Vermont Ice Castles/#IceCastles #StrattonMountain #Vermont #BirthdayMiracles


Once upon a time, born in the deepest part of winter’s heart and clasped to her frosty bosom there was a tiny Ice Princess. The princess loved Mother Winter with her whole being, but as the princess aged, a strange and terrible thing happened. Mother Winter’s gifts—the frozen land, ice, snow, and cold, which had once held endless possibilities for fun, became tedious and full of drudgery.





Deeply stinging from the princess’s resentment, Mother Winter made it her mission in 2015 to remind her daughter of all the precious moments they had once spent together, but no matter how stunning the storms or how many she sent, the Ice Princess remained angry and sullen.





It would take a miracle to thaw her daughter’s frozen heart and restore their relationship, but miracles do happen, especially on the birthdays of Ice Princesses, and most especially, for Ice Princesses lucky enough to be born on February 28th and living in the state of Vermont.



How do I know? Because I’m the Ice Princess in the above story.

What was the miracle? A visit to the  ICE CASTLE snuggled between two ski slopes in the Sun Bowl at Stratton Mountain in Vermont.


The Ice Castle at Stratton is a magical melding of ice caves, frozen waterfalls, glacial formations, towering archways, winding passageways, ice towers, thrones, benches, wishing wells, slides, igloos, hidden alcoves, caverns and tunnels. Sculpted hearts, crystal balls, and colored spheres are everywhere just waiting to be discovered.


The castle is crafted by “growing” icicles, harvesting them, piecing them together one icicle at a time. The framework is then sprayed with water. The results are unique and beyond spectacular.


My family and I explored the Ice Castle by day and then again by night when the lights embedded deep within the ice bounce and dance to the music piped into the castle.







If you want to see the Ice Castle Light Show, you can see it here.

Thanks to a birthday miracle and a wonderful family, the Ice Princess is back in the loving embrace of Mother Winter, and it’s wonderful so long as I remember to wear snow pants and a down coat.

Jack Frost is Off my Friend List/#Snowpocalypse2015

IMG_2943In the last seven day stretch of time, Vermont has seen two nor’easters and one hard-hitting clipper system. We’re drowning in the white stuff, but snow isn’t really my issue. The problem is it’s ten below frigid and mind-numbingly cold. I was outside for a little over two hours this evening, trying to unbury our two driveways for the third time, and even though I was dressed more than appropriately for the weather, by the time I hobbled back inside, I was frozen down to my very bones.

After a steaming hot shower, I found my way up to my writing desk, but quickly vacated it to huddle on the floor next to the gas heater with the dogs. My fingers and toes are rapidly regaining circulation, while vehemently protesting my earlier stupidity by aching like a son-of-a-gun.

IMG_1046Now I could go all sci-fi on you and suggest that the government is somehow manipulating our weather, but I’m afraid there is a far simpler answer. My friend, Jack Frost, the crusty little vagabond with multiple personalities has blown back into town with a vengeance this last week.

Jack’s a very popular fellow when he first arrives here in autumn. He makes the air deliciously nippy and covers every face he can find with frosty kisses. In addition, he’s the best company one can possibly keep at a fall bonfire.

In early winter, Jack is still quite tolerable and develops an artistic flair. Stroking the world with his silver crystal paintbrushes, shimmering masterpieces glisten on each glass surface he touches. This year he even left a portrait of himself on one of my windows. Check out his hair. Isn’t it fabulous?IMG_1130

Alas, in mid-to-late winter, Jack loses his mind and goes berserk. He shrouds the world in thick cases of ice. Pipes crack and burst. Cars won’t start. Roofs collapse. Vehicles skid all over the roads, which are slipperier than greased pigs. Tree limbs and telephone lines snap. To make matters worse, Jack Frost no longer just nips at your nose. No, he’s got a knife and he’s happy to cut your nose off your face if you dare poke it outside the door without protection. In short, Jack sometimes makes life miserable here in New England.

Tonight, however, was the last straw. Tonight Jack went too far when he turned murderous. Sitting on top of my slate roof, he launched an avalanche of snow at my head. I heard the slide coming, dropped the shovel and threw myself willy nilly into the nearest snowbank, out of the harm’s way. The only thing injured was my pride, but the shovel was not nearly as fortunate. It was buried alive. I frantically dug it out with gloved hands,while keeping an eye out for more snow slides from the roof. Unable to kill me, Jack made sure I suffered frostbite for rescuing my poor (and now thoroughly dented) shovel.

Not cool, Jack. Not cool. You’re off the friend list until next fall.

Would You Die For What You Believe?/#JeSuisCharlie

IMG_2023Tucked into a tiny basement in my small downtown is a coffee shop dripping with exquisite java and plenty of local color. I visit it whenever I want some really great coffee, which is frequently, because I have no talent for brewing the tasty beverage.

This weekend I was at the shop scarfing down a buttery scone and sipping my hometown blend of joe when two young men sauntered in and asked the barista to whip them up some cappuccinos. While waiting for their coffee, I overheard them discussing whether or not they would be willing to die for their beliefs,

As I eavesdropped on the pair, I realized their conversation had been prompted by the terrorist attack that killed twelve people at Charlie Hebdo, the weekly newspaper in Paris that had caricatured the Prophet Muhammed.

Still animatedly debating the question after they received their coffee, they climbed the steps and exited the shop.

I surreptitiously eyed the other costumers as I sat at my little table. They didn’t seem to be bothered by the boys’ exchange at all, but I couldn’t get their conversation out of my mind. The question thrummed through my head, over and over. “Would I die for my beliefs?”

The more I thought of it, the more indignant I became. Why should anyone have to die for thinking differently than another person about any subject? Isn’t the world wiser now? Haven’t we learned anything? Why haven’t we been able to eradicate hatred, bigotry and intolerance?

If I can live side by side with people of different faiths, politics, genders, colors, and beliefs with no problem, why can’t everyone else?

In my humble opinion, all anyone need do to peacefully co-exist with others in any society is to cultivate an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

Wouldn’t it be nice if future generations never had to discuss the question, “Would I die for what I believe?” over a cup of coffee.

A Christmas Story / No Act of Kindness is Ever Wasted

images-2Thanks to my usually superb time management skills, I rarely find myself rushing around in a holiday frenzy, but this year, time got away from me. I’m not sure why, but time has been in a full gallop since Thanksgiving and I’ve only been at a brisk trot.

Why did I wait until five days before Christmas to do my holiday shopping? Now I was going to have to fight my way through the multitudes of consumers at the mall. Bah humbug!

Feeling more frazzled than festive and still chasing time; I arrived at the mall and began my harried trek through the jam-packed shopping arena with my daughters.

Suddenly, the bustling throng in front of us miraculously parted. Hmmm. I could feel my special spidey sense (nurse’s intuition) kick into gear, but my eldest daughter spotted the trouble before I did. “Look, Mom. Someone fell.”

Fifty feet ahead of us, a round, old gentleman was on the floor, rocking back and forth on his hands and knees in front of a metal walker.

Immediately, a muscular guy stopped and gently helped the old man to his feet. The old man swayed and looked as if his legs might betray him again.

“There’s a chair over here,” called a woman from the back of the crowd.

“Drag it over here and put it underneath him,” said the man.

Assessing the situation silently, I inched forward as he lowered the man into the chair. Underneath his scruffy white whiskers, the man’s color was good; he was neither pale, nor ruddy. He took slow, even breaths, but I did notice his heavy blue coat was zipped to his neck. He didn’t grimace, cry out, or scowl as if he were in pain. A middle-aged woman with tense facial muscles and pursed lips hovered over him.

“There you go, buddy,” said the rescuer, giving the sweet old fellow a fist bump. “You good?”

The old man gave a mortified nod and dropped his gaze to his lap as the crowd of good Samaritans thinned.

I went to the man and knelt beside him. “I’m a nurse. It’s really hot in here. Do you mind if I unzip your coat and check your pulse?”

The man nodded and rewarded me with the biggest toothless grin I have ever seen.

I was relieved to find his pulse as strong and steady as the brown eyes gazing down at me.

“What happened?” I asked, unzipping his coat.

“My right knee gave out,” he mumbled.

“I’ve got a trick knee, too,” I commiserated, dropping my hand to his knee and touching it lightly. “Does this hurt?”

The man shook his head side-to-side and beamed at me again.

“I think you’re going to be just fine, but it would make me feel better if you used one of the mall wheelchairs while you finish your shopping?”

The man gave me another toothless grin. “Are you an angel?”

I snorted out a laugh as I got to my feet. “Not usually. Let’s send mall security to get you that wheelchair, and don’t get in anymore trouble, okay?”

He nodded agreeably and shot me another gummy grin, which hit me straight in my little Grinch heart, giving me the attitude adjustment I so desperately needed.

Thanks to my new friend and his contagious smile, I spent the afternoon grinning outrageously at everyone I met and cherishing the precious moments with my daughters. It was a very good day.

A Nurse’s Heartbreak/The Complexities Surrounding Emotional Abuse/Words Wound

UnknownNothing broke my heart more than watching #whyIstayed trend on twitter a few months ago. The story I’m about to tell you is true, although I have changed the names of those involved to protect their anonymity. To this day, it remains one of the saddest experiences of my nursing career. 

 After I graduated from my medical center’s nursing school and sat for my boards to become a registered nurse, a highly coveted job opened in the labor and delivery unit and by some miracle, (and possibly, the fact I had worked my way through nursing school as a tech in the same labor and delivery unit) I was hired for my dream job.

Today, however, I was not going to be enjoying said dream job. No one was in labor and the patient census was low on the obstetrics ward so I was going to be floated to the only other “clean” floor in the hospital. Yes, that’s right. I was going to the psych unit.  

“Hi there,” said the nurse in charge, tossing me a chart as I folded myself into the nearest chair at the empty report table. “I’m going to have you specialing a patient today.”

Specialing a patient is a psychiatric term which meant I would be accompanying a patient at all times throughout his or her day for the purposes of protection and observation. Oh, joy.

“Your patient is Beth Ann Monroe. She’s a sixty-year-old, married, white female, a retired dietician, and mother of four adult children. She’s been with us for the last two weeks.

“The chart says she’s here for her third suicide attempt in fifteen years.” I cocked my eyebrow in protest. “This is way out of my comfort zone.”

“Don’t worry,” she said as I skimmed the chart. “Beth Ann is going to be released today.”

“I don’t understand. Why are we specialing a patient who is well enough to be discharged?  She shouldn’t be going home if she’s a danger to herself.” I felt my shoulders begin to knot and creep up next to my ears.

“Relax. The patient’s husband is a prominent judge in town. Administration wants us to dot all our i’s and cross all our t’s with this case,” replied the charge nurse. “I am giving you a very simple assignment. We’re confident we’ve got the right therapy in place for Beth Ann now.”

I wanted to ask the woman why they hadn’t managed to put the appropriate care in place the last two times Beth Ann was here, but I thought it best to hold my tongue.

The charge nurse pulled a tape from an envelope and flicked it towards me. “Last month, Beth Ann gave her eighty-six-year-old mother these audiotapes for safekeeping. When she was admitted to the hospital, her mother brought them in to us. Listen to a few minutes of that tape. The judge’s charming public persona does not go home with him at night.”

I popped the tape into the recorder beside me. A loud male voice screaming a steady stream of profanity ripped through the air. It was very unnerving. Finally the swearing turned into language I could actually comprehend. “You’re so f*#king stupid! I don’t care what you think. I’ll go wherever the hell I want, Beth Ann, whenever I f*#king want! I told you I’m done talking to you. Now get the f*#k out of my study!”

“I’ve heard enough,” I said, snapping off the recorder. 

I realize from time to time, we all get angry enough to say hateful things and do mean things to the people we love, but judging by the mound of tapes sitting in front of the charge nurse, we weren’t talking about isolated hurtful behaviors from the judge. 

 “We now know that Beth Ann is in an emotionally abusive relationship. She’s married to a very angry man,” said the charge nurse.

I had to agreed with her there. The man certainly did sound angry. “I really don’t have any experience with stressed-out angry men,” I said, hoping my greenhorn status would get me out of this assignment.

“Stress and anger issues don’t cause abusive behavior and it is not an excuse for it either,” said the nurse tersely. “Abusive behavior is about power and control. Some men use emotional abuse as a way to handle their anger, frustration, guilt, lack of self-control, and possibly even low self-esteem. None of what has happened is Beth Ann’s fault and I’ve think we’ve finally gotten that across to her.”

“Where’s she going after she’s discharged?”


“Home? Is that a good idea?” I asked.

“Beth Ann wants to go home and this time we’ve got excellent aftercare lined up for her. She’ll have a different therapist who specializes in abusive relationships and no more marriage counseling.”

