Blog Entries, My Life

Feels Like Fall

Today, the weather is cool and breezy. I opened all of the windows in my house to let some fresh air in and ended up closing the one beside my desk because it was a little too chilly, even with my sweater on.

Just yesterday, the temperature was in the low nineties and today, the high will be in the upper sixties. Right now, at 10:00 a.m., it is just 60. I have spent the morning thinking of autumn things: freshly baked apple pie, leaves changing color, cool days, bright sunshine, sweaters, and boots.

When I lived in Florida, someone always said, “Sure we have autumn in Florida. It usually happens on a Thursday.” Virginia has real, honest-to-goodness autumn with fabulous weather, fall colors, falling leaves, and chilly winds. Autumn is the main reason I would never consider moving back to Florida.

A few of last year’s fall photos:

This year, I will get more photos.

Blog Entries, My Life

Why I Didn’t Remarry

I was separated from my husband in 1987 and we divorced some 4 years later. I had a couple of failed romances after that and one day it occurred to me that I was much happier without being entangled in someone else’s life. The baggage I accumulated on my own was more than sufficient.

One romance failed because I was never able to figure out what made that totally closed-off man happy. I guessed wrong and we parted ways. I used to think if only he had opened his mouth and said what he wanted.

Photo by Yarden on Unsplash

Another failed because I again chose poorly and he was even more childish than my children. I didn’t want to raise a full-grown adult.

Time has taught me happiness is never the result of being with another person. One has to be happy on their own and not depend on another to make it so. Or at least that is the way it has worked out for me.

At my age, the thought of having to go through dating, courtship, marriage, and beyond is daunting and not the least bit appealing. After all, I have been on my own since 1987. Not a bad track record, actually.

Blog Entries, My Life, Writing

From Whence Comes Inspiration?

I finally know what I am going to write. Well, not really. Just the beginning of an idea is floating around in my brain. I haven’t put a single word to paper, yet.

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

I got the beginning idea from an Episode of StarTalk with Neil De Grasse Tyson and his faithful sidekick Chuck when they talked about the possibility of time travel and how it would work. Tyson posited that time travel was only possible in 1 year increments, having to do with the rotation of the Earth. The earth had to be in the precise spot for landing as it was when you took off or you could end up in space where the earth was a few days or weeks previously.

Interesting concept, to say the least.

Who knows where this will lead?

Blog Entries, My Life, Opinion


I try to maintain a neutral stance on every subject. To name just a few, I am not into nationalism, I don’t understand racism, I can’t fathom the differences between a Republican and a Democrat, I don’t care which team wins, and I refuse to get angry when someone disagrees with my opinion.

Do you know how hard it is to always remain neutral? Very hard. Someone always wants to hear your side of an issue so the debate can begin. Even not having an opinion brings disdain. (You mean to say you don’t care about people getting killed by policemen just because they are a certain color? Of course, I care when anybody dies for any reason and even that sparks a flame. But, it is black people who are getting killed by the police. I point out, that other races get killed by the police too. Shouldn’t we all think it would be better if the police didn’t kill anyone? Wrong thing to say because now I am labeled a racist because I didn’t agree that the police are wrong for killing black people. Not wrong? Didn’t I just say that they should not kill anybody?) Once again, I am called out for my stance. Maybe keeping my mouth shut is a better road.

Photo by A n v e s h on Unsplash

I think my neutral stance started as a result of being a middle child who always mediated differences between my two brothers. Or maybe it is because my Dad would yell at or cheer for both teams equally while watching Sunday afternoon football. (It is true that we learn from examples.) Or when my uncle got upset because my boyfriend in 7th grade was Chinese-American and my mother had to explain what racism is and told me not to pay attention to her brother. Perhaps it was a WWII documentary I saw some years back in which Catholic priests blessed the troops from their country. The French Catholic priests blessed the French troops and promised them a win because they were on the side of God and the German Catholic priests did the same thing. Uh, guys… both sides cannot win and my guess is neither side has God’s backing.

My neutrality stance was reinforced during the Trump/Clinton race for the White House. My brother (who lived in my house) was actively and loudly in favor of Trump and my neighbor across the street was actively and loudly in favor of Hillary. Both sides refused to listen to the other. They would stand, each on their respective sides of the street, and yell at each other. They called each other names. They insulted each other. She put up a political sign in her front yard proclaiming her love for Hillary Clinton. I would not allow my brother to put up a corresponding Donald Trump sign. (Which of course made him livid because the lady across the street had a political sign. To which I replied, “If she jumped off the Empire State Building, would you do it, too?” He failed to see how putting up a political sign in my front yard was the same as her putting up a political sign in her front yard.)

