Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home for the Holidays A Success

Home for the Holidays was a huge success in downtown Harrodsburg over the weekend. Below are some pictures from the festivities my daughter participated in.

The first picture is from the play "Christmas Cookies" by S.E. Hackney. Christine is the girl on the right; she played the mother.

This picture is from the play "The Diner" by Tony Sexton. Christine is the 3rd from the right.

This photo is Christine reading "Home for the Holidays". This is a story I wrote, but I wasn't able to read it without crying. Christine volunteered to read it for me.

And this is the one and only photo you will ever see of me because I hate to have my picture taken. I am reading the story "The Little Lawnmower's Christmas" by S. E. Hackney.

First Completed NaNoWriMo

I completed my first NaNoWriMo with over 24 hours to spare and 55,407 words! Now it's time for a long winter's nap!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #139 - A Winter's Tale

Sunday Scribblings #139 -- A Winter's Tale

This week, tell us a story about wintertime. What's winter like where you live? What's the harshest winter you've ever endured? Like it, love it, hate it? (Or, you can write about "A Winter's Tale" by Shakespeare if the mood strikes you!)

The Great Blizzard of 1978

We've all heard stories of blizzards and snowstorms from our parents and grandparents, tales of epic snows and the struggles each one brought.
Of course, I have a few stories of my own, but nothing compares to my grandparent's epic storms of legend.

Not unless you count the blizzard of 1978. I was 15 years old at the time of this storm, but I'll never forget that winter. We were out of school from Christmas break until Valentine's Day.

I remember the weathermen had predicted the approaching storm several days before it hit. My parents, like everyone else, had stocked up on food and supplies anticipating a few days of cabin fever. The National Weather Service categorized the storm “as a rare severe blizzard – the most severe grade of storm.” There were wind gusts up to 100 miles per hour and there were a couple of days when the wind chill was more than 30 degrees below zero. I don't know what the official snow totals were for Harrodsburg, but in our backyard we had 26 inches.

I remember the water lines froze and we didn't have water for days on end. This happened all over town, not just in the subdivision of Riverview where I lived. I remember Daddy hauling water from my grandparents farm in Bohon so we would have water to drink and cook with, as well as to flush the toilets. We also went to the laundromat in Danville to wash clothes because the ones in Harrodsburg didn't have water.

It's funny, I can remember the water lines being frozen, but I don't remember if the electricity was on or off. Our home had a gas furnace, so I guess that would have kept us warm. And I remember we had telephone service because I kept the phone lines hot talking to my boyfriend.

The first few days after the storm were fun because we could go sledding, make snow angels and have snowball fights. My younger brother and his friends made an igloo in the backyard and it was fun watching the building process. After the igloo was finished, they spent hours having the grandest snowball fights!

Although I was a tomboy growing up, I was a wimp about snow and cold weather. After the first few days, I was tired of the snow, so I spent most of my days indoors reading. At the time I owned the first 16 “Trixie Belden Mystery” books and I re-read the entire series twice during this extended vacation. But no matter how much I loved Trixie Belden, I was getting tired of reading the same books over and over again. With school closed I was not able to check books out of the library and the bookmobile was not able to travel to our subdivision. I did have "A Wrinkle in Time" checked out from school, but even Charles Wallace and the Tesseract were not enough to hold my boredom at bay.

And bored became an understatement! After the first week, I would wake early every weekday, only to be disappointed when the radio announced school was closed again. I was actually envious of the Harrodsburg students because they went back to school sooner than we did.

Needless to say, I was so excited to go back to school - to see my friends, to see my boyfriend, to get new books from the library, and ending the overpowering boredom of cabin fever. This will probably be the snowstorm story I tell my grandchildren, and I'm sure the tale will get exaggerated, just the way my grandsparents' and my parents' stories did. But one thing is for sure, I will always remember the beauty and power of the Blizzard of 1978.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rockin' Robin

For some bizarre reason, I've had the lyrics to "Rockin' Robin" by the Jackson Five stuck in my head since last night. I guess it's because I heard the Jackson Five singing "Frosty the Snowman". Anyway, to get the lyrics out of my head, I thought I'd print them here.

