Tuesday, June 11, 2024

There's No Place Like...Family

"There's No Place Like...Family"

Since Mike and I married, I don’t get to see my side of the family that often. My mom, children and grands are at least an airplane ride away. But this past week was an exception. My oldest daughter and oldest grandson drove from Ohio to Florida for a short visit…With My Mama! The visit was brief, but a wonderful experience for this girl. 

They had all heard us describe our Florida home and looked at the pictures on the internet when it was on the market in 2023. We’ve changed nearly everything in the house since then. Roof to floors. Inside and out. But the big draw for us…and them? The outdoor space. The lake. You can go to Lowes or Home Depot all you like, but you can’t improve that view.

We took the boat out on the lake, marveled at the wildlife, fed some fish and watched the glow of the sunset dissolve into night. 

My Mom and Grandson
With Mike at the Helm

We took the boat to one of our favorite restaurants, The Cove. Delicious and fun.

We connected with family. Mike’s son and younger sister got to meet Allison and Joshua for the for the first time. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law on the Waters side came for dinner on Sunday after our visit to the Stable Faith Cowboy Church. 

Three days doesn’t sound like much, but we made the most of it. Allison had to get back to work. Joshua had to get back to college. 

We tried to coax Mom into staying a bit longer, but no. She also “needed to get back.”

I love my family. Mike and I are carving out a new life and new routine. It includes our lake life here in Florida and trips to Ohio. 

I was fearful I might feel empty when that car pulled out of the driveway taking members of my family back north, but I didn’t. I feel full. Complete. Happy. 

It isn’t proximity to our family and friends that makes us happy. It is love. 

There is a passage in the Bible many call “the love chapter.” You can read the entire passage in I Corinthians, chapter 13. It’s online, if you don’t have a Bible.

Part of that chapter basically says, “Love doesn’t insist on having its own way…and…Love never ends.”

Yep, I have lived in many places. I have lived with my family and apart from my family. But God is right (again…still…). “Love never ends.”

No matter where I live.



Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Living Now in the Good Ol' Days

 Living Now in the Good Ol' Days!

Some people live in the past. They long for the “good old days.” I lived those good old days. Some were better than others. Plus, I’m fully aware I am currently living in the “good ol' days” right now….except that will be later, uh…well, I think you get it. Right? 

Some people live in the here and now. What it is the saying…”Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you shall die…” ? 

I'm pretty sure that’s a pirate motto or something. 

Then of course there are those longing for the future. The “someday.” Or the “one day, I’ll be able to …” You hear it all the time.

I generally try to find balance. I hold onto the good memories of the past, enjoy the life Mike and I are carving out now, and look forward to new adventures tomorrow. 

Actually, I am a bit in “Tomorrowland” as I write this. I am living in great anticipation. My oldest daughter and either one or both of her boys…my grandsons….will be heading this way from Ohio in a few days. That’s the big anticipation. I love my family and I love sharing our little corner of Florida sunshine with all of them.

Mike and I are both from a small town in Florida just north of Tampa called Lutz. Well, it used to be a small town. We have good memories of the area, but as Tampa continues to grow, so does Lutz with new construction taking over orange groves and four lane highways cutting through what we knew as farms and ranches. 

When we married, Mike sold his house in Lutz and we headed north. No, not THAT “North”. 

We landed in Citrus County, Florida in a small town called Inverness. Mike’s house in Lutz was next door to his family home. He was used to having eleven acres to roam with another undeveloped twenty acres or so behind him. 

We found a house in Inverness that is close to town. There is a small 55+ community across the street from our place so it is a quiet neighborhood. Here, Mike has less than an acre to mow. When friends wonder how we managed moving to a much a smaller place, I need only to take them to the deck overlooking our heavily shaded backyard. 

I point to the lake beyond the trees and explain, “Those four hundred plus acres there are unbuildable. All under water. But it sure makes for a cool breeze, lots of wildlife, and easy living.”

So for today’s post I decided to share a few pictures of our little neck of the woods…so to speak.  Finding balance for today, appreciating yesterday, and anticipating tomorrow! 

Our backyard at sunset

A blue heron one morning.

An Owl on Our Dock


My Outside Office....What do you think? Hope you are enjoying the here and now...


Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Scream, Laugh, or Cry?

 Scream, Laugh, or Cry?

I choose to laugh. Today. A few days ago when my computer crashed, I cried. Not because I chose to cry. I simply couldn’t help myself. 

It is a new week.

A couple of friends called to see if we wanted to join them at Pudgee’s for lunch Friday. We pass the place every time we go to church or head south to Brooksville on US 41. We always say, “We need to check that place out.” So when Roland called to see if we wanted to join him and his wife for lunch at Pudgees, we were all in. 

Originally, Mike and I thought it was simply an ice cream store, but the place offers sandwiches with all the trimmings. Mike and I chose footlong hotdogs with fries. The food was great, but the best was time spent with our friends.  

I could post more about the afternoon, but the real story is what happened before we left the house.   

Mike wanted to empty Tiki’s litter box. I was to hold the door for him to carry it outside. I pushed the door open and stood against it to hold it ajar. By the time Mike came with the litter box, I realized I was stuck. My back beltloop was caught on the decorative door handle. Probably wouldn’t have happened if I had slipped a belt on. Anyway…

Mike put the box down and tried to free me. Not as easy as it sounds. The loop was twisted and what we didn’t realize is that the back loop is actually two loops. Why? I can’t answer that. I have no clue. Didn’t even know it until the ordeal was over. Anyway, one loop was twisted under the other and had slid down the curlicue handle and lodged itself between the metal pieces.

One loop caught the other
 and pulled it through...
Kind of like a crocheting stitch!
(Actual footage...do not try this on your own.)

Mike struggled to make sense of the knotted loop to get me out of this unusual predicament. 

“You may be going to Pudgee’s by yourself,” I told him between laughs.

“I may have to! But that’s okay. They weren’t expecting you anyway.”

He was right. Originally, I was scheduled to float down Rainbow River with Mike’s sister and her kiddos. The trip was cancelled so I was free to go to Pudgee’s. 

Well..sort of free, that is. It all sort of  "hinged"on...well...you know... the door.

“I may need to take my pants off,” I offered as a possible solution. 

“How are you going to do that, baby?” he asked. "It's not like you can jump up and out of them!" 

Hmmm… the man was right. I’m standing there in the Florida room hooked to the door at my waist. We’re both trying everything we can think of without cutting me free. I like these capris. I’m not inclined to want to cut my way out of the situation. And the notion of taking the door off the hinges didn’t meet with a round of applause either. I guess he could have found the right screwdriver and removed the doorknob. Maybe.

Mike used my phone to take a picture of the belt looped, tied down, hostage situation I was in. I tried to analyze it while he worked away. 

We were both laughing. We couldn’t help it. I mean, seriously…how many times does this happen? It was a first for me.

Finally, after patient finagling, I was free. I love it that Mike and I could both find the situation humorous. 

We can... Because we know there is a huge difference between “laughing at” and  “laughing with.”

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Computers: Love 'em or Hate 'em

Computers: Love 'em or Hate 'em

I have a love/hate relationship with computers. Please assure me I am not alone. 


It is particularly frustrating when I am working on a novel and my computer seemingly crashes. 

On Saturday. 

After hours. 

No tech support.


I have a back up computer. That’s good… even though it is just different enough to cost me a couple of hours to reset the password, go through pages of “I accept” statements and a bit to figure out how to get the “view” I’m used to seeing.


My REAL tech support team lives up north. I call them Kids ‘R Us. It includes daughters, sons-in-law, and grandkids who know much more than I do.


The helpdesk at Kids “R” Us usually starts with a "did you try" statement.


“Did you try turning it off then turning it back on?”

“Did you try resetting your password?”

“Did you try…” Well, you get the idea.


The answer is yes. Yes I have tried everything. (Well there was that “throw it against the wall thing, but I decided against it.)


Computers are part of everyone’s life, it seems. My mother who is a young 92, uses her computer every day. Every. Single. Day. She stays in touch with family and friends via Facebook. She knows how to research something,check her email, and she connected with family during COVID via Zoom. She reads this blog every week as well. Of course she lives close to our shared tech support family. Just sayin’…


This past week I have moved between two computers, hobbling along day-to-day. I have two novels in the works. One is in revision. The other is a companion novel. I am about three quarters through the first draft. This is not the time to “hobble along.” 


I tracked down a computer guru who specializes in Apple computers and headed that way. Over an hours drive. I dropped it off and got the answer after I returned to our house. The man knows his stuff, but his answer weilded a crushing blow. 


My computer is outdated. Old. And the software I loaded is on its last leg. He told me he could do a few things…technical magic…and I could use it for maybe another year or two. The price he quoted was more than I wanted for “maybe a year or two.” MAYBE.


I wanted to cry. I have unfinished novels on that computer. I have memories on Facebook and pictures stored. My little backup computer doesn’t have the power of the other one. It doesn’t have the feel of my old friend.

And there’s that scratch on the side…a scar if you will…from when I slipped on a gravel road in Kosovo. The new keyboard doesn’t have the worn places on it from working late into the night hammering out a blog post or meeting a publishers deadline. 


But life goes on. I am in a new phase of adulthood. I’m in a new marriage, living in a new place, and learning my way around a new computer. It was a hike to get from our house to the Apple store in Brandon, but as always, the folks at the Genius Bar are rightly named. 


How about you? How do you manage your tech life? And if you need a little help, I know a few geniuses!




Tuesday, May 14, 2024

A Look Back


Intentional. A Look Back.

As we are nearly midway through the year, I decided to revisit my “word of the year” to see how it is playing out for me. If you didn’t read the January post where I chose the word “intentional” for 2024, I’ll put a link at the bottom for you.


I usually post my word for the year above the desk in my office. I didn’t exactly have my writing area  set up the during the remodel, so much of my writing has been at the dining room table. I can see “thankful” or “bountiful” or maybe “harvest” as part of a display above the table…if I had a word hanging there at all….but “intentional”? I don’t think so.


I’ve always linked my word for the year with my writing. To tell the truth, I hadn’t deliberately thought about the word since January. Yet, it has surfaced…even guided me in my writing efforts...unintentionally!


A Replica of
Hemingway's Desk
on His Boat, the Pilar.
His work was both
"Intense" and "Intentional"

Intentional: Deliberate in Action.

You may recall my post in March where I met a gal at a local coffee shop called Cattle Dogs. That’s where I also met a group of writers sitting next to me. This was an answer to prayer. I had looked online for writers in the area. I joined Citrus Writers right away. 


Intentional: Focused

To get back into writing mode, I went to the Chicken Soup for the Soul website and looked at the list of upcoming topics. I chose a few of them where I thought I might have a story to share and used them as writing exercises. Focusing on a small story helped me get back into the groove of crafting a story beginning to end.


Intentional: Assess Goals and Take Steps to Achieve Them

I set goals I had for a particular story I could see as a novel. I wrote them down and began the job of writing. I set a word count objective for daily writing. I try to focus on my novel Tuesday through Friday with my blog writing on Monday. It doesn’t always work out that way, but most of the time that’s how I function.


Intentional: Be Present

I try to “show up” ready for work. It is easy to be distracted by social media or games on my computer, but I try to leave myself a challenge the day before so I know what I need to do before taking a break.  


Intentional: Think Before Acting or Speaking

Uh…Okay, that probably plays out more in my role as a newlywed than it does as a writer. But hey, even our personal lives need to be actions bathed in love and intentional in what we do and say. 

I’d much rather live the “happily ever after” than simply write about it!

Did you choose a word for the year? How is that shaping your 2024?


Here is the original post on my word choice for 2024: Word for the Year



Tuesday, May 7, 2024

A Week to Remember

 A Week to Remember

I am writing this from Ohio. Yep, I flew to the Buckeye State last Friday. (Hey, when you find a one-way ticket for under thirty dollars, you grab it.) 

Yes, I said one-way. 

Not to worry. Mike is joining me here for a few days and we’ll drive home together. (Had you wondering, huh?)


This past week was my birthday week, so the day after my birthday, I flew to Cincinnati to see my mama. We’ve had a good visit and I’m very glad I came. Even if she did beat me in several games of Backstreet Rummy.


And for my Florida friends who think it is always cold here, mom and I took a walk today admiring the green grass and all the blooming flowers. Mom has roses blooming now, but I missed the lilacs by a few days. 


Spring is definitely in the air. It was a bit hot today. So maybe it is summer in the air.


