Blah, blah, blah…

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope everyone had an enjoyable Cinco de Mayo as well as Kentucky Derby Day.

I’ve been working double-time to get a couple of digital things ready to unveil, but today is not the day for that.  In my last post, I gave you the brief skinny about what I’ve been up to these past twelve months.  One of the major things was my home improvement trials and triumphs as well as custom art pieces I’ve been working on, but, again, I don’t want to reveal those until certain aspects are 100% complete.  So, that leaves me with some of the less interesting stuff to share today.  That being said, I’ll try to keep it brief…

I’m sure you all remember the devastating Hurricane Irma from last September.


Thankfully, my neck of the woods didn’t get the worst of it.  But it was an extremely long night (not to mention long days of preparation beforehand).

What was left of my shed.

After the hurricane, you can see all the standing water as well as the preparation we took in boarding the windows, etc.

View from my front door during Irma’s trek up Florida.

We lost power for a minimal time (quite different than when I told you about our month-long ordeal when we had Hurricane Charley).  My son got stuck at a friend’s house, so I was nervous about him.  It was scary in the new house.  But I’m not complaining.  I’m so thankful we didn’t suffer any major loss.  We lost a lot of shingles, our shed, and the covers to the cable and electrical boxes outside the house.  Insurance paid efficiently, and life went on.  The next day, we were trapped in the neighborhood until the city came to take away some trees that had fallen across the road.  And the worst of it all was that we had no garbage pick-up for several weeks because the city was busy collecting hurricane debris.  When we finally got out to look around, we realized how really lucky we were.

This uprooted Oak stood less than 1 block from my house.

There were broken trees, missing roofs, broken power poles, and downed lines.  It’s just proof that Mother Nature deserves our utmost respect.


I mentioned to you in my last post that I discovered the “absolute best bed in the world.”  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It was my son who discovered it, but after he got his, everyone else in the house got one!  It’s a brand called Purple, and the mattress is AMAZING!  (I haven’t tried their pillow or other amenities.)  If you’ll watch these commercials on YouTube:  The Goldilocks one and the Raw Egg one, I can testify that they really do all that!  (Seriously, when my son got his, we all laid on it on top of raw eggs, and they didn’t crack!)  Remember, with my lupus, I have pain in my joints more often than not, and though my last bed was relatively new and a nice bed, I still woke up with a significant deal of pain each day.  Now, every night when I lie down on my Purple mattress, I literally feel each and every part of me being cushioned and yet gently supported.  And when I wake each day, while I still have the “normal” stiffness associated with my lupus, I am no longer in pain associated with sleeping!  Seriously, this is the most remarkable bed, and I can’t say enough wonderful things about it!


A couple of months ago, I had bronchitis that just wouldn’t go away.  After 5 weeks on antibiotics – literally the only oral antibiotic that I am not allergic to – I was feeling worse than ever.  Things got so bad that I thought one day I was ready to die!  Honestly, I couldn’t breathe, and it scared the crap out of me.  I called my sister at work and asked her to take me to the emergency room or else I was going to call an ambulance.  So, Michelle left work and picked me up, but on the ride there, I started fearing the emergency room (because of my history with MRSA when I almost lost my leg).  I decided to go to the walk-in clinic instead, and after bloodwork and x-rays, it was determined that I indeed had pneumonia.  However, because of all my allergies, they couldn’t prescribe me any oral antibiotics, and they said I needed the infectious disease doctor to prescribe me IV antibiotics.  And he wasn’t available for another week!  So, I got a breathing treatment there, a breathing machine for home, a high dose shot of steroid there, and a high daily dose of oral steroid for home to last until I saw him.  Once I did see him, I was prescribed a new IV antibiotic that’s in its own drug class called Invanz.  Except once the nurse started the IV, I had an allergic reaction!  They had to stop the IV, and I had to wait to see the doctor again until the next day.  However, later that night, after my throat swelling went away and my mouth stopped itching, I realized that with that third of IV bag, I actually felt the best I had in weeks.  So, I asked the doctor to allow me to continue taking it with a pre-dose of 2 Benadryls.  That continued every day for 12 days, and after about one more week of taking it easy, I felt MUCH better (except for my poor arms!).


