It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing


Dear Census Bureau

Posted by mcm0704 on May 1, 2019 |

Since journalists, pundits, judges, and government officials are having a heavy debate about the upcoming census and what questions might be on it, I thought it appropriate to share this March 2010 letter that my friend Slim Randles sent to the census bureau back then. In terms of money being wasted and unnecessary questions, not much has changed since then; and it probably never will. Sigh…

Still, we have dogs to keep us smiling when the news gets too depressing.

This is Dusty, who always waits patiently for me to take pictures when we are out walking. Mostly, I take photos of flowers, but sometimes I can’t resist a shot of my fur-friend.

Dear Census Bureau:

You can’t imagine my thrill as I drove up to the gate yesterday at my cabin in the middle of nowhere and found that you’d left me a census form to fill out for the place, addressed to (address removed.)

This was accurate, by the way, since my little cabin (designated “red cabin” on the envelope) is the only one on S. Navajo Loop. Your designation of red cabin is only half correct, though, because the other half of the cabin is painted yellow. And when I get more yellow paint, I’ll finish the job. The cabin is called “The Birdhouse,” as Bird is the nickname of my buddy who gave me the cabin. This doesn’t mean that very many birds live there, however. In fact, the only resident birds I can think of nest under the house and hatch some babies every summer. I don’t expect them back from winter quarters for maybe another month though. They are brown and nondescript and could probably be classified as dickie birds.

They are only seasonal residents.

As for permanent residents, there is one very long-legged jackrabbit who is usually seen in the yard when I drive up, but runs off when I let the dogs out of the truck. I have no idea whether or not he got married and had pups recently. He doesn’t stick around long enough to ask.

Now for serious permanent residents, I’d have to include the prairie dogs. My acre and a half has three permanent prairie dog towns. Not too big … more like prairie dog villages. As for race … well, they’re a sort of nice New Mexico tan, and for religion, I’d have to say vegetarian, as they worship my baby trees and hope I continue to plant more.

There used to be frequent visits of diamondback rattlesnakes, whose existence was terminated by me as quickly as possible. That is why God made shovels. However, last summer I spent all season without seeing a single one. This is thanks to one of my dogs, a Treeing Walker coon-hound named Rocky. On Rocky’s frequent visits to The Birdhouse, he has taken on the task of making certain every rock, every fence post, every bush and every prairie dog hole gets at least a squirt and a half of his attention.

The large water dish on the cabin’s porch is so Rocky can reload when necessary.

Rattlesnakes being what they are, they don’t care for the smell of ammonia, so they have steered clear of the place quite nicely.

But of course there is never a clean victory in anything good because this also means the snakes steer clear of the prairie dog villages, so Mr. and Mrs. P. Dog are multiplying and replenishing the place at an astounding rate. This is fine for the population of prairie dogs, but plays hob with the population of Slim’s baby trees.

As for human residents, there are none. If there were, it would be me. I am 67, Protestant, Anglo, occupation newspaper columnist, don’t make enough money, dislocated my shoulder this fall while goose hunting, and must wear corrective lenses. But while The Birdhouse (whose official address is actually 6 Gobernador Street) is a hideout for an aging writer and cowboy who sneaks off as often as possible from the burdens of electricity and running water, I’m not really a resident. I live in Albuquerque with my lovely wife, Catherine, and we’re looking forward to filling out one of your forms when we get one here at the house. We have a mailbox.

I noticed on the envelope you left for me it says “Your Response is Required by Law.” Hey, I’m a law-abiding guy who loves his country. If you should have any more questions about the population down at The Birdhouse, you have only to leave me another note by the barbed-wire fence. And thank you, by the way, because in the eight years I’ve owned the place, this census form was the first mail I’ve ever received there.

Yours for a happy count of happy Americans,

Anthony V. “Slim” Randles
Belen, NM 87002
The Half-Red Cabin

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Happy Birthday, Mom

Posted by mcm0704 on April 28, 2019 |

Had she lived, my mother would have reached the 100-year milestone today, April 28. She came close. She was just a couple weeks shy of her 95th birthday when she died, and the doctor said that was close enough to celebrate a long life.

My favorite picture of her. She spent many happy hours sketching while at the lake.

One day, a few months after she died, I was taking a shower and thinking about her, when this line popped into my head, “I remember the day my father died.”

I knew it was her ghost, or my muse talking to her ghost, that prompted the line, and I could hardly wait to get to my computer and start writing. 

