About Me

My photo

Bookkeeper, tax preparer, cat lady, blogger, organizer, mystery writer.

Welcome!

I've finally decided that I am a writer - all the other things I do just pay the bills. Someone eloquent once said that if you do what you love, the money will follow. Well, let's just see about that.

RIP Aggie

RIP Aggie
Aggie was my fifteen-year-old cairn terrier - or maybe I should say I was her 55-year-old person! She was my faithful companion, spoiled rotten and I am still trying to figure out what to do without her.

Peter the Cat...

Peter the Cat...
This is Peter the gingersnap tabby! He's seven years old and has just been promoted to Peter the Very, Very Good. He is working his way up to Peter the Great...

Bee - the Cat Who Came From Somewhere Else...

Bee - the Cat Who Came From Somewhere Else...
Bee is Peter's buddy. He's eight years old and has made himself right at home. I guess cats really do come in pairs or sets of three!

And Jasper makes three!

And Jasper makes three!
Jasper is our new guy - the Cat From Another Place. He's four years old and we think he likes it here - so far, so good!

Buzz about...

Friday, July 20, 2012

It was like deja vu...


all over again.  My mail lady stopped by today and handed me the notice that was stuck in my door.  My condo complex was announcing their annual unit inspections!  I felt like I was back in college and faced with the dreaded dorm inspection - hadn't I gotten past that stage?  Panic set in immediately and I made a frantic call to my carpet cleaners: "Can you all come on Monday?"  Fortunately, the answer was yes.  Now I all have to do is get ready to have the carpet cleaned by Monday, swelter at the tortilleria on Tuesday and get the rest of this place spotless by Wednesday afternoon.  I can do this.  I can do this.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I need help!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Too much of a good thing...

just ends up cluttering up a perfectly good closet sometimes.  See those Crocs?  On their way to the sink to be disinfected and then into the giveaway bag.  I kept the red pair.  I have pink flowered Easy Spirit shoes and green Easy Spirit shoes - and who knows why I bought those orange things - but enough is enough.  I meant to purge the Crocs basket during the spring cleaning frenzy but I somehow overlooked it.  Never too late to pass something along to a new owner - especially gently worn trendy rubber clogs.  And, as you can see, the only thing in my old lady cart is canvas bags for groceries.  It's been a productive day!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Good Lord, it's hot!

