Monday, November 24, 2014

"Grandma's Buttons" (a short essay about my maternal Grandmother) has been selected for "Grandmothers Who Stand Watch During the Day and Howl at Night," an anthology edited by Robyn McGee, to be published by Pegasus Books and out for the holiday season in 2014. It is "a cool and unusual collection of memorable messages from women writers across the globe, speaking about their mothers, once removed." 

Okay, okay . . .

Okay, I know I said I was going to do the My 500 Words writing challenge again.  I had really good intentions.  Then I received the new Patricia Cornwell book AND the new Anne Rice book so I have been a little sidetracked.  I WILL get back to writing . . . I promise!!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Here I go again . . .

Okay. . . I posted the "My 500 Words" logo on the blog, so I am going to use THAT as a motivation factor to once again do the 500 Words daily writing challenge.  I hope to do better this time than I did last time.  I am also going to invite the members of the McLoud Writers Group to join me in this challenge.  Misery always enjoys company!!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Night Sky

I have always been enchanted by the night sky.  When I was a child, I was captivated as I looked up at the sky at night and picked out the planets, stars, and even a satellite or two.  I even learned how to locate a lot of the constellations.

I grew up among the city lights, so it was a wonderful treat to run away to the country where there were no invasive, intruding streetlights.  When my family would go camping in the mountains or at the beach, the sky was always unobstructed and dark.  At night, my Dad would point out different highlights in the sky such as Polaris, the North Star, and Orion.

Years later, these memories of the night sky fed an interest in astronomy that led me to further my education by borrowing books from the public library, searching Internet, and purchasing several books to soak up the information like a sponge.  I live in rural central Oklahoma and have beautiful dark night skies, perfect for viewing the planets, stars, and constellations.  I eventually purchased a telescope and then became reacquainted with the celestial friends of my childhood.

The winter constellations, the Pleiades (the little fuzz-ball), the Hyades (the v-shaped pattern), and Orion (with the yardstick), rising in the eastern sky on winter evenings are my favorites.  I welcome them back every year and so look forward to seeing them rise every night.  It is like greeting old friends again.

After I became fairly familiar with the night skies again, I held "star parties" and invited friends over to view the night skies.  A couple of other friends also had telescopes.  They would bring them over so there were three or four telescopes for viewing.  Sometimes there would be 10 or 15 people that would come to enjoy what the skies had to offer. 

During the summer because it did not get dark until late, the star parties did not get underway until around 10:00 p.m.  Some people would stay as late as 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., depending on how clear the skies remained.  During the winter, of course, things would get underway much earlier with the exception of the meteor shower parties.  Since the height of a meteor shower usually does not occur until just before sunrise, people would not start to arrive until around 4:00 a.m.  As you might imagine, the attendance was much smaller for these parties.  Also, no telescopes were needed.  Folks would bring their own chairs or sleeping bags to put on the ground.  I use a folding Coleman cot because it is so much easier to lie flat and stare up at the sky rather than try to hold my head back and stare up and wait for a meteor to streak across the sky.  Besides, during the winter it is cold outside in central Oklahoma, and I can always throw a sleeping bag on top of the cot and cover with a blanket if I need it.

One very cold November winter morning I was outside by myself waiting for the Leonid meteor shower to explode across the dark sky.  I was lying on the cot snuggled all cozy warm in the sleeping bag with a pillow and blanket.  Nothing was happening.  I must have closed my eyes.  All of a sudden, I heard a band of coyotes yapping and howling not too far away!  I opened my eyes -- where was I?  Oh dear!!  I must have fallen asleep in my little warm cocoon.  The yapping sounds were getting closer.  I quickly unzipped the side of the sleeping bag and took off running toward the house.  No way was I going to be an early morning snack!!  I was bummed not only because I had fallen asleep, but mostly because I had missed the whole meteor shower.  Fortunately, there is always next year!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Maggie, the sweetest dog ever!!

My favorite for today is my dog, Maggie, a German Shepherd and Black Labrador mix.  She will be 6 years old in January of 2016.  She joined our family in March of 2006 when she was about 3 months old.  My husband saw someone literally push her and her two siblings out of a car door at the convenience store about 4 miles from our house in rural central Oklahoma and then take off and leave.  Two other good souls took the two remaining puppies.  I hope they are enjoying as good of a life as Maggie does every day.