“No more marriage counseling? By the sounds of what I just heard, they need marriage counseling, and lots of it.”

They do, but not the traditional kind of marriage therapy. Traditional therapy assumes both people are equally responsible for the problems in a relationship. The only thing marriage counseling succeeded in doing in the past was to make Beth Ann feel worse about herself than she already did.”

“I really don’t feel qualified or comfortable to care for this patient. Don’t you think it would be better to have a more experienced nurse with her?”

“You’ll do fine. Beth Ann is in a really good place now and she’ll enjoy having you as her nurse. I should mention that when she was first admitted she was extremely anxious and had some problems with elocution, but in the two weeks she’s been with us, these problems have improved significantly.”

I sighed and nodded. Anymore arguing with the charge nurse and I’d risk insubordination. Specialing a patient wasn’t hard and I’d done it before. I’d stay with the patient during her daily activities and have therapeutic conversations when the opportunities presented themselves throughout the shift. 

Still, I couldn’t help but have misgivings about this particular case. What did I know about emotional and relational abuse? I had grown up in a stable, loving family, and I was only twenty-one years old. For Cripe’s sake! Beth Ann was sixty and had clearly been suffering emotional abuse for longer than I had been alive. I was out of element…out of my depth…out of my comfort zone, and honestly terrified I’d say or do something wrong to make her situation worse.

I stepped out of the report room fervently hoping the charge nurse hadn’t made the biggest mistake of her career to find a thirty-something-year-old woman waiting for us at the front desk. “Who is Beth Ann’s nurse today?” she asked.

“That would be me,” I said, smiling and stepping forward to shake the woman’s hand. Scowling, she read my name tag, then she shoved the photo album she carried underneath her arm into my open palm. “Please give this to my mother. I want to remind her who she is supposed to be.”

That being said, the woman spun on her heels, stalked over to the locked exit, and waited for a staff member to buzz her out.

I was glad the woman was leaving. Even as a novice psych nurse, I knew hostility wasn’t therapeutic.

“I’ll take that,” said the charge nurse, relieving me of the photo album and placing it on the desk next to the unit secretary. “I’ll check to see if it’s okay with the doctor for Beth Ann to have it. In the meantime, I’ll take you to meet your patient. She’s waiting for a group on intimate partner abuse to begin.”

I don’t know what I was expecting when I saw Beth Ann, but certainly someone frumpier and more depressed than the woman I saw. She was a petite, well-dressed, gray-haired, grandmotherly woman. She smiled as we approached and greeted me with a warm handshake after the charge nurse introduced us. Relief flooded through me and I finally relaxed. 

Beth Ann and I entered the group and sit in a circle of five other women. The group leader started by asking the women to share what living with emotional abuse had done to them.

“My guard is always up and I’m anxious all the time,” began Beth Ann. “I’m not allowed to have a different opinion. If I have a different opinion, I’m disloyal and not to be trusted.” The other women in the group nodded their heads as if they understood exactly what Beth Ann meant.

“I don’t want to see my friends or family anymore. I’d rather be alone. It’s the only time I feel safe,” said another young woman.

“Me too,” agreed the woman sitting next to me. “The only time I don’t piss anyone off is when I’m sleeping, but sleep is impossible. I don’t ever feel safe enough to sleep.”

“I’m depressed and on the verge of tears all the time,” confided a woman on the other side of Beth Ann. “I find myself wishing for my death on a daily basis.” Empathy dripping from her fingertips, Beth Ann reached for the woman’s hand and squeezed it.

There was a constant lump in my throat as I listened to what these women were saying.  They were experiencing unimaginable pain, shame, guilt, despair and anxiety. 

The group leader passed around a list of things that were considered emotional abuse. She told us emotional abuse was learned behavior and a choice. It follows a pattern which is repeated and sustained. If left unchecked, the abuse will get worse, not better. The object of abuse is to gain power over you. The abuser doesn’t care if the power is in the form of your adoration, your fear or even your loathing. If they can make you dance to the tune they’re playing, it feels good to them.

This was astounding information to hear. And had the group leader really just said emotional abuse was a learned behavior? I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around that kernel of wisdom. I supposed that it could be true, but it was hard for me to comprehend because my father was a kind, gracious, gentle man. He hadn’t attended any type of school where men learned to behave badly.


1)   Verbal abuse

2)     Harassment

3)   Belittling

     4)    Swearing, vulgar language, insults

      5)     Yelling and screaming

      6)     Intentionally embarrassing you in public

      7)     Blaming their abusive/unhealthy behavior on you or others

      8)     Threatening to take your children from you

      9)     Jealously, excessive possessiveness, and interrogation

    10)    Withholding affection

    11)    Humiliating you and ridiculing you

    12)       Spiritual abuse/Putting down your culture and spiritual beliefs

    13)       Silence and withdrawal

    14)    Symbolic aggression (such a slamming doors, rolling eyes, slumping, and                      intimidating gestures)

    15)      Controlling everything, steamrolling over you

    16)    Gaslighting

    17)    Starting rumors about you or telling false stories about you

    18)      Controlling and allowing you no access to the finances

    19)    Isolating you from friends and family

    20)       Picking fights

At the bottom of the page was another list with the most prevalent types of physical abuse.

1)   Kicking

2)   Biting and spitting

3)   Pushing

4)   Choking

The behaviors listed on the paper were overt behaviors, but what the group leader wanted to talk about next were the more covert behaviors that these women had experienced.

One of the ladies shared that her husband never let her finish a thought or a sentence. He constantly interrupted everything she said and later became furious with her when she honestly couldn’t remember the point she had been trying to make to him when she began the conversation.

Another woman talked about how her husband told jokes and stories at her expense when they were out with friends and family. She’d begged him countless times not to share these things because they weren’t accurate and painted her in a bad light, but he wouldn’t stop.

If she made the mistake of calling her husband out on these jokes or stories in public, he’d look at her as if she were crazy and tell her she was being stupid or overly sensitive.  Everyone laughed, except her. He’d tell people she was overly sensitive and emotional.  “Jeez, Helen, the man can’t even tell a joke without you jumping down his throat,” they’d say.

“The shame of the whole matter is the few people I confided the abuse to…they didn’t really believe me,” continued Helen. “My husband was absolutely charming to them, and even when those same people caught glimpses of the abuse, they refused to take a stand. No matter how outrageous I considered his behavior, they’d ignored it. They didn’t want to be involved. They often told me what I was experiencing were petty squabbles that every couple had and I was over-reacting. They’d tell me if I ignored his behavior, he’d stop it.”

“What did those experiences teach you?”

“I don’t know.”

“You do know,” prodded the group leader. 

Helen shifted uncomfortably in her chair and sighed. “Eventually I didn’t want to go out anymore. I didn’t want to be around people. I didn’t trust anybody. I guess I wasn’t really sure if I even trusted myself. Maybe I was the overly sensitive mess my husband insisted that I was and…maybe I actually was the one victimizing my husband, as he claimed. It made me feel crazy.”

The group leader leaned forward so that she could look directly at Helen. “It made you feel crazy because it’s what we call crazy-making behavior. It’s designed to make you feel shame and bewilderment. Repetitive inappropriate communications with someone you trust and his enlisting people to help him reinforce that to you caused severe emotional pain and scarring. Because no one called your husband on his inappropriate behavior and communications, it served to perpetuate the cycle by reinforcing to your husband how much in control he is during these situations.”

My heart ached for Helen. The courage it took to broach the subject with another a person, only to have those people trivialize and minimize what you were experiencing. It would have wrecked me, too.

The group leader decided further explanation was in order. “Denial is an integral part of emotional abuse. Friends and family often minimize and deny what is happening.”

“But in all fairness,” said Beth Ann, “how can they understand what is happening to you, when you can’t even understand why you’re being treated like the enemy? I’ve always had my husband’s best interest at heart. He knows I’m not his enemy.”

The group leader shook her head slowly side to side. “He doesn’t know that. Generally, an abusive man considers almost everyone his enemy, even the ones closest to him. You see, it’s about power and control. Think about it, if someone is your enemy, your goal is to diminish your enemy’s strength. You must render the enemy powerless, helpless, and weak. You must control your enemy so that he cannot control you.”

“That’s just sad,” sniffed one of the women.

As I continued to listen to how the threads of these women’s lives had unspooled and tangled into unrecognizable knots, I wanted to sob. The common theme I kept hearing from the women in the group, was none of them were truly believed. Many had tried to get help from clergy, friends, family, psychiatrists, social workers, and therapists. In some shocking instances, the women were even blamed for provoking the abuse they were suffering. The self-worth of these women had been completely annihilated. They felt useless and worthless and, to my horror, some of them even believed they deserved what they got.

My head throbbed. The energy it took to sit there with a relaxed, interested look on my face was enormous. I wanted to cry, but more than anything else—I wanted this soul-shattering group therapy session to end. However, our fearless group leader still wasn’t done. She went on to inquire why the women stayed in their relationships.

“I stay because he hasn’t hit me. If he hit me, I’d leave him and be able to get custody of my children,” declared one woman.

“I have no idea what would happen if I left and I don’t want to find out,” said the woman next to me.”

“I’d lose my children,” said the woman sitting by Beth Ann.

“Because in between the bad times, we have some really good times,” said Helen.

“I know he can be better and change back to the person he was,” insisted someone else.

“Forty years,” whispered Beth Ann. “I’ve been with him for forty years.”

“What I think I hear you saying is that you’ve invested too much time in the relationship for you to leave. Is that right?” asked the group leader.

“Yes, that’s right. I want his horridness to end, not my relationship. I love my husband.” Beth Ann eyes glazed over with tears as she dropped her gaze to the balled up hands in her lap.

I pretended to scratch my eyebrow and stole a glance at my watch. Thirty more minutes until group ended? I’d never survive. Surrounded by all this aching and grief, I could actually taste the pain these women endured and it left my tongue dry and thick.

I’d rather all six of these women were screaming in the throes of labor because at least I’d know what to do for them and what to say to them. I could comfort them in all the little ways I knew and assure them their pain was temporary. I knew how to keep laboring women focused on the end goal, the light at the end of the tunnel, the prize for all the pain they endured. Here in this group, I felt I could do nothing of any significant value.

These ladies seated in the circle around me were veterans and heroines in the private war waged on them daily. They endured unimaginable metal anguish and they were broken shells of their former selves. Although I didn’t have the slightest idea how to act around these women, I knew it was important to be present in the moment with them. I could do that much. I could listen without judgment, believe them, and respect them.

Our group leader decided to end the group with a lesson into the possible roots of domestic abuse. She felt very strongly that the roots of domestic abuse, both emotional and physical, were established by the pervasive attitudes that existed towards women for centuries.

Historically women were treated as property. Women couldn’t own anything and women had no right to vote, because what we thought wasn’t important. A man could use physical force, if necessary, in relating to his wife.

She read a paragraph from a book published in 1881 by Harriet H. Robinson called Massachusetts in the Woman Suffrage Movement to illustrate her point. “By the English common law, her husband was her lord and master. He had the custody of her person, and of her minor children. He could ‘punish her with a stick no bigger than his thumb,’ and she could not complain against him.”

She said some men were simply modeling the behavior they had been taught by their own fathers and their fathers before them. For some men, the abusive behavior was a defense mechanism to reduce their own emotional stress in a relationship and maintain control. 

The group leader went on to say that children who see or hear their mothers being abused are victims of emotional abuse as well. Growing up in such an environment is terrifying and severely affects a child’s psychological and social development. Male children may learn to model aggressive behavior while female children learn that being treated badly is just a normal part of relationships.

I began to wonder if the group leader had an off switch I could push. I just couldn’t take in more words, but still she went on.

“Men can further devastate their families by not providing attention in a sensitive and responsive manner, by being detached and uninvolved, by choosing to interact only when necessary and by treating people like objects, not human beings. That’s all for this morning’s session. This afternoon, we’ll talk about fully becoming our authentic selves, acknowledging and expressing our anger, and pursuing our own interests and needs…even if it opens the possibility of displeasing others.”

Thank God! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! The group had ended! I felt guilty for being relieved, but it was excruciating to be around all that suffering. How did the group leader do this everyday? Did she come with a Teflon interior or had she just become desensitized over time? My interior was Velcro and I was sure it would take weeks to peel my heart free of the pain I’d experienced while sitting there in that group.

The charge nurse tapped me on the shoulder and I rose to face her. She was holding Beth Ann’s photo album. “Two patients were just admitted to Labor and Delivery. I’ve been told they’ll need you back if they have another admission.”

I tried not to look too cheerful about the possibility of returning to my floor, but inside I was giddy.

The charge nurse turned to Beth Ann. “I have something for you. It’s from your daughter, Beatrice. She thought you’d like it.”

