Friday, November 28, 2008


We got a skiff of snow yesterday, as a little Thanksgiving present. :)
I roasted a turkey yesterday, but never got around to doing the trimmings. Oh, well. It was just the kind of quiet day I wanted.
And I think I've turned a corner with the heebie-jeebies I was telling you about--the ones from not smoking. YEE-HAW! What a relief THAT is--there were times when I really thought I was going crazy! (All the more reason NEVER to let that habit get hold of me again.)
Every year I say I won't go out to the stores the day after Thanksgiving, BUT (and there's always a 'but'!) I think my fridge is dying. I've known I needed a new one for a while, but with everything going on, I kept putting it off. Think I'd better bite the bullet though.
I got some extra good news yesterday--my daughter, Wendy, and future husband, Jeremy, are 99 percent certain they can be here for Christmas!!! AND Jeremy's mom and stepfather may come, too. I'm jazzed! I could really do with a family Christmas.
Buck is still hanging in there, God bless his sturdy horse heart.
Sadie and Bernice are curled up on their downstairs dog-beds.
And man, that turkey smells good.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Notes

It's a quiet Thanksgiving here on the Triple L, and that, believe me, is a good thing. I could use some quiet, and so could the ranch crew. 2008 has been wonderful, but superhectic, with all the building and the renovating, the writing and traveling. Not that I'm complaining--but I could use a few dull, ordinary, noneventful months, and that's for sure.

I stopped smoking on October 28. That first week was easy, with the Chantix and all, and I wanted to shout it from the house-tops. This is the way, gang! If you're addicted to the noxious weed, as I was (and to a great degree AM), here's the path to freedom. (When I'm onto something good, I like to share it.)

The second week, the blues set in, and I mean big-time. So much for easy. I had to go off the meds, per my doctor--if you're taking Chantix, and you get to feeling depressed, or worse, you've got to cut out the pills right now, no ifs, ands or buts. The third week--the fourth--still hard.

Am I going to give up? NO WAY. I'll tough it out--that's the McKettrick (and Lael) way. My mind--and like most writers I spend too much time in my head and thus have a very powerful imagination, for good AND ill--rants and rages. It wants to smoke. That, it lies, will solve everything. But my poor, faithful body cannot speak, and of course, the body takes the brunt of any addictive substance. This time, my mind can rave all it wants. (Although I sometimes, in exasperation, tell it to shut the heck up!) This time, I'm looking after my body. Period.

It's a lot things, this process, but easy ain't one of them.

Still, I'm coping. I read more. I paint more. I listen to more music. I certainly PRAY more. I have my dogs and kitties and horses--and even the indoor animals are breathing better, bless their hearts. My home is warm and clean and there's a turkey in the fridge, waiting to be roasted. Trust me, I know how much I have to be grateful for, and I'm celebrating that.

The withdrawals, I figure, are like a case of the flu. Eventually, it will pass.

As I write this, I have a big canvas in the still-messy studio, slathered with gesso and slowly (SLOWLY) drying. (Did I ever mention that impatience is yet another of my many besetting sins?) I'm planning a mixed media piece, and I'll keep you updated on the progress--it might take weeks, or just days. If "Bless the Beasts" turns out as I envision it (or even close) I plan to put it up for auction of eBay or Etsy. If it sells, I will give the money to my friends at Spokanimal, a local shelter. They're doing good work over there, God bless them. Saving as many lost or disgarded animals as they can.

And I'm also trying to remember that I don't like what smoking did to me, and I don't just mean the smell, or the harm to my lungs and heart, or any of that. It made me weak, a prisoner to a stupid habit. I gotta tell you, that goes against the Lael grain. We're proud and we're stubborn, we Laels, and once we make up our minds about something, that's pretty much it. I will not be controlled like that.

You read it here first. :) And having you know will help me to stick to my guns.

So, yes, I'm thankful--today and every day. Also a little frenzied at times. And gesso-smeared. :) (I even had to cut some glue out of my hair the other day!)

I wish I could have word-painted a more Norman Rockwell-esque kind of blog today. Something with glowing faces gathered around a bountiful table and a big golden turkey on a platter. But the truth is, I'm in transition, and I think a lot of you can identify. Only the changes are different--the feelings are the same.

These are tough times. But we're tough people, aren't we?

So whatever your struggle is, I'm with you. You can get through it. You WILL get through it, because you always do, in the long run, don't you? Because deep down, where it counts, you're tough. (That's partly why you like the McKettricks, the O'Ballivans, the Yarbros and, very soon, the Creeds.)

