"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When Hell Freezes Over

Cover image for When Hell Freezes Over

I had an epiphany a week or so ago about my third novel in the Kirkland Family Saga, When Hell Freezes Over.  I had written the ending and glued some scenes together. "I'm done with this -- finally," was my attitude, but I knew it wasn't really ready to be published. I'd asked a friend /writer to read it "as is" and give her honest opinion.  She said she would be glad to do it, but she was out of town. She said I could send it first week in December.

With that kind of percolating on a back burner, I had this sudden knowing.  It felt similar to the experience I had at the water faucet when Ronnie was paralyzed and dying, when I realized that "I can walk.  Therefore I can do anything I need to do or have to do or want to do."

This time, the voice in my head said, "You already know what's wrong with it and what will fix it but you're in too big a hurry to stop and go back and do what you need to do." 

And that voice is right.  

I do know -- and I am going to slow down, relax and "fix it" so that the chances of it being as good a story -- or better -- than the first two are high instead of low.

I have written tons of stuff for this story and taken it out.  I put it in a separate folder, which I usually call "out takes". I have one for every book.  I also have the original manuscript and all successive versions. Lots and lots of stuff that points a finger at how rattled and uncertain I became regarding this story and how to best tell it.

Originally, it was a love triangle, between Travis Kirkland, now 24 years old, just graduated from college, and two sisters, Delaina and Kimberly, who is only fifteen years old.  

Revis' point of view was just sprinkled in here and there and it felt obligatory. I didn't like that. So I decided to tell it all from Revis' point of view -- which meant that everything would be told through his eyes. Although I love looking at the world through his perspective, I couldn't adequately portray some of the emotions involved in this story without using other points of view.  So most recently, I re-introduced Kim's and Travis' POV.

When I first wrote this story, I hadn't created the Kirkland/Logan feud.  Compared to the first and second books, this story was too simple. It didn't have anything going on other than the love triangle. 

So I focused on getting the feud worked in.  Figuring out how to present the villain, Earl Logan, was a test for sure.  I spent many hours on several possible options.

Even with all the rewrites that eventually brought about Come Hell or High Water and The Hell About Stallions, I never lost my ability to focus on either of them. 

But I lost my ability to focus on the story while Ronnie was sick.  I rarely opened the manuscript while he was dying.  And to top it off,  for the first time in my life, I couldn't feel Revis. I'm not sure who or what Revis is, but he has been a guiding force in my life -- all my life.  He returned quickly but my ability to focus on one thing at a time is just now beginning to come back. 

When I'm building a story, I have an internal clock/calendar that goes to work while I'm writing. This mental device stores all the information regarding what happened when.  It's called a "time line". The information held by the timeline keeps the story moving forward. It helps construct the believability of what's happening.  For example, The Hell About Stallions dealt with a pregnancy, the story had to fit within the time constraints of that situation. 

Having a subconscious connection to the timeline allows me to open the book at any point and intuitively know where I am in the story.  If something was going on in my life that prevented me from working on the story for a period of time, when I was able to return to it, I could read a few pages and immediately pick up where I'd left off. 

Life derailed me in a way I'd never experienced before and now with this third story, When Hell Freezes Over, I've found I've lost touch with the time line. That has caused big problems.

When I open the manuscript every morning, I have little remembrance of what happened when in regard to what is happening in the story now.   This has been my battle for four long years now, and it is hard to explain to folks who aren't fiction writers. 

I have a theory about my own experience of being a writer.  The whole story is in my subconscious mind from beginning to end. Every scene, every conversation, every single detail that will make the story the best it can be is in there, but I have to accept that and trust that everything will come to mind at the appropriate time.

Hitting the panic button is counterproductive. Pissing and moaning about having lost touch with the timeline is also counter productive.

So I made a "story board" that will hang on the wall next to my computer. It shows me the high points of each chapter without having to scroll through the manuscript. It'll serve as a guide, a reminder of  where this or that happened so that I don't put something in where it doesn't belong, and so that within a few minutes I can reorient myself and continue writing.

In the old day of typewriters and carbon paper, I wrote from beginning to end. But now with the blessed invention of word processors, I often write scenes out of sequence.  I also go back into the manuscript and "flesh out scenes", build the background so it's more of a tangible part of the story, add bits and pieces of personal background that makes a character come alive for the reader.

Writing scenes out of sequence, however, seems to make my problem with the timeline worse but since that's the way it's been since Ronnie got sick, I'm going to do my absolute best to get it all figured out and hopefully I won't have this problem when I start the fourth book.