“Thank you. I’ll take it back to my room, if that’s okay with my shadow here,” said Beth Ann.

“Sounds like a plan to me,” I replied.

We quietly strolled back to Beth Ann’s room. She pulled the bedside table towards her with one hand and motioned for me to sit on the edge of the bed beside her.

I watched as Beth Ann turned page after page of her life and her memories. When she done, she drew in a deep breath and fixed a steady, unflinching gaze on me. “It’s funny.  I look at these pictures now and all I see are lies. Lies I told myself and lies I told my family. My life started off so perfectly. I don’t know how I ruined it all.”

Okay, this was exactly what I was afraid was going to happen. I didn’t know whether to ask Beth Ann to explain further or let her know right away she wasn’t the one who ruined anything. I needed to say something remotely therapeutic and say it now. So I said, “I’m not a full-time psych nurse, but I do know none of this was your fault. Your husband has to learn how to handle his stress and frustration in a constructive way. That is his responsibility, not yours.”

“So they keep saying here, but I can’t help thinking if I had been a better woman, a better wife, or if I had given my husband more love and attention—more understanding, he’d handle his frustration in a different way. My priest seems to think so too.” She turned here attention back to the photo album and traced the tips of her finger over the faces of a family portrait. “Bottom line, I failed him and I failed my children.”

“No. No you did not,” I said, shaking my head emphatically. “Your priest is wrong.”

Just then, the charge nurse appeared in the doorway. “Your unit has two more patients in labor. I need to send you back.”

I looked at Beth Ann. All I wanted to do was to pull her to me, give her a hug and will all my strength into her, but I barely knew her and it didn’t seem like the right thing to do.  Instead, I whispered, “I admire you. You stay strong.”

Sometimes someone else’s belief in you when you’re feeling weak and defeated is an incredibly powerful thing and it was all I could offer Beth Ann.

Another nurse arrived to take my place. Beth Ann smiled and waved to me as I left her room. I walked back to the locked exit with the charge nurse. I told her about the exchange between Beth Ann and myself as she unlocked the door for me to leave. “I know I’m not an experienced psych nurse, but I get the sense Beth Ann is not remotely ready for discharge,” I said emphatically.

“I’ll tell her team what she told you. Don’t worry, they won’t let her go if she’s not ready,” the charge nurse assured me.

I headed back to the labor and delivery unit to finish my shift. Thank God it was Friday and I had the weekend off and Monday, too. I felt as wrung out and crushed as the clothes my grandmother put through her old-fashioned wringer washing machine. 

I was just beginning to get back to my normal self when I reported to work on Tuesday. I changed into scrubs, washed my hands, collected a cup of coffee and headed to the backroom. It was still early so I’d have plenty of time to read the morning paper someone had graciously left on the counter.

I flipped through it, scanning the headlines to see what interested me. Then I saw it. Beth Ann Monroe’s smiling face staring up at me from the obituaries. My hand began to tremble and my coffee spilled over the edges of my cup and onto the paper. I watched as it seeped over Beth Ann’s neck and head. 

I covered my mouth to hold in my screams and headed for the nearest bathroom. I just made it before my body unleashed the most ugly fit of crying I’d ever experienced. I held onto the sink, rocking back and forth over it like a mad woman. “What did you do, Beth Ann? What did you do?” I said out loud between long choking sobs.

For the longest time I blamed myself for Beth Ann’s death, but as the years passed and I gained more life experience, I realized what happened to Beth Ann did not fall solely on my shoulders; rather it was a group effort by all of us, all her friends, family, doctors, nurses, therapists, mental health workers, clergy, and even society at large.

We fail women when we do not protect and value them. We fail women when we treat them as worthless and powerless. We fail women when we don’t listen to them, or believe them. We fail woman when we don’t support them. We fail women when we trivialize and minimize their experiences. And above all, we fail women when we don’t teach our sons to treasure and respect the women in their lives.

As a writer I know how powerful and merciless words can be. We can’t just hurl them about indiscriminately. Words have the power to wound deeply. Some people will heal from those wounds, but others will not. I think we could all agree, the world would be a better place if words were not wielded like weapons.

I could do nothing to help Beth Ann, but I can honor her memory in the only way I know how—with words.

The Lamentations of Beth Ann

 I’m so tired of living in constant strife,                                                                              And you blaming me for what’s wrong with your life.

You’re so wrapped up in your anger and resentment,                                                   That you choose to forgo what could be contentment.

You devalue, demean and deliberately hurt,                                                                  And refuse to believe that you treat me like dirt.

You value control above all things and all else,                                                             But you fail to realize what you’ve done to yourself.

No attempt means no failure, so you don’t even try.                                                     You checked out of life without a goodbye.

It’s still not too late to assess and repair,                                                                      And stop playing your game of soul solitaire.

I go through each day unseen and unheard,                                                          Unloved and unhappy. It’s more than absurd.

When will you see through all your blindness,                                                             What I wanted from you was a little kindness?

Still, you can’t hurt someone who no longer exists,                                                      Who died a slow death by your words, not your fists.

L. L. Reynolds

New England Corn Mazes/Fall Fun/Gaines Farm Corn Maze/Guilford, Vermont


Color me happy! Autumn has blazed to life in New England and I love everything about it. Everything. The brilliant leaves, the crisp air, the apple cider, the fall festivals, the pumpkins, the colorful mums, the bonfires, and the corn mazes. My family and the beta-readers of my manuscript are acutely aware of my affinity for the latter. The pages of Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom contain an incredible 50-acre corn maze and what happens there changes the lives of thirteen children forever, Rafe’s most of all.



The idea for the corn maze in my manuscript came from a much smaller, but no less spectacular corn maze, tucked into a picturesque valley in Guilford, Vermont, which I love and visit annually.




The Gaines Farm is one of the oldest working farms in Vermont. Established in 1782, it has been farmed by seven generations of the Gaines family and operates on 200 acres. In addition to their fabulous corn maze, the farm offers a baby animal barn, hayrides, horseback riding, an iron cow train, pumpkin bowling and a corn cannon.






A hayride was the first thing on my list of things to do. Excited children and big tractors always make me smile.







Unloading the iron cow kiddie ride so more youngsters could pile into the hay wagon.







We stopped and fed some adorable bovines in the pasture.








After the hayride, I entered the maze. It took a little time, but I got out without having to place a 911 call.





The reason we don’t swear in a corn maze. No bad language because the corn has tender ears.






The reason you don’t run in a corn maze.






Once we got to the bridge in the middle of the maze, no one wanted to leave.








When I got to the top, I understood why.







It was so beautiful up there, it made my chest hurt. I didn’t want to leave either.





Each year, after I complete the maze, I treat myself to a cup of hot mulled cider and some fried dough at the concession stand.






The pumpkin cart.







Made my way through the “farmtastic” baby animal barn.















I caught a rare moment when there were no little ones digging through the corn box.






I had the most “a-maizing” time.   (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.) The maze is open for two more weekends in 2014. Put it on your list of things to do and you won’t be sorry. I promise.


The Grave of Mehitable Brown/Coimetrophobia/A Halloween Story

I’ve always loved my neighbors, but living next door to them has done nothing to enhance my popularity in the fifth grade. In fact, I’ve lost many friends because of my neighbors. I guess I should explain. I live next door to a graveyard.


Fear of cemeteries, or coimetrophobia, is quite common among my friends. I never developed this fear because I was raised with a no-nonsense view of life and death. Everything lives and everything dies. Death is unavoidable and it’s best to be practical about such things, and being eleven is not an excuse to be unrealistic. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not anxious to join my neighbors on their property any time in the near future, but I’m not afraid of it, either. As far as I’m concerned, death is the next great adventure. Why fear the inevitable?

Not everyone feels the same way, especially my ex-best friend Emily and I’m partially responsible for that. I know what I did was wrong and I feel really bad about what happened. Well…mostly. Allow me to elucidate.

I spent months trying to persuade Emily to visit my house and she’d spent the equal amount of time dodging my requests because I live next to a cemetery. She finally agreed to come for an afternoon, the day before Halloween, but she absolutely refused to spend the night.

“Everyone knows spirits hang out around their graves. They’re probably in your house, too…maybe even in your room,” said Emily.

I giggled. “There are no spirits in my house and, for your information, they don’t hang out around their graves. Think about it. If you died, and had the ability to go anywhere in the world, are you seriously going to stay by your tombstone waiting for someone to visit you? No, you’re going to go someplace fabulous, like Buckingham Palace, or the Great Pyramids of Eygpt, or at the very least, Paris.”

“Take it or leave,” replied Emily.

“Fine.” I glowered. “Have it your way.”

The next day after school, Emily rode the bus home with me and we spent the most incredible afternoon playing games in my yard within sight of the cemetery.

“It’s really not as scary as I thought it would be here,” she said.

“I told you so,” I singsonged.

“I can’t believe you play in there, though.”

“I do not play in there. I wouldn’t disrespect the dead like that.”

“Then what do you in there?

The ancient hearse from the cemetery. Now displayed in the Cole Museum. Bangor, Maine.

The ancient hearse from the cemetery. Now displayed in the Cole Museum. Bangor, Maine.

I shrugged. I didn’t feel it wise to tell Emily about the old horse-drawn glass hearse in the carriage house on the grounds of the cemetery, where I frequently envisioned my own youthful demise and resplendent funeral procession. Sliding onto the coffin castors in the back of the hearse, I’d silently repose myself and imagine my body solemnly rolling through the village drawn by six magnificent black stallions as my distraught friends and neighbors openly wept and rent their garments in true biblical fashion.

“Did you hear me?” asked Emily.

“Of course, I heard you. All I do is walk around imagining how some of the people buried in the graveyard were in life and then I tell their stories. After all, everyone wants to be remembered, don’t you think?”

“You’re kind of creepy,” said Emily with a scowl.

“Come on, I’ll show you.” I started walking towards the cemetery.

Emily wrinkled her forehead. I could see her pulse throbbing in her neck, but she followed me anyway. Dried leaves crunched under our feet as we made our way along one of the dirt roads perusing the crumbling monuments.

To my surprise, Emily seemed fascinated. “Look. Tobias Strong. Died 1866. Age 4months. Aw, he was only a baby.”

“So what do you think happened to him, Em? Give him a story. Everyone needs a story.”

Emily wrapped her arms around herself and shivered. “Well…maybe he got pneumonia. His parents didn’t have access to a doctor, being so far out in the country like this, and he died. His parents were inconsolable.”

I smiled encouragingly and nodded. It was a good thing she couldn’t hear what I was thinking because my mind was staging a mini-riot. It was the lamest story I’d ever heard. I would have gone with a tragic kidnapping plot myself, but, in all fairness, Emily was new to the graveyard story game, I had to give her chance.

“How about this one?” I pointed to a monument of a tiny stone cherub with chipped wings.

“Patience Gunn. Loving wife. Born 1877. Died 1899.” said Emily, clasping her hands over her chest. “I believe Patience died while giving birth to her first child. Her husband never married again because she was his one true love and he was never the same after.”

I rolled my eyes behind my friend’s back. She obviously knew nothing about the art of storytelling. Patience Gunn had clearly been murdered. She had not died in childbirth.

007Next, I led Emily to a very special headstone. Even she, couldn’t mess up this man’s story.

I read the epitaph out loud. “Henry Clay. Died August 22, 1884. Age 120 years. I have reached the goal, where death leaves in its eternal rest my weary soul.”

Emily looked at me quizzically. “Is that true? He was actually one hundred and twenty?”

“That’s what the tombstone says and that’s why he needs a spectacular story.”

“He certainly does,” she agreed. “Henry Clay was a hardworking farmer married to an amazing woman who bore him ten sons. He passionately loved his family. His one regret in life was that he never had a daughter. He peacefully passed away in his sleep surrounded by his ten sons, fifty-six grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.”

Frowning, I pressed a hand to my lips to hide it. It took every effort I could muster to keep from pulling the hair from my head. In my mind, Henry Clay was the slave of a wealthy Massachusetts family who righteously denounced slavery and freed Henry. He moved to Maine where he became a conductor on the underground railroad, traveling to plantations in the south pretending to be a slave in order to guide others to sweet freedom. In later years he became a fur trapper. Unfortunately, he contracted rabies from a fisher cat and died quite unexpectedly.

For the next fifteen minutes I watched Emily pause at various headstones and listened to her prattle on about love, romance and loss, until my head ached, my stomach churned and I slowly took leave of my senses.

“My turn.” I said, pointing to an ancient obelisk framed against the setting sun. It was time for Emily to experience the magic of a real storyteller. “This is the tale of Mehitable Brown told in her own words.”

Emily clapped her hands excitedly.

