Author of OUTBACK LOVE a contemporary romance novel set in Australia, JETTING AWAY a short story prequel to OUTBACK LOVE, MOON OVER MADNESS a paranormal romantic comedy and BAYOU BLUES AND OTHER SORROWS a collection of short stories and poems about life and love. All are available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony, Diesel and Kobo. On Twitter @TeriHeyer

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Remnants of Isaac on Pensacola Beach

The pier on Pensacola Beach on 8/29/12.



I went back to Pensacola Beach this morning to see the remnants of Isaac. The winds were still gale force and the sky dark with storm clouds. The pier was open, so I walked all the way to the end and watched in awe as waves broke and splashed the end of the pier. A few other hardy souls were out there taking pictures.







On the pier facing south to the stormy Gulf.



I talked to an assortment of people. Some were locals and others tourists. All were as impressed by the wind and waves. We're so used to Pensacola Beach having flat turquoise water, so this churning dark cauldron is a definite oddity.








Awesome waves at the end of the pier.



Although I took dozens of digital photos, none of them really convey the size and power of the surf pounding the beach and pier.








Josh from PensacolaSurf.com



On the pier I talked to a young surfer (hey, everyone seems young to me these days) named Josh who was taking pics for his website: PensacolaSurf.com

Josh was kind enough to let me include his pic and the link to his website on my post. Be sure to check out Josh's website for the awesome pics and movies that he took today of the wild surf on Pensacola Beach.

I convinced Josh to take of few pics of me with my camera. Unfortunately, with my hair standing on end, I looked like a wild woman. Nope, I won't be sharing those pics here.





The west end of Pensacola Beach.



I drove to the west end of Pensacola Beach where the sea oats waved in the wind. The surf pounded all the way up to the line of sand dunes. Only a few people were there taking photos.

The parking lot at the west end was still half underwater. Happy seagulls waded through their new-found pond.






A view of the east end of Pensacola Beach.



Then I drove to the east end of Pensacola Beach. The wind seemed to be stronger there and was blowing foam off the surf.

A handful of people were walking on the east end of the beach.  One woman was doing a dance step along the edge of the surf.






Prayers are needed for those harmed by Hurricane Isaac.

Over the last several days I've logged a lot of hours watching Tropical Storm then Hurricane Isaac as it pummeled the Gulf Coast. Louisiana is currently under a frontal assault by the storm. Prayers need to be said for those still facing the brunt of the storm. The Mississippi and Alabama Gulf Coast is still being pounded by heavy surf, driving rains and high winds. The Florida Panhandle got off easy in this storm with just heavy surf and gale force winds.

I think storms are awesome, but I have to agree that it's time for Isaac to leave the Gulf Coast.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hurricane Isaac Bypasses Pensacola Beach


Pensacola Beach on 8/28/12.

I went to Pensacola Beach earlier this afternoon to take photos of Hurricane Isaac as it bypassed our beach. I drove over the one mile bridge in pounding rain and gale force winds. The gusts were so strong it felt like my Jeep would be blown over the side. Definitely a breath-taking moment.

 As I pulled into the parking lot on the main beach, the rain stopped abruptly and the sun broke through the clouds. What an awesome sight!



Watching as Hurricane Isaac bypasses Pensacola Beach.


To the east the beach was nearly deserted except for a few hardy souls at the edge of the surf. The clouds in that direction were dark and mean looking. A sure sign that Hurricane Isaac was out there somewhere.

Some gusts of wind were almost strong enough to knock you off your feet. A couple times I came close to losing my balance.






A weather news crew reporting on Isaac.

To the west, facing the pier, a news crew filmed while the sun temporarily broke through the clouds.


I walked along the beach picking up treasures, colorful plastic sand shovels and molds for building sandcastles. I had an armload of the abandoned sand toys in no time. It seemed odd that children had left them on the beach, half-buried in the sand, waiting for me to pick them up.


