Archive for the ‘Character traits’ category

When A Pitcher Lives With Hoarders

May 5, 2013

So close to the lake no leafy trees yet.

So close to the lake no leafy trees yet.

I’m not quite willing to say winter has truly decided to leave us and spring has arrived. But maybe it’s happening. I hope. At least I’m more optimistic than I’ve been though we did have some cold days and nights early last week.

It could have been worse. Areas of Wisconsin got over a foot of heavy snow, so much schools closed down for at least a day. When I heard that I was thankful for the dreary skies and sleety rain.

However, what has happened in the past few days allowed my hope to spring forth. Thus you have the photos of the few plants that have filled out and/or bloomed in the past day and a half. Aren’t they lovely? I had to take photos of them and post.

But to keep this in perspective our trees are being stubborn as you can see from these other photos. Sure the evergreens are green but they don’t count. We still have BARE LIMBS visible. We’ll need more than a few days of warmer temps and sunshine to have these trees leaf out.

But they're trying...

But they’re trying…

A few miles further inland the trees are now in leaf. In fact the magnolias are blooming. Ours has barely budded. I checked on my walk around.

What I also noticed which I guess is a sign of spring is the dandelions are out in full bloom and spreading fast. So are the weeds which are abundant. Why is it those nuisancey, nasty bits of vegetation manage to survive the worst of weather? (Okay, I’ll admit it…the only dandelions I ever loved were the ones my sons picked and gave to me before they learned how much work it was to get rid of them in the lawn.)

Yes, even in the plant world the forces of the “Evil Empire” rule far too often. 😦

Upon opening my garage door this morning...

Upon opening my garage door this morning…

While I’m on a rant of sorts, this past week made me face the fact I’ve been trying to avoid. Both my husband and our disabled son are hoarders. I finally bit the bullet and cleaned out the refrigerator. It took all day—mostly because my husband hoards leftovers in there and then he forgets about them. So a found many disgusting life forms gelatinous or furry and of varying putrid colors. I’d have to take breaks just from being on a sensory overload of horrid derivation. I lectured. He smiled and ignored all I said, I’m sure.

But that task did prepare me for dealing with my son’s living area.

As a vent dependent quadriplegic, my son is able only to move his head. Which means his caregivers and family must do everything for him. So if he hoards, that means we all contribute to it. So I guess I must count myself among them.

However, I’ve been on a rant about that. And it’s not easy to be on a rant against someone in his condition. Here’s the backstory. His living area needed new flooring. That meant I spent the whole week cleaning up, packing up, and finding places to put his “stuff.” (Think in my roomy living space because I’m not a hoarder).

For example, I uncovered 5 keyboards—none of them in use. Pieces of electronic equipment he doesn’t even know what he used to use them for—once upon a time. 1000s of CDs, DVDs, video tapes, cords, power cords, things I can’t put a name to because I don’t know what they are or what they might belong to. Neither does Steven.

In my garden. Just buds yesterday.

In my garden. Just buds yesterday.

Can I get rid of them? At least the duplicates and/or triplicates?

“No,” he answered.

Think broken stuff, unused clothing and old tennis shoes. Old magazines, file folders, cards. Just piled up.

So I asked again, “Can I get rid of this stuff?” and got the same answer. (Sorry, it’s going…and that will be another long and sullen day together.)

I know this is a control issue since he has no control over his body or his life. But still. From the dust on most of what I’ve moved around and carried upstairs, and eventually now to the dumpsters, he’s never looked at this stuff. In years. I mean major dust bunnies. Most of them as frightening as those alien life forms I found in the fridge.

Coral Bells made it through winter...

Coral Bells made it through winter…

I also know he’s inherited it from his father. So you understand this is a constant battle I fight.

Also you know what I’ll be doing next week. It will likely take me that long. I’d much prefer writing the beginning chapter/s of my next book where my main characters won’t have this flaw, though maybe a secondary one might. I’ve certainly got a lot of material to work with now.

Hope you have a great week.

I''m thinking spring and planting next...