I just got home from my weekly sauna sojourn at the tortilleria.  Thank goodness Ariela had time to pick me and drop me off at home on her way to work this afternoon.  I am not joking when I say that it is cooler outdoors in the ninety-degree summer heat than it is inside the bakery.  And all I'm doing in there is sitting at a table writing payroll checks and organizing the mound of paperwork that accumulates in a week's time.  Can you even imagine how hot it must be back where they are making the tortillas?  No wonder those women are a bit crabby and difficult to deal with.  I usually keep my cool amid all of the confusion and disorganization but I nearly lost it today when the alleged manager girl asked me to analyze how a Money-to-Mexico company arrives at the amount of commission they pay to my client every month.  She gave me this stack of papers (and I use that term loosely) that were going every which way.  This is the first time I've seen this stuff and when I started going through it, I realized that she had not matched up the daily transactions to the daily invoice from this company since implementing their system back in April and was just depositing the amount on the daily bill to the money transfer account.  There was no rhyme or reason to the mess she handed me and when I dared ask her about it, her response to my client - not me - was that the rep from this company hadn't told her to do that.  She refuses to speak English - or learn to, for that matter - and the more I tried to explain the potential problems with her lack of bookkeeping method, the angrier more upset she got.  I finally just stopped talking, crammed all the papers back into the envelope and stuck them in my tote bag to take home with me.  I decided to figure it all out later - I'll have to download the Wells Fargo bank statements for that account anyway.  And then there was the ham.  Or jamon, if you will.  My client had been out to eat somewhere and ordered a croquette that he enjoyed and decided to duplicate for sale at the tortilleria.  He sent two ladies to the store for potatoes, cheap boiled ham and bread crumbs.  About forty-five minutes later they came back, after having been to two Spanish-speaking grocery stores, and announced that there was no boiled ham to be had.  Both he and I found that really hard to believe and he said, "Did you ask for HAM?"  No, they both replied, we asked for jamon.  Their rationale was that they don't eat HAM in their country, so they asked for jamon, which in some places means bacon.  At that point, my client blew his top and I have never heard such yelling, in Spanish or English.  In the meantime, I called the Bravo Supermarket right down the street, which is heavy on the Latin clientele (since these ladies will only go to a Spanish-speaking grocery) and inquired about boiled ham.  "Yes," the lady replied, "in the meat department."  My client sent one of the ladies back out and for some unknown reason she went to Sweetbay and got ham sliced in the deli for $5 a pound.  More yelling ensued.  Not at all what my client had in mind - but at least it allowed them to get to work on the prototype.  I also discovered that you can buy mass quantities of cheap, boiled ham at Sam's Club for less than $3 a pound, but I digress.  I found a recipe for Cuban croquetas online, but the ladies weren't interested because it wasn't in Spanish - besides, they assured my client that they knew how to make croquetas.  I went back to writing payroll checks and for the next hour or so, one or another of the ladies came in to show my client each stage of the new recipe: mashed up potatoes, chopped ham - you get the picture.  A little while later, all four ladies came in with their version of a ham croquette.  I wasn't sure who was minding the store, but I was afraid to ask.  We were asked to sample the prototype while the cooks waited expectantly.  My client spoke first.  "Needs salt."  He took another bite and looked at me.  "What do you think?" he asked.  What I thought was, needs flavor - but I said politely, "Yes, a little salt.  And maybe a little, como se dice en espanol " it came to me: "ajo (garlic)."  I started to suggest cebollas (onions), but I kept my mouth shut.  Then there was some discussion as to the desired shape of the croquettes.  One of the ladies thought they should be served con ensalada - but who wants hot take-out food served on a bed of salad?  I finally suggested making them smaller and flatter like an empanada - which is more conducive to eating with one's hands.  That was apparently what my client had in mind as well and the cooks were dispatched back to the kitchen.  He shook his head.  "See what it's like?  All I get is an argument or a discussion about everything!"  I reminded him that his business is not a democracy and it's perfectly all right for him to be a dictator; he is, after all, the boss.  But that's just not his nature and things will most likely continue just as they are, whether my client is happy about it or not.  You know what they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  I have a feeling my client will just keep muddling on through...


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The panini grill...

got a workout tonight making veggie burgers!  Fresh lettuce and tomato, fresh sourdough rolls from Publix, a slice of American cheese and a grilled veggie burger.  Aggie even liked it!  I wasn't sure she would - it's been a while since I've had one - but I think she was just relieved that it wasn't pasta for dinner again.  I'll admit I love a bargain and the Morningstar Farms veggie burgers were on sale - so we also have tomato and basil burgers for next week.  Peach ice cream for dessert  - and another episode of Midsomer Murders.  I am happy with the little things in life.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Oh, summer...

and it's monsoon season...  Or so it seems, anyway.  It's hot and muggy and in Florida, you can count on some liquid sunshine at least once a day between June and October.  It's very dreary and grey this morning - not conducive to work at all.  Days like today are good for two things: reading and napping.  
Decisions, decisions...


Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's just the thing!

When I got my new camera, I also tried to find a camera case that would protect the thing without being too big and bulky.  I really wanted something I could just slip into my purse or tote bag and everything I saw in the stores or online was either too small or too big with lots of straps and extraneous stuff I didn't want or need.  Etsy to the rescue!  One day I was just wasting time looking around on Etsy and I happened to find a lady who makes custom wallets and cosmetic bags.  I did some measuring and realized that her cosmetic bag was the perfect size for my camera.  I was also crazy about this green Japanese teddy bear fabric - so I contacted her and ordered one.  In a few days, my new camera case arrived by priority mail and I am thrilled with how it turned out.  It is very well made - sturdy and just enough padding to protect my digital camera.  And it fits very nicely in my handbag!  Isn't it great when you find just the thing you're looking for?