“My life was an ordeal of the most grievous kind, because I made a disastrous romantic match. I don’t remember a living moment that wasn’t filled with agony, struggle or suffering. Perhaps I was happy in my childhood, but I have no recollection of those times. In fact, I remember nothing before I met that monstrous man. He was a tyrant, a ruthless, loathsome coward. His spirit was so full of darkness, the demons lamented the day he left hell to be born on Earth. In life, there was no surviving his poisonous presence and I died long before they put my body in the ground at your feet.”

Emily gave a horrified cough, placed a fingernail in her mouth and began to chew. I could see her uneasiness lurking and the gooseflesh raising on her arms, but I didn’t care. I’d heard enough of her cutesy graveyard yarns to last a lifetime.

“I laughed ominously and flung my arms out towards Emily. “I deserve another chance at life and I shall have it. Come to me, my pretty child,” I whispered wickedly. My…pretty…little…Emily!”

Emily’s eyes widened in terror, but that only encouraged me. I took a menacing step towards the poor girl and lunged for her.

Emily bolted from the cemetery shrieking her lungs out.

What can I say? Halloween seems to bring out the devil in me. In hindsight, I should feel worse about losing my best friend, but it never would have worked out between us, anyway. Our creative differences were far too great for us to overcome.

Make Your Query Sing / Find the Rainbow Connection

IMG_2569Honestly, I’m often baffled by the outrageous goings-on in my overly-active imagination, but I’m a writer, and my mind’s madcap flight of fancy is what makes writing an adventure, not a job. My brain rarely rests and when I dream, things can go from moderately kooky to downright bizarre rather quickly.

A few nights ago, after I had safely tucked myself into bed for the evening, I heard voices coming from the downstairs living room, so I did what every idiot in one of those abysmally bad horror flicks does, I went to investigate.

I tiptoed into the hall and down the stairs. Squatting on the last riser, I peered through the banisters at a wonderfully ornate, carved oak door. What? That’s not supposed to be there.

Intrigued, I cautiously approached the door and reached for the smooth silver handle. Suddenly, the door swung open, its massive hinges groaning impressively. As I stared into what should have been my living room, I saw two lovely ladies and two handsome gentleman with their hands clasped solemnly on the desks in front of them

I recognized them instantly and I felt the color in my face draining, drop by drop. The people gazing back at me were four of the ten, prestigious literary agents I had been cyber-stalking…er…I mean…researching for the last year. The Towering Ten, as I liked to call them, are my “dream” agents, the ones to whom I wish to eventually submit my manuscript, hoping to find the Rainbow Connection: The magical, mystical, bond between a writer and agent where all our mutual dreams come true.

I awkwardly folded my arms over my scanty nightie, cursing myself for not having the sense, or decency, to have thrown on a bathrobe and fidgeted like a sugared up six-year-old.

“Do you know why you’re here?” asked the honey-haired lady agent.

“No, I can’t say that I do,” I whispered. Knees quivering, I sank onto a couch, which was conveniently facing their desks.

“This is a query letter intervention,” said the older male agent. “If you, as a writer, cannot communicate your story to us in an effective and compelling manner, then it’s highly unlikely that your manuscript is ready for us.”

“No, no,” I protested. The manuscript is ready, I swear. It’s been edited and polished to a high-gloss. What’s wrong with my query letter, anyway?”

The young male agent shook his head and gave me a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look. “We hardly know where to begin,” he said sadly.

A beautiful older lady in a red suit chimed in. “Your query letter is of vital importance to us, and as cruel as it may sound to you, it’s how we agents sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.”

“But…but…” I stammered. “I’ve attended numerous webinars on the subject, as well as breakout sessions at several writing conferences, plus I’ve purchased and read every book ever written about queries. I have done everything they said to do. My letter was professional, courteous, short and informative…wasn’t it?”

“It was and, frankly, it bored us to tears,” snapped the younger male agent.

Ouch! That stung!

“Your query didn’t sing,” said the honey-haired young lady.

I crossed my arms and scowled sullenly. “I didn’t know it was supposed to sing. Is it supposed to tap dance, too?”

“If you’re going to make snide comments, we can leave,” replied the older gentleman.

I started to panic. I had four members of my “dream team” in my house and I didn’t want them to go. I wanted to hear what they had to say. “No, no, no. I’m sorry. Please continue.”

The lady in red crossed her legs and leaned back in her chair. “Your writing didn’t transport us to the world you created in your manuscript. Your query had no umph, no spirit, no pizzaz, no je ne sais quoi.”

I hung my head in shame. She was right, my query didn’t have any razzle-dazzle and it certainly didn’t showcase my writing ability.

“Agents get hundreds of ho-hum queries on a daily basis,” she continued. “If you want us to sit up and take notice of your writing, then send us a query where your talent and passion leap off the page and straight into our hearts. However, if you can’t manage that, you’ve got to at least send us an interesting query.”

“Okay. Point taken,” I said. “How do I make my query less boring?”

“Write your query in an irresistible voice, let it entice us, seduce us, enchant us, woo us.  We want a rainbow connection as much as you do,” said the young male agent.

My hand flew to my mouth and I sat in stunned silence. How did he know about the rainbow connection?

“Take our advice and rewrite your query before you blow your chances with the rest of The Towering Ten and, for the love of all that is holy, wear clothes the next time you visit an agent’s office,” said the honey-haired agent.

Another fair point. Appropriately chastised, I slunk out of the room and back up to my bed, where I wrote down every word they’d just said to me.

Although I endured a firestorm of criticism from my “dream” agents, I wasn’t about to take it personally. Edits and constructive criticism make me a better writer.

I’m still not sure if my query can sing or dance yet, but I think it croaked and wiggled the other day, so things are looking up.

Writer’s Word of the Week : Pusillanimous | Birds in the Bush

Usually birds scatter when I enter the backyard, but today was different.  Several speckled, iridescent-black birds with yellow beaks had congregated on top of the backyard blueberry cages. They glared at me, their eyes accusatory, piercing and fierce as I approached.IMG_1841

“I know you’re upset about this,” I said soothingly, “but last year I didn’t get any blueberries. This year it’s my turn.”

Puffing out their feathers in a fluffing display, they spread their wings, rotating them in an aggressive manner as I continued moving towards them.

“Oh, stop!” I called loudly. “No need to be vulgar.”

I couldn’t very well expect them to be polite, after all, they were hungry starlings and rude behavior is pretty much the norm for them, but when I saw wild flutterings arising from inside the cages, I knew what was causing their aggressive posturing.  The birds were in protection mode.  Three young birds had pushed their way under the netting and were gorging themselves on MY berries.

IMG_1843Howling mad, I dropped the bowl I was carrying and sprinted towards my precious blue nuggets. Unzipping the netting I quickly provided an escape route for my feathered friends. Then I promptly zipped the blueberries back into their protective gear and secured the gaps the birds had made at the bottom of the structure to gain access to the fruit.

“You little devils,” I whispered as I bent to retrieve my bowl.  I heard an ugly squawk and felt something slap the back of my head.IMG_1847

Rubbing my noggin,  I cautiously straightened as more starlings massed onto the blueberry cages and fencing in my backyard.

Son of a gun!  This was not a good…not good at all!

Intent on teaching me a lesson, the starlings began to buzz me from behind, while their fellow bird brains loudly vocalized their support and approval.

Not wanting to be hit in the head again, and fearing I was in the birdie equivalent of the Colosseum, I was suddenly overcome by the most pusillanimous inclination, I ran to the house like a lily-livered coward, arms flapping protectively above my head. (Which brings me to the word pusillanimous. It is an adjective meaning: lacking courage, timid, weak, cowardly.)

I was bent over the kitchen sink, gasping loudly, when the hubster entered the kitchen. “How come you’ve got feathers in your hair? Were you playing Pocahontas in the backyard?”

“No, I was playing Tippi Hedron.”  I replied, turning to look at him. “Those birds out there just tried to peck my soul out through my eyes.”

“Ooooo.  Do it again.  This time I’ll watch from the window.”

I narrowed my eyes, pressed my lips together and glared. “Go away.”

The hubster wisely retreated.  Was it pusillanimous behavior on his part?  You be the judge.



Hilarious Southwest Airline Personnel / Comedy-in-the-Skies

I hate flying.  I really do…or at least I did.  I changed my mind after my first flight on Southwest Airlines in 2013.  airplane

Southwest’s trademark hilarity started on my way down the jetway when a phone rang.  “It’s for you,” said the jetway attendant, extending the phone to the woman trying to board ahead of me.

The woman laughed and pushed his hand away.  The jetway attendant returned the phone to his ear and said, “She doesn’t want to talk to you right now and I can’t say that I blame her.  Apparently, you’re the reason she’s leaving on a jet plane.  Can I take a message?”

I bit my lip and boarded the plane, trembling with laughter.

“We have no assigned seating on any Southwest flights and you are free to sit in a seat of your own choosing,” said a male flight attendant over the microphone.  “However, I would like to offer first-time passengers a word of advice.  Do not sit next to anyone who is naked.  You will find that naked people on a plane cannot be trusted.”

“Widely known fact,” chuckled the man behind me.

I giggled like an idiot, found a seat and waited for the obligatory, boring safety announcements to begin.

“Direct your attention to the flight attendants standing in front of you as they will be demonstrating how to fasten your seatbelt,” boomed the male voice through the microphone again.  “Everyone needs to wear a seatbelt because this airplane is going to be going very…very…very fast.  If you don’t know how to operate a seatbelt, we will help you locate the person who is supposed to be supervising you while you are out and about in public.”

“There may be fifty ways to leave your lover, but I assure you, there are only six ways to leave this aircraft so please pay attention,” said the voice.  “The flight attendant in the aisle is indicating the exits with her hands.”

“If you’re traveling with small children or someone acting like a small child today…I’m sorry,” continued the disembodied voice.  “In the unlikely event we lose cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the compartments above you.  Place it over your nose and mouth first.  Next, please decide which child has the most potential or is the least likely to place you in a nursing home when you are older and the secure their oxygen mask before helping the other little ingrates that may be travelling with you.”

“Also, in the unlikely event we land near water today and you have to get wet.  You may keep the lovely yellow party vest and the seat cushion from this airplane to make up for any inconvenience this type of landing may have caused you, compliments of Southwest Airlines.”

“Of course, this is a non-smoking flight.  Federal law prohibits tampering with, disabling, or destroying any smoke detector in an airplane lavatory.  In addition to the large fine imposed by the federal government for this offense, the flight attendants will ask you to step outside and hold onto one of the plane’s wings for the duration of the flight.  So remember, if your grip isn’t what it used to be, smoking is not advised.”

“Lastly, if there is something you’d like to make this trip more enjoyable, please mention it…to someone who cares when we’ve reached our final destination.”

Was our comedian done yet?  Hardly!  He easily took the edge of our nerves like a pro when the plane hit some pretty significant turbulents.  “Would the children in the back of the plane please sit down and stop rocking the plane?  This is not a Ferris wheel ride,” he said sternly.

When we landed at O’Hare, the plane spent an inordinate amount of time taxiing to the gate.  The seasoned flight attendant could tell we were getting annoyed and antsy. “Welcome to Chicago,” he said.  “Here at Southwest we fly you halfway and drive you the rest of the way.  That’s how we keep our prices so low.  Let’s face it, if you could afford a higher airfare, you’d be flying first class on a different airline.  While we are taxiing, please keep your seat-belts securely fastened until you hear the ding indicating the pilot has turned off the Fasten Seat-belt sign.”

A few minutes later I heard the ding and before I could unclick my seat-belt the flight attendant bellowed, “Okay, get out!”

I got out, but I’ll be more than happy to get on again Southwest Airlines.  Well done!


Chillaxing In My Own Little Corner/Mindful Meditation

In my younger days, I could solve all of my problems with a cup of tea, a hot bath and a handful of chocolate. As I aged and the situations that life threw my way grew more complicated, managing stress became far more challenging.750

When a friend suggested meditation, I was extremely reluctant to attempt it. I’m not a crunchy granola type of girl and I’d never been interested in hippie voodoo.  For crying out loud, who has time to sit around contemplating the fuzz in their navel anyway?

Still in my role as a nurse, I’d seen mindful meditation work for countless people.  Why not give it a try?  How hard could it be to sit down, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing for twenty minutes?  PIece of cake.  I got this one in the bag.

Holy Mackerel!  Was I ever wrong!  Apparently, I’d underestimated the mess in my head.  If my mind was a jungle, you wouldn’t be able to cut through it with just a simple machete. No siree!  In order to make any significant progress you’d need a few dozen chainsaws, a couple of tractors, a GPS, ten men, and a boy.

