Monkey Heart: Iggy’s Top Sobber Hits

In my second book, Monkey Heart, my brother Iggy has a bit of a breakdown. His old girlfriend, Running Deer sweeps back into town and asks if he’d take her back. This was after she turned down his marriage proposal and took off to find herself out west.

Oh, and she’s pregnant, but he’s not the father.

It’s a hot mess.

I find him sitting on the floor, in the dark, listening to every sad song I’ve ever heard.


A good friend suggested that I could put together a playlist.

Now, I think she was thinking about meditations–and I will, it’s a great idea! I’ve got lots of meditation music as well as guided meditations.

But Iggy’s Top Sobber Hits came to mind. (‘Cause I’m keen on 70s and 80s mush, too.)

Morning Meditations with Cow Patties

We enjoy our daily strolls much and I’ve gotten to really love this cow field. It’s nothing grand and yet ever changing. We’ve got three sandhill cranes who live nearby year round and deer that wander about. Sometimes cows, sometimes not. Bit of breeze, more so than in the woods.

Morning Meditation

At first glance, an empty field.

An empty field haphazardly filled with cow patties like a drunken checkerboard.

As always, so much that came before.

A leaf falls.

Distant rooster crows.

Flock of birds silently swoop by.

Way in the distance, the gray sandhills drop from the gray sky and casually stroll.

A leaf falls.

Birds twitter nearby.

A couple miles away, the Most Disgruntled Employee, an eighteen wheeled rig complains along the interstate.

The cow patties rest. Or do they?

Perhaps under each pile, a crew of dung beetles like Snow White’s comrades, is whistling while they work their pickaxes.

Or humming.

Or meditating.

Some heaps resemble sand castles; others quite symmetrically round.

The cows are in another pasture this morning, doing their cow things.

Yesterday seven calves, shoulder to shoulder, awaited–what?

A photo shoot?


No doubt, I disappointed.

Breeze swings a tendril of Spanish moss.

The sandhills have disappeared behind the red tractor.

(Yes, WCW, so much depends on that red tractor, too, we know.)

Dragonfly lands on the barbed wire.

A leaf falls.

Rainy Days Bring Mushrooms

Living out in the woods, I delight in the ephemeral nature of and variety of mushrooms that abound. They push forth with determination and are gone almost before I can go fetch a camera. On my list to learn more about them and identify them.

This tree came down a few years ago. Standing next to it, the top of it is almost hip height to me and runs half the length of the immediate back yard. Fortunately, it didn’t fall on anything, so there was absolutely no urgency to do anything about it. We cleared around it and left it. The dogs thought it was a great obstacle course challenge. Bugs got to it. Woodpeckers and armadillos dug into it. See how light the soil is around it? Well, three years on, it has decayed quite a bit and it is making the most outstanding mulch and soil, rich and dark.

Same tree now, as seen from opposite end.
It has been fascinating watching its decay and observing all the life that this dead tree has supported.

Happy Halloween!


Halloween is almost here — I’m excited and sad at the same time… it’ll be here and gone in no time! Not doing a party this year. That’s okay. Got some spooky movies to watch and an easy puzzle. I’m a jigsaw puzzle fan.

Isn’t this cute?

October/Halloween is my favorite time of year — nostalgia for trick or treating, the smell of leaves, the crisp air, apple cider– it’s not half as excited in Florida as it is up north. I miss the spectacle of the leaves changing colors. Ooh, gotta go pick out pumpkins to carve!

Took this photo a couple years ago.
Must have been fog on the lens,
but it came out cool and spooky. Second hand pumpkin–haunted?

I’ve got some spooky offerings for you–my publisher, Hedonistic Hound Press has a few video stories up on their Facebook page. Here’s a link for a funny and spooky story called “An Old House Just Has So Much Character”:

and this one–a spooky true one about a creepy black cat:

I know, I know, you’re asking yourself, why is one on Facebook and one on YouTube? They’re both on Facebook. “Old House” is waiting to get subtitled. I got permission to release it early. It’ll get subtitled and on YouTube properly soon.

And don’t forget, if you like a funny mystery with a Halloween theme, check out:

Best wishes for a safe and
fab-boo-lous weekend!

Fall Promo: The “Monkey” books

The “Monkey” books
Okay, yes, shameless promotion because marketing is soul-sucking,
and hey,
my books, my blog!

But really, if you like humor and mystery and autumn, I bet you’d like my “Monkey” books.

It all started with the soft opening of my meditation retreat. I thought it would be an easy practice run. A handful of guests, yoga, meditation, good food, and relaxation. Yeah, well, there’s always what you want to happen vs. what really happens, right? Let’s just say that the weekend was murder and about killed my business dead.

Business limped along until an uptick at Halloween. All of a sudden, I had Wiccans, preppers, a weight loss club, drag queens and cryptozoologists as guests. All at the same time!

The Wiccans wanted to use my meditation circle for their Samhain ceremonies, while

Dr. Crypto and his pals were setting up trail cameras to catch a Skunk Ape–

The drag queens were rocking it into the night —

The preppers were planning for TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It)

And some of the weight loss club members were taking liberties with the diet–

things went French farce as several guests, including my yoga instructor, went missing.


Skunk Ape abduction?

Or something else?

Monkey Heart will tickle your funny bones!