I did take the time to dry off and get dressed – one does not want to drip on one’s keyboard after all. And I just started writing. This is just a bit of what followed that line: 

I remember the day my father got married. Not to my mother, of course. The day he married her, I was not even a thought on the horizon or a gleam in his eye. Neither was the baby just starting to form in the comfort of my mother’s womb. That was my sister. The “oops” that sent Evelyn and Russell to the county courthouse on a day in the fall of 1940.

The day I remember was seven years later, after a divorce that moved my father from our house to a rooming house three streets away. That he fell in love with the lady who owned the house was not a huge surprise to my mother. I think she suspected that Daddy was half in love with the lady before he ever left for the final time, but I was a child of nearly five then and the ways of adults – those secretive, deeply hidden motives and actions – were still a mystery. What I did know on that auspicious wedding day is that Daddy looked so happy; wearing a smile that threatened to burst right off of his face and holding hands with a lovely lady in a straw hat with pink flowers and a simple white dress.

The lady’s smile faltered when she saw me and my sister running toward them. I had seen the crepe paper streamers on the car and just knew something fun was happening without us. Juanita wanted to hold back. “We should go back home,” she said. “They probably don’t want us.”

“No.” I ran ahead. “Go home if you want to. I want to get a streamer.” Another girl who looked a few years older than my sister was twirling in lazy circles with a piece of the crepe paper floating behind her, and that looked like so much fun.

I pulled up from my mad dash some distance from my father and the lady, not sure if I should go closer, but then Daddy held his hands out. “Come here and meet my new wife.”

Wife?  But my mother? Wasn’t she his wife? Why did he need another?

Not only was I stunned into silence, I knew I couldn’t ask those questions. That just wasn’t done. In 1948 children did not question their parents. Nor did people talk about things that were private. There were very strict boundaries that one did not dare cross. Of course, old ladies whispered in the summer darkness on front porches about the girl whose baby was born just 7 months after she had married. “And the baby was no preemie, let me tell you.”


But in the daylight, and in the company of people who knew you, questions were not asked and speculation was not made. At least not out loud.

So that day, my sister and I took our streamers that the lovely lady said we could have, and we ran home.

Mother was in the back yard hanging sheets on the clothesline. A light wind filled the stark white fabric, making them look like sails on a ship outlined by the vivid cobalt sky. Mother turned at the sound of our excited voices.

“Look what we have.”

“Where’d you get those?”

“From Daddy’s car. They were having a big party. But we couldn’t stay.”

“A party for what?”

“His new wife.”

Today, as I write this sixty some years later, I can still see the lines of anguish on my mother’s face, and I swear I can feel the chill of the breeze as a cloud covered the sun at that precise moment to punctuate the stillness with a sudden drop in temperature.

Those paragraphs never made it into the book that began five years ago and is now published by Creativia Publishing, due to release on May 19th, but that’s okay. Maybe they just needed to be the catalyst to start my mother’s story – Evelyn Evolving  I am so happy that it is now available for pre-order for Kindle readers. It will eventually release in paperback and audio, and I can’t wait. 

Do an author a favor and order your copy now.

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Fly Fishing And Writing

Posted by mcm0704 on April 24, 2019 |

Before moving on to Slim Randles guest post for today, I want to share this photo I took the other day. Sometimes the pictures just turn out perfect. Not because of any great expertise on my part, however. I think it’s just luck. I took several shots of this gathering of wildflowers from different angles, and this one showcases their beauty the best. At least, I think so. 

Now, here’s Slim and Dud, who is doing some serious pondering over his writing. Where do you do your pondering, whether it be for writing or just general things that pop up in your life?

Dud was down at The Lunker Hole on Lewis Creek before it even turned yellow in the east. He had some thinking to do, and, as everyone knows, there’s no better way to think than fly fishing.

Just about the time Dud could make out The Lunker’s rock at the head of the hole, he had gotten a tiny midge tied on some leader and sent it on its way to the general vicinity of the rock.

It floated slowly downstream without being bothered by piscatorial pirates, and when the line told him he’d reached as far downstream as he could on this cast, he picked it up, waved it dry and cast back up at the rock.

Okay, now is a decent thinking time, so it was well to get started.

It’s the book, of course.

Why do I do it? He asked himself. It doesn’t make any sense. If I spent that time washing dishes down at the Mule Barn truck stop, I’d make more money. And the title? I like Murder in the Soggy Bottoms, but my friends keep calling it The Duchess and the Truck Driver. Maybe I should change it?

Okay, pick up the fly and send it back up to that rock again.