For those of you who are waiting to read When Hell Freezes Over, I apologize for it taking so long to come to fruition. The story is moving forward very well now and I feel much more confident that when it's ready, it'll be a fun ride for everyone!

This is the experience I want my readers to have when they sit down and open any of my stories.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Looking For That Which Pleases Me

Snow laden Ohio -- photography by Kelly Millard

The sky is beginning to lighten.  Since I can't see any stars, I assume we have cloud cover.  But as I begin this brand new day, my dominant intent is to feel good.  Nothing is more important, more essential or more beneficial to my wellbeing than that I feel good, that I look for that which pleases me.

Some friends went to Ohio for the Thanksgiving holiday and sent the picture above of the snowy road and snow laden trees.  It's so beautiful! It reminded me of a description my sister-in-law, Linda, offered after she and her husband Stan drove to New Mexico for Christmas with family and friends. She talked of driving through the snow in the wee hours of the morning, all alone on the road and how peaceful it felt.That may be an experience saved for those of us who don't live with snow on a daily basis in the winter.  

Ohio Moon

My friend, Linda Marcum, and I are planning a trip to see her family in Ohio next year.  I sent her  this picture and asked her if we might want to go to Ohio in winter.  She grew up there and she said, "No." most emphatically.

When the Northeast got a million inches of snow last month, I saw a picture someone had posted that showed an open door way packed with snow all the way to the top.  It looked like a white wall. And I wondered, how do folks deal with that?

So today, I'm glad I live where snow is rare.

It's one of those natural beauties that I'd just as soon experience in pictures and videos.

My waterfall bit the dust yesterday.  Deidre and Andy had just recently fixed the crack in one of the levels.  It has worked perfectly since then, but yesterday, all the water in the holding receptacle vanished over night. I guess the cold cracked the plastic again. So I went on line to see if I might find another one. I've come to the conclusion that it was one of a kind.

Zen Fountain made of concrete
I went to Youtube and watched a couple of DIY videos on how to make fountains out of concrete.  This one for a Zen garden was interesting. You can watch it here

I love the ones where they feature women building things because it makes me feel like "I can totally do that!"

I've been stuck in the world of "men's work" and "women's work" for at least 60 years, and I love the new women carpenters, plumbers and auto mechanics.

I watched how to make a waterfall out of terracotta pots and saucers.  That also looked very attractive and I think the sound of falling water would be louder than that of the concrete ball. I want to hear it.  I want the birds, bees, butterflies and dragon flies to hear it, too.

You can watch how to make this Terracotta fountain here .  I'm thinking if I used bigger pots than they do in the video, it might make more noise.

So I have a new project for next spring -- making some kind of something to replace the beautiful sound of falling water.  I already miss it.  

hypertufa planter 

I also watched a new video on how to make planters out of hypertufa, which is a mixture of equal parts of Portland cement, peat moss, Pearlite or Vermiculite and water.  I've tried this stuff before and it didn't work for me. But this new video shows a different way to form the mixture.  It looks like it will work  -- so I'm looking forward to doing some of that, too. Hypertufa pots look like concrete but are much lighter, easier to handle and plants grow very well in them. Plus they'll last for decades!

In looking for things that please me, I also got news that a good friend who moved away is happy with the changes she has made, and that pleases me more than she can imagine. 

A young writer friend, Van Fleming, won a contest and his sci-fi/fantasy story will be published in an anthology to come soon!  Since the book isn't out yet, I can't offer a link to it, but here's one for a great interview with Van.

Lady in the Purple Dress by Shefali O'Hara

Shefali O'Hara is making a name for herself down near Austin with her remarkable art work.  She's amazing because she only recently started painting. You can see Shefali's other paintings here

My friend, Nicole, has had two successful "virtual book parties" to launch her new dream which she calls "The Whole Plot Thing" -- to help self published and independently published authors get news of their books out to the public! She is also compiling a list of beta readers and plans to offer editing services soon. If you're interested in see what Nicole can do for you you can check it out here

And the end of most days looks like this.

I'm happy and I feel fine. Life is good.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Too Much Information, the Path of Least Resistance and Making Mountains Out of Molehills

A beautiful evening sky 
I have a lot of things I'd like to do, some changes I'd like to make in Bruno's Shop, but it seems I stand and stare at stuff for a long time before I actually talk myself into getting started. It feels like "too much information" when I'm looking at everything that has to be moved and cleaned and vacuumed for spiders and sprayed to keep the little culprits from coming back.

