I recently repotted my little yellow miniature rosebush, and then proceeded to way over-water it. Now it has a bunch of dead or dying leaves, but the new soil does appear to be soaking up the leftover water, so I’m in hopes that it will soon bloom again. Because of being repotted, and also being moved from the bookcase, which is about 52” high, to the desk, which is 40” high, I’m sure it’s been badly shocked. And then, to add insult to injury, I over-watered it. Poor thing. My sister says I should talk to it when I water it, and I haven’t tried that yet, but it may help—who knows?

Have I discussed my collectibles before? I used to collect owls, and got up to 19 of them, all varied but mostly small porcelain or clay figures. When I had to move and downsize, I gave them to my son who doesn’t really care about them, but displays them in his living room. After I stopped collecting owls, I moved on to Erté plates from Franklin Mint. I have six, and two coffee table books about them. But it’s been a year or more since I looked at the books, and I had to put the plates away when I downsized four years ago.

Many years ago, mostly because of my interest in Erté fashion, I started collecting fashionable ladies, mostly in porcelain and mostly less than a foot tall. I now have three 18” tall ladies (one Lladro), two 8” tall Lladro bridesmaids, one 8” tall Royal Daulton lady and a lovely slender 8” tall lady my sister sent me from Paris. My sister also sent me a painting of a pink lady and another of a model wearing a lovely scarf. There is also a 2’ tall plaster white lady that I saw in a thrift shop and had to have.

A friend recently gave me three little snowmen (about 5” tall), and I had long ago found a 15-16” tall Irish Santa figure, that have become part of my collection. In addition, I have a pair of old-fashioned baseball kids, 6” tall, in plaster.

My final topic today is about my latest WIP, a collection of short stories, similar to my self-published book, “The Dawn People,” about life in the Grey Owl tribe of the Megalithic era. I’d drafted ten stories until I started to edit them and realized three of them really didn’t belong. So I had to come up with three more stories that would fit, and those are still in very rough draft form at this point.

I’m still working on two other YA books, one a fantasy about a witch and a gemstone, and the other Book One of a thriller trilogy, about an investigative reporter who takes a sabbatical to drive around the Pacific Coast mourning her beloved husband. I’ve finished a YA novella called “Magical Brownies,” and another, contemporary middle grade book, called “Snow” about a girl and her white horse, which I’ve discussed here before. But so far I haven’t had any luck getting the attention of an agent or a publisher for either book.

17. November 2022 · Comments Off on A SUNDAY PICNIC · Categories: --- · Tags: , , ,

In his new white Lexus convertible, Dave O’Reilly drove his girlfriend of just a few weeks, Iris McArthur, through the quiet Northern California countryside. A closed picnic basket sat on the back seat next to Iris’s black and white Springer spaniel, Maxie. Newly in love, the young couple found it almost impossible to keep their hands off one another.

“I hope you like potato salad,” Iris said dreamily, snuggling close. Dave nodded sagely; he would like just about anything she had prepared for them.

They drove through the countryside on this Sunday afternoon in early spring, listening to their favorite songs on a CD, admiring the scenery, and searching for a likely place to stop for their picnic.

“How about under that tree up there, on the little hill?” Iris asked, pointing her adorable chin.

Dave shook his head. “No, honey; I think that’s private property.” Smiling, Iris nodded and patted his knee, then leaned over to lay her head on his shoulder while he grinned contentedly and put his free arm around her.

After an hour or two – neither of them particularly aware of just how much time had passed – they found a perfect spot for a picnic. As Dave pulled into a verge beside the road, the dog bounded out of the car and directly over to a tall tree, where he lifted his leg to water it.

Iris chuckled, and said, “I guess it’s a good thing we stopped when we did.”

Dave grinned at Maxie’s obvious relief, and they climbed out of the car and carried the basket over to a big, shady oak tree. Iris laid out a blue and white tablecloth from the basket, some covered bowls, plastic glasses, and a bottle of sparkling cider.

Maxie, the dog, bounded joyfully over to a small creek that wound its way through the little valley where they had parked, barked at nothing and ran back to his mistress. He barked again, as if to say that this was indeed a very good spot, and then settled down beside the tablecloth, panting happily.

“Let’s eat,” Iris said, and uncovered the bowls and began pouring the cider. There was cold chicken, potato salad and chocolate cake, which they ate slowly, occasionally passing bits of chicken and cake to the dog or to one another. They chatted tranquilly between kisses, enchanted by the changing images in the clouds floating overhead, and by the sun slowly sinking behind the nearby mountains. After a while, they both grew drowsy in the late afternoon warmth.

