Wednesday, December 28, 2011


What would I have done differently? This is a question that’s plagued me for years, and that is exactly why it’s so difficult to answer. I should have done numerous things differently throughout my fifty-five years on this planet. Very few, however, would I actually choose to do differently, because then I would be another Donna Kiser than I am today.

Considering only the past twelve months though is not only easier, but also necessary in measuring goal-setting outcomes to adjust going forward. So here goes:

  1. More research on teaching overseas before spending $1200 on certification
  2. Curb the acting-on-emotion, but don’t lose spontaneity
    1. Leaving Wisconsin before summer housing was confirmed
    2. Falling in love with a location because of scenery, and moving w/o research
    3. Trusting too quickly (this is an ongoing, perpetual issue for me)
  3. More activity, less sitting
  4. More writing, less work
  5. Promote self more (another biggie for me)
  6. Worrying about what others think

I think that’s plenty for the page, there’s tons more running circles in my head. At least I’ve have the groundwork for 2012's action plan, except for #1. Not much I can do now about #1 but I can remind myself to research a LOT before making decisions—kinda goes with #2. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Barter System Today

Bartering is an exchange of goods or services without a monetary exchange, and has been around for centuries.  Although it went out of fashion for a time with the rise of capitalism, it has always been around among folks who understand the value of each other’s talents. While bartering has made a substantial comeback in these trying economic times, some don’t understand the concept, and literally abuse it.

I recently acquired a puppy from a local dog boarding and training facility. His shots were included in the acquisition, so I went back frequently.

Mello (my dog) and I came along nicely with training but I thought professional training would make us both better. I noticed the severely disjointed website of the boarder’s. I offered a complete re-design in exchange for the $1200 training package. There wasn’t much of a response and even when asked if he thought it wasn’t an equitable trade, he said he was just busy.

Well, as the months went on, along with the acquisition of Mello was a flea infestation. Off we go to the boarder who does a couple flea treatments on Mello and both cats accompanied by flea, heart, and worm pills. Additionally, Mello needed another worm treatment. Again, I asked about the exchange. For the $141.00 in checks, I would organize all photos on his server, which amounted to hundreds. I would verify they weren’t on the site and then organize them in an “old photo” file in any method he chose. No response.

Days later, I get a voice mail saying that he had some web work, to come by so we could talk and bring the dog. Turns out he just self-published a poetry book and wanted me to do promotions. Trying to nail him down on exactly where he wanted to start was difficult, but I managed a list of three items:
  • Facebook account
  • Author/book website
  • Compile list of reviewers

He wanted to talk about training as exchange but I suggested the $141.00 in checks and he agreed. That was on December 12, 2011. I’ve still not received the domain name to start the site building. He obviously thought he could do it himself and his boarding site was down for a day. I’ve received no less than five emails and fifteen phone calls, even late night, rambling about this book and its promotion. Computer literacy is not at the top of his list and that’s ok, then let someone else do it and don’t confuse the situation.

What it boils down to is that he’s almost used the $141.00 in time without getting a tangible outcome. Facebook account, book reviews, sharing, posting and answering his incoherent phone calls. Absolutely no idea of the barter concept. We each do what we do in ‘equal’ amounts. Looks like I’m going to have to tell him that I’m not his personal marketing person and I’m definitely not on call. I don’t even want his dog training anymore. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

All Hail Poison

That is quite the title, isn't it? 

Two cats and dog resting peacefully. Traumatized and terrorized from scratching, biting, and tearing through the house trying desperately to get away from the maddening skin crawl, then spending  the night in a kennel, are now stretched across my legs, beneath my chair, and curled tightly under the comforter - NO scratching, NO biting, NO running wild. 

So yes, after 3 months of torture through all natural, unsuccessful alternatives, ALL HAIL POISON!

Monday, December 05, 2011

December Spring Cleaning Ya'll

Last entry was all about fleas and my battle to make life easier for my beloved animals. You’ll be happy to know that this entry is all about—fleas, and my continued, constant battle.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am all about natural remedies, especially if they work. At this point though…

Let me give you a little timeline:

August: Arrived Georgia home with two cats, traumatized but well
23 September: Acquired dog—Mello
1st week October: Fleas arrived Georgia home
2nd week October: Flea collar for Mello
2nd week October: Spot-On treatment for cats & dog
4th week October: Capstar pill for all, flea dip and comb for all, thorough house cleaning and laundry

It was at this point that I couldn’t justify more chemicals.

