Damn You, Dorian!

Hurricane weather can be hell on productivity.

First, I’m so excited to share with you all that I’ve completed writing my first full length novel (100K words) and that I’m in the pre-editing stages. Second, I’m thrilled to share that I had brunch with my editor today and I gave her a firm date with which to expect my finished product. This has me both excited and anxious as my deadline is mid September, just in time for my wedding anniversary.

The issue? This damn hurricane may make me late. The last hurricane that rolled up this way was Irma, and we lost power for nearly a week. That would put a huge crimp in my plans should history repeat itself. Icing on the cake? My current day job is in alarm dispatch monitoring. Natural disasters have a way of fucking with jobs like that…and we’re all on call in case an all-hands-on-deck situation occurs.

But this is the one getting to me… My beautiful senior fur baby, Izzy, somehow managed to injure a back paw and is now limping pretty heavily. Normally I’d just be worried about her anxiety in a storm, but now that she’s started taking doggie CBD (bacon flavored) that’s more of a non-issue. But the paw injury? Breaking my heart. So, with a hurricane bearing down, we have a vet appointment for her tomorrow.

And if you think I’m crazy to give her CBD tinctures for storm anxiety, consider watching this video of this afternoon’s storm (which isn’t even hurricane stuff yet). I know humans who would be anxious. Sorry in advance for the sideways video….

Spring

photograph by Axel Rouvin, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

photograph by Axel Rouvin, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Rain drops

like warm tears

trail down

soft skin

the stench of

anger,

removing

grime of failures,

mistakes,

swirl harmless,

back

to enriched earth;

gentle stream,

cleanses

the soul,

healing the spirit,

rejuvenating mist,

reborn.

Face raised,

mind open,

free to let go,

invigorated.

Ready

for the new beginning.

Daydream

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Taken In in my back yard yesterday

Silver winged chariots
Soar,
The distant rumble
Announce their ascent
On endless span of crystal blue.
A blink of the eye
And they disappear
Into
Yards of white
Cotton,
Draped in casual decor,
Sometimes
A delicate wisp,
Like smoke,
Others,
Thick and rich and sweet,
Like cotton candy
From a fair,
Calling to mind
A childhood,
Long past.
They sway
And glide
On gentle breeze,
Re-
Forming,
Changing partners.
A dance,
Guided by the winds,
Molding
To create
Something new,
Different.
moving pictures;
As I lay back,
Pillow my head
Over crossed arms,
Search for shapes and images,
Visualize,
Reminisce,
And dream.

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Wispy clouds from back yard yesterday

Summer is the perfect time to be still and daydream…. When was the last time you laid back and explored your sky? What did you see? Are you a cloud watcher? Do you see shapes? Does it inspire you?

Senses Of Happiness

Life isn’t always easy. In fact, one of the few guarantees we have is that there will be hardships. The trick is in overcoming. Every once in a while I’ll find self doubt creeping into my head. Like you, I’m human…unless, of course you’re a machine sent by the upcoming Robot Apocalypse my buddy Austin is constantly warning us about…so, despite my usually sunny outlook, even I occasionally falter.

Well, recently another new friend wrote a post where he talked about the 5 Senses and feeling more alive. I do something similar…except I think about what makes me feel good. Usually I stick to one or two senses, but today I’ll explore them all…When I’m done, I’d love to hear what things tickle your happy senses (aka send you to your happy place).

Sight: There are a few things that do it for me, but the ones that bring on the senses of inner happiness are almost always natural.

My Dogs keeping me company while I write

My Dogs keeping me company while I write

My pups can always put a smile on my face. They love to keep me company when I’m working. So when I get stuck or frustrated, a quick look at them lying behind me will put a smile on my face.

A bird tucked into my windshield

A bird tucked into my windshield

Who doesn’t appreciate sweet surprises like this when you head back to your car? How can you not smile at the utter cuteness?

Watching the sun set (this one's at Turtle Beach)

Watching the sun set (this one’s at Turtle Beach)

Yeah, there’s something about the natural beauties…especially when coupled with spontaneity that do it for me.

Sound: There are several things that makes my heart smile. Laughing babies…High on that list.

Music, as you all know, is always big on my list… Even more so when singing with my sister. Here’s a little clip of us goofing off on my wedding day.

Smell: I’m not so complicated. There’s something about that new car smell…It’s reeks of accomplishment. Vanilla makes me feel warm and fuzzy because it makes me think of baking and family. Freshly mown grass…speaks to new beginnings.