I noticed many years ago at work, when I picked up an order with a lot of detail written on it, my mind just kind of shut down.  All of a sudden I couldn't make heads nor tails out of all that information. I feel the same way when I'm trying to read and follow instructions in a manual.

It has evolved to the point that if it looks complicated, I'm not going to even try it.  In one way, that feels like I'm an easy quitter. In another, it feels like my natural instinct is to take the path of least resistance.

So I stand and stare at the accumulation of stuff (aka junk maybe, but for some reason, I'm unable to part with it yet) and my mind is overwhelmed with the information coming at me. 

The thought process goes something like this "I could put this there and that over there. No that won't work because that is there, but if I put this in the garage -- but look how dirty that is and the garage is already a mess because I haven't finished in there yet."

So I go back to the garage which right now is an accumulation of tools and ladders and boxes and crap I don't know what to do with and lawn maintenance tools. One look and I say, "F*** it.  I'll do it later."

I keep forgetting to remind myself that I don't have to do it all today. Just make some progress occasionally and some day soon, it'll all be done.

Deidre says she has the same problem in Seth's room.  She bought a bed for him at Ikea not long after Ronnie passed on.  It can be set up with the bed at the top like a bunk bed or flipped over and have the bed on the floor.  Right now the bed is at the top and it has become a container for stuffed animals  (and anything I don't want him to play with for a while. There's so much stuff up there, if I throw it to the back, it probably won't be found until the next time she flips the bed over, which she does ever so often because neither position is ideal).

Now, she wants to flip the bed and put it on the bottom but she can't decide what to do with all those stuffed animals while she cleans and organizes the bottom part.

sunset at Lake Arrowhead 11/2014
We talk often how some of the simplest things feel like insurmountable obstacles.  In other words, we make mountains out of mole hills.

Eventually we do get things done but maybe we both have AAADD  (acquired adult attention deficit disorder).

I've always been this way to a certain extent.  It drove Ronnie nuts to be home when I was cleaning house.  He could focus on one chore for hours. When he decided to clean house, he'd focus on one room -- usually the kitchen and by the time he finished, you'd be hard pressed to find a speck of dirt or grease anywhere.

But he spent the entire day in one room. No laundry, no vacuuming, except in the kitchen. To top it off, the kitchen was so clean, I could feel him daring me to splatter one drop of grease on his clean stove -- for days afterward.

When I clean house, I usually begin in the  bedroom.  I might start to make the bed, then decide I probably need to change the sheets, so I pull them off  and take them out to the garage where the washing machine is.  

There I discover the dryer full of dry clothes which need to be folded and hung up so I can put the wet clothes I'd washed the night before in the dryer - all before I can wash the sheets. At some point, I remember I have to make my bed, so I get clean sheets out of the closet and take them to the bedroom.  

When I start putting the clean sheets on the bed, I see dust bunnies on the floor on Ronnie's side so I pull out the vacuum cleaner. I also find a glass on his side of the bed that needs to go to the kitchen, so I head in the direction of the kitchen. On my way through, I notice hand and nose prints on the patio door so I get glass cleaner and clean the door. Then I notice the kitchen window needs it, too, so I move everything out of the window and clean it. All this time and I still haven't made the bed.

As I said, I eventually get it all done.

Some days, feeding the dogs feels like an insurmountable chore.  So does making birdie bread which I do about every 6 days. That's making a mountain out of a molehill for sure.

Winter sky on Thacker's Trail

I'm figuring it all out through.  I'm going with the flow of things around here and as I identify them, I'm letting go of old beliefs, old habits of thought -- such as "it's important to get things done!"

Uh, no it's not.  In the grand scheme of things, this stuff doesn't even register a blip. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nature's Doorway

hyacinth bean

Ronnie put a hollow core door in the entrance between the garage and the yard.  He had it secured so it wouldn't open and all the trips between the work shop and the garage came through my kitchen.  After he passed, the door began to fall apart especially on the outside.  Plus we "unstuck" it so we could use it. That didn't help the poor old thing.

I knew when I started gluing Ronnie's car pictures to the inside of it that it wasn't long for the world of "doors", but I figured that when we replaced it, I could put the car collage in Bruno's Shop.

Deidre and I had discussed whether our dogs would use a "doggie door, but we didn't really know where to put one that they would have easy access to it.

the door
The men cleaning up the rent house across the street gave us a pet door for a sliding glass door. The opening was too small for Sox, though, and some of the weather stripping needed to be replaced, so we never even tried it out.

Recently, Deidre found an interior door that had a doggie door already in it. It was the size we needed for the garage opening, so she got it and put it up. It looks pretty rough.  I decided to paint the outside of it with oil based Kilz to weather proof it to some extent.

