23 March 2014


 About 20 years ago... I was working construction, riding a motorcycle that weighed 5x what I did, and had been doing yoga for a month. I was in the best physical shape I'd ever been in.

  I lived in a rental, and my landlord had purchased a truckload of gravel for my driveway. He'd have come by and spread it later, but I felt like doing it now. So, armed with a shovel, in skinny jeans and a sports bra, I set about changing a 4' high pile of gravel into a 2" high layer of gravel. The neighbor's (landlord's) wife came out to see what I was doing. "Damn!" she said. "You're stout!"

  Up until that time I'd thought "stout" meant teapot shaped.


02 March 2014

when I was six

 woke up this morning and cried for 2 hours. Not so much about Bob being gone, but about something that happened when I was six! I know, sounds crazy. Of course it tied in - everything ties in - with Bob being gone, because it was a lesson learned, that NOBODY has my back. Bob did. Finally I dragged myself into the shower and washed the salt off my face. Decided I'd shake off the winter blues and drive to Lexington, something I've been putting off for months. But before I finished feeding the cats and cleaning the kitchen, ice was falling from the sky. Guess Lexington is put off for another week or month or two. At least I have clean hair now.

01 March 2014

March 1

 Like everyone, I'm getting tired of Endless Winter 2014. Though unlike everyone else, I can't make up my mind if it's always like this, or if this winter is indeed unusually long and cruel. If I could get outside and get my hands in the dirt I think I'd feel better. Maybe I just need to take my vitamin D more faithfully. I'm sorry, I'm emotionally exhausted, too much so to really write.

21 January 2014

winter wonderland musings

 I used the big leaf rake, and then a broom, to clear the snow off the car. Halfway through I stopped, startled by the memory of midnight, when I'd decided to go outside and roll up the car windows. I'd had them down for several days, airing out the car of its musty shut winter smells.

 Now there's about 4" of snowman-quality snow on the ground, and still falling. The next few days are going to be bitter cold again, into the single digits at night - not as cold as a couple weeks ago, but lasting longer.

 I laugh at the tendency of people to panic every time the weather turns, running to the store for white bread and toilet paper, but am I really any different? I'm heading to town for bird seed and cat litter.

05 January 2014


 I used to count my cats in pairs: the big boys, the bitches, the fuzzy girls, the siblings etc, but lately am finding it easier to do a nose count by color: at the moment i'm seeing five black, two tabbies, one red and one grey; which means i'm missing a tabby (Fraidy), two reds (the siblings) and, oh, there's the other grey.

 This matters today because we've got a big storm coming, beginning, uhm, soon. It's quarter after one in the afternoon as i write, and "scattered showers" were forecast to begin at noon today (Sunday). 100% rain this evening, turning into 100% snow a little after dark, and then the temperature drops, from 46F (8C) right now, drops continuously without a single upward spike, till it bottoms out at 6 below zero (-26C) around sunrise Tuesday. Then Wednesday and the rest of the week back up into the mid-forties, smh.

 I've spent the day so far splitting firewood and bringing it to the back porch and into the house, emptying standing buckets of water so they don't freeze and split, adding canvas tarpaulin doorway curtains and insulating layers of straw to the dog houses, bringing in the quilts that normally lie on the porch furniture: more layers to hang in doorways and over windows; more insulation to push into cracks where the wind sneaks through. And it does. A few years ago th'Mr and his best friend replaced the old masonite siding with vinyl, never considering the windbreak properties of the masonite, which the vinyl seriously lacks. I plan to eventually tear out the inner paneling and at least add a layer of fiberglass insulation to the outer walls, but that's a job for warm times.

 I worry for my water pipes, though i probably shouldn't. Don't we have temperatures this low almost every winter? "but do we have them suddenly and for 36 hours at a time, in the middle of two weeks of highs in the 40s?" a small voice in my head frets, "and haven't the winters been mild since the siding fiasco?" Burst water pipes might be the last straw for my fragile hold on give-a-shitness. These days i function simply because the cats need feeding, and i can't just leave the house and cats to someone because the house isn't paid off. I have built-in space heaters in both bathrooms. They're nearly as old as this house and they demand a lot of electricity, so i rarely use them. Usually the wood stove is my only heat source, but last month i bought a small EdenPure. It's wonderful, and it's going in the kitchen tonight. I can't do anything about the pipes under the floors but keep the water trickling at all faucets. I do hope they don't burst. As long as the power doesn't go out it should be okay.