1st week November: Lemon, lavender, tea tree oil wash for all, thorough house cleaning and laundry
2nd week November: 50lb diatomaceous earth spread over entire yard, lemon, lavender, tea tree oil wash for all, flea combing for all, thorough house cleaning and laundry
3rd week November: diatomaceous earth rubbed into armchair, dining room chairs, coats of animals, oatmeal shampoo bath for all with lemon, lavender & tea tree oil rinse, flea combing daily, thorough house cleaning and laundry
4th week November:  Grated garlic in pet water, oatmeal shampoo bath for all with lemon, lavender & tea tree oil rinse, flea combing daily, thorough house cleaning and laundry
1st week December: Garlic & Brewers yeast in pet food, oatmeal shampoo bath for all with lemon, lavender & tea tree oil rinse, flea combing—one hour per animal, thorough house cleaning, spread diatomaceous earth around base of exterior & sweep into baseboards, remove every piece of fabric in house, Spot-On treatment for each animal, remove all from house, flea bomb house, launder everything, wash every surface, sweep & mop. All animals content without a moment of scratching.

There you have it. There should not be a solitary flea left anywhere, right?

My house is bright and shiny, every piece of fabric clean and fresh, the animals sufficiently traumatized.

Six hours after Spot-On Treatment, they are scratching again with fleas visible.  

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fleas, fleas, and more fleas

I have washed every comforter, blanket, and rug more in the past two months than I have in a year. I do not have carpeting so there are very few places for these buggers to hide, yet, still. 

In all my years of having cats, some of which were outdoor animals, I have NEVER had a flea problem - not a solitary one. Move to Georgia, get a dog, and wa-la, fleas galore. 

As miserable and as infested as these animals continue to be you'd think that I would be bit to pieces myself. Nothing. Not even an itch. And the cats sleep with me.

I've tried flea collars, spot-on flea medication, flea baths (chemical and natural, professional and at home), flea pills, flea combs, scrubbing everything with vinegar and lemon juice, spreading diatinaceous earth all over the yard and around the house, and still, even with two good frosts. 

The poor things scratch and bite and run around shaking. Now, I've noticed a few bumps on Mello that I thought at first might be ticks, but are just patches of dry, scaling skin with flea droppings around it. 

It's not healthy to bathe cats too often, so that is out. Mello has been bathed in chemicals, oatmeal, essential oils, and Dawn dish soap. Another can't possibly be good. I feel sooo very sorry for all of them. 

Today, I will once again take everything to wash in steaming water and vinegar. I will apply the spot-on medication and then comb - again. My poor, poor babies. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Love More, Fear Less

At the Spirit of the Earth Church’s Samhain Festival on October 22, 2011, I walked the labyrinth after first searching my heart and soul about what I needed desperately to release for 2012; searching for the one thing that was holding me back from realizing my dreams. The list rolled in my head: overeating, being lazy, worry, money, etc. Only one word kept blasting me over and over. Every time I meditated on a word that came up, this one word blew it apart and stood prominent before my eyes, whether my eyes were closed or staring at the fire, or looking at another person who was trying to make the same decision.

This ritual of searching and releasing was a solitary ritual in unity. It was a word or act that we were to keep to ourselves and release it in the labyrinth fires. I did that, until today. Today, I must share because the universe has come together yet again to support me. The word, the act that I released; the word and the act that has held me back from everything, is FEAR.

What I realized today is that just releasing your issue once is not enough. It must be released every moment of every day. It must be acknowledged and put aside again and again, otherwise it slowly and surely creeps back in until it once again overwhelms you.

For days, possibly weeks if I’m to be honest, fear has strangled me until in the past few days, I barely moved through the house. I went from bed, to dining room table to armchair, and not much more. Fear is paralyzing. Fear of having made the wrong decision to move away from my support group, having made the wrong decision on the location to settle, fear of having trusted the wrong people, fear of what people think of me, fear of what will become of me in the future. Fear, Fear, FEAR!

Thanks to the energy of good and positive that I’ve learned, even sub-consciously to look for, I’ve been able to acknowledge, name and release my issue—yet again.

