Saturday, January 31, 2009

Teething Troubles

Does anyone else hate dentists as much as I do? When I lived in England I was really good about going to see the dentist, and went every six months. Since moving to the US, I have to say that my dental visits have been a bit erratic, to say the least. Probably because I know that whenever I go, despite having insurance, it’s going to cost a bloody arm and a leg. Hell, you need to re-mortgage the house just to get your teeth cleaned here.

So in mid-December, when I began experiencing some discomfort in an area of my gums, I thought, uh oh this feels expensive. But I called the dentist’s office, and was offered an appointment five weeks hence. I complained a bit, but as the pain was not bad, I didn’t make too much fuss.

By the time I got to see them last week, it was a lot worse. They took a whole bunch of x-rays, and scared me to death by telling me I definitely had something going on back there, but they didn’t know what. Of course, in my mind it had to be cancer of the jaw, at the very least. They also said I had lost quite a bit of bone around my teeth, so they were referring me to a periodontist. Needless to say, the nearest one was 50 miles away in Joplin, Missouri. (Sigh)

On Monday, I called the periodontist’s office, only to be told that the appointment would be for March. This time I did complain about the pain, and she gave me an appointment for Thursday. Then on Monday afternoon, the ice storm moved in. So not only am I bricking it wondering what’s wrong with my gum, but I’m also thinking I’m not even going to be able to get there.

On Tuesday, the weather conspired against me still further by adding a hefty layer of snow on top of the ice. And the trouble with this area of Oklahoma is they do little or nothing about gritting or plowing the roads, so the whole place just grinds to a halt.

So on Wednesday, when the receptionist called to find out if I would be at my appointment, we got chatting, and it turns out she travels to work from this area. She told me that all the main roads were clear, but the side streets were still bad. And I thought, well if she can get there, I can.

To cut a long story short, it turns out that the problem with my gum is something to do with my bite being out of line. The dentist gave it some fancy name which I can’t remember. Whatever it was, it wasn’t cancer of the jaw. You can’t imagine my relief. So he gave me some antibiotics, and told me to go back next week for my teeth grinding into line, which sounds like a lot of fun. :-( He also said he would give me his full diagnosis then. At least all the teeth are not going to have to come out, (another of my worries), or why bother grinding them.

I must just tell you this little anecdote about my time in the chair. This morning I was reading Sarah's blog: and she was talking, among other things, about how we Brits have to curb our sarcasm here. The girl at the periodontist's who took my x-rays, also coated my teeth with a red dye, which helped to reveal plaque build-up. She said to me, "Most kids learn how to brush their teeth in kindergarten, here we have to teach adults how to do it." I wanted to reply, "That's funny, at school in England they taught us how to read and write." But I bit my tongue. It's no wonder I'm having all these oral problems. :-)

Anyway, on a brighter note, I did manage to get my entries in to the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Contest. I normally send entries to seven or eight categories, but this year, with all the worry about my teeth, I couldn’t concentrate, and only entered four. I’ve sent in a short-short story, a short story, a feature article, and a piece of nostalgic prose. So it’s fingers crossed now. Wish me luck.

Toodle pip for now.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Interview with Lakeland Jo

I interviewed Lakeland Jo this week, you can read here answers here:

Thanks for playing along, Jo.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I am being interviewed by Pam at The rules are posted below, if you want to be interviewed by me, leave me a message telling me so and I'll come up with some questions.

Pam asked:

1. Since your move to Oklahoma, what do you find you like best about the area? Also what is most annoying?

One of the things I like best about living in this area of Oklahoma is the wide open spaces, and big yards/gardens. After 9 years of apartment living in California, I love that this house is on an acre lot, and none of the neighbors but right up against us. It’s also very peaceful, as the house is at the very end of a small cul-de-sac, so no one comes down here unless they’re coming to see us, or they’re lost.

And I love that people here are so darn friendly, I have made far more friends here than I ever did in California.

I also like that I am sort of famous in my little town, well, at the vet’s, the filling station, and the bank. :-)

One of the things I find most annoying about living in such a rural area is the fact that my nearest supermarket is 16 miles away, grocery shopping has had to become a detailed battle campaign.

I also dislike being so far away from the ocean, I love the sea and seafood, I miss being able to walk on the beach, and buy decent fish.

Another thing I hate is the way people abuse our beautiful countryside by throwing litter all over it. The local newspaper published an article from me on this very subject, but it hasn’t made a blind bit of difference.

The final annoying thing for me is the fact that there is no recycling program in this town/area. Although we compost, and donate our cans to the local humane society, all our plastics, glass, and paper go into the landfill, I hate that.

2. Lake District England vs. Lake District Oklahoma – is it safe to compare the two areas?

The short answer to that is, no. The long answer, absolutely not. :-)

Seriously, Pam, while this area of Lake District Oklahoma is very beautiful, the lakes here were man-made in order to supply the growing need for hydro electric power. So the lakes in these parts can in no way compare to the natural grandeur and majesty of the English Lakes. Sorry!

3. Have you always been a writer, and can you tell us a little bit more about how you came into your writing career?

No, I have not always been a writer, in fact, I am a relative newcomer to the craft, but, from a very early age, I loved books, and reading. I actually wrote my first short story in 2002, after reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing, which incidentally, I consider to be one of the best books on writing I have ever read. That first story was utter crap, as were subsequent ones, but the only way to learn this craft is to keep practicing.

