Writer of Soul-Searching Snark

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Stagnation

quicksandDo you know what it feels like to stand in the middle of quicksand and have no idea how to get out? You can feel yourself being pulled under and have no control over the situation. The more you move, the quicker your sink, but doing nothing is against your nature. You HAVE to do something!  You can’t just stand there and be sucked into the bowels of the earth, right?  You’re overridden with despair, agony, regret. Where’s Mr. Darcy when you need him?

So, I’m not literally sinking in quicksand, but life circumstances have made a head dive straight into a pit of said substance sound appealing. How do things get so out of control? How do I let myself become so overwhelmed by issues that I don’t even care about? I know what I want. I want to make a living as a writer. I know what that entails, writing, promoting, blogging, promoting and definitely more promoting. What am I doing? Herding goats, managing a rabbitry and slopping hogs.

Recently, in the most ironic of situations, I busted my kneecap while doctoring our goat herd sire, Alonzo’s, busted kneecap. Yeah, I know, I should find the humor in it, but sitting on the couch with my leg in a brace is driving me nuts. Guilt overcomes me every evening when my 76 year old mother tends to all the farm critters. Work that I can do in three hours takes her at least six. What do I do? I try to help and end up doing further damage to my knee. alonzo

When I first discovered that the lightning bolt shooting from my knee to my ankle was indeed caused by a real, legitimate cause other than me wanting to avoid farm chores, I thought  woohoo! I can write.

Reality? It’s really difficult to be creative while doped up on pain pills and/or an electrical storm is brewing in your calf.

I’m stagnate and I hate it. Detest it really. I never considered myself an active person, but being planted on my backside for four weeks has taught me a thing or two about myself.

1) If I want to do nothing, which I do on occasion, it has to be under my terms. Then again, that really shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. I’ve never been good at following orders.

2) I have a sick obsession with Criminal Minds. Of all the shows on television, I choose that one to watch while vegging on the couch?  Disturbing right? Does it count if the Criminal Minds marathon has been coupled with BBC mysteries. Probably not, huh? You’d think I’d be spending my time watching sappy romances. I guess I don’t feel like crying on top of all the physical pain. Who knows? I can assure you that I don’t want the Behavior Analysis Unit of the FBI messing around with my brain. Oy! Talk about frightening.

3) My mother can guilt me with one raised eyebrow. I had no idea she had that much power over me. It’s wicked. I need to study her technique.

4) I already knew this, but it has been confirmed. I have some awesome friends. Really amazing ones really who are willing to drive to the middle of the boondocks to keep me company or schlepp me into town. That makes me happy, but I don’t think I really needed a busted knee to discover that truth.

5) Writing erotica when in pain, and sex is the very last thing you’d consider doing at the moment is impossible. It’s impossible to write romance too. When you’re in a mood most foul and you don’t want to talk to anyone, happily ever after is buried in the dark recesses of your criminal mind.

So, three more weeks of leg brace. Will I decide to pull my way out of the quicksand–or in my case drug-infused fugue–and do something productive or will I continue to veg on the couch with a bunch of psychos? Maybe if one of those psychos was super-duper hot my thoughts about sex might change, resulting in the ability to write erotica again.

Hey, a girl can dream!

Just Ducky

This spring and early summer, the duck population here at WTF Acres went  from 11 to 3. One by one my feathered friends met their demise. We’re fairly certain the guilty party was a hungry fox. My building skills are somewhat lacking, so my solution for stopping the carnage was running an electrical cord from the house and scavenging drop lights from the greenhouse.  Using the little boat by the pond as a rack, I plugged those lights in and scared every owl within a 10 mile radius out of their trees.

The duck population remained at 3. Sure, the electric bill has averaged $453 a month, but my ducks are safe!

The other day, while surfing Craig’s List for folks selling goats, I discovered a lady in Garfield who had 6 ducks and 1 goose for sale. They were so cheap there was no way I could pass up the opportunity. So, on Wednesday, Ma and I loaded Apun’s dog kennel in the back of her car and set out for the wilds of northern Arkansas. We laughed because we aren’t very efficient farmers. Sure, the ducks were cheap, but it was a three-hour round trip to get to them.  We decided since it was an adventure, the price didn’t matter.  It was worth the trip because instead of 6 ducks, we got 8!  Woohoo!

