Hello all – I’m back. Well, that’s actually misleading as I haven’t been gone. And that is also misleading because I went to Colorado last week, so yeah, I guess I am back 😊

I hope you are all keeping well, dodging the damned virus and doing okay? We are muddling along at Debtwood. It’s been a busy time. The Gumpster has been doing his own rendition of an HGTV show, he’s been working on my old house for the past year. He’s had his iPad glued to his nose (alternating with food) and has watched so many YouTube how to’s his eyes are now square. But he has been a rapt student and learned things like the correct end of a hammer to use, what a Phillips screwdriver looks like, and which brand of band-aids work better than others.

Seriously, he has worked his arse off, and it shows. Not on his arse, but the house. It looks smashing! So smashing, that I’ve actually sold the thing (thanks to Steph & Kev for the help) – It’s been a strange feeling too, as this was the one and only house I ever owned, the last bastion of my independence. And in five days it will belong to another…sigh. But I’m pretty excited. Owning a house you don’t live in anymore is like having your thirty-five-year-old kid move back home. Both a pleasure and a pain in the rear. It’s a chapter that’s been read, part of a past you need to leave behind. A responsibility I don’t want anymore.

So, goodbye dear Love-Shack. That’s what we called it. Not for any romantic reason, but because lots of people stayed there and canoodled (except me of course). Speaking of canoodling, or lack of really, it’s mine and Gump’s twelfth anniversary this weekend GASP…..the surprising part is he is still alive and as yet unmaimed, although that could change as he is not working at the Love-Shack now but is home….with me…..all….day……long………..

Actor’s interpretation of me going off my head from Gumpness

Colorado was lovely, other than the fact I can never breathe once I hit elevation (escalators in the subways are tough for me – hee hee). It’s always a joy seeing the grandkids, who are really grand-teens and taller than me. It’s a reminder of how old I am, and that the reflection of the elderly lady in the shop window is actually me.

Scout the wonder dog handled the 10-hour drive like a pro – she’s pretty low maintenance in the car (thank goodness) other than she gets an entire back seat and a fluffy bed to lay on while Gump and I sardine it in the front.

My son’s family have a toy poodle called Theodore, ‘Teddy’ to his friends. He is an apricot ball of fluff, with the cutest black button eyes you’ve ever seen, and a cuddler. Scout outweighs him by about fifty pounds, but she LOVES him. Loves him so much that Teddy would probably feed himself to a hungry Rottweiler just to get a break from her incessant attention every once in a while. Well, that’s how it is on day one. By the second day, they’re pals, obsessed with who is getting what treat, and only wanting what the other has. The old grass is greener routine…..Strange the parallels between canines and humans? I always wanted Liz Taylor’s beauty spot on her cheek.

It is simply gorgeous where they live. Spectacular scenery and I tend to spend each morning on the balcony, in awe of the beautiful views as I bask in the sun like a content lizard. I’ve always thought that a great description – basking in the sun like a lizard. Never did I realise that it literally applied to me, for at 61, I look like one as well – sigh.

While I was growing new wrinkles under the sun’s damaging rays, Gump was off in the wilds of Alaska, fishing for even wilder red salmon. He and his fellow fishing buds make an annual trip (pilgrimage) to go river fishing among the bears and other critters in the middle of nowhere. They love it. They get up in the dark, hike through the wild, and then stand in cold water all day fishing. This does not sound like fun to me. There is no beach, there is no warmth, and there are no, I repeat no, cabana boys.

Meanwhile, I was roughing it, having my own adventures at Target, TJ Maxx and with my dog during our morning walks. We encountered savage neighbourhood deer—okay, they weren’t savage, but they did give us the eye—we also spotted a few dogs and one rabbit which Scout chased half-heartedly.

One particular morning, I needed to be gone from the house for a few hours as my daughter-in-law- currently working from home- had a virtual presentation to give to some higher-ups. My dog is LOUD and it would have been terrible if Scout started barking and playing up during the talk that was being given. So I thought we could go to a small park nearby, one I’d spotted that had a small, pretty lake, with both trails and a sidewalk. This was a good spot as I could let her highness off the leash, which I did. The walk was nice. I saw some art students obviously doing a class project as they were sat dotted around the area sketching. One of them had hiked all the way down onto the sandy bank of the small lake, which was a riot of ducks and geese. Having a penchant for taking pictures, I decided she had the right idea, and the wonder dog and I headed towards the water.