While I painted it, I realized how much I had enjoyed looking out my kitchen window and seeing the car collage.  Thoughts began to percolate.

Deidre is an artist in her own right, so I asked if she would do something interesting on the inside of the door, and she said yes.

I decided I'd do the outside. This door is inside the privacy fence so few will ever see it but me, Deidre and Seth, but we deserve to see something fun and interesting.  I want the door to reflect my love of  nature and my first thought was to paint it to look like an old wooden gateway.

Then I discovered that ModPodge has an "outdoor" product. A whole new world of possibilities opened for my side of the door.

I want to incorporate a quote by Gregg Braden that I love, "Drink in Nature's beauty. Feel it.  Be with it.  Know it."

I printed it out on parchment paper and tore the sentences out so that -- when the weather warms up, I can arrange them on the door as the "focal point".

I found a spray of artificial ivy in my stash. I pulled the plastic stems off the leaves to see if the green leaf shapes will lay flat -- and they will --almost.  Good enough for ModPodge

I want some flowers (I may have to paint those) on it, too and some butterflies -- Monarchs, Blue Swallowtails, Tiger Swallowtails, and the smaller Yellow Sulphers that flit around this time of year. I'll be looking for pictures of Mockingbirds, Cardinals and Doves, Sparrows and Purple Finches.

I plan to incorporate different mediums in order to represent different aspects of nature.  For example, I could use a picture of my box turtles and "hide" them with the artificial foilage. Same with the squirrels and birds.

Monarch butterflies -- always a favorite
Our first major cold snap is going to last a while, so I'm going to collect the things I'll need to get started on  my "Nature's Doorway".  Then it will be easy to get started when the weather warms up.

I asked Deidre if she had any ideas for her side and she said yes, so it'll be fun to watch what she comes  up with.


In the mean time, Chamo, our feral cat, comes and goes through the pet door.  She has a toasty little house in the garage which we set on a heating pad when it's this cold.  We had been leaving the garage door open a few inches for her to come and go but now we can shut it all the way down and that helps keep the washer from freezing.

I realized after all the artistic inspiration began for this door that if I had bought a brand new door, all we would have had there would be a plain door. If I had paid for it,  I wouldn't even consider putting Modpodge on it.

A friend picked up the one for the sliding glass door and was able to use it at his house!

The car collage is out in Bruno's Shop.  I'm still clearing stuff out of there and haven't decided exactly where to put it.  But it's out of the weather now so the memories will be preserved for a long time.

Car collage

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Day with Seth and Samantha

Water in Peg and Joe's cove

Saturdays have always been "play time" in our family.  Ronnie and I both worked long, hard hours for many years in order to get to a place where we could have weekends off. We always had plans for fun stuff on Saturdays -- movies, estate sales, craft shows, car shows. Not so much anymore.  Saturdays come and go without much notice.

I slept a little later than usual this morning.  I meditated.  I worked on THE BOOK.  I had a question for my sister-in-law, Becky, so I sent her a Facebook message.  She was already on the road to Wichita Falls, so she called me instead of texting. I met her, her husband, Aubrey, and their grand daughter Alyssa, at IHOP for breakfast.  We had a nice visit, then I headed home -- wondering what I might find to do that would be fun -- and productive.

When I got home, Deidre was busy.  Andy came in with sweets from Margies.  I sat down at the computer. The house was awfully quiet, so I got up and walked to the kitchen. Deidre was still busy on her computer.  Andy was looking at his phone.  Some ninja turtle movie was on tv and Seth was trying to do headstands but he looked bored as hell.

Sami's pockets
When I returned to my room, my phone alerted me that I had a message so I checked it. My sister had sent a picture of her 2 1/2 year old great granddaughter, Samantha. I cropped it to show why my sister took the picture.  Sami had her animals stuck into the waistband of her pants because the pants don't have pockets.  They find all kinds of stuff in her britches.

I hesitated to invite myself and Seth out to play with Sami because our last "visit" hadn't turned out so well. In fact the kids got into a fight.

Seth is 4 1/2.  He loves to play with Legos.  He builds all kinds of things -- which I can't tell what they are -- but his imagination is keen.

Sami tears up his creations and it makes him so mad he could chew nails.

So I asked him if he'd like to go play with Sami, that she was out at Aunt Gigi's. His eyes lit up and he nodded.  So I reminded him how mad he got at her the last time they were together, then I talked to him again about the fact that she is younger than him, that little kids don't build things yet, they tear them up.  I suggested that if he wanted to build things with her Legos this time, he should think about building things for her to destroy.  He seemed to be open to that.