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Since I've been housebound...

for the last month, I haven't been to the grocery.  My well-stocked pantry and hoarding of household supplies has finally come in handy!  Of course, there is nothing in my refrigerator at this point that could possibly be described as fresh - so Ariela offered to take me to Publix this morning so I could stock up again.  Shopping is always fun, but I've never gone to the market with a five-year-old before - so this was an adventure.  Baby was already a little hyped up from whatever sugar he consumed with breakfast, but I may have made matters worse by alerting him to the fact that he could get a free cookie from the lady in the bakery.  I mean, who says no to a free cookie?  I'd also forgotten how unique a child's point of view can be.  When we got to the dairy department, I reached for a container of sour cream and as I went to put it in the car, Baby stopped talking mid-joke to shriek: "Taco butter!" and wanted to know why I was buying that.  I guess sour cream isn't part of a child's vocabulary, but he knows it's something you put on tacos.  I laughed, the guy who was stocking the yogurt section laughed and Baby laughed, too - although I'm not sure he knew why.  I also discovered that Baby is a person of vanilla sensibility.  Ice cream was on sale - I chose peach because it's summer, I asked him to choose the flavor he wanted to take home and share with his dad and sisters.  And do you know what he chose from the plethora of yummy flavors available?  Yep, vanilla.  Maybe I'm just a choco-holic - and while I don't have anything against vanilla in principle, I would certainly have chosen something more exciting if I were five.  When we got back to my house, my sweet friend brought the groceries inside while Baby spun around in my chair and regaled Aggie with a highly embroidered tale of our morning adventure.  Thanks to Ariela, I now have lettuce, tomatoes, veggie burgers (on sale!) and peach ice cream.  Friends are a good thing!


Friday, July 13, 2012

I'm sure that we will never...

make the Forbes list of best places in the US to work, but Aggie and Peter and I really like working at home.  They're not much help, but they are lots of company.  They are also good listeners.  While Aggie takes her position as Senior Associate and Director of Security very seriously, I am sure people regard her barking as more of a nuisance than a deterrent.  Peter naps works behind the scenes and generally makes an appearance at the desk around quitting time every day.  I am blessed to be able to work at home and spend time with my pets - especially these past few weeks with no means of transportation!  A conventional employer would not have been as understanding as I am.  Not that I am conventional - but you know what I mean.  I've also been blessed this week with lots of additional - and unexpected - work (as well as payments from deadbeats!) that will make Ray's unforeseen car doctor bills a little easier to handle.  And in the big scheme of things, my associates and I don't really need much more than each other and a stack of good books.
And for that, I am really thankful!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vintage '80s television...

shows, when viewed with the critical eye of one who has witnessed the evolution of special effects over the past two decades, are really pretty cheesy.  Even when they are written and produced by the late, great Stephen Cannell.  Did you ever watch Stingray?  It's the show with the guy who helps people and the only payment he asks for is a favor - which can be anything at all - to be redeemed at a later date when he is helping someone else in trouble.  Sort of like Robert McCall in The Equalizer, only as I recall, people did pay Mr. McCall for his services - or how would he have paid Mickey?  Both series came out in 1985 and I've always found it odd that both shows had virtually the same premise: a mysterious guy with no discernible means of support who goes around helping people who have somehow gotten themselves into some serious trouble - usually through no fault of their own.  Maybe that sort of stuff happens in New York - where Mr. McCall and his classified ads could be found - and in Los Angeles, where Ray seemed to hang out in any number of bars just waiting for potential clients to buy him a drink and pour out their tale of woe.  I happened upon the DVDs of the entire two seasons of Stingray at WalMart a while back for a mere ten bucks.  How could any lover of eighties television pass up that kind of bargain?  I am sorry to say that I didn't even make it through the first half of the pilot episode before I was bored and wondering why I ever sat in front of the television wasting an hour the first time I saw it.  Maybe because that was the eighties and my twenty-something self still thought I had all the time in the world.  I don't know - but unless the second half of the pilot improves drastically the next time I feel like planting myself in front of the TV, the disc is going back into the case and into the drawer.
Or in the Goodwill box...


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Diagnosis: Isuzu...

So it's not quite as bad as I had imagined, but the news still isn't great.  Ray doesn't need a new engine computer, but the wiring from the engine to the computer has some bad spots.  He also has a leak in the transmission switch and the transmission pan - whatever that is.  And a new battery - but I can't complain about that because it is the original ten-year-old battery!  I keep reminding myself that repairing these relatively minor afflictions that Ray is suffering from right now is still cheaper than a new vehicle - which comes with monthly payments.  The Isuzu experts are working on fixing Ray up and hopefully I will be able to pick up him soon.  I love staying home, but I sure have missed having the option of going out on my own without having to ask a friend for a ride!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A little glimpse of calm...


is what I needed today - and I was delighted to find an original watercolor card in my mail.  It was from a friend of mine; her 89 year old mother painted it.  This scan doesn't do it justice - but the original is lovely.  I am very pleased to add it to my small, but growing collection of original art that I've been given over the years.  I am planning on putting it in a black frame with a white mat - I like to keep things simple.  My friend Ariela once asked me why all the frames on my prints are black - or at least dark - and I explained that I like the fact that a plain frame fades away and we only see the art.  She has since started to rethink her fondness for intricate picture frames.

