Thursday, December 30, 2004

Country Music Fan

I am a country music fan. I haven't always liked country music, though. When I was younger all I listened to was rock, but what I sang was folk and gospel music. Now, as I've grown older, I've discovered a great love of country music. I especially like the new sound in country. It isn't rock exactly, and it isn't country exactly - it is...different. You have to love country music when they have added a bit of rap, like the group Big & Rich with the only black country rapper!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Vacation Proceeds

Hubby's vacation is proceeding nicely. The only down side is not being able to up-date The News as I feel I would like. The fiction is indeed coming, the first draft is already complete. Come Wednesday of next week the first installment will be up for all to read.

On all other fronts, life is proceeding normally and quite on the quiet side.

The disaster in Asia has been on my mind and I wish I could do something. In fact, I've been pondering what I could do as a single person. If anyone has any ideas or is doing something I could participate in, please leave me a message or a comment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Happy Sighs and Quiet Days

Christmas has come and gone. It was wonderful all-in-all. This year the most splendid thing was the fact that I far more enjoyed people opening their presents than I did mine (and, believe me, I REALLY enjoyed mine)!

Hubby is off work this week, so up-dating and keeping things moving are going to be a little spotty this week, but I'll do my very best.

Keep looking here because, beginning tomorrow, there will be at least one serialized story. It will appear on Wednesdays from here until it is finished.

Friday, December 24, 2004

It Is Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve and I am filled with a mixture of childish excitement, wonder, and a very adult sense of wonder-ing. It appears there is a big push in Kentucky, perhaps the nation, that it is very impolite to actually say "Merry Christmas" to someone. The correct response is supposed to be "Happy Holidays." Isn't that a bit odd? It is to me. The reason for Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Christ. You can't get away from it. The word Christmas came from the term Christ's Mass where everyone would go and have a special service. There isn't any way around it, Christmas is a Christian holiday and it is filled with great fun for old and young, for the devout and not so devout. It is wonderful to me that people all over the world can enjoy something about Christmas. It doesn't matter if you give presents or receive them. What matters is this wonderful sense of peace and happiness this season brings. What is wrong, then, with saying "Merry Christmas" to someone? Is America so paranoid of insulting someone we, Americans, Christians, cannot stand up for who we are and say such jovial words to the world? It just doesn't seem...Well, American.

I'm sorry if it is politically incorrect folks, but


Wednesday, December 22, 2004


I have an idea for a "serialized" story. It would be wonderful to print it here in The News don't cha think? I think it would be a really good idea and may start it up in just a few days. Maybe even some fan fiction or something. I just want to be goofy and, well, how goofier can you get at times than by writing, printing, and just having fun with a pulp type story!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merry Christmas Annie!

Christmas Day is nearing and festivities are here left and right. Hubby dug out the Christmas tree and ornaments from the back room, and in the box of Christmas goodies was a surprise. My rag doll my Mommy got me.

It isn't the original Ragedy Anne doll my Mommy got me when I was a little girl. Annie was loved and held through one hospital after another until she fell apart. She is currently somewhere in the closet Back Home in pieces and saved in a plastic bag with moth balls. She is so very fragile I really can't touch her any more. So, not too long before my Mommy started getting very, very sick and my Daddy got in such a bad way, she got me a new Ragedy Anne doll. This one looks more handmade and home-loved, but I so loved her, and it was this second Annie that was such a surprise in the box of Christmas goodies.

I picked her up out of the box and held her close to me. She was soft and warmed to my touch in just a matter of seconds it seemed. Images I had long forgotten of dressing another rag doll and loving her so intently came into my mind. There were also a couple of very bad days in the hospital when Annie was the only one that could touch my fevered skin and not hurt me, except for my Mommy of course.

Tears didn't come as I held my newest Annie, but a joy filled me and spread. For a moment it was like holding back time and feeling my Mommy ever so close and present to me, with my Daddy standing by so very protective and secure in everything he was to himself and to us. Now Annie, this new Annie, is by the computer and will forever remain close to me. Hubby doesn't remember putting her in the box last year or where she was at all. Perhaps it is a simple Christmas miracle in and of itself. Whatever it is, I am most happy to have her back. Although, I think she needs a new dress. I need to work on that.

