One never knows what will happen when I step into the kitchen as I like to experiment with foods. I’m a pretty good cook and have been told I have a knack for knowing what flavors go well together. 
  The other day I decided to do burgers on the grill but, being extra hungry I decided that not just any burger would do. So, I began pulling random items from the pantry and fridge and began adding these sauces and spices to my bowl of ground beef. 

Deciding what I had added was not quite enough I wondered how to take the burgers up a notch. I pulled up my stool and took a peek into the liquor cabinet. Bingo we had bourbon. Let me rephrase that, of course we had bourbon. What self respecting Kentucky girl would not have bourbon in the liquor cabinet? I had to laugh as I wrote that, because to be honest our liquor “cabinet”is just that, a cabinet. A cupboard where we keep one or two bottles of liquor that rarely sees the light of day. My husband is more the beer type and I do not drink the stuff. I am more of a foo foo girl myself preferring fruity drinks with pretty umbrellas-preferably on a beach brought to me by a shirtless
young stud named Raphael-another lie as I’ve never met anyone by the name of
Raphael. 
So anyway, I took out the bourbon, and added a touch to my beef concoction, when my husband, who had just happened to pick that particular time to enter the room, laughed and assured me that I had not added enough liquor to make a difference. Rising to the challenge I tilted the bottle and added enough bourbon to make a sailor blush.


Dinner was rather enjoyable that night and the smell wafting through the neighborhood reminded me of a lazy Kentucky Sunday as a child, sitting outside, enjoying the smells rising from the hallows…
 
 
I’m not sure if it is due to lack of sleep- I’ve not  slept through the night in well over a week-  or if the voices in my head are feeling  the pull of spring, but I’ve been getting so many new ideas that I’m finding it  hard to keep up. My current manuscript is speaking nonstop-not complaining  there. The follow-up book to what I’m working on is so loud that, on more than  one occasion I’ve had to stop and write a scene or chapter for that book, so  much so that I have already wrote the epilog for the second book. Now after a
meeting with a friend in the business, my mind is racing with storyline ideas  for several other manuscripts. Wouldn’t it be great if I could clone myself and dictate to each of the cloned me’s the story they need to be working on? Surely, if they were all cloned from me, they too would hear the voices. Maybe, I could make one of the cloned ones eat right and exercise. Of course-at least in my mind- that would benefit us all.

  I may have  to explain all the extra “me’s” to my hubby, but something tells me he wouldn’t  complain much. Unless by chance we are all moody at the same time, to which he’d  have to decide which one to console. Of course if he knows what is good for him
it had better be the “real” me as I am the “original” and also the one who would  control the others. 

For now, since there is only one of me, I guess I will  end my ramblings and get back to work. The voices in my head are calling and at least one of me needs to answer the call…

 
 
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I love apples, and I eat at least one a day. 
I think my love affair with apples began as a child. The road we lived on had plenty of apple trees- most in areas free for the taking. One of my fondest memories was picking apples with my Shetland pony, Flicker. I would stand on Flicker’s back and pick apples. Apples fresh off the tree were always the best, as the ones that had fallen to the ground were usually at the mercy of various
insects, mostly the ever present honey bees. The problem of picking apples while standing atop the back of a pony was when said pony saw one he wanted, and decided to mosey over to get it. I had many a close call from the fact that Flicker loved apples just as much as I did.


My new problem with apples is I have expensive taste. My apple of choice is the honey crisp. Living up to their name they are sweet,  crisp, and incredibly juicy. Rarely have I eaten one where I didn’t need a napkin. The problem is that the honey crisp apples are not cheap, at nearly four dollars a pound. Since the average honey crisp apple weighs nearly a pound that is a pretty expensive daily habit. It works out to nearly fourteen hundred dollars a year. It would be cheaper to plant my own apple tree. Trust me, I‘ve
  thought of that too but when I Googled honey crisp apple trees, I found they
  don’t grow very well in our area. So, beyond moving, breaking the bank with my
  apple habit, or shoplifting, (no I really haven’t thought of stooping that low)
  I’ve decided I need to find a new favorite apple.