And the love stuff … the truck driver and the duchess are nuts about each other and have a kid in common from when he was in Europe on special assignment the last time. And the language problem. The duchess speaks a couple of European languages and the truck driver is from the South. But if they are so different, how did they have a kid together?

Cast upstream again. Wait. False cast until the fly is dry then … yeah, like that.

You know, it doesn’t make any sense, but some people actually write more than one book!

They have to be cheating somehow… they’ve GOT to be cheating…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brought to you by “Coffee and Conversation.” Start your day right at

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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Taking a Break

Posted by mcm0704 on April 18, 2019 |

Heading into the Easter Weekend that starts with Holy Thursday services tonight, then Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, I thought I’d just sign off the blog for several days. I probably won’t be online a whole lot, either. It’s nice to step away from technology now and then. 🙂

Before I go, I want to share Easter Blessing with all my Christian friends and Spring Blessings for all who are not. There is something so special about the renewal of hope that comes with new growth, pretty flowers, and warm weather. Those of you who read my blog regularly, know how much I enjoy finding the wildflowers along the road when I am walking in the mornings with my dog. They always make me smile.

Whatever your plans are for the holiday weekend, I do hope they come with lots of friends and family and good times. Be safe. Be happy.

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Loving The Work

Posted by mcm0704 on April 17, 2019 |

The guys down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop think tank ponder a most important question today, “Do you like the work you do?” While posed with a hint of amusement, that really is an important question for all of us to consider. How many people are ground down in a job they hate just for the paycheck? I think it’s a shame that happens to too many folks. 

I’ve been lucky most of my life to have worked at jobs that were satisfying beyond the Friday paycheck. What about you? Are you in a job now that you’d like to ditch? If so, what would you rather be doing?

As you contemplate your answers, grab a to-go cup of coffee and join the guys at the sale barn. 

But before you go, consider hopping over to Amazon to pre-order Evelyn Evolving, my latest novel. The story is based on my mother’s life, and I’m so happy that Creativia Publishing is releasing the book, first as an ebook for Kindle, with a paperback to follow. Most of my life I wanted to write about my mother’s life-long struggles, and the book finally came together over the past few years. To say it is special to my heart is an understatement. 

Down at the sale barn Saturday, the think tank had coagulated there with coffees to go to celebrate spring. Doc and Dud had their dogs with them, while Bert and Dewey and Steve went stag.

“I thought about it a lot,” Dud said, “and I wondered what the favorite part of my job was, and wondered if you fellas ever gave that any thought, too.”

They nodded. Deeming it by mutual consent a worthy subject.

“With me,” Dud continued, “it wasn’t so much my job as it was my hobby. You know, writing that book. I’m claiming it as the best part of my job, anyway.”

Then Bert picked up the conversation thread. “Of course I’m retired now,” he said, “but when I was running the pawn shop, my favorite part of the job happened when a customer found something in there he really needed and ended up paying much less for it than he thought he’d have to.”

Doc laughed “And you made more on it than you thought you would, too,”

Bert grinned and nodded.

“Yep. That was good too. And you, Dewey?”

Our accident-prone pharaoh of fertilizer got a serious look on his face. He finally said, “The best part of the fertilizer business is seeing the difference it makes in the flower gardens around town. Now maybe it’s just my imagination, but I kinda like to take a little credit for a prettier town.”

“You deserve it, Dewey,” Doc said kindly. “Well now … with me it’s a little different. I have doctoring skills, of course, and it’s good when I can help someone, but these days the most satisfying part of my job is to check someone out thoroughly and find there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them. Now that’s special.”

They all looked over at the tall cowboy, Steve.

“Digging post holes,” he said. “That’s the only job a cowboy has where he can start at the top and work down.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Brought to you by Joe Collins, custom woodworker at the Old Mill Store in Wimberley, Texas. Stop in and say hi.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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Book Review – The Southern Side of Paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Posted by mcm0704 on April 15, 2019 |

The Southern Side of Paradise
Series: The Peachtree Bluff Series (Book 3)
Kristy Woodson Harvey
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books (May 7, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1982116625
ISBN-13: 978-1982116620

BOOK BLURB: With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.

Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.

When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.

REVIEW: This is the third and final book in the Peachtree series, and it ties up the stories of the Murphy women quite nicely. When I received the advance review copy to read, I didn’t know this was the final book, and in a way I was disappointed. I’ve enjoyed reading about the lives of the Murphy women, and leaving them will be like leaving good friends.

