Friday, July 29, 2016

Another Apple

I am definitely not one of the people who stares at the screen on their phone all the time. Mine is generally in my purse, which means that I don’t always hear it ring, and even if I do, by the time I get it out, it has stopped ringing.

For the same reason I miss the ding that means a text has come in and the dong that an email has arrived. I watch the women at my gym who are literally looking at their phones during a Zumba class and I laugh. What could be so important?

That’s not to say that I don’t check emails, texts, and voice mail. It is just I have no interest in checking them constantly. I like to be where I am when I’m there.

It might be fine for me, but not for those trying to get in touch with me. It’s not that I’m so important. I think they are just impatient.

So, when the watch/heart rate monitor I used in my gym classes died, my son convinced me that an Apple watch was the way to go. Not only would it offer me the ability to check my heart rate, but it had so many other features as well.

Off we went to the Apple Store. The Apple Store offers something unique these days - service. So when we told one of the associates I was interested in an Apple Watch, we got a whole dog and pony show. So many choices! There were two sizes of watch faces, countess choices of bands. Lots of choices of prices, like from around $300 to $20,000. I went for the most basic model and got one just like my daughter in laws. Rose gold with a lilac band. With that out of the way, there was the set up.

Even though the store was closing, the associate took me through the whole process which took over a half an hour. The watch works off my phone, so they had to be matched up. And then I found out all the other things the watch could do. I can answer my phone on the watch and talk into it. I get emails and texts and can send texts. I can connect it to a credit card and pay for things. My son was all smiles, no more missed calls because I didn’t hear my phone, or ignored texts because I didn’t see them. The watch vibrates on my wrist when anything comes in.

And yes, it does tell the time, the date, the outdoor temperature and how much of the battery is left. It also tracks how many steps I’ve taken, reminds me to stand up every hour. There is a timer and an alarm clock and a lot of other stuff I’ll probably never use. It is even pretty easy to deal with.

My whole family was comfortable that I would now be at their beck and call. LOL! I was at Costco and my husband and I got separated. He had an arm load of stuff and I had the cart. So, he called me. Did I hear it or feel it on my wrist? Nope. I was too busy looking around. I think I’m just hopeless about being forever connected. We found each other the old fashioned way, with our eyes

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Gardening, Writing, and Killer Laurel Hedges

By Tracy Weber

This article originally published in Inkspot, the blog for writers of Midnight Ink.  I hope you enjoy it!

Surrounding my Seattle home is my new mortal enemy: the laurel hedge. In the decade my husband and I have lived in this house, our laurel hedge has been trimmed eight times. By eight different landscapers. Each of whom says when they finish, “I will never trim that hedge again.”

The last few years have presented a special problem, because our beloved dog’s health is waning. She goes crazy when strangers are near her house, and she’s susceptible to injury. In the past, we’ve taken her out of town whenever gardeners have been present, but we can’t do that anymore. So we let the hedge go.

Or, to be more accurate, we let it GROW.

This year, we couldn’t delude ourselves anymore. Something had to be done.

Since we couldn’t hire anyone for fear of harming the dog, hubby and decided to trim it ourselves. Five days and thirty-nine overly full yard waste bags later, I came to realize that trimming a laurel hedge has a lot in common with writing.

There are plotters and there are pansters. Plotters are like my husband. They buy three different ladders and four kinds of clippers, each which trims exactly one branch at time. They have a plan, you see. A process. From beginning to end, they know exactly how they will tackle this monster, the tools required for each step, and the artistic creation that will emerge.

Then the panster (yours truly) comes to a startling realization: this process will take FOREVER. The panster then grabs the closest clipper and starts cutting. “Let’s just see where this leads us!” she says.

The plotter groans.

The project feels like an insurmountable goal at first. You clip, clip, and clip some more. Blisters form on your fingers. You look back on your day’s work… And realize you’ve written less than one chapter. (Or in the hedge analogy, you’ve clipped only a few branches.) This is when you first realize that you’re completely in over your head.

Unfortunately, you’ve already told everyone you know that you’re clipping the Great American Hedge. You are committed. So you keep clipping, cursing your big mouth and your idiocy.