01 August 2013


 I'm having a hard time responding to "how are you?" or "how're you doing?" these days.

 My husband died. That's always at the forefront of my awareness. But I'm having better days lately. Yesterday I cleaned the oven. Also took some stuff to our local charity organization for their shop and donation activity, had a conversation with a friend, and filled the bird feeders.

 I'm making an effort to drink more water and less alcohol, eat more protein and less carbs, spend more time doing than sitting, and more of the sitting time away from the computer. There are still many areas I can make improvement in, but one thing at a time is movement in the right direction.

 In cat news, I am currently feeding 14 (and the dog). One, a tabby with lighter-colored chin, has never been indoors yet, though it has sniffed my hand.

 A 2nd, tabby with adorable white markings, under 6 months old I'm sure, prefers living inside the house and rarely ventures past the porches, but won't let me touch it. Both of these cats have been hanging around for 6 weeks or more.

 The other cats are Shorty, Sapphire, Nameless, Booger, Klutz, Roadie, Red, Barney, Growler, Sugar'n'Spike, and Tuffie Tuftkins, who came to us from the neighborhood, a female kitten of about 4-5 months old when she came here February 14th, 2013.

 I'm not ready to write about th'Mr yet, except to say he died of pneumonia, which was the result of the inactivity caused by the brain damage (he thought he was being active. In his dreams he was active, doing all the physical therapy he was supposed to, and he couldn't tell the dreams from reality), the brain damage that he sustained from the radiation to treat the bits of his tumor they couldn't cut out --radiation is some wicked powerful stuff. It made his brain look like he'd had strokes on both sides-- the brain tumor that had metastasized 18 months after his lung cancer tumor was successfully removed.

 Apparently there were some little cancer cells floating around in his bloodstream, just waiting for a place to anchor. That's called blood-borne metastasis, which is better than the kind of metastasis that gets in your lymph nodes and kills you within 6 months, usually. Instead, 18 months after the upper lobe of th'Mr's right lung was removed, his brain's frontal lobe grew another tumor. And he lived another 33 months after that, so 51 months instead of 6 from finding the original cancer. I guess I should be grateful for that extra 4 years, and I am, but all the same it was a heartbreaking road to travel.

 The first 8 months after his brain surgery he was home. And the last 9 months. Now he's been dead 3 months, 2 weeks, and one day.

 That's all I can write about that right now.

30 April 2013


  For a long time I denied that my husband was probably dying. Everyone else seemed to acknowledge the fact; I still hung onto hope that he'd get --not just better-- back to his old self. That we'd hike the forest and firetrails like we used to. That he'd be independent, drive his old truck, sit at the computer and write stories, take part in online discussions; lead another writers' group downtown at local venues; watch local bands perform, befriend and mentor the young writers that come to earn a degree at our small-town university.

  Then late last month his decline became more rapid, and even before I admitted to myself we were nearing the end, I began cutting my hair. In some cultures that's an expression of grief. I understand completely; it was more a compulsion than a decision. Sure, long hair can be a nuisance, but mine's always been long. I had it cut twice, at age 13 and again at 26. Both times to up around my ears, a bit shorter than shoulder-length but still more than 3-4 inches long. Both times I immediately hated it, and immediately began growing it out again, saying "never again." I was going to be the old lady with a grey braid down to her ass.

  Bob loved my hair, and he wasn't the only one. I often got compliments on it, from men and women alike. From strangers and friends. And it was easy to care for once I got it slightly layered; it fell in ringlets nearly to my waist in the back. Even before the layering it looked fine, a poofy cloud of body.

  So cutting it, first by tying a ponytail at the top of my head and just whacking it off --which, by the way, by some miracle can produce a professional-looking layered effect-- and then using scissors with first a brush and then my fingers to trim it ever shorter, has definitely been an expression of grief. A signal to the rest of the world: no, I'm not interested. Look elsewhere. I'm mourning.

  And still I got attention.

  Yesterday at the grocery store a twenty-something male cashier flirted with me. Maybe that's his way of relieving the boredom of his job, but it felt quite intense and real to me. I want nothing to do with that. I'm mourning. Leave me alone. I had a good man. I don't want a new one, not for a minute. Not now. Maybe not ever.

