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Bugs and stuff

Who else is love?
pseudomonas me scripsit anno 2005

I don't like to bore people with health issues but I've been a little down the last few days. I have chronic problems with allergies and acid reflux and have suffered from a cough, mostly at night. This back and forth weather we've been having, warm and muggy, then cold and damp, sometimes dry, sometimes rainy, usually spell trouble for my immune system. Working off and on in the dust and mold around my home doesn't help either.

Speaking of, here is a little taste of the repairs I did to the structure of my utility room a few weeks ago:


This was the corner that was hit by a tree branch, opening up the roof so that Katrina's winds could rip up everything away, soffits, fascia, gutters, and most of the roof over my laundry room and guest room. The new 2X6 replaced the rafter which was most damaged while I was able to splice new 2x6's on five other rafters rather than replace them completely. The varnished-looking one next to the replacement is one of the splices.

The rafters sit on what are called "plates," two 2X4's that sit on top of the vertical studs. I tore out and replaced about thirty feet of these upper plates and about the same length of lower single plates along the floor. This meant jacking up my roof with a couple of 4 ton hydraulic jacks which helped make it manageable. I also spliced many of the studs along the walls and reinforced them by installing additional 2x4's between them on the bottom plate.

The white post you see in the corner replaced two 2x4's which were rotted at the bottom. I did the same to the opposite corner with these 4X4's someone was getting rid of. It should be far stronger than it was, with all the extra reinforcing I did.

I haven't been able to continue with the other work I started this past week. I ripped out all those tongue and groove boards on top which are just lying loose now on the rafters under my tarps. The weather hasn't cooperated much and I haven't been too well anyway. The next step will be to see if I have to repair any rafters over the major portion of my guest room (I already found one rotted out on the end) as well as all those upper plates on which the rafters sit.

Other than that, I have started writing again on my third Hale Harlay book. It is a lot more difficult at this time due to the stress and my difficulty in finding blocks of time to work.

However, here is another sample from my second book, Hale Harlay & Co.-The Harrow House Mystery, for those interested. It is the scene where Giselle and the twins - Nicola and Nora - visit Raye Lynn who is getting over a little "bug."


I scream, you scream, we all scream...