So what does one do when they are looking for advice on apples? They do what they do for everything else these days, they turn to facebook. I put out a call to my facebook friends. The apple choice of my facebook friends turned out to be the fugi apple. Still I could not resist doing a bit of detective work of my own. I got out of my pj’s, which is my
  preferred work from home office attire, and went to the store in search of apples. I bought fugi (surely that many facebook friends can’t be wrong) granny smith, golden delicious and several other apples, which I found in abundance on the produce aisle. I brought them home and put them to the test. What I found was that fugi was indeed one of the top- non honey crisp- options, and can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of honey crisps. I am not trying to be cheap, but when an apple cost as much as a gallon of gas a choice has to be  made. At least with a gallon of gas I can get more than one mile down the road.
 
Maybe I will save honey crisps for a once a week splurge, or maybe, I will come to love another apple, and honey crisps will be delicacy of the past. Because until I get my own apple tree, and maybe a horse to give me a helping hand, I think both honey crisps and my feisty pony Flicker are both fond memories. Then again I may be a bit too uncoordinated these days to pick apples from the back of a horse.


 
 
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My name is Sherry, and I love bananas. I love eating them right out of the peel or sliced up in a bowl full of cheerios. I do not however care for banana nut bread. You see I like a perfect banana, no green, no speckles and absolutely no smell! 

In order to make banana nut bread the banana has to be very ripe or as I like to say- rotten. I can taste that rottenness each time I
  attempt to try the bread. In my opinion there are not many things that smell or  taste as bad as a rotten banana. I can feel my nose wrinkling just writing this, they bother me that much.


 I always have an issue when at the grocery store when it comes to bananas.  I
take my time searching for just the right bunch. The ones that will turn to
their perfect selves within days, only to have the clerk toss them unceremoniously into the bag with other items. Just a simple toss is all that is needed to bruise those tender yellow skins. What was perfect when placed into my basket always seems to be dotted with black speckles by the time I arrive home, and the drive is less than a mile. I am seriously contemplating requesting that the clerk hand me the bananas after ringing them up. I am sure such action will label me a loon-or worse yet -the crazy banana lady- but at least my bananas will be edible for a day, or maybe even two.


All of this talk of bananas reminds me of one of my favorite stories about my son Ben. He was just a little guy then, so little we still referred to him as Benny. If I recall correctly he was around the age of two. We lived in a two story condo in Charleston, S.C..  The bottom floor boasted a living room, eat-in kitchen, and utility room-not much
room to get lost in. However one day I could not find Ben. I knew he was not
upstairs, as he didn’t go up there alone, but after a quick search of the main
area I began to panic. Ben was nowhere to be found. I forced myself to stop and
take in a deep breath before calling out his name. “Benny?”


Thankfully I was graced with an answer, albeit from a
  somewhat muffled voice. “What?”

 “Where are you?” I asked, still  not knowing where the voice had originated from.


“Under the Table,” the voice was considerably more muffled this time.


I crossed the room, pulled up the tablecloth, and there under the table was my little boy. Who had apparently  been attempting to speak with a mouth full of bananas. The floor around him was  littered with black banana skins, from the bananas that I had tossed in the trash a few hours before. He took another bite and mumbled his pleasure.


 “Mmmmm”  Obviously Ben did not share my distaste of overly ripe bananas. 
 
It is one of those memories that stick with you over the years. To this day I cannot look at a rotten banana and not think of little Benny, hiding under the table, with his horde of treasure he’d pulled from the trash.  

Bunches of love to you all!
 


                                                                                                                                                 
 


  


 
 
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Not everyone knows this but I am a certified dog trainer. While I am not actively seeking new business, I have many satisfied clients. Not  many things bothered me before I became a dog trainer, I thought dogs were dogs, and the things they did was simply the nature of the beast. It turns out that is
  not true. Most of the bad behaviors associated with dogs can be traced back to
  their owners.


Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying every dog owner is  bad, I am just saying that the majority of them are uneducated when it comes to  having well rounded dogs. I was just as uneducated when it came to the many dogs I have had over the years, blaming the dog for behavior I now know was  mostly produced by what I did, or did not do.


I thought I would take the opportunity over the next few weeks and discuss some of the training issues people have with their k-9’s, and see if we can fix some of these things that need fixing. So please feel free to  send me an e-mail if you are having a specific issue and I will see if I have a  solution for you.


