It’s early December – the last of the Thanksgiving turkey has hit the road and you’re kidding yourself that you won’t make the same bad choices again. But every day you go to the office, there’s another food gift in the staff kitchen from a company you do business with, or someone brought in something they cooked at home. Everywhere you turn in the store there is food and Christmas candy, and you know you can wear baggy sweaters until at least March. So what’s the harm? Besides, you’ll do better AFTER the holidays.

Well, that’s my plan anyway. I figure the extra calories I’m taking in will drop off me while I buzz around the house like the proverbial blue-arsed fly, taking care of things – Christmas cards/Christmas shopping/cooking/cleaning/prepping for company and stressing during the restful Yuletide break. The one where you find some Herculean power store to get through at least two days of hard labour. Tough, brutal, but the upside is being around people we love, with a heady dose of grandkids if you’re lucky.


Sunday I put up the Christmas tree and decorations. I was up and down that bloody ladder-like Super Mario with all I had to put out. At least I had already culled the amount of stuff I have and was down to only six boxes of decorations, plus a few large items. Oh, I forgot to tell you, two months ago, we began a Debtwood clearing out stuff/reduction plan. I’ve made multiple trips to the charity shops already, and to do his bit, Gump finally decided to tackle his shed/garage in the back garden to create more space.

It’s been almost a month since he started the project (procrastinator), and he’s still not finished because once he got in there, in true Gump fashion, he then decided to take every item out of there, clean each item (it’s all so dusty), caulk and paint the inside of the shed, and redesign where everything is going to go. Whilst doing all of this he had to deal with the nasty recluse spider colony issue in there, and many other icky things. Meanwhile, the entire contents of our shed are being stored on my back porch (just in time for Christmas and our company coming) and the rest of it is out in the back yard sitting on at least six big white tables and covered in plastic (to protect it from the rain). Gump assures me that he will be done soon, but as you all know, Gump works in Geological time. ‘Soon’ could be up to three years. It took him twenty-six years to decide he wanted to marry me.

Artists rendition of my tree……..

I’m a bit behind with the blog, sorry, but there’s been a lot going on. Last time, I told you the Loveshack sold (yippee) but then there was the inevitable closing, which is something I have only experienced once, a very long time ago. Wow, things have changed!

When we showed up at the closing company’s building, it was what I imagine visiting the CIA headquarters must be like, except with a more glamourous receptionist and free refreshments. As I sipped my free bottle of water and snuck one of their pens into my purse, I looked around the conference room (one of many), noticed all the high-tech gadgets and realised the person who founded this company was probably a video-game nut. No wonder the closing costs weren’t cheap! The nice assigned ‘Closer’ came in, and other than my cringing every time Gump made one of his ‘funnies’, it went as well as expected. We hadn’t seen the buyers, they were being kept in another room somewhere mysterious. I felt like we were on the Jerry Springer Show, where you only get to finally see the people you are supposed to interact with at the peak of the appearance, for the biggest audience response. I felt like the ugly relative (I bore a striking resemblance to one also) who no one wants to own. We had brought Scout along because Gump cannot bear to be without her. She was waiting patiently for us in the car. After many signings, it was time for the buyers to do their bit (in the secret room) the Closer told us to come back in an hour for the check.

We raced across town, hit every road construction lane-closing possible, and by the time we found a place to pick up food, everyone else was on their lunch break and doing the same as us. I dropped off Gump to get a Chik Fil a for moi, while Scout rode shotgun with me through a drive-thru at Schlotsky’s for Gump. After what seemed like hours, I circled back to get Gump, and then we legged it (British for hurrying) to the nearest park, so we could eat, and let miss fussy pants take a leak as she’d been doing her four-legged version of Swan Lake as she needed to pee.

This was hardly the celebratory meal we had talked about having on Closing Day… and as I watched Gump chomp on his sub sandwich and share bits with his darling Scout, I reached into my bag to find we had been given the wrong order….and the wrong drink – none of which I liked. Great – no lunch/drink for me. Good job I’d pulverised the $20 bottle of water back at $$$ HQ. I called Chik Fil a – they refunded my money, but it was too far to go back and get something else to eat as we were already running late, and I wanted that check in my hot little hands!

Boy did I feel momentarily rich! That piece of paper had more money written on it than I had ever held in my life. Feeling relieved it was over with, we dodged the roadworks (yippee) drove to the bank (yippee), I left Gump in the car with Scout (yippee) and went inside to find out I could not deposit said check (boo).