So, if you’re looking for something fun to read to get you in the autumn mood, check out the “Monkey” books. More mayhem to come! I’m about to publish the next one in time for Christmas:

Psst! Haint Blue is a fictional character
from Author J. Elliott

Hedonistic Hound Press has a Facebook page

and a website:

What is Haint Blue?

What is Haint Blue?

Haint Blue is a color spectrum ranging from pale blue, to slate blue and even periwinkle.

Yup! My nickname is a paint color. I was born Helena Bluszczski but the nurse in the South Carolina hospital preemie ward saw that I was an albino and, well, no one could pronounce Bluszczski… so since I looked like a “haint” (ghost), I became Haint Blue. My brother Iggy took to calling himself Iggy Blue, but as far as I know, that’s NOT a color. Yet.

Here are some links to some videos about Haint Blue:

“The Story of Haint Blue” by This is Alabama

Here’s a cool little video of porch paint colors in varieties of Haint Blue. I like most of them. Blue Allure, Dix Blue are good. Icy Moon Drops is my favorite. Hey, who gets the cool jobs of naming paint colors anyway? I want that gig.

“Prettiest Shades of Haint Blue for Your Porch” by Southern Living

The Sign Part II

The Sign

When I first pictured taking over the Stinkin’ Skunk Ape Fish Camp, I envisioned a sign out by the road in pastel colors with a swooping, graceful font that read Blue’s Lotus Lodge.  This is not what happened. The rumor mill of Catfish Springs became convinced that I had hired Lorraine’s sister Lerlene to do the sign. Lerlene is our local artist; her style is noted for oversized objects in blinding colors. She has been commissioned to do a series of oversized vegetables for the produce section of the Whatcha Need Mart and just recently her Welcome to Catfish Springs sign was put out on the highway.

It looks like a catfish strung out on cocaine in blinding shades of lime green, hot sun yellow and turquoise.

My Blue’s Lotus Lodge ended up looking like a psychedelic artichoke with chaotic Chinese take lettering.

I’ll be honest. I hated it. I cried. It was all I could do to smile and thank her for it. But over the next few weeks, I had a change of heart. It was eye-catching and got lots of comments, albeit not always complimentary ones. It did make it easy to find the retreat, you sure couldn’t miss the sign.

And then a drunk driver smashed into it over Halloween and blew it to splinters. I found myself really torn. This was my chance to go back to the original design, the pastel colors, the flowy script. But my retreat had already gotten the identity, “the place with the crazy sign”. Meanwhile, Lerlene had had articles written about her in local and state magazines. She’s really getting some notoriety. When she offered to make a replacement sign, it seemed impossible to refuse and possibly stupid.

“It’ll be even bigger and better than the last one,” she’d said encouragingly, giving me a conciliatory hug.

Oh boy.

I knew she was busy with other commissions, so I didn’t expect my sign until sometime in January. In the meantime, I’d had Hey Baby, What’s Your Sign? in Gainesville make and install a  black and white utilitarian sign.

Imagine my surprise to find that the temporary sign was gone, and the new sign was in place. I had to stop the truck to take it in. The psychedelic artichoke was back but whereas before it was floating in a field of plain white, this time it sat in a fiery, rainbow lake. Multi-colored spotlights radiated out from its leaves like searchlights seeking heaven through a dreamy fog of turquoise fading to a horizon of deep plum. The colors were even richer than before. It was dazzling. I was crazy about it.

But it was not alone. It was flanked by two shiny, aluminum trees with branches in red, green, and gold and a forest of four-foot-tall plastic candy canes in the foreground. Green garlands wound around the legs of the sign accentuated with white twinkle lights. Three wire framed deer with white lights seemed to be prancing down the retreat road.

It was all so over the top, so unlike anything I would have done and yet wonderful, I was overcome with emotion. Knowing that I’d be out of the way, Lerlene must have had a team working feverishly to get this all done while I was gone. I loved it. I was so touched by the effort and fantastic outcome, I got choked up. I eased off the brakes and followed the deer to see what else had happened while I was away.   

–from I’ll Have a Haint Blue Christmas

The Detour

So, there’s this little culvert just down the road. Doesn’t seem like much of anything. Most of the time it’s dry, unless we get a gully washer, then it becomes a true creek. I never dreamed it would be such an undertaking to repair it. Trucks and loads of dirt, rocks and concrete chunks just keep coming. For weeks. We haven’t seen any actual work yet though sometimes we see dudes sitting in the shade with sandwiches. 

The guy just laughs when I ask how long it’ll be before the road opens again. 

Figures. There’s always something, isn’t there? A detour in the road, a kink in the hose? 

Don’t let it stop you from visiting Blue’s Lotus Lodge. We’re open!

Find your way to Catfish Springs via Amazon–Monkey Mind is available in paperback and as an ebook:


TSUNDOKU – My New Favorite Word

The Japanese word for accumulating books even though it’s unlikely that you’ll actually read them.

While there has been a steady decline of readership and the few remaining book stores have to stock trendy gadgets, socks, stuffed animals, candles and who knows what all else to draw attention, there are still folks who love books. 
In her blog entitled Tsundoku: The Practice of Buying More Books Than You Can Read, Melissa Breyer quotes author – A. Edward Newton, author, publisher, and collector of 10,000 books:
“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity.” 

One could suffer worse things than tsundoku. 

For Melissa’s blog :

Here’s another cool (and short) article on the subject: