Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Music

Happy Halloween! No parties this year so I thought I would share some of my favorite Halloween-themed songs...enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway Photos 1

Following are pictures I took on the Blue Ridge Parkway last weekend with my digital camera. The next time I post I'll show you the photos taken with my iPhone.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is only open until October 31 then closes for the winter. If you decide to visit, when you arrive immediately go to the restaurant, sign in, and take a pager. The dining area is quite small so the wait can be upwards of an hour. We happened to time it perfectly. We were able to check out the mill, surrounding areas,  gift shop, and as we began dodging beginning rain drops, our buzzer went off. I asked our server what she recommended and I went with her favorite -- the fried pork chop, spiced apples, and red-skinned mashed potatoes served with a homemade biscuit. My husband had the pot roast. Both dishes were delicious.

Following are photos taken with my camera or iPhone. Although it's a pain in the butt to get the photos from my iPhone onto my computer (I don't have a Mac so had to email all 100!) the different effect filters now available on the iPhone camera make for some interesting shots.

iPhone Noir

Samsung regular

iPhone Tonal

iPhone Fade

The view from inside the mill looking out


Taken with my iPhone

Taken with my of the great mystery of humans...throwing money into water

Probably should have taken a colored shot of this

At one time it was a working still...Tickle would be proud

I just want to end this pictorial with a little story. When we went inside the mill a woman with a walker told us to go around her and her husband. I told her it was fine, we would wait, but she said they wouldn't be able to go inside anyway as there were stairs. She then told me her husband was 99, so he moved a little slow. I couldn't believe he was that old. He looked damned good and was shuffling along just fine. She then told me she was 87, and the only reason she moved slow was because she had a broken vertebrae, and she pointed to her neck brace. I asked her if it was okay she was walking around with a broken vertebrae and she told me she's had it for two years. She said she was too old for surgery and it wouldn't heal on its own anymore so she just deals with it. "Can't make it stop me from doing things!" Wow...I wish I would have taken a picture of her and her husband. I would have printed it up and tacked it on my office wall and anytime I would complain about my aches and pains I would look at that photo and repeat what she said: "Can't make it stop me from doing things!"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Floyd Photos

View from my dining room window

I was hoping it wasn't too late in the season to shoot some fall foliage, so I suggested to my husband we take a jaunt to Mabry Mill. We decided to drive up 221, through Back Creek, Bent Mountain, and Floyd. I thought the road would be less curvy than the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I was wrong. Ugh, I could never live on Bent Mountain! Very pretty, yes, but way too curvy, windy, and rural for me. Can you imagine me not having gas heat, city water, sewers, or cable television? Me neither. I wonder if folks have to bring their trash to a dump too? *Shudder* I would be stuck on that mountain for months at a time because there's no way I would want to drive it on rainy or icy roads. No wonder Roanoke County schools close down even if there's a threat of snow. I can't imagine students in a school bus sliding along them. As we were driving I noticed that many of the trees did not have the color I was hoping for, in fact, many of the trees had lost their leaves.

We have never been to Floyd, so when we hit the small town we decided to stop and see what all the hub-bub was. Although there were a couple of restaurants we would have liked to have eaten at, we really wanted to try Mabry Mill's so we just walked a couple of blocks and checked out the antique stores. There were some really nice wood furniture and artisans' wares in a couple of shops. A little expensive, but nicely done. The people were very friendly, as most hippies tend to be.

I took a photo of this peacock lamp I saw in an antique store and sent it to my daughter asking if she wanted it for her room. Her reply was, "Hell, no!" so I bought it. There is something about it that I like. Its tail is glass, not plastic, and the peacock feels like she's made of iron.

In the spirit of Halloween, I kept sending her different shots of things that I knew she would think were "creepy."

Unfortunately that was all the shots I took of Floyd, so if you read this post, although I got a "weird vibe" from the small town, these photos may not be an accurate reflection of the community. Next time we go it'll be when we have more time and I will take some "prettier" pics.

From there we headed to Mabry Mill, and I have tons of photos from there, so over the next couple of days, hopefully, I will post some of those.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Cataloguing Update

Just wanted to pop in and let you know what's been going on...

Yes, I am still cataloguing the books. I am making progress, but it's a tedious task. I'm separating the collection into three components: Entertainment, History, & Baseball. The Entertainment collection is by far the largest, and the one I started on first.