For the first couple of years, I can only describe myself as a bit of a dabbler at this writing lark, and never saw myself giving up the day job to pursue it seriously. Then in October, 2004, I joined my writer’s group, Grand Lake Wordsmiths Unlimited, and they were so encouraging of my work, that I began branching out into non-fiction. Until joining the group I had only ever written fiction, mostly short stories, and I had started a novel, but threw in the towel on it after about 25,000 words. I did start another novel, and got slightly further with it than the first one, but still abandoned it.

Three other things contributed to my starting to take myself seriously as a writer.

  • Jobs are few and far between in this area, and I had been unsuccessful in my efforts to find one.
  • In May 2006, I won first place in the essay category of the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation annual contest. This was quickly followed by getting a few articles published in local papers, and then in August I got a break with Oklahoma Living Magazine. The article was a little 600 word piece about Oklahoman Sylvan Goldman, the inventor of the shopping cart, which I sent to the mag on spec. The editor liked it, and I have since written for them on a regular basis, as well as anyone else who will take my stuff.
  • My husband, Mick is so supportive of my writing. If he didn’t continue to toil away doing the day job, then I couldn’t continue to do this. I can only hope that one day I will earn enough to support us both. After all, one of my favorite writers, Annie Proulx, was 58 when her first book was published.

4. You say you are the reluctant cook – have you come to enjoy cooking more over time?

To be perfectly honest, I have to say that I did used to hate cooking, now I merely dislike it, so I must have come to enjoy it a bit more. :-) The funny thing is, cooking is something I’m good at, but if someone else would cook for me, I’d let them.

5. I love the name Ticklemouse. Can you tell me how he came to have this name, and a few other quirky, fun things about your cats.

Tommy Ticklemouse as a kitlet, helping out in Mick's office

Tommy morphed into Tommy Ticklemouse after living with us for a few days. Tommy first appeared in our yard as a stray kitten, enticed by the smell of our BBQ. We think he had been living under our shed, for how long we don’t know, but the poor little mite was starving. At first he would stand over by the wood pile and yowl at us, and Mick would say, "Ey up, little Tommy Tucker is here, singing for his supper," the line comes from a nursery rhyme.

We fed him, of course., and after a couple of nights he began to come over to the sit with us on the porch. A few days later he moved in, and then Mick began saying, "Little Tommy Ticklemouse, lived in a little house," from another nursery rhyme, and this time the name stuck. Tommy (AKA Tickle, Man of Mystery, amongst others), was the last cat to join our household, and I don’t think that he has ever forgotten that we rescued him, he is certainly the best natured, most loving and loveable of our 3 cats.

Wilson - Slobbo Puss

Wilson, (AKA Squeaky, Willie Wombat, Wilburn, among many others), was our first adoption from the humane society, and he was about 5 years old at the time. They had called him Sparky, I’ve no idea why, as he is spark out most of the time. Unfortunately for Wilson, he had been de-clawed, and had never been outside, so I began taking him for walks around our yard. The neighbors thought it was a hoot that he followed me around like a little dog. He will now happily wander around the yard on his own, or with the other cats. We have no fences to keep him in but he never ventures far, and he does at least get a bit of an outdoor life. Most of the time though, he’s our slobbo puss, our lounge lizard. He likes nothing better than a comfy knee to sit on, and his belly tickling.

Alvin - The Terminator

Alvin was another adoption from the humane society, but he was only a kitten when we got him. He was always a naughty little chipmunk, hence the name. Alvin is now a predator, (AKA Arnie,or The Terminator, amongst many others), he sleeps all day and hunts all night. He is a very aloof cat, and is definitely the alpha male amongst our lot, but he’s smart enough to recognize that mummy is numero uno in this pecking order. I don’t need an alarm clock with Alvin around, every morning at 7:30 am, he climbs on the bedroom window ledge and yowls at me to let him in.

Want to be interviewed by me? Here are the instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions and let me know when you have posted it, so I can link to it.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oklahoma Writer's Federation Inc. (OWFI)

Once again, my apologies for not having been around much this year, there is nothing wrong, but thank you Daffodilly for your concern.

January is always a very busy time for me as the deadline for the OWFI contest looms at the end of the month. There are 33 different categories covering a wide range of writing topics such as short stories, poetry, articles, essays, fiction and non fiction books. Which is great, as writers of all genres can find something to suit their style among the many options available.

Anyway, I’ve been working hard on my entries, writing some new stuff, and ensuring existing manuscripts are error free and contest ready. When my writer’s group, Grand Lake Wordsmiths Unlimited, met this week the conversation was all about the contest. We always check each other’s work before submission, as another pair of eyes is invaluable in seeking out mistakes. The main problem is, you know your own work so well that you tend to skim when reading, and end up missing errors.

I have been entering this contest for four years, and have won in two different categories, as well as being awarded places and honorable mentions. Entering writing contests is a good discipline for writers, as it forces you to revise, and edit your work, and to meet a deadline, just as you would have to for a publisher or editor.

If anyone is interested in joining OWFI, and you don’t need to be resident in Oklahoma to do so, you can find out more about them on their web site at: As well as the contest, they also hold a writer’s conference every year in early May. It usually takes place in Oklahoma City, but this year it will be held in Norman, OK, and the key speaker is best-selling author, Tess Gerritson.

Toodle pip till next time.