Where Memories Meet is available now for Kindle

Where Memories Meet coverI thought you’d want to know. You can read more about it over at my author site. I promise to get back to posting random thoughts here again soon. Thanks for sticking with me.


I have a cover

I just wanted to let you know to check over at my blog at christinemgrote.com. I’ve posted a picture of the cover for my book. I hope to get back to blogging here soon. I have photos I’d like to share of the Lincoln Funeral Train, but I am focusing all my effort right now on getting Where Memories Meet published. So many details.

Last night I thought I lost my InDesign book file. You can imagine my distress. I still don’t know what happened. It wasn’t in the folder I had been keeping it in, and then later on it was. Computer magic.

I will tell you just a short little story about publishing details. I have photos in my book, primarily of my dad. A few have other family members in them, but one photo had one of Dad’s classmates named Jim in it. I was just going to try to let it slide by and hope no one complained, even though I know you’re supposed to have signed waivers when you use a photo with someone in it. I didn’t even know if Jim was still alive.

But today I had a guilt attack and decided I needed to at least try to contact Jim. I got out the copy of my mom’s phone and address book, which was actually a rolodex file, and looked up Jim’s name. I dialed the number and got some crazy recording that said I needed to enter a password if I wanted to leave a message. I’d never encountered anything like that. I thought maybe Jim was in a nursing home or something.

So I called another one of Dad’s classmates, Norma, whose name also was in Mom’s rolodex file. Norma answered and was able to give me Jim’s updated phone number. I had a pleasant conversation with Norma, and right before we hung up she said, “I miss your Dad.”

“I miss him too,” I managed to say. Then I needed to spend about a half an hour regaining my composure before I called Jim.

Sometimes it feels just as hard as ever.

But Jim was happy to allow me to use the photo, and all’s well. Jim and Norma both will be getting complimentary copies of Where Memories Meet.

Posting at my new site

Hi friends and loyal followers,

I was working on my author website, and does it ever need work, so I thought I’d post from there today and send you all over if you’re will to make the trip.

Blog at christinemgrote.com

How’s that for keeping it simple? While you’re there, browse around. I’m happy to hear your ideas and suggestions. It’s a work in progress.

Facing my Fears – Starting small

I am tired of my  gigantic fear of certain small creatures. I fail to understand why, at the age of 58, I continue to cringe, jerk back, jump up, or respond in an aggressive and sometimes violent way, to particular little creatures. So I’m undertaking a campaign to conquer my fear of spiders.

They say we fear the unknown. I am going to attempt to learn my way out of my fear.

First sighting - Monday, August 24

First sighting – Monday, August 24

As good luck would have it, nature presented me with the perfect opportunity to observe that which I fear. We found this creation installed on one of our deck’s shepherd’s hooks upon our return Monday from a short trip to St. Louis.

Somebody was busy while we were gone. The web is one of the reasons I do not have an affinity for spiders. Can you imagine accidentally wandering into one of these, face first, or even getting your hand in it? Not a pleasant experience.

Perhaps a change of perspective will help.

Spider and web

Spider and web

This is an absolutely amazing structure. I’m not sure you can tell from the photo, but it’s not flat, or located in one plane (to use a term from my geometry class too many years ago to remember). It reminds me of the structures they build to provide shade above an outdoor performance stage where a fabric is stretched taut between various anchors creating a three-D effect. I don’t know how this little spider managed it all my him- or herself and undoubtedly without a compass, or protractor, let alone a computer, to boot. There’s some pretty cool geometry going on here.

And just in case you missed it. The spider is all curled up, looking something like a benign blob of mud, on the top of the shepherd’s hook, making me realize that without the legs a spider doesn’t look all that ugly, or menacing at all.

Maybe if the granddaddy long-leg that was plastered on the brick wall, right beside the handle to the sliding screen door, had had his or her legs curled up tight, I would have had less of a start when I spotted it. Maybe then I wouldn’t have had to contort my hand as I was opening the door to keep the maximum space between my fingers and the giant, I mean little, invader.


Web maker

Just to be certain it wasn’t a blob of mud, I got a closer shot. See, that spider doesn’t look so frightening after all, does it?


Spider’s new hiding place

On Tuesday, I noticed the spider had found a new hiding place, which I have to agree, was probably a smart move. His or here previous position made him or her pretty much a sitting duck for the all the birds we have around here. (I’m switching to the feminine pronoun because I’m tired of the whole he or she thing. And I suspect if we did a scientific study of it, we would find out that the male pronoun has been much more overused through the years. Just saying.)

I thought it was also interesting that she seemed to build a lot of web around where she sat. I don’t know whether she was hoping for easy snacks within arm’s reach, or was somehow trying to hide or disguise herself.

Spider and cicada

Spider hits jackpot

I noticed something relatively large hanging from the web Tuesday afternoon. I got my camera and shot a picture from the safety of my kitchen window. Jackpot! When I cropped in to magnify the picture I could clearly see that the spider was in for a feast with this cicada.