The Jasmine at my walk up

The Jasmine at my walk up

As I’ve gotten older I’ve really come to adore the smell of jasmine… Having my own home means I can grow it right at my front walkway to greet me as I head out or come in.

My two favorite Coffee mugs

My two favorite Coffee mugs

My ultimate favorite smell in the world, though? Coffee. In fact, it’s also up there with my favorite tastes… (Don’t you love the segue?)

Taste: Party in my mouth you say? Hmmm…. Hubby makes some great desserts that make me feel good and put a smile on my face.

Hubby's Blueberry Stuffed French Toast Casserole

Hubby’s Blueberry Stuffed French Toast Casserole

Sure, combine my love for breakfast and my love for dessert. It’s bound to be a HUGE hit!

Italian Beef from Portillo's

Italian Beef from Portillo’s

Or going back home and biting into an awesome Italian Beef (and I blame Katie from Sass & Balderdash for putting this in my head today).

But my all time favorite happy food? Cheesecake…and hubby makes an amazing Pumpkin swirl (that swirl is chocolate!).

Hubby's Pumpkin Swirl Cheescake

Hubby’s Pumpkin Swirl Cheescake

Touch:Well, you all know I’m a sensualist… Yes, I love exactly where your minds all went. Yes, great sex makes me smile. But it’s some of those little things that lead up to that “Crescendo” (Heh!) that just warm me from the inside out:

  • The soft brush of velvety soft lips at the curve of my neck
  • Strong, loving arms wrapped around me to make me feel safe and keep the world at bay
  • Hard body pressed to mine, dancing me across a room (often with no music playing)
  • A sweet kiss dropped absently on my lips just because he felt like it
  • A no holds barred tickle fight (Yeah, who can resist that laughter)

So what makes you feel good? What helps you remember all the little things that go wrong don’t really matter? What helps put you in your happy place?

Beauty Of The Earth

Happy Earth Day!

How often do we really take time to stop and look around at the natural beauty that surrounds us? Isn’t it funny that often, to see the beauty in nature, we must observe it elsewhere? Many people would tell me I live in paradise. Truthfully, until this last year, it would’ve taken a lot for me to even notice some of the natural beauty that surrounds me.

Scented Jasmine in my entryway

Scented Jasmine in my entryway

A year ago, I doubt that I would’ve noticed the lovely scents my jasmine blooms are releasing as I walk in and out of my house. Or that I finally got my first gardenia bloom of the season while I was in the Bahamas.

Jasmine climbing the post in front of my house

Jasmine climbing the post in front of my house

I would’ve failed to notice how such small, delicate flowers can create such a gorgeous fresh scent. I definitely would’ve missed the sunset on the beach that I posted months ago….and would probably not even have looked up to notice the Florida panther from a while back, either.

Why is that? Why would I have missed those joys, but caught the amazing color of the ocean while I was in the Bahamas? Or ignored the palm trees at home, only to be awed by the ones there?

Sometimes I think we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to look around us. It’s only when we disconnect from the world we’re used to that our eyes open to absorb the amazing every day beauty that surrounds us…and it’s not even OUR every day.

Maybe it’s everything that’s happening in the world lately that has me a little introspective. Who could blame me? This last year has been full of upheaval, both for me as a person…and for the world. There is so much ugly in the world…too much. But there’s some truly amazing beauty there, too. So what is it about human nature that has us focusing on all the negative stuff? The hurtful? The cruel? Why is the focus so rarely on the beautiful or inspirational? The joy?

To tell you the truth, I stopped watching the news years ago. I couldn’t stand all the negativity and hatefulness. I figured I’d probably hear what I needed to know on Facebook or Twitter anyway. Plus, if I spent too much time watching all the atrocities on the news I may have found myself going the way of Emily Dickinson. It’s one of the reasons I can’t handle most reality TV. Does that mean I watch no reality shows? No. Because technically, shows like The Voice or Dancing With The Stars (my guilty pleasure-Go Team Ingo!) are considered reality shows. The shows that make celebrities out of people for acting ridiculous or that seem to enjoy ridiculing others…? Not interested.

It’s odd, but the same reason I rarely watch horror or gratuitous violence movies has become the same reason I don’t watch the news and rarely read the paper. I don’t want that kind of negativity to have a foothold in my brain. Don’t misunderstand. I’m well aware that there are bad things in this world. You can’t live more than a couple years without being confronted by such hard truths. But like many other things, I’ve come to realize I have a choice: to let all the bad scar or scare me, to become indifferent to the hardships/suffering/pain of those around me, or to look for (and find) the best in people…and let go of the worst.

Why am I talking about people on Earth Day? Because we’re a big part of what makes the Earth beautiful. We’re also a big part of what tears it apart. I’m not exactly what anyone would call a “tree hugger” by any stretch of the imagination. My contributions are limited to cleaning up my own litter and recycling. Well, at least my physical contributions. The contributions I give through my heart and spirit…well, I’d like to think that’s completely different. “Control your controllables”. That was advice a former boss once gave me. She was right. The thing I can control the most? Me. So I choose to maintain a positive outlook. I choose to seek the best in people. I choose to see the love and kindness that were shown to strangers in Boston and in Texas. I choose to see the outpouring of support and friendship sent our way from all over the world.

People can call me foolish or naïve. I’d rather have hope and live with joy in my heart than the fear, bitterness and anger that they allow to take control of theirs… I’d ask if you guys think I’m foolish or crazy, but let’s be honest… even if you did, when it comes to this…I wouldn’t care. Plus, I know I’m not the only optimist…. I would love to know what you guys have been thinking about this last week, though.

It’s hard to believe that it was just a week ago today that I was preparing to board a plane from the Bahamas back to the states only to hear about the tragedy in Boston (and the everyday heroes who went out of their way to help their fellow man simply because they were in a position to do so). Maybe that’s the root of my introspection. Who knows… Either way, I leave you with this… Love life. Love each other. It’s just one more way to love the earth.  It’s our sacred duty…which is why I selected the song at the top. For those of you who’d never heard it before, it’s John Rutter’s “For The Beauty Of The Earth”.

 

Dangerous Beauty

FloridaPanther_01-Cougar

Tendrils of fear
Prick my spine,
A tingle rippling
Outward.
I sense you,
My every move
Cautious,
Scared.
Trapped,
A human statue,
Frozen by fear
Unsure–
Like prey
Caught in
The crosshairs,
Feel the danger,
Not the direction.
Your tawny paw
Steps out
Revealing yourself,
From browns and greens,
Nature’s camouflage.
Amber eyes on me,
Unblinking,
Assessing,
Wild grace
In your gait.
I hold my breath,
Awed,
By your beauty,
My fear.
As you circle,
Deciding.
Muscles ripple,
You stretch out,
Swish your rope like tail,
Turn,
Disappearing into the wood
Like a ghost.
Hand to heart,
Feel thumping beat,
Reassurance.
I live to see
Another day.

Today, walking my dogs, I encountered what I’m now pretty sure was a young Florida panther sunning itself next to a neighbor’s house. Fortunately the pups didn’t see it and the wild beast seemed to have been well fed, or that could’ve been a very scary situation. Not wearing my glasses, something compelled me to look over at their house. For about 2 seconds I thought I was looking at a tree stump (hey, no glasses, remember?). After I blinked a second I realized that I was looking at a big effing cat…bigger than my 26 lb dog. Bobcats aren’t uncommon, so I thought maybe that’s what I saw…I mean, the thing was definitely big, had nice fangs…but one thing kept bothering me. Bobcats usually have spots/markings…this one was all tawny. I kept my dogs moving and got them past where the beast was sunning itself before they even noticed.

When I got home, I googled Florida wildlife…looked up bobcats…then clicked Florida panthers. Yup! It was a young panther. They are beautiful and wild, but I was so glad it wasn’t hungry. That could’ve really been scary. Well, ya’ll know me…never turn down a chance to create a poem out of a slightly scary & life threatening experience. What about you? Have you had any scary moments with nature? (And not the kind where you were on a long hike, needed to use the restroom and didn’t have one nearby…unless it involves using poison ivy as TP…LOL! Just kidding.)

And…in honor of love…and the unusual…I’m throwing down some old school jazz…complete with scatting (musical…not the creepy stuff) and improv. Yes, ladies and gents, that mean’s Ella’s in the house! She, like a fine wine, only got better with age…

Maiden Voyage

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Listening to
Graceful crash
Of lightly, rippling
Waves.
Glass shatters
Across the hull,
Rivulets
Of bubbling gold
Gliding down.
Step ‘board
My wooden chariot,
Opaque sheets
Spread upward,
Angled high
Against the beautiful
Backdrop;
Cerulean sky.
Enjoy
The peaceful lull;
Curving to and fro.
I plan
A quest to find “me”…
Parchment guides
Etched by explorers
Past.
Rolled out,
Determined,
To plot my course.
Gazing blindly,
I try,
Pencil to paper,
To render my path.
Eyes unseeing,
I turn away,
Look out into
The unending
Deep blue,
And realize
I was never
Missing.