In the mean time I want to address something that is high on my list of my dog owner concerns. Dogs riding in the front seat of the cars, or worse yet in their owners lap. It should never be allowed. There I said it. But I assure you I have a good reason. This is something that usually causes a heated debate, but please hear me out on this.


There you are riding along enjoying the feel of your  beloved little French bulldog, Tippy, when out of no-where a car swerves into your lane, and Tippy sails out the window. Poor Tippy either face plants into the asphalt and becomes French toast, or worse yet gets run over by the SUV behind you. Leaving you with nothing more than a collar attached to a crepe. The debaters usually argue, 
  “My window is not all the way down so Tippy cannot fit outside.” 
  Okay so Tippy only gets his face slammed into the window.  Really? Isn’t Tippy’s nose flat enough as it is?  
Then they will say…

“I would never let that happen. I always have my hand on him to keep him safe.”
 My response. “None of us know what we are going to do in an emergency situation, but as a responsible driver you need to have both hands  available to save yourself and others. 

So let’s talk about the REAL danger of letting little Tippy ride in your lap. God forbid you are in an accident, and your airbag were to deploy. Tippy would end up dead by the impact of the airbag slamming into his tiny little body.  Worse yet he would most likely kill you in the process. Ah at least then the two of you would get to ride all you want in the afterlife. I guess at that point Tippy could hang his head out the window all he wants, as I hear those clouds are pretty darn fluffy.


Okay so let’s move Tippy to the passenger side seat. That would be better right? Only if you can turn off the passenger side airbag and have Tippy restrained in some kind of doggy harness, or specially made puppy seat. Yes they make them. But make sure if you get one it has a seatbelt or is fully enclosed. If Tippy is not restrained he can still get hurt or hurt someone else by flying through the air upon impact, hitting you or someone else in the car. 
  Bottom  line…either leave Tippy at home, or insure the safety of all, by seeing that
he’s properly secured. Buckle him up! The life you save just may just be your own...



 
 


Today is my 32nd wedding anniversary. Please bear with me as I revisit last year’s blog and take you back in time to share in our elopement. 

Don, my soon to be husband and I, had devised a plan only a few days earlier to elope. There was no reason for a rushed ceremony; it was simply a plan we had devised in order to have a small nest egg saved up before we had a big ceremony.  Don was in the Navy and if he was married he would get married pay. Our plan was simple. We were going to get married, not tell anyone we were husband and wife, and save a  little extra money.

Don was on leave and due back to the ship right after the first of the year, so we decided we would get married before he left. We chose December 30th. We had worked out all the details; we would drive to Tennessee, get married and be home by early afternoon, what could possibly go wrong?

I woke early on that Friday morning as Don was supposed to pick me up by seven for our secret rendezvous.   I was ready on time but Don was nearly an hour late picking me up. Apparently unbeknownst to us another couple was having a house moved to its new location on that very morning, choosing to do so early so as not to inconvenience anyone. Yes, I am talking about a whole house. A single story, dark brown, brick ranch that was to be moved to its new location on that very day. The good news is the house is still there and every time we pass it we remember the day it found its new home atop the hill. After that minor delay we were on our way.

We had told my mother that we were heading to Bardstown to see Don’s father and would be gone most of the day.
We had arraigned for my then sister-in-law to join us as a witness. We drove to
her house, waited across the street for my brother to leave, then picked up her
and my nephew who was just a baby at the time. We dropped the baby off at his
great aunt’s house and were on our way to Tennessee to become husband and
wife.

The drive was uneventful, and we all
arrived in high spirits. There was a line at the courthouse; apparently several
other couples had hopes of getting married that day as well. When it was our  turn, we told the lady at the desk we were there to get married. She smiled and said she needed our birth certificates. This was the second thing that nearly derailed our plans, as we had not thought to bring them. Before you chastise us for not being prepared please remember we were very young. I had barely turned eighteen and my husband to be was twenty one. This was way before the Internet was invented, so we had not been able to research what was involved.  After a very tense moment it was decided that we could use our driver’s licenses since they had our pictures on them. We were lucky because at that time Kentucky was one of the few states that actually required photos on their driver’s licenses.