So, looking back, I can see that I was unable to keep this as short as I’d hoped. Thanks for sticking with me if you’ve read this far, and I’ll try to make things more interesting in the future.  As a parting gift, I’d like to offer you a photo of my girl Cleo wearing her Halloween skull sweater.  Isn’t she sweet?

Now, tell me:  Have you ever lived through a hurricane or other natural disaster?  Is your interest piqued by that Purple mattress?  Are you allergic to any medications?

Writers and Cats (Revised) – A Post Repeated

Hello, friends.  As we prepare for the holiday tomorrow, life in my neck of the woods is getting rather busy.  As such, I’m reposting something I wrote last year with a few minor revisions.  Have a great long weekend!A Six-Toed Hemingway Cat

Have you ever noticed that writers frequently have cats?  I have an opinion (or maybe just an observation) that I’d like to share on the subject:

Of course there are the obvious perks:  Cats don’t require us to stop what we’re doing to care for them.  When we’re lucky, they might decide to curl up on our lap or our desk, and they may make their presence known once in a while by walking across the keyboard aaas weeee tyyyypppe.  But they eventually fall asleep and let us become absorbed into our “other life” which we are writing about.

When we proofread, sometimes we like to hear out loud how the words flow.  If we tell people we’re talking to our cat, we don’t sound as crazy as we do if we’re observed sitting home alone, reading out loud to no one in particular.

Cats are good critics.  If we read to our cat and the dialog flows well, they may just stick around if we’re lucky.  (If you read to a dog, they tend to take that as a sign that you want to play, and they proceed in attempting to convince you to get out of your chair and follow them.)

Stephen King and his catWhile dogs are nice, they require a great deal more attention and upkeep than a cat. They are carefree and laid back.  Dogs are like, “Hey!  It’s me!  Look at me!  Touch me!  I’m over here!  Love me!  Hey, let’s throw the ball!  Do ya wanna go outside?  Do ya? Do ya?  Huh?”

Edgar Allan Poe and his catCats are more reserved. They’re formal and high-brow. They’re more like, “Hello, peasant.  I thought I might grace you with my presence for a few minutes.  Won’t that be a treat for you?  If you’re lucky, I’ll allow you to give me a good chin scratch.  Just don’t touch my belly.  Otherwise, I might have to scratch the shit out of you.”

As such, dogs tend to interrupt the creative flow when they need to go out or just want some love.  But cats are self-sufficient.  They hide out until they’re ready to acknowledge us, then they give us a few minutes of their time before they curl up and fall back asleep.  We adopt dogs; cats adopt us.

Ernest Hemingway and one of his cats

Many well-known authors throughout history have had an affection for cats.  I think the most notable is Ernest Hemingway and his famous multi-toed cats.  If you ever get a chance to go to Key West, you must stop by the Hemingway house and take the tour.  Not only is it quite interesting to walk through and see things like his original typewriter and desk, but you’ll also see dozens of offspring of his original cats.

Other famed authors that were (or are) known for keeping company with felines include Stephen King, Truman Capote, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury, Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, and T.S. Eliot, to name but a few.  Also, let’s not forget that Dr. Seuss loved cats so much that he wrote about one who went on to be famous in The Cat in the Hat.  (I made that part up about Dr. Seuss.  I have no idea if that’s really true or not.)

I personally have four indoor cats who help me write (as well as an outdoor feral cat who adopted me).  So on my desk, next to my computer, I always have a bottle of water and a bag of sunflower seeds for me, and I keep a jar of cat treats for my friends.  At any given point during my time writing, when things get too intense, I can count on Zsa Zsa, Cleo, Snow, or Dakota stopping by for a little visit to break up my monotony.  And when my rabbit, Sir Wiggly Higgins, is out of his cage, he plays with his cat sisters and brother and thinks he is one of them as well.  {My bunny died since this original post.} (These are my cats and bunny below… I apologize that Cleo couldn’t be bothered to get in the picture with everyone else.  As you can see, she was busy napping.)

Sir Wiggly Higgins, Snow, Dakota & Zsa-zsa


While dogs have a low threshold of what it takes for them to attach themselves to someone, cats tend to set the bar high.  Cats, like writers, are wise, sensitive creatures who need to be understood to be fully appreciated.

Mark Twain and his catIf you write and you have a cat, good for you!  If you are an author and you don’t yet have a cat, please go find one today.  If it adopts you, consider yourself blessed.