So we packed up a bowl of chicken and dumplings left over form Widder's Movie Night and headed to Lake Arrowhead.

Sami is always so excited to see Seth and it reminds me of feeling the same way when my cousins Mike and Ron would come to visit.  Ron was older and usually wouldn't play with us but that's beside the point.

We heated the chicken and dumplings as soon as we got there and had lunch, then we headed outside.

campfire just getting started

We started out on the sunny porch, but it was one of those days when the sun is still too hot and the shade too cool, so we moved over to where the fire pit was already smoking from an earlier fire.

I love the smell of a campfire.  It always reminds me of good times -- my mother cooking breakfast in McKenzie State Park in Lubbock and at Lake Texoma when I was a girl; Ronnie and I cooking breakfast at Lucy Park and roadside parks when our kids were little.

Piers no where near the water.  Sad state of affairs

Neighbors came to visit around the campfire, but the little ones were getting rambunctious, so I took them on a walk down by the water's edge.

We walked under the piers where we hope sometime soon, the big catfish will be swimming again.

We saw a flock of tiny birds moving in formation around a big pile of wood. It looked like a "murmuration".  The kids were excited about it. I thought I got some of it on video, but I didn't.

Seth and Sami

We spent a while throwing rocks and mussel shells into the water.

And drawing stick figures and smiley faces in the sand.

We carefully maneuvered around a chilly wasp and the many big fire ant hills.  I asked Peggy what would happen with the invasion of fire ants when the lake starts refilling and she said last time, they could see the ants swimming.  So I guess drowning the mean little rascals isn't going to happen.

cold wasp

After their company left, Peg and Joe joined us for the walk back to the  house.  Thanks, Joe Selder, for mowing the trail we walked on.  (It reminded me of a neat trail my friend Lanore's husband,  J, mowed on their property in Blum, Texas.  It meandered through the tall native grasses and a few trees so Lanore could have nice place to walk and study outside.)

Seth the Dino Blaster

We returned to the campfire and that's when the joy began.  Seth finally got possession of Sami's assault rifle and they turned into "Dino Blasters".  Pretending the two dogs, Ben Johnson and Sigh Beau, and the cat, Redford, were dinosaurs, they ran all over the place, blasting dinosaurs and protecting the rest of us from the dangers inherent in living with dinosaurs.

There were stickers, minor injuries and brief power struggles but all in all the kids played very well together.  They seemed to have a lot of fun.

At one point, Sami had a sticker in the end of her toe.  She wasn't crying until we started trying to get it out.  Seth put his hands between us and her, saying, "No! Don't hurt my brother!" Lol! He so cute and funny.

I hope they will continue to be close, to enjoy one another's company. It sure makes family functions more fun if the kids have a good time together. It makes life more fun to have friends -- especially when they are your cousins.

Did you know that fun, cooperation, and collaboration are all elements of love?

Setting sun at Lake Arrowhead,  November 8, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Trip Down Memory Lane with Seth

Seth taking pictures of the dry lagoon at Lake Wichita Park

Ronnie and I used to walk the gravel trail that runs along the storm drainage canal that flows into Lake Wichita.  Or it use to.

We called it Thacker's Trail, from the books by Esther Hicks, "Sara and Seth and the Foreverness of Friends of a Feather".  Those stories were also Deidre's inspiration to name her baby, Seth.

Ronnie and I saw many interesting things on our Thacker's Trail. We gained much insight into ourselves and each other on our walks there.

I wanted to take Seth on Thacker's Trail but it's closed.  A big "DO NOT ENTER" sign is posted at the entrance. It's just as well.  The huge unsightly pipe that has something to do with our new "purified water" runs along the canal now.

We took Shelby with us.  She needs some inspiration too.

So we went to the end of the walk Ronnie and I used to take. There is a big open field close to the model airplane runway.  We parked there and walked across the field toward the Blue Moon Lagoon (I'm not sure that's the name of it.  Ronnie said there was a sign there for a while, but then it disappeared. We continued to call it that anyway.  It's a small shallow lake north west of Lake Wichita.)

I had charged Deidre's old iPhone so Seth and I could both have a camera. I think it will be fun to see what pictures a 4 1/2  year old boy takes, what he finds interesting.

His first picture was of Shelby. As you can see, he didn't look for the perfect photo op, but it is fairly well centered and the contrast of her color and her shadow is interesting.