After our identities were established
she then requested the paperwork for blood test results. Glitch number three. 
Of course we had not thought to have any blood test taken. Things like this must happen on a regular basis as the lady was able to direct us to a clinic where we could get our blood drawn.

We drove across town and finally found the clinic in rather run down section of the city. After arriving, and feeding yet another parking meter that seemed prevalent in the large city, we entered to find a sea of patients waiting to be seen. As we entered the building every person turned their head to watch us. I was very
scared as all of those eyes followed us across the room and continued to stare
even after we had signed in and took our
seats.

At the time I felt it was because  somehow everyone in the room knew of our secret mission, but now as I type, I
think it was more because we were highly overdressed for the area. Don was  looking pretty dashing in his leisure suit.  My sister-in-law had donned a nice  dress for the occasion and I had on a new outfit, the first one I had ever purchased on my own. Bought with my very own money from the new job I was  working. I had on new blue jeans with a soft fur trim that lined the back pockets and a stunning black velour angel sleeve top. It was 1980 and this was  very fashionable. Having just turned eighteen it never occurred to me that fur trimmed blue jeans and a black top may not have been the best choice of wedding attire.  Besides, this was just our pre-wedding
wedding.

Luckily we were only there for a blood
draw and we were called back within a few short moments. They put us in separate rooms across the hall from one another where we each sat on an exam table and waved to each other like a couple of kids. The nurse came into my room first, asked a couple of questions and then tied the tourniquet around my arm. As she was lowering the needle toward my arm I asked her when the results would be back. As the needle approached the crook of my arm she replied “oh not long, we should have them back in the morning.” I jerked my arm away just before the tip penetrated my exposed vain. “But, we are getting married today”, I exclaimed pulling at the rubber vice that still gripped my  arm.

After a few moments of chaos we were sent across town yet again to a blood draw center that could accommodate a same day blood draw. After arriving and paying yet another parking meter, we made our way to a nice waiting area where we were met by a very friendly lady who assured us it would not take long to complete the process.  After only a few minutes our blood was carted away to the testing area with the word stat clearly labeled across each glass vile. We were told it would take about an hour and since it was now nearing lunch time it was suggested we take this opportunity to go and get something to eat.

I am not sure how much Nashville has changed since then, but in December of 1980 it was not easy for three highly stressed and very hungry people to find something to eat. We drove for a very long time before finally finding a Burger King. We ate burgers and fries and hurried back to the lab to get our test results. We had been gone for over an hour but when we returned the results had still not come back. After  waiting yet another hour the receptionist finally called down to see what was taking so long. It turns out that our blood had been misplaced and no-one could find those two tiny glass tubes of blood. A trace was placed on them and we had no choice but to wait for them to be found.

After nearly two hours of panicking the
blood was found and the results finally arrived. Don paid the fifty six dollars
and we were on our way. Unfortunately, instead of being on our way to the
courthouse we were once again headed back to the clinic so the resident doctor
could verify the results and declare us fit to be married.  We arrived back at the clinic, walked back through the gauntlet of gawkers and spoke with the receptionist who in turn called the nurse who took our paperwork to the doctor. 

Forty minutes and Thirty six dollars later, we exited the building, paperwork in hand which attested that we were in good health and genetically fit to become
husband and wife, all signed by a doctor which we never saw.

By the time we returned to the courthouse it was late and all of the judges had left for the day. Feeling both physically and mentally exhausted I blinked in order to keep the tears at bay. Seeing my distress the clerk took pity on us and offered to call over to the night court and see if there was anyone who could perform the service. Luckily there was a judge there who agreed to see to our  joining.

We made our way to the courtroom and
opened the door. We were more than surprised to be met with a room full of
people who turned to stare at the people who had suddenly disturbed the
proceedings. We quickly closed the door without entering, fearing we had  unknowingly arrived at the wrong court room. Within seconds the door opened and we were greeted by a distinguished man, with incredibly large ears, who assured us we were indeed in the right place.

The man introduced himself as Judge Doty and beckoned us to follow him. I was a bit scared being led through that sea of faces in the court room and into a back chamber of the building. Judge Doty was a sturdy, kind older man, with dark eyes that looked as if they had witnessed many years in the judicial system. He seemed rather pleased to be doing something as mundane as performing a simple marriage ceremony. When he asked which one of these pretty ladies was the bride, Don clutched my hand possessively and proudly stated that I could cook too. He knew this for a fact as I had made him a spaghetti dinner only a few short months earlier when he was home on leave. What he neglected to say was that I had used boxed noodles, sauce from a jar and he never even touched the homemade  meatballs that I had slaved hours to cook.