Friday, I went to Selby Botanical Gardens with my mom and a good friend in need of a distraction. Placed along the Gulf of Mexico, I found myself looking out at the water and daydreaming. The above picture is one of many I took that day. Here are a couple more.

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Here is one of a bonsai tree…I imagined fairies frolicking beneath those beautifully sculpted branches.

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Here is an image of only one of the exotic beauties we saw that day.

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My friend playing bird whisperer…a great way to distract him from his troubles. And finally, below is the souvenir dwarf pineapple plant I took home. Isn’t it gorgeous? Where do you find your peace & beauty?

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Awakening

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Gazing out,
Ball of fire
Climbs slowly
Up a wall
Of misty blues
And breathy pink.
Chilled air
Flirts…
A gentle graze
On bared flesh.
Silent stillness,
World on pause,
A moment
For deep breaths
And reflection.
A tuneless song
Trills out
From mothers nesting
In strong arms,
Of swaying branches…
Nature’s rocking chair.
Whistle floats up
As leaves chatter.
Orange sun
Shifts to yellow,
Burning up
The gentle fog,
Revealing…
A bright,
Shimmering
New day.

Friendships, Trips and #Thankstweetings

As this years draws closer to the end, I get reflective. Looking back, I guess I always have. Maybe because we’re also closing in on Thanksgiving, or simply in my nature, but I find myself looking for things to be thankful for. First and foremost, I’m grateful that this year is almost over because it means next year can begin.

This year has been tough on my husband and I. He’s had three surgeries between February and May…and broke his hand. Just as things finally start to stabilize, I lost my job. Although we joke about the whole “for better or worse” portion of our vows, it’s strengthened our relationship…and our relationship was already pretty solid.

But as rough as we’ve had it…we realize it could always be worse. Above is a picture I took in the Bahamas two years ago. That year we stayed at the Wyndham Nassau Resort.We went back again this year, but we stayed in the Atlantis on Paradise Island. It was amazing! In these last two years we’ve made several friends because we book through Maximum Sports for their annual Da ‘Boys In Da Bahamas trip. We’ve also gotten the opportunity to get to know some of the players on a level we’d never have the opportunity to enjoy in the regular world.

The point of all this? We got to be good friends with a couple while we were out there the first year and we look forward to meeting up every year. Unfortunately, this year, my gal pal was diagnosed with cancer…and did her treatments. Her hubby fell prior to our trip (off a ladder, I think?) and wound up with stitches prior to the Bahama trip…which meant no water excursions for them. Last year we all went snorkelling. This year we did a shallow water dolphin thing…and they didn’t get to join.

Then, after the Bahamas, my gal pal had another incident with cancer. This was followed by her hubby getting into a motorcycle accident that left him badly injured and hospitalized for a bit. Between the medical bills and the time off required to care for him, not to mention his time loss due to his medical condition, they have neither the finances nor the time needed to allow them to take this trip next year.

I was seriously disappointed that we wouldn’t get to see her next year as we’re all in different areas. She lives in the DC/Virginia area and the rest of us live in Florida/Texas/Illinois. Pretty spread out. When she told me that she’d be unable to make the trip, I mentioned getting together for a girls weekend! All the ladies agreed… It would be a ton of fun! This is where you guys come in. We need ideas for places to go. It can’t be too close to her home…as you ladies know…when you have a husband and a son, there is a tendency to call you for every little thing if you’re close enough to feel accessible to them. On the other hand, it needs to be close enough that it’s not too costly to get there for her. Our initial thoughts were Nashville…maybe Myrtle Beach. Where would you guys recommend and why?

And thinking all these trips had me thinking…if money were no option, where would you love to visit and why? I’d love to go on a trip around the Mediterranean…Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, the south of France. My hubby is half Italian and dying to see that side of his culture. Me, I love the richness of food, passion and history in those areas! I’d also love to eventually own a vacation home in the Philippines. The four years I spent there growing up were amazing! So much love, food and sense of family there. I have always felt welcome in that country.

So…this is what I’m most thankful for this year…the friendships I’ve made…the challenges we’ve overcome…the dreams I’ve been able to pursue. What are you thankful for? And speaking of thanks…check out Good Geek Ranting’s blog on #Thankstweeting. I think he’s got a great idea and I plan on participating! People don’t hear Thank You nearly as often as they should… And who knows? You may just brighten someone’s day!