Two springs ago when we got chicks, we decided we would never purchase another animal without having the proper pen for it in advance. We’d forgotten that little promise.  My plan was to come home and put the ducks directly on the pond, but our journey took too long and it was dark when we arrived home. So, we decided to put our new friends in the chicken house–which is free of chickens at the moment.  Unloading ducks in the middle of the night with your 75 year old mother should be an Olympic sport. After tripping over the hose, hanging myself on an electrical wire, stubbing my toe on a rock and nearly severing my hand on the rusty hinge that secures our state-of-the-art chicken house, we tucked the ducks into their new home.

The next morning, my other brother Darryl called. He thought we should wait until he arrived on Saturday to put the ducks on the pond. He figured he’d get the barn and pen ready.  Sounded like a marvelous plan.  So, yesterday we made a nice, cozy coop (or whatever it’s called for ducks.) As a result, we now have a pond with 11 ducks and 1 goose and pastoral bliss.

 

Ducks and goose in the chicken house

New home–red barn turned duck house

My other brother Darryl and nephew Darryl Jr. built a duck run from the shed to the pond.

Ducks being transferred from the chicken house to their new home. Apun was not happy about the condition the ducks left her kennel.

My other brother Darryl and Darryl Jr. complete the duck transfer.

 

The ducks make a beeline (or would that be a deeline?) to the pond.

 

 

The ducks had been kept in a chicken yard with no pond or water. When they got to the pond’s edge, they had no idea what to do.

The expression on the first duck’s face when she hit the water was priceless. It looked like she was thinking: “Hey cool! When did I learn how to swim?”

The original 3 weren’t that thrilled with their new neighbors.

The newbies eventually convinced the originals to love them, but it took several laps around the pond before it happened.

 

 

Perished Possum and Aromatic Armadillo

In an attempt to ready my yard for a quick pass of the lawnmower, I strolled through the grass picking up deer bones, sticks, and flower pots the dogs had dragged from the greenhouse. The aroma struck me first, then the crunch. I stumbled upon the rotting carcass of an armadillo–Apun’s favorite new toy.  Instead of moving the offensive lump of rotting flesh, I decided to mow around it.

As I mowed, I recalled a blog posting from my first spring in Arkansas.  I’ve decided to share it here, besides it includes my dad and Reba, who are both no longer with us.

Spring 2009,

The morning started out fresh.  A light rain washed the holler in a sea of mist.  The raindrops glistened and the leaves sparkled like emeralds.  The scent of lilacs was carried through the windows on a cool breeze.  Birds sang.  Butterflies fluttered.  Pastoral bliss.

A perfect day for Ma’s birthday party.

Of course, the party was being held at my house and since I’ve been in finish-the-novel-mode followed by edit-the-damn-novel mode, my house was lacking in company’s-coming-cleanliness.  I do the basics, on occasion.  Sweeping, vacuuming, laundry.  And, sure, the kitchen is usually clean.  No real problem there.  The only cooking that has been happening is the weekly baking for my critique group.  Haven’t even been cooking for the dogs lately, which is the probable cause for the ruination of my pastoral bliss.

As Dusty Richards often says, “No one has ever been killed by a dust bunny.”  So, the deep down cleaning has been lacking of late.  If you ask, Mr. Taster-Editor, he’d say it never happens, but who’s asking him, right?

So, yesterday morning, I was waltzing through the house with a blue bird on my shoulder tidying things up for the gala.  A box full of miscellaneous items needed to be returned to Ma—mostly dishes that she had so thoughtfully filled with delicious treats to sustain me during a writing frenzy.  Gotta love Ma!  Since I have no room in this house to store anything, I carried the box to the car to take to her later.

When I opened the door, a funky smell ripped through my nasal passages and my breakfast of Diet Coke and Ritz crackers threatened to reappear.  Instantly, my nose found its way to my shoulder to block the offensive odor from my olfactory glands.  I stepped outside and as my right foot made contact with the rock I call my front step, I felt and heard the crunch at the same time.

There are some crunches that are good.  For example, crisp apples, Captain Crunch, peanut brittle, Crunch and Munch.  I’ve been told that abdominal crunches are good too, but I refuse to believe.

The crunch on my front step didn’t fall into the good crunch category.  As soon as I heard it, I cringed.  Dare I look?  Was it a present from my must-draw-blood-once-a-day kitty?  Doubtful, since fresh kill rarely crunches.  It’s more of a smoosh.

I looked down and a jawbone lay desecrated under my slipper.  Of what?  I was unsure.  Until Paps announced he was going to mow the lawn before company arrived.  See, I come by my don’t- clean-until-company’s-coming philosophy honestly.