As Judge Doty began the ceremony he was interrupted by a phone call. After
answering and assuring his wife he would bring home a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk he continued. A few seconds later a second call had been answered. This call was of greater importance as it ended with the promise of a fishing trip to  take place the following day. When the service continued Judge Doty got to the part where a ring was needed and in one smooth motion without exchanging words, my sister-in-law slipped her wedding ring off her hand and passed it to Don who then slipped it onto my waiting finger. Apparently in our haste to get married we had overlooked this minor detail. At long last, and without any further interruptions, we were finally pronounced husband and wife. It was official after we handed over a forty dollar ceremony  fee.

Upon surrendering the borrowed ring and returning to the van the first major test of our marriage was soon at hand. The van was nearly out of gas, we were over a hundred miles away from home and Don was nearly out of money. Between all the parking meters, blood test, doctors signatures and ceremony fees, his cash was nearly depleted. He had a bit of money in an account at home, but that was way before the invention of the universal debit card. I had not thought to bring any money and my sister-in-law only had a couple of dollars on her, so we were frantically trying to figure out how we were going to get back home.

As it turns out Don had a money order in the van for the amount of six dollars which he had yet to fill out. He took the money order to a bank across the street, went into the bank, walked up to the teller, slid the money order under the window and  told her he needed money. It was at that time that the guard saw him at the   window, watched him pass the note and assumed he was robbing the bank.  Apparently the bank had been closed for several minutes and somehow no-one had  remembered to lock the side door. After a few tense moments my new husband was  able to convince everyone he was not a bank robber, had just gotten married and  needed to cash the small money order in order to get his new bride safely back  home. The teller, who had already closed out her drawer, took pity on him and  gave him cash for the money order out of the money she had in her own  purse.

With the funds from the money order and the small amount of cash on hand, Don was able to purchase gas which he prayed would be enough to get us all safely home. During the drive home, I having reached my limit, proceeded to crawl into the bed in the back of the van and  sleep most of the way home.

Needless to say we arrived back at the aunt’s house to pick up my nephew much later than we  originally intended. As we reached the back door my brother greeted us humming the hymn to the funeral march. As it turns out the baby had gotten sick and his aunt had called my mom looking for us. When my mother questioned why we would  take my sister-in-law with us to visit Don’s dad her aunt had jokingly stated  “maybe they eloped.”

After gathering my nerve I called my mom, who demanded to know where we had been. There was no reason to  lie so I told her Tennessee and when she asked why, I said “why do you think?”  The next thing I heard was a dial tone. At that point I was very glad I had  taken that much needed nap. My brother congratulated us, we had a celebratory
glass of wine and we left.

After once again gathering the courage to call my house my younger brother answered the phone and  wanted to know why mom had been crying ever since hanging up the phone with me.
She refused to answer and told him to tell me if I wanted to speak with her I
knew where she lived. An hour later we parked at the church next door to our
house and, feeling as if we were facing the firing squad, slowly made our way
across the yard and up the incline to our
house.

My mom was still crying. My dad, not
typically known for his patience, was so calm it was frightening. He wanted to
know why we had eloped. Don spoke up and simply said “because we love each
other.” Dad then asked the million dollar question, which was whether or not I
was pregnant. We of course told them no, which was the truth. Dad visibly
relaxed, slightly, at that point and left the room. Many years later I was told
by my brother that he had seen dad with a loaded pistol in his waist band before
he himself had been ordered to leave the house. I do not know for certain if
this was true but I think it was a very good thing that an impending pregnancy
was not the reason for our hasty
elopement.

When dad returned to the room, both
he and mom then attempted to make us see the error of our ways and get an
annulment. They claimed that neither of them objected to the marriage, just the
way we had gotten married. They wanted us to get an annulment and then go back
the following weekend to get re-married with them beside us. I was afraid if we
agreed to this they would find a way to keep us from a second ceremony. Dons
refusal was because he was not about to relinquish his well earned prize. He had
nearly been shot at the bank just a few short hours earlier and he was not about
to let that experience be for naught.

