Following my husband's death in 2008, I moved from Tennessee to Florida to look after my parents. Now I'm living in a retirement community, making friends and trying new things. The most fun I've had has been ballroom dancing. So far, I've taken intro lessons in all the dances and now I'm starting intermediate. I hardly have time to read anymore but I manage four or five dances a week!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Newsletter aka The Year in Review


What a year this has been! I started out reading as much as I did when Bill was alive – about a book a day – however, I did add the physical exercise of walking the dogs twice a day because they no longer had a backyard. I also had to walk Mom’s dog, Lacy, because Mom had a broken foot which was finally healed by April.

I have also had to figure out what I like to eat versus what I had been cooking for the last 23 years. This became quite a challenge. It seems that I prefer salads, fruit, nuts and cheese. *snicker* I really don’t like to cook. *laughing*

I met a neighbor in February who encouraged me to get involved in some of the activities here in the community, particularly ballroom dancing. What a blessing. That month I learned the waltz and I’ve been dancing ever since. Now I know the basics of fox trot, cha-cha, tango, rumba, salsa, samba, East Coast swing, West Coast swing and bolero.

That same month I had a fence installed in back which gave the dogs a little area to run around in. Liz likes to go out and bark, so I installed a "bark breaker" that discourages the barking. Sandy likes to lay with his head resting in the doggie door hoping a squirrel will be foolish enough to enter the fenced area. *snort* Yeah, right.

In March I began going to the USA Dance Club, which is Ocala’s ballroom dancing club. I was so intimidated. The dancers were all experienced and I was so not. Different men would ask me to dance and I’d say I didn’t know this one but they’d get me up anyway saying they could show me. Bless their hearts. Now that I know better what I’m doing, I recognize what a generous act that is – asking a gal to dance who doesn’t know how.

Through ballroom dancing I have become part of a wonderful circle of friends. As much as we all love to dance, we also enjoy taking day trips together, like the one we took to Tarpon Springs, and getting together for parties. The members of this little group all live within 5 miles of me and we ride to the dances together since they all seem to be on the other side of town, at least 30 minutes away. Here we are. I’m second from left in this picture.

I met Dennis in May. He was recently widowed and wasn’t really ready to jump into another relationship but we kept running into each other at different venues and he felt he ought to pay attention. I wasn’t looking for a relationship either, but we had so much in common besides dancing like caring for aging relatives, a love of science fiction and similar spiritual beliefs. It was hard to ignore the connection. We are now dance partners and are dating exclusively. He’s a much more experienced ballroom dancer and he makes me look better than I am. He says I’m better than I think I am and a joy to lead. All I know is, I love dancing with him and people come up to us at dances and compliment us. Oh, and have I mentioned that we go dancing four or five times a week? Loverly. I’m lucky to read a book a month, now. Perhaps I should change my email addy and blog from byrdloves2read to byrdloves2dance. *chuckle*

In October I sold the house in Tennessee and in November I bought the house in Ocala that I had been renting. I’m really settling down quite nicely here in Florida. I love the sunshine, even in August, and especially now, in winter. Life is good – really good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Marc Antony and Cleopatra

We had fun as Marc and Cleo from choosing the costumes to all the costume parties.

It all started at the Ocala Civic Theater. We had heard that they rented costumes so decided to see what was available. I wandered about looking for something pretty while Den explored further back in the huge warehouse of costumes. I just couldn't find anything that appealed when suddenly he appeared with the helmut seen here and asked Bridget, who is the costume department, "What can you build around this?" So she gathered the tunic and cape and whatever that thing is around his waist and a breast plate that covered his entire chest. Well, the breast plate was just not going to work when we danced so we substituted the smaller one seen in the picture. She also provided forearm braces and knee-high soft boots. He had the sword and belt - and yes it was a real sword!

By this time, Den had decided he was a Roman centurion and from there made the leap to Marc Antony and wanted me outfitted like Cleopatra. Bridget came up with this Egyptian costume. It's a leotard, white pants gathered at the ankles, a belt and collar of matching material, a gold head cover topped by an open weave black headdress with gold beads. I bought a couple of snake armbands to finish her off. No pun intended. LOL

So we started with a costume party on the 18th at Sensational Singles. I usually ride with my friends and Den and I meet up there but since our costumes were linked we decided to ride together. When we arrived, Gail was standing in the line for ladies in a mixer so we walked up to her and said hi. She didn't recognize me. I went pretty heavy with the make-up around the eyes so I wasn't too surprised, but it was fun. We discovered pretty quickly that Den couldn't turn me as fast as we're used to because the beads on my headdress swing out. So we modified our dancing style to accommodate that.

October 23rd we went to another costume dance at Dancin' Around. You can see some of the other costumes in the picture. This was fun because it was mostly ballroom dancing. Just about everyone came in costume including John Whipple, the owner/dance instructor of Dancin' Around. We hardly sat down at all - only when a tango was played.

Our last costume dance was in Beverly Hills at the Kellerman Auditorium on the 31st. This was also ballroom dancing and by this time we'd gotten our revised timing worked out pretty well to accommodate the headdress. We also found we had to make some adjustments for his cape when he spun about in the Swing. Luckily they played many more West Coast Swings so our movements were slower. Perhaps two-thirds of the people came in costume and there were some interesting ones. Of course, I think ours were the best.

We really had fun as Mark and Cleo. Den enjoys dressing up for Halloween a lot. It was a new experience for me but I'm so glad we did this.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ocala Dance Club

Back in February I blogged about a neighbor who introduced me to ballroom dancing. I've been looking for some way that I might show him how much I appreciate his effort because not only did I reconnect with dancing but he also introduced me to a group of singles who live on this side of town and ride together to a lot of dances. A few of them have become very special friends.

Well, recently I attended a dance held by the Ocala Dance Club. It's the oldest ballroom dance club in Ocala and also one of the nicest. Men wear coats and ties, women dress in semi-formal dresses and the decorations are tasteful and elegant. In order to join this club one must have a partner and it costs $55 a year in dues. Plus you must be sponsored by a current member. The dues cover the expense of the once a month dances with live bands and the Christmas dinner/dance. Den invited me to be his guest last week because he already belongs with his partner, Hilda. She used to be his uncle's "girlfriend" before he died. Den offered to sponsor us and said if I joined with Paul, he'd back off and let Paul have first claim on my dances. Very honorable, but I hope he doesn't back off too much.

