The Retired Life AKA The Writing Life

Hey, Readers. Last Friday I promised an “I’m Retired” post. It’s a good thing I looked back because I almost postponed this until next week.

I also shared a photo of my new “office” which is really a writing nook. Years ago, I envisioned a separate room with a fancy desk. It would have large windows overlooking a green lawn with woods beyond where wildlife would often visit.

Instead, I have a small writing table that suits me just fine. There are windows where I can look out. My husband’s hobby (one of them) is feeding birds (I swear we may go broke buying feeders and bird seed). We have a variety, including titmice, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, indigo buntings, sparrows, and more. We even saw a painted bunting a few times.

Unfortunately, we have to deal with raccoons and squirrels. Don’t get me started on the pesky squirrels (pretty sure hubs has a squirrel feeder as well), but raccoons are opportunists. Using a live trap, he’s trapped and relocated four of them to a nearby wildlife preserve. John stopped doing that when a mama and her four babies were at one of our feeders. He couldn’t stand the thought of accidentally separating a family. So yes, I’m able to see wildlife from my windows.

But back to my retirement. The first couple of weeks has gone fast. I still feel like I’m on vacation. Last week was extremely busy. We ordered a new sofa, had it delivered, and the old one hauled away. For the first time in months, I went to the grocery store with John. He likes to shop (and cook) so most of the time, I’ll leave that up to him.

I shared a photo of my writing nook last week, so today I want to share a few things that are on the desk and wall.

The image on the left is, of course, my desk. It’s comfy and cozy, so that’s what matters. Last winter, when I decided to retire, I treated myself to a brand new Dell all-in-one desktop. Everything’s wireless and there’s only one cord for the electrical plug. We’ve come a long way from all those separate cords for printers, keyboards, speakers, and the mouse. And let’s not forget the phone line for dial-up internet. (Thank goodness those days are behind us.)

The second image was a gift from a coworker. She knows how much I love to read and of course my cats. She couldn’t have found anything that looked more like my Tucker.

The third image was a parting gift from my coworkers at the hospital. Several of them signed the mat and expressed their well wishes. The place I worked was once a World War II Army training base. At one time, German prisoners of war were kept there. The foreground is a photo of the Camp Fannin Veteran’s Memorial. That’s pretty special in itself because my father-in-law was discharged through Camp Fannin.

After the war, the U. S. Government deeded 600 acres and the old hospital building to the State of Texas. The hospital served as a tuberculosis sanitarium for years. In 1977, it became part of the University of Texas system.

A couple of other items on the desk are a small piece of pottery just to the right of the monitor. It was a gift from one of the doctors I used to work with. It sat by my work computer for years, so it’s only appropriate that it sits by my home computer now. The other is a coaster from another coworker (close-up image on the right). It’s raku pottery and came from Chama, New Mexico.

This brings me back to writing. My Legends of Maderia series is set in northern New Mexico. Although my plans to write and publish the second novel this year didn’t transpire, I plan to start writing it next month. The photo on my computer screen will be used in the book cover for Blood Red Dawn. The picture wasn’t taken in New Mexico but at Fort Griffin, Texas. However, it was just what I needed for the ruins of my fictional Fort McKittrick.

That’s it for now. More about writing including my short-story collection and Blood Red Dawn next week.

Snowmaggedon #ThursdayThoughts

Hey, everyone. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know Texas had a massive winter storm last week. I’ve been calling it Snowmageddon. Other names I’ve seen are Snowpocalypse and Snovid-21. Whatever you call it, this wasn’t a fun time for any of us.

Needless to say, I’d rather not have been a part of this history-making event. For the first time ever all 254 Texas counties were included in a winter storm warning. Galveston Island had snow. The Rio Grande Valley in the southern tip of Texas wasn’t left out as they had warnings for ice accumulations on bridges and overpasses.

We awoke to seven inches of snow on Monday and more fell Wednesday afternoon. I know that’s not a lot for some of you but it’s rare to have that much here. We also had a mixture of sleet, freezing rain, and freezing fog before the snow came. (I’d never heard of freezing fog before.) Driving was hazardous. Even tractor-trailers had trouble getting around.

The view from my front porch on Monday.

Then came the power outages. Our electricity flashed on and off all day finally going off to stay around seven Monday night. It didn’t come back on until Wednesday afternoon. Unlike many people, we have an alternate source of heat, so we stayed warm. Eating cold food was another matter, but we made it. We didn’t have water pressure problems or any broken water lines. Others weren’t so fortunate.

Needless to say, the press is touting the negative stuff. (Don’t they always?) Yes, the power grid failed nearly failed. No, it wasn’t comfortable on those days. Yes, it will take weeks—even months—for some people to recover from this unprecedented event.

But plenty of positive things happened.

  • Neighbors reached out to neighbors.
  • People who had all-wheel drive vehicles offered to transport others who were in need.
  • When delivery trucks were unable to reach local grocery stores, those with 4X4 pickups worked with the warehouse to deliver needed supplies. At least two car dealerships loaned brand-new 4X4s for such purposes.
  • Families who had electricity opened their homes to strangers, offering them a warm place to spend the night.
  • Local fire stations, churches, and places like the Salvation Army opened “warming centers” where people could charge their phones, have a warm place to stay for a while, and in some cases get a hot meal.
  • When a local nursing home lost electricity, our local community came to the rescue. People donated blankets and warmers. An anonymous donor paid for forty-seven meals from Cracker Barrel to be delivered to the residents. A brand-new truck stop gave them bottled water. Our local Lowe’s store also provided some needed items.
  • Snowplows are unheard of in Texas (and up until last week not needed). People with tractors, front-end loaders, and companies with road maintainers scraped and bladed many of the roads.