After a stalemate it was decided that I would retire to my room for the night and Don would go home and all parties involved would discuss it further the following day, when hopefully calmer heads would prevail. I know there are some that would think it utterly absurd to sleep alone on ones wedding night but by this point Don and I were so exhausted it seemed like the right thing to  do.

The final agreement was that we would
follow our initial plan to keep the marriage a secret and plan for the big
wedding in the summer. As with our elopement, things did not go as planned. We never had the big wedding nor did I get the white dress. I am happy to report
that I did get a wedding band that was eventually replaced with a lovely diamond set. When we first got married several people expressed their disapproval telling us it would not last six months. I am happy to report that their predictions did not hold true and today marks our 32nd wedding  anniversary.

I guess, truth be told, one does  not need a fancy dress, a shinny bauble or even a lot of money to get married.  You only need perseverance, a trip across the state line and enough money for  gas to get you home….

 

12/21/12

12/20/2012

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I have given a lot of thought to this whole end of the world thing.  Maybe tomorrow will
be the end of the world as we know it because the Zombies are going to take  over. Maybe what  the Mayan’s  predicted is the Zombie apocalypse. I made my hair appointment for today just to  be safe. Virginia Beach traffic is bad enough without having to play frogger  with the Zombies.  I have made sure we have food and water in the house in case we have to stay inside and hide from the Zombies.

I have a confession, if given the choice; I will chose to live and fight off the zombies rather than to actually become one of them. Don’t get me wrong being a zombie seems to have its advantages, you can stay up all night, hang out with friends, and eat everyone in sight. I guess that is what has me leaning the other direction. I mean I try to eat healthy; surely all that skin and flesh can’t be good for the complexion. All the zombies I’ve
  seen –via movies and television- look like hell-pardon my language. They are
  dressed in rags, filthy as can be, and some are even missing limbs. I wouldn’t
  mind getting rid of my thighs, but I can think of better ways of doing so. 

Also there is all the blood and guts to deal with when you are a Zombie. I know you can’t smell through television but those zombies must really reek. I’ve left chicken in the garbage can over night; I can’t  imagine wearing that stuff for days on end.  

While I admit I sometimes walk like a zombie after sitting for too long the effects usually wear off within moments.  Zombie walking is not the most graceful. I don’t even think a chiropractor can fix that. 

And then there is the arms stretched out thing. My arms get tired after minutes of exercising, there is no way I’d be able to keep them up while zombie walking every night. 

As a writer I like it quiet when I work. I am pretty sure all that moaning and screaming would get really old, really quick. 
 
So there you have it, all the reasons I can’t be a Zombie. I hope you’ve given this as much thought as I have. If not make sure you choose wisely if and when the time comes. I’d like to think I’d help you pick up your arm or leg if it falls off, but in reality I’m pretty squeamish, so I may  have to pass.


I’ll let you in on a secret. I really don’t think the Mayans are correct; I was just in Office Max today. There were plenty of  calendars and they were all dated for next year…

 
 
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Growing up I knew I was destined for greatness. I was  going to be somebody. I was determined to sing on stage at The Grand Ole Opry.  You see when I was young I thought I could sing pretty well. Of course I am sure
  half the people who audition for American Idol think the same thing. The difference between them and I is I knew when my voice left and I moved on to  other things, lots of other things, until I finally discovered that I am a  story teller. Yes I am an author but I am a story teller first and foremost. I have been told that anyone can write but not everyone can tell a story. 

As a writer it helps to have a vivid imagination. Everything is a story to me. I eavesdrop on conversations, not to be rude but to hear the stories. You see sometimes fact is better than fiction. I think my imagination is expanding as I become more and more involved in writing but looking back, even in my younger days as an aspiring singer, I would make up  songs. I guess I’ve been a writer all along and just didn’t know it. 
 
That got me to wondering is it possible that everyone’s destiny is predetermined? Is that   knowledge just laying dormant waiting for each of us to find our course? Do we really get to choose or are our paths chosen for us? 

What if you are not a person at all? Picture yourself as a tree growing in the forest aspiring to be the grandest tree of them all, then  someone comes and cuts you down to make you a Christmas tree. Does that make  you less of a tree or are you just reaching your destiny? 