I”m thinking spring and planting next…

Arctic Chill, Wind & Waiting

January 27, 2013

Look at all the twigs blown down

Look at all the twigs blown down

When I wrote last week’s blog post, I talked about the geese enjoying al fresco dining on our front lakeside lawn. Even posted photos of the diners. Like most everyone else, they enjoyed the weather for outdoor eating and must have been pleased by what the chef provided.

Well, Sunday night changed everything. Nary a goose has visited their formerly favorite food hangout. In fact I can report they’ve gone out of business. Maybe our township reminded them of zoning laws and slapped a hefty fine on the place Or closed it down until the goosey managers separated the dining experience from the pooping place.

Or perhaps what caused the diner’s demise was the weather change. Sunday night brought sustained high winds with gust of over 50 mph. Rather difficult to eat much less poop in that kind of wind. Especially when said wind whipped up the lake water’s waves which kept washing over the dining area.

But worst of all was the drop in temperatures. We went from unusually warm to Arctic cold. Even the geese leave the Arctic come winter.

Closed. For good?

Closed. For good?

So the winged, gossipy, voraciously hungry diners have flown further south. I received an email from a friend much further south and a few states away that the geese were driving her crazy. They were more in number than usual, very hungry, and had set up a dinner on the shore of a pond in her subdivision. Guess those geese love to be near water! 😉

So this week we endured very cold temps and until the past few days very high winds which made those dreaded wind chills more relevant to place like Nome, Alaska or Siberia in January.

Those my photos of dreary days, ice-caked piers, the minimal but ONLY snow we’ve gotten all winter, (Even a goose knows it rarely snows when it’s frigid, right?)

In case you’re thinking I only have geese on my mind, or ice and cold temps, there’s more. This week the second book in the Soul String Saga, Soul String: The Key when live in all digital formats except KOBO. They promise me that will be resolved. Maybe about the time spring comes? But I’m posting my beautiful cover here today and working on revising the next book in the series which should be out in mid to late February.

I love seeing the finished product. Nook, Apple, Amazon

I love seeing the finished product. Nook, Apple, Amazon

What? You can’t wait? Waiting teaches patience. Patience is good for you. That’s what my mom ALWAYS said.

After all, think of all those football fans who have to wait till next year cheer their team on for the Super Bowl.

Actually, since my team didn’t make it, what I’m looking forward to is those commercials. What are you waiting for this week? Anything?

Icy piers and shoreline.

Icy piers and shoreline.

Destruction Runs Amok

April 15, 2012

Where did my grass go?

Havoc and butchery surround me!

This mayhem makes me grumpier than usual, and I’ve been very grumpy lately.

That emotional state happens when too many obstacles I can’t push out of my way keep me from my daily and weekly goals. From what I want to happen–like hit my target 6 month and yearly goals.

Okay, you might say, especially those of you who know me personally, you tend to be grumpy quite a bit.

Well, yes I am. But then maybe that’s the Maxine coming out in me. After all I’m on that banana peel ride to the hereafter so I’ve got to get those goals accomplished in a timely manner. Right???

This is what I see and hear from my office window.

Okay, here’s my current problem. Did you see that first photo I posted? Well, that’s my beautiful front yard. Yeah, you got it–there’s not much of beauty there. Not anymore. Starting last Monday morning we’ve had these huge trucks, bobcats, earthmovers, whatevers, churning up my hill as they destroy my view and my peace and quiet!

And if you think I’m cantankerous? Well, Oreo, you know her–my fluffy four-pawed black and white puppy–well, she’s particularly perturbed. Here private bathroom and sniffing garden is now obliterated. Gone. Not a sniff left to check much less a blade of grass to pee upon. Consequently, she’s grouchy and whiny which makes for two unhappy females in the house. Not only do we have to soothe her feelings–this takes time you understand–but we also have to take time to take her places to do her business.

And that takes up more time because this puppy is very particular about where she puts her butt. Like she must feel comfortable with the facilities, recognize the sniffable aromas at its disposal, be familiar with the environment. Oreo’s a very discerning puppy when it comes to bathroom routines.