Charles Dickens

Where Cats Hide

It’s time for another edition of “Where Cats Hide.”  You’ve probably heard the expression, “Curiosity killed the cat.”  Well, it is true that cats are definitely a curious breed.  The funny thing about cats is, once one has discovered a special place such as a box, every cat has to inspect it to see if it’s all it’s cracked up to be.

Not long ago, I received a package in the mail that arrived in a huge box.  First Dakota a/k/a/ Stewie had to inspect the inside…

Then his best friend and sister, Snow, had to check it out…

And sweet little Zsa Zsa is never one to be left out, despite her small stature.  She followed up the rear to make sure she wasn’t missing something good…

(Unfortunately, by the time Cleo got in the box, I realized that I’d left my camera in a different room, and by the time I returned, she’d jumped out.)

Time to talk:  What was inside the biggest box you ever received in the mail?  What was inside the largest box you ever mailed to someone else?  FedEx, UPS, or the Post Office?

Where Cats Hide

Have you ever seen the pet food commercial where the big dogs all think they are small dogs?

My daughter actually has a tiny dog that she carries around in a purse.  Her dog, Snowflake, is a cutie-patootie and is super smart as well.

However, that commercial reminds me of my cat, Dakota a/k/a Stewie.  Though Stewie is the youngest of my brood, he is far from being the smallest.  In fact, he weighs more than all but one of my five cat-kiddos.

Even so, Stewie considers himself to be a petite man, and he likes to think he can hide anywhere.  One of his favorite places to hide is in grocery bags.

Or if we have visitors who carry large handbags, he will sneak into them as well.

He doesn’t care that the bags don’t belong to his people.  He makes himself right at home.

Let’s talk:  Do you prefer a large purse or a small handbag?  Have you ever lost your pet in another person’s belongings?  What would you do if you found someone else’s pet in your purse after you left their house?

Remember when I wasn’t Martha Stewart?

For today’s Throwback Thursday, I’ll be giving you a follow-up to my post last year when I told you how I was no Martha Stewart and I shared some photos with you of previous years’ Thanksgiving name cards that I made for my guests.  I couldn’t share the ones I made in 2014 because my guests hadn’t seen them yet.

I was actually just going through my point and shoot camera the other day, and realized I still had the photos on there to show you later.  (Being as I typically use my studio camera, I tend to forget that I even have a point and shoot sometimes.)

Anyway, this is the little turkey that saved my seat at Thanksgiving.  This was the first time I ever used a pre-fab kit to make the place cards rather than making them from scratch, but I found myself running out of time as the big day approached.

Immediately following Thanksgiving dinner, Jeremy’s turkey fell to the ground, and our cat Dakota got hold of it.  By the time we rescued it, it looked almost as bad as a real Thanksgiving turkey after it had already been carved and picked down to the bones!

Let’s chat:  How early do you start planning for your holiday meals and guests?  Other than Thanksgiving and Christmas, what other large meals do you plan in advance?  Do you photograph funny things that your pets do to things around your house?  (That last question applies to everyone except my good buddy Mark Bialczak… I already know that he makes a very cool photographic anthology of his sweet dog Ellie B’s collections of things she shouldn’t have.)

Where Cats Hide

This is Dakota.  You’ve heard me tell how we rescued him back when I shared stories in my eerie predictions month.  Even though he is officially Dakota, he acts more like a “Stewie,” so we call him Stewie more often than not.

Stewie’s favorite game is hide and seek.  This time when we couldn’t find him, he was hiding in a case of water bottles.  Oh, Stewie!

Let’s talk:  What is your pet’s favorite hiding spot?  Do you drink bottled, filtered, or tap water?  If you drink bottled, what is your favorite brand and why?

Where Cats Hide

Meet Cleo.  Cleo is half-sphynx, meaning one of her parents was a full-blooded hairless cat.  As you can see here, Cleo has no whiskers, no eyebrows, and no ear hair.  She also has no hair on her face or tail.  The “hair” that’s on her body isn’t actually fur at all, but technically it’s undercoat.  Unlike fur, it’s wavy, especially when she bathes, and it is softer than velvet.  Additionally, she has webbed toes.