In addition to the details that brought the setting of the town, the beach, the lake, and Starlite Island alive in all of the books, I appreciated the uniqueness of each of the characters. Through all three books the women had their own very distinct personality that stayed true through each story.

While reading this final book in the series, I really enjoyed seeing all the main players in previous stories take the stage, including Granny who makes an appearance in remembrances by Emerson and Ansley. I always liked Granny’s no-nonsense approach to life and her wonderful philosophy. In a flashback told from Emerson’s point of view, the reader gets a taste of Granny at her best. Emerson is having a serious discussion with Granny and Granny says, “Honey we better hope that God has loopholes. Otherwise we’re all screwed.”

Amen to that!

I enjoy the author’s writing, and I’ve been invested in these characters since the series first started. So even though this last story didn’t have some of the depth of plot issues that the two previous books did, I read on to the end and I am so glad I did. The ending was perfect. It made me smile. One of those smiles you get even though tears are misting your eyes, and I dare you to read the book and not feel the same way.


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Literature and History

Posted by mcm0704 on April 12, 2019 |

Hello Weekend!

I’ve been taking a series of classes at Grayson Community College through their Center for Workplace Learning. The program is called T.E.A.M.S – Texoma’s Educationally Active Mature Seniors. I qualify on one count because I’m over 60, but some people might question my maturity. LOL

Anyway, the first classes have been on literature, movies and theatre. We read books, discussed them, then watched movies or attended stage-plays based on the stories that included, Rebecca, The Red Badge of Courage, and The Human Stain

A history class on another day is covering the Civil War and here are a few facts that I’d forgotten from my HS and college history classes:

The Civil War started after the southern states seceded from the Union, partially because of slavery, but also because they didn’t think the Federal government should be able to impose limits on states’ rights. The primary “right” in question was the right to have slaves, but the southern states railed against the increasing power of the Federal Government.

Not too far removed from today, is it.

This war led to the most casualties to be lost in a war – foreign or domestic – 620,000, and it was the Vietnam war that brought the number of lives lost in a foreign war higher than the number for the Civil War casualties. The total number of soldiers on both sides: 2 million from the North and 750,000 from the South. The Battle of Antietam in September 1862 was the bloodies in U.S. history, with a loss of 22,717 lives. It ended with General Robert E. Lee pulling back his forces and had the Union General, George McClellan, pursued the Rebels and destroyed Lee’s army the war might have ended there. That McClellan didn’t, was seen as a massive failure.

The story-line of The Red Badge of Courage shows what a young soldier might have experienced in that awful, bloody war, especially early on in his tour of duty.

The Homestead Act of 1862 that gave people 160 acres of land if they improved on it in some way, as well as lived on the property, was very instrumental in the growth of the western states, including Texas. Ex-slaves could not take advantage of the Homestead Act. They were considered property, and as such had no rights. Never mind that some of them joined the armies on both sides. Just like after WWI and WWII, African-Americans struggled for basic rights as human beings back in the 1800s.

Sadly, they are still struggling for equal justice.

Moving on to some useless, or useful – depending on your need for a bit of trivia. In case you’re ever asked about when clay litter was invented for cat litter boxes, I have the answer, thanks to Litter Robot

“In 1947, Michigan businessman Edward Lowe was trying to market granulated clay as a nesting material for chickens. One cold January day, Lowe’s neighbor Kay Draper stopped by to ask if he had any sand available to use as cat litter—she was tired of her cat tracking ashes all over the house. Instead, Lowe handed her a bag of granulated clay and promptly forgot about the exchange.

“Two weeks later, Mrs. Draper showed up asking for more clay—and eventually, so did her friends. The clay minerals were capable of absorbing their weight in water, working far better than sand or ashes. Lowe decided to package and sell the product as Kitty Litter.”

So now you know.

Also from Litter Robot is an interesting article How Smart Are Cats? 

You can click over to read all the scientific stuff about the cortex and cerebral whatevers, but here is the wrap-up that won’t strain a non-scientific mind:

“Just as distinct personality traits run in cats, certain breeds are more recognized for their intelligence. It’s no coincidence that these breeds also tend to be more sociable and interactive with their humans. In no particular order, here are some of the most intelligent cat breeds:

Cornish Rex
Turkish Angora/Van

“Of course, that’s not to say your domestic shorthair isn’t as smart as one of these breeds. Every cat is wonderfully unique, and must be appreciated for their distinct qualities. Although there aren’t enough studies to qualify general feline intelligence, one undeniable truth points toward how smart cats are: They’ve managed to completely manipulate us humans!”

