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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Writing "do no harm" was gruesome (but it was fun)

Who would have thought that I would have had so much fun writing something so macabre?

Both of my sons have spent some time in the hospital lately, and I started kicking around a "what if" scenario for a novelette.

This latest offering came to me when I exited an elevator (a real E-Ticket ride, for those of you familiar with that term), to a vacant hospital hallway with the florescent lights flickering, quite possibly due to a faulty ballast. I could smell a bit of ozone.

It was creepy. It was all I needed.

I photographed the image and kicked it around a bit with Photoshop.

What I ended up with had me doing a double-take. It would be the perfect book cover. I showed the photo to my family. It freaked them out.

Mission accomplished.

I bounced the story around a bit, and what I ended up with was morbid and dark. It's the type of story that would likely be told around a campfire, on Halloween night while sipping some sort of libation to control the shaking in your hands.

Here's the finished product:

Free on 9/19/2016 through 9/21/2016.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Well ... I never thought I'd see the day

This time last year, I was thinking about writing a novel. I was kind of on the fence about it. I knew that I would be writing pure pain, and all that good stuff from the heart - and it petrified me. The characters were screaming at each other. Day and night. 2-4-7; 3-6-5. Weekends and holidays.

Never thought I'd see the day, though.

Just for grins, I outlined it. First in my head, then in a little red notebook I carry everywhere, then started typing it out. The outline grew into several outlines, which turned into chapters, which evolved into 76,000 words (approximately); and a second novel.

Funny thing is, my first work is not the one that ended up getting published. The novelette was fun to do though, and it was something that I needed to prove to myself. Just wanted to see if I could do it.

I've left my comfort zone a lot lately.

It felt a lot like sitting in the back of my Aunt's '61 Bonneville. I used to get so car sick in that car. I'd love all the places that I got to go, but the trip there was pure hell. My Aunt did everything that she could think of to keep me from getting sick. From soda crackers and 7Up, to starving me, to drugging me. Still got sick. Never got sick in any other car, just hers. It wasn't until years later that we figured out why.

I couldn't see out the windows. I couldn't see where I was going. That backseat sat so low, all I could manage to see was the tops of trees whirling by.

We found this out quite by accident. I'd been begging my Aunt to let me ride up front. Of course, she didn't want a little girl puking all over her (understandable). But she was one to give in to me (after copious amounts of whining on my part).

So she put me in the front seat, on a towel, with a bucket because I always traveled that way, and away we went.

I sat and looked out the window, with the wind in my face. I saw other cars. I saw people walking in the crosswalk. I saw stores and gas stations and everything else that everybody else saw.

I never got sick in her car again.

All the stuff I've been doing lately has me feeling just like that queasy little girl I once was. Not able to see where I was going.

Some things never change.

Hope I don't throw up, because I sure can't see where any of this is going.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Traveler's Soup

I got a request from my cousin, Kelly, who lives in Martinsville, Indiana. She asked for the recipe for some soup that I regularly make.

I actually had to think about it some, as I've never written it down.

Elsewhere in this blog I've mentioned that I learned the fine art of cooking mostly from my grandmother. I followed her around quite a bit when I was younger, trying to gain an understanding of her creative genius. She never wrote anything down either, and I've spent literally decades trying to reproduce some of her dishes.

All these years that I've worked to replicate her cooking style I learned that the secret was nothing more than love and an enthusiasm for her family and friends.

Today, I made one of my favorites that she used to make. I call it Traveler's Soup.

I call it this because it's made in haste and with love from ingredients that I have laying around in my kitchen and fridge. It cooks all day in a crock pot as it waits for those I love and care about to return to the love, safety, and warmth of the home.

I never make this the same way twice, as I rummage through my cupboards grabbing this and that. But it seems to turn out pretty good, at the very least edible. I haven't had any complaints thus far.

Lately, since we have been living a paleo lifestyle, I've made several changes to cut out a lot of the carbs. If you follow Weight Watchers® each serving of this soup is worth a little more than one point.