  My husband died thirteen days ago. We buried him ten days ago. Tomorrow would be our twelfth anniversary. Last night I got out the "beard trimming kit" and now I have a bootcamp-short buzzcut. It'll be years before it's long enough to tie into a ponytail, let alone a braid.

  I live alone, with my cats, with my seedlings, with my yarden, with my birdfeeders, with my knitting, with my memories. Nothing to see here, keep moving along. Leave me be.


24 April 2013

a death while the earth wakes

 My husband died a week ago this afternoon.

 He'd been "declining," as they say, since his first bout of pneumonia, back in October. He never was able to completely shake that.

 He wanted to be home, and I was able to give him that. He also waited till my mom was here with me, and until she and I had gone out for a while, leaving him here with a good friend and neighbor. I guess he didn't want me to witness his last breaths.

 We had a ceremony at the graveyard way up in the woods, away from traffic noises; the same place we got married almost 12 years ago. I know he loved that place. It was where he'd go to meditate. It's springtime in Kentucky, a time he loved, when the trees begin getting baby-green leaves and flowers --anonymous till I named them for him-- begin blooming. It was two days before the 15-year anniversary of his mother's death, and we lost three cousins that week too. I guess the pull from the other side is strong on this family this time of year.

 Adjustment is going to take a while. Though the past three years I've been as much hopeful as I've been in mourning, this is still an awful shock to my system. Lucky for me I have more friends than I realized.

  Rest in Peace, my beloved, my soulmate; Bob Sloan: May 31 1947 - April 17 2013


05 April 2013


 Finally some good news to report. Today th'Mr opened his eyes and was tracking me and nurses around the room with them. Then E, the LPN we both really like, got him started on ice chips.

 Letssee... he went in the hospital Wednesday afternoon. He'd been pretty much unresponsive since Tuesday bedtime. So I called the EMTs to come get him, after talking to the VA nurse and Dr W's nurse also. Before that, on Sunday, I had them bring him to the hospital for stitches in his forehead. That was Sunday the 29th. He'd just been discharged Friday the 27th, from ten days in with pneumonia.

 I kind of feel like I talked him back from somewhere this time. He was very sleepy. He's still sleepy, but he seems to be catching up, after sleeping for 3 solid days lol.

 Oh, and I whacked all my hair off Tuesday. Maybe that sent him into shock and he's been sleeping it off ever since. I shortened it some more today. The back of my neck is shaved.

 We have 12 cats again. K down the road found a tabby kitten that lives here now. She's called Tuffy, is about 5 months old and very tough. Has a tuft on her nose.

 So there's (from oldest down) Shorty, Sapphire, Nameless, Booger, Klutz, Roadie, Red, Barnie, Growler, Sugar, Spike and Tuffy. Shorty just turned 15

01 January 2013

books read in 2012 (98)

 This coming year I plan to focus more on my text books. Wish me luck. What follows is a list of the books I read this past year, along with the date I finished them.