The end of round round--much more to go

But at least Oreo doesn’t have to clean up the dust, debris and mud which gets tracked into the house constantly. How could it not since those previously mentioned trucks come within 2 feet of my lovely front door. (I’ve given up trying to keep it sparkling until this mess is GONE!) And clean windows to enjoy the view? Forgetaboutit

While last week all the tearing up of grass and soil just meant dust, last night we had rain. More is on the way this afternoon and tonight. So that means mud–serious mud right outside my front door. 😦

Perhaps I might feel a tad better if all these guys working so hard at ruining my environment were fabulous hunks. But they aren’t. They just work hard which is good, I guess, except what they do isn’t quiet work. And I’m writing, right? I need peaceful, pleasant surroundings to do this, especially since this book is not suspense. Maybe I’ll have to kill off some character in the book in a gruesome manner just because my writing life has been compromised. I wonder if that’s a legal defense…

Now you might be wondering why this chaotic mess is happening?

If not by land, then by lake...

Answer–landscaping, retaining walls, yada, yada, yada. (I think it’s just because the world is out to get me–and my Oreo)

Perhaps, if you’ve managed to hang with me through this rant, you might be wondering how long with this construction/destruction last? Like maybe another week?

Too long–that’s my answer. At least 6 – 8 weeks and then it’ll take several more weeks for new grass to really catch hold. I expect I won’t have a lovely view again until next year. If I’m luck, but if I were lucky, I’d have had a peaceful week, right?

But you can bet I’ll keep you posted. And if this incredibly lovely story I’ve been working on turns into a serial killer on the loose tale with body counts rising daily, don’t blame me. Blame it on the landscapers.

So how was your week? Cheer me up by giving me a hint. Thanks…

The way things used to be...

Churchill & Oreo:Unconditional Love

September 25, 2011

How Could I Not Adopt Her?

Unconditional love—who doesn’t want it? How many have been disappointed because love relationships didn’t prove to be perfect?

When we’re parents and our kids “love us to death” and we feel the same, most of us have suffered through those dreaded words, “I hate you!” Whether the words are spoken, hissed, or yelled, they take our breath away, break our hearts, push us into seeing the inevitable. This child is no longer the helpless, lovable bundle of joy we carried beneath our hearts, walked the floors with at night, nurtured and worried over.

Sometimes I think healthy human relationships don’t lend themselves to unconditional love. But that could be my mood talking at this time.

However, I do think if we’re pet owners, we might get it. Which brings me to my title.

Churchill is a pet character in one of my books. Oreo is one also, but she’s also in my real world.

She’s a ten pound, little ball of black and white fur we adopted seven years ago. Oreo lives up to her name. She’s sweet and good natured. She loves us unconditionally. Really. No strings, no moods, no serious misbehaviors, just tons of personality. A few days ago, she was snuggled up against my hubby’s side while he sat reading. Her little head rested on his thigh. She looked at him with rapt attention and devotion in her brown, amber-flecked, button eyes.

Hubby looked at me and asked, “How does she love me so much? She never wants to be away from me?”

“Except when she never wants to be away from me or Steven,” I answered feeling I felt the same way, but I didn’t want my hubby to get too impressed with himself. (See, there’s that example of imperfect human relationships. And yes, I love the man!)

But my hubby is right. Oreo loves us no matter what we might accidentally do. For example, sometimes my hubby will not see her long tail and steps on it. Or I might firmly say to her “Not yet,” when she wants her dinner, and I’m right in the middle of writing a scene and can’t stop. Well, Oreo just curls back onto my feet and waits until I finish the scene. No, “I hate you” comes my way. Thank goodness.

I Love My Ride

She’s been such an influence on our lives that I put her in one of my novels. Oreo—the pet character—becomes one of the reasons Katy, a grieving widow, finds a way to deal with her new life. Situations like how cute my Oreo is sitting in her little car seat and enjoying a ride, became part of a scene in the book. And like me, when Katy first spied the little black and white fluff ball, she fell in love and adopted it. One of the few times, I was channeling my life experience with a main character in a book.

Just as our pet has become so vital in our lives and loves us unconditionally, so does the fictional Oreo love Katy.

But I confess, before I created the fictional Oreo, I created another fictional pet.

