Saturday, December 31, 2005

Contest: Win Four Romance Books

I run a contest a few times a year through my free newsletter. Anyone who signs up for the newsletter is entered in the drawing for the prizes. My next drawing is going to be Sunday, so if you don't belong to my newsletter and want the chance to win a few good romance reads, make sure you sign up today or before tomorrow evening when I will be doing the drawing. Winners are always picked from those who belong to the newsletter, and members are welcome to unsub at any time. (I also never share anyone's address or use it for anything more than the newsletter than goes out just a few times a year, and for contacting the winner of the prize.)

To sign up, just send a blank message to
Or go to

Drawing Date: January 1, 2006.
Prize: One person will win the following romance books.
Kill a Painted Pony by Kelsy George
The Oldest Kind of Magic by Ann Macela
Temperature's Rising by Karen Kelley
Haunted Memories by Melanie Atkins

So Long 2005!

I can’t say I’m sad to see this year end. 2004 was a bad year, and then along came 2005. Ouch! Here’s hoping 2006 will be a better year. Happy New Years, everyone!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Computer Works Again – Or – There’s Nothing Like An Old Love

I got my computer back last night. AND IT WORKS! It was the motherboard, so all’s well that ends well. (Smile) Okay, there’re still some problems. Like with my e-mail. I use MS Outlook Express. All of the shutting down the motherboard was causing fried Outlook Express. I can get and see my mail, but I can’t reply or even open my address book. (That means if I had your address before, I don’t now.)

So I’m using another e-mail program. I’ve tried others before, including Hotmail and Gmail, but Outlook Express was the first one I ever used, and nothing else seems to match it for me. Maybe it’s just because I’m so used to it. You used to could download Outlook Express and Internet Explorer at tons of sites….all free. They are after all free programs. But darn if I can find OE now. When I try to open my address book in OE it says to reinstall OE. That’s fine, if it would just tell me how and where to do it. (Smile)

Oh, well. I guess no relationship is perfect. (Smile)

Friday, December 09, 2005

It’s a Love Hate Thing

My mom used to have a saying about men, “You can’t live with ‘em and you can’t kill ‘em.” Of course she said this only in jest when she was teasing my father—though maybe there were some days in their many years of marriage when there wasn’t as much jest in her words as there were on other days. (Smile) Her jest was a rewriting in a way of a much older saying about men, “You can’t live with ‘em and you can’t live without ‘em.” I think the original saying fits my topic best.

It’s computers.

My computer.

It’s in the computer hospital today, so keep your fingers crossed that it lives. It’s been sick ever since I was able to come back home after the hurricane. I think with the house flooding, no AC, the heat and the humidity in here took a toll on it. Some RWC members seem to think so too, and so does the computer man. The hope is a new motherboard will take care of things.

I love my computer. I’ve loved everyone I’ve had. I sure use them enough, but sometimes I just really, really, really hate them too. (Smile) I guess it’s that thin line between love and hate. When my computer is working well, or even pretty well, I’m a happy girl. But when something goes wrong, it’s a nightmare. I handle so much stuff on my computer that it’s like losing a lifeline when something goes wrong. I’ve learned one lesson at a time about backing up, saving in other ways, but it still leaves things spread out, messes up my mail since I still mostly use Outlook Express, and generally disorganizes my whole routine of daily life.

This time I knew my computer was getting worse, so I made darn sure I saved stuff in other places and sent lots of important stuff to my husband’s computer, including lots of recent e-mail I needed to handle or have on hand. So wouldn’t you just know that now his computer is sick too. It got some kind of bug and opens pages on its own and blocks other stuff. It’s so bad that it’s pretty much impossible to use his computer on line at all. He is trying his best to clean it out, so maybe…

It’s just such bad timing. That leaves me using my very slow little ‘ol laptop. I’m just so lucky and thankful to have it. Best four-hundred I ever spent! Still, I’ve never used it for anything but writing, so I hadn’t worried about the internet stuff very much. It took some extra work, but I set my mail up on it, put some virus protection on it, hooked it up and updated every thing, and here I am—in love again. (Smile)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Guess I’m Normal After All

The day after I wrote my last post to my blog, the one about me being so upset and depressed, I found out I’m just normal. (Smile)

They had this whole thing on our local news the next day about how now, three months after the hurricane, it’s suddenly hitting people again. Sometimes with an even harder blow. They said it was a mixture of the holiday season, the extra stress, survival’s guilt, burn out, shock wearing off, flash backs, and people accepting that this was all real and not going away. Seems a whole lot of people are suddenly having trouble with depression and outburst of anger, even fear. They set up a 1-800 number so people could call to talk to someone about it all.

I guess between my blog and my many wonderful friends, I’ve gotta a head start on working through things. (Smile) It’s still nice to know if I’m going nuts, at least the boat’s gonna be full. (Smile)

By the way, I did finally send out X-mas cards, so I must be getting some better.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Shaking it Off

It’s been over three months since Katrina came through here, the side of the eye giving us a beating that I know I’ll never forget. But still, three months is a long time. I feel like I should be over it all ready. It’s a done deal. Yesterday. We survived and others didn’t. There’re much worse things in the world. My family was really lucky. It’s almost a whole brand new year. I should shake it off and move on.

Enough all ready!

To be honest, I really thought I had shaken it off and moved on, some time ago in fact.