She does look just a little bit evil in this pose, don’t you think? But I guess the red fox running across the yard with a squirrel in its mouth didn’t exactly look like Little Bo Peep. And I still like the red foxes. Do I detect a double standard?

spider and cicada

Spider and cicada

I cropped in for a closer shot, just so you could see what is going on and learn about this fascinating, and friendly, little creature.

The web was pretty well trashed by the end of this event. It was hanging freely and kind of swaying in the wind.

Spider web

New web

But no worries. I woke up this morning and found this brand new shiny web constructed. I don’t know how the spider got rid of the cicada refuse, or inedible parts. They’re probably lying in Mark’s garden directly below the web. I also don’t know how she got rid of the old ratty web. Did she disconnect it from the anchors and let it drop to the ground? Did she systematically roll it up and reuse it like stitches torn from a knitting mistake and rolled back into the ball or yarn? It’s a mystery to me.

spider web

New web

But this web is looking good, ready to go. Although upon closer examination, I see it may have met with a few casualties already.

Our little friend, hides and waits above. Sneaky little creature, isn’t she? But industrious and creative.

What do you think? Can it be done? Will I be able to overcome my arachnophobia? Or is my irrational fear of spiders deep-rooted in my DNA, or evidence of, or artifacts from, a past life?

Stay tuned.


She waits

What are these creepy crawling critters?

This post is not for the squeamish or faint of heart.

But I’m hoping someone can identify these insects for me, at least I hope they’re insects and not spiders.

We live in fertile territory here, and I have spent many moments enjoying nature and the young life that springs forth. I’ve thrilled to the sound of baby birds chirping with seemingly insatiable hunger; I’ve adored infant and juvenile fawns as they skamper through the yard; I was entertained by fox kits and a juvenile owl. But I guess I’ll have to say that infant insects is where I draw the line.

What are these things?

Zelus longipes - Milkweed Assassin Bugs perhaps?I was about 90% of the way through chopping down a volunteer yellow-flowering plant in our garden when I noticed a bunch of tiny red spots on a stem. Upon closer examination, I could see they were tiny insects.

Black ant

The only other insect in close proximity was this black ant. There were several other black ants on the plant as well, which isn’t really a big surprise as we have a lot of them here. A grand-daddy long-legs spider was also on the plant. We also have a lot of them. Ants I can tolerate, spiders, not so much. If these were baby spiders, I might have to do a nature intervention.

Zelus longipes - Milkweed Assassin Bugs maybe

I went inside and got my camera with my extension tubes for a macro shot. I can see I got those tubes just in the nick of time. Magnifying what I was seeing really didn’t make me feel much better. Then I started wondering if the other stems I had chopped off the plant and put in the trash receptacle also had the red invaders.

Sure enough.

Here’s the important question, did any get on me?

I hope not. And I think not. I’m pretty careful how I handle refuse and live plants in the garden because of the aforementioned abundance of spiders.

Zelus longipes - Milkweed Assassin Bugs maybe

I tried to count legs, but there seemed to be a lot of black thin things sprouting out of the bodies. I looked online, and think they might be Zelus longipes – Milkweed Assassin Bugs.

Apparently they’re predators of bad bugs, and are good to have in gardens. I hope I didn’t upset the eco-balance here because of the number of them that went the way of the refuse pile.

I think they’re creepy and and kind of spider-esque.

Please let me know if you can confirm or refute my identification of these little creepy crawlers.

Getting serious now

Just a short note to link to my latest post, which is now on christinemgrote.com. I’m a slow-learner at this, but am getting it figured out. I’ll be posting about my writing there, and my photos and random ideas, here. As you will see if you venture over there, my author site needs a little loving care.

But you have to start somewhere, right?

I do have one of two early drafts of the cover of Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s there. Shhhh. Don’t tell my daughter designer (Anna) she will probably not be happy.

I hope you’ll stop over and say “Hey.”

Oh, and here is a macro picture I took using my new camera extension tube. It was a lot harder to use than I had anticipated, as you might be able to tell based on the quality (lack of) of the photo.

But you have to start somewhere, right?

This verbena bloom is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch across.  I need to go find some insects.

This verbena bloom is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 inch across. It doesn’t make that great of a macro shot with the way I shot and cropped it.  I need to go find some insects and then drug them so they sit still.

An owl stops by on a summer’s day

Juvenile Great-horned Owl

A juvenile great-horned owl stopped by today.

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

I’m pretty sure it was a juvenile because I don’t think an adult would be hanging around in the middle of the driveway in the middle of the morning,

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

captivated  by its reflection in a puddle. Of course, I can’t  be sure it was enamored with its reflection.

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

He or she might have mistaken the puddle for a bird bath.

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“Is it my bedtime yet?”Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“Oh, hello there.”

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“Can you do this?”

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“I bet you can’t.”

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“I can see you.”

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“There might be something wrong with my foot down there.”

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“Alrighty then, I’ll just be on my way.”

Juvenile Great-Horned Owl

“Nope. Nothing wrong with the foot.”

If you’d like to see more, you can watch a short, somewhat flawed, video I shot here. Enjoy.


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