Merry Christmas all!

Merry Christmas Annie!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Enter...the Cat!!!

Today my lovely JoJo, whom you have seen in a lovely picture, discovered the yarn I had balled up to do some knitting with. It didn't matter it was yarn, all that mattered was that it was a ball and it seemed to be moving magically upon its own! Soon the yarn was tangled around the front paws and JoJo was desperately trying to fight off the wayward "ball" when I discovered them.

For her part, JoJo looked abashed that a ball had taken her down onto the couch. She was playful as I began untangling her. The situation was so bizarre I didn't berate her for getting into my yarn and almost destroying the scarf I had almost finished. Perhaps I should have, but what happened next took all thoughts of berating and anything else out of my head.

Our beautiful fuzzy, furry Cappa, our kitty, my princess, leapt from her perch by the TV directly onto JoJo with all four feet. Cappa isn't a small kitty either. JoJo yipped in surprise and almost peed as Cappa's mouth opened and she bit down firmly into JoJo's neck, tail swishing, eyes gleaming, and then she leapt away, back to her perch to pretend as if nothing had happened.

Stunned, I finished untangling JoJo's front feet and then she got off the couch, eyes, all the while, keyed on Cappa who was seemingly oblivious, purring exceptionally loudly and cleaning her front paw.

What else is going to happen between now and Christmas? If my babies are involved, I bet it's going to be very exciting, for a few moments at least.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

On the Horizon: The First Snowfall of the Season

It has spat snow a couple of days this week. Despite knowing that once it begins to snow in earnest I will be snowed in for a good chunk of the winter (I'm not at all sure how well the motorized wheelchair can go in the snow), it was fun just to sit and watch it snow. Cappa, our cat, was in my lap, and I was surrounded by the dogs on the floor. The snowflakes fell so lazily, so gently it was like something from a book or a movie, yet ten times more beautiful because it was really happening. Now the weatherman, if he is correct, says it is going to snow on Sunday and Lexington is going to get its first accumulation of the snow for the season. Part of me is sad, but a bigger part of me is joyous. I think there is a part of the grown-up soul that always hungers for snow days, just like we did when we were kids. Snow days are just...magical.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

SPAMage Giggles

Today while cleaning out my email I decided it would be a good idea to make sure nothing important was in the Bulk Mail folder. Some friends have said they have sent me things and it hasn't been showing up in my regular e-mail box, so on to the Bulk Mail folder I went.

There was only 69 pieces of e-mail in the thing, which was quite a surprise in itself. A couple of pieces of e-mail from friends that had gotten misdirected there, including a wonderful e-Christmas card that I have since saved.

Foraging on through the rest of the Bulk Mail swamp of porn offers and credit card offers, loan reduction things, and the on-line pharmacy trash, I came upon the topic of one of the e-mails and I sat right here before the computer and laughed a good hearty one. It said, "(my email name), GROW YOUR PENIS LARGER!" in big bold caps.

Of course the sender doesn't know I'm a girl, but the very thought made me laugh heartily. Who says SPAM can't sometimes bring you cheer?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


Yesterday, for the first time in over a year, I cooked a full meal. (The reason I didn't cook is because I didn't have a stove to do said cooking with.) As I prepared the tilapia I was going to bake, and the green-beans and potato dish I was also going to bake, a sense of quiet contentment came over me. It felt good to move about the stove and prepare the food. I discovered I had actually missed it.

When I was growing up it was wonderful to get to cook. As all of the sadness began to creep in slowly the love of cooking, which is really making a home, slowly left me. It was replaced with sadness, sorrow and dread in waiting for what eventually came. As I folded the aluminum foil over the fish I felt as if I had actually stepped over some type of threshold and some extra baggage slipped from my shoulders so that preparing the rest of the meal was an absolute joy, even though it made me extremely tired (messing around a stove with crutches is always difficult, especially when you're trying not to spill anything or burn yourself).