Poor Ray was towed to Venice today; it's quite a long drive down there, but I am very thankful for AAA and my towing plan.  They are going to check him over and let me know the diagnosis - which may not even be a dead engine computer.  I'm trying not to get worked up about this situation again - so I keep looking at the sailboats and the calmness of the water.  Mind over matter!



Monday, July 09, 2012

When things get to be too much...

It's only human to have a little meltdown.  I don't know if being cooped up at home finally got to me, or the looming car repair bill, or having to ask people to drive me around for the past three weeks - but when the mechanic finally told me today that I needed to take Ray to yet another repair shop, I finally gave in to the tears I've been struggling to hold back for the past couple of days.  I felt defeated and alone.  Just when I thought things were on an even keel and I was doing all right emotionally and financially - I encountered yet another challenge to overcome.  I pulled myself together long enough to find, after several fruitless phone calls, an old Isuzu dealership in Venice that could help me - and Ray Isuzu.  By the time I hung up, it was too late to call AAA to arrange for Ray to be towed to Venice, so I'll have to do that tomorrow.  I was still feeling incredibly stressed out and so like the very human person that I am I cried, yelled at no one in particular and cried some more.  I decided that I had just about enough for one day so I turned the ringer off on the phone and retired to the sofa with Aggie and Peter for some unconditional pet love and sympathy.  When I had calmed down enough to try a more prayerful attitude, I realized that things were really not so bad.  I mean, there are rebuilt and after market parts available, the service manager at the dealership told me that his Isuzu mechanics had been working on those vehicles for fifteen years and they had all the software necessary to reprogram my car.  The repair bill still isn't in my budget, but miraculously, one of my deadbeat clients came and paid me half the balance he's owed me for a year and when I checked my voice mail, one of my favorite clients, Robert Redford (I'm not kidding - that's his name), called and wants to bring me his last two years worth of taxes.  I have to work at the tortilleria on Wednesday, so I'm more than halfway to being able to afford $800 to repair Ray - and that's a worst case scenario.  While my meltdown certainly seemed to relieve the pent up frustration and stress I was experiencing, I only really felt better after I sat quietly and gave my cares to Someone bigger than me.  It seems that I can never remember the words of Psalm 46:10 when I need them most: "Be still and know that I am God."


Sunday, July 08, 2012

Well, I am ashamed...

to admit that I have whiled away the entire day reading the adventures of Agatha Raisin in merry old new England.  No, I am not really ashamed at all.  It's not like I can go anywhere and it's too hot to sit outside on the screened porch.  We are all the way up to book number seventeen - my OCD really kicks in on serial mysteries!  Over the past dozen books or so, Agatha has become much more likeable, her ex-husband James is a complete ass, I still haven't figured out that motivates Sir Charles, Detective Bill Wong is still his same, sweet self and Mrs. Bloxby continues to be the voice of kindness, reason and sanity in the small village of Carseley.  I like to think that Aggie and Peter are enjoying these cozies as much as I am, but they don't say much.  They just curl up next to me or on my lap - they're great company!.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

An exercise in visualization...


I'm willing to give it a try.  Think it will work?
I love these funny cat photos and captions!



Friday, July 06, 2012

And another great character...

is M.C. Beaton's Hamish MacBeth, the lanky Scottish constable serving the people of Lochdubh in the West Scottish Highlands.  I took a short break from Agatha Raisin to get acquainted with Constable MacBeth and his dog, Towser, in Death of a Cad.  It's a fun little romp at a house party on the estate belonging to the parents of the unrequited love of Hamish's life, Priscilla Hallburton-Smythe.  The victim is what the policeman rather accurately refers to as a murderee - someone who was annoying enough to provoke his own murder.  In other words, he had it coming.  I've known quite a few people like that, haven't you?  Still and all, it's MacBeth's job to investigate and his unique talent lies in conducting an investigation without people realizing that he's sizing them all up for motive and opportunity.  Hamish is much more personable than Agatha Raisin, and although he's a bit of a penny-pinching mooch, he's charming enough to get away with it.  There are a great many Hamish MacBeth adventures and I'm looking forwarding to reading them.  But first things first - back to the English countryside and Agatha Raisin...