Rockin' Robin

He rocks in the tree tops all day long
Hoppin' and a-boppin' and singing his song
All the little birdies on Jaybird Street
Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

Rockin' robin, tweet tweet tweet
Rockin' robin' tweet tweetly-tweet
Blow rockin' robin
'Cause we're really gonna rock tonight

Every little swallow, every chick-a-dee
Every little bird in the tall oak tree
The wise old owl, the big black crow
Flappin' their wings singing go bird go

Rockin' robin, tweet tweet tweet
Rockin' robin' tweet tweetly-tweet
Blow rockin' robin
'Cause we're really gonna rock tonight
Yeah yeah

Pretty little raven at the bird-band stand
Told them how to do the bob and it was grand
They started going steady and bless my soul
He out-bopped the buzzard and the oriol

He rocks in the tree tops all day long
Hoppin' and a-boppin' and singing his song
All the little birdies on Jaybird Street
Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

Rockin' robin, tweet tweet tweet
Rockin' robin' tweet tweetly-tweet
Blow rockin' robin
'Cause we're really gonna rock tonight

Pretty little raven at the bird-band stand
Told them how to do the bop and it was grand
They started going steady and bless my soul
He out-bopped the buzzard and the oriol

He rocks in the tree tops all day long
Hoppin' and a-boppin' and singing his song
All the little birdies on Jaybird Street
Love to hear the robin go tweet tweet tweet

Rockin' robin, tweet tweet tweet
Rockin' robin' tweet tweetly-tweet
Blow rockin' robin
'Cause we're really gonna rock tonight

Monday, November 24, 2008

Musing Monday

Thank you Rebecca for taking over Musing Mondays!!!!

Today's Musing Monday prompt is:

How do you feel about wide-spread reading phenomenons - Harry Potter, for instance, or the more current Twilight Saga? Are these books so widely read for a reason, or merely fads or crazes? Do you feel compelled to read - or NOT to read - these books because everyone else is?

I think reading phenomenons like Harry Potter and Twilight are great to get kids reading again, but I don't think the public should limit themselves to popular books. If you limit yourself to only bestsellers, then you will miss hundreds of really great books.

With the Harry Potter books, I was reading them a full two years before they became popular in the USA. I own a first edition British copy of The Philosopher's Stone (the British title) and this is the book that started the craze for me. I had finished the first three books in the series before the first one became a sensation. And of course, I was one of the thousands of people waiting in line at midnight on release days.

With the Twilight books, I wasn't going to read them because everyone said they were the new Harry Potter. But after I found out the books were about vampires, then I knew I had to read them. Vampires are my favorite genre and believe me, I read great vampires and I've read horrid vampires.

I started my book review blog to keep myself updated on the books I've read. I have a tendency to gravitate toward unknown authors, although I do have my favorite popular authors. My goal in doing book reviews is to turn people on to books they may not have given notice to.

Good or bad, bestselling books do start a buzz for children - and adults - and if this keeps them reading, then I say "Go forth and read!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

'Fraidy Cat

I am such a 'fraidy cat. For people who know me, this is nothing new, but recently I took being scared to a new level. One night last week when I let our dog outside for his nightly romp and “business”, I heard a strange noise in the front yard. Because it was ten o’clock and about 25 degrees outside, I stood in the front doorway, bathed in the yellow light from the bug light. The pale yellow glow only projected a few feet from the porch, so I couldn’t see which direction the dog went.

At the moment the dog bounded off into the blackness, I heard a metallic scraping noise from the corner of the house. At first I thought it was my overactive imagination, but when I opened the door to call for the dog, I heard the noise again.

My hubby had recently been up on the roof to retrieve a wayward Frisbee, and he had left the metal ladder laying next to the front porch, so I thought maybe the dog had bumped into it. But the dog wasn’t answering my calls, and every time I opened the door and stuck my head out, I heard the noise again.

The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end and I had cold shivers run down my spine. I closed the door and said to my hubby, “There’s someone in the front yard.” He laughed and said it was probably the dog, but by this time I was convinced someone was standing near the ladder, just a few feet from the front door.

Hubby got up and came to the door. He opened the door, and I heard the noise again. “Did you hear that? There it goes again!” He stepped out onto the porch and whistled for the dog. Then my hubby started laughing harder.

“Is that the noise you heard,” as the squeaky noise sounded again.

“Yes, who is that?”

My hubby nearly doubled over with laughter as the dog came bounding back into the house.

The lurking stranger who was waiting to murder us all in our sleep was actually the English Ivy that had grown up to the front porch and was rubbing on the metal door every time it was opened.

Needless to say, pruning was on my to-do list for the next day.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #138 - Grateful

Sunday Scribblings #138 - Grateful
I had to look back to make sure that we hadn't had this one before! The prompt for this week is: grateful.