  • The first was the reading of Tao te Ching this morning: “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” I even posted this on Facebook disputing the ending.
  • The second was being too lazy and involved in my delicious breakfast to get up and turn the knob when the Chattanooga Public Radio Classical 90.5 I listen to went into a religious broadcast. Amidst the bites, chews, and swallows, Pastor Jerry Arnold of the Collegedale Seventh-Day Adventist Church told a story of Navy Seals Training. He told of how instructors talked for hours about how terrible the next step would be and all they had to do was ring the bell and be saved from the torture. How several men rang the bell and left the training, not because of what they were going through but out of fear of what was to come.
  • The third came on top of the second. While Pastor Jerry Arnold was talking about being present in the moment and being thankful for what we have, I read an article Love More,Fear Less: A Mantra for the Holidays” by MeiMei Fox on Huffington Post: “By giving to others, we heal our own wounds. We become happier, more fulfilled, and even live longer. So yes, fear less: take on your demons, push yourself past your limits, be brave and bold. But also, love more, starting with yourself.” 

So, I remove the dispute that “everybody will respect you,” because it was fear that people didn’t respect me that made that dispute. I will not stop giving, helping, and most importantly, trusting because of what someone else may think, and if someone doesn’t like me or doesn’t respect me and my decisions, that is their problem, not mine.

Now, out to help with Feed Fannin at Light Up Blue Ridge.

Peace and love

Monday, November 14, 2011

First Snow in North Georgia Appalachians

It's mid November and 70 degrees in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sky is overcast and the ground is a mélange of colors, except for my yard. My yard alone has captured the first snow fall, and it is a beautiful sight.

Actually, it is diatomaceous earth. In a nutshell, it is the fossilized remains of hard-shell algae. It is food-grade and harmless to humans and animals—unless, of course, you breathe in large volumes of the dust. It is a flour-like substance and has innumerable uses.

My issue is with fleas in this humid environment. Layers of decaying leaves makes my yard (and the surrounding area) prime real estate for these little buggers, as well as gnats. In a previous post, I declared gnats the state insect of Georgia. Well, enough of all of them.

My poor puppy Mello, was just miserable. After Rocky cat found a wolf worm, the cats have, unfortunately for them, reverted to house pets. The cats and the dog stay completely away from each other, which is why neither Rocky nor Lola has fleas. Mello, who plays and rolls in the leaves, does. We spend hours training and playing in the yard and the fleas were having a feast.

All three animals had a flea pill from Mountain Dog Boarding, a dip, an oatmeal bath, and a brushing. All bedding was washed in hot water with vinegar. Almost $200 later and Mello still can’t sleep through the night—which means I don’t sleep through the night.

Enter diatomaceous earth and the 2011 snowfall in Mineral Bluff, GA. DE is non-toxic and safe enough to eat—they use it in grain silos after all. So, here’s hoping the fleas AND Georgia’s favorite insect, the gnats, will enjoy my white yard. Much better than attempting to RAKE!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Getting Strong - Slowly

Getting Strong – Slowly

In the continuing process of regaining a portion of the woman I used to be, I’ve found that slow and easy must be the maxim. However, when the blood is pumping and oxygen is flowing in the act of manual labor, it’s easy to get caught up in the good feeling and over exert. I’m sure there is a fitness expert somewhere who would dispute this with the cliché of “no pain, no gain”, yet if you’ve ever lost a full day because of “the pain” you’re well aware there really is “no” gain in that scenario.

Last week my neighbors opened A Wing and A Prayer Café in Copperhill, Tn. It took several weeks of cleaning and construction. I helped only with a bit of the painting and final setting up. As most know, my expertise lies in writing, graphic design, and web design—so that’s what I did. I was lucky enough to acquire all the scrap wood from the construction for the building of my chicken coop, compost pile, and whatever else. Wood is a valuable commodity in the country.

I had help in loading the pickup but I did the unloading myself. It wasn’t a small amount (even though the picture doesn't seem to show that) but after the loading, every part of my body was flush and roaring with strength, so I continued. It took a bit to spread out the plastic, stack in sizes and type, and cover all secure with cement blocks. Afterward, I went back to painting for a few hours.

By bedtime the roar was replaced with screams. The muscles in my legs pinged like stretched rubber bands and my back throbbed. Eventually a tub of steamy water and Epsom salts became my midnight rendezvous accompanied by a cup of frothy chai tea. The next day was a complete waste. I managed movement enough to make sure the puppy went out and I received a minimal amount of nourishment.