Maggie has grown from the little 15 pound black bundle of fur to a beautiful 107 pound dog that still think she is a little puppy that can sit in my lap.  She is a beautiful soul and absolutely dedicated to me.  Anytime I step out of the front door and she happens to be nearby, she goes on alert and quickly scans the front yard for any hazards and will run the perimeter to make sure there are no intruders or dangers lurking close by.  Even though she stays indoors overnight, she enjoys staying outside during the day and spends her afternoons lying on the front porch or in the yard keeping a watch on everything.

Today Maggie went to the vet for her annual checkup and immunizations.  She never likes going to the vet and does not handle it very well.  I scheduled the appointment for today because the lady vet was supposed to be working.  Well, for some reason the guy vet was there.  Maggie is intimidated by him and was terrified.  I had to put a muzzle on her in order for the vet to get close enough to give her the immunizations.  Fortunately, no one was injured, everyone left as friends, and we will be invited back next week to take three of our cats for their annual checkups.

Tonight as I was sitting on the loveseat in the living room getting ready to start this post, I smelled the acrid scent of a skunk.  Immediately I looked around for Maggie.  She was nowhere to be found.  I ran to the back door and called her -- no Maggie.  The smell of skunk permeated the air so thick, it was as though I was literally swimming through the odor.  I quickly came back inside and went into the garage and out through the garage door calling her.  The smell was not as strong on this side of the house.  Hopefully she was over here and had not just had an encounter with the skunk -- please, oh please!!  I called her name a few times.  It is hard to see a black dog in the dark.  Finally I heard a rustle and here she comes, running up the drive into the garage and along with her the scent of a skunk -- crap!!  I take a look at her face.  Her eyes are not weepy and she is not drooling which is a good sign.  Hopefully she did not take a direct hit from the skunk and just walked through the spray.  But man, does she stink!!  She came inside the house and I checked her over real good to be sure she was okay and had not been in a tussle with the skunk.  Fortunately, she was okay just stinky.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Hello from Oklahoma, USA!!  My blog discusses everyday happenings in my life in rural central Oklahoma.  If you check it out, you will see that I have not been too diligent with it over the last several months.  I hope to correct that for the purposes of this challenge and write about one of my favorite things each day.

For the Intentional Blogging Challenge, I have decided to discuss one of my favorite things each day. 

Today's topic is strawberries. 

I have not thought about strawberries for a while even though they are one of my favorites.  I used to have lip balm that was strawberry-flavored which I used for many years.  My favorite scented candle is still Yankee Candle's Sweet Strawberry, even though it is getting more and more difficult to obtain.  Strawberry is such a refreshing, uplifting scent.  It always makes me feel better when I inhale its fragrance. 

Strawberries are only available for a short time every year, so when you can find them fresh you need to seize the opportunity, which brings me to my post for today.  I stopped by the local market on the way home tonight to pick up a gallon of milk and a few other items.  As I was looking for the green peppers, I happen to see a plastic container full of ripe red strawberries sitting on the shelf in the cooler.  Immediately I reached for it thinking I would buy it.  I could already imagine the delicious, sweet strawberries with a little sugar sprinkled on them sliced in a bowl with a little whipped cream over some shortbread.  Immediately my mouth started watering.  I lifted the container closer to my nose and got a whiff of the sweet smell of the strawberries.  What a wonderful aroma!!

I started turning the container over checking each strawberry for bad spots or mold.  So many times in the past there always seems to be one strawberry in the middle that is bad or the side NOT facing out is rotten.  First container had a strike out -- fuzzy spot on the side of one strawberry.  One container down, three more to go.  Next container had several strawberries that were partially green -- no go.  Next container had a big fuzzy one in the center of the container.  My hopes are beginning to deflate.  What started out as a hopeful adventure is quickly becoming a depressing state!!  By the time I get to the final container, I have to accept the fact that I will not be having strawberries for an after-dinner delight tonight.  The final container had several strawberries with black spots on them.  Dang!!  I place the contained back in the cooler and push my cart on down the aisle feeling sorry for myself.

As I pass by the frozen food section, I see a pint-size container of frozen strawberry topping.  For a split second, I almost reached for it.  At least there would not be a fuzzy strawberry in it, but somehow it is just not the same.  I kept pushing my cart on to the checkout.  The only strawberries I will have tonight will be in my dreams!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Today is the first day of the "Intentional Blogging Challenge" by Jeff Goins for the month of October.  The challenge is to submit a post to your blog every day of the month.  This will be an effort for me.  As you can see, I have not posted for quite a while.  I may decide on a theme to do and blog about a particular item each day -- more about that later today!!  Stay tuned!!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Spring has finally arrived in central Oklahoma!!  Along with it, all of the little underground critters have become active.  Maggie was outside Saturday having a wonderful time digging holes trying to get to the moles.  She was particularly aggressive digging a hole in the back yard while Dan was trimming some dead limbs on the trees. 