We adopted Cleo from the SPCA in 2012, when she was three years old.  Unlike my other cats, she’s not particularly social with other animals, and she’s adopted me as her only person.  She doesn’t allow my son or my sister to pick her up, and she doesn’t wander far from my side, day or night.  Unlike my other cats, she doesn’t look for cubbies or cramped areas to sneak into and hide.

Her favorite sleeping position is covering her eyes with one or both paws so she can hide from people and pets, as well as from light.  So where does she hide?  Behind her paws!  Instead of hiding from everyone else, she prefers to hide everyone else from her!

Time to talk:  How many pets have you owned in your lifetime?  Do you have a favorite sleeping position, or can you sleep anywhere?  Would you ever consider owning a hairless cat?

The Monkey Wrench in the Works

The truth is, the title of this post should be “My Workspace Blog Hop,” but the hopping got held up by none other than… me!  My very good friend, Craig Boyack, tagged me for this fun little blog hop which is supposed to showcase where we do our best work and allow us the forum to talk about the process a little bit.  (If you follow Craig, you already know how fun his blog is, not to mention his writing!)  However, when he tagged me for this, my mind was on Thanksgiving, then Christmas, not to mention all my other obligations that slammed me in November and December.  Now that things have calmed down a bit, I’d like to pick back up where I left off and take you for a tour of my area…

I took my chair away so you could see things better.  Yes, I do have two computers on my desk, but I generally just use the one.  (The one that’s turned off is strictly for making video slideshows of weddings that I photograph.)  Yes, the TV is right next to me, though it’s seldom that I actually “watch” it.  Normally, I just have it on, turned down low, for some background noise.

If you weren’t able to see in the photo above, I almost always have a cat near my desk begging for treats.  This is Cleo.  She’s my special companion.  She’s half-sphynx, meaning she’s half-hairless.  She has no hair on her face or tail, she has no whiskers or ear hair, and the fuzz that is on her body is actually not fur but is rather just undercoat.  It’s the softest hair you’ve ever felt, and it’s wavy.  Anyway, she’s the kid that jumps onto my desk once an hour while I work to alert me that it’s treat time.

To the left of where I type are my writing essentials:  1) The green spray bottle contains water.  This is for when my cats decide to get into an argument near me and I have to spray mist at them to break them up.  2) My must-have snack is Frito Lay Sunflower Seeds.  I’m a saltaholic, and these are easy to pop while I focus on my writing.  3) Yes, I have Whisker Lickins cat treats in salmon flavor.  No, these are not for me but for my five furry friends that visit while I write.  4) Dasani water is a must.  I usually drink this all day long, though during the month of December, I will switch to the seasonal Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash flavor soda.  For the most part, I don’t drink soda anymore, but since this is only out for a limited time each year, I do drink it while it’s available.  5) The ugly purse is actually a padded case that houses my Nook.

workspace (3)

Whenever I write, I update my Nook daily with my current work in progress.  Then I have my sister read out loud whatever I wrote that day while I read along silently on the computer.  I like to gauge her reaction to the actual storyline and also hear what she thinks might happen next.  Plus, this is a good way to catch any typos.

So when my chair is there, my writing desk is quite comfy, and it’s where I spend the bulk of my waking hours.

Anyway, I guess now it’s time for me to tag someone else on this Workspace Blog Hop, and hopefully, they’ll be timelier than I was at getting around to showcasing where they create.  I’d like to tag Dena Rogers (, Rhonda Blackhurst (, and Robyn Lawson (   And if you don’t follow these ladies already, you’re really missing something special.

Let’s talk:  Laptop or desktop?  Cats or dogs?  Salty or sweet?  Nook, Kindle, or iPad?

Where Cats Hide

Being a professional photographer, no one in my house is free from modeling duty, cats included.  Unfortunately, they all HATE to wear clothes!  So while they do indeed try to hide from the camera (as well as from the costumes they’re forced to don once a year), when I’m done with them, they’re disguised IN their clothes.  So for today’s edition of Where Cats Hide the answer is, “At Christmastime, they hide in plain sight… disguised in clothes… and bad attitudes.”

Top Row: Snow, Dakota (aka Stewey) & Brody / Bottom Row: Zsa Zsa & Cleo

Time to talk:  Have you ever dressed a pet?  Do you think it’s funny when people dress their pets?  Do you think I need mental help?