Waves breaking over the end of the pier.


The waves were huge by Pensacola Beach standards, with some actually breaking over the end of the pier. I snapped several photos, hoping I would get a few good ones.


Churning surf under the pier.









I walked under the pier and watched in awe as waves broke underneath. I would have stayed there longer, but I was getting pelted with stinging wet sand. I said something to a person standing nearby and ended up with gritty sand in my teeth.





Awesome waves at the west end of Pensacola Beach.



I got back into my Jeep and drove to the west end of the beach where the churning surf had practically swallowed up all the sand. It was an awesome sight watching the huge breaking waves where the water is normally almost flat as a pancake.

My hair and glasses were soon coated with salt spray. I'd witnessed the might of Hurricane Isaac and was thankful the full force of the storm had decided to bypass Pensacola Beach.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Paradise as Usual

A typical day in paradise.
As Tropical Storm Isaac makes its way up the Gulf Coast, it is "Paradise as Usual" here on the beaches of the Florida Panhandle.

I've had The Weather Channel on almost non-stop, except when watching the football games. Yes, I'm a big-time football fan and pretty much root for every team. I just like watching football.

I'm a Saints fan, due to the close proximity of the Saints and the fact that I've actually gone to some of their games in years past. But I'm also an avid fan of Peyton Manning, so I'll be rooting for the Broncos this year.

Yes, I like Eli Manning too, so I'll continue to cheer for the Giants. I also root for the Raiders and the 49ers, because first and foremost, I'm a California girl. Oh, and I can't forget all our Florida teams, the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars. So I really do root, cheer, hoot and holler for a lot of teams.

Okay, I'm getting off track here, as usual. This is supposed to be a post about paradise and beaches and waiting for Tropical Storm soon-to-be-Hurricane Isaac.

Coastal and low-lying areas of Louisianna, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle (the counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa) are supposedly under a mandatory evacuation. According to The Weather Channel, people are "boarding up and heading out." Here and there someone has boarded up and may or may not have left. Otherwise, it's business as usual, paradise as usual.

I'm not keen about being in a hurricane. Not particularly fond of hours of high winds, lightning, thunder and torrential rains. On the other hand, that's standard fare here in paradise. Tropical storms, bugs and beautiful white sand beaches. That's our paradise.

If I was rich I'd be living on the beach. But such is not the case. I live a couple miles inland, in a tiny older house that has updated renovations (done before we bought the house). We're close enough to the Gulf to smell the salt air  when the breeze is right. Close enough to see pelicans and seagulls gliding overhead. Close enough to walk to the beach if we had the energy to do so, which I don't.

Now here's a thought. If I ever sell enough of my books (hint, hint) then maybe I'll move to a tiny place on the beach. On the other hand, I can always dream.

As usual, I like to add lists of books to my posts. So here is some great paradise fiction (in no particular order).

On my Kindles (I have two, a Kindle Keyboard and my new Kindle Fire):

Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth-Jones
Crazy in Paradise by Deborah Brown
Too Much Trouble in Paradise by Michelle Betham
The Scent of Lies (A Paradise Valley Mystery) by Debra Burroughs
Welcome to Paradise by Carol Grace
Troubles in Paradise by Carol Grace
Return to Paradise by Carol Grace
Trouble in Paradise by Lynn Byer
Another Day in Paradise by Justin Burgess
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

An assortment of paradise fiction, all available in ebook format for your Kindle, Nook, etc.:

A Rainbow in Paradise by Susan Aylworth
The Edge of Paradise by Peggy Webb
Deception in Paradise by Deborah Brown
The Blue Paradise (Florida Keys) by Theo Fenraven
Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin
Nights in Paradise (Sisters Series - Bk1) by Vera Adams
Days in Paradise (Sisters Series - Bk2) by Vera Adams
An Island in Paradise (Sisters Series - Bk3) by Vera Adams
Welcome to Paradise by Elle Kennedy
Private Paradise by Jami Alden
Flight to Paradise by Mike Coe
Aloha Paradise David Ludwick
An Innocent in Paradise by Kate Carlisle
Visiting Paradise by Jess Dee
Plain Paradise (Daughters of the Promise) by Beth Wiseman
The Only Way to Paradise (Italy) by G. G. Vandagriff
Paradise Fields by Katie Fforde
Trouble Aboard the Hawaiian Paradise by Lisa Deckert
Storm in Paradise Valley (Western) by Charles G. West
Unlikely Paradise by J. M. Maxim
Stranger in Paradise by Phyllis Humphrey
Love's Paradise (Arabesque) by Celeste O. Norfleet
Paradise Found by Kate Perry
Paradise Valley (Virgin River) by Robyn Carr
Paradise by Larry McMurtry
Master of Paradise by Virginia Henley
A Cold Day in Paradise (Alex McKnight Mystery) by Steve Hamilton
Death in Paradise (Jesse Stone) by Robert B. Parker
Paradise Lost (Joanne Brady) by J. A. Jance
Passing Through Paradise by Susan Wiggs
Stranger in Paradise (Carson Springs - Bk1) by Eileen Gouge
Dark Paradise by Tami Hoag
Paradise for Two by Betty Neels
Welcome to Paradise (Key West Mystery) by Laurence Shames
Paradise Wild by Johanna Lindsey
Half of Paradise by James Lee Burk
Just Another Day in Paradise by Elizabeth Lowell
Thieve's Paradise by Eric Jerome Dickey
Paradise Screwed by Carl Hiaasen
Outlaw in Paradise by Patricia Gaffney
Paradise Country by Karen Robards
The Fires of Paradise (Bragg Saga) by Brenda Joyce
Trouble in Paradise by Robin Lee Hatcher
A Taste of Paradise by Connie Mason
Fool's Paradise by Tori Phillips
Return to Paradise by Shirl Henke
Paradise Bay by James Michael Pratt

Okay, I had no idea there was so much paradise fiction. Whew! If you have a passion for paradise, then these books are for you. Enjoy!

As always, please feel free to comment below and be sure to add any books of paradise fiction that I may have missed.

Monday, August 20, 2012

In Love with Books

My guest room bookshelf.
Yes, I can honestly say I am in love with books. This is a love affair that began when I was a small child and has continued all my life. For this reason, I have numerous bookshelves filled with every kind of books imaginable.

Most of these books were collected over the last thirty years. That's the number of years my husband and I have been married. Oh my, has it really been thirty years? Well, that's certainly something to save for a future post. This one is all about my love of books.

The other day I realized that readers, those who are also in love with books, might be interested in what books grace my bookshelves. So I started this guided tour with my previous post, "Crazy About Books."

Let me explain. We, my husband and I and our two dogs, live in a small older house. There's not a lot of extra space, but I still have five overcrowded bookshelves. Two are in the living room, one in the guest room and two in the computer room (aka, "man cave," that's my husband's room, but I have bunches of books there, just sayin').  My post, "Crazy About Books," gives you a guided tour of my living room bookshelves.

In this post, "In Love with Books," it's a guided tour of the bookshelf in the guest room (see the picture above).  There are too many books to list them all here, so I'll just list a selection of them.  I love history books, classics, romances, literary fiction, just about everything. So this is what you'll find on this particular bookshelf. These shelves have double rows, so there are lots of books that can't be seen in the picture.