My brother did a victory dance in my front yard the day after Trump won the top seat. He looked like a football hero who just made the winning touchdown in a Super Bowl game during the last second of the game. He pranced and danced and yelled toward her house, “Take that, you Hillary-loving loser!”

The sign was still in her yard two days after the election, rubbing my brother the wrong way, again. He called the City Manager’s office and asked when the signs should be removed. He was told, the day after the election. Then, he ratted the neighbor out. Whether she got a phone call or a visit or acted on her own, I don’t know. The next day, she took the sign out from her front yard…

…And she put it inside her house in the front window facing my side of the street. Now, my brother could say nothing about the presence of the sign that reflected the opposite of his opinion.

He huffed, puffed, seethed and his head nearly exploded when he saw the sign in her window. I pointed out to him, “It’s not in her front yard, any longer.” This did not make him happy, so he called me a “Hillary-lover,” never seeing that I was not taking either side in the neighborhood political debate, but I was in fact pointing out the childish behavior on both sides of the street.

He proclaimed his intense hatred for the woman and made rude gestures in her general direction whenever she stepped outside to get her mail or pull a weed from her flower garden. Just because her opinion was different from his.

She left the sign in her front window until my brother died some five years later. The day he died, I assume she felt like the issue had been settled (meaning she had somehow won) because the sign came down. If anything this threw the whole debate into bright perspective and reminded me why neutrality is important and rare.

I don’t post rebuttals to anyone’s tweet, FB post, or WordPress blog. I try to keep my opinions to myself and not say anything. The moment I post a reply to a controversial entry, I have announced my stand. Each gesture, smile, and frown places me on one side or the other. It is a lonely road to not participate in the happy ramblings of others who state, emphatically, that they are right and everyone must agree with them. Uh, no. I will not side with you or your opponent.

Even posting this information makes me wonder if I am stating an opinion that I should keep to myself.

Blog Entries, Rheumatoid Arthritis

On The Mend. I Hope.

I have been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for many years and recently, I had a flare-up that has lasted for several months. The flare-up started just as my original rheumatologist flew the coop to greener pastures and left me without medical support. It took nearly six months to get in to see the new rheumatologist.

Then, after her tests and blood work, it took another two weeks before the diagnosis was in: rheumatoid arthritis. Well, duh! Well, to be precise, uncontrolled rheumatoid. Well, duh!

At any rate, I went back to the orthopedist, who gave me a cortisone injection in my hip joint and promised that after 2 or 3 days, my hips would feel much better. He was right. My hip does feel better. In all fairness, he did a really nice job of giving me the injection. No shot feels great, but this time, I barely felt the needle when he inserted it. I felt the pressure when he injected the cortisone. But, in 30 seconds, he was finished and I was left with a HUGE purple and black bruise.

I had read somewhere that a person can only feel pain in one place at a time. Or to be more precise, if a person is feeling severe pain in one place, other pains will be less noticeable. All that to say, yes, my hip feels better, but now, my fingers, toes, feet, ankles, elbows, and knees ache from the uncontrolled rheumatoid arthritis.

My doctor has prescribed a round of drugs that could help with the inflammation. I hope she is correct and I can get back to living.

Because my joints are so inflamed, she told me to NOT exercise. Okay, Doc, if you insist. We have to get the inflammation under control so I don’t damage my joints with exercise. Once the damage is done, it cannot be undone.

So now, we wait.

Blog Entries, My Life

Writer’s Block

Nearly every writer ever has experienced writer’s block. Writer’s Block is described by Wikipedia as a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author is either unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.

I am familiar with this. Lately, I have attributed my block to a physical cause, specifically an undiagnosed hip ailment that causes me much grief. I will see the doctor tomorrow and am eagerly awaiting the good or bad news. At this point, neither one matters as long as I finally, once and for all time, know the REASON for my agony all day every day.

Something has to be done.

I have two stories in the works right now. One is the third novel in a Sci-Fi trilogy. The other is a fantasy world I have created from my imagination under the heading of, what I want my world to be like. Both are waiting for my fingers to complete them. Both are tired of waiting. Both need my attention like a small child needs someone to provide lunch.

The third book in the trilogy has been waiting a long time years for its completion. Part of the problem is not wanting to abandon characters that I have had in my heart for thirty years.

Photo by Rahadiansyah on Unsplash

The fantasy world continually gets interrupted by the real world. So both of my stories have to wait a bit…

Blog Entries, My Life

Conversation About Music

I absolutely love talking to my youngest son. He has an excellent gift for conversation and loves to discuss many subjects from building models, parenting, cooking, and music, just to name a few.

