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!

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.