A guided tour, shelf by shelf, from top to bottom:

Washington's War by Michael Rose
The Pirate Queen (Queen Elizabeth I) by Susan Ronald
The Oxford History of the French Revolution by William Doyle
The Penguin History of Medieval Europe by Maurice Keen
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Crusades Ed. by Jonathan Riley-Smith
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings Ed. by Peter Sawyer
Eleanor of Aquitaine, A Biography by Marion Meade
Queen Victoria at Home Michael De-la-Noy
The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk
Savage Kingdom (Jamestown) by Benjamin Woolley
The Pursuit of Glory by Tim Blanning

Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Byron Farwell
Gertrude Bell by Georgina Howell
Russia Under the Old Regime by Richard Pipes
The Third Reich in Power by Richard J. Evans
Hell Hath No Fury by Rosalind Miles & Robin Cross
Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence
The Valleys of the Assassins by Freya Stark
A Winder in Arabia by Freya Stark
The White Nile by Alan Moorehead
The Blue Nile by Alan Moorehead

A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
Middlemarch by George Eliot
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
Lady Chatterley's Love by D. H. Lawrence

The Defector by Daniel Silva
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
The Rainbow by D. H. Lawrence
The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield
100 Selected Stories O Henry
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart
The Fallen Angels by Bernard Cornwell & Susannah Kells
Sharpe's Tiger by Bernard Cornwell

Given a choice, I would have wall to wall bookshelves in my house. But my husband isn't in love with books like I am. So for now I'll settle for five bookshelves and then too-many-to-count boxes of books.

If you're in love with books like I am, I hope you'll add a comment below. What books are on your bookshelves? I'm sure all of us readers would love to know.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Crazy About Books

My living room bookshelves.
I have been crazy about books ever since I was a small child, years before I could read a book on my own. Why? Because my mom read to me from the very beginning. She read more than just nursery rhymes and fairy tales. She read short stories from magazines and anthologies to my brother and I. But best of all, she read us the wonderful stories by O'Henry and Terhune.

My earliest memories include O'Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Ransom of Redchief." How could I not fall in love with books? How could I not become crazy about books?

I fell in love with the library when I was just a toddler. Mom would take me there and we'd sit on the rug on the library floor and go through one book after another. She'd read bunches of books to me before we selected the ones to take home. Honestly, I think my mom should get a medal for reading a record number of books to my brother and I.

When I could finally read on my own, a whole new world was opened up to me. I still remember the first day I read a book that didn't have any illustrations. How would I know what the characters and the scenery looked like? Mom's response, "You create the pictures in your head." Of course! I'd already been creating my own stories in my head, so it only made sense that I could do that with the books I read.

I raced through the Betsy Tacy books, Little House on the Prairie books, Little Women, Nancy Drew, and every book I could find about horses. Favorites were Savage Sam, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Enormous Egg, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, Silver for General Washington, Johnny Tremaine, The Bronze Bow, Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, Heidi, The Little Princess, Misty of Chincoteague,  I could go on and I. Suffice to say, you could name a book and I probably read it way back then.

So now we get to the fact that as an adult I'm still crazy about books. When my husband and I moved from the Texas Hill Country back to the Florida Gulf Coast a few years ago, I had twenty-seven very heavy boxes of books. That was after I took bags of books, mostly paperbacks, to the library. The packed boxes were so heavy they required a dolly to cart them onto the U-Haul.

Now that we're contemplating a future move, my husband has already said, "I'm not moving all those books again." I just smile sweetly. I'll give away a few books and pack the rest in smaller boxes. And next time, maybe I won't number the book boxes?

The books on my living room bookshelves are my most treasured tomes, many of them hardbacks. Most have been moved across country and back, from Florida to Las Vegas to St. Simons Island to Florida to the Texas Hill Country back to Florida once again. Mind you, that's thirty years of moving back and forth across the country. Thirty years of collecting more and more books.

What books have I been carting around and collecting for years? Well, there's a heck of a lot of them.  I'm not about to list them all, at least not on this post, but you'll find lists below of some of the books on my living room bookshelves shown in the picture above.

I decided the best way to do this is to give you a guided tour of my living room bookshelves, which is a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. I love reading history, so there are a lot of really great books on those shelves. Also, some great fiction and short story anthologies. So here goes. I hope you find something that you'll want to add to your own book collections.