One year we bought our Christmas tree early in the season. It died and we and had to get a replacement tree. Seriously, how awful to not to be good enough to be a “real” Christmas tree. That had to be hard on that poor tree. This is how my mind thinks. 

Now picture you are a pumpkin growing in a pumpkin patch and have aspirations of being a scary jack-o-lantern. You grow and grow to be the best looking pumpkin you can be and someone takes you home and makes soup out of you. Seriously, that would have to suck. It is thoughts like these that  plagued me as I was picking out my own pumpkin last week knowing that I only  wanted him for his seeds. I bought him five days ago. He is still on my kitchen  counter. I haven’t had the heart to cut him open knowing I will be ending his  dream of becoming a jack-o-lantern. 

I was in the pet store today buying dog food. I was at the counter, ready to pay, when a guy walks in, obviously a regular. One of the ladies behind the counter said “rat?” He shook his head and waited patiently for the lady to scoop up a random rat, shove him unceremoniously into a box,  and hand him to the guy. I am sure the rat was ecstatic. He was out of that  aquarium. He was going to be Stuart Little to some child, as that is what he has always dreamed of. Little does he know his dream is going to be shattered the second he discovers it is his destiny to become snake food. 

I asked the girl behind the counter. “Do you think when the rat was growing up he ever thought he was going to be snake food?” She laughed and said probably not. She tried to comfort me by having me look at all of the other rats joyfully playing on the metal wheel. I then asked her “How does it feel being the one who decides who’s the next to go?” By this time the second lady, who was trying to make a phone call, hangs up the phone, obviously deciding I am someone who needs watching. The first girl does not know how to answer my question and merely stares at me. I then decided it was time to relate my pumpkin story to her telling her how long it took me to pick out a pumpkin knowing I was dashing all hopes of it becoming a jack-o-lantern. As I left the building the younger lady was laughing and the second lady was staring at me in disbelief. I beat a hasty retreat but not before I had given them something to think about and probably debating whether or not to have me banned from the store. I hear voices. I worry about the feeling of inanimate objects. I am constantly seeing movies inside my head. I keep a tape recorder beside my bed. Some of my very best friends are fictional. I am not crazy, I am following
  my destiny! 



 
 
As most of you know my husband is in the Navy. He is pretty old, okay not really, but old for Navy standards. I laugh as I write  this, because that makes me old by Navy wife standards. That’s alright we are growing old together and that is what counts the most. Together being used loosely, as it is the Navy, and together and the Navy does not always mesh. 

My husband joined back in the day of the dinosaur; otherwise known as 1977. We were married in 1980 so I have been there for most of the journey. Before you start doing the math and say there is no way he is still in, he has broken service. Meaning he got out and came back in, twice actually. I have always said the Navy is in his blood, and apparently the powers that be know this as they kept letting him come back. 

It is funny hearing him talk about the people he works with and realizing he has tattoos older than some of the senior guys. I think he has even shared this bit of trivia with them on more than one occasion. They just shake their head and look at him as if he is some kind of relic. Maybe he is, but he is my relic and I love him.


I have to smile when I hear some of the newer, younger,  spouses complain that the e-mail is down. Or they haven’t had a phone call lately. Don’t get me wrong, a missed e-mail still sends me into panic mode because I have gotten used to them. I want them. I need them. But then I have to remind myself that there was a time when we did not have e-mail. Heck we did not even have phone calls except for the rare occasion when the ship pulled into port and I was woke at 3am from a collect call from Israel or some other   costly place. I can guarantee that phone bill was not pretty on Petty Officer pay!


At the risk of sounding like my parents, who had to walk to school in blinding snowstorms, uphill both ways, I have been there. Afraid to leave the house, because you never knew when the call would come. Before you say it, I have to remind you this was a time even before cell phones. So a missed call was indeed a missed call. There was no e-mail. There was what we now refer to as snail mail. This was race to the mail box everyday in hopes there would be some word, some envelope, that had traveled around the world at a snail’s pace with news so old it didn’t even pertain anymore. Still it was
  that life raft which managed to keep me afloat just by knowing he had sealed each envelope with a piece him himself. You know, saliva, as this was even before peel and stick envelopes!