This happens, apparently, when your bank accounts are in your actual name, and your check is issued to the name of your LLC (AAGGHH) – After controlling my impulse to strangle the twelve-year-old bank clerk and not have a nervous breakdown due to lack of food, I went out on a limb and asked for Gump’s advice out in the parking lot. I made a few calls, got some help from my main man Ivan, (at Merrill Lynch), and opened a business account just so I could deposit a check that was (did I tell you?) the most money I have ever held in my hand…..Bloody hell, nothing ever goes according to plan. Oh well, maybe when the check cleared in ten days, I could treat myself to a burger.



Meanwhile, having finished his job in the renovation of the Loveshack (which took as long as the one they did at Hampton Court Palace after the awful fire) Gump had brought all the tools home he had purchased from Harbor Freights, and Lowe’s for said renovation, only to discover he would need another building to store them in – hence the big shed clear-out. But what was this? A ladder (a bloody big one) was missing! There ensued much panic, and multiple trips back to the recently sold Loveshack. He looked everywhere and was convinced someone must have stolen it from his trailer when he was on one of his frequent trips to Harbor Freights & Lowe’s. Gump was furious, both with his naivety leaving it unattended, and a person’s nerve in boldly stealing his ladder. I cannot tell you how often I had to listen to his self-remonstrations. “How could I have been so stupid?” “I should have known!” and “Where else do you think it could be?” I had no clue. But I knew where I wish I could put it…..

And then a week later, after all his angst, Gump happened to glance up at where his ladders hang on the side of his shed, and realised the one hanging there was actually two – his ladder had been there the entire time, just hard to see as it was lined up perfectly with the other. Yes, people – this is the man I live with. And you wonder why I look ninety?


Amidst all this, we recklessly decided to have a garage sale, even though trying to get Gump to give up one of four garden rakes was tantamount to him giving up a kidney. We did not have a lot of stuff, but we had made a commitment to our neighbour, Shirley, that we’d do this together and perhaps get more traffic. The day I advertised it, she had a relative pass away and had to cancel the sale (understandably). Gump and I looked at our meagre items and thought it would be a pathetic sale, but too late to cancel now. The night before the big event, Shirley changed her mind and was able to pull it all together (hooray). One of my sons even drove in from out of state to help us with everything, especially lifting the heavy stuff as Gump and I are weak and old.

After much last-minute panicking and preparation, the day of the sale dawned. It was going to be gorgeous! Sunny, warm, and after all the hoo-ha of selling the house and clearing out stuff, we were glad of a legitimate excuse to sit around for the day. We met several neighbours who stopped by to chat, and we had fun competing for sales with Shirley, our neighbour (she won). After several hours and a nice rest, we closed it down – it was a complete wash…$125.00 for all that hard work.

We blew part of it on dinner, and then decided it was still worth it, because we’d had a laugh and met some neighbours, all while sitting on our arses. Altogether a win-win, but the last time I will EVER have a garage sale!

I wish……


Scout the wonder dog is getting to be a chunk. We walk her all the time and we also play with her several times a day – she’s a cattle dog and expects to run a herd – Scout’s herd consists of our resident armadillo and possum, me, Gump and a rather large orange ball. The ball is great, she really does herd it and runs her behind off. But we have a large backyard with obstacles, including a small area that is wooded. Invariably, the ball will get hung up in there, on tree roots, bushes, and such. Though Scout is pretty good at manoeuvring it out, sometimes it gets stuck.

It happened the other day, and I had to go and rescue her ball. I had on my Crocs (fake ones from Walmart) and as I stepped in the thick wet leaves on the ground, I intentionally refused to think about what I was treading in. I could feel moisture coming through the holes in the crocs, but I had on no socks so it was okay – or so I thought. I got the ball out and threw it, but as I reached the grass, it felt as though a slimy wet leaf had stuck inside my shoe, under my foot and between my toes.