Left bookshelf (a selection of books from the top shelf down):

1848, Year of Revolution by Mike Rapport
Worlds at War by Anthony Pagden
The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans
Postwar, A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt
Gellhorn, A Twentieth Century Life by Caroline Moorehead
A History of the Jews of the Modern World by Howard M. Sachar
A World Undone, The Story of the Great War 1914 to 1918 by C. J. Meyer
Cobra II by Michael R. Gordon & General Bernard E. Trainor
Ghost Wars by Steve Coll
Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden

On Call in Hell, A Doctor's Iraq War Story by CDR. Richard Jadwick
Fiasco,  The American Military Adventure in Iraq by Thomas E. Ricks
Germs by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg & William Broad
Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile
The Holocaust by Martin Gilbert
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond
Vietnam, A History by Stanley Karnow
O Jerusalem! by Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre

Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson
1776 by David McCullough
Thomas Hardy by Claire Tomalin
Washington by James Thomas Flexner
John Adams by David McCullough
Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose
Plymouth Colony by Eugene Aubrey Stratton
A Distant Mirror by Barbara W. Tuchman
The Crucible of War by Fred Anderson
Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick
A History of the Vikings by Gwyn Jones

The Oxford Illustrated History of Medieval England Ed. by Nigel Saul
The Druids by Peter Berresford Ellis
Scotland, A Concise History by Fitzroy MacLean
Scottish Battles, From Mons Graupius to Culloden by John Sadler
Victoria's Daughters by Jerrold M. Packard
Born to Rule, Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria by Julia P. Gelardi
The Hollow Crown by Miri Rubin
The Ancient Celts by Barry Cunliffe
Robert the Bruce, King of Scots by Ronald McNair Scott
Castles and Keeps of Scotland by Frank Roy Fraprie
Mirage, Napoleon's Scientists and the Unveiling of Egypt by Nina Burleigh
An Illustrated History of the Crusades and the Crusader Nights Ed. by Charles Phillips

The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain Ed. by Kenneth O. Morgan
History of Art (Fifth Ed. Revised) by H. W. Janson & Anthony F. Janson
The Book of 1,000 Poems by Wings Books
An assortment of art books on Gauguin, Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Salvador Dali, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Frida Kahlo and many others.

Right bookshelf (a selection of books from the top shelf down):

Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo
Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman
Anthem by Ayn Rand
The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks
Sons of Liberty by Marie Jakober
Only Call Us Faithful by Marie Jakober
Scribbling the Cat by Alexandra Fuller
The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners by Luanne Rice
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The Unlikely Soldier by Gerald Seymour
Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva
The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough

Wild and Wooly, An Encyclopedia of the Old West by Denis McLaughlin
Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides
The Lance and the Shield, The Life and Times of Sitting Bull by Robert M. Utley
Lone Star Justice, The First Century of the Texas Rangers by Robert M. Utley
Commanches, The History of a People by T. R. Fehrenbach
Black Elk Speaks by John G Neihardt
Crazy Horse by Mari Sandoz
Three Roads to the Alamo by William O. Davis
The Trail of Tears by Gloria Jahoda
Frontier Texas, History of a Borderland to 1880 by Robert F. Pace & Donald S. Frazer
Indian Wars by Robert M. Utley & Wilcomb E. Washburn
The Captured by Scott Zesch
The Chisholm Trail by Wayne Gard
The Longhorns by Frank J. Dobie
The Mustangs by Frank J. Dobie