And so, my friends, I say Happy Thanksgiving, one and all. From the bottom of my struggling, stressed-out but determined heart. Wherever you are, whatever you're celebrating, whatever you're trying to get through, may you be blessed. May you be strengthened. May you be thankful, as I am, not only for the obvious blessings, but the ones that are on their way to you right now.

Before I close for today, there's one more "thing" I'm grateful for.

All of you, out there riding the same trail. There might be some miles between us, but when we meet up in the pages of a book, or on this blog, or anywhere else, its like gathering around the same campfire to swap yarns and remind each other, even silently, that it's all about having sidekicks and showing up to do our part.

That's all we can do. But it's more than enough.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This year's Thanksgiving celebration will be a quiet one, here on the Triple L. I'm roasting a small turkey, but there won't be a big sit-down gathering--everybody, including me, is just too tuckered out for that. There has been so much activity on this place over the last year--two separate construction projects, and now changing the downstairs area into an office and studio--all good stuff, to be sure. You'd better believe I'm thankful, but I'm also ready for things to calm down, as my mother used to say, "to a dull roar."

So I'm planning to sit by the fire a lot, and make a long gratitude list. Maybe I'll watch a movie or two--I love the old ones, from the 30s and 40s. In Northport we got 4 channels--ABC, NBC, CBS + the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company). There were a lot of fishing shows on, it seemed to me, and things like Wild Kingdom. (I'm still trying to get over some of the images I saw on that show.)

It was a long wait until Sunday night, when Bonanza would be on. But once in a while, with the holidays approaching, I'd turn on the TV set and tumble right into something wonderful--like the June Alison/Peter Lawford version of Little Women. Or Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn in absolutely anything. Or Cary Grant, an angel disguised as a bishop's assistant, with snow flakes gathering on the shoulders of his long overcoat...or Bing Crosby wearing a priest's collar and singing as only he could sing...

Call me old fashioned. Or just plain old.

They don't make movies like that anymore.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On the Upswing

I attended a mixed-media workshop at Spokane Art Supply this weekend, and it was really good for me. Great fun, and a good distraction from ongoing withdrawal symptoms. (Don't worry, I'm NOT going to smoke, if only because I don't want to have to go through the quitting process again. :)) I learned a lot, not only from our great instructor, Mary Jo McGraw, but from other people in the class, too. Nothing like a lot of theraputic painting-slopping and gluing to cheer a person up.

Bernice gets her stitches out today, and won't be a conehead anymore. That is going to be a relief to her and to me. The poor little mite has been a good sport, right along.

Buck is holding his own. So far, so good.

I was pretty bummed about my favorite TV show, "Ghost Whisperer", but it looks like they might pull that storyline out of the soup after all. :)

My new book, "A Stone Creek Christmas", will be in stores tomorrow. It's a fun story--the heroine is Olivia O'Ballivan, Brad's sister. (Brad was the hero of "The McKettrick Way".) Both Brad and Olivia are descendents of Sam and Maddie O'Ballivan, from "The Man from Stone Creek." Anyway, Olivia talks to animals--and they talk back. This particular book has a very special place in my heart--lots of great Christmasey stuff going on. "A Stone Creek Christmas" is a Silhouette Special Edition, and it has a terrific cover.

I'm loving the covers I've been getting. Wait until you see the Creed covers (The Montana Creeds, Feb., March and April!") And then there's "The Bridegroom"--Brad Pitt, eat your heart out. I may be prejudiced, but I think Harlequin/HQN has the best art department in the business!

See you tomorrow....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Good Morning!

At least, it's still morning here in Spokane--I realize a lot of you are about ready to sit down to lunch. :)

It's a sunny day, and after several weeks of almost continual rain, I'm glad and grateful. I plan to take a brisk walk around my pasture after I finish here, and just enjoy breathing. As you reformed smokers and non-smokers will know, breathing clean, delicious AIR is a true pleasure. It lifts my spirits and my energy level, and certainly reminds me why I quit, and why I want to STAY quit.

I'm told it snowed in Toronto after I left. I thought about staying an extra day to shop and unwind, but I'm glad I didn't--for many reasons. I want to dive into writing my new book, and of course to be nearby in case Buck takes a turn for the worse. Right now, he's doing okay, but it's a day-to-day, even hour-to-hour thing.

