Meet Lilianna Judith Mapes, my first granddaughter:


Yeah, life. It's a thing, ain't it? You're rolling along, way too busy, doing too much of what you don't really want to do and not enough of what you do.

Then, one day, you find out you're going to be a grandparent, for the third time.

Well, that's the way it happened to me, anyway.

In the great tradition of our family birthdays being either in mid-summer or in December, my daughter Jillian is due to give birth around December 11th (Jill--it's Jill now, not Jillian--was born on the 27th). I've known for awhile, although shockingly not as long as Jill did. She posted the news on Facebook in June, but I think a lot of people missed that.

I assume that if it's a boy, the first name will be Mark, and if it's a girl the first name will be the feminine version, which is Marka. But I suppose I should actually talk that over with Jill and Doug, and be satisfied if they merely gave him/her the middle name of Mark or, um, Markma. Or, okay, they could use my middle name Richard, which has the feminine version of Ricarda. Or she could name him Hunter, but then he'd have a cousin also named Hunter, and I'd have two grandkids named Hunter, and you'd never know for sure who's being yelled at. Probably me.

So anyway, Jill's life is essentially over--and she's started a new one. Way different, but in its own way just as fun, more exciting, and crazy expensive. The next generation is well on its way.

Jill practices her baby cuddling skills with the closest nephew, who survived and just turned nine.

You’ll never guess what my youngest daughter, who’s get married, is getting. That’s right—married! You guessed!

Looks like it’s going to be a little over a year from now, during which time she’ll probably be engaged in engagement things. Congrats, Jill! I’m just as ready for this as I was for my oldest daughter’s wedding, so I’m not.

Here’s one of my favorite photos of her, although it’s about five years old now. That’s her nephew Hunter, by the way: No baby in any way has anything to do with this engagement. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.





            Yeah, so, I got married.

            On a related note, I’m getting married next year.

            Oh, relax; I’m not taking up polygamy. I don’t have the energy for that. Can you imagine how exhausting it must be, to try and keep up with more than one wife? Even if they knew about each other … if they didn’t, it would be even more of a challenge. What would happen to some poor guy with five wives if it’s really true about women who live together all getting on the same cycle? I’m not talking bikes, either.

            Sudden death, that’s what would happen.

            I was engaged for exactly two years to a woman who’s wonderful, sweet, sexy, smart, and reads this column. For several reasons, including her college education and scheduling, we didn’t go ahead.


Have you ever tried to plan a wedding? I’m working on a novel in which one of the characters is an amateur wedding planner, so I did a lot of research. Men think all they have to do is show up without getting food on their tuxes. I thought a boutonniere was a pirate’s footwear. Many women, on the other hand, spend years planning their wedding, even if they aren’t even in one. )


ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Nov. 19th, 2011 04:48 am)
My daughters Charis Koehl and Jillian Hunter are coming over Sunday to help Emily and I decorate for Christmas, violating my usual rule of never thinking about Christmas before Thanksiving. Might as well fudge it by feeding them a Thanksgiving dinner early, don't you think? It just so happens I had a small turkey and rolls in the deep freeze, and stuffing mix in the cupboard ...

Looks like I've got some housecleaning to do first.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Astrid and Walter)
( Sep. 2nd, 2011 05:16 am)
Got up to 95 degrees yesterday ... heat index of 103 or so ... so naturally, my oldest daughter and I spent the late morning and early afternoon helping my youngest daughter move. From one upstairs apartment, across town, to another upstairs apartment.

I'm just now starting to get sore, but I'm still tired ... and I think maybe still a little dehydrated.



                The important thing for a writer’s first novel isn’t the amount of money made: It’s the number of copies sold. The more sales, the more likely a publisher is to pick up that all-important second novel. It’s the circle of publishing life.

                So although media attention came a couple of months earlier than anticipated, I was happy to talk for as long as my voice held out … right up until the moment Eric Olson of Indiana’s News Center told me he wanted a TV interview. At my house. In less than twenty-four hours.

                Which brings us back to that panic cleaning I mentioned last time.              