Here is the photograph of a happy dog face:
Here is a photograph of Maggie sitting guard beside her freshly-dug hole:

Friday, March 21, 2014

Another new friend!!

Here is another new friend!!  This is a photograph I found on
A red-winged blackbird visited our bird feeder this afternoon -- a sure sign that spring has arrived!!  He munched on the new blend of bird food I have been buying that is for woodpeckers, but do not tell him.  He was quite excited about it!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

New visitors!!

We had new visitors to our bird bath today -- cedar waxwings!!  What a wonderful surprise!!  Here is what one looks like: 

© Ben Thomas/GBBC
I was filling one of the bird feeders with the new blend of bird seeds. I noticed a flock of birds in the top of the maple tree.  I could not tell what they were, only that they were NOT the many goldfinches we have had the last few weeks or so.  They looked a little like female cardinals from that distance, but I knew that many females would not all be together.  After I filled the feeder, I stepped back up on the front porch and stood very still for a while and waited.  After a few minutes, a couple of the birds flew down to the bird bath.  The moment I saw them I thought -- cedar waxwings!!  I waited for a few minutes to enjoy watching them.  Finally, they flew back up to the tree and I went inside to quickly check my bird book.  Sure enough, they were cedar waxwings!!  I was so excited!!  I have never seen them in real life before -- a first for me!!  I stood inside looking out the front door with my binoculars and I could even see the red tips of their wings and the yellow tips of their tails.  They are absolutely beautiful!!

I took a few photographs but could not zoom in close enough so you cannot really tell any detail.  I will not bore you with them.   But, for a while there was quite the activity with several downy woodpeckers, dozens (and I do mean dozens) of goldfinches, a nuthatch, several cardinals, several purple finches, an unknown blackbird, the cedar waxwings, a couple of chickadees, and a couple of titmice.  After a while, the rain set in and most of the birds found other places to go.  The goldfinches stayed around for a while, as did the cardinals.  Even though the weather turned lousy, the birding was great!!


Rain is on its way . . .

Rain is forecasted for most of today and the temperature is supposed to drop.  I am okay with this -- we need the rain really bad.  I have plenty to do indoors -- I am reading a good book now, have plenty others for backup, and have some writing to do.  Over the past couple of weeks, grassfires have been breaking out all over Oklahoma.  The closest one to us was about two miles southeast of us on Wednesday.  All of Oklahoma is once again in a drought.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Blog makeover, etc.

I just redesigned the blog with a new background and layout.  Hopefully, this will breathe a new life into it.  Any and all comments are welcome.
I will be adding book reviews to the blog, as well as announcements of upcoming releases of new books by some of my favorite authors.
Our weather is still lousy with more "wintry mix" coming in tomorrow.  I will be so glad when spring arrives.  We still have snow on the ground from the last "wintry mix" on Sunday and a dusting Thursday night.
Last Saturday, I put a new blend of bird food (for woodpeckers) in one of the bird feeders. The goldfinches have gone nuts over it.  I do not have the heart to tell them it is for woodpeckers -- they would be devastated!!  With only four perches on the feeder, there are sometimes 10-15 goldfinches sitting in the tree waiting for their turn on the perch to get some of the treats.  Peanuts have now dropped to being the second favorite treat.  I also offer black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds.
Daylight Savings Time goes into effect this coming Sunday at 2:00 a.m. -- what a nightmare the next 2 weeks will be!!  It is amazing what a difference 1 hour can make in my life.  Everything will be off kilter for a while.
Today I received an advanced reader's copy of "The Catch," the new book by Taylor Stevens scheduled to be released in July 2014.  It is the fourth book in the Michael Munroe series.  I know it will be another excellent book.  The first three were great and I am ready to jump in and read this one.  So, with that being said, I will close this post and dive on in the book.  Stay tuned for an update.
More later . . . .

Monday, January 20, 2014

This will be a quick post.  I have been working on the blog and trying to get the formatting updated.  I changed around the layout and colors and also added a couple of new categories.  I hope it is of interest to some people.

I will check back in shortly.