Looking through these books, I know who I get my tastes from. My dad had very few "novels," preferring non-fiction, history, especially memoirs and biographies, just like me. Based upon the number of books I've found on the case, he seems to have been fascinated with the kidnapping of the Charles Lindbergh baby. I'll have to read some of those books and see what piqued his interest. His newer history books seemed to focus on Abraham Lincoln. Many of his "Hollywood" books look at the seamier side of the industry, again, something I've always been fascinated with. I've already started a list of all the books I want to read. I'll never have to go to the library again!

Have gone through the "J" authors, and 495 Entertainment books thus far have been catalogued.

One letter has the most authors associated with it, 112, can you guess which one it is?

One letter has no authors associated with it (unless I skipped it, which is highly possible) can you guess which one it is?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Even an iPhone Is Really Just a Phone

Ok, here's the follow up from the last, how do I feel about my I love it? Basically I still feel the same way, a phone is a phone is a phone, unless it's an iPhone in which case it's an expensive phone that could do more than just call people. I'm not gaga googoo like some people get over phones, but I will say this, it has made me more productive and life a wee bit easier. I am totally not addicted to it. I don't carry it around with me from room to room, and unlike what I've witnessed with other folks who have smartphones, it has not become an additional appendage.

A couple of positive points...I was worried about typing on the touch screen. That is not a worry because mainly when I want to send someone a text I speak into the phone and most times, not all times, but most times, the phone will get what I am saying correctly. Now, this is a big deal for someone who has rheumatoid arthritis, so I am very happy with that feature. I also use the microphone to record "notes," like where I parked my car, or whatever. So I like having a "notes" feature on the homescreen. Same thing with email...very easy to check and respond. I like how quickly I connect to the internet, pretty amazing to me after my forever loading Envy. I am now able to check my book sales from my phone and that is cool. It would be cooler if they were larger, but that's not the phone's fault. I can also check Facebook. I did not link to Facebook as I do not want to be notified of everyone's posts, nor have them clog up my contact list as I understand that is what happens when one does sync a smartphone to Facebook. Also my "friends" do not need to know every song I listen to, game I play, or article or read, etc. Haven't even bothered checking Twitter yet. I do like how I can take a picture and post it to Facebook now when I'm out and about which brings me to the camera.

I am not impressed wtih the iPhone camera at all. I thought I would be able to shed my digital one once I got this phone, but nope, not gonna happen. It's okay as long as you don't zoom in, as it only has a digital zoom feature. I like to zoom in. With the recent system upgrade there are a couple more features now with the camera, but nothing to write home about. I do like the video camera, but again I think the quality is lacking. For instance I took these videos the other night at a show...I uploaded the first one regular holding the camera vertical, and the other was shot horizontally and uploaded in hi-def.

The audio is pretty good, but under low light conditions the video is not so great. What I don't like is that since I don't have an Apple computer I cannot see these videos directly on my laptop. I have to upload them to Youtube to see them. I figure it's all part of the Apple plan to will get an iMac, you will get an iMac!

Some things I'm not crazy about...if I miss a call and hit the screen it automatically dials that number. Not a fan of Face Time either. You have to be "made up" to use a phone? Yeah, no. Battery usage is pathetic. You must charge your phone up every single day, sometimes more than once a day. I'm not used to that. Sometimes I went four days without charging my Envy.

Straight Talk refill is a pain in the ass. You have to go to WalMart and get a card and scrape off the number and enter it on the website. That grew old after one month so I opted in for auto-refill using a credit card. So far, so good. My daughter however, after months of scraping the cards, also opted in using a debit card two weeks ago. Well, just yesterday morning she realized her phone was deactivated! Talk about panic mode. When she went on-line she saw she was no longer in auto-refill, apparently it never took. She tried again, but got denied. When she finally got someone on the phone she could barely understand them, Indian, and they said the bank would not allow the charge. It's Sunday, so no one at the bank. She was freaking out because they never sent her an email or text telling her this, and with Straight Talk if you let your service expire chances are you lose your number rather quickly. Oh, I've gotten many a wrong number and so has my husband and based on all the "hit me up" texts, or "high" texts and barely cohesive speech from the callers when we answer the phone, we think both people who had our phone nubmers before were drug dealers! I also get a recorded call from CVS every other day looking for "Danielle D." I even tracked down the CVS to the one on Main in Salem and explained to them five, yes five freaking times that my number is no longer Danielle D's! They said they would adjust their records, but they haven't. Luckily, I can now block their number and I will if I get one more call from them. Anyway, back to the girl in panic mode who was already late for work after the Indian call. I had to run, literally run to Walmart to pick up a card for her so she could reactivate her phone as the woman said there was a good possibility she would lose her number unless it was reactivated immediately. Now that sucks, maybe not for me so much, as I haven't even given my new number out to many people, but to a young girl who might be waiting for a fellow to call, or whatever, that can be a hardship. Oh, and the funny thing is when you called her number there was a recording from Verizon Wireless saying the number was disconnected. So Straight Talk is Verizon Wireless for less than half the price and twice the inconvenience.