***

“Huh, what?!” Dave was suddenly awakened by the feeling of a hand laid lightly on his stomach. Expecting to see his lovely Iris, he smiled slowly and then opened his eyes to observe that the afternoon had grown late and it was getting dark. His smile quickly vanished as he found himself looking directly into the crazed, wild eyes of a life-sized gargoyle.

He jerked upright, suddenly terrified. What had happened? He looked around wildly for Iris, fearing that the monster had done away with her while they slept. The dog lay silently beside Dave, its eyes open but unseeing.

Dave couldn’t see his girlfriend, and then the gargoyle-like creature leaned in closer to him and grinned, its mouth dripping saliva and blood, and he screamed in terror. The monster’s mouth opened wider and wider and, as it came closer to him, Dave saw that it was wearing Iris’s pretty dotted Swiss dress and white shoes.

21. October 2022 · Comments Off on Blog About Me · Categories: Blog

I’ve been very busy lately writing, often for five hours a day. The rest of the time I play solitaire, bridge, Scrabble (all online), and watch moves on Prime Video or Netflix. I rarely watch any TV nowadays; I think my interest prior to recently was in the political situation, because my son and daughter-in-law are very interested in politics. But I’ve lost interest now, aside from filling in my Vote By Mail ballot,

I’ve also taken up jewelry design, but it may be a fading interest; and my son and daughter-in-law (Andy and Cathy) visit on Sundays (usually) and we have game night. We play board games and card games, and talk.

My work in progress currently consists of a thriller titled “Mama’s Boy,” a mystery/suspense trilogy (at least the first book in the series) titled “Sabbatical: A Town Called Peaceful,” three or four short stories that I’ve been inspired to write, and my most recent blog, Climate Change Now. A long time ago I wrote a poem I called “Beauty,” and recently submitted it for critique to Writing.com, where it’s received a number of positive, if not glowing, reviews. I’ve also posted a number of stories there, most of which also get good reviews. I wish my books on Amazon got those good reviews.

One other thing: A year or two ago, I bought myself a tiny yellow rosebush and we’ve recently had to repot it as it’s grown several feet. Right now there’s one blossom, and I can see three buds that will soon be blossoming, I’ve never, ever been able to keep a plant alive for more than a few weeks until this one. I’ve very proud of it.

Anyway, that’s pretty much what’s going on in my life.

15. October 2022 · Comments Off on CLIMATE CHANGE NOW! · Categories: Blog

Mother Earth is reacting to the world’s indifference to its warnings, so they are currently intensifying. Since so many people have resisted prior warnings about nature’s imbalance, Nature herself must now take a hand.

She started with higher temperatures and more hurricanes, and no one listened. She went on with insect infestations such as “murder hornets,” and others. Still no one listened. So she sent the coronavirus (and then its variants). Are we listening now?

During the 1970s, Congress wanted NASA to do more research to meet “national needs.” These needs included energy efficiency, pollution, ozone depletion, and climate change. In 1976, Congress revised the Space Act, authorizing NASA to research the stratospheric ozone layer. This formalized the agency’s movement into Earth sciences.

Something I just recently learned: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The effect of this acidity is to kill hundreds if not thousands of fish and other sea creatures. This itself has the effect of causing ocean predators to create other methods of locating sustenance, such as moving closer inland and eating (thus decimating) creatures that wouldn’t ordinarily be their prey.

The above can eventually lead to the extinction of many other small creatures that have evolved to live just offshore.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, climate change is the result of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels for energy and other human activities. These gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, warm and alter the global climate, which causes environmental changes to occur that can harm people’s health and well-being. The NIEHS Climate Change and Human Health Program leads and coordinates the institute’s efforts to better understand climate change, in order to protect people’s health.

While climate change is a global process, it has very local impacts that can profoundly affect communities. It can affect people’s health and well-being in many ways, some of which are already occurring, by:

  • Increasing the frequency and severity of heat waves, leading to more heat-related illnesses and deaths, and wildfires.
  • Changing the range of disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas that transmit West Nile Virus, dengue fever, Lyme disease, and malaria to humans.
  • Increasing exposure to pollen, due to increased plant growing seasons; molds, due to severe storms; and air pollution, due to increased temperature and humidity, all of which can worsen allergies and other lung diseases, such as asthma.
  • Increasing temperatures, causing poor air quality that can affect the heart and worsen cardiovascular disease.
  • Increasing flooding events and sea level rise, that can contaminate water with harmful bacteria, viruses, and chemicals, causing foodborne and waterborne illnesses.
  • Increasing the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, in addition to causing illnesses, injuries, deaths, and effects on mental health from damage to property, loss of loved ones, displacement, and chronic stress.
  • Placing added stress on hospital and public health systems, and limiting people’s ability to obtain adequate health care during extreme climate events.