It took only one day to recuperate, which shows I am getting stronger, yet it was still a lost day. Think of what other healthy pursuits my body could’ve experienced in that day if I’d only remembered slow and easy, because there is no gain in pain.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Able-Bodied Female Again - Almost

I've not written for awhile and I'd like to say it's because I've been doing tons of 'stuff' around the property. I've not, mainly due to finances, but I continue to plan and imagine. The past couple of days I've done a few things:

Back door
Being a single mother of three, there wasn’t much I couldn’t do. I could hang drywall, replace a toilet, build a deck, brakes, oil change and tune-up on a vehicle, or plant, maintain and harvest a garden to last a family of four through the winter. That was thirty years ago.

After 10+ years behind a desk and in an airplane seat traveling for business, then writing, teaching, and living in a city where everything is within walking distance, I became very soft. Very! This I knew and was prepared for when I made my move to the mountains. What I wasn’t prepared for was all the mechanical aptitude I’d lost.

The first example was the screen doors I needed to hang on the front and back doors. Simple wooden doors with all hardware included. Place the door in the jamb, mark where the hinges go on the jamb and door, drill holes and screw down. Simple enough, except I didn’t have a drill. Thankfully, I have neighbors that do. And, he had an extra screw gun that he gave me. Nice. Even with all the assistance, nothing ever comes that easy, at least, not for me.

The minute I placed the door in the jamb, or tried to, I knew there was a huge problem. Either the door or the jamb was out of square, because the door didn’t fit into the jamb. That was the front door. Tried both doors in that jamb, then tried both doors in the backdoor jamb, and none fit correctly. Off I go traipsing next door to ask if they have a plane. Of course, of course, I can use it, and of course, it’s been thirty years since I’ve even touched one. Thankfully, men have this need to take care of damsels in distress.

 He planed one side, didn’t fit; planed again, and again; then he planed the other side, didn’t fit, planed again, and again until finally it fit, so he went home. However, once I drilled and screwed, the bottom stuck. Off came the door and the bottom planed, again and again. Everything fit perfectly except when the door closed; the inside caught on the doorjamb and wouldn’t close. I quit. Took the door down and left it sit on the porch until the other neighbor came by. “I thought Floyd said he got it all hung for you.” I told him the problem. “I don’t know why Floyd couldn’t take care of that. It’s not rocket science. I’ll come over later and hang the door for you.”

Front door
I’ll be damned if you will!!

I hung that door back in the holes drilled and got an old fashioned utility knife and shaved the inside of the door where it met the jamb and wa-la, a screen door hung. I moved onto the back door. Planed the sides and hung the door. Both still need a bit of sanding on the bottoms to prevent the minute sticking, but they are hung and in operation daily. After all, it’s not rocket science!

Today, I finally hung the water hose holder. My goodness. I used to be able to look at a hole or a screw or drill bit and know—2/3, 5/8, 3/4—not anymore. Obviously, mechanical aptitude is a use it or lose it ability. It was going through siding and into cement block, so my neighbor said I definitely needed to use an anchor. He gave me cement drill bits to use and then he and his wife hit the road—over-the-road truck drivers.

The holder got hung but it took me an hour. I must’ve made fifteen trips in for different size anchors, different size screws, forgot the hammer to get the anchor in, go back for a different size drill bit, drill again, more anchors and more screws. Finally, I said fuck the anchors and used the heavy-duty screws. Solid! The worse part of this whole scenario was winding the hose. How can you possibly forget how to wind a hose? By the time it was over, my back hurt so bad I could barely make it back into the house. I won’t mention how I would’ve reacted if one of my kids hung a hose like that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Way to Spend a Day

After years of sedentary life, almost complete inactivity, I must remind myself—or my body must remind me—to take it slow. Anyway, I’m not in a race any longer. I do not have to be busy every moment of every day. It’s okay to spend some time in pure, unadulterated contemplation of a sunset or the habits of feline, or how to make an ottoman. I’ve happily indulged in all.

Yesterday, I spent 1.5 early morning hours harvesting in the Feed Fannin garden. We brought in over 100lbs of peppers, of which I have a few. I picked green beans though, and there was at least 100lbs of those as well. Afterward, I came home, ate a light breakfast and proceeded to work in my yard. By then it was already 10:30 and far too hot in Georgia to work outside, especially in direct sun, especially if you are out of shape, as it’s already been determined I am. The remainder of the day was at my desk fixing computer problems.