Freaky Froggy Findings

It’s okay… You can admit it. When you read that I was terrified of frogs a while back you laughed. That’s okay. I get that reaction a lot! But before you judge me, there are a few things you should know (of course there’s a story behind it. Isn’t there always?)

Between the ages of 6-10 I lived in the Philippines. It’s a beautiful place. It is a culture full of great food, warm welcomes and family and they’re blessed with great scenery. I absolutely LOVED being there. What does this have to do with my fear of frogs? Here’s the thing. I lived in a subdivision with a lot of multicultural kids..mostly because our dads were in the military. As kids we’d get into mischief. I’d climb trees and bring down coccoon husks and open them, curious about what was inside. We found a pregnant dead bird once and dissected her, trying to save the egg. So it was natural that when she told me that in her mom’s culture (her mom was Thai) that crickets were delicacies that we’d go out and try to catch them. We wanted to surprise her with a “treat”! What a lucky mom, right? Of course now I know that there are all different kinds of crickets, but hey…it was the thought that counted.

Somehow our cricket crusade morphed into a frog catching expidition. (It may have had something to do with hearing that people also ate frog legs and they tasted like chicken, but I’m not sure) We were armed with glass jars and since it had just rained, there were plenty of frogs out. We stayed out catching frogs until our parents called us in for the night. My family was vegetarian, so we sent all the catches with my little friend. The next morning I woke up crying and in pain. My precious hands had water blisters all over them. Turns out, I’m allergic to frogs.

Fast forward to about 8 years ago. I was leaving my house. As I turned to lock the door, from along the door jam a white frog landed on the corner of my face. It happened very quickly, but not fast enough that I didn’t recognize what tapped the side of my face (near my eye). I screamed bloody murder! My heart was pounding a mile a minute. My next door neighbor, bless his heart, came flying out of his house. Apparently he thought I was getting raped or murdered. How humiliating it was to tell him it was simply that a frog attacked. Fortunately the contact was so minute I didn’t have an attack. Curious as to what the frog looked like? I found a likeness…

That’s okay…I’ve also learned that when you’re in a long termed relationship, your phobias become contageous. I’m not exactly sure how it works, but I do know that my sister was in town visiting us one fall. She and I had went to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients for her to make potato soup from scratch for my guy who wasn’t feeling well. We got back and he was standing out on the driveway with no shoes on, his boxers and a tshirt. He was a bit upset. Apparently a frog had tried to eat his ass! Laugh! I know I did.

He’d gone into our master bath to use the toilet, and just as he went to sit down, something caught his eye. He jumped back up just in time to see a toad the size of a grapefuit staring up at him. He insists that there was malicious intent in that toad’s eyes…but regardless, it freaked him out. He slammed the toilet lid down, yanked his pants back up, found the biggest, heaviest book he could find to put on the lid so that the big toad couldn’t escape…and planted himself on the driveway for one of us to rescue him.

As you already ascertained from my deep fear of frogs, I was the wrong person to be looking at for a rescue. In fact, I believe the words “you’re insane” may have come out of my mouth at some point as he looked at me to find a solution. Finally, after my sister was able to stop laughing hysterically, she grabbed a big plastic cup that we didn’t mind losing along with a magazine. She scooped the toad into the cup, covered it with the magazine and released Mr Toad back into the wild. Thank God for the practicality of nurses.

But is my fear of frogs really so irrational? After the news down here in Florida this week, I’m thinking it’s just good sense! If you have dogs, this story is a must read! It may save your dog’s life! Yes, there have been doggie deaths in Florida recently and it’s all been attributed to my nemesis.

Considering I have my two adorable furbabies, I think it may have turned out to be a blessing that I have this fear. I’d be devastated if anything happened to these two cuties….

These are my two girls. They’re Shiba Inu’s…The little one to the left is named Ryka (after the Mord Sith from Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series. The one on the right is Isabella. She was my Christmas gift several years ago. I’d be devastated if I lost them, so they are not allowed to play with frogs. Lucky for me, they prefer to chase rabbits. 🙂

If you’re a dog lover and a book lover, you should check out this review by Sheri DeGrom. This one may be right up your alley!

If you’re wondering what your dog is thinking, maybe you should check out his/her diary as written by Raelynn Barclay.

Or if you just want to talk about your adorable dog and commisserate about their bad habits, then Jen is your gal!

Anyway, thank you for letting me vent about my frighteningly froggy freak outs…and for adoring my cute doggies.

Happy Friday!