So I asked Paul if he'd like to join with me as his partner and I offered to pay our membership fee as my way of saying "thank you". He accepted. I hope he loves the club as much as I did. I want my thank you gift to be special.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Weather Changed

I love the early morning walks. Slowly but surely we've been working our way up to 3 miles which a neighbor assured me is the distance from our villas to the Arbor Club and back. Friday it was pretty nice but still warmish and humid. The dogs were trying to lick the dew off the grass on the return home. I figured I was going to have to cart water for them from now on.

Saturday morning, I dressed as usual in shorts and t-shirt but the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees from yesterday. Rather than go back and change I decided we'd just add a little jog here and there to the walk to warm up. Worked like a charm. And we made it all the way to the Arbor Club. Easy. Of course we started pretty early for a change (like 6:15 AM) so it was dark all the way but there was also a lot less traffic. The pups were still eager to walk by the time we got home - I guess the heat and humidity really takes a lot out of them.

Saturday afternoon I went to a West Coast swing workshop at 1:00. I dressed as usual in shorts and t-shirt but when I stepped outside, I found the temperature hadn't risen much. Back inside to change, this time into slacks and 3/4 arm length top. Funny how I now find 70 to be cool. It didn't take me long to become acclimated to Florida's weather. Naturally, I opened all the windows and doors to let the breezes blow through. Fantastic!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

You're a beautiful woman

Last night I heard those words for the first time in my life. They are really powerful. Of course, I don't really believe it but it's wonderful to hear. I think Robert Heinlein said it best, "A man does not insist on physical beauty in a woman who builds up his morale. After a while he realizes that she is beautiful - he just hadn't noticed it at first." Although, I think Den spends more time building up my morale rather that the other way around.

We went to a dance last night at the Arbor Club here at On Top of the World. This picture isn't from that dance but from one at Oak Run.
Tomaura was playing and they are really good - head and shoulders above the other live bands that play at the various dances. We both dressed up a little, he was all in black while I had on a flirty little black and white dress. Quite a few people came up to us at various times throughout the evening complimenting us on our dancing or saying how nice we looked. This is so completely new to me I hardly know how to respond. I think Den is more accustomed to it. He seems to take it in stride anyway. I always tell the women (and it's always a woman) that he's the one responsible for making us look good on the dance floor. He is, after all, the leader. But as a dance teacher told us the other day, it's a partnership. The woman can't be passive, she needs to take an active role in the dance and I think I do.

While I may not be beautiful, Den makes me feel beautiful. What more could a woman want?

Monday, September 28, 2009

My New Passion

Well, it's nearly October and I've had the full complement of ballroom dance lessons - intro to fox trot, waltz, cha-cha, samba, bolero, salsa, merengue, East Coast swing, West Coast swing, two-step and rumba. One each month. The little group of singles I hang out with has been going to four or five dances a week lately although not all of them are ballroom dances so I've been getting a lot of practice. Then lo and behold I've acquired a "primary dance partner." He's way more experienced than I and we dance very well together.

Last week USA Dance, Ocala chapter, hosted a dance exhibition in the shopping mall just outside Belks Department Store. We were trying to get more people interested in ballroom dancing. So here my partner and I are just getting ready to do an East Coast swing. Perhaps one day I'll get someone to take a video of us dancing. He's a wonderful leader and he makes me look better than I am.

Ballroom dancing is so much fun and it's really great exercise. What more could you ask for?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Morning Walk

I got a little wet. Took a gamble and lost big time. Sheesh.

It was pretty dark when we (the dogs and I) left the house for our morning walk so I couldn't see the clouds. After we got out from under the trees near home, I noticed a lot of cloud cover but since I could also see some stars I figured we'd be okay. Not this time. We got, oh, about a mile from home when it started misting, so I figured we should turn around and head back. Then I heard the rain as it moved toward us. It was a downpour. Yikes. I tried to take cover under a tree but, while it helped some, I still got drenched. And had to walk home soaking wet, water dripping in my eyes from my hair *shudder* - cold, wet t-shirt. I'm just glad I decided to wear a bra this morning. LOL Oh yeah, and puddles everywhere. I'm not sure my tennies will ever be the same.

I guess I'm pretty lucky that I've only been caught three times in the rain since I moved to Florida. I was lucky the first two times because I was near houses and could take refuge on someone's porch. This is the first time I've been caught out in the open with no place to hide. Oh well, it's not like I'll melt. And after all, it is Florida so it's not all that cold either. *grin*

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Son-in-Law from Heaven


Stefan has to be the best husband and father in the world. My step-daughter, Stephanie, is so lucky and I think she knows it! These two people have been a real blessing in my life. They are not just beautiful on the outside as one can see from the picture, but they are truly beautiful inside.

Next weekend is their anniversary so I asked Stefan if they had anything special planned for it. He said no but he had remodeled their daughters' bathroom this weekend while Steph was at the beach with some girlfriends. She had been talking about updating the girls' bath for a while and he had a good idea of what she wanted so he decided to surprise her. On top of that, he let the oldest girl, Riley, help. Since she's only five, you know how much "help" she was. LOL But what a great memory for that little girl. *sigh* If girls look for men like their fathers, I think he's setting the bar really high.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Do I Feel Sexy?

Lately I've been having some interesting discussions with a male friend. He's a fellow ballroom dancer who is way better than I am but he still says he enjoys dancing with me. We also spend a lot of time on the phone, talking. He has a way of asking questions that makes me think, and then think again. Now, I don't normally spend a lot of time on introspection, so I don't usually come to the same conclusions he does. He thinks he knows me better than I know myself. *eye roll*

A few weeks ago, he started suggesting I should make more of my looks by wearing make-up. I don't wear any and have been quite comfortable this way. My mother didn't wear any and it just seems normal to me. I think I look okay without it so I haven't given it any thought in a long time. Plus, since I have little experience with it, I'm not very good at applying it. But, I decided to give it a try - a little foundation, blush, light brown eye shadow and mascara - still trying to keep it as natural looking as possible. Went to a dance and quite honestly I didn't feel any different. I asked him that night when we were talking on the phone whether he noticed my make-up. The slight hesitation before he answered told me he never noticed. LOL To my way of thinking that just proved my point, but of course he answered, yes. *snort* Sure he did.