The Oxford Book of American Poetry Chosen & Ed. by David Lehman
Contemporary Fiction, 50 Short Stories Since 1970 Ed. by Lex Williford & Michael Martone
The World of the Short Story, A 20th Century Collection Selected & Ed. by Clifton Fadiman
The Wordsworth Collection of Classic Short Stories Selected by Rosemary Gray
Lone Star Rising, The Texas Rangers Trilogy by Elmer Kelton
Ranger's Law, A Lone Star Saga by Elmer Kelton
The Pushcart Book of Short Stories Ed. by Bill Henderson
The Art of the Story Ed. by Daniel Halpern
The Art of the Tale Ed. by Daniel Halpern
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (The Finca Vigia Ed.) by Ernest Hemingway
The New Granta Book of the American Short Story Ed. by Richard Ford
A Century of Great Western Stories, An Anthology of Western Fiction Ed. by John Jakes

Nothing But Victory, The Army of the Tennessee 1861-1865 by Steven E. Woodworth
Personal Memoirs Ulysses S. Grant Ed. by Caleb Carr
The Sword of Lincoln by Jeffrey D. Wert
The Coming Fury by Bruce Catton
Terrible Swift Sword by Bruce Catton
Never Call Retreat by Bruce Catton
Sherman's March by Burke Davis
Gettysburg by Stephen W. Sears
Gray Fox, Robert E. Lee and The Civil War by Burke Davis
The New Annals of The Civil War Ed. by Peter Cozzens & Robert I. Girardi

The West, An Illustrated History by Geoffrey C. Ward
The Time-Life Series on The Civil War
Plus books on art, history, guns, birds, wildlife and more.

This is only about half the books on these two bookshelves. Remember, this is a collection gathered over a period of thirty years. By now you're saying, "She really is crazy about books." You're also most likely sympathizing with my husband about carting all those books around every time we move. And no, I'm not about to get rid of any of the books on these two bookshelves.

I'd love to hear from others who are crazy about books too. So please add your comments below.

Note: For those who might be interested, the art on the bookshelves were all painted by me with the exception of the watercolor of potted flowers which was painted by my mom. By the way, she's an incredible artist, but I'll save that for another post. The wood carvings and other paraphernalia were collected through the years.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Tale of Trees and Crazy Storms

My mom's White Oak Tree downed by a tornado last night.
Last night one of those crazy storm cells went through the Atlanta area of Stone Mountain. My mom and brother witnessed the storm first hand when a "small" tornado pogo-sticked down into their cul-de-sac and wrecked havoc in seconds time.

My brother said he was sitting in a chair next to the window in their door. A perfect spot to sit and watch the lightning striking Stone Mountain. He said all of a sudden a black swirling mass dropped down and the next thing he knew their giant White Oak Tree (a good hundred feet in height) was torn apart and catapulted directly at the front door. He said it happened so fast that all he could do was sit there and watch as the tree flew sideways through the air and then was jerked backwards like on a bungee-cord and then dropped across the whole front yard. The top of the tree was wedged up onto the front porch, but didn't damage a thing.

I've always told my brother that he must be part cat. Once again this holds true as he just lost another of his nine lives. He came a hairsbreadth away from destruction.

My mom had just taken their two Basset Hounds down to the basement to ride out the storm. Their three cats, Chester included, were probably upstairs hiding under a bed.

The tornado did a pogo-stick thing through their neighborhood, taking out trees and downing power lines along its way. The power lines are underground at my mom's house, so they were lucky in that respect. However, the area was without power for a few hours while Georgia Power reconnected downed lines.

I talked to my mom and brother close to midnight last night as they wanted me to know what had happened. They'd tried to call me earlier, but our house phone (a Magic Jack number via our PC) and cell phone were both turned off. How we ended up with both phones accidentally turned off is beyond me. So I didn't get the story until a few hours after it happened.
Wisteria Vine wrapped around the tree.

This morning I talked to my mom and brother again. They already had a tree service there to cut and chop up the downed tree. They reported that the tree was over 100 feet tall. The tree was twisted off at about ten feet up from the ground. It turns out the old tree was hollow inside, which made it easy to take down. But the amazing thing is the Wisteria Vine that was wrapped around the base of the tree and which wound its way to the top. The vine is what tethered the tree to the ground and kept it from catapulting through the front door and into the house. So the vine pretty much acted as a bungee-cord and saved the day.