Thursday, July 05, 2012

A restful place...

I don't know where I found this photograph - probably Etsy - but this is just the most restful looking chair I've seen in a long time.  I think the color combination is soothing - and I can imagine it in the corner of my bedroom.  With Peter curled up in it, having a afternoon nap.  I'm not normally a fan of yellow, but the combination of the gingham and the quilt just makes me happy.  I already have several restful spots in my little home, but there's always room for one more.  Don't you think?


Wednesday, July 04, 2012

You can never have too many...

Agathas in your life.  I've been an Agatha Christie fan from the moment I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.  I even named my little scottish dog after her.  And now I've discovered Agatha Raisin - the blundering amateur sleuth created by M.C. Beaton.  We are introduced to Agatha in The Quiche of Death, wherein she has just retired from a successful public relations career in London.  She fulfills a lifelong dream of living in a small English village by purchasing a quaint, thatched cottage in the Cotswolds.  She is welcomed to Carseley by the Ladies Society, headed by Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar's wife.  Always competitive in both business and personal matters, Agatha enters a local baking contest at the village fete.  She can't cook, so she travels to London and buys a quiche at her favorite shop, entering it as her own.  Lo, and behold, the philandering judge of the contest dies after eating Agatha's quiche and she's suspected of his much-deserved murder.  And so begins her career as a detective.  Along the way, she makes her first real friend, local police Detective Bill Wong - half English, half Chinese - whose love life is continually sabotaged by his horrible parents with whom he unfortunately resides.  Agatha Raisin isn't terribly likeable at first; she's pushy, petty and suffers from seriously low self-esteem.  About halfway through the story, we begin to understand her a little better and by the end, well, she's become someone it might be interesting to know.  I won't spoil the story if you haven't had the pleasure of reading it - but if you do, you'll want to read the next one and the next...  I'm on the fourteenth Agatha Raisin mystery now with seven more to go.  The books and quirky characters just keep getting better and better!


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I had a lovely evening...

spent on patrol with Mr. Monk.  I really miss watching Mr. Monk solving murders in his own inimitable way on television, but I have the say that the books have turned out to be even better.  The latest paperback release, Mr. Monk on Patrol, is the best one yet.  If you're a Monk fan, you know that Randy Disher moved to Summit, New Jersey at the end of the series to be with Sharona.  He's the chief of police there and it seems he is having some difficulties with some city corruption.  He asks Monk and Natalie to head east and work with him for a few weeks to help catch some serial burglars.  I can't spoil the plot, but hilarity ensues, particularly when Mr. Monk meets a lady who runs a gift shop which sells items manufactured from, well, poop.  As you might imagine, Mr. Monk is horrified to the point of donning a hazmat suit to extract Natalie from the store.  It is purely delightful, purely Monk entertainment from beginning to end.  Not a bad way to spend an evening.  If you are a Monk fan, check out the mysteries - you will be glad you did!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Maybe we do...

have a second childhood when we reach a certain age.  Although I think I've probably reached it sooner than I would have expected, considering my renewed taste for orange soda.  I don't know if that's a good thing or not!


Sunday, July 01, 2012

Back to Piney Point...

and it's about time, isn't it?  I was doing great, diligently writing a new chapter every day when I started on January first, but then tax season arrived and something had to give.  Unfortunately, it was the new adventures of my amateur detective, her hunky husband and their precocious offspring that got put on hold temporarily while I spent the next several months doing paying meaningful work.  I'm finally all caught up, the spring summer cleaning is done and I am determined to get back on my chapter-a-day schedule.  My goal is a finished mystery by the end of August and with any luck, a free Kindle download for Dead and Dug Up on Amazon by the first of October.  Apparently, digital is the new wave of publishing for emerging writers - no agent necessary.  We'll see how this goes...  If you've been waiting with bated (yes, bated - not baited) breath for a new installment of Dead and Dug Up, check back later this evening on my Piney Point blog for the latest chapter.