And yet…

I took my daughter to school this morning and was driving back home, just like any other day. I went by Burger King with it’s twisted sign, by the new restaurant they had almost ready to open before that is now having to have a new roof put on and all of the inside work redone, I drove on down by the show with the chunks missing from its front, by the help needed signs every where that promise bonuses because so many people have moved away they can’t find enough workers to operate the businesses for normal hours.

A little further and I found that once again one of the lights on the main road was broken, then I had to take a detour because they had one road blocked still trying to repair phone lines. A little further and another detour because they were picking up hunks of tree trunks.

About then my son called on his cell phone to let me know he had made it to college and I could hardly hear him. The service is still not working about half of the time because of damage to cell towers in the area.

I finally made into my neighborhood and drove over the short little bridge that used to be so scenic but is now only a mess of bare land and missing or broken trees. I passed all of the other damage; huge tree roots side up, roofs covered with blue tarps, a house with the porch smashed off, a house with the backside of it damaged enough that the family is living in a FEMA trailer in their front yard, and all of a sudden out of no where, my hands were sweating, my heart was racing, and I was almost in tears. It was all I could do to hold them back.

When I got home I sat in my driveway and got control of myself, reminded myself how lucky I was that my family was still together and that our home was damaged but standing strong. After a few moments I came in and did e-mail, took care of my on line groups, fixed a page on my website. {I thought about working on my book, but I’m just not back there yet.}

I had just gotten up to do dishes when my phone rang. I smiled when I glanced at the caller ID and recognized the number of one of my dear on line friends who lives about halfway across the US from me but feels like someone I know better than some of my neighbors.

We chit chatted a while, laughed a bit, she asked if I had sent out X-mas cards yet or put up decorations. (I have a habit of going overboard in both areas. I just love Christmas!) Normally.

I said, “Not yet.” Then changed the subject.

She wasn’t letting me off that easy. “Why not? You usually drive me damn near nuts with all of the details and pictures.”

“I really don’t have room in the house for a tree this year with everything still piled up, and I don’t have the time for all of the other stuff,” I said, then changed the subject again.

When I finished that subject she got quite for a moment and then said, “You know, Charlotte, it’d be perfectly normal if you just didn’t feel up to going all out for Christmas this year. If you were still a little at… odds… emotionally. You’ve had a tough year. Hell, you’ve had a tough couple of years.”

I thought about the last two years; my father’s illness, his death, my oldest leaving home, my own battle with finding out that I was a diabetic, a scare with my son’s health, then his wedding, and then--Katrina. I couldn’t say anything for a moment. Finally I said, “Such is life.” And I changed the subject again.

She wasn’t having it. She interrupted me this time. “In the last three weeks your e-mails and phone calls have gotten so damn sweet and fake you should have to put a trademark symbol on them, like sweetened with Splenda!” She added a little bit more too with a few other words I won’t type here.

Okay. Now I was getting angry. “What are you talking about?”

“Something’s wrong. I can read it between every sentence you write me. I hear it in your voice over the phone. You aren’t you.”

“I’m not me! Then who the hell am I?!”

“Some stupid character you’ve made up who smiles while her insides fall apart one piece at a time. What a load of bull shit! I really thought you were a smarter person than that!”

Oh, that was it. I lost it. I started crying and yelling, and raising enough heck to rattle the windows. I let her know just how angry I was that she would say that to me, and then some how I strayed into other anger, then sadness, then fear, then more anger. While I raged on, my friend didn’t say a word. I didn’t even notice until the end, when the silence made me think she had hung up sometime during my fit and I was too loud to notice.

After a moment of quite I asked, “You still there?”

She laughed. She actually laughed.

I didn’t have any anger left, so I didn’t say anything. All I managed was to sniffle a little and hiccup once.

She finally said, “Do you feel better?”


“You’ve been holding so much in, pretending things were all right--that you were all right--when it wasn’t true. I knew you had to be about ready to blow. I just lit the fuss.”

When my mother died a nurse told me that part of any kind of grief is anger. I don’t think I had really allowed myself that since my father’s death, and for sure not since Katrina. I felt--still feel--too lucky. Every time I get angry or feel sorry for myself I just end up feeling guilty for feeling that way. So many others ended up so much worse off than my family did. I feel like I have no right to feel anyway but lucky. I guess I just kind of used that as a reason to push my own anger and upset aside during the last few weeks. I ignored it, never really acknowledged it and got it out and over with so I could move on to the next step of healing.

My wonderful, dear, very wise friend made me give my anger a voice today.

We talked a good while longer after my outburst. By the time I hung up, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of me.

So I’m not completely over what happened and I still have bad days and private pity parties. She assured me that doesn’t make me a wimp, much less a selfish monster. It was such a relief to hear someone say that. To have someone tell me it was normal.

I’ve decided that it’s okay for me to feel sad when I drive around town and see all of the damage that is still there, even though it could be worse. It’s okay for me to still cry over the family pictures and keepsakes that the floodwater stole from me, even if others lost more. It’s okay for me to get mad about all of the hard work we put into this home that we are having to redo now, even though some people lost their whole home. The greater pain and loss of others doesn’t take away my right to deal with my own and work my way through what ever I feel, even if it takes me months more to completely get over it and move on. Some of us shake things off quicker than others, and that’s fine too.

Feeling what ever I feel right now is okay. Not writing right now is okay. This too will pass as long as I don’t build a damn and keep it all locked in. Maybe those are good things for all of us to remember when ever we are going through some rough patch in our lives.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt any to have a wonderful friend who knows how to blow up damns. Right Lori? (Smile)