If you are familiar with iPhone cameras, you know how difficult it is to see the screen in the sun.  I'd shown him in the house how what you are aiming the screen at is approximately what you'll take a picture of, so in the brightness of a beautiful cool fall day, we both did a lot of aiming and praying but he took some awesome pictures!

In 2010, right after Seth was born, Ronnie carved all our initials and Seth's name in two huge boulders the City had put at the opening between the lagoon and the open field to keep motorized vehicles out. I showed them to Seth.  He thought it was so cool that his name was on that rock! He took a picture.

Ronnie Bruno was here

After we saw the rock carvings, we went on through to the Blue Moon Lagoon.  When Seth got his first glance of it, he said, "That's beautiful!" and up went the camera.  I took the picture of him taking a picture at the top of this post.

dry Blue Moon Lagoon - photograph by Seth Pruett

Many years ago, my brother-in-law brought me some live horned toads from West Texas. After reading about keeping horned toads in captivity, I decided to release them at Lake Wichita Park in a non-mow area. We found some very active red ant beds and let the poor little guys go. I figured they had a much better chance of survival out there than they did in a terrarium.

red ant bed - photograph by Seth Pruett

Today we saw one of the thriving red ant beds.  

beautiful big red ant - captured
on iPhone camera by Seth Pruett

I've been experimenting with my ability to communicate with insects. When we first entered the path around the Blue Moon Lagoon, the ants were so numerous we could hardly get through without stepping on them. I apologized and told them we meant no harm. When we came back, they had cleared out and we walked through without having to tiptoe.

Seth caught this little guy all on his own.  I cropped the picture because there was so much back ground. 

                                                                                                                                                            Along the dirt path around the lagoon, there were willows blooming profusely.  I caught this one. Always on the look out for flowers.

beaver dam - photograph by Seth Pruett

The canal flows under a wooden and iron bridge. At that point the purified water tube crosses the canal and continues on over the dam. There were two barricades, one on each side of the path so I wonder if we might still walk Thacker's Trail another time.

One of the reasons I decided to take this excursion  was to check on the beavers.  Ronnie and I often came out close to dusk.  We stood on the bridge and watched the beavers move up and down the canal. We figured out there was a family of them.

With Lake Wichita nearly dry, I was concerned about the fate of the beavers.

Apparently they are still doing ok.  The canal has turned into a long lake.  There was only a small area of water (that use to be a steady stream into Lake Wichita), visible on the other side of the dam.

Occasionally the City tears out the dam but the beavers build it back.  Kind of like we have to do here in Wichita Falls -- rebuild, rebuild, rebuild.

As Seth and I walked along together pointing and looking, I talked about his PawPaw, how we  brought Seth out to Thacker's Trail when he was barely a toddler.  We'd put him in his stroller.  Ronnie gave him Foxie's retractable leash to hold, which Seth insisted on doing -- even at that young age.  If we started forward without handing him Foxie's leash, his little hand was reaching up to grab the cord. He'd hang onto the handle until he fell asleep.

I told him about how Ronnie brought a Dremel out to carve  the rocks. Seth has a clear sense of having known his PawPaw and I want to continue that.  Ronnie's dad died when Ronnie's youngest brother, John, was only four.  John has good memories of him and his dad thanks to the other family members sharing their memories of the two of them.  Ronnie often commented that it seemed John's memories of their dad were as real as Ronnie's.

I hope we can do that for Seth.

Taking pictures helps keep memories alive.  Seeing a snapshot of a forgotten moment activates the memory, adding details that we might completely lose without a photograph to remind us.

Dry Lagoon - photograph by Seth Pruett on October 28, 2014

P.S. He likes his pictures being on my blog!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What Feels Good

it's catching a beautiful sunrise 

What feels good is unique to each one of us. We often think that what feels good to us must surely make everyone else feel good, too.  For example, I love being up early in the morning.  It feels good to me to be awake in my quiet house.  But do not try to sell this to Deidre.  Early mornings are for sleeping.

But they are also for seeing spectacular sun rises, and hearing the first birds singing in my neighborhood, and the music of doves taking flight. I love that sound.  It reminds me of Ronnie.

I enjoy making my cup of coffee and taking that first sip.  It's always the best.

I get some kind of thrill when I take the correct number of packets of Equal out of the container, not having to add to or subtract any.  

Deidre sees digital clock numbers lining up all the time like 11:11, 4:44, 5:55 which is supposed to be a sign that your energy is getting into alignment with what you want.

I had a total at Walmart recently of $92.92 and I've had several even totals like $100.00, $120.00.  I don't know if it means anything but it's fun and it feels good when it happens -- so maybe it is a sign.