I have meals planned for the rest of the week and Hubby said he would cook one or two so I won't wear myself out.

It feels good to be back in the kitchen again. It makes me feel good and I love creating beautiful dishes.

Good golly! I sound like a housewife again!

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Real Saint Nicholas

I was reading in a Catholic book of saints recently and was dismayed to discover the Catholic Church was debating whether or not Saint Nicholas really existed and were considering taking him out of the list of saints!

Saint Nicholas isn't a myth! He was a bishop in Syria! Check out the link below and read for yourself!

Friday, December 10, 2004

Entering the Realm of a Foreign Language

For most of the world, knowing a second language is nothing out of the ordinary. Only knowing one is unusual there. Here in America, knowing two languages or more is most unusual.

Some have said that Spanish is the true second language of America, and, quite frankly, I believe it just may be correct. Still, learning a second language, in particular Spanish, was not a big concern for me until I started hanging out at my friend's store and trying to learn some tailoring. Latinos come in there all the time and ask questions and, although I try, I don't understand a lot of what they are saying. So, yesterday, in the midst of a Christmas shopping spree, I purchased a Spanish/English dictionary and a book called The Idiots Guide to Important Spanish Phrases.

The really neat thing is that I've really been paying attention to the words in there and it doesn't seem too awfully difficult and I already know the verbs change, and if I practice with the Latinos who come into the shop I might actually end up speaking Spanish!

Be very afraid people, The Author is entering the realms of learning a foreign language! ( least foreign to her)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Jesus Wept

It has taken me a long time to come to the conclusion Christ Himself understood grief to its fullest. Although I had read about Jesus' reaction to the news of Lazarus' death, it didn't hit me until here recently that He cried.

Christ, the Son of God, cried because His friend had died. How greater can you experience humanity than by loving and grieving the loss of a loved one?

I am humbled, and awed.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Found This ...

Practical Tips for Practicing Orthodoxy in Our Daily Lives

*Prayers are said morning and evening, either together as a family or individually.
*A blessing (grace, we called it) is said by the head of the family before a meal, and a prayer of thanks afterwards.
*On entering a room where there is an icon, cross yourself before it and say a brief prayer.
*When leaving one's dwelling, make the sign of the cross over the door and pray for its protection.
*On seeing a priest, abbot or abbess, or even when phoning them or writing to them, always ask their blessing.
*Before going to bed, make the sign of the cross over it and pray for protection during sleep.
*When you hear of anyone's death, immediately say a prayer for their eternal memory.
*If discussing or planning the future say: "As God wills."
*If you offend or hurt anyone, say as soon as possible, "Forgive me," always trying to take the blame yourself
*If something turns out well, say "Praise be (to God)."
*If something turns out badly, if there is pain, sickness or any kind of trouble, say "Praise be to God for all things," since God is all good and, though we might not understand the purpose of these things, undoubtedly they have been permitted by God
*If you begin some task, say, "God help me," or if someone else' working: "May God help you," (How sad that this expression is so perverted in the modem exclamation "God help you!")
*Cross yourself and say a brief prayer before even the shortest journey by car.
*For a longer and more difficult journey, ask a priest to sing a Moleben, failing that, at home say the troparion and kontakion for a journey.
*If there is a possibility of future trouble of any kind, either for yourself or for someone you care for, say an Akathist to the Mother of God.
*When you receive a blessing after prayer, always remember to thank God; if it is a small thing, you may add a prayer of thanksgiving to your daily prayers or make an offering. For matters of greater import, ask the priest to serve the Thanksgiving Moleben. But NEVER neglect to give thanks.

--Mother Pelagia of Lesna Convent

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Glow of Christmas

Hubby and I have been out several nights this past week going to the gym, Christmas shopping, and a general errand or two. At first I saw Christmas lights on houses and it was a pang of sorrow, and then, slowly, I began to realize I was actually looking for them.