Well, anyway, I did the make-up thing again for the next dance I attended and surprisingly got asked for a date. So now I'm thinking, hmmm, maybe this stuff really does work. The problem is that I've been raised to look beyond the surface of a person, so I rather hope that other people will too. Um, did I mention I'm an optimist? Well, I thought the date went well, but he must not have thought so because I haven't been called back for a second one. At least I had a good time. *grin*

So last night this friend and I were talking about west coast swing and he wanted to know if I would learn some of the sexy moves in west coast swing. I'm thinking probably not because I don't like to see that overt sexuality on the dance floor. It seems inappropriate to me. You know, take it to the bedroom but don't do it in front of an audience. I'm not an exhibitionist. I'd prefer to be seen as a classy lady rather than a sexy one. Now if I was dancing with a special someone at home, yeah, I could do that. I'd love to do that. But while we dance really well together, this friend has made it clear he doesn't have romantic feelings for me and quite honestly, since both of our spouses died recently, neither of us is ready for a relationship. So friends we are, just friends.

But all of this got me to thinking about women who get involved with controlling men. I've always thought I wouldn't be vulnerable to it, but I've begun to see how, with his subtle questions designed to make me doubt myself, I started changing my behavior (wearing make-up) and questioning my self-image (wondering about my "sex appeal"). However, I think if you see it happening it is possible to avoid the trap. And after all I've experienced in my life, I refuse to allow a man to erode what self-confidence I do have.

While it might be splitting hairs, I would have to say that while I don't feel sexy (and never have) I do feel very sensual. I like to touch and be touched. That's probably why I enjoy ballroom dancing so much because you are always touching your partner. I just realized that's why I love the moments when I'm dancing that I can close my eyes and trust my partner to lead me anywhere and everywhere. *sigh* Oh yes, I may not be sexy, but I am sensual.

PS for my reading buddies out there: That's probably why I enjoy Nalini Singh's changelings so much, I love the idea of "skin privileges".

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

That's What Friends Are For

Earlier I blogged about how sick my furbaby, Sandy, was. He's requiring some hand-feeding or he just won't eat so there was no way I could board him in a kennel. That's not even considering the pill he has to take at least an hour before eating and the other pills he needs twice a day. Well, I ended up cancelling a trip I'd been looking forward to for a year so I could take care of him.

Every year, Lori Foster and Diane Castell sponsor a weekend for authors and readers to get together and visit. It's much more laid back than the large conferences like RWA and there are lots of opportunities to just sit and chat. So at the last minute I cancelled my (non-refundable) airline ticket *sigh*, rental car reservations and the hotel room. I let the girlfriends with whom I'd planned to meet know I wouldn't be there. While not really depressed I was extremely disappointed.

Ironically there was a big fundraiser for Animal Adoption Foundation, as well. Lori Foster edited an anthology, Tails of Love, and all proceeds from the sale of it went to AAF. I'd known this was coming and was looking forward to getting all the authors to sign my book. I already know many of them, love their work and I count a few of them as friends. Still, Sandy - my living, breathing tail of love - came first. When I emailed Lori, she said she'd send me one of her copies that would be autographed by all the authors if I'd send her the price of the book. Of course, I jumped on that and sent a little extra donation for AAF.

Yesterday I got the book ... but it wasn't from Lori Foster. My girlfriend, Karen, bought the book for me and walked it around to all the authors and got their signatures for me. Many of them were personalized. Wasn't that sweet! And in the same post, Lori Foster returned my check and said all her copies were gone.

Everything works out for the best.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In the Barn

Watching Dreams with Sharp Teeth had me searching out my very old copy of Again, Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison.  I have hauled this book everywhere and it shows the wear and tear.  As I stated earlier, this book really had an impact on me.  

I scanned the names of the various authors, wondering which of them had become successful after being published in this anthology, then looked at the table of contents wondering if any of the titles would ring a bell.  I recognized In the Barn by Piers Anthony immediately.  It's a shocking tale of an investigator who visits an alternate reality Earth where animals couldn't survive.  Humans are required to fulfill all the roles that animals fill in our world.  Women are literally the cows in the barn.  Hitch, the protagonist, is shocked down to his toes, but in the end wonders which world is a better, more moral, place for humans.

Although I did not become a vegetarian after reading that story (way back in 1972), it must have been churning around in my subconscious enough for me to eventually give up meat sometime in the early 90's.  Yeah, yeah, I know, 20 years is a long gestation period.  *snort*

I think I'll start looking for Dangerous Visions in some used book stores.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dreams With Sharp Teeth

Last night I watched the documentary, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, about Harlan Ellison, an iconoclastic science fiction/fantasy writer.  Wow!  He may now be in his 70's but he's still an angry SOB.  Wikipedia describes him as "argumentative and contentious ... and a dust jacket from one of Ellison's own books includes a passage that described him as 'possibly the most contentious person on Earth.' " Injustices and stupidity still send him over the top.  I'm quite surprised his heart hasn't just burst from all the pressure.  Of course, he doesn't hold anything back, so maybe venting works for him.  I just watched him in amazement that he could get so worked up over so many things.  It was entertaining to watch but I can't imagine actually being around someone like that.  

I can't say I'm a fan of his but one of the anthologies he edited, Again Dangerous Visions, had quite an impact on my view of the world.  He didn't write any of the stories, but he challenged the writers to go beyond all boundaries ... and boy they sure did.  Ellison doesn't do happy endings and given his frustration with the world around him, I'm not surprised.  

He sees writing as a job just like any other.  Once he was given a sealed envelope which he opened at a bookstore one morning.  His typewriter was set up in the display window and his challenge was to write a story based on the few words Tom Brokaw had written inside that envelope.  Five hours later, the story was finished while people watched.  I don't know how good the story was but Ellison is a perfectionist so my guess is it satisfied him or he wouldn't have stopped.  