Big mistake. The ‘bank’ was more like bloody quicksand. The dog just pranced out of it and the mud fell off her paws. But me? My weight sank into the stuff until it covered my feet entirely. I was wearing leather sandals. The mud, black and green, oozed into my shoes, between my toes, in my nails and clung to the bottom of my shoes like I had just paid a visit to a Mafia family, who had dipped my feet in the cement so that Tony the Banana could drop me into the lake and silence me forever.

Dear God, it was nasty! I tromped back to the car like I was wearing ankle weights. I was a mess! It was too early to go home – I’d only been gone thirty minutes. So, I banged off as much goo as I could, got in the car, and drove to Walmart. I bought paper towels, a gallon of water, wipes, and a pair of cheap shoes, which I tried on with black and green feet under the disgusted stare of a nearby clerk. Then I sat in the parking lot and washed my feet. It was exhausting, and I swear the whole time I was doing it, Scout was grinning – the bitch.

Actor’s rendition of Scout grinning…..

After a week, poor Gump finally returned from his adventures in Alaska, ice-chest of salmon in hand, to an underwhelming hero’s welcome as I was tired and I don’t eat salmon. I lamented the lack of halibut (you can’t catch it in the rivers) as I do every year when he gets back (I don’t want to disappoint him)….Teddy and Scout were thrilled to have him back, I was secretly pleased to see him but did not tell him, of course. After a good night’s sleep we loaded up the car with Scout and cold fish and we were back on the road to Debtwood!

I walked into my house after ten days of being gone and saw all the things I want to change/redo/throw away – oh..not Gump (well not at the moment) – and as I complained about some things, okay everything, my YouTuber husband did an almost Superman thing when he announced he had evolved into Gump the toolman Geologist, and he now had the know-how of what to do since all the work he had done on the Love-shack – BARGAIN!

Consequently, we are planning a garage sale (groan) for next month, and are currently sorting out the crap we don’t want, hoping we can convince others to part with their hard-earned money and take our stuff away.

DRUMROLL……In the meantime, book #3 is published. Audiobook #1 (Mowbray Manor) is on the final edit, and I’ve just penned my fifth Victorian novel. I’m actually starting to feel like an author as I am overwhelmed, underpaid and very emotional. My mood swings are the stuff of a PBS documentary, and if I should bite the big one early, between that and posthumous book sales, Gump could be a thousandaire!

The New Book!

If you like reading mysteries, check out my books! If you prefer a detective story with a serial killer, bad language and sarcasm, wait for my book ‘Blow Out’, which will come out next year. Yes, this is a blog you are reading, but it is also a shameless attempt at exploiting my friends with sneaky advertising! Look, having this website isn’t free you know, and Gump doesn’t make much as a handyman yet.

Sometimes I wonder, what would I have done had I not started pursuing my lifelong ambition to write? I would probably have a cleaner house, a social life, more sleep, fewer spreadsheets and fewer arthritic fingers. There are days I think I have bitten off more than I can chew with this malarky. It is far harder than you would think, but also more rewarding than any job I ever had during my years in the corporate world. I like making up stuff.

Meanwhile, all my friends are in varying stages of retirement. How is that even possible? We are all still in our forties, aren’t we? This rollercoaster of life really does pick up speed after fifty. Maybe life moves at the same speed as your age? That’s kind of a cool way to think of it – but of course, I would think it’s cool because I wrote it.

Gump went to see the doctor yesterday and came home depressed because his doc is retiring. I told him I could understand him feeling bummed – that it was nice to have a long-term relationship with your health provider. He looked at me like I’d gone lala – then said it had nothing to do with that, he’d just miss all their chats about fishing.

Speaking of medical stuff – I think I get more appointment reminder phone calls than I get calls from my friends! Testimony to a grand age I suppose – but I am not happy about it.

Well, that’s about all I can squeeze out of my tiny brain today. I hope you all have a safe October, and Happy Halloween!!!!! – Jude xx