I am so grateful for my loving hubby, who sticks with me through thick and thin.

I am grateful for my 3 beautiful daughters, who have each turned into lovely women with goodness, kindness and humility in their hearts.

I am grateful for the home my family has built and for the wisdom to know that home is not necessarily a house or apartment. Home is where the heart is.

I am grateful for the hearing and eyesight the Lord graced me with. Without these, I would not have been able to enjoy the Christmas play rehearsal of my youngest daughter tonight. Out of the mouths of babes, clarity has entered my life.

I am grateful both my wonderful parents are still alive and fairly healthy. Also my mother-in-law, who celebrated her 84th birthday this summer. I realize many people my age have already lost their parents, so still having my parents in my life is a joy every day.

I am grateful for my health and for the health of my family. Although my hubby and I have both had some health scares over the past few years, we are back on the right track to healthy eating and living. Like my Granny Devine used to say,"If you have your health, you have everything." Here's to many more years of health and happiness!

I am grateful for my hubby, my oldest 2 daughters and I still have jobs. My hubby works in the media, so I guess there will always be news. I'm a Church secretary, so I guess people will always need their religion. But my girls both work at the same Brake Parts factory and I'm worried about the slow down and failure of the automotive industry. I pray we will all be able to hold onto our jobs to provide a decent living.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Totally Optional Prompts - Sound

Totally Optional Prompt: Sound

Okay, I'm not a computer expert and the sound and video components are waaaaaaay over my head! So, instead of getting actual sound for this prompt, I'll try writing it. No promises!

The Art of Sound

Split, splat the rain comes down
Swish, swash go the wiper blades
Squeak, squash are my shoes on the tile
Splunk, splack the rain barrel is full

Creak, creak goes the garden gate
Chirp, creep as the crickets start to talk
Crunch, crunch acros the crinkling grass
Crash, crack was that really the dog

Blip, bling those damn video games
Burp, blurb can you say excuse me
Beep, beeeeeep traffic jammed again
Boing, Bong you've got mail

Whish, whip is the wind in my face
Whirl, whash goes the water down the drain
Whack, whack as the back door slams
Whoo, whoo from the old barn owl

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day of Sadness

Today would have been my baby sister's 43rd birthday. Her death in 2005 at the age of 39, has left a hole in my heart that is very slow in mending.

Although my sister and I had our ups and downs like every other sibling, during the last few years of her life we had grown especially close. She was not only my sister, she was my friend.

So, on this day of sadness when we should be celebrating, I am trying to remember the good times we spent together:

--Watching The Dark Side of the Rainbow

--Playing Ozzie Osbourne loud enough to vibrate the entire house

--Taking long rides in the country just to see the sights

--Giggling until our sides hurt

--Watching every vampire movie we could get our hands on

--Christmas shopping together

--Spending hours just talking about our lives and our future plans

I miss you, are in my thoughts daily.

Amy Carter Sallee
November 19, 1965 - January 11, 2005

Write On Wednesday

This week's Write on Wednesday prompt is:

So tell me, what are the areas closest to your heart? What aspects of your life in general do you find yourself sharing in writing? Do you enjoy reading/writing personal essays? Who are some of your favorite essayists?

Extra Credit (from The Right to Write): In your journal, list 50 things you’re proud of about yourself…what does this list tell you about the things you value most?

I think my family is closest to my heart, so I typically write about them. For my monthly column in the Mercer's Magazine I tend to write about memories from my childhood or from my children's childhoods. Personal essays are probably my favorite type of writing, mainly because it comes easy to me. Also, I have kept a journal / diary since I was 11 years old, so I have a lot of information to draw from. I don't know who said "Write what you know", but this is something I do in most of my writing.

I enjoy reading personal essays. For some reason, reading other people's memories and recollections gives me a greater sense of self. You get to know a person better when you read about those personal, private moments from their lives.

I enjoy reading David Sedaris - he has such a humorous way to describing life! His sister, Amy Sedaris, is just as witty and funny! I also enjoy reading essays by Chris Buckley, Joel Stein and Chelsa Handler. Erma Bombeck has also been a favorite and I still occasionally pick up one of her books.

Of course, creative writing is a different beast all together, but I still throw in things I know about.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Musing Monday

This week's Musing Monday:

What are you reading right now? What did you recently finish reading, and what did you think of it? What do yo think you will read next? Will you read any holiday-themed books soon?