It is funny what we get used to, and what we come to expect. When snail mail was all we had we dealt with it. But now in the “new” Navy, we bitch when the ship’s internet is down and he can’t get on facebook. We complain when the ships phones are down or heaven forbid they have a delay! It is so much easier now than it was in the past. Through creative code I know when my husband is going to call, or when he is going to arrive at what port. Separations are tough even with all the new ways to communicate but at least the “new” Navy is helping to make the ocean feel a whole lot smaller. I am sure at some point they will have the capacity to Skype from onboard the ship. Of   course that may be years in the works and I am not sure if we will still be in to see that. Of course if they install people elevators on the ship then maybe  we will. As my husband likes to joke that he will retire, when they block his way and tell him he can’t bring his walker onboard the ship! 

I am going to end this now, as I just received an e-mail from my hubby. Have a wonderful day!

 
 
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If you’ve read my work then you know I write mostly romance. Quirky romance that sometimes stretches the limits of romantic norm,  but still they tend to fall into the romance category. Well this past weekend I
was fortunate enough to attend a writers conference.


Now this was no ordinary romance writers conference as I have attended in the past. This was the Writers Police Academy. A fun filled weekend of hands on training that is invaluable to writers who strive to hone  their craft in all things criminal. The weekend was crammed with exciting lectures, guest speakers and realistic props, so that each writer could fill his or her senses with realism. 

We were offered actual police training, albeit  abbreviated, on the real goings on in everyday law enforcement, forensics, specialized investigations and courtrooms proceedings. Those lucky enough to be in attendance got treated to a simulated police chase, K-9 demonstrations,  building searches, FATS (firearms training simulator) and so much more. 
 
I got handcuffed, shot (thankfully they didn’t let us use real weapons), and got to try on the jacket and helmet they use to disable  bombs. This was not as fun as it sounds as the jacket alone weighs in at nearly 100 pounds. The officer who helped me into the suit said it is said to weigh 80 lbs but he has it more around 100. After trying it on I have to agree with him, as all I could do was stand there like the little boy in A Christmas Story. I
  was not able to put my arms down. Heck who am I kidding; I couldn’t move a single muscle. I half expected to float away like a helium balloon the second I was freed from the cumbersome jacket. 

Upon leaving the exhibit I was asked by a lady in a golf cart if I’d like a ride down the hill, no thanks, I think I will just float down I thought. That feeling was short lived as I hurried to climb onboard before she changed her mind. I justified this ride by the fact that I had been taking the stairs at the hotel when time and strength allowed. 

In the handcuffing demonstration I was the guinea pig, I mean suspect. Cpl Jackson, a former Marine and now tough as nails female police officer used me to demonstrate how to arrest someone. After being in the cuffs only moments I was pleased that I had not chosen a life of crime. Being handcuffed is not all it is cracked up to be. Before any of my readers e-mail me to educate me in the pleasures of being handcuffed, let me remind you these were real police grade handcuffs, not padded leopard cuffs. :)

 After I was handcuffed, everyone was invited up to see how the cuffs should look when on properly. I was released and we all got to take turns handcuffing each other. Partnered with author Alexandra Sokoloff, I handcuffed her hands securely behind her back, or so I thought. Within seconds she was able to maneuver her legs through her arms so that her hands were now resting more comfortably in front of her body. While
this is something that most people would not be able to do, Alex was able to bring her arms to the front with little more than a tender wrist and broken fingernail. Luckily for me I was not a real cop, with a real gun. One she could have easily taken from me, had I thought her arms still securely behind her. We were told this was the reason they stopped using the chain handcuffs, instead switching to the unforgiving hinged cuff which is impossible to maneuver to the front. 

While some may think experiences such as these simply a perk of the job, I can attest that hands on scenarios help to heighten the creativity, moreover they help writers to get it right! 

While I had a blast, my voices must have enjoyed the experience as well, as they have been talking nonstop since returning home. For me this unexpected journey has opened new doors and taken me in a whole new direction. It has shown me that every now and then a person must step outside their comfort zone and see what life has to offer. I am sure glad I did as I feel this was only the beginning for me! 

Make sure to go my pictures gallery to see more pictures from the weekend.