There is something about this time of year that simply warms my heart, and the visible sign appears to be the Christmas lights I see. In the mall some people have such a serious look on their face as they glance down at pieces of paper with notes written on it for gifts. Other people just meander through the mall and different shops and just simply shop for the gift that will make someone they know smile. There are still others who go straight for the bargains with the attitude of "(recipient) should be happy I even got them something!" (These people sort of annoy me in general.)

While in the mall Sunday with some friends doing some shopping, I couldn't help but wonder what type of Christmas lights these people would have outside on their houses. The first group, I thought, probably had a general lighting theme but wanted to make sure it was "just right" so they were always doodling with the lights. The second group probably had lights on their house and many ideas still floating around for the themes; not everything for them would be perfect, but it would be brilliant and very lovely because it had been done with great love and enjoyment. The last group I would expect to have only partial lighted houses and half-heartedly put up, like the "Twleve Things I Hate For Christmas" song.

Friday, December 03, 2004

There's Something Odd About Writing Vacations...

Have you ever noticed the difference between Writing Vacations and "writing" vacations? See, people like Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Stephen Neal and a number of other established writers go off to some secluded spot to finish their novels and such and consider it a Writing Vacation. Struggling writers, such as myself, take "writing" vacations. What exactly does that mean? It means we take breaks from all of the ideas in our heads and don't write for a short span of time and let our heads and story ideas and story weavers rest before bombarding us again. In this light, I have taken a short "writing" vacation to let my head clear and now I am back in full swing and preparing for the on-slot of story ideas, article ideas and the like for the next year or so. I can honestly say I actually feel refreshed, so refreshed in fact I nearly completed chapter 3 of my novel last night. Since it has been at a standstill for days, I look upon the writing of the words last night with great joy and fondness and a renewed zeal for finishing it!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

And They're Off!

Thanksgiving is the jumping off point for the Christmas shopping frenzy. It becomes infectious hearing people talk about the places that have sales and which store has what. It fuels the blood and makes one want to dash out and shop without looking back! At least this seems to be so for a lot of the women I've heard talking of late.

It is almost as if we look around and see there is only 31 (relative) shopping days until the Big Event and then, well, the frenzy seems to set in and threaten to drown the sanity we have had up until this point. So, what am I going to do?

Are you kidding?! I'm going shopping!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Thursday is the good ol' American holiday of Thanksgiving, a day when we look all around us and be very thankful for the things we have, as well as the things we don't have.


Ok, let me explain.

I am thankful I do not have AIDS or cancer. I am thankful I am not alone -I have a wonderful, caring man to look after me and share my life with me, despite my sometimes-instanity of writing and reading and just being this really weird person I happen to be. I am thankful I do not have to live out-of-doors. I am thankful I do not have to squander and scrouge for food, etc.

See, there are many things to be thankful for - those things we have, and those we do not have.

Happy Thanksgiving all. Be safe.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


People around Lexington are starting to put out Christmas lights. The bright colors made me smile last night. A sense of joy started deep inside my stomach and worked its way upwards until I was covered in it. No, I wasn't giddy, but I was happy. I loved seeing the first Christmas lights of the season. It is as if people are welcoming hope back into their lives, just like me. Should I think of it like that? It would be nice to think people are living and loving and hoping for a good Christmas, a good beginning to the new year officially. It is a unifying thought and feeling, and I need that.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Looking Ahead

It has been a while since I have permitted myself to look forward - genuinely. In re-reading the posts made in this Blog, I realize it does have a general theme of "getting over".... For me, this means, getting over the past couple of hard years and finding my place in where I need to be in the world, in life, in faith, and in myself (not necessarily in that order).

So, with these realizations, and, hopefully, new energy to do so. I am going to move forward, beginning with the holidays.