The old White Oak tree was filled with squirrel nests. Where did the squirrels go when the tornado struck? My husband tells me the little critters probably landed miles down the road. I hope they made safe landings, but I have my doubts about that. Very sad.
The old oak was hollowed out.

This brings to mind the fact that our country is being plagued with an assortment of crazy storms lately. Hundreds of thousands, or maybe it's millions now, of trees have been felled by these storms.  Power lines have been downed across the country, houses and cars crushed, lives lost. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight.

My mom says God is angry about the way we're physically destroying our country, our earth. That could be. Who am I to question the way of things? I do know we strip mine, frack, raze and pollute our land from one end to another. It's a very sad state of affairs. I hope we all wake up and do something about it before it's too late.

This brings to mind Shel Silverstein's book, The Giving Tree, where the boy/man uses the tree until there's nothing left but the stump. One of my twin granddaughters, only three years old, loves that book. She says, "And the tree was happy." I'm not so sure. How can the tree be happy about being destroyed?

For me,  this is a day of introspection. The day is cloudy with intermittent lightning, booming thunder and rain. A good time to sit inside and think. Where do we go from here? What is my direction in life? It's a time to be thankful for family and friends and staying safe. It is a time to think about God.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Three Rs and The Cat's Meow

Ruth's part-time cat, Sam.

First off, you are probably asking yourself, "What in the heck is she talking about?" What is the connection between The Three Rs and The Cat's Meow? Well, there is a connection.

Now the Three Rs I am talking about is not what you would think: readin', ritin' and 'rithmetic. Nope, my Three Rs are my three BFFs, three who have been my friends for practically forever. They are <drum rolls please> Rhonda, Regina and Ruth. Now what are the odds of having more than one BFF in a lifetime and all three having an R-name? I assure you, the odds are pretty slim.

Rhonda and I have been friends since we were five years old and in kindergarten together in southern California. Our parents were best friends too. We ate at each other's houses, had weekend sleepovers, swapped clothes and vacationed together. Only in adult years, after Rhonda took up genealogy, we discovered we're actually distant cousins. We both have the same patriot multi-greats-grandfather, Samuel Higgins. Rhonda is already a member of DAR and nudging me in that direction, but that's another post entirely.

Regina and I have been friends since we first worked together back in the 1980s as welfare case-workers for the State of Florida. Actually, I was the one assigned to train Regina and correct her work. Well, she's a stubborn spit-fire from Rio, so you can imagine how that went over. We've been the best of friends ever since, even through all the years that I moved away, moved back, moved away, moved back, you get the picture. Now, as we're both retired (well, she's retired and I'm writing), we get together usually once a week for donuts (Krispie Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts) and trips to the mall and bookstores.

Ruth (Author, Ruth Kerce) has been my BFF since 1994 when we first met at an RWA Desert Rose Chapter Conference in Las Vegas. Now you all have already heard about Ruth when I interviewed her on my blog back in June. Suffice to say that I have Ruth to blame for my being an Indie Author. You see, we were both struggling writers way back then. After several years I gave up writing and went back to my art (painting landscapes and still-lifes in acrylics and oils). Ruth kept on writing and is now a well established author published by Ellora's Cave and Changeling Press. She's also an Indie Author writing sensual HOT short stories. All these years, even after I moved away from Las Vegas and back to Florida, Ruth and I have remained the best of friends. We communicate on pretty much a daily basis and she is solely to blame from me getting back into writing and becoming an epublished Indie Author.

DC, my childhood cat (named after the book/movie).

Now comes The Cat's Meow part of this post. Rhonda, Regina and Ruth are all cat people and I'm a dog person. How in the world did that happen? Let me back-peddle a bit. I had a cat, DC, back when I was growing up. So I do like/love cats, I just don't have any right now. But The Three Rs are definitely cat people, no two ways about it.