I just finished reading the 14th Mike Hammer book by Mickey Spillane (collaborated with Max Collins), The Goliath Bone. Although Spillane died in 2006, a few weeks before his death he entrusted Collins with the manuscripts and notes for 3 Mike Hammer books - this is the first.

I've always enjoyed Spillane's works and I've followed the Hammer series for several decades. This book had an interesting concept revolving around Middle Eastern terrorists, anthropologists and a legendary bone from Goliath of Biblical times. This was a great read.

I also just finished reading The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen. Like most of Gerritsen's books, this one starts off in an unusual way - an unknown mummy is discovered in a hidden part of the basement at a private museum in Boston and the curators just know this will drum up excitement.

This books gives you healthy doses of Boston Homicide Detective, Jane Rizzoli and Medical Examiners, Dr. Maura Isles - two of my favorite characters.

Next in my queue to read is The Crooked Letter (The Books of the Cataclysm #1) by Sean Williams. Williams is a wonderful fantasy writer and after reading his Books of the Change, I can't wait to start on The Books of the Cataclysm.

As for holiday books, I have recently read and reviewed The Santa Letters by Stacy Gooch-Anderson. This was a tear-jerking book about a Christmas tradedy that leads to Christmas joy. It is similar to Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box.

Of course, after Thanksgiving I will be using some of my reading time for more holiday books. I am going to use my Way Back Wednesday posts to highlight favorite holiday books from my past. I'll be starting with my very favorite, The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. This is a heartwarming tale of the true meaning of Christmas. This is a must read every Christmas for my 3 girls - even if they are all grown!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fictional Friday

Fictional Friday Challenge for November 14, 2008:

Write about a Hunter’s Moon.

The Hunter's Moon

O the Hunter's Moon is hanging low
The brightest moon of all the fall;
What does it mean, where does it go,
When deep in the valley it calls to all.

The Red Man called you Hunter's Moon
To correspond with the Hunter's Feast;
But before you know it, you're gone too soon,
Leaving a mourning in all the beast.

The myth and lore of your precious light,
Brings you so much closer to the earth;
You give us hope, you give us sight,
At just your size and mighty girth.

You're gone again for one full year,
But the Oak moon will arrive very soon;
You sooth and calm and alleviate fear,
As we wait upon the coldest moon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Write On Wednesday

This week's Write On Wednesday:

How about you? Do you do writing exercises or warm ups? Do you think they could be valuable? Have you found warm up exercises helpful in some other area of your life, e.g. art, music, athletics?

Extra Credit: Try one of Johnson’s exercises above, and post about your experiences. Or create an exercise of your own and share it.

When I'm journaling, the words seem to come easy and I can flow through the day with little effort. However, sometimes when I'm working on creative projects, I find the muse can be a little stubborn.

One thing I have learned in a recent workshop is how to use "jump starts" to get my creative juices flowing. It can be as simple as picking a headline out of the newspaper, or a quirky quote I heard on TV. After writing down my jump start, then I write non-stop for 20 minutes about that subject and nothing else. Many times these writing sessions will last longer than 20 minutes, and many times I end up with really interesting story ideas. Once I have the story idea, then it is easier to flesh it out and make it better.

Another exercise I enjoy is going to a local diner. My favorite is The Bus Stop, which used to be a Greyhound Bus Stop, but it has been turned into a small diner/cafe. I usually go around 7:00 in the morning and sit at a table with my back to the door (which is something I'm normally paranoid about doing!). There is always a group of older gentlemen who congregate during that time of morning. I will order myself a Coke and wait with my pen and paper ready. These men always have the most fascinating conversations and I am able to jot down many great quotes, local gossip and old wives' tales. This exercise really helps when I'm working on dialogue, but I've gotten some great stories as well.

I've run out of time, so I'll tackle the extra credit later.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cafe Writing - 7 Things in My Memory Box

Welcome to the November/December Project at Cafe Writing!

Option Six: Seven Things
Some men’s memory is like a box where a man should mingle his jewels with his old shoes.
~George Savile

Give me seven things that would be (or are) in your memory box. In this case, the box can be literal, and hold jewelry, or other special trinkets and treasures, or metaphoric. You’re not required to explain the items in your list, but it’s more fun for readers if you do.

1.) Movie ticket stub from the 1986 movie About Last Night. This was the very first movie my hubby and I saw together. Several years ago, as a Christmas present, my hubby found me an original movie poster and now it hangs in our bedroom.

