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, 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?

My Life

I Finally Met a Real Doctor

After waiting for over six months, I finally got in to see a Rheumatologist. While I impatiently waited, my hip hurt worse and worse to the point it was difficult to walk and the pain frequently made me cry. When the doctor came into the room, I almost kissed her and offered to raise her children.

Photo by Eben Kassaye on Unsplash

This lady was VERY thorough with her exam, meaning she stuck her fingers in every one of my joints and every muscle to find out which ones are actually inflamed and how badly. The preliminary diagnosis was I have arthritis, but maybe not rheumatoid. I also have fibromyalgia and something I had never heard of: Joint Hypermobility Syndrome or possibly Ehler-Danlos Syndrome. I proved it by bending my knees backward and touching my thumb to my wrist. Apparently, that is not normal. She also told me that I have that “soft, velvety skin that is very stretchy.” It is a problem with proteins and collagen. Well, crap!

Other than mild exercise and medication, nothing can be done for either one. The downside is either condition causes early onset arthritis. Plus, there is the fibromyalgia issue. And the arthritis issue.

So this doctor, after her 2-hour exam, sent me for some blood work. I gave the slip of paper to the lady at the lab and she proceeds to grab 11 vials to fill with blood. That’s right. ELEVEN. My first thought was I had somehow been transported to Transylvania. She looked at the paper, double-checked everything, and announced that 11 was correct. I asked her if she was planning to frame me for murder or just do several blood tests.

Eleven vials of blood later, I staggered out of the lab and had to hang on to the nearest lamppost to step down from the curb. The vampire did tell me to make sure to eat something as soon as I could.

But my day wasn’t over. I then went to the Imaging Center for X-rays under the tender care of Kristy (or Kristi), a perky little lady who looked 16 and had, wait for it, pigtails. Braided pigtails. Seriously. At one point during X-raying various parts of my body, she said, “Put the bottoms of your feet together and drop your knees open as wide as you can.” I must have given her an incredulous look, because she then asked, “Can you do that?”

Photo by Owen Beard on Unsplash

I replied, “NO! Look Kristy (or Kristi), I have a very painful hip. What you are asking is impossible today.”

“Well, I will have to take two images rather than one.”

“That’s okay. Just walk on over there and press that button twice. Then, we will both be happy.”

Then, she made that noise that always made me want to roundhouse kick my kids. “HHUUHH.”

“Whatever,” I responded. I wasn’t in the mood for emo-girl’s theatrics because the exam from the doctor already left me feeling like I was run over by a bus and I was woozy from blood loss. All I wanted at that point was to get to the pharmacy to get my fingers around the drugs my doctor prescribed and then eat a Big Mac right before taking a nap until dawn.

But after 24 hours of prednisone, I am already feeling better.

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
My Life

Morning Coffee

I am a coffee snob.

What I mean is, I like coffee. I drink it hot and black or sometimes with a little milk. I like the way it tastes. I like the way the coffee mug fits in my hand. I like the aroma. These things don’t make me a snob, however.

Coffee snobbery comes from my coffee preference. I will drink single-origin coffee and not a blend. I prefer coffee from certain parts of the world, like Africa or Asia. I prefer dark roast and don’t mind the strong acidic flavor. I grind my own coffee in a coffee grinder, so I purchase whole beans, always.

Also, coffee snobbery comes from the way I make my morning coffee. I use an analog coffee maker, namely a French press. I love the burst of aroma when the hot water hits the grounds. Anticipation mounts while I wait the three minutes for the coffee to steep.

Then, that first mouthful… Doesn’t get any better than this.

Photo by René Porter on Unsplash
My Life, Rheumatoid Arthritis

My First Death

Martha Graham, a legendary dancer, once said, “A dancer dies twice—once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful.”

BTS band member Min Yoongi (Suga) sang about this in the popular song “Black Swan,”

Ayy, the heart no longer races

When the music starts to play

Tryna to pull up

Seems like time has stopped

Oh, that would be my first death

I been always afraid of.

I worried that I had died the first death when rheumatoid arthritis greatly curtailed my range of motion and activity. You see, I used to be a dancer. To borrow a line from Steve Martin, music gave me “happy feet.” I danced all around my house, in my yard, in my workplace, in clubs and bars. I danced endlessly. It didn’t matter to me when or where. I just danced.

I was never a professional dancer, although I studied ballet dancing when I was a child and a teenager. I was a disco queen when I was a young adult and could match the best dancers on the disco dance floor. I could dance for hours, non-stop, and loved every minute of it. I danced with my children and I danced alone. All I had to do was to hear the music start and I was moving to the beat.

Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash

I wanted to be a professional dancer, but I had a conservative mother who insisted that no one makes a living with just dancing and I needed to get my head out of the clouds and learn to type so I would have something to fall back on. And that is what I did. I fell back onto my second choice and spent a lot of time regretting it. But, on the other hand, I was able to feed, shelter, and clothe myself and my three kids without help from others. So, did I really fall back on my second choice? That is something to ponder another day.

One day, my feet started to hurt, and my ankles. It took the doctors a couple of years to finally figure out what was going on with me. With the words, rheumatoid arthritis still ringing in my ears, my happy feet became very unhappy feet. I stopped dancing. Music no longer made my heart race. Music no longer made me smile. Music played and I cried because of my loss.

Maybe my mother knew something I didn’t. Had I tried to pursue a career as a dancer, it would have been cut very short because my body betrayed me.

On a bright shining day a few weeks ago, I realized that I had not actually died that first death when I was sitting in my favorite chair and wiggling to a favorite song. I didn’t couldn’t stand up and dance, but I went through the arm motions of Michael Jackson’s Beat It. It struck me at that moment that I was still a dancer.

I laughed aloud as if I was just resurrected.

I dance in my head and always have. In my mind, I dance like no one is watching–leaping, hopping, twirling, spinning, stepping, dancing. Now, when I dance, I am not limited to a confined area like a stage or a dining room with the table shoved aside. I can dance on the rings of Saturn, through a boreal forest, on top of waves in the ocean, leading a flash mob in a shopping mall. The possibilities are endless and only limited by my imagination.

Instead of just dancing, I can now fly!

Photo by Alora Griffiths on Unsplash