What I really love about this phone are the apps. Of course I'm too cheap to buy any yet, so here is my list of my favorite free apps:

Pandora - Best music app ever. I have the free service one which means about every fourth song or so there is a quick commercial which is fine by me. I love that they not only have stations of music that I like but that I was able to create my own station by plugging in artists. They take that info and then add artists and songs they thing I might like based on my taste. If I do I can give it a "thumbs up" or not, a "thumbs down" and it skips the song and will no longer play it. I've found new artists already such as The Dresden Girls, and how cool is it to hear Tom Verlaine's voice out of nowhere. It amazes me that Pandora really does know my taste.

Scan app -you hold your phone up to a barcode and it scans it and then tells you what the going prices and where you can find the items. This has been a life-saver for me regarding the books. It actually scans the ISBN numbers and tells me where and who are selling the books. When I first used it up in Brooklyn I was naive and freaking out that some of my dad's books were "worth" so much money! Ha! There are folks selling books on Amazon that I swear just make up outrageous prices as every description of the book, no matter what book it is, is the same from certain sellers. I've since learned to disregard those sellers.

Google Maps - way better than the map that comes with the iPhone.

Flashlight - yes, not only does the iPhone serve as a flashlight with this app, but you can increase and decrease the illumination.

Weather Channel - came in very handy driving home during a storm. I was able to see actual real-time radar to determine if we should wait it out at a rest stop. We did and it was correct. Very handy stuff!

Lumosity - it's a smaller version of the brain training game. Every morning I "train" for a couple of minutes and I actually have gotten better. I'm still too cheap to upgrade so I will only get as smart as this version will allow me.

Translator - if you're travelling out of the country or walking on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn you can now read the signs on the shops. Many languages available.

Quick Tip - just what it says, you can set the percentage and even divide the bill up according to how many folks are paying. Since my husband always pays I don't use that.

Solitaire - for when I'm waiting for someone.

News 360 - great news source. Around the world news, and you can choose what type of articles you're interested in.

Sleep Bot - this app monitors your sleep by recording movement and noise. It then creates a chart that shows you where the noise peaked and perhaps can tell you why you are waking up in the middle of the night. If you live in a haunted house this is scary to use. I also think it would be a little better if you could hear the entire recording instead of just a couple of seconds at a time.

Knowledge - another brain game to test my knowledge.

Fruit Ninja - a game where one needs no knowledge.

I check the app store every once in a while to see if there's another free one out that sounds good. If you know of any cool ones, let me know.

So, the bottom line is yes, I like my phone and it's probably worth the cost, but what is definitely worth the cost is the Otter Box. You need to protect a phone that costs more than a laptop, and thus far the $59 investment seems to be worth it. Oh, one strange thing did happen with my phone. On Friday I noticed the time of my phone was 20:00 off. Now that is odd and I have no explanation for that. After I shut it off and started it back up it was right, but that 20:00 defect did make me late for a party...tsk tsk iPhone, you failed.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Who Could Love a Phone?

For years I poo-pooed anyone who spoke so highly about their smartphone. I mean, c'mon, it's a freaking phone. How grand could it be? Why would you need a phone to do something other than make phone calls? Geeze Louise, get a life, will ya? I even tried one once, my cousin's droid, and sure enough when I tried to text a message all the letters were coming out wrong. My fat little sausage fingers couldn't hit the teeny touch screen where they were supposed to. Instead of "What time you coming home?" I was getting "ShAy tonw uou .Omkng jome," Talk about annoying. If that was my phone I would have thrown it against the wall. I handed it back to him in disgust. "I got my Envy with a keyboard I can feel, that's all I need." And it was, but Verizon had other plans for me.

