And the Weirdness Goes On

Here are some photos of my other weird rose “blooms,” all on the same bush:

So I did a bit of research and eventually found out that certain fertilizers can be the cause. It just so happens I’d run out of my rose specific Miracle Gro fertilizer and couldn’t find any more in local stores. Instead I had to settle for “All Purpose Plant Food” that included roses in the long list of plants it would work with. Here’s another shot:

As days went by and more and more of the prolific buds unfurled, all of them warped in some way, I finally tried the internet again, and this time hit pay-dirt. It turns out that with roses, all purpose fertilizers can cause the plant to go bonkers and pretty much do what mine is doing. It recommends that I cut off the weird blooms and use a fertilizer specific to roses.

I want to fix this so it’s normal again, thus following the instructions I’d found, I cut off the weird blooms, watered the plant well and am waiting. So far, among the other blooms getting ready to unfurl, most of them are looking normal. But time will tell…

Inside Out Rose Bud

I inherited my mother’s potted rose bushes upon her death a number of years ago: a pink one and a red one. The plants themselves are easily over ten years old and have been blooming faithfully and normally all that time. Until this year when the red one has done something I’ve never seen before:

It’s got a new bud growing out of the flower itself. This is, according to articles I’ve read online, “extremely rare.” And it’s not the only one on the bush. I wonder… is this a version of botanical dementia? 😁

Correct Link to Pre-Order the new Hardcover Publication of ARENA

Arena

https://BIT.LY/Arena20thAnniversary

Sorry for the malfunctioning link in my last post. It wasn’t clear at the outset that the “bit.ly” part had to be all Caps, and only after a bit of searching did I uncover this element. In fact, even with this correction, I’m not sure it would take one to the correct page. So far it’s been working for me. If it doesn’t work for you, just go to Amazon and type in “Arena Hardcover Hancock.” If that doesn’t work, please let me know and I’ll pass it on to the Enclave People.

Arena: The New Cover Reveal

Yes, it’s really going to happen. Enclave Publishing has just released the artwork for this special 20th Anniversary hardcover edition of my first novel, Arena. Kirk DouPonce, the cover artist, has done a great job echoing the original design even as he’s updated it for a new audience.

Image preview

This will be a limited edition hardcover. Very limited, I’m told, so you should preorder now! Releasing in April 2022. Here is the link if you’re interested:

https://BIT.LY/Arena20thAnniversary

Rocky

Well here it is, almost a year and a half since my post about the loss of our beloved Redbone coonhound Quigley. Unfortunately, the breeder we had gotten him from had passed away shortly before Quigley died, and there was no one else in Arizona who bred Redbones. As it turned out, we had a long time friend and breeder of Treeing Walker Coonhounds, who not only lives in the Tucson area, she also “happened” to have a bitch that delivered a set of 8 pups the same day that Quigley died.

Well, that pretty much sealed the deal. Could God have been any clearer with His timing and direction? We went down to visit them when they were about 5 weeks old, and they were SOOO cute:

When they were 8 weeks old we returned to make our selection of little Smooth Running Rocky (his official name). You’d think with him being a coonhound and all, he wouldn’t be that different from our Redbones, but he is. He likes to sit up on his back legs and lift his forelegs before him. None of our dogs have ever done that. (He especially likes to do this in the morning when I’m still in bed. Puts his forepaws on the side of the bed as if telling me it’s time to get up.)

I’m tempted to say he grew like a weed, but the comparison doesn’t do him justice. Here’s a more current picture taken on one of our many walks.

He’s funny and smart and needs lots of exercise which is good for us, too. As far as tricks, it only takes about one iteration (plus a tasty treat) and he’s got it down. Blows me away. He’s also incredibly soft (his coat, that is) and barely sheds at all. On the down side, as of yet he can’t be left in the back yard for long or he’ll start digging holes. In fact if we don’t have him on a leash when we take him in the back yard he’ll almost immediately start digging. We are hoping he will eventually outgrow this behavior… in the meantime we take him on lots of walks both around the yard, through the neighborhood, on a lengthy path along Tucson’s Rillito River, and, perhaps his favorite, a little known and sparsely populated local canyon where he can be off leash without running into cars or other people.