I enjoy hearing Seth's quiet little sleepy voice as he visits with Deidre while she gets ready for work.

It's watching Seth figure out
 "head standing"
This morning, Deidre and I had a brief discussion about how good it feels to have a warm towel to wrap up in when you get out of the bath or shower. A clean fresh soft towel is always nice but one that's warm adds a moment of "special" to it.  It's comforting -- even when things are going as well as they are around here.

I enjoy getting things done. It feels good to get the floor vacuumed and for a few minutes to see my oak floors unadorned by dog hair.

And speaking of dogs, I enjoy a big warm nose pushing into my palm when my hand is relaxed.  Deidre's dog, Sox, has a big nose and she shares it with me especially in the mornings.  It feels  different than Shelbie's or Breck's. She does it with a clear sense of affection where the other two dogs are more forceful.  Shelbie has a demanding "bonk"that she uses to get my attention. It's way more powerful than a nudge, and Breck is in my face trying to lick me. He can't hold his "licker".  Sox is polite. I enjoy her good manners.

I started some out door projects a couple of years ago.  At first they were overwhelming because I had the notion that I needed to get it done "now". Then I remembered that I'm not bound to please anyone but myself anymore and I am free to work on the projects at my own pace -- which is leisurely.

That feels good in itself.  With this new belief, I can relax and enjoy the progress I make when I get around to working on the various projects again. The realization that I don't have to do it all now was a little bit difficult to get accustomed to, but now that I have, it makes everything more enjoyable.

I enjoy figuring out a peaceful path to a problem.  I adopted Breck from the local Humane Society.  I got him because Sox and Shelbie are too old and cranky to be Seth's dog. They not only won't play with him, but they don't like him. So I got Breck. I have no idea why I thought a boy dog was gonna be suitable and it wasn't long before we realized he isn't house broke. With these girl dogs here, that probably isn't going to happen.

First thought, put him outside.  Second thought, keep him caged. Third thought, take him back to the Humane Society. Final thought, you know he's here to stay, so figure out how to make this work.

It's finding picture that remind me
how pretty it will be around here 
when it starts raining again.
So I made him a "hotdog bun". I cut the legs off a pair of leggings, cut above the hem three quarters
around to make a neck opening.  I insert a maxi pad into and slip it around his middle, covering up his wiener. The loop goes over his head and rests around his shoulders to keep the "bun" from sliding back.  When he hikes his leg, he pees on the pad.

I change the pad every time I take it off when he goes outside.  He doesn't seem to mind wearing it and it allows him to be free in the house.  He's a sweet, funny, energetic happy little dog who is absolutely willing to run and play with Seth. I love to watch them together.  Breck loves socks -- the foot kind, so I tied one to Seth's back belt loop and he chased Seth for a half hour -- until Seth wore out.

I thoroughly enjoy walking into my bedroom and seeing that I made the bed earlier. I enjoy neat and tidy but I don't stress out over messy either.  Both are a temporary situation. When it's messy, one of us eventually cleans it up and when it's neat and tidy, one of us eventually messes it up.  It's life.

I enjoy walking into the dairy part of the grocery store in the fall and seeing that the Pumpkin Spice Coffeemate has arrived.  Even though I don't write long hand much anymore, I still enjoy the feeling of prosperity when I have a new stack of clean paper or spiral notebooks.

I love opening my seed bin and seeing it full and ready to be dispensed to my fine feathered and furry friends. I enjoy figuring out that chubby Shelbie will eat green beans so I can cut back on her dog food and she'll lose some weight without being so deprived.

I love finding new meditation videos on youtube that have bird songs in them.  Chester and the Tiels really seem to enjoy them and it keeps Chester from screaming.

I enjoy hearing that someone is reading or has read my books and that they enjoyed them.  I'm not a very demonstrative person, but make no mistake, when I say, "Thank you!  I'm glad you enjoyed them,"  I'm whooping and hollering on the inside.

I try to make it out front or up onto the deck every evening to see the sunset. Texas has some of the most spectacular sunsets in the world and each one is different.

And I enjoy the winding down feeling of evening.  I love to sit on the patio and listen to the birds as they settle in for the night and the crickets as they start their night time serenade. When it's chilly,  I love having a fire in the chiminea and wrapping up in a nice soft blanket as I sit and listen to the night sounds.

I enjoy saying goodnight to Deidre and Seth. There is a peacefulness about evening and bedtime that is unequalled at any other time of the day.

Then I hoist chubby Shelbie up onto my bed and put Breck in his crate and say good night to them too.