So true. I am well and truly manipulated. How about you? That’s all for me folks. Have a wonderful weekend. Be safe. Be happy.

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Determination Pays Off

Posted by mcm0704 on April 10, 2019 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with a fun story about fly fishing and determination. No fish were harmed in the process.

Read on to see what I mean. And have a cookie to go with your morning coffee or morning tea, or whatever you choose to drink in the AM.


It was just one of those things. It didn’t really mean Marvin Pincus had lost his mind. Consider this yourself for a minute. Marvin had opened the mail that morning and in it was the Fenwick glass fly rod he’d ordered. Oh, it was used, of course. But there’s a feel to a Fenwick that only a man dedicated to a life of using dry flies can appreciate.

Marvin had broken his ankle the previous week and was temporarily in a wheelchair.

t was his right ankle, so he couldn’t drive down to the creek. And there, in his hands, was the Fenwick. He put it together, attached a reel and some four-weight line and set it on the couch and looked at it.

Marjorie was off visiting her sister, so she couldn’t help him. But there’s a pull, an irresistible draw to a fly rod. He had to cast it. Now.

It took Marvin about 20 minutes to negotiate the front steps with that wheelchair and the Fenwick. Finally, he negotiated the sidewalk and then the edge of the street itself.

Up came the Fenwick. A few swishes in the air told Marvin he’d done the right thing in ordering the rod. So he ran out some line and began casting.

About halfway across the street was a large mulberry leaf. He did a double haul on the line and sent the fly toward the leaf. It took several tries before he hit it, but when he made that cast, you could’ve sold tickets to it. His fly came to rest about three feet above the leaf and then fluttered gently down onto its target.

Marvin’s smile said it all.

Then the school bus came around the corner full of kids heading home, and Marvin realized he was casting a fly rod from a wheelchair onto dry pavement.

“Hi Mr. Pincus!” yelled one of the kids. “Catch anything?”

“A little slow today, Billy,” he yelled back.

“Isn’t it hard to catch fish without water?” Billy yelled.

“It’s okay, son,” Marvin said with a grin. “I’m using a dry fly!”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brought to you by “Coffee and Conversation.” Start your day right at

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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Monday Morning Musing

Posted by mcm0704 on April 8, 2019 |

On my morning walk, I saw this little blue flower peeking out from a tangle of brush in an empty lot. Getting a good shot was a bit of a challenge as it was fairly deep in the tangle, but I managed and was pleased with the result. As a professional photographer once told me, you take hundreds and hundreds of shots and maybe one of them turns into a terrific photograph. Thank goodness we now have digital, so we don’t have to look through spools and spools of film to find that perfect picture.

If anyone knows the name of this flower please share.

When I was managing editor of the online community magazine,, one of my Monday morning duties was to check out news headlines and share snippets with our readers. I had world, national, and local news sections, and I liked the idea of letting our readers know what was going on. Some days I feel the urge to do that again, so I’m sharing a brief version of that today.

Sad new out of Louisiana yesterday as Leslie Obregon reported on CBS News about three African American churches burned in a span of 10 days in St. Landry Parish. On Sunday the 145-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas was set ablaze.

St. Mary’s Baptist Church was the first reported church fire on March 26. Then, just 10 miles down the road, Greater Union Baptist Church went up in flames a week later. All three churches were well over a hundred years old.

A 17-foot python was captured in a south Florida national park. It was a female, carrying 73 eggs and weighed 140 pounds. You can see a picture of the snake, if you want to, on the Facebook page for Big Cypress National Preserve .

More unrest in the Middle East as Libya faces a possible full-scale civil war. The conflict centers on fighting between the Libyan National Army, led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter, and Fayez Sarraj, who heads the government in the capital city of Tripoli. Hifter launched a surprise offensive against the capital last week, and tensions have escalated, prompting other countries, including the U.S. to pull troops out of the country.

The U.S. troops have been in Libya to help local forces combat Islamic State and al-Qaida militants, as well as protecting diplomatic facilities.

Now for some personal news. Obviously, I didn’t share personal news on the community magazine. There were professional boundaries that couldn’t be stepped over, but a personal blog is only bounded by good taste and ethics.  🙂

I’m so excited to announce that the novel I wrote about my mother’s life, EVELYN EVOLVING, is now available for pre-order at Amazon. This book was three years in the writing and two years in the marketing, and it finally found a home with a small publisher, Creativia. 

The story is part biography, part historical novel, and very different from the mysteries I’ve written before – closer to mainstream novel than genre.