Paps mowing meant I had to pick up items in the mid-calf length grass before he arrived with the tractor.  Fireplace tongs, elbow length leather gloves, face mask and trash bag in hand, I ventured into the wilds of my yard.

Ma was going to help, but for some reason it took her an hour to roll up the garden hose.  Smart woman!

Apun and Reba followed closely behind as I cleaned up their treasure trove of death.  At least seven specimens of mortality were strewn among the Bermuda grass.  Enough to fill half a 33 gallon trash bag!  Bones, hides and armadillo shells everywhere!  I discovered the source of the jawbone when I picked up a pile of fur and the other side jawbone fell out along with the slimy possum tail!

Why the hell did I leave Alaska?  I didn’t have dogs in Alaska.  No way I’d walk one when it was thirty below zero.  Cats never went outside.  We were all safe, snug and kill-zone free in Alaska.

I’m happy to report that I didn’t scream, cry or throw up.  A big improvement.  I’m toughening up to Ozark life.

Apun and Reba were extremely upset by the discovery of their treats.  And for the record, I feed the dogs daily!  I’d just slacked off on the nightly omelet routine.  All canine-carcass-confiscation-concerns vanished when the family arrived and there were new people to pay attention to them.

Pond time made up for the missing, rotting-possum corpse!

Minnows were in abundant supply and everyone decided fishing would be great fun.  How redneck is that?  Anyway, the white bass are spawning and people were jerking fish out of the pond as fast as they could cast.  Which meant, lots of flopping fish action!

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!

At first Apun and Reba were working as a tag team, but with so people fishing they were missing out on some of the fish.  Eventually, they worked out a system.  Apun covered the north bank while Reba concentrated on the south.

Whew wee!  They got them some fish!

It was a catch-and- release day since no one was in the mood for filleting.  As a result, the dogs got to wrestle with the humans as they tried to get the fish off the hooks and they got to follow the fish as they swam back into the depths of the pond.

By seven last night, the dogs were crashed in the living room.  Too tired to even eat, which was upsetting because I made them omelets again.  Maybe they won’t feast on dead animals anymore?

Not very likely.

Worse Date Ever

 

I was talking to some new acquaintances recently. Since I write romance, they were curious about my dating history. They wanted to know if having a series of good dates makes one a good romance author or if having bad dates does. Well, I have to say that you need to experience both in order to tap into the whole gamut of human emotions.

I’m pretty easy to get along with and I’m non-judgmental, so I consider a lot of dates okay that my friends freak out about…frog gigging for example. You’ve got to roll with it, you know?

I’d say the date that did the most damage happened in high school. To this day, I still feel the pain of this date. The pain of rejection never goes away. It hovers just below the surface and resurrects itself at the slightest hint of dismissal. Years of therapy later, I’m better now.

I had a major crush on this guy and I’m pretty sure my friends forced him to ask me out. I had to be 16 because Daddy wouldn’t have let me go otherwise, but I was very inexperienced in the whole dating department. It was a triple date, yet another reason Daddy let me go. We went to an ‘R’ rated movie. My friend and I got into the movie, but my date, who was a year older, got carded and we all got kicked out. That pissed the guy off. He pouted while the others figured out what to do instead. They suggested bowling.

Good God, I don’t bowl. For an introverted, geek, sashaying down the lane in front of everybody and flinging a ball wasn’t in my comfort zone. The worst blush I’ve ever had resulted from the disastrous combination of me, ugly, rented shoes and a 8# bowling ball. I awkwardly walked down the lane and drew my hand back to roll the ball down the lane and the ball dropped off my fingers and landed with a giant THUD behind me. Everyone in the bowling alley laughed. Okay, probably not everyone, but it sure felt like it. In my mind, there was a giant TV screen over the lanes showing my flub in slow-motion. Of course, that wasn’t the case, but I was still horrified. I tried to shake it off, but I was still embarrassed. I think I bowled a 32 or something equally impressive. I tried to be a good sport about it. Smiled, laughed at myself. Made some stupid jokes at my expense.

Somehow one of the couples learned of a bonfire at the lake. As if I’d be more comfortable at a kegger than a bowling alley. Remember, this was during my I-want-to-be-a-missionary stage of life. By the time we left the bowling alley, the other 2 couples were amorous. So was I, but I had no idea what to do about it. As my date and I sat on the tailgate of a truck and I pondered reaching for his hand, this girl walked over, stepped between my date’s legs and started kissing him. She pulled away and said, “Hi, I’m….” I have no idea what her name was, but to this day I remember her saying “Jezebel.” Then, she looked at me and asked, “Are you two together?”