2.) A jade rock my hubby bought me the first time we went to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN. I have always loved rocks, and green ones are my favorite.

3.) Ticket stub from the only live Pink Floyd concert we saw, in October 1987. They actually flew the pig inside the arena - too cool!!!

4.) The baby rings that belong to all three of my girls. I intend to give these back to the girls when they have their first babies.

5.) Bird seed bag from our wedding in 1990. We made these ourselves and I was so proud of them.

6.) Dried yellow rose petals from my wedding bouquet. I also have other dried flower petals in my memory box.

7.)My diamond horseshoe ring - the first ring my hubby ever gave me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cafe Writing - Can You Picture That?

Option Two: Can You Picture That?
Use the following photo to inspire a piece of writing in any form (poetry, prose, whatever).
(Photo Credit: Janet Spering)

My Three Girls

My three girls are the greatest loves of my life
The oldest is amber with eyes that match my own
The middle one is gothic dark with eyes to match her dad's
And the baby is fair and dark with eyes a mix of both

The first two girls are close indeed
At eighteen months a part
Born while I was still a child
We all grew up together

But the baby is a different breed
Coming from the second marriage
Quiet and shy, clever and smart
She has grown the closest of the three

I never thought I could share my love
In equal circles of three
But I'm living proof it can be done
These girls I cherish so.

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS is about the giving & keeping of books!

If you keep your books, where do you keep them? And, if you give them away, who do you give them to? Do you participate in Bookcrossing, BookMooch, PaperbackSwap, or the like? Do you give your old books to family & friends, or donate them? Are any of your books in storage due to not having enough space for them all? Or, are you one of the lucky ones who has their own “library”? Feel free to share pictures, if you have them!

I have a tendency to keep all my books, which leads to a dilemma - where to put them all. I have two large bookcases in my living room crammed full of books, and I have a smaller book case I use for my TBR pile and current readings. I also have bookcases in the bathroom (please, don't even ask), my bedroom, the spare bedroom and my daughters bedroom.

That being said, I have at least 10 large totes full of books and these are stacked into every available closet space I can find. Of course, this doesn't count the books I have stacked on the end of the couch or piled up on the end tables and nightstands.

My goal is to one day have built-in bookcases for the spare bedroom and to turn it into a library slash writing room. But currently, the funds are way too low and I don't have the energy to clean the junk out of the room. This will be a big project over the next few years.

Sometimes on rare occasions, I may donate books to the public library, but that's usually if I end up with duplicates. I favor hardback books over paperback books, so I do sometimes sell paperbacks at yard sales. I also loan out books to family members, and occasionally to a few residents at the local nursing home.

Books play a big part in my family's life - my hubby and youngest daughter love books as much as I do. Books are also the presents we give people at Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions.

(I wish that was my bookcase! Photo by Kestan)

Totally Optional Prompts - Expectations

This week's Totally Optional Prompt is:
Write a poem that creates expectations - specific ones. You may choose to extend the poem to fulfill the expectations. Or to have something completely unexpected happen. Or leave the reader to fill in what happens: there can be a lot of fun in that.

Expectations - come one, come all
To the land of daytime dreams
What are they, you may say
Just pull up a chair and listen

First we expect to have a happy childhood
Sugar and spice with snails and puppy dog tails
No cares, no worries
Just cotton candy promises and love

When school arrives to interrupt your day
The expectations change to routine and schedule
Gone are the days of carefree fun
Now it's stand still, sit up straight, do your work

Then the dark times arrive with pimples and grief
And an alien starts to inhabit your will
Curfews and groundings, screaming and yelling
Oh my god, will this time never end

But you break out again and head off to college
Or maybe you enter the workforce
No longer a child, but not quiet an adult
You have no idea when the expectations changed

Maybe wedding bells now come into your life
Or a little bundle of joy
You're off trying to fulfill your dreams
Still hopeful one day they'll come true

A half a century has already passed
So what are the expectations now
Do we wither away, or are we ready to play
Burdens lessen, but the end is creeping nearer

And now we enter the Golden years
The twilight of our life
To wait for the greatest expectation of all
To go into the light

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #136 - Change

Sunday Scribblings #136 - Change
Apologies for the delay everyone! It was an easy prompt this week - you can either go your own way, or take the obvious route - it's "change." Make sure it's a new post inspired by the prompt. No fair using an old post!