Before losing Mommy and Daddy and my best friend so close together, I didn't understand how the holidays could make you feel so alone and lost. They were the happiest times of my life and filled with hope. Christmas has always been my true New Year's and always has been filled with hope and love. After losing Mommy I didn't feel that way. Since losing Daddy I didn't feel as if I was ever going to feel anything positive again. Looking at Thanksgiving and Christmas made me feel so depressed. What did I have to look forward to? Those who asked me what I wanted for Christmas made me feel horrible (and still it catches me by surprise) because all I really want I cannot have - I cannot bring them back, nor do I really want to considering the condition they were in.

Still, on a whole, I am a selfish creature and still want my Mommy and Daddy with me...forever.

Recently I have been able to relax and take a deep breath and look around me. There is still hope in the world, and for me. There is still love in this world, and even for me. I still have people I can love, and it is to them I must give of myself. Although the greatest gift I could ask of God is one I won't, because He has already done so much for me.

It is time for me to begin genuinely living again. It may be difficult, but it will happen, and I will find ways of doing so.

Friday, November 19, 2004


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Probably too much thinking. While doing the thinking I have not been doing the writing. The really bad part is the thinking I was doing wasn't connected to the writing! Too many thoughts and ideas have been flowing out of my imagination in my head. What to do about it? Put some of it here. Now, all I need to do is find the time to do that.

Why is it when the story comes there isn't enough time to work on it? Is it a procrastination technique? If it is, then I should have a black belt in it! I'd call it, PROCRASTINATION FU...kind of catchy don't cha think!

I know the posts here have been really lax of late. Things are finally heading back to a normal keel for me, even with the Holidays heading at me with the speed of a freight train!

Things are looking up!

Monday, November 15, 2004


There is something definitely to be said about sitting quietly in a room and writing with a pen upon paper and giving full reign to your imagination. Although I have not gotten to write any today on the novel, I admit it has been on my mind with nice plans and possibilities for the future of the main character.

Writing this piece long-hand is re-awakening my love for telling the story, for enjoying it myself as it unfolds in my head and upon paper before me.

How many writers are there out there who work on their first drafts by hand and then transfer to the computer? I know Neil Gaiman does it. Who else?

Before this novel I would have attempted to write it long-hand as opposed to computer to "see if it works" and this story just falls into wonderful place but only if it is WRITTEN. Isn't that amazing? Do all stories dictate how they are going to be written?

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Novel Day 12

The novel is moving slowly. Today, however, it seemed as if the dam actually burst and ideas and words are just flowing forward. If the stream keeps going as it is, I will actually REACH the 50,000 word mark, and maybe an entire novel, or close to it, by the end of this month.

Getting everything organized for the novel has been a struggle, but the word count is growing (right now I am not comfortable enough to say what it is, but soon - promise).

Writing this particular story has been far more difficult than I expected it would be. Not because of characters or plot or anything of that nature, it is quite difficult because it is a GOOD story and I want to keep it that way.

I want it to be GOOD and promising. I want to write the sort of story I would like to read. So far, that is being accomplished. So far, I am really into the story and can see everything that should be happening and know why it is happening. Of course, there are those little surprises that creep in to keep me on my toes and soooooo very interested in what is happening from beginning to ... well, now.

It is also getting to the point to where I may have to print off the pages and write some of it long-hand in order to keep the feel the way it currently is, and to write on it anywhere I am and then type it into the computer. There isn't anything about this story I want to lose.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's Day. My Dad was a veteran, so when Veteran's Day rolled around we were all very keen on calling him, and, if possible, going to see him and several of his friends. For himself, Daddy would go and see some of the older veterans who were living then. His heart always mourned just a little deeper when he found out a veteran of WWI had died. "Without them no one is going to really believe it happened," he would say. Now, as the veterans of WWII are slowly fading away into memory, I understand what he meant. As I look to the future and see the soldiers of Vietnam and today, I respect them even more, and I hope their memory is always kept and honored, no matter what happens in the future with how posterity views the wars. They are doing their job and doing it well and losing much of their innocence and happiness in the process.


Tuesday, November 09, 2004


A friend of mine once said, "Suicide is really a nasty word." I think he's right. It doesn't "sound" good or make one feel as if the action taken by someone was actually meant to be permanent. But, there it is - once it's done it cannot be un-done.