This morning I rose early to proof some documents and get in my yard before the heat. I managed to get all the wood stacked in one place and some of the leaves and hickory nut shells raked. There are a lot of leaves and hickory nut shells. Moving it all closer to the compost pile. Once that is complete, I will chop that wood and ready it for cool evening fires.

Planned garden area
I’ve decided to grass-seed the yard and use the rear area of weeds for next year’s garden. It’s quite a large area and gets all-day sun. Next week, I’ll get a weed-eater and a rotor-tiller to go through there. I have plenty of brown material to mix in the soil, which I’ll need whether I decide on raised beds or straight land. 

I’ve also decided on the meditation area to the right or south of the garden. That will be cleared with the rest and a willow tree will be the rear of the area. Further plans will be easier when it’s all cleared; however, I’m fairly sure that the permanent fire-pit will be in that area.
Planned meditation area

Two hours of that this morning—raking, dragging and piling wood, and meditation area contemplation. The shoulders and back had a good solid ache, and I’m sure (I hope) I lost a few pounds in all the sweating. Next was a hot shower and a poetry chapbook compilation started. I’d completed one over the weekend. 

Tomorrow, I’ll do a bit more on all, including the contemplation. 

Anyone care to come help? There's a guest room!!


Monday, August 22, 2011

On to the Outside

Cleared a bit of land today. Now that unpacking is done and everything is pretty much in its place indoors, time to move outdoors and work on the "getting strong again" portion of this move. Keeping in mind that I am an out-of-shape city girl, so taking my time. Weeded the front flower garden first, then to the back yard(?).

This is the "before" pic.

This is the "after shot.

 Can YOU see the difference? You can see the base of that back tree. The one big plant still in front, I left purposefully.

I believe this is sage. If it is, I'll definitely want to keep it.

And, I found my wild blackberry (or they may be raspberry) bushes that I'd seen when I first took the place in early July. Past harvesting time now but still want to know where they are. What a wonderful way to spend a morning.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Consequences of Old Age Memory Loss

I can’t even remember how long it’s been. I’m not talking about rolls in the hay or being falling down drunk. The last time for either of those rang absolutely no bells when they were fresh. I’m talking about putting something in the backpack, namely lunch, or maybe breakfast. By the time I pulled it out, there was no recognizing what it may have originally been, so, there’s no telling how long it’s been.

I’ve been literally on the road for months. I’ve found it necessary many times to throw a snack or even a meal in the backpack for sustenance later in the day. It could’ve been in June or early July when I was couchsurfing; it could have been the end of July when I traveled from Kenosha to Chicago for a day, although, given the decomposition, it was probably much  longer than that.

Here’s the scenario: On Thursday last week I attended the Blue Ridge Poets and Writers workshop. Like many workshops, they were on hiatus for the summer, so an informal meeting was scheduled at a member’s home. Nice finger sandwiches, fresh fruit with cream cheese dip, carrot cake, and of course, sweet tea. We munch, sip, and talk awhile, then commence the workshop. I open my backpack for pen and paper and am overwhelmed with a flood of fish aroma. I do a quick perusal in the backpack and come up with nothing. I do a quick glance around the table but the faces don’t show any notice. Sadly, when there’s a room of women with fishy scents wafting through the air, there’s only one thought. Fortunately, there were no raised eyebrows or slanting glances trying to identify the culprit, so I supposed I’d closed up the backpack quickly enough, giving myself a mental reminder to check when I got home.

Ha, mental reminders are non-existent entities as one gets older. I love the saying, “Note to self,” but if I don’t actual, physically, write a note to self, the thought disappears into the atmosphere until it is revived by some unknown force, if ever. Today, three days later, I open the backpack for who knows what reason now, and am hit to almost nausea with that revived force—odor.

I begin to pull things out, notebooks, books, papers, pens, maps, etc., etc., until there in the very bottom is a baggie with what in it? I can’t even look. I pull it out, and are you ready, are you sitting down, this thing, this object that I’ve been  carrying around on my back, again, for who knows how long, is crawling with maggots. You can scream and cringe now, because that’s what I did.

Of course, everything that had touched it either went in the garbage or got washed down with bleach. The bag was taken outside and hosed out. The thing, whatever it was, is tossed in the woods waayy across the road. As I sit here writing this, besides creepy crawling occasionally, I’m looking at all the stuff from the backpack—the clean stuff—sitting on the table and I’m still trying to remember what I went into the backpack for in the first place. Yes, there are consequences to old age memory loss.