First Vaccine Dose Done

I’m happy to announce that my first Covid 19 vaccine dose in now safely in my arm and working its way around my immune system. I am one of the lucky ones.

The governor of Florida went against the CDC guidelines and lowered the eligible age to 65. I just squeaked in. But that doesn’t mean it was easy to snag the appointment for the shot while also getting one for my 78 year old husband.

I live in a 55 community and the one and only topic of conversation for the past few weeks has been where and how to get an appointment, somewhere, anywhere. The Department of Health filled up in 20 minutes. Another medical group has a system where I called and called and hit redial 100 more times before someone took my phone number to call me back. I’m still waiting.

The medical group I go to sent an email at around 8 pm on Thursday night. It was a fluke that I even opened my email at that time. I’m usually getting ready for bed. I clicked on the link, filled out the information for Richard and hit save. Nothing. So I did it again and again and again until it finally took. Then I started the process again to try to secure my own appointment.

While I’m fiddling with the laptop, I’m also texting two of my friends to alert them. They log in and start doing the same thing I am and are thus my competition for the same limited amount of vaccines. I was told I was being altruistic by alerting others to their availability. Thankfully they got appointments too.

I have friends in other states who are still waiting patiently but with great anticipation for their vaccine. The age limits and distributions are different everywhere. They are all happy for me but nervous for themselves and their families. I truly am one of the lucky ones and because I am, I will pray that we can figure this all out and get shots into arms so I can give all my friends a HUG! You are important to me and I can’t wait for us all to be together again.

Hang in there! Your turn is coming soon.

Things That Changed Forever in 2020

At the end of a year or the start of a new one, I usually write about books I’ve read or places I visited. We all had time to read a lot of books this past year. I’m sure you have all had the opportunity to hone your book finding skills without me joining into the fray.

So I thought long and hard on what to write about until I uncovered an article that I found interesting and amusing. It was concerning dogs and computers. In February, long before we knew a pandemic was lurking, Pepper came to our home. He was 8 weeks old and cute as a button. Little did we know how he would keep us moving in the coming months when we were afraid to do so for fear of becoming sick at the hands of the corona virus.

I was fortunate to be working from home. Pepper being a curious guy wanted to know who I was talking to in that black box on top of my desk. I started him small, bringing him to meetings for the whole group to see and also one on one conversations with co-workers and managers. He loved siting on my lap looking at the people on my computer screen.

Based on that article I read, he is not alone. Dogs of all kinds have developed a relationships with their parent’s computers. They are a hit on Zoom meetings of all kinds. Dogs are becoming virtual fixtures in the business world. Pepper is no different.

Pepper tugs at my arm until I allow him to climb on my lap anytime I’m sitting in front of my computer. He loves to come not only to business meetings but also book club and my writer’s group. He has become such a regular at these events that he is often asked for his opinion which always results in a glob of dog snot across my computer screen.

If we’re looking for something good that came out of last year, his name is Pepper. While just simply being a puppy, he found a unique way to share his love and cuteness with others and bring a smile to anyone’s face. And Lord knows, we all needed to smile a little bit more. As we give ourselves a fresh start in 2021, Pepper’s participation in the workings of the world will continue to spread happiness wherever he goes. Via the Internet that is!

An Overdose of Stupid

I think this lock down combined with the pandemic is making us stupid. We are watching endless hours of television which has been doing its best to numb our minds since its arrival in our living rooms many years ago. It once had a nickname of the”boob tube” if you’re old enough to remember.

I could write about stupid people refusing to wear masks or denying that the coronavirus even exists. Don’t get me started on all the politicians on both sides of the aisle who swallow down their dose of stupid pills with regularity. I really want to discuss something that has entered our lives in order to make us smarter. Alexa.

“Alexa. What’s the weather?” I asked.

“The weather in Melbourne, Australia is 62 degrees and raining,” she answers.

Alexa has lived in my home in Melbourne, Florida for the past 5 years. I never had to clarify the city, state or country for her before. Suddenly she believes I moved to Australia which is an interesting idea but I’m grounded until I get vaccinated.

“Alexa. When did Les Miserables debut on Broadway?” Richard asked.

“1862,” she replied.

“Am I really that old?” Richard asked. “I guess Alexa thinks so.”

I think Alexa has taken an overdose dose of stupid pills today too. Even the digital world is not exempt from its addictive qualities. She answers all of our questions with such certainty, if I didn’t know any better, I’d find her very believable.

This next one is my all time favorite. I like watching Schitt’s Creek. The Rose’s daughter is named Alexis, so often when her name is said on the show, Alexa will spew some nonsensical banter out of the blue to interrupt the comedic dialogue.

The other night the dialogue from the show was this: “Alexis. Do you have a mind?”

Alexa’s response was as follows: “I don’t have a brain like you do. My smarts live in the cloud.”

We have become dependent on on all the information that lives in the cloud. True or not, if it comes out of the cloud we believe it. I can’t even trust Alexa with the weather so why should I believe anything else she says? The only thing she’s really good at is setting a timer and letting me know when my roast is done. Let’s put our brains back to work. What’s happening up in the clouds is pretty scary stuff these days.