A cousin of mine recently committed suicide. She was the LAST person I would ever expect to do such a thing. She was always the one everyone wanted to be like - a track star in high school, a wonderful visual artist, and she even began writing, or maybe even finished a book of her own. She was a free spirit who always seemed to know what she wanted to do, or try, and did just that.

She was the same age as me. She was my Dad's favorite niece, really, and he was her favorite uncle.

It's really strange having death so easily available to us. Have you ever really thought about it? You can take pills, you can shoot yourself, you can slit your wrists, you can get hit by a moving vehicle, a train, you can even try and be a hero in a store robbery and get shot and still commit suicide.


My cousin, I found out, was very ill. She really needed a heart transplant, and perhaps she gave up and decided to end things on her own terms. I'm not proud of her for it, nor am I envious of her for taking matters into her own hands. The action she did just simply wasn't right. It was wrong. It is more a feeling than anything else. It was wrong to give up hope.

Maybe that's the worst thing about suicide. Giving up hope. I have been very close sometimes, but hope has always found its way back into my being. I just wish I could have talked to her and maybe helped her get a little hope back. Then again, it may not have changed anything. At least I have grown enough now to say, it's OK that I may not have been able to help her - it is just sad.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Writerly Stuff

Since beginning this novel I have had idea after idea for other stories. They just wander into my brain, hang around for a couple of minutes (hopefully) and then wander away again - sort of like someone peeping in to a workshop to watch someone crafting something. It doesn't unnerve me, but it does become a little annoying at times - sometimes I just have to look up to see who the new person is and I stop working on the current novel. Does this happen to everyone who writes? I wonder. Is it the natural order of the writing world?

Another thing has also been puzzling me - is it always a good idea to work on the computer with the Internet so at hand. It is a good way to procrastinate my day away and not do the writing I want in a day. It seems like a siren song of looking up something I may need and a lot of what isn't needed.

All in all, things are beginning to look quite well for the novel. The characters and events are real-ish and the story itself is progressing. I don't have anywhere NEAR enough words for what I should have by now, still, I'm not panicking. In fact, I just really want to finish this novel and tell a great story. Perhaps that is what part of NaNoWriMo teaches you - the love of telling a good story. I always want to tell a good story, but sometimes I get so lazy about it, and now I am not so lazy - just focused.

Friday, November 05, 2004


Have been extremely sick for the past few days. Chest pains. Feeling better today and believe I am once on the mend. Things will be back to normal tomorrow.

-- Henrietta

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Day Soul Searching

Today is it. Today is when we vote for either a new President of the United States or keep the current President we have. Wouldn't it be nice if the choice was an easy one to make?

I have seriously been looking at the issues and the people running, and the more I look, the more worried I become about the state of this country and what feels like a Class 6 tornado on the horizon heading for us, and I'm afraid of the out-come.

Let's face it, as far as voting is concerned, the decision has pretty much been made already. We have an "electoral college" instead of a true "election process" by the people. Those in power are really making this decision. We are, perhaps, trying to sway some thoughts or votes in the electoral college. That said, the question then arises for me, Why am I voting?

I am voting, like many people, to make my voice heard to the Powers That Be. I am going to take a stand.

Looking at the issues and the candidates - I am torn by what could be done on both sides if they are each elected.

With Bush I am looking at my freedom of thought and voice to be compromised.

With Kerry, I am looking at he moral issue of partial birth abortion and wondering whether or not he can really handle the Muslim mentality and Arabic spirit. If he "compromises" we may as well give up now and start moving to some other country. I am also not in favor of the homosexual marriage. There are many things to consider with this issue alone.

There is something on the horizon heading toward our country and our people at a remarkable rate. I don't know what it is, but I've a feeling we, as a people and individual are going to have to make a choice on a far more spiritual and moral level than we ever have in my generation.

Bush has lied and controlled and done damage to our political credibility to the nations.

Kerry doesn't really have political credibility with the nations yet.