It wasn’t long before word got out about the confrontation in the mall. There were lots of stares and whispers at church Sunday morning. Giselle and Nora pretended not to notice, but Nicola basked in the attention. The twins’ parents spoke to Police Chief Harris after church, and he agreed to look into the incident. They weren’t so much interested in pressing charges as making sure the problem didn’t escalate.
Later that afternoon, Nora, Nicola and Giselle rode their bicycles to Raye Lynn’s house with the “Get Well” card they’d bought at the mall. They also carried a batch of oatmeal cookies they’d baked that morning. Before they’d rung the doorbell, a voice called out “Come on in.”
Raye Lynn was sitting on the black recliner talking on the telephone.
“Okay, gotta go,” she said. “The girls are here.”
Giselle cracked open the door, poked her head inside, and saw Raye Lynn walking toward her.
“C’mon, c’mon,” said Raye, swinging the door open. “Are you all right?”
“That’s what we were about to ask you,” said Nora.
“Oh, I’m fine, I’m great,” said Raye Lynn. “I’m gonna work with Hale and Ken tomorrow. So what’s the scoop?”
“Who was on the phone?” asked Giselle, handing Raye Lynn her cookies.
“That was Maggie,” Raye Lynn replied. She slipped an oatmeal cookie out from under the plastic wrap. “These look great!”
Raye Lynn offered the girls a cookie. Nora and Nicola looked over the platter and selected two choice cookies.
“So you already know everything,” Giselle said, passing on the cookies.
“Not everything. Let’s go in the kitchen and get some milk,” said Raye Lynn, munching away as she led the group.
While the girls filed into the kitchen, Raye Lynn opened the backdoor. She poked her head outside, where her parents were entertaining their next door neighbors on the patio.
“Hey Mama, Daddy, the girls are here,” said Raye Lynn. “They brought me cookies if you want some. Can we have a glass of milk?”
“Cookies? What kind?” asked her daddy.
“Homemade,” said Raye Lynn. “Oatmeal and raisin.”
“Yum,” he said. “Save us a few.”
“I will Daddy,” said Raye Lynn.
“Okay baby, help yourself,” said Mrs. Turner.
Nora and Nicola giggled. Raye Lynn showed them a small fist.
“You must like getting knocked down.”
“Big shot!” said Nicola.
“She only calls me “baby” in front of company,” said Raye Lynn, heading to the refrigerator. “I don’t get it. I really don’t have a clue.”
“I think it’s a parent thing,” said Nora.
“Probably,” said Raye Lynn, pulling the freezer door open. “Hey, vanilla ice cream. You wanna make ice cream sandwiches?”
“Scrums,” said the twins. Raye Lynn set the ice cream on the counter.
“So, did you talk to the princess?” asked Nora.
“You mean Jessica?”
“Who else,” said Nora. “What a brat. The stork that delivered her must have dropped her on her head.”
“The stork didn’t bring her,” said Raye Lynn. “It was a cuckoo.”
The twins started giggling again.
“You’re both wrong,” said Giselle, squeezing a scoop of ice cream between two oatmeal cookies. “She wasn’t delivered. She was catered.”
Nicola laughed, pretending she’d gotten the joke, but she didn’t. She wasn’t going to let the girls know, however, and her reaction seemed to make Giselle happy.
“I haven’t talked to Jessica yet,” said Raye Lynn, “just Maggie. She’s trying to get invited to my pool party. I told her I wasn’t sure if we were having one. Maggie thinks Jessica’s got her eye on Hale and Ken.”
“Now that would be interesting,” said Giselle. “Like throwing a couple of t-bone steaks to a hungry tiger.”
“I’m sure the boys can take care of themselves,” said Raye Lynn.
“You think so?” asked Giselle.
Raye Lynn let out a yawn. “I’m pretty sure.”
“When you find out something, be sure to give us the scoop,” said Nora.
“Nora, that was so feeble,” said Giselle. Nora stared back blankly.
After the girls finished assembling their ice cream sandwiches, they sat in a circle around the kitchen table. Raye Lynn made a face at Giselle, who had a dribble of ice cream trickling from the corner of her mouth. She tossed her a napkin.
“Okay, I’ve been waiting all day,” said Raye Lynn. “Spill it sister.”
“Spill what?” said Giselle, looking into her lap.
“Funny,” said Raye Lynn. “C’mon, quit stalling.”
“Well, quit stepping on the gas,” said Giselle, taking a leisurely bite of her ice cream sandwich. She waited for Raye to look really impatient, and then… “Okay, here goes.”
“Oh, I get it…like a “scoop” of ice cream,” said Nora.
“Sshhsh,” said Raye Lynn.
“Well, I made a funny,” Nora said.
Giselle began recounting the events leading up to the confrontation in the mall. The twins occasionally added a little color commentary of their own. Raye Lynn was fascinated and terribly disappointed she’d missed the whole thing. She was especially curious about Cory’s change of heart, although she agreed with the girls that it was probably just an act to impress Mrs. Catlain.
Raye Lynn sat glued to the edge of her seat until Giselle reached the details of the actual “fight.’ Nicola took over from there, presenting a wild-eyed narration that grabbed the attention of all three girls. When she reached the part where she blew dust into the girl’s face, Raye Lynn’s eyes nearly popped out of her head.
“Omigosh, what’d she do then?” asked Raye Lynn.
“She sneezed,” Nicola said with a chuckle. She licked the ice cream around the edge of her cookies. “You should have seen her face! Then the witch pushed me down when I wasn’t looking!”