He has written screenplays for Outer Limits, Star Trek and was a consultant on Babylon 5 (which I though was a brilliant show).  He's had a long association with Hollywood although it hasn't been pleasurable for him.  No one seems able to translate his vision of his stories to the screen to his satisfaction.  No surprise.  Those of us who love to read are seldom pleased with the results when a book is made into a movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this documentary about Harlan Ellison.  He's brilliant and irritating, funny (although he may not always intend to be), a really fiesty bantam rooster.  I strongly urge everyone to buy the DVD, he's worth watching more than once.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sandy pup is not well

My sweet pound puppy, Sandy, is sick.  A few weeks ago I took him to the vet for his yearly physical.  I asked for blood work because my vet in Tennessee used to do that as a matter of course.  Well, his liver enzymes were 10 times what they should have been.  The vet, Dr. Gail, suggested we wait a couple of weeks and do another blood test with Sandy fasting.  So that's what we did on Monday.  Tuesday she called and said I needed to bring Sandy in for X-rays and an ultra-sound.  His liver enzymes were now 100 times higher than normal.

Turns out his liver is really small, has some lesions and appears to have a mass in it.  So now he's on antibiotics and anti-nausea pills as well as some medication that aids in liver function.  Dr. Gail provided a couple of Pill Pockets to see if they would help Sandy take the pills.  What a wonder they are.  They look like soft Tootsie Roll segments but they have a hole inside where you stick the pill.  The beef flavored ones smell really strong.  The best thing is Sandy takes it like it's a treat so there's no hassle getting him to take the medication.

And what a difference the pills have made.  Just one day after starting the medications, Sandy was trying to play with Liz, gnawing at her legs, nuzzling her stomach to push her off balance.  He's bouncing around like a puppy again.  I hadn't realized he was so sick.

I don't really know how sick he is or how long he has.  Dr. Gail did not offer a cure so I suspect the medication is palliative care.  He's such a sweet, affectionate dog, it's hard to think I won't have him much longer. I rescued Sandy from certain death at the pound in Chattanooga and he has been my devoted companion since 2001.  Since he's a small dog I really thought I'd have 15 years or so with him.  He's only about 9 years old now, maybe 10.  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Smoke on the Water

I've been listening to classic rock on the TV and, oh my, the memories from my youth!  Just thought I'd share this:



Look at Deep Purple''s fans, It's really funny seeing what we looked like back then with the long hair and scruffy clothes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Dating Pool

I thought I might dip my toe in the dating pool but I've decided there are too many poisonous snakes in it.  

There's going to be a dance here in my gated community so I thought I'd ask one of the dancers from outside it to come with me.  This seemed like a safe bet.  I've known them a few months and all seem very nice.  

The first man I asked, who's also the best dancer,  had to work.  A valid excuse since I knew he worked night shift every other week.  It might have been a convenient excuse but he did request that I ask again if another dance came up.  That's not a brush off, is it?

But the second guy I asked said he'd have to check his schedule and get back to me.  So we exchanged email addresses.  A week later he says in an email, "By the way, did you know I'm married?  Does that make a difference?"  Hell yes it makes a difference!  Good grief.  Why didn't he say that when I asked him to the dance?  He doesn't wear a wedding ring, why would I suspect he was married when he'd been flirting with me?

Granted it's been a long time since I've been single but I don't remember ever being approached by a married man for a date.  Okay, technically I'm the one who approached him, but still.  Blech!  It still gives me the creeps to know I almost dated a married man.  *sigh*  All I wanted to do was go to a dance with someone who enjoyed dancing.  It's too soon for me to be considering anything else.  I wonder if he thought I'd be easy since I'm recently widowed?  Possibly.  But honor and integrity are two essential ingredients that I value in a person's character.  It's obvious the second guy is lacking both.  Thank goodness he at least mentioned it.  I can't imagine how I would have felt if I'd found out later, after the dance.  *shudder*  

So now I'll ask my older neighbor friend and hope he doesn't get the wrong idea.  Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Walking in the Neighborhood

Many years ago I lived in Norfolk, Virginia, near Old Dominion University. Although I lived in an old apartment complex, there was a neighborhood nearby that I used to ride my bike through almost every day. They were older homes and most of them had porches. People sat on those porches and waved or spoke when people walked by. I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood like that.


Apparently I live in a neighborhood just like that now. Although this is a gated community, there are distinctively different communities within it. The one I live in is about 20 years old and consists of rows of connected homes, sometimes three units in a row, sometimes, five. There are a lot of trees - pine, pin oak, maple and palms. After 20 years those trees offer a lot of shade and I think that's why people are comfortable sitting on their porches even when it is hot. Between the shade and the breeze, it's quite comfortable.


We have walked around some of the other communities but no one is out. I suspect it's because they are newer and have no trees and therefore no shade.


I love walking my dogs in our neighborhood. People speak, we visit. It's friendly. It's delightful!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Too Busy Living

I've neglected my blog. Bad girl. Two swats with a newspaper.

But I've been enjoying my new life in Florida. This gated community I moved to has so much to offer - much more than I can do. I'm still indulging my love for reading by frequenting the public library as well as my community's library and buying books. But I'm happy to say I'm no longer reading a book a day. I used to enjoy it but I've discovered there's more fun outside of the books.

I spend a few hours every with my parents ... they are, after all, the reason I moved down here. Sometimes Mom and I work in the yard - planting, weeding, moving plants from one spot to another. And there's afternoon tea with Mom's homemade oatmeal cookies. Yum. After tea we feed our dogs and she walks her dog and I walk my two.

Even though it has been in the 90's, by 5:00 pm it starts to cool down. And there's always a breeze here. Sometimes it comes from the Atlantic and sometimes, from the Gulf. If it's too hot, we take a short walk after the dogs have been fed and then go for a longer one closer to sunset. Yesterday I was so restless we went for a mile walk at both 5:00 and 7:30. Of course, the dogs are happy to go whenever I want.

I'm still taking ballroom dance lessons. This month it's tango and bolero. The dances are more fun now too. I have been told I'm very easy to lead and I'm getting braver at dancing the different dances.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Complaint Against Dr. Mackler Denied

I filed a complaint against a Dr. Donald Mackler who treated Bill during his last days but the Tennessee Department of Health Office of Investigations determined "that this practitioner did not violate the statutes or rules governing the practice of medicine in Tennessee. Therefore, the complaint has been closed." Since I can't get any satisfaction by legal means, I'll just publish the story here and pray the word gets around. The man has no ethics or morality. But I'll leave it to readers to decide.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2008
My husband, Bill, went to the ER at 1:30pm and was immediately taken to an ER room. They put him on oxygen and began monitoring his vitals. Within an hour his oxygen level began dropping. He was scheduled for a panendoscopy the following morning. They ordered a CT scan and a chest X-ray. The X-ray revealed that he had pneumonia. He was still scheduled for the panendoscopy and was admitted to the hospital under the care of Dr. Mackler who would perform the test the next day.