Feigning indifference, I slid off the tailgate and joined a couple of potheads at the bonfire. Fortunately, several of us had curfews and mean daddies, so I didn’t have to wait long before it was time for us to leave. My friends were furious with my date. I acted like it didn’t bother me and told them to leave him alone. The worst part about it was at church the next day. The guy was all chatty and wanted to hold my hand. I wanted to say, “Yo, dude, you do realize you weren’t making out with me last night, right?” Instead I prayed.

Looking back on it, I realize that was the first time I used my now tried-and-true defense mechanism of rejecting a person before they rejected me. The method is so effective that I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities for friendship.

Having a date so not into me was very damaging to my young ego. Now, I’d just politely take my leave, but at age 16, I was devastated.

How about you? Any horrible dates you want to share?

 

Marriage

My lovely niece is getting married on Saturday, the first of the grandchildren to take the plunge. Yesterday, my oldest niece and brother and sister-in-law hosted an impressive BBQ and shower for the couple. Since the wedding present isn’t finished yet and probably won’t be until oh, I don’t know, December or so, I gave the happy couple a series of black and white photographs for their kitchen. I also gave them:

Tips for a Successful Marriage from Claire’s Kitchen.

Ingredients:

Love

Kindness

Respect

Understanding

Patience

Friendship

Growth

Sharing

Trust

Caring

Many think that love is all that is needed for a marriage to thrive, but love alone grows stale without mixing in kindness and respect.

Similarly, combining two individuals for too long can result in bitterness. Each must have their own unique time and interests before they can properly complement the other.

Apply liberal amounts of patience and understanding as needed.

Much like a making a soufflé, marriage should be handled with care and like a friendship should never be taken for granted.

Your marriage should be your home. Your home should be the place you are the most secure, the place you can be yourself without fear of judgment. Trusting one another is vital, as is sharing your dreams, hopes and fears. Caring about each other is more than a sprinkling of emotion. It comes from the soul and extends through your heart.

Approach Love and Cooking with Reckless Abandon

What are your tips for a successful marriage?

Gallery

Karma

Karma.

Karma

It was after midnight. I’d just crawled into bed and was snuggled up with one of my cats and was all comfy under the goose down comforter when the phone started ringing. Of course, the phone was in the living room. I considered not answering it, but I figured it if was Ma, she’d drive up to my house to find out why I wasn’t answering. Cold air assaulted me as I climbed out of bed and stumbled into the living room to stop the persistent ringing.

It was Ma. She said, “Sugar Dumpling, Lindy May’s house is burning down.” Seriously, that was the sentence. How does one process such news? Me? I stood in the middle of the living room shivering and shaking my head.

“What do you mean her house is burning down?” Yes, I realize there’s only one thing that sentence can mean, but it was so surreal I couldn’t get my mind around it. It meant my aunt and uncle’s house was on fire.

I threw on some clothes, hurried down to Ma’s, picked her up and we drove the back roads of Booger County to get to my aunt and uncle’s house.

Lord have mercy. Fire engines surrounded the house, lights flashing. Normally, the sight of big, strapping firemen weakens my knees. That night, the sight made my stomach roil. I couldn’t believe it. The beautiful home of two of the kindest, most generous and selfless people I’ve ever known was ablaze. Fortunately, my aunt and uncle made it out of the house safely, as did the cat.

The days following the tragedy confirmed my belief in karma. You see, my aunt and uncle are givers. No matter who it is or what the reason, they are there helping those in need. Always. So when tragedy struck them, folks rallied. Because my cousins were busy helping with the aftermath of the fire, folks called me wanting to know what they could do to help. Money, clothes, household goods, food. Folks wanted to repay my aunt and uncle’s kindness over the years, wanted to provide heaps and piles of replacement items.

I wasn’t surprised by the outpouring of support for them because my aunt and uncle are wonderful people. What surprised me was the number of people who had never met them who wanted to help. It’s a giant circle of love. Yeah, I know, that sounds corny, but it’s true. Friends of my cousins want to help because they love my cousins. My friends want to help because they love me. My mom’s friends want to help because they love my mom. My other brother, Darryl’s friends want to help because they love him. One giant circle of love with my aunt and uncle at the nucleus.

Kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity.
Bigotry, hatefulness, stinginess.

What you send out into the universe comes back to you. Wouldn’t you like to be the nucleus of a circle of love?