Bernice only has a few more days before she can get her stitches out and stop being a conehead. She'll take her last anti-biotic tonight, and the swelling in her little face has gone down. Poor baby. With all that hair, it's sometimes hard to spot a problem, but Mary Ann, aka Old Eagle Eye, caught it right away. Sadie is perking along, her normal overweight beagle self, and the cats, Cha Cha and Jitterbug, are both healthy as ever.

Since giving up smoking, I've rediscovered books and music. Writing all day, and therefore looking at words, I'd developed a habit of listening to books on my iPod, just to rest my eyes. Now, I'm back to actual reading, because I need to be more occupied, and it's great. Recently, I've enjoyed John Grogan's (he of "Marley and Me" fame) "The Longest Trip Home", though it did make me cry, and numerous novels I probably would have missed otherwise.

Don't ask me what I think of TV these days! There hasn't been anything good on since HBO ran "John Adams". I liked "Ghost Whisperer", until the plot took a recent totally depressing twist and spoiled it for me. (OK, you didn't ask, but I told you anyway. :)

Make it a good day. I'll be back tomorrow, but heaven knows when I'll be coherent again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Buck is Still Kickin'!

I just got home from Toronto, and as we drove in, I was thrilled to see Buck out there in the pasture with all the other horses, happily munching hay. Still, there's no room for denial here--he's old--at least 26--and in a tearful visit before I left for Canada on Monday morning, I told him not to stay here on my account if he needs to go. The vet says he's shutting down, and so does my friend, Karen, who is an experienced animal communicator. So I'm doing my very best not to Hold On, the way we do when we love somebody.

It was a rough day--traveling all day, after getting up VERY early, etc.--and I thought to myself that if quitting smoking is this hard, I'm not sure I can do it. I'd promised my daughter I'd call if the cravings got too bad, though, and since I was rushing from one plane to another, that didn't seem feasible. I took a long nap after I got home, and then indulged in my second favorite remedy, a hot bath. Lo and behold, no nicotine patch! No WONDER I wanted a smoke all day--my patch was floating around in my sweater sleeve the entire time! I'm sure one glad cowgirl--thank heaven I didn't light up! (For those of you who want to quit, I'm off the Chantix--I got the blues--but the nicotine patch is working for me.)

I'm planning to zap Buck with some concentrated Reiki--I've seen it work miracles with other pets--but at the same time, I'm determined to let go if that's what needs to happen. Keep the old Buckaroo in your thoughts and prayers, please. He's one faithful old horse, and I love him with all my heart. That's the second part of the sacred contract--the first part is, I'll be there. You have a home. You're mine and I'm not giving you up. The second is, when the time comes, I'll let you go with my blessing. Because bottomline, this is about what's best for the Buckaroo, not my grief over losing him.

Just the same, keep this cowgirl in your prayers, if you will. Ask God to make me strong enough to do the right thing--for Buck.

And thanks for being there, and for all your kind emails and notes. You'll never know how much it means to me!

Friday, November 14, 2008


I have been so stressed out lately. I need to get over it, already! Right now, my goal is to write a coherent blog. :)

On Tuesday, I will have been a nonsmoker for three full weeks. I haven't exactly suffered the kind of withdrawals I feared, and thank heaven I don't feel the need to pig out, so I haven't gained any weight, either. Still, I'm wound pretty tightly. Feeling overwhelmed, etc. I'll feel better soon--I keep telling myself that. :)

One thing is for sure. I won't be going back to the habit. I like breathing more easily, and I'm following my own advice. I'm always telling new writers that if you want to do something well, you have to be willing to do it badly for a while. With smoking, I'm willing to endure some rough days in order to have a longer, healthier life. And I still have a lot to do! Stories to tell, animals to look after, pictures to paint.

Is this blog coherent? I still can't tell. :)

Oh, well. I'll keep showing up if you will.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Brief Flurries of Sunshine

The morning was sunny--thank heaven. The clouds are rolling back in, though. I keep telling myself we need the water, but the constant gray skies get me down.

Buck is still hanging in there--up and around, and eating well. All your prayers are helping for sure! Bernice, the Yorkie, sprouted an abcessed tooth and is spending the day at our veterinarian's office. I'll sure be glad to go and pick her up this afternoon, poor baby. Sadie is at loose ends, wondering where her sidekick is.

I apologize for the gaps in the blog--just life happening while I'm making other plans, as John Lennon used to say. I'll be traveling to Toronto on Monday, and will blog from the hotel if I can. Home again on Wednesday evening.

