July 5, 1942, Anne’s 16-year-old sister, Margot was summoned to report for deportation.  The next day the family went into hiding. The Franks lived with another family, the Van Daan’s and another man, Mr. Dussel in some small cramped upstairs quarters, which they called the “secret annexe,” for two years.

In June, 1944, the Allies invaded France.  The group up in the “secret annexe” looked forward to the day that the Germans would be driven from Holland and they could come out of hiding, taste the air, feel the sun, stroll down the street.  But on August 4 1944, the Gestapo found the Franks’ hiding place.  The eight Jews, along with two of their friends who were hiding them, were taken to Gestapo headquarters in Amsterdam. The Franks, the Van Daans and Mr. Dussel were sent to Westerbork transit camp and then on to Auschwitz.  The Franks were among the last shipment of a thousand Jews to leave Holland on September 3, the day the Allies captured Brussels.

In October, Anne, Margot and Mrs. Van Daan were among a group of the youngest and strongest women selected to be moved to Belsen Concentration Camp in Germany.  Mrs. Frank died in Auschwitz, alone.  Mr. Van Daan had met his end in the gas chamber, and Mr. Dussel was send to Germany and died in the Neuengamme camp.  In February, 1945, the SS abandoned Auschwitz, and they took Peter Van Daan with them.  He was never heard from again.  Mr. Frank survived to be liberated by the Russians.  Mrs. Van Daan, Margot and Anne died at Belsen.  Anne was not yet 16-years-old.  Two months later, the war ended.

Through the publication of her diary, many people have been inspired, by this strong, courageous girl, who was wise beyond her years, to “keep on trying to find a way of becoming what I would so like to be, and what I could be, if…there weren’t any other people living in the world.”

Thank you for your words, Anne.

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