We finally got to a room (203) on the cardiac care floor by midnight wherein he was awakened often for one test or another.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29
Bill was much weaker. I think he was put on antibiotics here, not really sure. We went down for the panendoscopy at 11:00am and first spoke with the anesthesiologist. He determined Bill was not in good enough shape for him to anesthetize. Then Dr. Mackler came in. He talked for at least ½ hour, shocked that Bill had been scheduled for the procedure at all. He also regaled us with numerous stories of his accomplishments.

Bill was sent back to room 203.

His oxygen level concerned everyone so he was put on the mask that covers the nose and mouth. I think we met Dr. Adams then. He said he’d been asked to oversee Bill’s case.

Another night filled with interruptions and no rest.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30
One doctor after another came in, checked his heart, listened to his lungs and left. We asked Dr. Adams if we could have a quiet night and he told us about silence protocol. It helped.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31
Bill was moved to PCU because his condition was getting worse. He was put on one of those masks that forces air into the lungs. Knowing that we were not going to be needing Dr. Mackler’s services, I requested Dr. Adams take over as primary physician.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 1
Dr. Pesche came in to see Bill and recommended intubation. Bill refused and requested that he be allowed to go home under hospice care. Dr. Pesch made sure Bill understood what he was asking and then agreed.

Dr. Zhang, who had been assigned to Bill when he was admitted although we had never seen him before, came in asking if Bill knew the Lord. Then, making sure Bill understood the situation, he approved the move under hospice care.

Dr. Adams came in and also verified that this was Bill’s choice and when satisfied, agreed it was probably best.

THEN DR. MACKLER SHOWED UP. He tried to tell Bill he’s giving up too soon. He, Dr. Mackler, has never lost a patient, just give him a chance and he’ll fix everything, or something to that effect. When we finally convinced him that Bill knew what he was doing, Dr. Mackler commented to me that since I’d be without a man now, would I be interested in a man like him. I looked at him in disbelief and said no. He then proceeded to try and talk me into it. I again told him forcefully, no. Bill’s nurse, Meg, was standing in the doorway of the room while he did this. I moved to the other side of Bill’s bed to put some distance between us. Did he stop there? No. He decided to tell a dirty joke about not finding a certain part of his anatomy because his belly hung over so far. I told him that was completely inappropriate. Later he came in and apologized FOR TRYING TO TALK BILL OUT OF GOING HOME. I don’t think he realized that his sexist talk was offensive.

We got Bill home at 6:00pm under hospice care.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2
Bill died at noon. He was asleep and surrounded by his loved ones. It was a peaceful passing.

Are there no ethical rules of conduct for medical practitioners in Tennessee? Is propositioning a dying man's wife in front of him acceptable behavior? I'm so angry I could scream. I wish there was a way to publicize this in the Chattanooga area but I wouldn't know where to start.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

February Reads

I'm going to cheat a little and post my review from another site of all the books I've read this month.

February started out with a bang.  Everything I read was excellent plus I was working on two series: Romney Marsh and Arcane Society.

A Gentleman By Any Other Name by Kasey Michaels *A*
The first book of the Romney Marsh series.  One of the few series I actually started with the first book.  LOL  Really good historical.  There are seven adopted children and one natural child of Ainsley Becket and each one gets a story.  This book is about the oldest, Chance.  He was a teen when rescued by Ainsley but is now an adult who works for the war office in London.  All the characters are fully fleshed.  He has hired Julia to be nanny to his daughter and must travel immediately to Romney Marsh to investigate smuggling for the war office.  He's walking a fine line because he knows there's probably smuggling going on but family loyalty outweighs loyalty to country.  Julia is originally from this part of the country and is very familiar with the smuggling routine.  It takes a while but finally the family trusts her.  There's an ongoing theme in the series where a little more info about Ainsley's background comes out in each book.

The Dangerous Debutante by Kasey Michaels *A*  (Romney Marsh book 2) This is Morgan's book.  She's a fiery temptress who's mistaken for somebody else's mistress when she first meets her hero, Ethan, who is an earl.
  
Beware of Virtuous Women by Kasey Michaels *A* (Romney Marsh book 3) This is Eleanor's story.  She's quiet but has a way of making things happen.  She goes to London pretending to be Jack Eastwood's wife in an attempt to find out who is attempting to ruin their smuggling operation.  Jack has worked with the Beckets for years but hasn't really noticed quiet Elly before.  When they are thrown together he begins to appreciate her and, of course, there's your HEA.  There's more about her heritage and even more is revealed about Ainley's background.

A Reckless Beauty by Kasey Michaels *C* (Romney Marsh book 5) This is Fanny's story. She and her adopted brother, Rian, have been inseparable until he goes to war following Napolean's escape from Elba. She follows him and comes to the attention of Valentine Clement, Earl of Brede. Not the best story in the series but still enjoyable. Fanny learns that her love for Rian really is that of a sister for a brother as she falls in love with Brede.

The Return of the Prodigal by Kasey Michaels (Romney Marsh book 6) *B* This is Rian's story. After he's wounded, he's cared for by the daughter of the Becket's enemy, Edmund Beales. She helps him escape her father. I appreciated her waffling between wanting to do what her father wants because she craves his love and doing what she can to help Rian with whom she has fallen in love. Lots of push me-pull me in this.

Becket's Last Stand by Kasey Michaels (Romney Marsh book 7) *B* This is both Callie and Court's book. She was given into his care by her mother just before her mother was killed and Court has watched over her ever since. She's all grown up now and it's a little hard for him to make the transition. Everyone in the family has assumed they would eventually be a couple when Callie became a woman, even Callie, so it's just a matter of convincing Court. Not really much of a romance but a terrific end to the series.

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz *A*(Arcane Society contemporary) Clare is a level 10 sensitive who can tell if a person is telling the truth or not.  Kinda tough to have a relationship when you can tell if your lover is lying.  She meets up with Jake who is a level 10 hunter.  After I started this (picked it up at the library) I realized I'd already read it, but it was a treat reading it again.

Second Sight by Amanda Quick *A* (Arcane Society historical) Venetia meets Gabriel at the Arcane House when she's hired to photograph the artifact collection.  She can see auras, he is a preternatural hunter.
  