My first few attempt at meditation was an epic failure.  The following is an example of the monkey business bandied about in my head that day:

Breathe in and out…breathe in and out…speaking of in and out, that reminds me, I have to put the bills in the mail today which means I’m going have to go out this afternoon. Stop it, just stop it, you’re supposed to be breathing, not thinking!  Okay, breathe in and out…and in and out…and uh oh…I didn’t feed the dogs before I sat down…they’re probably starving… I’m starving too…I’d really love some pizza…but I should probably have something healthy… like a salad.  Ugh!  You’re thinking again.  Focus…focus…I can’t focus when my feet are itching…come to think of it so is my nose.  Settle down girl!  You can do this…breathe…just breathe…caught up in the touch, the slow and steady rush…I can feel you breathe…just breath.  Aaaaugghh!  Now I’ve got that Faith Hill song stuck in my head.  Nutballs!  This meditation stuff is impossible.

Fortunately, before I completely gave up on meditation, I came across an offering from The Great Courses called Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation.  It was taught by Professor Mark Muesse.  I decided to give it a try and it was well worth every penny. (The man has a Ph.D. from Harvard, people, and his teaching is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  If you’re going to try meditation, I recommend getting this course.  Professor Muesse is familiar with many types of meditation and I especially enjoyed the gratitude (metta) meditation which he introduced.)

I’m not going to lie, sometimes my mind still runs amuck when I’m trying to meditate, but I’ve learned that doesn’t mean I’m a failure.  Now, I acknowledge my thoughts without judgment, put them in a bubble and blow the little suckers away.

My most successful meditation (so far) has involved focusing on my breathing and repeating Isaiah 40:31.  This meditation soothes and comforts me like nothing else. If you aren’t familiar with the verse, it is as follows:

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.”

It was from a fabulous sermon that I heard my Dad preach when I was teenager, and well before Chariots of Fire made this verse so famous, but I digress, because that’s just what my mind does.

At any rate, meditation seems to have reduced my stress levels, improved my focus, concentration and creativity.  It’s even helped tame my chronic insomnia.

I’ll be honest, I doubt I’m ever going to experience nirvana, but the peace and quiet I’ve discovered through meditation is truly refreshing.  I’m convinced the world would be a better place if we all got rid of our chill pills and tried meditation.

Winter No Longer Enchanting

It’s hard not be under winter’s spell when the first snow falls and suddenly the world outside your window is silent and deep, wearing only shades of pearl and diamond dust. I’m thrilled to see creation wrapped in all its frosty ethereal elegance until mid-January and then the bloom is off the rose. two old man winter_4c54f733cb735

Now I’m sick and tired of bitter winds, freezing temperatures, cold and flu season, frozen pipes, ice, potholes and most particularly shoveling snow which has been somewhat hazardous to my health.

So far, it’s just been a few muscle aches and strains and some minor cuts to my hands, but if winter continues and my sense of melodrama heightens, I fear I may have to collapse a lung to show my pure disdain for the job.

Make no mistake, shoveling has not been the only thing that has caused me to become disillusioned with winter.  The vice-grip hold of the “polar vortex” has been equally responsible.  Most of the time I can’t feel my limbs and I’m pretty sure I froze my left {redacted} off.  Hypothermia has also severely limited my ability to think and move which explains why I’ve put on enough winter weight to shame a black bear and my lax attitude toward blogging.

In addition,  I can now sand the finish off my furniture with my bare feet and hands, not to mention, the static in my hair could generate enough electricity to power my whole town for at least a month.

The final straw occurred this morning when I woke to my nose spraying blood like a high-pressure fire hose.  I’ve never had a nosebleed in my life and the mess it left was truly impressive.

It’s official.  I am totally over winter!

Spring will come once mother-nature gets tired of her dalliance with old man winter, but just when I think it’s over between them, they start it up again!  Come on mother-nature, just let him go already! You’ll see him again next year, I promise.  I’m sure by that time, I’ll have forgotten how annoyed I am with him and I’ll be looking forward to his return as well. (Okay, I’m not actually sure at this point, but it could happen.)


Dealing With A Loved One’s Cancer Diagnosis / Twelve Things I Have Learned.

balled up fistCancer has a way of breaking and beating people down with circumstances far beyond their control.  I try to approach life in a positive manner and look for humor in odd places and dark corners, but sometimes, like everyone else, I get sucked down a black hole of despair and have to claw my way back out.

I’m sure my little preamble is leading some of you to ask, “What the heck is this little chicklet spouting off about now?”  Here’s the deal.  After a long twelve year remission, the hubster’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is back.  (Note to self: For future reference, do not allow the hubster to schedule routine yearly cancer checkups right before major holidays.)

Agonizing memories of the hubster’s chemos, radiation and stem cell transplant suddenly came flooding back to me and played over and over in my mind, like that miserable little jingle from a television commercial that you just can’t get out of your head.

Cancer.  What an awful word!  The disease has changed him.  It has changed me.  It has changed us and not always for the better.  It fundamentally transforms you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, whether you want it to or not.  As any of you that have dealt with a loved one’s cancer know, the big “C” doesn’t just happen to them, it happens to the whole family unit as well.

I need to remind myself of what I learned twelve years ago and perhaps it will help someone else.


1) I can and will be brave and strong.  If I can’t do it for me, I’ll do it for the hubster and the kids.

2) I can only deal with one day at a time (realistically, sometimes I can only deal with one hour at a time) and that’s okay.  I don’t have to be Wonder Woman.

3) I will ask for help if I need it.

4) I will reach out to trusted friends and family.  I don’t have to walk this path alone.

5) I will practice gratitude for each blessing that comes my way on a daily basis.  (a kind word, a compassionate nurse, a loving gesture, a caring friend, an encouraging phone call, etc.)

6) I can and will find the humor in the situation.  Laughter is a strong medicine.  It helps me and it helps the hubster.

7) I will have faith.  I will trust in the highest power of all.  A way will be made where there seems to be no way.

8) I will remember that adversity truly does define character.  I will not allow myself to become an angry, hostile, bitter, frustrated woman.

9) A good cry in a hot shower and a cuddle with my dogs does wonders and helps mitigate the stresses of a long hard day.

10) I can write.  Writing helps me sort through my thoughts and feelings.  It allows me to discard what I can and work through what I must.

11) I’ll call a therapist.  It helps to talk.

12) Above all, I will live inside hope!  I will not simply have hope or go forward with hope.  I will LIVE each day INSIDE of hope.

Life delivered a substantial blow.  Now it stands over me and taunts me, daring me to get back up for another.

Well Life, here is my reply.

Congrats. You had me temporarily flat on my back, but I got to my knees and I’m standing again.  Every time you knock me down, I will keep getting back up and facing you until I draw my last breath.  You see, Life, it’s like my grandfather used to say, “Don’t hold a match under a firecracker unless you’re prepared to deal with the explosion.”  And trust me, you don’t want to mess with this little firecracker.  Capiche?


Why Bats Make Me Lose What’s Left Of My Mind / Going Guano Loco

“How can you say you love all winged creatures and not like bats? They play a crucial role in our environment controlling insects and pollinating plants,” said my darling, but very self-righteous neighbor as she passed me her empty coffee cup to put in the sink. “Your fear of bats would disappear with a little education and understanding.”bathead.JPG

“Look, Estelle, I grew up in the country and if they’d mind their own batty business and stay outside, I wouldn’t have a problem with them.” I retorted.

“I’m buying you some books.”

“I wish you wouldn’t. I know all about bats and I’m not afraid of the ones flying around outside, just the ones that come inside to attack me.”

“Bats don’t come inside to attack you,” she said, shaking her head at me on her way out the door, clearly sorry for the poor deluded human being standing in front of her. “If books don’t work, we can always try reconditioning you through psychotherapy. I have a cousin that specializes in helping people with phobias. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow.”

“Terrific,” I replied, closing the door behind Estelle. Knees sagging, I placed my back against the door for support.

I know that it’s completely irrational to believe that bats have it in for me, but I do. Bats send me to a very dark place where I am reduced to a sniveling incoherent puddle of insanity which normal people like Estelle fail to understand.

My first episode with a bat was not the one that scarred me. In fact, most country kids have a similar story. When I was ten, a little brown bat found its way into the upstairs bedrooms of the old parsonage in which my family lived. My sisters, brothers and I panicked and a shriek fest ensued while my father chased the bat back outside. He explained that the poor little creature had accidently found its way inside our house and assured us that the bat was more scared of us than we were of it.

My second encounter was when a bat accosted me from inside a toilet bowl at the tender age of twenty and it was the beginning of my undoing. I cannot begin to explain the terror that grips you when a tiny set of claws suddenly attaches to the back end of your bottom while you are locked into a tiny bathroom sitting on the throne. To say that I arose and freaked out would be an understatement.

Fast forward to the bat frantically swooping around the small enclosed area with me screaming and swatting at it. Somehow we both ended up tangled in a plastic curtain at the bottom of the shower stall with the little bat’s teeth mere inches from my face while the tiny creature emitted an incessant high-pitched screech. I’m not going to lie—I passed out cold.

I wish I could say that my clashes with bats ended there, but sadly, it was not to be the case.

The third time I was sitting in the hubster’s office coding some insurance claims when I heard an odd chattering and clicking sound coming from the closed attic door next to me.  I watched in horror as a bat squeezed out of a dime-sized crack in the door jamb and flew straight at me. I screamed like a banshee and vacated the area tout de suite with my arms flailing wildly around me. Even though the hubster’s office manager assured me that the bat had been caught and relocated, I refused to code the entire next week.

The episode that drove me over the edge and guano loco (a polite way of saying bat poop crazy) happened late one fall night. I was lounging in bed and reading a darn good book when I thought I caught a shadow flitting by out of the corner of my eye. I glanced up from my book and scanned the room. Seeing nothing, I resumed reading.

The next thing I know, there is a squawking noise overhead and a small brown bat materialized out of thin air. Flying directly at me, it became ensnared in my long hair. I screamed until my throat was raw and clawed at my hair until the bat was free, but not before it nipped the top of my ear. At some point I got a window open and drove the creature out into the night.

Now, intellectually, I know the bat didn’t get tangled in my hair intentionally, and that it was a mistake on the bat’s part, but I get really annoyed with those who say that bats don’t fly into a person’s hair. I’m here to tell you, it happens people!  It’s not a myth.

Most women take their hair down before they go to bed, but to this day I put mine in a ponytail before I go to sleep. I never go to the bathroom without thoroughly examining the inside of a toilet bowl either. I have been completely traumatized by bats and frankly I’m beginning to believe in vampires…but I hear that’s what happens when you go guano loco.

Pushing Against Overwhelming Odds

AWESOMESometimes I find encouragement in the oddest places.  This little petunia pushed it way up through the hostile environment of bricks and crabgrass in our driveway.  It was a truly astonishing achievement considering there are no petunias planted in my yard and there are none growing in any of my neighbors’ yards either.

The odds were overwhelmingly stacked against the flower’s very existence, but the fragile little red and white blossom has flourished, sending up one bud after another.  Over the short summer season, I’ve learned a lot about strength and perseverance from this lonely petunia.

Perhaps it is an extended metaphor for my writing.  If so, how can I have any less fortitude or endurance than that fearless little plant?  My time in the sun will come someday if I keep pushing against the odds.  I am sure of it.


Lucy, You Got Some Splaining to Do!

“Lucy, you got some splaining to do!”

Yikes!  There is a hole in our gate!

Yikes! There is a hole in our gate!

The hubster likes to lapse into his Ricky Ricardo persona when he requires an explanation from me.  He claims to have a special affinity with Ricky since he often feels like he’s living in a perpetual I Love Lucy episode.

Granted I do have a knack for getting myself in trouble, but I’m not daffy, I don’t want to get into show business and I’m not a tall, leggy, redhead.

“What is it now, Ricky?” I said, playing along with his game.

“There is a hole in the gate outside.”

“There is not,” I argued.  “What are you talking about?”

The hubster led me outside and stood me in front of the garden gate.  Ruh Roh!  He was right.  Indeed, there was a small hole in the fence.

“What did you do?” I gasped.

“Me?  I didn’t do that,” he said, placing his hands on his hips and giving me an exasperated look.  “Obviously you did it while you were mowing the lawn a couple weeks ago.”

“I certainly can’t remember doing it,” I said.

That was the honest truth of the matter due to the concussion from which I suffered.  The mower had kicked up a rock, the size of my fist, and it had landed on my head and that’s the last thing I remember until I went to the Emergency room five hours later to have a CT scan.  I know I finished mowing the lawn, but I have no recollection of doing it.


“Now Ricky, don’t get your knickers in a knock.  I’ll look for the piece that’s been banged out and we can gorilla glue it back in place.  It will be as good as new,” I said, puckering up my face and preparing to give him a full on Lucille Ball bawl. “I was only trying to help.  How can you be mad at me?”

The hole looks worse up close and personal.

“I’m not mad at you.  I was just showing you what you did to the fence.”

My face brightening as I dialed back the drama a notch.  “So you’re not going to play Babalu on my backside? I’m so relieved.”

“Get on inside the house.  You’re a crazy woman.”

“I’m a crazy woman?”

He gave me a sly look.  “See, finally something we both agree upon.”

I sighed.  “Okay, this round goes to you Ricky, but tread lightly because when I recover all of my senses, it’s not going to be so easy for you to best me the next time.”

Squirrels Can Swim! | Writer’s Word of the Week – Mordacious

Sopping wet squirrel

Sopping wet squirrel

Our five year old Shiba Inu, Rupert, has appointed himself the sheriff of our property and zealously protects our home from any perceived threat.  He has repeatedly warned the neighborhood squirrels that he is on the job and that they risk life and limb should they decide to invade our privacy; however, the squirrels in our area are brazen little hussies and quite unable to resist the siren’s song of temptation sung by the blueberry bushes in our backyard.

The husband and I were puttering around outside yesterday when I heard Rupert kicking up a ruckus.

“Now what,” I said, turning towards the noise.  Sheriff Rupert was standing at the edge of the pool, fixated on something in the water.

“Huh, I didn’t know squirrels could swim,” said the hubster, scratching his head.

I lowered my gaze to see a furry little creature crazily paddling across the pool.  I was admiring the squirrel’s remarkable swimming abilities until I saw the wheels spinning in Rupert’s clever doggie brain.  He was trying to work out exactly where the squirrel would exit the pool.

I sprang into action.  “Catch that dog right now or you’ll be eating squirrel for supper,” I shouted.

“I can’t catch that dog.  No one can catch that dog.”

Okay, so the hubster had a fair point.  Rupert has lightning fast reflexes and can outrun and outdodge any human alive, but I still didn’t think we should allow the poor little rodent to be dispatched to squirrel heaven because of her momentary lack of good judgment.

“Then run interference,” I cried as the squirrel wiggled out of the water and onto the pool deck.

We proceeded to race about the backyard like lunatics with the squirrel in the lead.  Finally my husband caught Rupert’s backside for half a second, giving the squirrel just enough time to scramble to the top of our lilac bush.

Which brings me to our writer’s word of the week—MORDACIOUS.  It means sarcastic, caustic, or biting.

    The Sheriff

The Sheriff

You’d think the squirrel would have been more appreciative of our help as she drip-dried on the tree, but she felt the need to verbally chastise us for ten minutes with a few mordacious looks thrown in for good measure.  That’s gratitude for you.

Slug Patrol

I despise creepy, crawly, slimy things that lie about in their own goo which is why I really hate slugs.  Well… that and the fact those greasy little lumps of flesh can consume forty times their weight in food overnight.  This year they’re well on their way to turning our backyard paradise into a wasteland.

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

We’ve had so much rain that those slippery suckers have become amazingly audacious; they aren’t even trying to hide anymore.  (See exhibit A.) They ate all my basil, put holes in my hostas, chewed my begonias and have started chowing down on my parsley.

Every morning and evening I go on slug patrol.   I pick the ooey-gooey creatures off the plants, take them across the road and pitch them as far down the hill as I can get them.  As you can imagine, this is time consuming and very annoying.

I’ve tried every non-violent way humanly possible to rid the yard of those pests, but my slugs are extremely talented and have even managed to find their way around copper flashing.  I can’t bring myself to squish them, or use salt or pesticides on them because that just seems cruel.

However, out of sheer desperation, I may soon consider offering them beer if they’re determined to keep up their sluggish tomfoolery.  I’ve given this quite a bit of thought, if I were a slug, that’s the way I’d want to go…drunk as a pirate on my way to Davey Jone’s locker.  Hey, it’s preferable to being eaten by a snake.

Writer’s Word of the Week – Furciferous!

Their answers to the question:  Whose idea was this anyway?

Their answers to the question: Whose idea was this anyway?

It’s ninety degree weather and the last thing I needed to do today was chase Mr. Ninnyhammer (a.k.a. Rupert) and Miss Flibbertigibbet (a.k.a. Winnie) around the hot and very humid neighborhood.

If my dogs weren’t such FURCIFEROUS (rascally, scandalous) little scoundrels I’d let them enjoy their merry romps off leash through the community now and then, but they’re not to be trusted.

I knew they’d escaped when I heard them antagonizing our neighbor’s hens into a frenzied cackling fit.  I jetted outside and followed the hoodlums about demanding that they return home “this instant” while apologizing to numerous neighbors along the way for their shameless doggy shenanigans.

I tried to entice them to come home with hotdogs, but being the culinary connoisseurs that they are, they were too busy helping themselves to a delicious selection from a rank compost pile and strewing their leftover tidbits from one yard to the next.  I finally got my hands on the two nincompoops after they decided to chase a cat into an alley for a little tete-a-tete.

I’m presently lying on the floor panting from heat exhaustion, thinking that I should have let the cat trounce them, while they’re busily slopping water all over the kitchen like it’s their job.

They’re lucky that they are so adorable and that I only have the strength to move my fingers at the moment or I’d banish their hindends to their crates so they could think about their criminal activity.  Besides, incarcerating the little rascals has proven less than effective in the past and I am highly suspicious that they use those timeouts to plan their next great escape anyway.


Steroids Make Me Cray-Cray!

sickI’m usually in good health, but three weeks ago the hubster shared a formidable little microbe that wreaked havoc with my lungs and necessitated a prescription for a tapering dose of steroids.

I know, I know.   Short term steroid therapy speeds recovery from nasty bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia, but ai-yi-yi, how I hate them!

When I take that tiny white pill I make the energizer battery bunny look like a slug.  I can’t sit still, I can’t sleep and I can’t stop cleaning things.

Despite my fever and ferocious cough, I mowed the lawn and did five straight hours of non-stop yard work.  Then I went inside and washed all the floors in my house.  The next day I washed every window in my house and was still up at one-thirty in the morning polishing the outside of the glass panes by streetlight. The next day I washed and detailed my car and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera for the next seven days.

The steroid story never ends happily for me.  At the end of the treatment I crash spectacularly, weepy and exhausted.

This morning the hubster found me slouched on the couch, surrounded by crumpled up tissues and crying into the crook of my arm between coughing fits.

I lifted my head, staring at him with my bloodshot eyes.  He was spooked instantly.

“Uh-oh,” he whispered, slowly backing out of the room.

“Uh-oh is right buster!” I wailed.  “I’m at DEFCON 2.  Run for your life.”

And he did.

Turning the Tables on an Unsuspecting Vacuum Salesman


A very clean rug.

A very clean rug.

Many years ago, the husbster and I were subjected to a three hour long high-pressure sales pitch from two vacuum cleaner representatives and ended up purchasing a fifteen hundred dollar vacuum.  To make a long story short, they wore us down and we made the purchase from sheer exhaustion.

As a result of that debacle,  I  was prepared for the unlucky chap that wandered onto my doorstep this morning hoping to sell me a thirty-five hundred dollar vacuum cleaner.

Yep, I let him in; right after I pulled an old broken vacuum destined for the dump from the closet and positioned it in the front hallway.  The salesman entered with an Oh-boy-this-house-is-going-to-be-filthy glint of excitement in his eyes when he heard my dogs barking.

“Settle down Cujo,” I called to the dog barking madly.

“I love dogs,” said the salesman.  “Is his name really Cujo?”

“It’s his nickname, but it’s well deserved so whatever you do, steer clear of the kitchen,” I warned, fibbing my brains out.

The salesman wasn’t about to let anything as trivial as an unfriendly dog deflate his spirits.  He was a nonstop blabbermouth and barraged me questions.  Was I the homeowner?  Did I handle the finances?  Do I do the cleaning?  How many rugs did I have in the house? Was that the only vacuum that I owned?

He was disappointed to find that there were only two small area rugs in the downstairs portion of the house.  Undaunted, he proceeded with his sales pitch.  He wanted me to clean a portion of one of my rugs with my old vacuum and then he was going to re-vacuum the area with his super-duper cleaning machine.

“Sorry, Cujo chewed on the electrical cord.  It’s not working,” I replied.

“This wire can be fixed with some electrical tape which I just so happen to have with me,” he said, after examining the cord.  He pulled out some black tape and jury-rigged my vacuum.

“Now you can go ahead and vacuum,” he said, pushing the machine in my direction.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible.  My back is acting up again and it’s strictly against my doctor’s orders,” I lied again, hoping that God would not strike me dead from dishonesty.

“Then I’ll vacuum the area we talked about earlier with your vacuum and go over it with mine.”

“Thank you, but unless you’re prepared to do the whole rug, I’d really rather you didn’t.”

He happily obliged and showed me the dirt he’d collected in a special filter after he vacuumed my carpet for the second time.

“That rug is filthy,” I said, looking horrified.  “I’m getting rid of it.”

“Oh don’t do that.  This vacuum cleaner is also a rug shampooer.  You don’t need to throw your rug away.   All you need is the home cleaning system that this vacuum has to offer for the bargain price of only thirty-five hundred dollars.”

“So let me get this straight,” I said, biting my lower lip and trying not to laugh.  “I can buy a thirty-five hundred dollar vacuum cleaner instead of throwing this rug away and replacing it with another one hundred dollar area rug.  I’m not a math genius, but it doesn’t sound logical to me.”

“Well, I can call my manager to see if we can get that price lowered for you.  We could also give you a trade in on your beat-old old vacuum cleaner.  Perhaps I can even get the price down another thousand dollars for you if my manager is feeling particularly benevolent today.”

“Thank you, but that’s not going to be necessary because you won’t be making a sale here today.  I’m managing a tight budget and the last thing I need is another payment on a high interest finance plan, which I’m sure you’ll be more than happy to set up for me, so that I can buy something that I don’t really need.  It’s not going to happen.  This isn’t my first rodeo.”

“But YOU DO need a good vacuum, and in fact, you’re desperate for one,” he argued.  “If I could pull this much stuff out of your carpet, just think of what is floating around in the air.  How can you put a price tag on your family’s health?”

”You needn’t concern yourself.  It’s time to pack up your things and go, but thank you for fixing my old vacuum and cleaning my rug,” I said, trying not to look as smug as I sounded.

He glowered at me as it finally dawned on him that he’d been had.  He slammed his vacuum cleaner back in the box which sent “Cujo” back into another frenzied barking jag. “Fine, but it’s your loss lady!” he growled, exiting the house.

“Not today,” I said, closing the front door behind him.

Okay, so maybe I lost forty minutes out of my morning, but I got the old vacuum fixed and someone other than myself thoroughly vacuumed my rug, not once, but twice and it was all free.

Has this ever happened to anyone else?  Did you yield or hold firm against the high-pressure sales pitches?

Puerperal – Writer’s Vocabulary Word of the Week | Robin Update

The oldest baby bird already left the nest but I caught the two remaining robins working up the courage to leave their home.

The oldest baby bird already left the nest but I caught the two remaining robins working up the courage to leave their home.

I apologize for not posting about the baby robins in a more timely manner. The little darlings left the nest two weeks ago.

Momma Robin is currently up to her wingtips in a new puerperal insanity and is bringing more straw and dried grasses back to pad the old nest for the new clutch of eggs she intends to lay.

The empty nest!

The empty nest!

It’s time for your handy-dandy writer’s vocabulary word of the day: PUERPERAL.  It is an adjective pertaining to a woman in childbirth or used to describe something pertaining to or connected with childbirth.

Heh, heh, heh!  Good luck trying to work that word into conversation outside of the medical field.  It’s not that easy!

Special shout-out to my Chinese blog followers!  “Ni zenme yang, wode pengyou?”

Strolling of the Heifers | Extraordinary!

Eowen the heifer.

Eowen the heifer.

When your zip code is E-I-E-I-O, you eventually become accustomed to sharing space with local farms and farm animals.  Fortunately, I spent most of my formative years in an itty-bitty Maine town so I can truly appreciate Vermont and the down-to-earth people who live here.

For the twelfth year in a row I have attended the annual Strolling of the Heifers weekend in Brattleboro, Vermont.  It’s an utterly charming event and if you’ve never attended it, don’t worry, there’s always next year.  Bring the children and the grandchildren; they’ll thank you for it!006


The Strolling of the Heifers began as a parade and day-long tribute to agriculture, but it has evolved into five days of awesome events and it has put eclectic little Brattleboro on the map. Tens of thousands of people now attend this popular yearly festival.

The parade is off any known cuddly cuteness scale.  It’s impossible to be a curmudgeon there because, dang it, it’s fun to watch a hundred heifers slowly moo-ving down Main Street, followed by other barnyard critters, tractors, clowns, floats, bands and dairy fairies.