The Change

When will we see
That the life that must be
Is not in the possessions we seek

Changes come and changes go
And the world keeps going 'round

As I grow old and wiser with age
The changes are ever so gradual
Than the life I once lead trying to live on the edge
Striving to keep up with the Joneses

Changes come and changes go
And the world keeps going 'round

With the economy flat
And a new head of state
Will our lot be coming out better

Or will things degrade
In the name of the change
And life be far worse than we were

Changes come and changes go
And the world keeps going 'round

My philosophy has also been changed
As the optimism is rising
I think we are headed for many great changes
To help the plight of the many

Changes come and changes go
And the world keeps going 'round

(Artwork by Deviant Art)

Write on Wednesday

Write on Wednesday:

Are you having a hard time staying the course toward fulfilling your writing dreams? What are you doing about it?

For too many months to count, I have totally been off course in regards to my writing. That being said, over the past 6 weeks I have finally found my writing voice again.

Although I have been continually blogging since the first of the year, my creative writing has been in a slump. Book ideas that have been cramming my brain, stubbornly refused to be captured on paper.

Finally, at the encouragement of my hubby, I joined a local writing workshop at the public library. This was a big step for me because I'm not a very social person and being in groups of people - no matter how big or small - fills me with severe anxiety. But I went to class faithfully and the help and inspiration from my fellow classmates has spurred my writing muse into action.

I have completed a short story to be included in the writing workshop booklet the teacher is putting together. I've also completed two other short stories and a few poems.

But my biggest accomplishment has been starting my NaNoWriMo project on November 1st. I have broken the 18,000 word mark and I'm very excited with where my book is going. Telling myself to write at least one page daily has been a big help. For some reason that one page turns into 3 or 4 or 10!

Hopefully, by the end of November, I will have reached my 50,000+ words. Then starts the daunting task of editing and revising, and finally, looking for a publisher. Right now, I'm happy with the direction my muse has taken.

Fictional Friday - A Recurring Dream

Fictional Friday Challenge for November 7, 2008:
Write about a recurring dream.

Why is Every Night a Nightmare?

Why is it the same dream keeps echoing through the tattered regions of my brain? Why is it so hard to let go of the past? Why do my daily trials and errors always show themselves in the dark?

Most of my recurring dreams pertain to past mistakes in my life: failed marriage, failed jobs, failed success ... failed anything. Just when I think I'm leaving the past behind, my brain rears its ugly head and assaults my dreaming subconscious.

Why, why, why???

In today's modern world with accelerating technology and the mantra to be bigger and better than everyone else, what has happened to the little things in life? No more days of lazying in the dappled sunlight of a shade tree - instead it's cell phones, text messaging, and what the hell is a blackberry? The only blackberries I know about are the ones growing in my backyard!

This hurry up mentality ends up the fuel for my every growing nightmares. Screw up at work and a giant evil clown shows up to try and stab me to bits. Forget a vitally important meeting and the darkness gangs up on me and sends me running down one eerie tunnel after another. Have cross words with my sweetheart and I'm bombarded with teeth-gnashing cougars all trying to steal my man.

It's amazing how the subconscious brain interrupts the conscious brain, turning mundane daily acts into head-rearing, mind-blowing expletives of never ending falls off a cliff, knife stabs in the dark and teeth falling out all over the place.

"All I want to do is have some fun, and I've got the feeling I'm not the only one"... Thank goodness for the clock radio! Saved from another clown attack, but just knowing it's a nightmare doesn't mute the fact that my heart is already racing too fast for the beginning of the day.

(Artwork courtsey of Janus Head.)

The Baby Bones

Here is an excerpt from my novel, The Baby Bones.

Aunt Dottie has been in the nursing home for ten months now and she seems to be adjusting as well as can be expected. Her days of lucidity have become as scarce as a blue moon, and her daily ravings have started to take on a manic quality. Several times in the past few months, I had been called to the nursing home to participate in care plan meetings, which basically help all the health care providers be on the same page with caring for Aunt Dottie. Apparently, some of the nursing aides had become concerned because Dottie continued to ramble about a baby in a trunk. She had started having nightmares and would wake up screaming, “The baby’s in the trunk.”

When I would visit Aunt Dottie, she would frequently mention the baby in the trunk. I couldn’t understand how my beloved aunt had no recollection of me most days when I would visit, but she could regularly talk about this unknown baby.