Ever hear of Fibber Magee’s closet? He was famous for having one so full of junk that whenever someone opened the door it caused an avalanche. We haven’t actually opened any closets yet, but when the time comes I might have to cordon off the room, the wall across the room, and the other side of the wall. )


This week's schedule has been a disaster. On a related note, I hurt my back shoveling snow. Who didn't see *that* coming? We only got five or six inches of snow -- the heavy stuff, but what's my back going to do when we get a *real* snowstorm?

I did get some writing in, thanks to Emily being back in college and me getting distraction-free writing time at the IPFW library. That's why I haven't been online -- I could use her password to go wireless, but that would be the end of the writing. I took a break from the fire history book to write a Fringe fanfiction, which will probably go up next week after Emily has had a chance to beta it for me. I figured I might as well dive into one of my favorite running shows before the inevitable Friday night Fox massacre that makes it one of my favorite canceled shows.

Then there's the weird dream from this morning:

Cut for odd, confusing, but not too disturbing dream imagery. Is there a Freud in the house? )
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Dec. 27th, 2010 06:02 am)

I'm back online, just in time to wish many happy returns to one of my two favorites daughters:

Happy birthday, Jillian!

Or Jill, as she prefers to be called.

May you have much success, love, and happiness in life, and may all your dreams come true.  *Big hugs*
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
( Dec. 17th, 2010 01:08 am)
Jillian is getting over an illness/fever and now Charis has strep throat; they've both been on antibiotics. Now I've got a scratchy throat and that weird malaise thing going on where my skin feels oddly sensitive and my sinuses start aching. (One of my shift partners called in shift a couple of days ago.)

In addition to the obvious health concerns -- we so don't have time for this.

If I disappear for a few days, it might be for a legitimate reason this time, but I'm pushing the citrus and fluids and hoping for the best.
... Because, despite my best intentions, I just haven't been able to keep up on posts even on LiveJournal, let alone Facebook or Twitter. I don't see it getting better, either -- not if I want to finish polishing my latest novel and get it off to an agent and/or publisher. Finally selling one (no, still no release date on Storm Chaser) has lit a fire under me: If I sold one I can sell another, and if I can sell another I can eventually do it for a living, but I need to put the time in.

But the reason I wasn't online much last week wasn't related to writing challenges ... )
ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( Jul. 20th, 2010 02:30 am)
Who can turn a simple renovation of a tiny bathroom into a week long endurance ride through the depths of hell? WE can, that's who! On a related note, the lead paint chips and dust are makeing it herd ffffome ttoooo se48q20 lvfkssjao.

Jillian's doing fine! Although she says that ever since her tonsils came out, she's speaking in a southern accent. I told her that would go away in a few months. ;-)
ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( Jul. 19th, 2010 01:44 am)
My youngest, Jillian, is getting her tonsils out later today. It's an outpatient procedure these days, and although doctors prefer not to do it as often as they used to, it's still a pretty simple and well practiced procedure.

I'm doing a sterling job of pretending I'm not worried, if I do say so myself. Just the same, I'd appreciate all your prayers, thoughts, good vibes, and -- of course -- popsickles.
Another birthday come and gone ... hope to celebrate next year with a book royalty check. :-)

Speaking of books, Emily gave me a beautifully bound edition of the complete works of Lewis Carroll, cooked a wonderful meal (pork chops, peas, corn on the cob), and even made a homemade ice cream cake with a fire truck on it. (Pictures to follow, of course.) Unfortunately, I came down with a bad case of indigestion (NOT the fault of her cooking) and got pretty sick, so I spent part of the day in bed ... just the same, she worked really hard to make it a perfect day, and I think I'll keep her. :->

As an experiment, rather than posting my column for this week I'm posting the link to my newspaper, the Albion New Era, which put it up on their website. I figure it's good practice for when I get my writer's website up and running, at which point I'd imagine the best and most efficient way of staying in touch would be to link my writing to it. Also, it will make me look very popular to my publisher.

<lj-cut text="You people who read my Memorial Day weekend of woe post, you already know most of this stuff; I just retold the story to get a column out of it. 'Cause I believe in recycling.">
Frankly, I thought I was handling things pretty well.

We had … how can I say this …? An interesting Memorial Day weekend, in the same way the Chinese mean with their old curse, “May you live in interesting times”. It was fun for the whole family, in the same way some people say “fun” when describing tornado touchdowns and Ebola outbreaks.