After the parade, I moseyed down to the eleven-acre slow living expo.  It was a veritable showcase of local talent and entertainment, not to mention entrepreneurs, exhibits, games, and vendors.



In addition, it was very educational.  Today I learned the difference between a mule (offspring of male donkey and female horse) and a hinny (offspring of a male horse and female donkey).  I also learned that alpacas and llamas are types of South American camels.  Really? Who knew?

Brattleboro is home to a trapeze/aerial circus school and it was a treat to watch them all perform. This girl was only fourteen, but already a marvelous little entertainer!  She held her poses long enough so we could all snap pictures between our ooos and ahhhs!031

There was a line a mile long for the Strolling of the Cheeses tent, but I patiently waited for my free cheese samples which were delicious!  Nothing like Vermont cheese!

The tractor exhibit was very popular with the kiddies.  Who doesn’t want to sit in the seat of a tractor at any age?  It’s cool!

010Far and away, my favorite moment of the day came when I found a young girl tucked between two cattle trailers.  Her name was Riley and she confessed that she and her cow Cricket were resting in the shade as they were plum tuckered out.   Can anyone say adorable? 

I miss Maine and the ocean, but I gotta say…I love Vermont and the Strolling of the Heifers!





Fatal Drowning | RIP Fitbit

The pool skimmer and I have had our issues in the past, but this year has been particularly troublesome.  To be fair, I’m the one at fault.  I fully realize that I must replace the skimmer’s cover after I’ve emptied the basket, but for the life of me I can’t seem to remember to do it.

Never turn your back on a pool skimmer.  They are very mischievous.

Never turn your back on a pool skimmer. They are very mischievous.

Two days in a row, while watering the lawn, I have stepped into the pool skimmer, lost my balance and pitched into the water. Now, if I had been wearing proper pool attire and had removed all electronic devices instead of being fully dressed, this might have been a welcome or at least refreshing occurrence, however, it instead had fatal consequences for my loyal fitbit friend.

For those of you who are not familiar with a fitbit, it is an ingenious little device that clips onto your trouser pocket and 
013measures steps taken, distance walked,and calories burned.  It has become an indispensable part of my life because it by prods me, goads me and sometimes shames me into getting off my duff!

My poor fitbit did not succumb to drowning the first day.  No, indeed!  It instinctively held it’s breath while I grabbed the diving board and swung myself out of the pool.  I was overjoyed to find the clever little machine working perfectly and we happily went about our business for the remainder of the evening.

I really can’t tell you why I didn’t learn my lesson the previous afternoon, but obviously I didn’t and the next day when I took the plunge, I landed much further out in the water.  The fitbit was submerged for a lengthy period of time while I swam to the side of the pool.  I immediately tried to resuscitate it, but to no avail.  I even placed it in a bag of rice for several days on the off chance that it might spring back to life because it missed me so much.

Please excuse me while I share a special moment with the dearly departed.

My dearly departed fitbit.  As you can see, he has a lot of water in his little lungs.  Proof of his drowning catastrophe!

My dearly departed fitbit. As you can see, he has a lot of water in his little lungs. Proof of his drowning catastrophe!

My delightful fitbit companion, I am truly and deeply sorry that you had to be the one to suffer because of my problems with the blasted pool skimmer.  I take full and complete responsibility, little buddy.  If it’s of any comfort to you at all, my leather loafers have shrunk half a size and pinch my feet, thus perpetually reminding me of my stupidity. You were such an inspiration to me and I shall greatly miss you!  RIP!


Writer’s Alter Ego

Beyoncé has alter ego Sasha Fierce and I have Princess Olivia.  No, I don’t have a split personality disorder, thank you very much.

Princess Olivia and African lanner falcon named Zulu

Princess Olivia and African lanner falcon named Zulu

While I’m in my element combing through library stacks, browsing bookstore shelves and investigating every bit of information possible regarding angels and birds of prey, I’m not comfortable conducting research outside of those parameters, thus Princess Olivia was born.

Without her,  I would never have had the courage to take advantage of a wonderful research opportunity which serendipitously presented itself several years ago.

Princess Olivia has more cheek and nerve in the tip of her pinky finger than I do in my entire body. She happily agreed to assist a master falconer for three weeks at a large Renaissance fair, but it was more difficult than even she anticipated.

First, the princess was required to learn the falconer’s vocabulary which included terms such as hoods, jesses, creances, gauntlets, and mews to name just a few and then she worked sunup to sundown weighing, feeding, training, exercising, performing and even rescuing the occasional raptor that had flown the coop via radio telemetry.

It was demanding work and not nearly as glamorous as the princess makes it look.  (Trust me, being trussed into a corset for ten hours a day is enough to make anyone cranky come nightfall.)  Birds of prey demand constant attention and owning just one of them is a full time job.

Thanks to Princess Olivia’s efforts and expertise, one of my favorite characters, a  red-tailed hawk named Simon now lives and flies about in the manuscript of Rafe Ryder and the Well of Wisdom.

Never off duty (although out of costume) Princess Olivia assists in training a young peregrine falcon.

Never off duty (although out of costume) Princess Olivia assists in training a young peregrine falcon.

 I’m curious, what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done to research a subject about which you intend to write?

Ululate – Writer’s Vocabulary Word of the Week | Robin Red Breast Update

This morning, after I finished swinging through the treetops looking for my husband Tarzan, I noticed that Momma Robin had left her nest unattended.  I seized the opportunity to snap a picture of her new babies.  It looks like the one on the right just hatched!  I’m so excited!  Please excuse me while I go beat my chest and give Tarzan an ululating call to tell him the good news!  (Ululate is my writer’s vocabulary word of the day.  It means to howl or wail, in grief or in jubilation.)005

Beating Words into Submission

My writing is very much like my cooking.  Sometimes I make a gourmet meal and score rave reviews from the hubster, and sometimes I flop in such an epic way that even my dogs can’t be tempted to taste my culinary blunders. (Here is Rupert, my five year old Shiba Inu, expressing his disdain for one of my more recent failures.)015

Each new day brings the possibility of a pleasurable writing experience and if the hubster is lucky an edible meal, but I can’t always count on either one of those things happening.

While writing can be effortless at times, experience has taught me that it can just as easily be complicated, if not downright arduous.  More often than not, pesky little things called words get in the way of my writing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I adore words, but words are sometimes mischievous and problematic especially after they have been poured out onto a page.  They enjoy taunting, provoking and confounding me, as well as posing knotty little problems for me to tease apart for hours at a time.

I spend a good portion of my day pushing unruly words around, and coaxing the ones which have gone astray back into line.  I have even been known to give particularly troublesome words a good slap and banish them from a sentence altogether.

By my hand (and red correction pen), words often suffer a cruel, but necessary fate for refusing to acquiesce to my wishes, but I really can’t be blamed.  When I am forced to chase words about a page and beat them into submission, it’s rarely worth the effort to keep them around.

There!  I’ve finally admitted it!  I’m not proud of my abusive behavior towards certain words, but I have found I have to be firm and let them know who is in charge.

FYI, I do not advocate, endorse or participate in violence towards any LIVING creature.  I assure you, I just mistreat words and that’s only if they’ve aggravated me to the point of frustration.

I’d best shut my trap before I dig my hole any deeper, but I find myself wondering if I’m the only writer that takes such a harsh stance with words.  I think not, but I could be wrong.  They say confession is good for the soul and remember people, let he who hath not sinned cast the first stone.

Staying Abreast of the Red Robin-Steve Irwin Style

I’m definitely no Steve Irwin.  I do not smooch snakes, collect bugs or enjoy skirmishes with wildlife, but  crikey I get excited about anything with wings!  Look!  There’s another egg in Momma Robin’s nest! 008

I risked life and limb, yet again, to go up to the roof and secure this picture for my blog.  Don’t worry it wasn’t too dangerous.  Fortunately, I have a zoom button on my camera and Momma Robin is developing a tolerance for my aerial routines.

Her choice of locations for her home had been on my list for a severe pruning when the tree service visited our house last week and after we discovered her hard work, the tree was spared, but it had been pruned just enough to afford me an excellent view into her nest from the roof.  She seems to enjoy the umbrella that I loaned her to make up for the branches we took away.011

She and I are becoming quite cozy with one another because bribes are not beneath me. I’ve been leaving juicy brown earthworms all over the yard for her.  By next week, dare I say, we might even be besties.  I’ll keep you all abreast of the situation. (Pun intended this time)

“Traumatic Anniversary Reactions”

For the last five years Cinco de Mayo has been a very challenging day for me, but from what I understand, “anniversary reactions” are common after going through a trauma.  Although I don’t usually flail, toss, turn or disturb the peace in any way when I retire for the evening, I somehow managed to put my foot through a two thousand thread Egyptian cotton sheet last night.  An incredible feat, (no pun intended) if ever there was one. 001

What is she babbling on about now? What in the world is an “anniversary reaction” and pray tell what has made her so dramatic today?

Allow me to elaborate.  Sometimes the memory of a traumatic experience can be so intense that when the date of the experience rolls around the next year, and every year thereafter, the person may suffer restlessness, sleeplessness, anxiety, or any number of other distressing symptoms.

May 5th 2008 was the infamous Cinco de Mayo that began my particular torment.  That was the day my husband and I were informed that our twenty-four year old, healthy, strong, and wonderful son had a fifty-fifty chance of living.  A strep infection had destroyed the electrical conduction system of his heart and had eaten away both his aortic and mitral valves. In an attempt to save his life, the surgeon needed to perform a very risky operation the next morning.

No amount of nursing education or hospital experience prepared me to hear those words.  I was suddenly drowning in shock and pain.  How had my son’s much anticipated short weekend visit home from NYC turned into such a fiasco? How was the world still going on around me when my world had just collapsed? How could my son be in the process of dying?   As a mother, you can never be ready for this kind of news and the word “devastated” cannot begin to describe how I felt.  Watching our son receive and react to the news was even more unbearable!

The next day was a nightmare too, but thankfully, we have wonderful friends who came to sit with us in the hospital waiting room during our son’s surgery.  The gravity of the situation caused me to completely shut down.  I pulled a hoodie up over my head, put my fingers in my ears, and curled up in a waiting room chair with my head buried in a pillow for seven straight hours.  I wasn’t good company, but my darling friends bought me earplugs and sat with me in silence solidarity.

I don’t remember much, and I am very grateful for that, but I do remember praying constantly and begging God to spare my son.  To me, life wouldn’t be worth living if I lost any one of my three precious children.  They were and always have been the best things I have ever done.

My story, however, has a very happy ending because five years later our son is alive, well and prospering with the help of two artificial valves and a permanent pacemaker. Thank God in heaven!   And as soon as May fifth and sixth comes and goes—I’ll be fine for the rest of the year as well.

Luckily for me, Mother’s Day is next weekend.  Hopefully, my three amazing, fantastic, one-of-a-kind children (who I have now just buttered up with the right adjectives) will chip in and buy Momma a new set of sheets or a Bed Bath & Beyond gift card if I promise to sleep on the floor during next year’s anniversary dates.

Springtime Procrastination

I am a prolific writer from late fall to early spring, but as soon as the temperature rises to seventy degrees or above, I have an extremely difficult time applying the seat of my pants to the seat of any surface in my house.

Writing, at least for me, is very difficult during the short New England summer.  During this time my concentration and self-discipline are severely impaired and it’s become obvious over the last few years that I may have to consider summering in northern Canada, Siberia or in the worst case scenario, a Russian-manned drifting ice station in the Arctic Circle.

Yesterday I climbed to the top of my roof to wash some skylights which poses absolutely no problems for me in the late fall.  At that time I scramble up the ladder, wash the windows and get back down on the ground like any rational person.   However, the instant I climb to the top of the house in spring, I find myself in the clutches of a reckless irrationality and this year was no exception.

Deep in the throes of my temporary insanity and dangling from the side of the roof, I snapped a picture of my newest neighbor’s home.  Poor Momma Robin seemed horrified to discover that she had built her new home next door to someone so willing to invade her privacy.  Now, I can’t be certain as I don’t speak fluent robin red breast, but I’m pretty sure most of what she screeched at me from another tree cannot be repeated in polite company and the word voyeur may have even been tossed out during one of her more colorful rants. 044

Then I decided to watch part of a little league game, chat with several neighbors who seemed very concerned about my safety, have a refreshing beverage and text a friend from my iPhone.  (It is amazing all the things you can take up to a roof in the pockets of the right sweatshirt.)