Kindle Challenge Update

I haven’t paid much attention to my Kindle lately. What I mean by that is during my time in the hospital, I read all day until the battery finally died. I didn’t pay any attention to how many books where still waiting to be read, I just picked on and dove in head first. It was the only thing I had to pass the time in between the nurse handing me my little cup of pills.

I finished my December book club pick, Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts. It’s historical fiction about Maud Baum, the wife of the author L. Frank Baum of The Wizard of Oz fame. One night the 1939 movie popped up on tv and I watched it. It never gets old.

Next I read The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristen Harmel. I’ve read other books by her and they are all enjoyable and are about the French resistance during World War II. Then I read the first Harry Potter book again. I didn’t find it nearly as captivating as I did the first time around.

I selected a book called Spellbreaker by Charlie Holmberg. I have no idea where I picked this book up but I loved it! It’s historical fiction with a magical twist but trust me, nothing like Harry Potter and his wizarding world. The sequel is not coming out until March of next year and I already pre-ordered it. That’s how much I loved the story and its characters.

And when I finished all those my Kindle still said I had 7 pages of books to go. I turned to page 7 however and low and behold I gasped! Only 2 entries remain before I’m down to only 6 pages. I am making progress but let’s hope I can keep up this same pace while out of the hospital. That’s my plan for sure!

The Wrath of 2020

As we enter December, the final month of what has been a year to remember, I can’t help but think we are all expecting January 1, 2021 to turn the page making all things wonderful and rosy again. I’m an optimist, a glass half full kind of person but a gnawing in my gut says, ” Not so fast”.

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I believed that the year 2020 would leave me unscathed. I was careful, wore a mask, limited my time in stores and cancelled trips long and short that I thought might bring me some relief from the monotony. I was however, feeling I was safe from the wrath the year dished out with fury since the year was soon coming to a close.

How wrong I was. I ended up in the hospital with a kidney infection and had to stay there for several days while my cultures grew. Sitting there reading books and watching bad television; there’s no Netfilx in the hospital, I had a lot to reflect on.

For those of you who think a mask isn’t necessary, please think again. While in the hospital a mask is required 24 / 7. Yes, even while I was sleeping, or trying to on that uncomfortable bed. No exceptions. If it slipped down, every nurse and doctor asked me to pull it up before they entered the room. Think about that for a moment when you want to resist the mask for any reason. We all hate it. You are not special.

If you think getting a COVID test every couple of days is going to save you, think again. Since I came into the hospital with a fever, the test was required. That swab up the nose is the most painful thing. It brought tears to my eyes. Thank goodness it was negative but I have no burning desire to do that again anytime soon.

If you think COVID is the only disease you can catch in 2020, you’re wrong. But the presence of COVID in our world will affect how all other things are treated. Take care of your body and your mind. Don’t be afraid to call the doctor or the dentist or a good friend for support. The simplest thing you can do for yourself and those around you is wear a mask and wash your hands. Those two simple acts will help protect you from a multitude of things we hope and pray will miraculously disappear in 2021.

Things I Love About 2020

Today I treated myself to a lovely massage and while I try to turn off my monkey mind while being rolled into a rag doll, it’s not always possible. I thought I should do my part to dispel all the negativity in the world and talk about good things.

Pepper, my sweet little pandemic dog, came into our lives in February. While he’s clueless about what a pandemic is, he forced us to get outside every single day. There’s no moping around the house with a puppy. He’s happy and healthy and I love sloppy Pepper kisses.

My book club dove right in and figured out how to meet online. We’re not expert at online meeting and probably never will be but it’s so much fun just to see their smiling faces and hear their laughter once a month. It keeps us all reading and our minds off other things.

As corny as this my sound, I’m grateful for my Facebook friends. The other day I had a good laugh with my college sorority sisters over singing the Greek alphabet. I played the plunger in our hokey washboard band. So if I had told them I used the toilet plunger as an instrumental accompaniment, we would have laughed together even harder.

My work friends now live all over and most, like me, don’t work where we originally met. As co-workers became friends we found so many other things about our lives that we had in common. I love keeping in touch with their accomplishments.

I especially love my high school friends. I don’t know what else to call them since most of them I’ve known since first grade. This group loves the throw back stuff like the Beatles, long hair rolled on orange juice cans and Mickey Mantle. They share their kids and grandkids and various orthopedic surgeries.

I didn’t lose my human connections in 2020, I simply connected with lots of different people in a virtual way. The love and friendship we found in each other many years ago was reignited digitally in these uncertain times. When the mask can finally come off for good, I’ll be waiting with open arms to give everyone a hug and have a few more good hearty laughs with all of them.

Should I Reveal Family Secrets?

I recently read a friend’s blog post about whether it’s right to reveal your parents flaws in a memoir. I thought about that for awhile.