We're making some progress on the new office and new computer. Those folks at Microsoft--as soon as I learn one of their programs, they get a new one. I've been scouring a lot of "Dummies" books lately. :)

Still not smoking. I'm not going back, either. It's not that I'm noble. I just don't want to go through it again....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sacred Contracts

I have sacred contracts with all my animals, dogs, cats and horses. Once an animal becomes a part of this family, they STAY a part of it, come what may.

Years ago, when I bought my horse, Buck, I knew he was already pretty old, and he'd had a hard life, as a working ranch horse. There were many signs that he'd been abused, and when he came to live with me, I promised him he could be a pet from then on. He was officially retired, and entitled, to my way of thinking, to live the high life. Since then, Buck has been the grand old man of the barn. He gets his feed pan first, among other little perks.

Now, he's showing signs that age is catching up with him. He's slowing down, and he's arthritic. Still, he's up and around, and he's eating, wandering around the pasture with the other members of my little band. I guess what I'm getting at here is that the time is coming, maybe sooner rather than later, when I will have to honor another part of my soul-agreement with my old Buckaroo, and that's the hardest one of all.

Letting go.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

At Last!

I am writing this blog in my new office, at my new desk. And now that the cat has moved out of my way, I can actually see the monitor! :)

The room is painted in lovely shades of green, and the floor is a nice, subtly patterned vinyl. Easy to clean up, but not so slippery that Sadie will hurt herself. She's quite the portly beagle these days. It will be a while before everything is in its place, but I am just so happy and grateful to be able to write here, and not on my laptop at the kitchen table. (I'm pretty sure that's how I ended up seeing my chiropractor three times a week.)

The studio is coming along, too. Still lots of stuff in boxes, but progress is being made. I have to keep reminding myself of that old 12 step slogan: progress, not perfection.

Not that I have to worry about perfection. :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Eight Days of Breathing Free

I'm still slogging along, and for those of you out there cheering me on in my non-smoking campaign, thank you. I can feel the positive energy you're sending my way.

Actually, I'm surprised at how easy it has been. No heavy duty withdrawal symptoms. No pigging out because I'm nervous. It's a miracle, frankly, and I am one grateful cowgirl.

Still in transition here on the Triple L. Transition is always a challenge, but good things come out of it, at least in my experience, if I just ride it out. I'm still using a laptop, which is not my favorite thing. This particular model, the ToughBook, touted for being sturdy, is also cumbersome, heavy, and I have to push extra hard on the keys. I bought it thinking it would be great for travel. (Maybe if I were 6-foot-6, a body builder, and destined for the wilds of some jungle where every once in a while, a gorilla might grab it and pound it against the nearest tree a couple of times. :)) My MacAir is much lighter and much easier to use, although I need to figure out why it puts those odd little symbols into the blog.

So, pushing up my sleeves and moving ahead.

It's all we can do, gang. Show up and put one foot in front of the other.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I'm trying not to let the weather set my mood today. :) It's gray and gloomy and very wet as I look out my window over the draw. (I'm on my laptop, as my regular set up down in the new office is not up and running just yet.)

Today I have a full week of non-smoking behind me, and I'm not going backward, no matter what the weather does or how the election turns out. :)

Did you vote?

I'm going to do some work today, and then I think I'll play in my studio for a couple of hours. That always settles my heart and mind. I went to my art class last night--I just love it. I'm still pretty bad, but what the heck? It's so much fun, I'm meeting new people, and I'm learning so much.

Okay, I feel better about the drizzle. After all, my beloved trees, grass and animals need the water.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Missing Blogger Found!

Alive and well in Spokane, Washington!

It's as if Mercury has been in consant retrograde--traveling, writing, searching wildly for my ballot, having new photos taken. On and on. I'm waiting for things to settle down to a dull roar, but so far, it hasn't happened.

As I've mentioned, I'm moving my writing from my bedroom to my beautiful new office/studio space down on the bottom floor, and that means my main computer is disconnected and I'm using a laptop. It's going to be great to sleep in a quiet, restful room instead of Command Central!

My back is giving me some problems, but it's nothing serious. It does slow me down a little, though, and that's why I got behind on my blog.

The good news is: I quit smoking a week ago tomorrow--using Chantix and a lot of positive self-talk. So far, thank heaven, I have not had any serious withdrawal symptoms at all, and I haven't been pigging out, either. In fact, I've lost a pound or two since I started! I'm not on any special diet--just trying to use common sense.

The blog is a little jumbled, as is my busy but happy life at the moment. Bear with me. :)