This morning, he called me to tell me that back in the day, when he heard an Aerosmith song, whether it was a ballad or a hard-driving metal song, he could tell it was Aerosmith. That is how he starts the conversation. “Hi, Mom. Do you realize that when I was younger, back in the day, Aerosmith sounded like Aerosmith?”

Aware that this is part of his thought process, I allowed him to continue with his thought, patiently waiting for him to get to the point.

His complaint was that many contemporary musicians do not have that distinct identity that brands them as them. He said that the performers may cross several genre lines even on albums. He applauded the versatility but pointed out that he normally wanted to listen to a particular genre rather than a group.

Therein lies his problem. If he wants to enjoy smooth jazz’s low-fi beats, then why would he choose a group with songs in that genre, plus metal music, dance music, and ballads all on the same album.

The solution to this thorny problem: playlists.

He tends to download an entire album and then has to cherry-pick the songs he wants to listen to. I described my playlists to him (which I have over 50 on my iPhone.) Some songs appear in more than one playlist. For example, David Arkenstone has his own playlist and his songs appear in my New Age playlist and also in my Writing Music playlist.

I have music categorized by artist, genre, and by activity. These playlists have been over 10 years in the making with a lot of help from iTunes and Apple Music.

My son then complained that it would take too long to create playlists in Google Play Music. I asked him, “Are you under a time constraint? A deadline is looming large? If not, what is your hurry?”

Who cares if it takes him 10 years to categorize his music?

Blog Entries, My Life

What’s In A Name?

Nicknames are funny creatures. They often come about based on a single event such as my friend who fell off her bike and skinned her knees very severely and was evermore known as “Scabby.” There was a boy who played with my children and his name was Jeremy, however, his little sister called him, “Germy.” And so did everyone else, me included, because that name fit. Sometimes, nicknames are derived from deliberate intention, such as her name is Elizabeth, but we call her Betty.

According to Wikipedia, a nickname (also moniker) is a substitute for the proper name of a familiar person, place, or thing. Commonly used to express affection, a form of endearment, and sometimes amusement, it can also be used to express defamation of character, particularly by school bullies. As a concept, it is distinct from both pseudonym and stage name, and also from a title (for example, City of Fountains), although there may be overlap in these concepts.

My parents unwisely named me Karen Carol. Well, it was unwise on their part because when a parent is irritated or angry and they use the child’s first and middle name, the child sits up and takes special notice. They figured out when I was a toddler that when they were angry or irritated at me, it was impossible to get “Karen Carol” out of their mouths smoothly. So, they kinda strung the two words together to make “Kareencorral.” Still nearly unpronounceable. So, they morphed THAT into “Clothilde.” Which I hated, of course.

With my childhood in mind, when I had kids, I named them names that, I thought, couldn’t be ruined. Rachel, Rebecca, Norman, and Jason. Plain, simple, and easy to spell. My grandfather called the twin girls, “Becky and Rach,” almost from day one and Norman was “Normy.” My grandfather passed away before Jason was born, so he never reaped the benefit of the humor.

As the kids grew, we ended up with Rachipoo, Normipoo, and Jasipoo.” The kids named themselves that. So much for my great plan. (No, I didn’t forget about Rebecca, but she passed away in infancy.) My kids are all in their forties and still refer to each other by the “poo” names.

Fortunately, I haven’t heard Clothilde in many years and I never ended up with a name like “Scabby,” so maybe I didn’t do anything negatively noteworthy.

Even my ex-husband never gave me a nickname. None of those cutsie names that lovers give to each other. I was always just “Karen.” Never did I hear, “Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, Darling, or Dumpling.” I never gave him a nickname, either. He came with one, already. The first thing he ever said to me was, “My friends call me Jimmy, but you can call me Mr. Pope.” That should have given me a clue that the relationship was doomed from the start. Eventually, I did call him Jimmy. Friends? Who knows?

Photo by Neil Su on Unsplash
Blog Entries, My Life

Don’t Overthink

I often spend several minutes hours fretting about what to write in my blog. I don’t normally just sit and note what comes to mind when the thoughts arrive. Today, I decided to give it a go and let my thoughts take me where they want to go.

I was looking for some fun things to post on my Facebook page this morning. I keep Facebook strictly light, airy, and totally non-controversial on purpose. I use a lot of self-deprecating humor, humor about getting older, problems with insomnia where I am in a constant battle with my overactive brain, and funny things I observe on a daily basis. It is humor that doesn’t hurt anyone and doesn’t cause anyone to rise up and challenge my thoughts. There is way too much of that kind of thing on the Internet, anyway.