In my memoir, A Bittersweet Goodnight, I had a lot to say about my parents and their lack of parenting skills. I didn’t put those words on the page without angst and anguish. But I had to in order to resolve my own feelings about my upbringing at this late stage of my life. I came to realize that I stored way too many unpleasant memories in a deep dark corner. Writing them down helped me to set myself on a happier path.

My parents both passed away many years ago. Even though I never had a close relationship with either of them, they did teach me respect for others. I never could have written this book if either of them had still been alive and able to read my writing. But I often smell cigarette smoke for no reason, which tells me that my stepmother, June, is on board with my story that revolves around her role in my life.

I don’t believe the choice is a matter of right or wrong. For me it’s what felt sincere for me in my life. Much of the feedback I’ve gotten from readers tells me that many people have had similar life experiences and were grateful to know they had company in that regard. We don’t have to reveal every single family secret in a memoir, choose what is meaningful to the storyline, put an appropriate spin on the rest or leave it out altogether. The choice belongs to the author.

Reading and Writing

In my quest to read all the books on my Kindle, I have come across more than a few duds. They must have found their way to me as freebies because I can’t think of any other reason I would have picked them up.

I’m a person who once I start a book, I have to finish it. Maybe that’s why I can’t make any real headway on my Kindle list. Right now I’m reading a book that shall remain nameless for now. I can’t wait to finish it, not because I love it but because it’s making me angry.

The protagonist is a doctor from New Zealand who now lives in London and who ended up in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. She speaks with a British accent and all the Americans she comes in contact with do too. Ugh. Next she got on a plane from Baton Rouge to Boston and expected to sleep for six hours on the flight. A non stop flight on this route takes 3 1/2 to 4 hours tops. This author took on an American plot line without much knowledge of how Americans act, talk and think.

The story line that irritated me most however, was Hurricane Katrina. Having lived through my fair share of Category 3 and 4 hurricanes during my forty years of living in Florida, I don’t feel this author did any justice to the pain and suffering of that time. The pacing of the story for me made it all look too easy. The aftermath of a storm like Katrina continues for many to this day, fifteen years later.

As an author myself, maybe I’m too critical of others. What I learned from reading this story is that research is paramount especially when you are dropping fictional characters into real life events. Editing comes next to make sure not only that the periods and commas are in place but that speech and dialect are true to the story line as well as the character’s speech pattern.

Even though I want to move on to a more captivating book, I will stick this one out. And I will study my own writing to make sure I don’t make the same stupid mistakes and irritate my readers. Because without readers, my writing has no meaning.

The Cheating Continues!

I’ve been remiss in keeping all my fans updated on the status of my Kindle. I try not to look at it regularly because it’s too depressing. But I did take a peek and sadly I still have 7 pages of books on my Kindle. I’m reading like crazy but the list never seems to get any shorter.

I admit I’m a sucker for free books. Net Galley tempts me with free books every few days. I follow several reading groups on Facebook and they talk about loads of different books that all sound interesting. When a title piques my interest. I put them on hold at the library even though I promised not to until I made a dent in the Kindle. I’m a proud member of the Florida Writer’s Association and they want to give me money to buy their recently announced Published Book of the Year and write a review for it. I simply can’t refuse an offer like that.

I just finished reading The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. Those Ya Yas were crazy, naughty girls but oh how lucky they were to have friends like that. But their message was as clear as the Louisiana bayou they swam in. None of us are perfect and we all need to embrace our flaws.

I am far from perfect. And I am addicted to books. Things could be a lot worse. I am tenacious and I made a promise. I will read everything on my Kindle. Eventually.

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar!

While scrolling through the titles on my Kindle I found several books with the word sugar in the title. Obviously at some point I was gung ho on eliminating sugar from my life. That is until they became buried behind other books that suddenly became more interesting.

These two books, Sugar Love by Rex Bonds and The 40 Day Sugar Fast by Wendy Speak address our addiction to sugar at different ends of the spectrum. Sugar Love attacks it from a scientific point of view. The 40 Day Sugar Fast looks at it from the spiritual side. For me, the combination of the two were exactly what I needed right now.

You see, recently the doctor told me my A1C was high and I was at risk of developing diabetes. I’ve been trying to eliminate carbohydrates from my diet but I struggled to understand what foods that meant. Sugar Love includes a list of what is sugar. It sneaks into our food with a long list of names, none of which are called sugar. I have been pretty good at reading the calorie counts on labels, now I have learned to read the ingredient list too.

The 40 Day Sugar Fast is a day at a time journey to eliminate sugar with prayer and guidance from God. The author asks us to examine all aspects of our lives and that addictions come in many forms, like alcohol, shopping, boredom and bad habits in general. She asks God to satisfy the unfulfilled need within us with prayer instead of filling it with cookies and cake. Why did this book speak to me?

I have been sober for 10 years. I will never forget that I asked God over and over again to help me stop my nightly wine splurge. And one day He did. I have never looked back. I thank Him every day.

If you are struggling with any kind of addiction, either of these books or both in tandem may help you change the trajectory of your life and set you on a different path leading to better health and spiritual contentment. Right now I am adding the information from these books into my daily routine. It’s a good place for me to start. I’m down 7 pounds already.