Arena to be Re-Released

Yes, that’s right. Bethany House, having recently returned to me the publishing rights for my first novel, Arena, meant it was available to other publishers who might be interested in releasing it. It wasn’t long before Enclave Publishing picked it up for an updated, re-release under their banner. Thus for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading through my original manuscript and comparing it with the final published version, looking for things I might change to make the writing clearer.

Throughout this period I’ve been in a partial state of disbelief, but yes, it really looks like it’s going to happen! Stay tuned for further developments and the cover reveal!

The Best Laid Plans…

… don’t always unfold as one would like. Here it is, almost a year since my last post, wherein I reported on my desire to be more consistent in my blogging again, only to fail epically. I ask myself, what in the world happened?

Quigley Drawn to the Birthday Cake

Well, in the late winter and early spring, Quigley, our dear Redbone Coonhound then twelve and a half years old, began to show a limp, and other signs of pain. Initial diagnosis was a bulging disc in his spine. For several weeks we had to take him to the vet’s office for regular laser treatments to ease the pain and inflammation. They seemed to work. For awhile I could still take him for a three mile morning walk, but it became harder and harder for him to go the distance and eventually I stopped taking him. Then we noticed that fluid had begun to build up in his abdomen, whereupon the diagnosis changed from bulging disc to congestive heart failure.

On March 21, not long after my birthday, my husband and I took him on a short midday walk through a nearby park where he got to trot around, and smell all the things hounds love to smell. Home again, and after dinner and the last of the birthday cake, we settled down to watch a movie. As the show ended and the credits began to roll, I told Quigley, who was lying under the coffee table between us and the TV, that it was time for his pill. He didn’t move much but then he’d not been moving much lately anyway. I went into the kitchen to get his pill, calling for him to come and get it.

When he continued to lie there, I brought the pill to him, patted him, and told him again that it was time for his pill. And still he didn’t move. Finally it dawned on me that not only was he not lifting his head, he didn’t appear to be breathing either. So I looked more closely and felt his ribcage. No movement at all. I put my hand over his nose — his lips were still warm and wet — but there was no breath coming out of them. He was gone.

I came unglued. My husband and I just held each other for awhile and then he went out to dig a grave in the back yard, which is his way of dealing with these losses. I just sat with Quigley’s body, mourning even as I was so grateful to have had him in my life. He was my guardian, my friend, my security system, my walking buddy, and just a wonderful blessing on a day by day basis. I’m so thankful to have had him for the twelve and a half years that we did. Twelve and a half seems way too short. But it turns out our previous Redbone, Bear, was also twelve and half when he died. I did a bit of research, and found out this was an average lifespan for dogs of their size. Which isn’t as good as a chihuahua (something like 20 years) but way better than Great Danes (6 or 7 years).

Slowly Getting Up to Speed

Well, I’ve spent the day dealing with my website and blog, trying to adjust to all the changes that have occurred since I first “paused” in my blogging. It’s been quite a week. I’ve had to deal with SSH credentials, VaultPress , UpDraft Plus, WordPress 4 and 5 and I don’t know what all… My biggest problem was that WordPress recommended that everyone update their PHP version; and then at the same time said don’t worry:

“WordPress recommends everyone update their PHP version, but this is often not possible. This is why your site is using Hardened PHP by CloudLinux. “

I’m still not entirely sure what CloudLinux is, only that WordPress didn’t like it. For awhile I was told that I couldn’t update anything because the new update, WP 5.3.2 demanded PHP vs 5, and I only had… PHP 3, I think, which for reasons I’ve already forgotten, I couldn’t seem to get. Somehow I just blundered my way through it all and finally, just when I was about to give it up — Voila! It worked! I think. I have yet to publish this post. But I no longer have scarlet warning spots scattered about my dashboard, and I have a Preview and a Publish button I can click on… Looks promising, so here I go…

Play Manchurian For Me

Well here I am with my website open, the screen ready to receive my words of wisdom, or at the least, words of interest! Ah but what to write about? The latest book I’ve been reading? The fact that I am once again very slowly moving toward getting back to work on The Other Side of the Sky? Very slowly.