The Third Circle by Amanda Quick *A* (Arcane Society historical)  Leona is a gifted crystal worker who runs into Thaddeus when they are both trying to steal the aurora stone and encounter a murdered woman.  Thaddeus can hypnotize people.  Leona insists the crystal has belonged to her family for generations; Thaddeus insists it belongs to the Arcane Society and needs to be in a safe place.  They are playing a cat and mouse game with a hunter who enjoys killing women.

Sizzle and Burn by Jayne Ann Krentz *B* (Arcane Society contemporary)  Maybe I'm getting burned out on JAK, but this didn't seem to have the intensity between Zack and Raine that I'd come to expect from the other Arcane Society novels.  The mystery to be solved wasn't particularly riveting either.  I like this world that JAK has built but this story seemed to be lacking something.

Finding Ian  by Stella Cameron *AA* This was published in 2001 but I just picked it up at the library.  Wow, what an emotional story.  Years ago, when Byron Frazer's wife died in childbirth, he chose to allow the boy to be adopted.  Now those adoptive parents are dead and the boy has been sent to England to live with relatives he's never met.  Byron visits England to make sure the boy is in good hands.  But while he's there he meets a young woman, Jade Perron, who makes him think he could love again.  He also gets to know the boy and decides he wants to be part of his life.  Although the author didn't capture the cadence and speech of Cornwall, she certainly brought to life the connections in a small town and how everyone knows everyone else's business.  Everyone is  given depth and texture, not just the main characters.  Jade's struggle with her dad's chauvinism, her aunt's struggle to be there for Ian, Byron's agonizing over his past and how to be there for Ian in the future are all dealt with compassionately.  

Tall, Dark and Texan  by Jodi Thomas *A*  This is a historical western.  I admit I do enjoy Jodi Thomas's stories.  This one is about a young, timid widow who ends up on a ranch with a bear of a man.  Jessie's not frightened of him, which puts her one up on everyone in town.  The reason is that she had corresponded with him for many years when she ran a bookstore.  Teagan always thought he was writing to a man since she signed the letters with her husband's name.  Now she needs a safe place and decided Teagan would be just that.  I loved the scenes between Teagan and her little girls.  He doesn't really know what to do with all of them, however.  It's a delight watching them grow into a family.

Double Fantasy by Cheryl Holt *B* Two romances in one story about Jack and Jamie who were twins.
  
To Wed a Wicked Prince by Jane Feather  *B* The wicked prince was a Russian double agent whose mother had been English.

Autumn Lover by Elizabeth Lowell *B* Wonderful story but really wanted to smack Hunter upside the head.  He never remembered that Elyssa was NOT like his first wife, she WASN'T spoiled and she WASN'T a flirt.  He'd realize it and promptly forget.  It got really annoying. 


All Smiles by Stella Cameron *D* A great disappointment.  After reading Finding Ian I expected some powerful emotional writing.  As much as I like regency era romance, this was not very compelling.

Marrying Walker McKay by Lori Copeland  *C*  It was just OK but had too many head-banging moments for me to recommend. Plot setup was so convoluted and outrageous as to be unbelievable.

Star Bright by Catherine Anderson *B* Rainie escapes her abusive husband and Parker teaches her to love and trust again. There was a lot of buzz about the overuse of Catholic references. Personally I liked them and felt they added depth to Parker. I'm not really a fan of stories about abused women running from abusive men because I know they will always be found and it's gonna be scary - Play Misty For Me scary.

A Very Special Delivery by Linda Goodnight A free ebook from Harlequin - Steeple Hill. Since my faith is so important to me I thought I might enjoy Steeple Hill. Meh, not so much, if this is anything to go by.

Baby Bonanza by Maureen Child Another free ebook from Harlequin. A rich man discovers he's the father of twins. Another formula I don't usually read, but I enjoyed this one. Many moments when the emotion hit me in the gut so hard I flushed, so I'd give it a B, maybe an A. I'll definitely look for more by Maureen Child.

Tender Secrets by Ann Christopher - One of my favorite authors. As the story began I wasn't sure I was going to like this one: a reporter all set to do an expose on the family who ruined her father and sent him on the road to self destruction. I should have known the author would make the characters so strong and deep that I'd get sucked in. *A*

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Movies and Memories

I just got such a laugh reading a blog by Karen Rose over at Goddess Blogs.

A special movie memory for me as an author is connected to The English Patient - a film I totally despised. (And which, incidentally, won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1996. Don’t get me started.) But it’s special because, while standing in line to buy tickets, I asked Mr. R - quite out of the blue, “If you wanted to escape your husband and fake your own death, how long before you’d be declared dead?” I’ll never forget the stunned look on his face as he turned and stared at me. “Is there something you want to tell me?” he asked. LOL. It was the plot of my first novel, DON’T TELL, which I sold in 2001. Because Mr. R and I mutually despised the movie, we spent our dinner afterward discussing my book idea. It’s a memory I’ll always keep.

Can you imagine a husband's initial reaction?

So, some memorable movies for me:

Gone With the Wind - Not particularly memorable for me but for my parents. They took me to see GWTW when I was verrrrry young. At the moment when Rhett Butler sweeps Scarlett up in his arms and carries her up the winding staircase where we know they are going to have mad, passionate sex after their fight, I piped up and asked, "What's he gonna do, Momma, spank her?" Snort Apparently, all within listening range laughed.

Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zeffirelli's) - Saw this in college with my boyfriend, roommate and her date. She and I were both English majors and I thought we (at least) would enjoy a little Shakespeare brought to life. When we left, she was crying, sobbing actually. I didn't understand why, as I said to her at the time, it's not like you didn't know how it would end. Wrong. She had no clue, had never read the play or heard anything about it. A college English major! Shocking, absolutely shocking!

The King and I (Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr) - I watched that movie more than any other I can recall. Love the music. And Yul Brenner. Yum. I still know all the words to all the songs. LOL

Gallipoli (1981 early Mel Gibson) - This story broke my heart. It's about young Australians who join up to fight in WWI and are sent to Turkey. One of the young men is an Olympic hopeful. His coach drilled him by saying, "How fast can you run?" Archy would answer, "Fast as a leopard." "What are your legs?" "Steel springs!" At the end, the commanders need a runner to take a message to another battalion so they won't attack as it would be a slaughter. Instead of sending the runner, they send Mel Gibson's character who doesn't make it in time. At the end of the movie, Archy is going over the top and saying his mantra - How fast can you run ... Fast as a leopard ... What are your legs ... Steel springs. And he's shot as the slaughter begins. I get choked up even now as I remember it. That was the end of the movie. I had to sit in my car, couldn't go anywhere because I was crying too hard, for half an hour at least. Really powerful.