If something were to happen to Kerry could Edwards run the country? I don't think so. He is green. He doesn't know the ins and out of politics quite yet.

Who am I going to vote for?

I guess I'll decide that when I get to the polls.

Monday, November 01, 2004

"So shall it be thought; so shall it be written."

We begin our grand adventure today. The novel.

For my own part I have been on pins and needles waiting for this day, and have spent much of the morning thinking and plotting, and letting Ezra come to full light for me. "Ezra" is the main character of the story, and he tells quite a good story so far ... in my head.

Unfortunately, before writing you have to take care of the mundane such as paying bills, letting dogs in and out and in again, and some housework. The mundane has slowed me down today, but not tomorrow!

There are tons of ideas for The News articles as well, so I may have to start jotting them down on the side and make sure they can get done first thing in the morning.

The time change also seems to have helped spur me forward in this adventure! The extra sleep is helping!

Now, "let it be written!"

Saturday, October 30, 2004

John Denver-isms

For the past couple of nights, Hubby and I have been listening to JOHN DENVER'S GREATEST HITS. Yeah, we're nerdy like that and not that far away from being almost-hippies.

There should be a term for that place, you know. The place where you aren't hippies or hippie wanna-bes but so close some people look at you and call you "well-dressed hippies". It is an attitude I realize, and how you look at the world and believe the world can be a better place, and that we, as people, can make a difference on some level. You aren't being a hippie, but you have something in common with them. It needs a name, a place of its very own in our language and culture.

Sort of like John Denver. He was never a "true" hippie, but hippies love his music, folk buffs love his music, and people of creative natures usually love his music. He reached out across a lot of spaces and his music touched people. He sang and wrote about feelings of loneliness, hope, love, and accepting who you are, no matter how much you've been fighting it.

That's what I thought of when I went to sleep last night, and again this morning when I woke up. Then, another thought hit me - I want my writing to be like John Denver's music: I want it to reach out across all levels so people will find something of themselves in it and maybe like it, and discover a unity between themselves and others out there who may, or may not, be so far from themselves.

Friday, October 29, 2004

So Much to Write, So Much to Say, and Don't Have a Clue Where to Begin!

Lots going on all of a sudden.

Habitat for Humanity House

The Habitat for Humanity House next door will be finished today. They have built it in a month and, I would expect, the neighbors will be moving in some time this weekend, if not beginning tonight.

Because the Habitat for Humanity House has gone up our back yard is being looked at very closely by the City Inspection Code Enforcement people. It's the back yard for crying out loud! No one's back yard looks spiffy here on this street because we're just working people! Hubby has worked on the back yard each day he has gotten home this week. If it isn't cleaned up we're going to have to pay $100 fine! Give us a break! If we're getting fined, why isn't everyone else on our street. Me thinks it is because we are directly next door to the Habitat for Humanity House. Please, bureaucrats need to get a grip when it comes to pictures! Besides, the only picture going to be taken of that house and this street is our side and the front of everything! And, the front of our house looks great I must say.


The long wait is over, and it really doesn't seem like a long wait at all. Just yesterday it seems there was campaigning and debates and the bit conventions happening. Now it is time to put up and shut up. Shutting up may be the best point of everything right now.

When the campaigning first started I was 110% behind Kerry. Then, somewhere in the middle, he changed what he was saying and speaking on. I was thunderstruck! He took a tack that seemed he thought would actually get him into the White House it seems instead of what he had originally been saying of what he wanted to do for the people!

It just hurt me to see him become a politician.

Now I'm not 110% behind Kerry. I'm not even 50% behind him now. I don't want to vote for Bush, but I'm not at all convinced I can vote for Kerry. If he changes his positions now, what is he going to do if he gets into office? And it hasn't been the media that has made me waver in my decision here or made me doubt. It is watching the debates, it is going to each candidate's web site, it is looking into reports and trying to be an informed voter.

This is actually the first election I've voted in for a couple of years. I didn't feel as if my vote mattered (and it didn't last time because of the coupe), and now I'm wondering if my vote is going to count at all still, but I have to do something.