“Cheap shot!” said Nora, squeezing out a glob of ice cream.
“Nicola’s still upset that I didn’t do anything,” said Giselle. “I could’ve taken her out, but who knows what would have happened? We might’ve all been hauled off to jail.”
“Mama’s got the cops on her tail,” said Nicola. “Gonna put her under a light and give her the third degree.”
“Chief Harris is just going to talk to her parents,” said Nora. “If she tries anything else, she’s in big trouble.”
“I think Giselle did the right thing,” said Raye Lynn. “Look what happened after the fight at HillMart. Giselle got grounded for a month.”
“I suppose,” said Nicola.
“After all, we’re still friends, right?” said Raye Lynn. “Friends always stick up for one other.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Nicola, taking a bite of her ice cream sandwich.
“Which reminds me,” said Raye Lynn. “Are you still mad at Ken?”
Nicola clenched her jaw and stared at the ceiling. She said “Yes and no.”
“Tell me what’s going on, Nicola,” said Raye Lynn.
“Well, I’m still mad at him because he treats me like a kid,” said Nicola. “I don’t even treat real kids like that. Mama says I have to be nice and make up and be friends again because he saved Nora’s life…”
“That’s not what she said,” said Nora.
“Well it’s true,” said Nicola. “Anyway, I guess he can’t help being a goofy boy, and I still want to be in the talent show, so I bought a friendship card and I’m going to put it in his mailbox tomorrow.”
“Are you sorry you hit him?” asked Raye Lynn.
Nicola lowered her eyes. “I guess so. I know I shouldn’t have done it, but he deserved it. I’m gonna say I’m sorry, all right?”
“That should work,” said Raye Lynn. “We’ll all feel better when this is over. Everything will be back to normal, except I’ll bet Ken starts treating you with a little more respect. I really don’t think he knew he was hurting your feelings.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot,” said Giselle. “We got you a card too. Nicola?”
Nicola said “Uh, oh,” and reached into her pocket. The card wasn’t too rumpled. She pressed her hand down against it, smoothed it out on the table, and then handed it to Raye Lynn.
Raye Lynn opened the envelope and smiled. The front of the card showed a brown mutt with sad eyes and an ice bag on its head. Inside, it said “You know you’ve had a good time when you can’t remember where you buried the bone.” After that, the girls had written “You may be a sick puppy, but you belong to us…Luv, the girls--- Giselle, Nora & Nicola.”
“That’s me all right,” laughed Raye Lynn, “a real sick puppy, and I’m the pick of the litter.”
Nora tossed a napkin at Raye Lynn and cut loose with a couple of “arf-arf’s.” Raye Lynn howled back.
“We’re glad you’re feeling better,” said Giselle. “You look like you’re back to your old self---for whatever that’s worth.”
“We’ve got news about the radio play too,” said Nora. “Guess where we went yesterday?”
“Miss Alicia’s,” said Nora.
Nora leaned back in her chair waiting for a response.
“Harrow House?” said Raye Lynn excitedly. “I’m going there with Ken and Hale tomorrow. Tell me everything.”
Nora and Nicola recounted their story of the hats Miss Alicia had made, mustard and gray knitted flip-brims, with an embroidered butterfly on one and a flower on the other. They told Raye about the boy on the corner, the flagstone steps, the brass knocker, the stained glass, the antique furniture, the lucky bamboo, the library and sewing room, the caterpillars, and of course, Miss Alicia’s mother.
“I heard they kept her locked up in the attic or basement or something,” said Raye Lynn, disappointed at the idea of tea and cookies with a nice old lady. She perked up, however, when she heard she’d been an actress, and there was a possibility of her performing in the talent show.
“Of course, we don’t have a part for her in the script yet,” said Giselle, “but I’m sure we could make a few revisions. I’m thinking of changing the part of the shopkeeper’s wife to his grandmother. Nora and Nicola said she has a really great voice, even if she is just a sweet old lady.”
“You’d better not say that in front of her,” said Nora. “I don’t think she’s as harmless as she looks.”
“You should’a seen the look she gave us when we first got there,” said Nicola.
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” said Giselle. “I wouldn’t say it to her face.”
“Let’s call Hale and tell him about it now,” said Raye Lynn. “His grandpa has a lot of old radio tapes. Maybe he has The Cracked Mirror. I think we should start making changes right away.”
“Hey, wait a minute,” said Nora. “She isn’t even sure if she’ll do it yet.”
“Don’t worry about that,” said Raye Lynn. “I’ll talk to her tomorrow. It’s as good as done.”
“What about Ken?” said Nicola. “Maybe we should wait until I give him his card.”
“Don’t worry about that either,” said Raye Lynn. “If there’s a problem, I can take care of that too.”
After clearing the table, the girls ran into the living room and called Hale. It turned out that he was at Ken’s house, which was even better. Now they could get the whole gang on board and start the ball rolling.
Unfortunately, Hale and Ken weren’t agreeable. After hearing of the twins’ conversation with the old ladies, Hale huddled with Ken for a few moments, and then got back on the line.