Scientists attribute the global warming trend observed since the mid-20th century to the human expansion of the “greenhouse effect”–warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.

According to NASA, the vital signs of climate change include the facts that carbon dioxide has increased to 414 parts per million, the arctic ice minimum has decreased by 12.85% per decade, and the sea level has been rising 3.3 millimeters per year. More recently, The Jason-3, Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason-2, and Jason-1 missions recorded a sea level rise of nearly 4 inches (about 10 centimeters) since 1993.

NASA points out that “Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as ‘forcing’ climate change. Gases, such as water vapor, which respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are seen as “feedbacks.” Feedbacks include gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluoro-carbons.

In 1993, NASA stated the global temperature was up two degrees F since 1880, and pointed out that although two degrees may sound like a small amount, it’s an unusual event in our planet’s recent history. Earth’s climate record, preserved in tree rings, ice cores, and coral reefs, shows that the global average temperature is stable over long periods of time. Furthermore, small changes in temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment. For example, at the end of the last ice age, when the Northeast United States was covered by more than 3,000 feet of ice, average temperatures were only 5 to 9 degrees cooler than today.

By 2007, the accumulation of new Earth science data helped the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the United Nations body established to assess the science related to climate change – reach the conclusion that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (human-produced) greenhouse gas concentrations.” But there’s still a lot to learn about the consequences. How much warmer will it get? How much will sea level rise?

According to National Climate Assessment Reports (NCAR), global climate is predicted to continue to change over this century and beyond. Temperatures will continue to rise, frost-free season (and growing season) will lengthen, changes in precipitation patterns, there will be more droughts and heat waves, hurricanes will become stronger and more intense, sea level will rise up to eight feet by the year 2100, the arctic is likely to become ice-free.

The effects of these changes will include air pollution, algal blooms, dioxins, lead, mercury, mold, ozone, pesticides, radon, and others.

As the North Atlantic hurricane season enters its traditional peak period, the US National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) has adjusted its forecast to take into account ongoing conditions which influence cyclonic activity.

The slightly lowered conditions still favor an above-normal 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, according to NOAA’s annual mid-season update issued today by the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

NOAA forecasters have slightly decreased the likelihood of an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season to 60% (lowered from the outlook issued in May, which predicted a 65% chance). The likelihood of near-normal activity has risen to 30% and the chances remain at 10% for a below-normal season. 

“We’re just getting into the peak months of August through October for hurricane development, and we anticipate that more storms are on the way,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “NOAA stands ready to deliver timely and accurate forecasts and warnings to help communities prepare in advance of approaching storms.”

With 70% confidence, NOAA’s update to the 2022 outlook, which covers the entire six-month hurricane season that ends on Nov. 30, calls for up to 20 named storms, of which up to 10 could become hurricanes. Of those, up to 5 could become major hurricanes. So far, the season has seen three named storms and no hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin. An average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which seven become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

There are several atmospheric and oceanic conditions that still favor an active hurricane season. This includes La Niña conditions, which are favored to remain in place for the rest of 2022 and could allow the ongoing high-activity era conditions to dominate, or slightly enhance hurricane activity. In addition to a continued La Niña, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, an active west African Monsoon and likely above-normal Atlantic sea-surface temperatures set the stage for an active hurricane season, and are reflective of the ongoing high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes.

Every year, there are on average 84 named tropical cyclones all over the world. Over the past 50 years, every single day, they have caused on average 43 deaths and US$ 78 million losses  and have also been responsible for one third of both deaths and economic losses from weather-, climate- and water-related disasters, according to WMO statistics from 1970-2019. But the death toll has fallen dramatically, thanks to improvements in forecasting, warning and disaster risk reduction coordinated by WMO’s Tropical Cyclone Program.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report projects that the global proportion of tropical cyclones that reach very intense (category 4-5) levels, along with their peak winds and rainfall rates, are expected to increase with climate warming. Sea level rise and coastal development have increased the risk and impact.

A harmful algal bloom (HAB) occurs when toxin-producing algae grow excessively in a body of water. Algae are microscopic organisms that live in aquatic environments and use photosynthesis to produce energy from sunlight, just like plants. In addition to health concerns, HABs can damage the environment by depleting oxygen in the water, which can cause fish kills, or simply by blocking sunlight from reaching organisms deeper in the water.

Dioxins, found in waste incineration and burning of trash, can cause developmental problems in children, lead to reproductive and infertility problems in adults, result in miscarriages, damage the immune system, and interfere with hormones. Exposure to dioxins has widespread effects in nearly every vertebrate species, at nearly every stage of development, including in the womb.