I guess I can't end this without mentioning LOTR. It was pure pleasure seeing one of my favorite tales brought to life. It was so well done and Peter Jackson was so faithful to the books. I went by myself, in the middle of the day, to see each one when they were released. I even bought the DVDs, special edition.

Monday, February 23, 2009

2008 Taxes

I'M DONE!

I had set aside three days, beginning today, to do my taxes.  It was fairly complicated because Bill had a business as an antiques consultant and part of our home was his office.  I always dreaded doing the taxes when he was alive because I'd be constantly running to him asking one question or another.  This year I had to do it without him.  A truly scary thought. So with Turbo Tax in hand I began at 8:00 this morning and by 4:00 this afternoon, I was finished.

There were a few hiccups along the way.  Instructions said if we had filed married-filing-jointly the year before I should put our names on the return in the same order (that would be with Bill's name first).  But I hadn't gotten very far before Turbo Tax decided we were both deceased and I couldn't get it to accept my edit and admit that I was still alive. Apparently I needed to put my name first on the tax return.

Then Turbo Tax couldn't understand that Bill never resided in Florida. I even put the effective date of residency in mid-December and it still made me answer certain questions as though Bill had moved with me.

I printed the return a couple of times to read it over and see if it had all the information that had been filed in previous years. Thank goodness I did because I found a few extra deductions that Turbo Tax hadn't prompted me for. Still and all, it's over and done.


So now it's time to relax and have a beer. Cheers y'all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Two Wolves


One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins?'

The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'


An old friend sent this to me recently and I wanted to share. It is so powerful. I have believed for a very long time that what you think is what you attract to you. Maybe that's because I am a Pollyanna at heart. I want to believe the best of everyone. I expect people to live up to what I see in them so I prefer to see the good in them. Perhaps I am sometimes disappointed but most often not. I guess that's feeding the good wolf.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thanks LawDog

I have to thank LawDog for the info about Tundra.  I too was a fan of Gary Lawson's The Far Side and missed his cartoons when he stopped drawing them. Tundra has the same warped sense of humor that I sooo appreciate.  This one is from Tundra's archives.

Hmmm, I also miss Doonesbury. Although I don't read the comics like I used to. Can't say when I quit or why. They stopped being very funny, I guess, and so not worth the effort.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Fence

Got a new fence on Monday. It's basically a dog run but at least the pups will have a little freedom outside. They had such a wonderful, large fenced yard in Tennessee. If dogs can miss things, they miss that yard.

Just before Bill went into the hospital in October, he ordered a bark control gadget that we were going to hang outside in the backyard. Sometimes the dogs would just not stop barking, like when a squirrel would get just out of reach - and stay there taunting them. heh heh When the box arrived (after Bill died) I didn't even open it because I knew I was moving. There didn't seem any point to unboxing something that would just have to be packed up again.

So yesterday, after the fence was installed, I opened the box. I was surprised to find a lot more there than just the bark controller. Bill had order a bunch of other stuff I didn't know about. Luckily, Hammacher Schlemmer was willing to accept the return even so long after it was delivered. Bless their hearts.

So I hung the bark controller on the fence and waited for the first bark. I was pleasantly surprised when the first bark was not followed by another one. They barked one or two more times and each time was followed by blessed silence. Apparently, IT WORKS. Yippee! As you can see, the houses are very close together so a little barking can irritate a lot of people quickly. The last thing I want to do is annoy my neighbors.

Now I need to buy some vines to cover up the fence. In this community you are required to have plantings around all fences to "beautify" them. We're going to look for confederate jasmine. A neighbor has it and it has survived the freezes we've been experiencing lately. It also is supposed to bloom for a few months each year so that will be lovely too.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Working in the Yard

Mom came over this morning and we worked on the backyard.  Monday I'm getting a fence for the dogs - HALLELUJAH - and the area needed to be cleaned out.  Now, you need to understand, this is something my mother loves to do.  If she could, she'd be outside raking, mowing, sowing, pruning, weeding, planting, anything as long as she's outside with plants.  Since she's pretty well run out of projects at her own home, now she's got mine to mess with.  I'm more than happy to let her have at it over here.  LOL  Unfortunately for her, I need to do this in the cool morning hours.  She likes to work in the heat of the day.  Ugh.
So we swept and raked leaves, moved a palm that was still in the pot but had taken root where it had been left, pulled weeds and removed a bunch of ivy that is trying to strangle one of the beautiful live oaks just outside my window.  Some of the vines were nearly the size of my wrist.  The yard crew out here is supposed to take care of this but they don't.  It's one thing for the Spanish moss to grow on these live oaks but if ivy gets established it will kill the tree eventually.  (So says my mother.  And if she tells me to cut something, I ask how much and where, no questions asked.)  We also pruned a couple of bushes that will be inside the fence.  I don't have a clue what they are or if they survived the freezing weather we had the last couple of weeks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ballroom Dancing


In my younger days, I loved dancing. As a child, I took ballet and tap. As a teen, I studied jazz and attended cotillion dance classes. Oh those cotillion dances were fun for the girls but I doubt the guys enjoyed it very much. We learned the "old fashioned" dances like the waltz, fox trot and cha-cha. This was all in preparation for my debut as a debutante. *sigh* All so long ago.

As much as I enjoyed contemporary dances as a teen, like the twist, I really enjoyed partner dancing most. Unfortunately, most men of my generation don't know this kind of dancing. When I moved to New Mexico, I learned country/western swing and two-step. It was fantastic. Sadly, Bill never got the hang of it so we never went dancing together. It just wasn't his "thing".

Now I'm in Florida, living in a retirement community and I'm taking up dancing again. Woo Hoo!  I was chatting with a neighbor a couple of nights ago and he was telling me about all the clubs and activities that are offered here. One was ballroom dancing. Well, as much as I would enjoy it, since I don't have a partner, I figured that was out of the question. He said, no, absolutely not. There are always men available to partner single women. He suggested I go to the class being held the next day, so I agreed. 