“We don’t think it’s such a good idea Raye,” said Hale. “We’ve practically got the script finished. Everyone worked really hard on it, and I don’t think it’s worth the trouble to make more changes.”
“Giselle already has an idea for switching one of the characters…”
“Which character?” Hale asked.
“The shopkeeper’s wife. We can change her to his grandmother.”
“You can’t do that. The whole impact comes from the jealousy angle.”
Raye Lynn put her hand over the mouthpiece and turned to Giselle.
“Hale says the whole impact comes from the jealousy angle.”
“I can fix it,” said Giselle.
“Giselle can fix it,” said Raye Lynn.
“Aw Raye, I don’t know,” said Hale. “It’s so late to be making changes, and suppose the lady’s terrible. We’ll be stuck.”
“Hale, the lady was a professional actress! The twins said she still has it.”
Hale and Ken began talking back and forth, while Raye Lynn held her breath and crossed her fingers. Then she thought she heard Hale say “That’s so mean.”
“What’s so mean, Hale?” she asked. “Hale, what’s so mean?”
There was a scratching sound and Hale got back on the phone.
“I said what’s so mean?”
“Aw, Ken said it might be a good way of writing Nicola out of the script,” Hale laughed. “He didn’t mean it.” Hale and Ken began talking again.
“What’s so mean?” asked Giselle.
“Oh, Ken made some snippy remark about writing Nicola out of the script,” said Raye Lynn. “He was just kidding.”
“That was mean,” said Giselle.
“I’ll bet he’s serious,” said Nicola. “That’s something Ken would do.”
“He really was probably just kidding,” said Raye Lynn.
“Oh, really probably,” said Nicola. “That makes me feel all better.”
Hale got back on the line.
“That was very mean, Hale,” said Raye. “You tell Ken Nicola’s very upset.”
“You mean Nicola’s there?”
“All the girls are,” said Raye Lynn.
“Well, what did you tell her for? Are you trying to create more problems?”
“I don’t appreciate you talking to me in that tone, Hale Harlay.”
“Well, for cryin’ out…”
“And just for that, I won’t tell you what happened at the mall last night involving several people we all know.”
“What people?”
“Unh, huh, Mr. Smarty! Now you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow when we go to Harrow House. That’s what you get for going around talking about people. I might tell you about it then.”
“Oh, yeah, about the Harrow House thing…”
Raye Lynn switched the phone to her other ear.
“Hale, you’re certainly not going to back out of it now?” asked Raye Lynn. “I got a new outfit and everything.”
Hale looked at Ken and rolled his eyes, and then took a deep breath.
“No, everything’s still on,” he said. “We’ll pass by at 7:40. We’ve got to get there by 8:00. Sharp!”
“Fine, I’ll see you in the morning,” said Raye Lynn.
“Tell everyone the meeting’s still on for Tuesday and I’ll talk to Giselle tomorrow,” said Hale, “and tell Nicola Ken wasn’t serious.”
“Okay, and tell Ken he’d better get his act together.”
Hale put his hand over the phone.
“Raye Lynn says hello.”
Ken sighed and gave a little wave.
“Okay. Ken says hello.”
“All right, I’ve got to go,” said Raye Lynn. “I want to visit with the girls some more. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Okay, bye,” said Hale.
Raye Lynn looked at the faces of the three girls on the floor. The air was thick with disappointment. Raye Lynn cleared her throat.
“Giselle, as soon as I talk to Miss Leah, I’ll give you the okay to start the revisions. Don’t worry about the guys. I know how to handle them. They’re only resisting because it was our idea.”
“I’ll start a new outline tonight, and I’ll let Hale know about it tomorrow,” said Giselle. “I’m sure he’ll see it our way once we work the tangles out.”
“You okay with that Nora? Nicola?”
Nora nodded. Nicola shrugged her shoulders.
“You’re not going to let what Ken said bother you?” said Raye Lynn.
“Nicola’s very sensitive,” said Nora.
“I am not sensitive, and I hate it when people talk about me like I’m not sitting here in the room,” said Nicola.
“We’re not people, Nicola, we’re your friends,” said Raye Lynn. “Hey, don’t look so glum.”
“Well, Nora doesn’t think it’s any big deal because Ken’s her big hero.”
“That’s not fair,” said Nora. “Ken’s got his faults, but inside he’s a really nice boy, even if he does like to pick. I want to scratch his eyes out sometimes, but he only picks on us because he likes us.”
“We learned in church we’re supposed to love everybody,” said Raye Lynn.
“Well, I’m working on it,” said Nicola, “but Ken Haskell’s definitely at the bottom of my list.” She wrapped her arms around herself. “I am so cold.”
“I’ll say,” said Raye Lynn.
“No, I’m really cold,” said Nicola.
“It’s probably the ice cream,” said Nora.
“Actually, ice cream has the opposite effect,” said Giselle. “Consuming all those sugars and fats in a helping of ice cream…”
“Okay, okay Giselle, cap it!” said Nicola.
“Sheesh! I was just trying to help,” said Giselle. “Maybe you are coming down with something. You don’t look so good.”
Nicola stood up and stretched out her arms. “I’m all right, just tired. But it’s getting late, and we’d better be heading home. I’m just taking up space anyway.”
“You are not,” said Raye Lynn. “Now, you’re still gonna give that card to Ken, aren’t you?”
“I’ll think about it,” said Nicola. “I suppose. It cost me almost two dollars.”
“Well, just remember, everything’s gonna be all right,” said Raye Lynn. “You know things always work out for the best.”