Oh, let me begin this story by telling you the ending: Everyone’s fine. Remember that.

It started with my grandson Hunter getting poison ivy on his hands. He’s less than two years old, so that’s a big deal – although it’s hardly surprising, considering he’s one of those kids who has to grab hold of everything he sees.

To give you an idea of how the weekend went, by Monday I’d forgotten about the poison ivy.

Next was his brother, Brayden, getting rushed to the hospital with 105 degree fever. In an attempt to calm my daughter (Brayden’s dad had already gone airborne to the hospital, and he was not in an aircraft), I explained over the phone that high fevers weren’t nearly as bad for toddlers as for older people.

Which is true, but 105 is still pretty darn high. However, I was calm. After all, I wasn’t there.

When Brayden had to be admitted to the hospital Sunday to get intravenous fluids (because it hurt to swallow, causing dehydration), I told his parents that they’d take good care of him and he’d be wetting his diapers again in no time.

I confess, my optimism faltered when he had an allergic reaction to the medication that night, and had to be put on more medicine.

I visited the hospital for only a short time the next day, under the theory that he needed rest, which a bunch of people fussing over him wouldn’t provide. At the time, I thought I was putting up a pretty good front of willingly walking away from the expression of misery on that poor tyke, but who knows if witnesses would agree?

That was one ongoing sage, interwoven like a good detective movie with another storyline, only without the multimillion dollar salaries. The other started with a three a.m. phone call Saturday morning. A hit and run driver blew a red light in Fort Wayne, slamming into our family’s little Nissan Sentra and pushing it into a guard rail.

So right there came two of a parent’s worst nightmares: My grandkid was in the hospital, and my daughter in a car wreck. At least it was the other daughter, not the one with the twins – one person can only go through so much.

I handled it very well. Honest.

Emily and I, who had both just fallen asleep after a very long Friday, headed to Fort Wayne. I haven’t dealt with a situation like this in many years (and didn’t have a clue), so by 5:30 a.m. we were knocking on the door of my other daughter, whose boyfriend is something of a mechanical genius. (And whose son was sick, but Brayden was home and seemed to be doing okay at that point.)

Vinny, as expected, jumped at the chance to help out, because that’s the kind of person he is. (Actually he shuffled at the chance to help out – it was 5:30, after all.) But we were on a time limit: The tow company’s lot closed at noon, and wouldn’t reopen again until Tuesday morning. We either moved the car that morning, or paid a daily lot fee for three days.

I have no doubt Vinny could fix it, despite the bent wheel, broken headlight, and missing rear bumper. But was it worth it? The Nissan was twelve years old, covered in rust, its driver’s side window stuck in the up position, and with no working dash lights. I had only liability insurance for it, so that wasn’t a factor – it could be fixed and maybe run for awhile, or be compacted into the world’s heaviest ash tray.

Even with another tow fee, we could make a little more in scrap metal than it would cost to get it out of there. But it was late Saturday morning, hot, and I’d been up all night. Trying to get it moved was more trouble than it was worth. I signed it over to the towing company, and that extra couple of hundred bucks for scrapping it out was theirs.

I remember the day we bought that car: Jillian hated it at first. But both my daughters learned to drive in that little 1998 Sentra. It was the car I drove 500 miles to meet Emily for the first time, and we went through both good and bad times in it. Some of us were a little emotional.

Not me, though. I was being practical. I must have presented a cool, collected picture, a calm center, as we steered our collective canoe up Crap Creek without a paddle.

Then, a couple of days later, I saw the picture.

Charis wanted a photo of me in front of the Nissan, just for old time’s sake. If the paper has room to print the picture, look at my face. I looked like I’d just been forced to shoot Old Yeller. I was amazed at that haggard look, and will never again pretend to be the guy who’s not being affected by things.

Okay, I probably will, but I won’t let anyone nearby with a camera.

What the heck: We all survived -- except for the car -- and on Monday I slept for almost ten hours straight. It’s possible one or two good things even happened during that period.

But that doesn’t fit the theme, so we’ll save it for another tale.

<img src="<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="wrecked Nissan"></a>" />
Well, I hardly know where to start this.  Time kind of went a little wibbly-wobbly for us over Memorial Day weekend, so if I screw up the timeline on this, I apologize.  Let me start out by saying that EVERYONE IS OKAY.  There were a few panics over the weekend, so I wanted to get that up front.

I guess it began with grandkid Brayden being rushed to the hospital with a 105 degree fever, Thursday night.  It turns out both of his ears were infected and he had a very bad sore throat, which figured into the rest of the story. Here are Brayden and Hunter a few weeks ago, on a good day:

Brayden and Hunter in their car seats; can't seem to make lj-cuts work this morning, so I'm doing the Photobucket thing.

Now, Jillian had been invited to a graduation party of a classmate of hers Friday night, and when she couldn't get to sleep she decided to head over. In the wee hours of Saturday morning she was driving down Coliseum Blvd. in Fort Wayne when some idiot ran the ran light at State Street and slammed into the side of the Nissan, forcing it into a guardrail.  I got that call that every parent dreads getting, and soon Emily and I were headed down to Fort Wayne to pick her up.

It's ... actually worse than it looks.

At that point Brayden was doing a lot better.  Because I have no talent or sense for this kind of thing, I barged into Charis' and Vinny's house at about 5:30 in the morning, hoping they could help me get the Nissan out of the tow company's junk yard.  They closed at noon, and if we didn't pick it up by then I'd have to pay a daily storage fee until they reopened on Tuesday. (Memorial Day weekend, remember.)

I was on days off, but we'd been researching and shopping for a computer for Emily; due partially to that, at the time of the accident we'd just gotten to bed, after sleeping only about 5-6 hours the day before. So when we were trying to decide the fate of the Nissan late Saturday morning, it was getting hot out and I hadn't slept since the the previous afternoon. Vinny thought he could fix it or, at the very least get a little more out of scrapping than it would cost to tow it.

Unfortunately, at that time of the day on a holiday weekend, there was no tow to be found. I was exhausted and upset, and ready to be out from under the whole thing, so I paid the initial tow bill and signed the car over to the towing company, which will likely make a couple of hundred extra dollars in scrap metal.

R.I.P., 1998 Nissan Sentra that had been in our family for so long that both my daughters learned to drive with it.  I thought I was handling it all pretty well, until the next day when I saw this photo that Charis took just before we left:

Guess I'm not handling it with such good humor, after all ...

After everything was settled, Emily and I finished the computer shopping (That part went well, except for a small issue that Vinny helped us with that evening.  Emily does know her computers.)  We fell into an exhausted sleep until around mid-afternoon Saturday when Vinny and Charis, who'd heard that I was looking for a dresser, called to say they'd found two and were on their way with them -- $40 for two good, sturdy dressers.  Something else happened at about that same time, but since it was very good news and this is a bad news post, I'll save it for later.

We fell back asleep ... for awhile. But Brayden was still sick, and his throat hurt so badly that he was refusing to eat or drink anything. On Sunday he had to be taken back into the hospital, where they found he was dehydrated and admitted him.  The poor little guy had to get an IV for fluids, and spent the night in there.  Because the weekend wasn't exhausting enough, he had an allergic reaction to one of the IV's, and at about 2 a.m. Monday was put on Benadryl and Lortab to clean up the rash and help with the pain:

Poor little guy is just as miserable as he looks.

Emily and I didn't stay long Sunday, both because I had to work that night and because the room was crowded, and Brayden was having enough trouble resting without all the fuss and extra people.  Emily, by the way, was still tired out from finals (4.0 GPA last semester!), packing up and moving to Indiana, and getting over a bad case of tracheal bronchitis.  Jillian has also been sick recently and went through two antibiotic prescriptions, although they were both well away from the twins and aren't germ suspects.  :-)  I had a photo of Vinny looking absolutely exhausted and holding both the kids, but I couldn't get it to upload.  Basically I'm the only person who hasn't been sick lately, and I guess I just jinxed myself.

Oh, yeah: And Jillian is likely moving from my house to Kendallville, where her mom, sister, and grandpa live, to be closer to both job prospects and her fall term at Ivy Tech now that transportation has become a problem.  That's not bad news, exactly, but it's hard on a papa.