For example, this morning, I posted this:

I love the look on the faces of people who own cats when they think cats are a majestic self-sufficient wonder of nature that doesn’t need humans for anything and suddenly they realize that Fluffy Cat is a total dingus who can’t drink water properly.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

It is cute, slightly humourous and even a cat lover (which I am) can remember that defining moment in their relationship with their beloved pet.

This one is an example of my endless insomnia jokes:

Me: No insomnia tonight! Going right to sleep!
Brain: Dr. Pepper is actually BBQ Sprite.
Me: …

And the ever-popular self-deprecating humor:

What was I like in high school? You know that guy who drove a Corvette and dated all the cheerleaders? I am the reason he passed Geometry and English.

My Facebook has only 41 friends and believe it or not, these are actual REAL friends. With four exceptions, they are people I have met in person and even interact with on a regular basis in other places besides Facebook. Like at Congregation Meetings, restaurants, hanging over the back fence in a marathon gossip session, or visiting when I go on vacation.

The three exceptions are:

  • The sister of a man that I collaborated with online to write a textbook for firefighters. He and I were ghostwriters, so you won’t see my name in print anywhere.
  • A man I worked for as a virtual assistant, fifteen years ago, but I have never met in person
  • A granddaughter who recently cropped up as the love-child between my son and a girl he knew in high school. She doesn’t seem very interested in getting to know a grandmother she never met and doesn’t answer emails, texts, or even respond if I happen to post something on her Facebook page. Quite possibly, she is shy or maybe she has no sense of humor.
  • A distant relative who lives in Australia.

I don’t use Facebook as a place to validate myself as a human. I don’t require thousands of friends and followers to prove that I am loved. The people on my Facebook are real friends and family… that kind I would call if I need bail money.

I don’t use Facebook as a platform to air my views. I don’t deliberately provoke arguments and disagreements hoping I will get more likes or thumbs-up. Point of fact, if someone posts a comment that is designed to be click-bait, I simply delete it.

Everybody has an opinion and I am not different, but I will not tell anyone who reads my posts what they are.

Blog Entries, My Life

Defining Moment

We all have those moments in life where we can remember exactly what we were doing at a given instant. For example, we remember where we were when Kennedy was assassinated, where we watched the first men walking on the moon, and what we were doing when the twin towers fell.

These are moments that change our thinking. They change our perception of the world around us.

Photo by Othmar Ortner on Unsplash

I sat with my Dad and my brother in front of the black and white TV to watch Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon’s surface. We were allowed to stay up late that night to watch history being made.

When the planes hit the twin towers, I was at home, not having to work that day. My mother called me and told me that it was like the world just ended. I turned on the TV in time to watch the second plane hit the tower and stayed glued to the TV screen for the rest of the day.

I actually saw the Challenger explode in real-time, looking up at the sky in the parking lot of Bennigan’s in Orange Park, Florida. I had seen many launches, living in Florida, but that was the first time I saw one EXPLODE. I instantly burst into tears and stood in the parking lot for several minutes absorbing the impact of the event, tears steadily streaming down my face. I knew before the commentators on TV told us that Challenger was gone.

Defining moments.

The day I realized that the universe is bigger and there is much more going on than I previously thought was a day in college in a botany class. The professor brought in a stereoscope for us to play with. She put a daisy on the plate and let us look at the wonders. It was an ordinary daisy, with white petals and a yellow center. I don’t remember the magnification the professor had the stereoscope set on, but when I looked in the eyepieces, I saw a miniature world that I didn’t know existed.

Photo by Freya Ingva on Unsplash

My brain told me that the fuzzy stuff in the flower’s center was simple little stalks or spikes that were covered in pollen. I had no clue that on top of each of the stalks was a tiny daisy. Duplicates of the parent plant. I could see the pollen grains, but the small flowers were a total surprise. A shock wave of understanding that I would never forget.

That moment, the universe shifted and I knew there was so much more going on than I could have ever imagined. Those miniature flowers expanded my world far beyond the limits of my previous thought processes. I physically felt my brain shift its direction about 60 or 80 degrees.

I realized that God was real if He could create something so perfect as a thousand tiny flowers inside a larger flower. I realized that human eyes were extremely limited and I needed to observe the world with a stereoscope of understanding. I knew that I had many more things to learn and I was not the self-professed genius I fancied myself being.

The world became much larger, which meant my brain got so much smaller and I had to do something about that.