Bless his heart, he met me at the Arbor Club and introduced me to the instructor. It could have been so awkward because I'm awfully shy in groups, but he made it very easy. Then he stayed for the lesson. There were actually three men there without a partner and I was the only woman without one. So I got to switch out with them to practice all the new steps. I was tired but oh so happy when the hour was over. It's much more structured than the dancing I've done in the past, but that's okay. I'm dancing again and that's what matters.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ugh, Migraines

Sometimes I wonder if just thinking about them brings them on. *sigh* I was reading a group list and one member said she had a migraine. Another said her meds usually worked unless she woke up with it. I commented that luckily, my meds work whenever I take it. Was I just tempting fate? Probably.

Of course I woke up with a migraine. Once I convinced myself it wasn't going to get better by just laying there, I slipped a Zomig in my mouth and let it dissolve. Then, because I was running late, I took the dogs for a walk. Sure enough, by the time I was home the migraine was gone. What a relief.

I used to get migraine headaches a lot, but since I've moved to Florida, they have significantly diminished. I guess I used to worry about Bill more than I realized.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Book a Day


Sometimes it seems like I read a book a day.  Today, for sure, I did.  It was so good, I just couldn't put it down.  *sigh*  I had a list of things I intended to do today, none of it got done.  None. Of. It.  The book was Finding Ian by Stella Cameron.  It's an older book, published in 2001.  I found it at the OTOW library.  If it didn't belong to the library it would become one of my keepers.


For a few shining moments, Byron Frazer had it all - an adoring wife, a newborn son - until one was snatched by the cruel hands of death, and the other was cast away by Byron himself as he launched into a downward spiral of grief and pain. He'd assured himself that he had made the right decision, and that his son would find contentment in the arms of another couple. After all, he told himself, Lori would have wanted it that way.

Traveling across the ocean to a distant land of stone walls and cobbled roads, Byron will fulfill the promise to his lost wife - and be free to move on at last. Yet as he discovers his son, he also experiences an unexpectedly fierce paternal longing. Too soon, he realizes that Ian is destined to become as much a part of the close-knit Cornish village as the lush honeysuckle that scents the summer air. As much a part of it as Jade Perron is.

Reeling from a shattered marriage, Jade, Ian's lovely, protective cousin, is struggling to rebuild her life without a man and determined to do it here, in the only home she has ever known. She's vowed that nothing can change her mind - certainly not a brash American whose eyes betray haunting heartache. . .and forbidden desire.


This book was a very emotional story. You learn of Byron's past with his wife by selected snippets of memory that are scattered through the book. As the saying goes, he's a very deep well. And Jade is dealing with a lot of issues as well with her father being extremely chauvinistic and her ex-husband trying every trick in the book to get her back. They are both very wounded individuals who come together and have the potential to heal each other. The boy Ian is also a character that you just want to grab and hug. Shoot. I can't do this book justice in a review. It was emotional, gut-wrenching and ultimately, satisfying. If you can find it, read it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Guilty Pleasure


I just purchased a hug me pillow. In some stores it's called a boyfriend pillow. I saw a mention of it on Nalini Singh's weblog which linked me to Saskia Walker's blog. It intrigued me. Saskia's blog linked to Amazon where it was sold for about $40. That was a bit expensive so I did a search on hug pillow and found the same thing at overstock.com for half the price. I could justify this useless indulgence at that price. LOL

Now one of the reviews said the pillow was too hard and one of them said it was kinda soft. So I'm hoping I'll be like Goldilocks and find it's just right. A couple of reviewers said their husbands bought it for them because they traveled a lot. One review was really sweet from a mom who bought it for her daughter who wanted to be cuddled all the time. Between this and a B.O.B., looks like I'm all set.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learning to Bake Sticky Buns

A couple of weeks ago a neighbor invited me over for dinner to meet some of my other neighbors. Although I've met many of them while out walking the dogs, this was an opportunity to sit down and have a chat and relax. One of the men I met used to be a baker so I asked if he would teach me how to make bread. I just love the smell and taste of freshly baked bread but I've never had the chance to be taught.

Saturday, I went to Fred and Jinny's house and learned to make sticky buns. Granted we didn't start from scratch, but these were awesome. We started with Pillsbury crescent rolls and made a sauce with brown and white sugar,butter, cinnamon and orange juice. Oh, and nuts. It was great having someone show me just how boiling and for how long and how well done the bread needed to be before you take it out of the oven. It's the nuances that make such a difference between a masterpiece and a disaster.

I left a quarter with Fred and Jinny, another quarter went to Mom and Dad and a third quarter to another neighbor. That leaves enough for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor but not enough to overdo. LOL

Saturday, February 7, 2009

It's Been Three Months

Bill died three months ago and my how life has changed.

Moving to Florida on short notice sure kept me busy between mid November and mid December. Sorting through all the things in the house, deciding what to take with me, what to sell and what to give away. I also had to get renter's insurance for my place in Florida and discovered that USAA would not do it. *sigh*

Once I was settled in Florida, we discovered that my mother's foot (which had been hurting for over a month) was truly broken.

So my life, for five weeks revolved around dog walking. I had gotten used to getting up whenever I woke up, in Tennessee. Not any longer. Mom was on a routine so Lacey, her Shih Tsu, had to be walked at 7:30 am and 4:30 pm. Sandy and Liz get worked in between. Since there is no yard, the only exercise they get is when I take them for a walk. So we went out at 0 dark 30 and to walk for 1.2 miles. You bet I measured it! Got to take a flashlight to find the poop and clean it up (a requirement in this community) and I wear a flashing light so I can be seen by drivers. I've gotten to where I really enjoy the long walks. At least I did before the mornings were 20 degrees and windy. For the past week or so I've actually waited until sunrise before dressing in long johns, woolly mitten, earmuffs and fleece hat.

In the afternoons, I take the dogs to Mom's, have a cup of tea, visit a while and then we feed them all together. I walk Lacey and then come back for Sandy and Liz when we do another 1.2 miles.

I just started reading a book on grief and it emphasizes that we must force ourselves to get out and walk, for the exercise. I've had to do it and I'm glad. Plus I've lost a little weight - a VERY good thing.

Every day I'll notice something that I tell Bill about. Yes, I do. I talk to him. Not long conversations, but just a mention like, "You would have enjoyed that". Sort of like my conversations with God. Hmmm.