Okay, I'm off. Enjoy your weekend!


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
I hope you'll be feeling better soon! And I have ordered the two Hale Harlay books from amazon.com! I sent the order for them (and a couple of other books) a few days ago and chose the free shipping option, so they might arrive next week or the week after. I'm looking forward to them!
Jan. 7th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
Isn't that too cool? You'll soon be learning how my imagination really operates.
Jan. 8th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
I'm looking forward to it!
Jan. 7th, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
get well soon!!
Jan. 7th, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
It just comes and goes. Last night was awful. I'll muddle through. Thanks.
Jan. 7th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
Oh come now.. you are doing more than muddling through.
Jan. 8th, 2006 12:48 am (UTC)
OH, NO!! I'm so sorry you're feeling poorly... Wish I could help you out... You'll be in my prayers, at least! *BIG HUG*
Jan. 8th, 2006 02:36 am (UTC)
***rubbing ears and scrunching brow***

"I'm sorry... Whaaaat?" (hehehe)
Jan. 8th, 2006 03:25 am (UTC)
*Sheesh*! You know what I mean...... *lol* =P
Jan. 8th, 2006 03:58 am (UTC)
Hhmmm... maybe I'd better explain.

I used to play this little game with my niece when she was little.

She'd kiss me on the cheek when I'd have to leave and say, "I love you P" (for my middle name).

I'd pretend I didn't notice and say, "Whaaat?"

She'd give me another little peck and say, "I love you P."