3 large tomatoes, stewed and crushed (you can use a 12 ounce can of crushed tomatoes instead)
1 chopped onion
1-2 lbs. of any meat you like (stew beef, chicken, ground turkey, whatever you like)
Cooking spray or olive oil

Sautee the onion in a dot of olive oil or cooking spray and then add the meat and brown slightly, then turn off and let rest.

Put the prepared tomatoes in the crock pot then add the meat mixture and stir.

Then get creative with your vegetables.  For my recipe, I generally add celery, cabbage, mushrooms, zucchini, pear squash (chayote) and bell peppers. You can definitely add other ingredients such as potato, carrots, corn or anything else.  Add equal portions of each of these until the pot is full (about 1/2 inch from the top).

Then cover with beef or chicken broth or bouillon dissolved in water (enough to cover when you're done adding the veggies). My crock pot takes about 6 cups.

Give the ingredients a good stir. Set on low. Forget about it until you get home.

If you are not watching carbs, you can serve this with a nice, crusty bread. I normally just eat the soup, maybe having a simple salad beforehand.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


I'm awake around 3:30 am every morning just about for the last 10 months or so.

Sometimes I can go back to sleep, sometimes I just lay there.

The wheels turn faster and louder some mornings. Sometimes to stop them, I'll get up and write. Sometimes the stuff I come up with is shocking, it floors me and renders me a trembling, sobbing mess.

Sometimes it's cathartic. Sometimes I ask myself why, wondering what's the point of it all.

Then I really think about the why.

There once was a time when I thought I would never be able to report the atrocities that happened to me; that I had no voice. Back then, I wasn't allowed to have a voice, much less an opinion. I wasn't permitted to make decisions for myself. I was told what to say, how to act, what to think, what to eat, when to sleep, how to dress and where I was allowed to go.

Woe unto me should I have deviated one iota. Heaven help me if I complained.

Truth be told, I chose to forget, tune out or block those things which were just too painful. The brain switched off; my body was there, my mind was someplace else. I'd wake up and wonder how I got a new bruise. Why did my arms hurt? I didn't remember.

The mind is a wonderful thing. I was in a comfortable place with it or at least believed it to be so.

Breaking free was hard; the hardest thing I have ever done. I couldn't do it alone. And although people do it every day, no one should have to face their fears alone. Everyone needs someone.

I've learned that I do have a voice, and oftentimes, it's quite loud. And I know that it's because my husband, Jerry, has done his very best to make me know I'm safe, and has worked hard for 23 years to love me despite the pain I'm in. He knows more about it than anyone on earth, with the exception of the SOB that abused me for years.

And a dear lady whom I entrusted to review and edit a certain chapter dealing with the goings-on in an ER room. (Thank you, Kim, for preventing the death of a protagonist).

It used to be that I would have nightmares. I wouldn't remember them. My husband would try to wake me, I would just cry inconsolably but I wouldn't fully wake up. It got to the point where he would just hold me while I rode through it.

Then, I remembered things, sometimes fragmented. Sometimes complete memories. They'd play in my mind like a horror movie, over and over again.  I wrote them down for him.  Pages and pages of stuff.  He has them put away somewhere.

10 months ago approximately, I  decided enough was enough. I would tell my story, albeit in the third person-as a fictional character. Thank you, Jonas, for the mentoring. The words came easier.

Now, approximately 10 months later, the first half of my work is finished. There's a great deal of personal experience that has gone into this, along with research (because, although I remember some of what was happening, I did not know the correct terminology to describe everything).

Tonight.  Tonight, I left my comfort zone and pitched the novel.  And it scares the living daylights out of me.  And it thrills me beyond all reason.

I'm aware that no one may ever read my novel. It may not be well-received. Some might even say that the work is crap.

Part of me would be crushed. The other part couldn't care less.

It's helped me so much to write this. Maybe it will help someone else to read it.

Because of this I have to try, regardless of why.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mom, do you know how to slow-dance?