I had been questioned several times about the possibility of Aunt Dottie having a child no one knew about, or maybe the possibility a baby entering her life in other way. With only nieces and nephews left of the family, I had quarried everyone, but they all knew just what I did. Aunt Dottie had never been married, never had any children and never expressed any desire to have a baby.

I had met with the charge nurse only two weeks ago to discuss Aunt Dottie’s declining health. She had reassured me that everything possible was being done to treat Dottie, but her dementia had progressed to a terminal phase where medication was no longer therapeutic. Typically, antianxieties are the drug of choice to keep Dottie calm and prevent her from hurting herself. She continued to talk about the baby in the trunk, but the charge nurse reassured me this was probably something cross-wired in her brain from the past. She was remembering one particular instant in time, but all the pertinent facts are scrambled up. The baby was probably a niece or nephew, and the trunk was her memory of trying to keep them safe. She said this was a normal progression of the disease and all they could do was keep her comfortable.


What would you do if you opened up a box and found a skeleton? I would have thought I would have screamed, but when I saw the bones so tiny and fragile and frail, my mind started racing a hundred miles an hour. How could my Aunt Dottie do such a thing? How could she hide a baby like this?

“The baby’s in the trunk.” When I would visit Aunt Dottie, she would frequently mention the baby in the trunk, but today was the first time she had mentioned Becky Dillon. I couldn’t understand how my beloved aunt had no recollection of me most days when I would visit, but she could remember someone who died 35 years ago.

We had met with Dottie’s healthcare team and were told this was a normal progression of this type of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease. She was remembering one particular instant in time, but all the pertinent facts are scrambled up. But today, when Dottie mentioned the baby in the trunk, the hairs at the back of my neck would stand on end.

What if there really was a baby in a trunk? Where was the trunk? How did the baby get in the trunk? Questions I was really not wanting to answer any time soon.

What prompted me to go to her house and search for the trunk? I don’t think I will ever know for sure, but I think a part of me deep down inside really believed what Aunt Dottie was saying about the baby. I became afraid she was telling the truth, and in my search to always find the truth, I believed her. I thought I was just going to the house to settle my curiosity about the trunk, but what I found changed the foundation of my life. Aunt Dottie’s raving had ignited my curiosity; I just hoped I wasn’t going to regret being curious.

Aunt Dottie bought her house in the early 1960s and she had lived there as long as I could remember. She was a Registered Nurse at Harrodsburg General. She was the youngest of three girls, fiercely independent and never married. I never heard any unsavory rumors about Dot, but I’m sure there must have been a few men in her life. She was very respected and as far as I knew, didn’t have an enemy.
Today when I went to her house, I was overwhelmed with memories, little ghosts from my past flashing through my brain like dandelions on the wind. There I was, swinging from the braches of a hundred year oak tree in Aunt Dot’s front yard; roller skating down her steep driveway and skinning my knees when I fell; dropping to the ground and then rolling down the grassy front lawn – man, I had such fun at this house when I was growing up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Totally Optional Prompts - Marketplace

Now, for this week's Totally Optional Prompt:

A marketplace can be a lot of things. A farmer's market with local produce and livestock. A mini-mart full of plastic packages. An economic abstraction. But real or imaginary, a marketplace is a place to buy, sell and trade; a place to meet other people doing the same.

This week let's consider poetry in relation to marketplaces. Have you ever seen or heard poetry performed in a marketplace? Ever marketed your own poetry, or someone else's? Bought or sold a poem or a book of poetry?

Poety is not my strongest writing ability, but I am slowly trying to add a few poems to my collection.

Because I live in a small town, we don't have people performing in the marketplaces. As a matter of fact, my town doesn't even have a book store, so we have limited access to books of poetry.

However, we do have several talented poets in our community. One gentleman - Charles Semones - has several published works and his books are promoted heavily at the public library.

I would love to see more attention to the written arts in my community, but I think I'm wishing to the wind. We do have a strong state arts council and they are normally very good at marketing and publizing new Kentucky authors. I just wish it would trickle down into my small, rural town.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

YES We Can

Words cannot express my feelings this morning - my heart is full of joy and I feel hope and optimism again for the first time in years.

After 8 years of President George W. Bush, our country may finally be on the right track again.

No more worrying about our government invading a country because of oil or money (or revenge for daddy) - now we may be able to track down the person responsible for the USA attacks on 911.

No more worrying about how bad our environment is degrading because we have a President who doesn't care. Now we can work together to stop global warming and reduce our impact on the environment.