While my mother was anything but a perfect mother, as I matured, I came to see her as a very strong woman, and for years I wanted to share her story. I had snippets scribbled in various notebooks from the time I first started writing novels, and it all started to come together not long after she died. I’m not sure why it took so long, but it did, and now the story is out there.

The official release date is May 19th, and all the pre-launch orders will help the book rise in the rankings at Amazon, who will then start some promoting. It would be so wonderful if this could happen, so if you have a Kindle or Kindle app, I’d love for  you to order the book and help an author out. Thanks so much in advance.

That’s all for me for today. I have a class in a little while at the local community college, so I need to get out of my pjs and dressed to face the public. Whatever you have on your agenda for today and the rest of the week, I hope they are things that bring you satisfaction and joy. Be safe. Be happy.

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Is Constant Optimism Healthy?

Posted by mcm0704 on April 5, 2019 |

Wildflowers have been blooming all over East Texas, and these little white ones have been popping up since late January. Now unmowed yards are full of them, and I’m glad that some folks haven’t cranked up the old mower yet this Spring.

Author Kristen Lamb writes a terrific blog, offering advice, humor, and inspiration to other authors, and I’d noticed her blogs were becoming less frequent of late. I wondered why, and the answer came in this recent post Optimism Overdose: Why It’s Healthy to Say ‘Life Stinks.” Much of the post was about all of the losses and challenges in her life and how she always tried to face them with cheerful optimism. Then she wrote about the most recent challenge that knocked her down and made her rethink the benefits of always staying optimistic. 

I could relate to so much of what she shared and this excerpt from her post really made me stop and think:

Life can stink because we are holding onto dead things.
Dead relationships, dead dreams, dead projects, dead bright ideas, all rotting inside. All the while, our outer self can appear healthy while, in reality, it’s rotting away, getting steadily thinner, frailer, and on the edge of disintegrating (much like my molars).

Speaking as a person of faith, I think we can be particularly guilty of too much optimism. When life sucker punches us, we look to all the scriptures about hope and love and beauty for ashes (sic) which is perfectly fine…though not necessarily balanced.

Too much Vitamin Awesome is unhealthy. We need Vitamin Awesome in the right dosages. Also, we need MORE than just Vitamin Awesome.

We need Vitamin B as in Vitamin (This is) B*%!!$&%*, Vitamin C – Can You Believe They Did That? Maybe some Vitamin D – Don’t Tell Me It’s for the Best, and Vitamin K – Keep Crying it Out.

Optimism isn’t always the best answer when we’re hurting. We might be holding onto so many dead things, we aren’t being optimistic in the right ways. We have to let go, cry, grieve and sort through those emotions. Separate what can be restored and resurrected from those dreams, goals, relationships that are long dead and in need of a proper burial.

Since my move from the country to the city, I’ve not given myself permission to grieve over that loss. I never wanted my kids to think I am unhappy here. They are so good to me and worked so hard to find me this nice little house. And I should be happy, right? 

I’m trying.

I like to hang on to things, people, and places. And unfortunately, I tend to look backward as much as I look forward. Or maybe even more at times, which is not an emotionally healthy thing to do. However, it is equally unhealthy to not look back and grieve over what is lost. So I give myself permission to cry as often as I need to when I’m missing Grandma’s Ranch and my critters there. 

Okay, enough of that downer for today. The folks over at Litter Robot write a blog with interesting facts about cats, and since I’m a cat lover, I always enjoy reading what they have to say. The most recent post was about why cats sit on paper. There are several reasons explained on the blog, starting with this one:

Paper—usually made from trees—must have some insulating properties, right? Leave it to cats to discover that paper = heat, even when it’s not on fire.

This calls to mind an even more important question: Why are cats obsessed with warm spots? There are a couple of reasons:

Cats are desert creatures, so they’re biologically drawn to heat.

Cats’ internal body temperature is a toasty 102 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning they have to compensate for greater heat loss than us humans.

So, a piece of paper may well mean the difference between the unacceptably cold floorboards and a comfortable lounging area for your cat. Go figure!

I knew that the normal temperature for a cat is 102, but I didn’t know that they are desert animals. Did you? 

Do you have cats? If so, you can share a picture in a comment if you’d like. I’ll start the pictures with one of Hermione taken a couple of years ago in the sun-room at Grandma’s Ranch. She was staying warm in the sun.

That’s all for me for today, folks. I hope you have a great weekend. Be safe. Be happy. Or cry if you have to. 🙂 

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