So, yeah -- that's how my weekend went.  I apologize because, for the second time in the last couple of weeks, I was totally unable to keep up with my LiveJournal or Facebook friends, but under the circumstances I hope you'll understand.  I hope the long weekend went better for all of you!

The main thing to get out of this: Everybody's gonna be okay.
ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
( Dec. 27th, 2009 02:40 am)
Happy birthday, Jillian! The night you were born was one of the best -- not to mention most memorable -- of my life. Now, suddenly, just a few days later, you're an adult: in college, working a job, doing your own laundry, and even picking up after yourself from time to time. Happy 19th! Keep your eye on the future -- may all your wishes and dreams come true.

Here's Jillian, being a good aunt just one year ago:
Aunt Jillian
For a variety of reasons, I won't be around much for -- oh, probably the next month or so. All seven of my regular readers are aware that this isn't uncommon, and it just means RL will be overwhelming for awhile -- all I ask is that, since I'll try unsuccessfully to keep up on my friends lists, please hit me with an e-mail if there's something I need to know. Very rarely do I go a day without checking e-mail!

One of those days will be next Wednesday, when I'm heading down to Missouri to pick up Emily; she'll be spending Christmas break with me, and a weak later Jillian will be here for her winter break. Yay! However, my mind is completely blanking on what to get them or anyone for Christmas, which I hear is coming in a month or so.

On a much more down note, Jillian's actually here right now, thanks to getting sick at school; the doctor thinks she has H1N1, and since she has asthma, the flu's a bit more serious for her than for most people. Still, she seems to be doing okay, and plans to put up Christmas decorations here with her boyfriend (!) this weekend.

My knee, sadly, is not doing better, but I think the swelling and stiffness is due in part to the cold, wet weather we've been having. None of me does better in those conditions. Frankly, that's been overshadowed by the fact that I'm scheduled to see a urologist mid-month due to high PSA readings; what Public Service Announcements have to do with prostate problems, I have no idea. ;-)

I'm approaching the time when I should be hearing back from the two novel publishers I submitted to earlier in the year. Considering all of the above, you have to wonder if high PSA readers are caused by stress.

So, yeah -- kinda busy. Please don't defriend me! In the immortal words of Ahnold, I'll be back.

Meanwhile, a fun link to 20 outrageous Sue Sylvester Quotes, from the TV show "Glee":,,20323853,00.html
The most recent episode was a killer! Not one, but two smack-downs, one of them a long time coming.

On a more "huh?" note -- GoogleGate?

If not before, I'll be here with my next column!
Ironically, the day after posting my rodent column I had back to back animal encounters. While I was at work a big orange cat appeared at the door of dispatch, loudly proclaiming it was very unhappy and needed love (and food) NOW. He let me pick him up while we called the humane shelter, but wasn't too thrilled about it and had his claws ready for action when I wouldn't let him down. Still, cat scratch fever is so less scary than spider bite allergies.

Now, at the beginning of his shift one of our deputies hit a deer as he was driving toward the office. My theory is that he felt guilty about the poor thing (even though it got up and ran away), so he adopted the cat and took it home. When he opened his garage door to get a cat carrier, the first thing he saw was a mouse run by him. Looks like Mr. Cat has his work cut out for him.

Cut to last evening. Jillian has come home from college for fall break (yay!) and was sitting on a chair in the living room when a mouse leaped across the room, literally right at her feet, then ran under the chair. There was a squeak -- someone squeaked. I headed for the kitchen for a mouse trap, and as I walked back into the room the mouse walked across the floor again, climbed up onto the sweatshirt Jillian left on the floor, and just stood there in front of her. We quickly concluded it was sick, or insane, or possibly had read my column and was screaming "You killed my father! Prepare to die!"

I'm not proud of what happened next, but ... well ... there was a broom involved.

I wonder if there's a statute of limitations on how often I can write columns about small animals?

Meanwhile, since I've been feeling kind of blah lately, here's the one thing that always cheers me up: Grandkid picspam!!!! (Photo by mom)

Brayden, Grandpa, and Hunter )
On a related note (because Jillian was in show choir for three years), I keep expecting Glee to disappoint me ... and it keeps not disappointing me. It's nice to know they're still making shows that are both smart and fun.


If it wasn’t for classes, college would be perfect. )


ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)


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