So let’s go back to the reading, which I’ve been doing a lot of. In fact, I Just finished Richard Condon’s The Manchurian Candidate, a classic from the fifties. The reason I was reading that was because I had just finished Dean Koontz’s recent five book Jane Hawk series: The Silent Corner, The Whispering Room, The Crooked Staircase, The Forbidden Door, and The Night Window. Read them all pretty much back to back. They’re huge books, but riveting, and a key component in them is a sort of brainwashing technique that the evil cabal trying to take over the world has used on various Persons of Importance. For the most part these persons seem perfectly normal, their regular old selves. But should someone come by and utter the phrase “Play Manchurian for me”, they fall into a trance-like state where they’ll do anything they are asked to do. Including kill themselves, though more often it was others they were killing …

The use of that triggering phrase then spiked my interest in reading The Manchurian Candidate, since it had obviously informed Koontz’s novels. It was one I’d long heard of but never actually read. When I couldn’t find it at the library, I purchased my own used copy from Amazon. After reading it, I rented the 1962 movie version of the novel starring Frank Sinatra, and Angela Lansbury. It was all quite fascinating.

For those of you who don’t know, the “Manchurian Candidate” was a soldier in the Korean War, captured and then brainwashed/hypnotized by his captors to carry out assassinations when he was confronted with the appropriate trigger. In the Koontz book it was the phrase “Play Manchurian for me.”

One thing of particular interest to me with the Koontz series was that the final volume of the series ended with the big showdown between the competing forces gathering around the Casa Grande area in Arizona and moving on to Phoenix, which isn’t all that far from Tucson. It was fun to read about saguaros and cholla and desert and places I’ve actually been.

Yes, it’s true these books aren’t for everyone, and I’m not really much of a horror fan, but Koontz is such a splendid wordsmith, character creator and plotter, that I’ve been pretty much entranced by all his works. Plus they almost always have dogs in them. And this series was no exception. 😊

The Sabbatical Year Perhaps Comes to an End?

Hello again, my dear WordPress blog readers and subscribers! Hope you all had a grand time over the holidays and that you missed out on the flu season of  2018/19. We did not, alas, but we did discover an unexpected remedy for a cough: chocolate. My husband heard Rush Limbaugh talking about it and gave it a try, and is convinced it works. He kept telling me to try it out and so one day when the coughing just would not stop, I  made myself a cup of Starbucks Hot Cocoa Mix and one sip was all it took. I’m not exaggerating. The cough stopped after one sip and stayed gone almost all day.  Whereas prior to that I coughed all day. So I’m a believer, now!  (And also a chocolate lover; does that make my conclusion biased?)

The flu and the holidays also contributed to my failure to post as much as I’d hoped (even if it was only once or twice a week), but perhaps now that all that’s behind us, I can be a little more regular.  I’m pretty sure some of it’s related to burnout, though life getting in the way also contributed.  Then again, I can’t say I’ve done nothing, seeing as I have 17 chapters of first draft material for my work kinda/sorta-in-progress (ie, The Other Side of the Sky), though that was all carried out in previous years, before the point a year ago when I just couldn’t make myself go on…  So, we’ll see how it goes.

P.S  I just found a post I did on Burnout in August of 2010 a tad over eight  years ago. I was flabbergasted to discover it.  How can that be possible? Time really has gotten away from me. The link, which was supplied to me by WordPress just now is right here:

Burnout