I stopped, rested against a tree trunk and lifted my foot up off the ground, I reached down to grab the wet leaf, and it moved. I froze….huh? It moved again, and a small head poked out the hole in my shoe, right between my big and second toes, while its ‘tail’ stuck out the other end. A bloody snake!!!!! I screamed out “GUMP! HELP! He was about fifty yards away on the back porch, chatting with his friend Darla, whilst I was hopping around like bloody Kermit, too scared to reach down and pull off my shoe in case the snake touched me. I shook my foot until it finally came out of the blasted shoe. Meanwhile, Scout stared at me like I was a nutter, and Gump carried on chatting. I had my phone with me and I snapped this picture right as the shoe came loose. I had no idea if this was a baby BAD snake and might bite me! Now I had evidence! I had proof to throw in Gump’s face once I got to the house. He’d be sorry he hadn’t saved me from the five-inch monster.

He wasn’t. He actually howled, and I mean howled, with laughter. Tears in his eyes, he didn’t stop for probably a good minute. Needless to say, I was NOT amused. Okay, so it was a little snake – but a snake is a snake, people!

It’s not big, but it still doesn’t belong in my shoe!


Gump – he is an enigma, and a goofball. He’s really good at doing some things. For example, he can watch a YouTube video and learn how to do home-improvement stuff (wish he’d watch one about how to load a dishwasher)… Anyway, though he is far more attuned to fixing things than myself, sometimes he even has to laugh at himself.

We had friends over for dinner the other night. We knew the lady but were just meeting the husband of the pair for the first time. He was a retired electrician and a really nice guy. During dinner, the men were talking about subjects usually induced by the presence of testosterone, and Gump was showing the guy something on the wall when the guy noticed a couple of switches.

“Attic fan?” he asked.

“Yup,” said Gump. “We’ve been here 12 years, and it only worked once.”

The guy frowned. “What do you mean?”

“It worked the first time I used it, then the knob broke. I’ve been meaning to fix it, it just won’t turn on.”

The guy turns the knob (forcefully) and the attic fan kicks on immediately. He looks at Gump. “Nothing wrong with it. It’s just stiff.”

Gump’s expression looks like someone who just saw Elvis and John Lennon walk by. “I was too nervous to turn it that hard,” he stammers. “Do you mean to tell me it’s been working these past 12 years?”


My Gump. Twelve years of Oklahoma heat, and the first time in his life that Gump has failed to push somebody’s button. This time, the attic fan’s.

The attic fan works!

…..And then there’s Rowan. Rowan is the dog down the street, an Australian Shepherd who resembles the dog, Doug, from the movie UP, with the running style of Tigger. Rowan is an escape artist, and when he’s on the run, he always comes to our house to see his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Scout the wonder dog. Considering she is mean to every other dog in the world, I figure in two-year-old Heeler culture, Rowan must be dumb but hot.

Rowan escapes so often that we have his owners phone numbers readily available. This particular day, I was able to coerce him into our screened-in porch, which is tantamount to herding a wild mustang. Scout, happy to flirt with the guy out in the yard was definitely not pleased with the invasion of her territory. Consequently, a chase ensued through the house, rather like a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

At length, the owners arrived, and Rowan was able to go home before getting mauled. Well, that was one good deed for the day done. I felt pretty good about it. Until I went into my office. There, on my thick pile carpet, was a parting gift from the dog, his way of saying ‘thank-you’ – a steaming mound of something that was not Christmas Pudding – ugh! I was so bummed out. But not as much as Gump, who had to get the carpet cleaner out (he still owed me for the attic fan debacle).

And so, dear readers, life goes on here at Debtwood, or should I say Leafwood (bloody trees). Every day brings another Gump moment. We’ve had a lot of deer around this autumn, which is pretty cool. Scout doesn’t worry them, she just sniffs the air, glances at them and then carries on herding her orange ball past the oblivious armadillo. The horses in the field behind us have been gone for a few months, but are now back to winter here. Here’s a tip…Buy stock in carrots, because I will make you rich.


On the writing front – My books are selling well, but I need to get my name ‘out there’ (wherever that actually means). I’m working on some possibilities. I’ve slowed down the actual writing for December as there are so many other things to do. (like writing this blog)…..It’s good to rest your brain occasionally.

In the new year, I shall begin sending out a newsletter each month, which will focus on what I’m doing professionally (so to speak) – It’s time for me to embrace that part of the writer’s journey, and hopefully not bore the pants off everyone who reads it. I’ll also keep this blog going as I like complaining about my life with the Gumpster, and I get such nice feedback too.

Well, that’s all I can manage. To all of you out there, Happy Christmas and Merry New Year! I hope you all get to spend some time with the people you love –

See you next year!