Sources of lead include old paint dust, and contaminated water and soil. Sources of mercury include fish and shellfish. Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is a naturally-occurring metal that is toxic to living organisms. Metallic or elemental mercury–an odorless, shiny, silver-white liquid–is commonly used in thermometers, barometers and fluorescent light bulbs. Metallic mercury is extremely dangerous, with a few drops generating enough fumes to contaminate the air in a room. Furthermore, skin contact with the metal results in the absorption of mercury into the bloodstream, and potential health problems.

Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gas that comes from the natural decay of uranium or thorium found in nearly all soils. It typically moves up through the ground and into the home through cracks in floors, walls and foundations. It can also be released from building materials or from well water. Long-term exposure to radon particles can lead to lung cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. 

How can we keep climate changes from happening? One possibility, from National Geographic, is what’s called “efficient living,” which includes building smaller houses, using other modes of transportation besides cars (bicycles, walking, planes or trains for long-distance travel).

Another is repowering of businesses. Some utilities are “repowering” coal plants to run on cleaner natural gas or biomass; nearly 50 units are slated for retrofits in the U.S. alone. “Repowering” is an industry term, but the concept also applies to trucks, buildings, and land. For businesses loath to see valuable assets become obsolete, it’s a no-brainer. 

In addition, cities may need to begin building smart streets, green buildings, and using sustainable water management. Nations may need to begin working with offshore energy, carbon capture and storage, and reforestation. And the world may need to work on removal of carbon dioxide, managing stratospheric aerosols, launching sunshades into space, and marine cloud seeding.

NASA is currently developing the Earth System Observatory (ESO). The core of ESO is five satellite missions that will provide essential data on climate change, severe weather, natural hazards, wildfires, and global food production.

These observations will address the most pressing questions about our changing planet identified in the 2017 Earth Science Decadal Survey conducted by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The missions will focus on five areas:

  • Aerosols
  • Clouds, convection, and precipitation
  • Surface biology and geology
  • Water and ice mass change
  • Surface deformation and change

Based on the Academies’ recommendations, NASA will complement the core missions with innovative Earth Explorer missions that deliver additional high-priority observations.

Beginning with NASA’s original missions, the agency has been focused on learning more about the world around us, whether at the edge of the solar system or right here at home. As Earth changes, NASA is working toward an ever-improving understanding of our home planet.

15. October 2022 · Comments Off on MY ADVICE TO YOUNG ADULTS · Categories: Blog

Despite being good at something, it’s my opinion that you’re best off finding something else you’re good at, something that would be more profitable for you in the future. For instance, I was good at spelling, grammar, punctuation, and all forms of writing and editing. So I wanted to become a writer. However, it was made clear to me early on that very few writers ever earn more than a living wage in their lifetimes. An alternative was to be an English teacher, until I learned how little teachers make. And an editor may or may not do well; it seems to be a hit-or-miss kind of occupation. So I had to rethink what I wanted.

Another thing I wanted to do was fashion design. I loved looking at fashion, thinking about fashion, drawing fashionable clothes for my dolls and then just to design them, but I really knew I was nowhere near good enough to compete, so I gave up that idea myself.

I also wanted to be a singer. I did have a good singing voice, but I read enough biographies to know that any kind of performing took a great deal out of the performer – it was hard work, trying, difficult, challenging – all those words that made one think. So I didn’t pursue that.

My final idea was to be a research psychologist. I loved research, and I enjoyed understanding psychology. But my problem was that this kind of occupation required an extensive college education, and my family were not prepared to provide that.

One thing that my English, grammar, editing and writing skills did prepare me for was administrative work. It did not seem at all interesting to me; I imagined it as running around doing errands, and being at the beck and call of an authoritative boss. Well, that does happen, certainly. But if you choose your bosses carefully, it doesn’t have to be that way. And it can be a stepping stone to a more profitable occupation.

Secretaries often either marry their bosses, or get promoted. And sometimes, a promotion leads to another promotion, and then to another, and another, etc., and you’re a manager or executive yourself. But you may not want to be an executive or boss. What then?

From there you might go into business for yourself, doing consulting for the kind of business that promoted you. Or you might become a trainer (which is different from a teacher, as training pays much better). Or you might do what I did: take on an additional responsibility that attracts, become very good at that so you’re promoted (even laterally) into a position that involves that work, and then continue to take on new responsibilities until you’re the expert in the company, someone everyone turns to, and it eventually pays well to have so many responsibilities.

And then, when you retire, you can do exactly what you wanted to do in the first place. Now that I don’t have to rely on my writing for an income, I’m a novelist, having written and published ten books. And my hobbies include drawing, designing jewelry, and something else I’ve collected along the way – an interest in anthropology, and a little education in real estate appraisal, graphology, and astrology.