Life is full of things to enjoy when we stop to pay attention to what makes us feel good.

it's seeing a beautiful August Super Moon

Monday, October 13, 2014

Living In the Light

evening shadow art in my living room.

Depression is an ugly word. It's too bad it has so many letters -- because it deserves the designation of "a four letter word".  It's right in there with "hell", "crap", and "poop". (I'm trying to watch my liberal use of four letter words because the "kid" is always listening. He is a little tape recorder. He knows where the "play" button is and pushes it at the most inopportune times.)

Ronnie and I both fought depression a whole lot of our adult lives. Ronnie's was so bad, we lived in the dark.  We had room darkening vertical blinds over the big front windows in the living room and over the patio door in the dining room. With carpet that was nearly black, in the middle of the day, coming in from outside, you couldn't see where you were going.  It fit the words, "den" and "cave".

Our bedroom was the same, black as pitch.  I took down the heavy covers over the bedroom windows when Ronne went to a different crew at PPG and didn't have to sleep during the day anymore, but he fussed about the light in the bedroom.  When he started napping in the middle of the day as a way to relax and relieve anxiety, he always did it in the living room where it was still midnight.

And then he passed away.

beautiful sunrise
And I took down all the "room darkening" blinds.  For many years, we'd talked about getting new windows to help with energy efficiency, so I did that. I ordered windows with the least amount of panes for easier cleaning -- and they are so beautiful, and the world is so beautiful through them, I've never covered them up.  Deidre has curtains over her's and Seth's windows, but the living room, the dining room and my bedroom have nothing -- just a clear view of what's going on outside anytime I want to look.

Right now the sky is beginning to lighten.  The windmill is spinning in a strong north wind as another storm approaches. When I raise my window even just a crack, I can hear the leaves rustling, the waterfall, the morning birds, and Gallo Cogburn crowing.

Sunlight has always been a synonym for "joy" and "happiness".  Childhood songs such as "Zippedy Do Da!" mention "plenty of sunshine headin' my way!" Another song my sister-in-law, Linda, sang to wake her kids up was "Let the sun shine in, face it with a grin".

Deidre took a short video from the door of Seth's room one morning as he and I were playing "double fetch" with Breck Roscoe Gentry.  In the video, you can see the sun light streaming in my window. When I showed the video to my friend, Dawn, she said, "I love how the light shines in your house!"

morning sun splashing on this painting gives it a new look

I do, too!  One of the best gifts I have ever given myself is these big beautiful clear windows that let the sun shine in.  I appreciate them every time I walk into the living room and see the sun splashing across the floor or the walls, and when it paints itself across  the snowy ground of a winter scene I have right here by my computer, it adds a new "look" to the work of art.

Depression can't tolerate light.

Light is also closely associated to "knowledge". Knowledge to many means "education" and lots of it.  The more education a person has, the more "knowledgeable" they are considered.

But there are many different kinds of "knowledge" and they all seem to fit into two categories: knowledge that matters, and knowledge that doesn't matter.

The "knowledge that matters" is that which enriches your life, that which shines light into your personal darkness.  It is unique to each person.

I bought a meditation tape a year or so ago.  Since then I've received many e-mail invitations from that company, for free webinars on how to improve health, wellbeing and my "successfulness". I signed on for a new one but after checking into it a little further, I began to feel a reluctance to participate. I'm developing a distaste for these companies who are dipping into spirituality with the purpose of guiding people toward "successful" with the clear implication that the traditional definition, the "high dollar" life is the goal. You can't say it, and people won't believe you are actually successful if you don't have the expensive cars, homes, title, etc., etc., etc. But if you'll meditate their way, with their product, you'll be able to rake in all this good stuff, too.

I'm 65, I've probably either missed or dismissed my chances to be "successful" in the traditional sense. I don't have a $100,000 college degree, no title -- other than Mother and Neenaw, no big important job, no huge impressive salary, no Caddies or Lexus or mansion with multiple bathrooms.  I don't have any $35,000 dollar bird vases.

But I don't care.

What I have had the pleasure of accomplishing in my life is finding the information/knowledge that led me to having a sense of peace around most areas of my life.

While all the trappings of wealth are undeniably fun and exciting, being successful is having access to the deeper emotions like peace, appreciation for the blessings we have, a sense of safety, and that all is well. It's feeling healthy and energetic, being able to relax and enjoy our now, that connect us to our Source, our God.  When we are working and striving so hard to be successful, those feelings are not often present.

Step into the light of pure positive energy. Take the time each day to calm your mind, to get in touch with peace and contentment.

Then go out and get all that fun stuff!

Winter sunset -- awesome!