On a personal level, my fellow SE authors were wonderful about checking on both me and John Howell who also lives in Texas. They were also gracious enough to cover comments for my post last Wednesday when I was without electricity and internet service. By that time, the battery on my laptop had died and my phone was at less than twenty percent power.

When it was all over, I had a little more faith in humanity. There are a lot of kind, caring people in the world. Unfortunately, we don’t hear a lot of the good things.

Taken on Friday afternoon. We finally saw sunshine and temperatures above freezing for the first time in over a week.

This week, we’re back to normal in my state. We reached the sixties on Sunday and Monday and the seventies on Tuesday and Wednesday. A neighbor reported hearing spring peepers calling out from the nearby woods. What’s more, the sun is shining!

I’ll leave you with a favorite song by my favorite Beatle. It’s fitting after what we went through. This is an alternate version, but I think you’ll enjoy the harmony by two musical greats. And by the way, today would have been George’s 78th birthday.

The Year in Review #ThursdayThoughts

Hey, everyone. Today is the last day of 2020. If you’re like most people there aren’t many words more welcomed than those. This has been a trying year in more ways than one.

It was what I expected to be a great year. 2020 had a nice ring to it. We were twenty years into the millennium. And I welcomed it on Instagram.

But the novelty soon faded. Naturally, there are a few words and phrases I wish I’d never heard.

  • Social distancing
  • COVID-19
  • Pandemic
  • Contactless delivery (or pickup)
  • Quarantine
  • Shelter in place
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay six feet apart

Sadly, these have become the norm, but I try to look for positives in everything. Here are a few:

  • More online meetings. I hope these stay around after the pandemic ends.
  • Having more quality time at home
  • Focusing on family and what’s really important
  • More home-cooked meals and less eating out
  • My husband and I played more games this year. Board games – not the online stuff
Trivial Pursuit is a long-time favorite game of ours.

I didn’t achieve my goal of publishing a short-story and novel this year. I’d like to blame it on COVID. That may not be far from the truth. In my day job (the one that pays the bills), I do a daily report for COVID stats. A few times this year I’ve had what I call COVID fatigue, but a few days of vacation work wonders. I can only imagine what the front-line healthcare workers feel.

Looking toward 2021, my short-story, House of Sorrow, needs a final read-through and edit, then it will be ready for publication. I’m looking at late February.

The novel, Cold Dark Night, is almost 90% completed. Because House of Sorrow is a prequel, I’d like to publish the two of them within two months. Fingers crossed for April. The covers are ready for both books, so I’ll be revealing them in the coming weeks.

I’m still toying with the idea of a book of short stories as well as planning the second book of the Legends of Madeira series, Blood Red Dawn.

Blogging wise, I hope to post twice a week. Mystery Mondays will continue on a monthly basis. I have an idea for a new monthly series as well. Otherwise, my posts will be random days. And as always, I love to have guests. So, if you have a new book release or if you’re promoting an older release and would like for me to host you, just use the contact form. My only stipulation is that I don’t post on weekends and prefer not to post on Fridays.

And now, as we approach 2021, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year. As for 2020, here’s today’s Instagram photo:

Welcome, October #ThursdayThoughts

Hey, everyone. It’s the first of October, which is my favorite month of the year.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I’ve been on vacation this week. For the first time in several years, we’re having fall-like weather. Lows in the fifties, highs in the mid-seventies to low-eighties. Yesterday, I took advantage of the temps to sit on my porch for a while.

Leaves are still mostly green, but a little color starting to show.

Look at those crystal clear skies. And speaking of that, tonight is the Full Harvest Moon. Here’s a shot I took of a full moon in 2013. This was actually in November.

Yes, I have a fascination with full moons. You couldn’t tell it by my blog header, could you? This year, October treats us to a second one on the 31st. It’s known as a blue moon.

In yesterday’s WIP Wednesday post, I shared the playlist for my upcoming short story, House of Sorrow. It’s the prequel to the first Legends of Madeira book, Cold Dark Night. I won’t tell you a lot, but let’s say full moons play into that story.

Although I haven’t written a lot of new words this week, it’s been productive. I’ve edited, designed a book cover, and written the first draft of the dreaded book blurb.

What’s your week been like? Drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you.

Suddenly it Was June

Hey everyone. Today’s post is short and sweet. I realized it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here.

How quickly time flies. One day it was early March. Spring was just around the corner, bringing longer days and the promise of warmer weather. Then COVID struck, and the world went crazy.

Taken during our 2016 vacation in Jefferson, Texas.

I fully intended to get back to a regular blogging schedule this month. But alas, June is over half over. So much for good intentions. I have several book reviews to post as well as a few ideas for Mystery Monday. Have I written them? No.

On the bright side, I’ve finally gotten back to my WIP. You know, the one I wrote 50K words on in November that I hoped to publish in the spring? Yeah, that one. Because it was such a mess, I’m having to go back and edit what I wrote before I move forward. I’m OCD that way.

I’m also pretty much on track with my reading challenge for this year. I recently received an Amazon gift card, and I purposed to spend it only on books. I have some new (to me) authors that I’m considering, so I look forward to that.

And next week, I’m on vacation staycation. We may take a day trip, but with so many things still being closed, we’re not even sure of that. As for me, I’m content to have time off to do some writing.

I promised this would be short and sweet. But I’ll leave you with a video. I’ve always liked Tom Petty’s music. If I decide to do playlists for my next series, this song is one I’m considering for Cold Dark Night.

Until next time!