No more tax breaks or bonuses for wealthy corporations while the middle and lower classes fall farther and farther behind. Now working class families will be able to provide their children with common, basic needs again.

No more worrying about whether our children or our grandchildren will be able to afford a decent college education. Now, every child who wants to go to college will have the opportunity and education will raise our nation up and provide us with the new leaders for tomorrow.

No more worrying about the millions of USA citizens who are living without health care, or who are banckrupt because of medical bills. Now everyone will have access to decent health care and not worry about mortgaging their futures to pay for medical bills.

No more jobs shipped overseas. Now we will see new jobs and green jobs and everyone will be working together to prove we are the greatest nation on the planet.

I realize one person can not accomplish all of this alone - not even President-elect Barack Obama - but Obama has given us hope again. He is uniting this country in a way that hasn't been evident in my lifetime. Yes, we can.

Yes, we can ...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update

Okay, this is the 4th official day for NaNoWriMo and I am up to 12,000 words already! Yippee for me!!!

I think it helped that I had worked on an outline during October, so when official writing started, I knew what direction I wanted to take. I just hope the words keep flowing for the remainder of the month!

I'm trying not to think about the editing process, but my mind occasionally wanders in that direction. It's hard for me to write and not edit as I go along, but I'm trying.

To all the rest of you NaNoWriMo's - good luck and keep writing!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Musing Monday

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about boys and reading…

Do you know of any young boys who do not like to read? Why do you think boys so often don’t? What can we do to encourage them to read more?

Wow - this is a subject I know almost nothing about! I am the proud mother of 3 daughters, and the only boys I have contact with on a regular basis are my dad, my hubby, my brother, my nephew and my 2 future son-in-laws.

When it comes to these boys (men), the concensus is half and half. My hubby and my nephew (age 15) are huge readers, but my dad and my brother rarely read anything other than car magazines and the newspaper.

My oldest 2 daughters are both getting married in 2009 - one boy is a reader, the other isn't. The reader is more interested in graphic novels and video games, while the non-reader also enjoys video games, but he is a big hunter. I really don't know why one is a reader and the other isn't.

I don't know if boys are more caught up in sports or cars to be interested in reading - this would be the case with my dad and my brother. When I was in high school, most of my "boy friends" could care less about reading - they were too busy working on their dream cars or practicing for the upcoming football or basketball games.

From everything I've heard about boys and reading, I think the Harry Potter franchise helped to start more boys reading at a younger age. I have noticed over the past few years, more and more young adult books geared toward boys than girls, so I hope this trend continues.

I think children - boys or girls - will grow up to be readers if they are read to often when they are young. I think that is the biggest way to encourage reading among both sexes. Read to your children from birth - they may not understand the words, but they will understand the closeness and the bond of a regular reading time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Scribblings #135 - Scandalous

This week's Sunday Scribblings is Scandalous:

Have you got some juicy gossip? What about a bit of scandal? Have you caused a commotion in your life? Would you like to? In this week full of politics and financial woe, let's add a bit of spice and fun, shall we?

I'm the type of person that likes to hide from the world, so I'm not much for causing scandals. I guess the closests I come to a scandal is when I divorced my first husband. I was the first person in my family to ever get a divorce and I felt like an outcast for years.

All during high school, I dated the same boy. Neither one of us had ever dated before, so we had a connection from the very beginning. The problem is, now that I look back on that time in my life, we fought like cats and dogs. After years of therapy, I realized I was afraid if we broke up, no one would ever want me.

We married when I was still a senior in high school - I was 17 and he was 18. We had our first child when I was 20, and the second one was born 18 months later. After dating for four years, and being married for six years, my childhood sweetheart decided he didn't want to be married anymore. He left me and the girls and immediately started dating a woman who was 10 years older than him.

Yes, that's right - not only did I get a divorce, but my husband left for an older woman. Obviously, there were cougar already roaming in the early 1980s.

The first year after my divorce, my life was in free-fall. I had been a stay-at-home mother since my first child was born. Now I had to find a job and leave my babies at daycare for the first time in their lives.

To make a long story short, during the second year after the divorce, I started dating again and I was attending nursing school. Then, four years after the divorce, I graduated from nursing school, got my nursing license and remarried a wonderful man.

This was almost 20 years ago and I have never been happier. Although I still have aunts and great-aunts who think it is awful because I got a divorce, my immediate family is behind me 100%.

After such a tramatic ten year period in my life, I choose not to rock the boat. God willing (and the creek don't rise), my scandalous days are over.