The evening I arrived, my youngest daughter picked me up from the airport and took me to a presentation I will likely never forget at her church (Crossroads Cincinnati) Todd Pearce, an honest to goodness cowboy tamed a wild horse right before our eyes. Check him out on YouTube HERE. It was a truly memorable experience.


 I was here for our oldest grandson’s birthday. To celebrate, he, his dad, his mom (my oldest daughter) and I went to a theater for the 25th anniversary of Episode One of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. We had popcorn and root beer for dinner. That is akin to a childhood dream coming true! I love my family!

My Very Own Jedi Knight

My mom and I indulged in takeout from our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch and spent the afternoon playing some of our favorite games. We’ve walked and talked and fully enjoyed each other. 


I love my family. The ones I’ve known all my life… or all of theirs…and the ones I’ve added into the fold since Mike and I married. 


This week’s post may be small…in words… But this week has been huge…in love.




Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Cedar Cove Book Exchange

 The Cedar Cove Book Exchange

I am a writer. It seems I have always been a writer. I have always enjoyed books. Before I could write, I made up stories for my dolls. By second grade I was penning my own stories. In fact, if you follow my posts or have heard me speak on becoming an author, you know that my first fiction piece was published when I was in second grade. (Okay, it was the school newspaper, but the school housed several classes of each grade… kindergarten to grade eight, so the audience was pretty big for a seven-year-old.) 


And…I am a reader. I think I inherited that gene. My maternal grandfather loved to read and my mother devoured the printed word the way most kids eat corn flakes. I don’t know if Grandpa ever read much by the way of fiction, but I can still see him sitting in a chair on the front porch reading his Bible. I’ve actually known him to read the dictionary! He loved the printed word and he loved to learn.


When Mike and I married and moved to Inverness, Florida, one of the first tasks I completed was getting a local library card. We have a great library here. It isn’t within walking distance, but not too far away. It made me think…


For a while now I have been intrigued by the Little Free Library movement. What a great idea Todd Bol had for book sharing in communities. Books are placed in a protected area. People can borrow a book. It is set up with the notion that if you take a book out, you leave a book in its place for someone else to read.


Mike and I live adjacent to a small 55+ community. (Even though we qualify, we are not members of that community.) However, I walk every day around the area and have met many of the folks who live there. I started talking about the idea of setting up a small lending library for my neighbors. Mike was supportive of the idea. 


I did my research. I could set up a lending library, but if I used the Little Free Library name I had to register it. I felt compelled to protect my little group of neighbors. I didn’t want strangers driving through their small community looking for my book sharing box. Luckily, as I read the guidelines, I don’t have to register the box, if I don’t use the trademarked name.


Our little cove is called Cedar Cove. So my book sharing box is the Cedar Cove Book Exchange. The research was complete. The name was set. My daughter, Allison, designed a label for me to put on the box. 

Now I needed a box.


I tried to find something that would work for me on Facebook’s Marketplace. Mike found someone who would build something for me for $800. You read that right. It was a great idea, but not for that kind of money. I looked at old newspaper stands. The enclosed kind that would stand up to our Florida rains. There was one available that was perfect…in North Carolina. That wasn’t going to happen.


I was at a thrift store one day when I spied what was labeled a “Barbie Doll Town House.” Ten dollars. But this was half off day. Okay, five dollars. I told the worker there I only wanted the roof. The young man took it off, said someone would want the rest, and they sold the roof to me for $2.50. “Half off,” he said. Half off half a house. I didn’t argue.


Now all I needed was a cabinet. I was with my sister-in-law at an antique mall a couple of months later when an old galvanized pie safe caught my eye. I didn’t have the measurements with me for the pink roof so I eyeballed it and bought the thing.


My brother-in-law is the build anything go-to person, so I turned to him. Ronnie was able to attach the roof to the pie safe and he painted the roof blue! It matches our front door. Now that’s cool.


Mike secured the book exchange box to the fence by our mailbox with angle iron and some screws. It looks great and is super sturdy.


So I am ready. I put ten books in the cabinet. I put up a temporary sign. I’ve already told some of the neighbors about it. I’ll make a poster for the community bulletin board next. It’s pretty exciting. 


But the best part? I went out to take a picture of it for this blog post and …there were only nine books inside! 


Happy Reading!