I named this one Churchill. It seemed to fit an Old English Sheepdog. I chose that breed of dog because I’ve always thought they were cute. I researched the breed to discover what traits they were known for. I discovered my choice was spot on for what I wanted of this fictional pet.


This energetic, lovable breed was the perfect pet to provide “unconditional love” to my heroine Gabrielle who’d been devastated by the sadness in her life. Because of her losses, she’s determined never to let herself love anyone or anything again. But Churchill was the first one to start breaking down her barriers. He steals every scene I put him in so I had to be careful about that. Churchill was like an overly energetic, very furry, four-pawed fairy godfather. Gabrielle’s icy reserve never had a chance with that furry male. And he loved her unconditionally.

So readers, what do you think? Is “unconditional love” something we find in real life with pets? Or is it only found in some fiction if we enjoy reading that kind with its satisfying, happy ending?

Life Changing Moments

March 5, 2011

Winter Slips a Bit

March came in like a lamb this past Tuesday, but the lamb was a dingy, dirty one. Even the skies for most of the week were dull and dreary. Not exactly conducive to pushing on to spring-time thoughts and better days.

For example the photos for today were taken in color—but you’d think I’d done them in old black and white film. Not so—just colorless dawn.

As I’m writing this now and glancing out my window, Lake Michigan churns up its dingy, silty bottom and huge snowflakes are falling.  The remains of dirty snow piles left from the February blizzard are getting a white glossing over, as if to say, “Really, better days are coming.”

I’m sure they are.

Perhaps because of this dreary weather this week and the fact that serious issues keep popping up each day lately, I’ve thought a lot about life changing moments. You know those moments that sneak up on you and deal you a gut-wrenching blow. In the aftermath, you realize that life will never be the same again, that life may be more difficult or easier, or even sometimes both.  But in the moments that you get the punch from life, whether it’s a moment when you make a conscious decision or not, you know your life has changed forever.

What follows then is what you make of the blow you received.  Will you grow from it? Will you retreat from understanding its impact? Will you close off your personal growth? Or will you develop even better survivor skills?

I’ll share one of mine with you.

The day was an ordinary one in very early September. I’d been married to my first husband about ten years and had 3 adorable sons.  While my boys were in school, I spent the day registering for classes at the university and missed my ride home. However, a young man who’d been in a couple of my classes offered to give me a ride home and I accepted. Otherwise, I’d have had a very long walk and wouldn’t have been home to greet my sons after school.  We all arrived at home at the same time, and the young man played some ball with my boys. All innocent, but I was frantic. I knew my boys would be excited about this and tell my husband. I knew he’d be furious. I stewed about what would happen when he found out. This ordinary day made me realize my life was so circumscribed by trying to make my husband happy when he never was that I made myself miserable and could never be the best mother I needed to be for my sons.

That realization hit me like a thunderbolt. In actuality, I’d been hiding it from myself for many years. I understood I couldn’t go on living the life I had been living. It would kill me and my spirit. I recognized life would be tough, especially since divorce didn’t happen very often. It had never happened in my family. However, I knew I’d be a stronger woman and happier in the long run—no matter the difficulties I endured in getting myself out of the marriage.

Rolling Waters

Life wasn’t easier for a few years, but my sons and I grew closer and stronger.  Because of a simple moment that changed my life in so many ways. Like a crocus bud on the first warm spring day, the moment opened me up to seeing how strong I could be, to really understand what my priorities were, to accept the bad things that happened in life because I knew I could handle them—somehow.

It was the beginning of my journey to being a wise woman, a strong woman, a woman who in walking away from what she thought was love, learned the greatest lessons of love. First you must love yourself before you can love another. That loved ones are worth fighting for—even when fate seems to suggest otherwise.

I’ve thought often this past week about Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” especially the last stanza: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

What life changing moment have you had? One really gut-wrenching and mind-opening? Have you taken the less traveled one?