Most people who know me know that I have a son with genetic bone disorder known as "Osteogenesis Imperfecta", better known as brittle bone disease.  Most know that since elementary school, he has been using a walker, and throughout junior high and high school, a wheelchair, as walking was just too painful.

Last year, while at a swim meet, while warming up for the breast stroke, he kicked another swimmer accidentally that was following him too closely.  This resulted in one of the worst fractures he had ever sustained.  The leg had the appearance of having a second knee.  And because he was 17, he considered it his God-given right to yell any and all four-letter expletives that he had in his vocabulary.

Looking at his leg, who could blame him?

He had to be extracted from the pool by EMT's and was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance (second time in an ambulance, first time without me or his father).

The result of this experience was him having a steel rod shoved into his leg by one of the finest doctors I have ever known, and who actually patented the technique for this particular surgery.  Considering the damage to my son's leg, the scarring was minimal.  Thank God.

No sooner than being released from doctor's care approximately three months later did he insist on booking surgery for the other leg.

My husband and I both looked at each other, wondering why.  Why would anyone care to endure this amount of pain all over again?

My son put it simply, and for us it was a reality check.  "Because I want to get around like everybody else."

Who could fault him that?

This surgery was a bit more difficult than the other one.  His leg was severely bowed, and a piece of bone had to be notched away before the rod could be inserted.  It proved to be just as painful.

He was stoic about it, though.  After a day in the hospital, he refused the morphine and insisted to be released.

Taking only minimal pain medication, he forged through and made a remarkable recovery.

The first thing he noticed when he was able to stand on both legs for the first time was that he was taller, by better than an inch.  The next thing that he noticed was that when he was standing, that his legs were straight, and didn't bow out (he had never in his life been able to stand with his ankles together).

He walks just about everywhere now.  It hurts his back some because of the scoliosis, so he still uses the wheelchair from time to time.

Fast-forward to this past Saturday afternoon:  He's getting ready for a dance.  He'd went out and got a nice haircut, took a shower, shaved, put on cologne - the normal stuff a young man does to get ready.

He yells at me from his room, "Mom, can I ask you something?"

"Yeah, buddy.  What do you need?" I ask him as I'm walking in.

"Mom, do you know how to slow-dance?"

In all of his 18 years, I never thought I would ever hear this.  It's nothing I expected.  And it pulled at my heart-string just a little bit.

In reality, I know that thousands of moms or dads are asked this by their sons or daughters every prom season.

And although it's not his first dance, it's the first time he's danced with his new legs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Depression is not a life choice, it is an illness

Can we now address this very serious issue?

Yesterday, the world lost the greatest comedian ever to walk the face of this earth.  The man was a charming man, he was a humanitarian, and a talent to be sure.  His presence filled the room he was in with joy, yet he died alone.

He suffered.

He suffered from depression and drug addiction.  His drug addiction was likely caused by self-medicating for depression.  He was open about his problems, yet he suffered in silence.

He will be missed.

Maybe as a society, we can now address the disease of depression - before it takes another precious life.

We have money to send to foreign countries; we send aid all over the world - it's a wonderful thing.  We should help one another; it's the right thing to do.  But maybe we need to take a step back and help our own sick, our own hungry, our own homeless.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in Americans.  The most recent statistics state that there were 39,518 suicides reported in 2011 or one person every 13.3 minutes, this according to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  According to a 2010 fact sheet by The American Association of Suicidology released in 2012, "Major depression is the psychiatric diagnosis most commonly associated with suicide."  Our veterans account for 20% of American suicides, with those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan having suicide rates four times higher than other veterans (Face The Facts USA),

Depression is not a life choice, it is an illness.  Until we as a society recognize this fact, this illness will continue to claim thousands of our loved ones each year.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Left over trick or treat candy

What can you do with left over candy?  I suppose you can stuff the office candy dish.  Maybe you can give it away as a sweet treat to your grandkids (my kids really get PO'ed when I do this).  Or maybe you can find new and interesting ways to otherwise get rid of it.

Why not whip up some of your favorite cookies using leftover Halloween candy.  I came across this article from Cosmo...  Happy Baking!