Michael Palmer: The First Patient (Dec 23)
Lee Child: The Enemy (Dec 21)
Michael Connelly: The Reversal (Dec 18)
Elmore Leonard: Raylan (Dec 15)
Brady Udall: The Lonely Polygamist (Dec 12)
Richard North Patterson: Eclipse (Dec 11)
Jeffery Deaver: The Stone Monkey (Nov 30)
Jodi Picoult: Salem Falls (Nov 29)
Michael Crichton: Airframe (Nov 16)
Ridley Pearson: Killer Summer (Nov 16)
John Updike: The Widows of Eastwick (Nov 15)
David Ebershoff: The 19th Wife (Nov 13)
Kathy Reichs: Bones are Forever (Nov 12)
Kathy Reichs: Flash and Bones (Nov 9)
Michael Connelly: 9 Dragons (Nov 8)
John Grisham: Playing for Pizza (Nov 6)
Jeffrey Archer: Only Time Will Tell (Nov 3)
Michael Connelly: The Brass Verdict (Nov 3)
Michael Palmer: Oath of Office (Nov 2)
Janice Daugharty: Heir to the Everlasting (Oct 19)
Ethan Cross: The Shepherd (Oct 19)
Stuart Woods: Unnatural Acts (Oct 18)
Robert Crais: Taken (Oct 17)
Jeffery Deaver: XO (Oct 16)
Jack Higgins: A Devil is Waiting (Oct 15)
John Grisham: The Litigators (Oct 8)
Michael Connelly: The Poet (Oct 6)
Jeffrey Archer: Sins of the Father (Oct 5)
Suzanne Collins: Mockingjay (Oct 4)
Robert Parker: Back Story (Oct 2)
Michael Palmer: The Fifth Vial (Oct 1)
Michael Connelly: The Lincoln Lawyer (Sep 29)
Ken Follett: Fall of Giants (Sep 26)
Paulo Coelho: The Alchemist (Sep 20)
Mitch Albom: The Timekeeper (Sep 20)
Louey Chisholm: Celtic Tales, Told to the Children (Sep 20)
Suzanne Collins: Catching Fire (Sep 19)
Harlan Coben: The Final Detail (Sep 18)
Ann Cleeves: Red Bones (Sep 15)
Chris Cleave: Little Bee (Sep 8)
Clark & Gould: The Amish Midwife (Sep 6)
Charles Finch: The September Society (Sep 5)
Luis M. Ruiz: Only One Thing Missing (Sep 3)
Celia Rivenbark: We're Just Like You, Only Prettier (Aug 30)
Diana Gabaldon: Lord John and the Private Matter (Aug 26)
Robert Graves: Claudius the God (Aug 25)
Peter Carey: Parrot and Olivier in America (Aug 24)
James Grippando: Money to Burn (Aug 22)
Michael Connelly: Echo Park (Aug 20)
Stuart Woods: Santa Fe Dead (Aug 20)
John Sandford: Storm Prey (Aug 19)
Robert B. Parker: Sixkill (Aug 19)
John Le Carré: Smiley's People (Aug 18)
Max Brooks: World War Z (Aug 5)
Harlan Ellison: Ellison Wonderland (Aug 5)
Richard Brautigan: The Abortion (Aug 1)
Larry McMurtry: Terms of Endearment (July 30)
Anne McCaffrey: Dragonseye (July 28)
John Irving: The World According to Garp (July 26)
Stephen March: Catbird (July 16)
Brian Haig: Man in the Middle (July 15)
Daniel Keyes: Flowers for Algernon (July 10)
Annie Proulx: The Shipping News (July 9)
Jack Finney: Time and Again (July 4)
R. A. Nelson: Days of Little Texas (Jun 29)
Diane Ackerman: The Zookeeper's Wife (Jun 17)
John Connolly: The Lovers (Jun 14)
Anne McCaffrey: The Dolphins of Pern (Jun 7)
Linwood Barclay: No Time for Goodbye (Jun 6)
Thomas Moran: No Way Back (Jun 5)
Faye Kellerman: Blindman's Bluff (Jun 4)
John Sandford: Bad Blood (Jun 3)
Lee Child: 61 Hours (Jun 2)
Carlene Thompson: Nowhere to Hide (May 27)
Carlene Thompson: Since You've Been Gone (May 25)
Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games (May 23)
Lisa Gardner: The Other Daughter (May 21)
Lee Child: Worth Dying For (May 19)
Stuart Woods: Shoot Him if He Runs (May 2)
Geraldine Brooks: Caleb's Crossing (May 1)
Jean Brashear: The Goddess of Fried Okra (Apr 29)
Marion Zimmer Bradley: The Mists of Avalon (Apr 29)
Michael Crichton: A Case of Need (Apr 11)
Wendy C. Staub: Fade to Black (Mar 24)
Lisa Brackman: Rock Paper Tiger (Mar 21)
Juliet Blackwell: Secondhand Spirits (Mar 16)
John Le Carré: Our Game (Mar 14)
Juliet Blackwell: A Cast-Off Coven (Mar 9)
Brunonia Barry:The Lace Reader (Feb 22)
Dan Brown: Deception Point (Feb 19)
Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice (Feb 5)
Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale (Jan 22)
D. M. Annechino: They Never Die Quietly (Jan 14)
Paul Gallico: Jennie (Jan 13)
Sarah Addison Allen: Garden Spells (Jan 6)
Sarah Addison Allen: The Peach Keeper (Jan 4)
Maureen McKade: Where There's Fire (Jan 3)
Susan Albert: Rosemary Remembered (Jan 3)