Holly, Ice Storms, & Me

January 23, 2011

Icy Holly D Maher

This has been a nose-to-the-grindstone week. It’s also been a week with weather challenges days and nights of zero (F) or below actual temperatures, even colder wind chill factors, freezing rain turning to snow and then snow. I saw a weather map about mid-week which showed only one state in the 50 US states without snow. No, it wasn’t Hawaii, but Florida. At least those of us in the Midwest knew others felt our “pain.” 🙂

Just as my grandmother used to say whenever I’d grumble about bad things happening to me, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” a writer friend of mine who lives in Pennsylvania posted a photo of what she saw after a horrific ice storm had pretty much closed down her area.

The photo drew me in. I kept going back to it and finally asked Deb if I could use it with on this week’s blog. She agreed so thank you Deb Maher for sharing the silver in your ice-storm cloud.

But what drew me to that particular photo? Why did it speak to me over and over and then over again? How could I relate it to what I try to do with this blog each week: give my readers something to ponder and perhaps grow from, or at least help them get through another week.

So I did some research about the holly plant which was the photo’s focus. Sure I knew it was the symbol of Christmas and as such, prominent in one of my favorite Christmas carols, The Holly and the Ivy. Early Christians used the holly as a symbol for being hardy and withstanding adversity. The plant also had significance for pagans so Christians using it provided new Christians to retain elements of old.

Kind of like me who tries to straddle peacefully the old and the new.

Holly is also a symbol for truth. That also appeals to me. I’m truthful and hate being lied to.

Holly is hardy and withstands bad weather, poor soil, minimal sunshine. Sure it would like great weather, excellent soil conditions, and perfect amounts of sun and rain. But it survives; it may not be at its best but it keeps on going. It perseveres. I’ve been told I’m a survivor, and I’ve learned I am. Tough times have made me stronger. Again another reason I felt drawn to the photo. I expect that plant to survive this trauma and bloom once more.

Berries for the Birds

So, I think this photo had many characteristics that drew me to it. It forced me to think about the plant and its history. Another silver lining in the cloudy, crummy weather we’ve endured this past week.

So what do you think? Am I like the holly? Or something else? Or was this whole digging into the relevance of this gorgeous photo one more exercise in futility?

Let me know and have a great week. 🙂

Goddess of Gunk

January 16, 2011

With a Cold in Her Head


I’ve encountered a tenacious opponent. Wily, nasty, one which shows no mercy. We’ve battled since Christmas Day.

It’s Armageddon in my home.

I think I’ve been victorious, only to have my enemy return, doubly determined to lay me low. Take me down for the count. With its armory of insidious weapons, it overcomes every near victory I achieve.

What is this enemy? A bug, I call it the gunky bug and I don’t mean a computer virus. Not that I want to do battle with that kind of bug either, but I’m really getting exhausted with fighting this congestion, achy, sneezing, hacking gremlin that’s decided to fight my body, rob me of my voice and my sanity.

It’s winning. That makes me mad, but I don’t have much energy left to beat it up.

I’ve become a connoisseur of snot, expert on sore throats, shaman of home remedies and over-the-counter meds. I’d gladly give up the titles. I want my life back.

I want to once again have a busy day and not be drained of energy for the following two days following, plus two. For example, early this week I celebrated a birthday. I was feeling pretty good so I did a load of laundry, a couple hours of ironing, a few household chores, and enjoyed several phone conversations from friends and relatives calling with good wishes. The next two days I suffered, couldn’t talk at all, coughed more, felt chilled to the bone—well, you get the idea.

On Friday, I felt good enough to run an errand. I was gone maybe an hour and a half. I got home, exhausted and so chilled I couldn’t get warm. By late afternoon, my voice was gone, my throat sore, and I was coughing all the time. Ditto yesterday, and not much improved today.

From my window...

I’m doomed. If my life were fiction and I my heroine, this bug would be long gone. You can’t have boring repetition, day after day, chapter after chapter. If wishes were cars, I’d have a new one. Or my revisions finished and perfect.

So that’s it for the week, folks. I’m taking off my Wise Woman mantle and donning my Goddess of Gunk tiara. I’m thankful the weather’s snowy and cold so I keep this gunky bug with me and don’t spread it around. You should thank me also.

Have a great week. See you next Sunday.