Although my phone was a workhorse, the rest of my families' weren't, and they could barely wait until their contract was up to get new ones. My contract had been up for over 4 years and I received monthly "you're eligible for a smartphone" notices, which I always threw out. You see, I was grandfathered on their unlimited web plan that I had for $24.99 a month, plus $5 for e-mail. If I wanted to upgrade my phone I also had to upgrade the plan since they no longer offered it. Whereas I was paying $175 for four of us I would have to pay way, way more than that if any of us wanted a smartphone, and some of us did. Well, one of us did, my daughter.

When I told her there was no way I would pay close to $400 a month for cell phone service she jumped ship to StraightTalk. With her own money, she bought a Hiawei Y Ascend smartphone from them. I talked her into the $99 droid as I couldn't see her paying so much for a phone. She pretty much hated the thing and regretted listening to her phone-challenged mother. So, as soon as she started working full-time at the station, along with part-time at the restaurant, she upgraded by buying an iPhone. I was aghast that she would "waste" almost $600 on a phone! Heck, my laptop cost half that price. She calmly explained to me that it was a necessity in the newsroom, and that the $45/month in unlimited usage, including web, would pay for itself within a year. In reality, it was her money and there are teens spending their parents' money on tattoos, liquor, drugs and what-not, so who was I to question her. Every couple of weeks I'd ask her how her phone was doing and she would exclaim, "I love it!" Again, I would shake my head and ask myself who could love a phone?

Cut to my son -- after I yelled at him for not answering my texts or returning my calls pronto, he discovered that his phone wasn't receiving and/or registering some calls. This is not a good thing when one is actively looking for full-time employment. Although he is cheap, um frugal, he finally agreed with me that it was time to update from his flip phone to a phone where he could get on the internet. He jumped off Verizon and went to Straight Talk as well. He was too cheap, I mean frugal, to buy an iPhone (besides he's a fan of Gates, not Jobs) so he went with a Droid, a better one than the one his sister had used and advised against. He quickly adapted to it, even though it took some getting used to, what with not having to hit each key three times to get the letter he wanted.

At first he wouldn't admit he liked it. He'd shrug his shoulders with an, "eh" every time I asked him how he liked having a smartphone, yet, he seemed to be glued to it. On the fourth day of having the phone, and after receiving a phone call on it from who would soon become his new boss for a full-time position, he finally admitted to being glad he upgraded.

That left just my husband and me as the hold-outs. Frank already told me in no uncertain terms he did not want a touch-screen phone...his fingers are even fatter than mine, and with his being a mechanic and all, a flimsy thing is probably not a good fit. He did say it would be nice however if he had a phone that could take and send pictures once in a while. Back to WalMart where he found a flip-phone that could do all that, and more. So that left just me...

I wanted to get something before our last trip to New York. I wouldn't be bringing my laptop and thought it would be kind of cool to have something I could go on-line with. My Envy barely could get on-line, and was so old most sites wouldn't open for it. I checked out both kids' phones and both of them said their phone was good and they were happy with Smart Talk's service. My son's phone was a little larger than my daughter's, which was way larger than my Envy. The boy dangled the price of his phone, while my daughter dangled something called Face Time as a neat feature that "we" iPhone users could share. In the end my daughter's, "Mom, who are you going to listen to about electronics, me, or the kid who didn't want to part with a flip-phone? Besides, you never buy anything for yourself...splurge for once!" won out. I went with the iPhone4S. Why not the 5? It was bigger than the 4, more expensive than the 4, and the 4s still had that neat feature that John Malkovich spoke to in that commercial, Siri. I hoped she was more useful than the stock I bought in Sirius Satellite radio, whose ticker symbol is SIRI, has been. So, I ordered the phone, and on the advice of my daughter, an Otter Box to protect it. Now I just had to hope it arrived before I left. It did. I'll let you know how it went/is going in a future post...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Puppies Are Better Than Psychiatrists

"There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." - Bernard Williams

If there's one thing the four of us in our household agree on is no matter what kind of day we had, being greeted by Bella when we walk though that door makes us forget about any hurt.

I have loved all three of my dogs, but this little girl is the most loving one I've had. I've never had a dog that loved to be held and is content to just sit on one's lap, or sleep next to me the entire night with her little paw on my shoulder. Now if only she would let me keep that bow in her hair for more than two minutes after she comes back from the groomer.

She is such a sweet baby, and there's no better way to start the day than a loving kiss from her.

You can keep your cats and psychiatrists...I've got Bella.