Once you get in the groove, you don’t want to stop. Frankly, you become a little obsessive. Nothing matters as much as this hedge. Not your family, not your job, not your life. People whisper behind your back and try to pry your hands off of the clippers. Some part of you knows you’ve become addicted to clipping. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is Finishing. That. Hedge.

At some point you see progress, followed soon after by hitting “the middle.” The point at which you realize how far you still have to go. The point at which you know, without a single doubt, “I suck at this.” This is, of course, after it’s too late to turn back. You’ve committed yourself to this monster even though you know, deep in your heart, that you are the worst hedge trimmer that has ever lived.

Every now and again, you step back to evaluate your work. Some places you trimmed look all green and healthy; some yellow and sickly. Some are great big plot holes showing nothing but sticks. But you keep going, knowing that what you can’t fix now will inevitably grow back in time. And if you killed it, well, then at least you won’t have to do this again next year.

Somehow, though in spite of your bumbling, clip by clip, word by word, you start to make progress. That progress propels you forward.

When you’re done, your hedge needs lots of editing. The lines aren’t straight, and for some unknown reason everywhere you look you see brown areas that you don’t know how to fix. The work needs distance. A second eye.  Someone who can look at it, tell you what you did wrong, and help you learn for the future.

People’s reactions to your work vary from “Way to go!” to “Are you crazy?” to “I’d never do that,” to “I could trim a hedge better than that,” to “Hey, I have a hedge. I’ll point you to it and all you have to do is trim it!” to “For goodness sake. Just hire someone competent to trim that hedge already!” All you can do is take a deep breath, smile, and keep clipping.

When you finish, you swear you’ll never do it again. Seriously. Never. You’ve learned your lesson. The gardeners you hired in the past were right. This thing is a monster. An evil being to be left alone. A being that will surely take over the planet.

Months pass. Most people don’t even notice your lovely hedge. Some do and really like how you trimmed it. Others give it one star on Amazon, saying, “Not my kind of hedge,” or even worse, “Meh.” But before you know it, new green leaves start showing, new idea tendrils form. Before you can stop yourself, you become convinced that you could trim that hedge easier next time.  Faster. Better. Prettier.

So you start all over again.

And so it begins.

Tracy Weber

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PS--all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


We all go through interruptions to our normal daily routines.  I've seen a few of my blog sisters describe some of theirs.  Usually, my interruptions consist of going to conferences, or other travels.

This time, I had a medical procedure last week.  It was relatively minor and went well, but I'm still tired and sore and grumpy.  I want to spend as much time as usual at the computer but that's not currently happening. 

I attended a free screening of a new movie last night after hoping not only that I could go, but that I could sit still long enough to enjoy it.  Fortunately, it all worked out.  And now, today, I'm still attempting to--what else?--write.

As a result, I'm keeping this blog post brief so I can go take a rest... and then return to my computer. 

Hope all of you reading this are well.  I'm well, too--and intend to feel like myself again soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sad Post

We have a wonderful, competent and compassionate veterinarian.  He comes to our home, which costs more than a clinic visit, but this has been far less stressful on our pets.  But we won’t be seeing him anymore.  We had our cat Snaps put to sleep on Monday.  It was a hard decision, he’d been going downhill lately, but had been cheerful through it all.  But he seemed depressed lately and in pain some of the time, and . . . well, not himself.

He sat calmly on my lap while getting a sedative, then lay down after a minute and then lost consciousness.  The vet administered the anesthetic and in about two more minutes, he was gone.  No fuss, no struggle, painless. 

This is probably the hardest part of owning a pet; they don’t live as long as we do and so sooner or later it comes to this.  He was a good cat, friendly, loving and cooperative, though he had severe digestive problems all his life.  We’re not sure how old he was, we got him as an adult from a friend who had acquired him as an adult.  We figure he was probably about fourteen.  In the  midst of all the sorrow, there’s also a sense of relief.  No more vomit on the carpets, no more thoroughly disgusting litter box.  No more strange loud cries in the night, or cold, wet nose on the face at three a.m. by a lonely cat.  No more expensive vet visits and prescription cat food. 

But no more purring snuggles.  

We had long ago agreed he was our last cat and we intend to stick to that decision.  But oh, my dear sweet orange cat, I’ll miss you.