I'd scrunch my eyes again and say, "Whaaaat?"

Eventually she'd start laughing.

Well, you get the idea. I had so much fun with her and her brothers. I miss that.

Now, you did know that's what I meant. Right?

(although I could use all the hugs I can get)

Jan. 8th, 2006 04:08 am (UTC)
Ahhhh, okay - that's a cute story... Kids are great, especially when they're little... I should know - I'm the oldest of 10, you know!
Jan. 8th, 2006 01:34 am (UTC)
Okay, here's the dumb question of the day: What age group is this intended for? I enjoyed the excerpt and was just wondering.
Jan. 8th, 2006 03:12 am (UTC)
That is not a dumb question under any circumstances.

My stories are mostly read by adults, although kids around 11 and up (that like to read) enjoy them too. Some parents have read them to their younger kids. My second book is around 120,000 words, a little shorter than the longer Harry Potter books. I've always had a love and fascination with the process of "growing up," and these are the results of that fascination.

I describe the stories as "fantasy on its head," in that they portray characters, settings, and a mindset that no longer exists (maybe just barely) but were once fairly normal. They live in a small town (which could be almost anywhere), live in a fairly modern environment, but behave in a decidedly unique and captivating manner.

I think people like them for the same reason I do. They love to read about characters similar to themselves, and the ones they knew as kids, or wish they knew. They can dream about the kinds of adventures and mystery that can happen to anyone willing to get off the couch and go looking for it.

The stories are funny (as you probably noticed), sentimental, nostalgic, thrilling, and often spooky. There's hardly a dysfunctional family or angst-ridden teen in sight (although they do pop up from time to time to cause problems for the gang).

Hale and the gang are six lovable kids, not all perfect, but fiercely loyal and curious despite occasionally getting on each others nerves (see excerpt above). The twins, redheaded eleven-year-olds, younger than the other kids, can be very exasperating but always lovable

If you'd like to check out some more samples (unformatted) from prvious posts, go here:




I am glad that you enjoyed this little excerpt. (Sorry, I do tend to ramble on)

Jan. 9th, 2006 06:23 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for rambling!! I'll have to go onto Amazon in Feb. and order these. I'm sure my youngest would love me reading them to him, and my oldest will, begrudingly, because that's the way it is with him, admit to liking them, too. May I tell them I correspond with you? Forwarning, if you say yes, they'll probably want to write to you. If that's okay, and all.

*hugs* for all your renovations.

Kat :)
Jan. 9th, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC)
Of course you may.

You might want to read them some of my excerpts to see if they like them. Any way I can stimulate a child's imagination and help them see their possibilities is okay with me.

It's also nice to know you can make people laugh, sometimes cry, and perhaps have a little chill or two... and especially remind them of how cool growing up can be.

That's why I do what I do.
Jan. 8th, 2006 03:06 am (UTC)
I hope you feel better, metaphors. It's all the work you've been doing that's knocked you out.

Do you have a place to cook in your house right now? Does anyone cook for you, or do you do all of the cooking? I live on homemade chicken soup and oranges (if they're in season) when I am sick.

I do hope you get well soon.

That "lj username" tag you invented, BTW, is way cool!!!

Jan. 9th, 2006 01:06 am (UTC)
Thanks for the nice comments. You're right to a certain point about the work, but that only exacerbates the problem. Genetically, I'm just a mess.

I do cook for myself. Sometimes I just do what's convenient, even though I know better. People with acid reflux should avoid chocolate, alcohol, sugar, dairy products, caffeine, fats... Ha! Plus I'm allergic to dairy and peanuts, dust and pets, and practically everything that grows.

If I'm very careful, I do okay. I'm big on chicken soup too, and vitamin C, plus raw garlic and honey and apple cider vinegar. Unfortunately, the battle is often overwhelming. I'm lucky I do as well as I do, I suppose.
Jan. 9th, 2006 03:15 am (UTC)
Jeez.. I'm colorful.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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