Today is another beautiful day.  I’ve decided to write outside until noon and pray for no distractions.  As long as the hubster remembered to put the ladder away, my feet will stay firmly planted on the ground and there is a distinct possibility I might get some writing done—well, that is after I have a cup of tea, balance the checkbook, pay some bills, take the dogs for a walk and clean that light fixture in the bathroom that has been driving me crazy.

Boston Marathon Bombing

Who committed the monstrous bombings in Boston yesterday and why?  It’s possible that terrorists, fueled by hatred for the United States, were responsible for the bombs that exploded.  It’s equally possible that they were planted by a mentally unstable 001member of our own society.

Who are these cowards that feel compelled to vent their rage, exact their revenge and perpetrate these atrocities?  I could focus on those questions, but to what end?  Right now, I’m just concentrating on the fact that my two daughters and son-in-law who live and work in Boston are safe!

The news media bombarded the airwaves with terrifying footage of the bombing yesterday, yet despite the chaos and confusion surrounding the horrific event, I saw Boston at its best, full of kind, compassionate brave heroes and heroines!

Boston, America is with you and we love you!  Our nation faces these kinds of tragedies together and together we are strong. Listen as we speak words of encouragement and comfort!  You are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers!

The True Story of How I Met E. B. White | Part Two

I watched from the car window as evening spilled over the tiny seacoast town of Blue Hill.  Wispy shafts of light trickled through the trees and gleamed against the white clapboards of the inn situated before us causing them to blush pale yellow.

001In a matter of moments my husband and I would be meeting the renowned and reclusive writer, E. B. White.  Pulse pounding and stomach fluttering, I stepped out of the vehicle.  Tucking my purse securely under my arm, I clutched the firm hand my husband offered and managed to make it to the entrance of the inn without fainting or throwing up.

The innkeepers, a delightful husband and wife team, met us at the door and explained that they would be escorting us to a small private dining area far away from the regular hustle and bustle of their establishment. They knew that Mr. White was rarely tempted to leave the solitude of his saltwater farm in North Brooklin and they were honored to have him as a guest.  With that said, they whisked us through a series of comfortably furnished rooms to the door of a small private dining chamber.

As my husband and I entered the room, I noticed two dignified men sitting in overstuffed armchairs in a corner of the room, legs crossed, chatting amiably and sipping martinis.  I recognize one gentleman as Dr. Soucy, my husband’s preceptor and the other as E. B. White.  They rose from their chairs the instant they noticed us.

“Lois and Cliff, this is my friend Andy White,” said Dr. Soucy.  “Andy, this is Lois and Cliff.”

I smiled hesitantly at the handsome older gentleman standing before me with his silvery white hair and mustache, waiting for him to set the tone for the evening, and to my great delight he extended his hand to me first.

I contained my excitement and shook his hand with all the demureness I could muster. “You have no idea how pleased I am to meet you, Mr. White.”

A shy smile flashed across his weathered face which intensified the deeply etched creases around his twinkling and still mischievous blue eyes.  “Please call me Andy,” he said in a rich resonant tone belying his age.

“I like the name Andy,” I said as we seated ourselves around a small dining table in another corner of the room,  “but I love the name Elwyn.  I have a dear friend named Elwyn.”

His lips curled into a bemused expression.  “Obviously my mother was fond of the name Elwyn too, but I  never really cared for it myself.  In fact, I’ve always said she just ran out of names by the time she got to me and I got stuck with Elwyn.  When I went to Cornell, I got the nickname Andy and I was entirely glad of it.”

“He’s got a little story to go along with how he got his nickname,” said Dr. Soucy.

“Please tell it,” I implored.

Andy smiled at my young wide-eyed excitement.  “It’s not that sensational,” he replied. “The name of Cornell’s co-founder and first president was Andrew Dickson White.  As a little wink and nod to him, any student that entered Cornell with the last name of White was nicknamed Andy, hence I became known as Andy.”

Thus began our extraordinary evening with Andy White.  Conversation flowed freely and easily between the four of us at the table for the next two hours.  I had been expecting a quiet, perhaps even reserved man, but to my delight he was extremely pleasant, utterly charming, and devilishly witty.

Chatting with him was effortless and I still remember our many topics of discussion that evening.  We chatted about Cornell, New York, Maine, brothers, sisters, the medical and nursing professions, sailing, boatyards, the ocean, children, grandchildren, farming, gardening, animals, writing, conservation and quite sadly, Andy’s failing vision in one eye.

We lingered over dessert for another forty minutes, but regrettably the evening was drawing to a close and I still hadn’t worked up the pluck to ask Andy White for his autograph.  It had been such a lovely evening and I didn’t want to spoil it, but it seemed a shame not to have anything to commemorate such an auspicious evening.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and produced a book that I had been concealing in my purse.  “I have a favor to ask you before we go and I will completely understand if you would rather not do this for me, but I brought a copy of Charlotte’s Web.  I was hoping you might sign it for me and my daughter Mindy.”

He nodded his head in a way that told me he was accustomed to such requests but thoroughly disgusted with them as well.

“Your books inspired me to write when I was a girl and I had every intention of making a career of writing until I discovered that writers weren’t always guaranteed steady paychecks.”

He chuckled to himself as if I said something terribly funny.  “You’re still just a girl,” he replied with a sly smile, taking the copy of Charlotte’s Web from my hand.

“To Lois and Mindy,” he said out loud as he inscribed the same onto the title page of the book.  “If you like to write and have a knack for it, you shouldn’t give it up just because you didn’t make it your career.  Write for your own amusement.  I can tell you from solid experience that writing is more gratifying when there are no editors or deadlines involved anyway.”

“I imagine writing is even more enjoyable when you’re not forced to deal with a demanding and adoring public either,” I said.  I mouthed the words I’m sorry as he placed the book back in my hand.

E. B. White shook his head sadly.  “Yes, there is that.”

I clasped the book to my chest and gathered my things.  “Thank you for making an exception and coming out to have dinner with us tonight.  We had such a wonderful time.”

His face flushed and the smile on his face widened.  “I confess I don’t care very much for dinner or nights out anymore, but this has been an enjoyable evening.  You were a breath of fresh air and I was in good need of one.”

I floated out of the inn and into the car alongside my husband in high spirits.

“This night was better than anything I could ever have imagined.  I had such a good time,” I announced to my husband when we arrived back at our cottage.  “Not only did Andy White pay me a compliment, he autographed my book and told me not to give up on writing.”

“I don’t think you should give up on writing either.  Your use of the words bay scallops on the grocery list this week gave me chills,” he said with a smirk, pretending to shiver.

“If you found bay scallops impressive, just wait until you see how I work the word lobster into next week’s list.  It will have a profound effect on you,” I said, kissing him on his cheek and scooting off to bed.

Years have passed now since my husband and I dined with E. B. White, but I have never forgotten how thrilling it was to be in his presence and I’ve never forgotten the words that he spoke to me that night, “If you like to write and have a knack for it, you shouldn’t give it up just because you didn’t make it your career.”  It was sage advice from the man who left an indelible mark on the literary world with his crisp clean writing style and on one incredible evening in 1982, an indelible mark on me as well.

Postscript:  My youngest daughter, Lara,  feeling very left out that E. B. White hadn’t written her name in the book, added her own touch to the autograph when she was about eight.  My family is just full of E. B. White fans!


The True Story of How I Met E.B. White| Part One

It was the summer of 1982.  Baby slung low on my hip; I strolled along the rocky Maine beach, drinking in the deliciously cool air and stunning views of Blue Hill Bay.  I couldn’t help but think what a superb job the native American Penobscot tribe had done when they decided to name this place “Kollegewidgwok” meaning blue hill on shining green water.  After all, unusual beauty deserves a unique name.

Pausing to relieve the pressure on my hip, I squatted down and placed my daughter on the beach beside me.  Ecstatic to have escaped my grip, she happily banged clam shells together and slithered through the slimy wet rockweed like a tiny sea nymph.

I congratulated myself as I watched her play.  It had been difficult, but I had managed to finagle a vacation from my nursing job so that our little family could be together for the next two weeks while my husband finished his rural preceptorship with a seasoned country doctor in Blue Hill.

Using my knees to balance herself, my daughter pulled to a standing position and gave me an over the moon toothy smile.  Suddenly the smell of rotting fish stung my nostrils and I gasped.  Horrified, I realized that the wee darling standing in front of me stank like rotting fish.  Laughing at my own parental foolishness, I made a mental note of what tots should and shouldn’t be allowed to do on the beach, and hoisted her to my waist.

The sky turned a lovely orange-pink color as I waddled back to the beachfront cottage that my husband and I were renting carrying my putrid smelling child.  To my surprise, I found my husband home from work and waiting for me in the kitchen.

“Pee-u!  She reeks!  What did she get into?” he asked, pointing at our daughter and waving the smell away from his nose.  “Someone needs to hose her down.”

I smiled guiltily.  “I’ll go run a bath.”

“Wait a minute, I need to talk to you.  What would you say if I told you that I’ve arranged a babysitter for tomorrow night and we’re dining out with my preceptor and—“ he said, pausing for dramatic effect and looking like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary.  “E.B. White?”

“Are you joking? E. B. White!” I squealed, nearly dropping the baby and staring at my husband in disbelief.  “E. B. White, the author?”

“Yes, he lives five minutes away in North Brooklin.  He’s good friends with his family doctor who just so happens to be my preceptor,” he replied, grinning like a maniac.  “Apparently he’s become quite reclusive in his later years, but he’s agreed to have dinner with us.”

No way could this be happening!  I had just been invited to go to dinner with my childhood hero E. B. White.  Elwyn Brooks White, the well-known essayist, the New Yorker writer, the reviser of Strunk’s The Elements of Style and the famed children’s author.

My head was spinning and I was giddy with excitement.  “Oh—my—goodness!” I screamed.  “I’ve got to get a copy of Charlotte’s Webb so I can ask him to sign it.

“I’ll pick up a copy at the local bookstore if you go give that child a bath this instant,” he said, crinkling his nose in disgust.

I momentarily contemplated handing the baby over to him and telling him that he’d get use to the smell, but quickly discarded the idea and headed toward the bathroom with Miss Stinkypants.  I wasn’t going to do anything to antagonize the man who had just invited me to dine with E. B. White.

(To be continued)

What Sets You Apart From Other Writers?

Honestly, I never thought about it until I started writing a blog.  For as much as we writers have in common, we each bring something different and totally unique to the table.  That’s right we’re all special! (God bless us, everyone!)

It’s important to play to your strengths when you write.  Use your natural abilities.  For instance, I have a peculiar brand of snark and quirkiness that I’ve been told makes me somewhat interesting.  (Wow….do I smell a thinly veiled insult or compliment?)

Secondly, I’ve lived long enough to experience the sweetness and beauty that life has to offer, but more than that, I’ve been lucky enough to have faced my fair share of setbacks and misfortunes.  (Lucky to have troubles? Is she insane?  Stay with me people, I promise I haven’t passed quirky and gone straight to stark raving mad.)

There are great advantages to tackling the challenges that life has to offer.  The strength, patience, determination, perspective and wisdom that I possess and enjoy now were born from misery.  Happiness didn’t teach me those things, hardships did.  Learning to understand the inestimable value of emotional pain is essential to the writer who strives to be excellent and it can’t be achieved without some degree of experience.  (So in your face trials and tribulations!  Who’s got the last laugh now?)

My profession as a registered nurse offered me another remarkable benefit.  It was in the service of caring for others that I gained extraordinary insight into human nature and behavior.  To this day that knowledge is indispensable when I’m breathing life into the characters of my stories. (Sorry, no snappy comment to be had on this paragraph.  I’m never flip about my nursing career.)

Finally, I’ve honed my writing skills and I’m passionate about creating literature which not only entertains but inspires young people to read and to think!  I don’t mind hard work, honest critiques, or any necessary revisions that make a manuscript go from good to exceptional.  (However, in my perfect world, I’d be getting paid to do all these things too.)

Now, I patiently await a kiss from destiny as I search for the perfect agent. (And I pray the afore mentioned kiss is planted squarely on the cheek of my face and not the cheek of my butt!)

What sets you apart from other writers?

Jumping into the Blogosphere. Yippee Yi Yo Yikes!

I’m currently suffering what I like to call a yippee yi yo yikes moment.  Come on, you all know what I mean…that thrilling feeling of elation and terror that one gets when experiencing something new for the first time.

Let’s use my current moment as an example.  Yippee yi yo!  I have a website and a blog! Yikes!  I have a website and a blog!  See what I mean?  Yippee yi yo yikes!

At moments like these I like to practice a little positive self-talk and relaxation.  (Breathe L.L., just breathe.  You’ve constructed a platform from which to spring into the writing world.  You’re ready for the challenge and you’re going to be just fine.)

Will people like me and my writing?  At this point who knows?  I certainly don’t.  Yippee yi yo yikes!