When we were kids, Rhonda had a fluffy, regal, orange cat named Lord Buffington. He was an awesome cat who followed us kids everywhere. I remember when holding Buffy, he'd flop over your arm like a Ragdoll cat. To this day, Rhonda has always had one cat or another.

Regina, on the other hand, is the ultimate cat person. When Regina and I first me, she didn't have any cats. In fact, she'd never had a cat in her life. But a co-worker gave her a mama cat with two kittens and that was all it took. Regina became a confirmed cat person. As we speak, Regina is currently the "mama" to six very spoiled, pampered cats. All arrived at her doorstep as strays, were taken in, neutered, given their required shots, doctored (for a torn ear, injured eye, etc.) and fed the best cat food available (I know because I shop for cat food with her).

Now for Ruth. She loves cats, but doesn't have one of her very own. Instead, she shares a cat, Sam, with neighbors. Sam is Ruth's cat during the day and the neighbor's cat at night. For those who follow Ruth on Twitter (@RuthKerce) she tweets Sam's antics and pics (see the pic of Sam at the top of this post).  Sam is a very smart cat with the disposition of a queen.

For those who follow my tweets (@TeriHeyer) and/or my blog, I'm a dog person. I've had dogs ever since I was a toddler (see the pic of Dusty and I at the bottom of my blog). I am currently the proud "mama" to two big dogs, Shani, who weighs 85 pounds, and Dude, who weighs 100 pounds and may still be growing (he's only 18 months old). Pics of Shani and Dude are all over my blog and I tweet their pics too.

Now to be honest, I'd have cats in addition to dogs, but my husband insists that he's allergic to cats. I don't know if that's really true, but he does manage to sneeze and carry on whenever he's around cats. But someday, when we buy that acreage I keep dreaming about, I'll have some barn cats. And eventually those barn cats will become house cats. But don't tell my husband.

So now you know the connection between The Three Rs and The Cat's Meow. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Those who follow my blog know that I love to post lists of books, so this time is no exception. Below you'll find a list of cat fiction, most of them mystery series which you may already know. But just in case, check the list to see if there's something you haven't discovered yet.

My three favorite cat fiction books from when I was growing up:

Thomasina by Paul Gallico
It's Like This, Cat by Emily Neville
That Darn Cat by The Gordons

Cat fiction, mostly mystery series, that you might enjoy (in no particular order):

The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare (The Cat Who Knew Series) by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria by Rahma Krambo
Catnip (A Dunbarton Mystery) by Valerie E. Tate
Curiosity Thrilled the Cat (A Magical Cats Mystery) by Sofie Kelly
The Cat, The Quilt and The Corpse (A Cats in Trouble Mystery) by Leann Sweeney
The Big Kitty (A Sunny & Shadow Mystery) by Claire Donally
Murder Past Due (Cat in the Stacks Mystery) by Miranda James
How to Wash a Cat (Cats & Curios Mystery) by Rebecca M. Hale
Double Booked for Death (A Black Cat Bookshop Mystery) by Ali Brandon
Sneaky Pie for President (Sneaky Pie Brown) by Rita Mae Brown
Three Cat Mysteries by D. J. Crayne
Fruit of the Tomb (Midnight Louie Short Story) by Carol Nelson Douglas
Cat in a White Tie and Tails (Midnight Louie Mystery) by Carol Nelson Douglas
Orange as Marmalade (Biscuit McKee Mystery) by Fran Stewart
Cat Bearing Gifts (Joe Grey Mystery) by Shirley Rousseau Murphy
The Cat Who Wasn't a Dog by Marian Babson

Chester, my mom & brother's Maine Coon.
Please add your favorite cat books in the comments below. "Meow!"

Note: Chester, my mom and brother's Maine Coon cat weighs 25 pounds, has a huge fluffy tail and is a purring machine. He is very regal. I said he should be named Sir Chester.