No one is for the common person. No matter what is said or done - no one in politics is for the common man. They never have been. They never will be. It is all just a big political power struggle and people are being duped into believing they matter. Part of me still wants to hope it can happen, but each election that passes I am becoming more and more jaded.

Still, this year I will vote. I will cast a vote for who knows when I get there. And I'm voting because I'm afraid not to vote this time. Why? If I don't vote and at least make an attempt, I'm going to feel horribly guilty about so many things!

Mass Transit Ticket

Here in Fayette County, Kentucky, we have a horrible mass transit problem. Tied in with the mass transit is the WHEELS program which allows people in wheelchairs like myself to get out. The local government in its wisdom, wishes to cut the mass transit buses - if that happens, the WHEELS buses will also be cut drastically. There aren't enough buses as it is for those in wheelchairs and a cut would make it nearly impossible to get out and do anything. So, I am going to go and vote we keep the mass transit system we have and to improve upon it. I am urging everyone who lives in Fayette County, Kentucky (which is Lexington) to vote the same. One of the best things about cities is the ability to get from place to place - why should Lexington, Kentucky be any different?

The Novel Approacheth

Monday is November 1st. D-Day for the novel writing to begin. Right now I am chomping at the bit to begin writing and holding myself back is a small problem. There are already copicious notes made and I'm looking for writing music to accompany me through the endeavor. I've researched a little and know I will need to research more.

The story itself is in my head and spotty enough in all of the right places to make me wonder what is going to happen! This time I'm finishing the novel, doing a re-write and then sending it out! I'm not quitting this time because I think it is too hard. I'm going forward because it is a new challenge!


My rambling is now done ... I think.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Preparations Nearly Complete

I have done a little research for the novel which is fast approaching. I'm quite excited about it! There will probably be some research done as I go along to keep things as realistic as possible. Going to need major amounts of love and support Dear Readers! What and adventure for me this is going to be!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Have you ever truly thought about a gray day? It really just isn't gray in color, but in feeling. I wonder what the color gray would taste like.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

There ARE Zombies in the World!

Did you know zombies really did exist? People who are not alive and still aren't dead? It hit me yesterday, or, more correctly on Sunday when 2 + 2 came together and made 4.

There are people in the world who exist - they don't live. They put on a good show of living but never really DO anything with their lives. They never take chances unless those are the most safe chances imaginable. They fill their lives with purchases because they somehow don't want, or can't handle filling their lives with people and living. They exist. They don't live and view the sunshine with happiness or see beauty with kids playing on a playground. (Some view it a little too happily I must also admit and go after the Innocent, but that's something else to write about on another day.)

They don't smile at people, they just move along with their heads down or high and still don't see people or greet people. They go to work and come home and don't share anything of themselves with anyone except maybe the computer.

These same people surround themselves with people who are struggling to be alive, yet there is always one person there who is like them. There is another person who can't look to see anything good and uses excuses to keep themselves and others under control.

When these zombies of existence see someone who is happy, they want the same thing. They want the joy they have, but they are just too afraid to change to make something positive happen in their lives, and when they begin to change they stop because they don't know what will happen when that change takes place, and the familiar is far better than the unknown.

I know people do this about change, because the familiar is well, just that, familiar, but a lot of people go forward, no matter how slowly, into the unknown. The thing this other group seriously needs to consider is going so slowly they are not advancing at all.

Don't we all know someone who is a zombie? Just existing and never advancing? Never going out to explore life with joy and common sense? It doesn't take long for some zombies to go all the way down and hate the happy people in the world and try to bring down the happiness around them - even if it is just by a comment.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Author of Grief, Part II

Some people I know, cyber-wise and reality-wise, have asked the question of "Why did got let Evil into the Garden in the first place?!" Then they have proceeded to instruct me in the fallacies of God from Wiccan view point, Protestant view points, and philosophical view points. Alex, of course, just asked the question. *huge smile* None of my friends liked my answer, which I will share with you, Dear Readers (of course, Alex is just getting the answer so we'll see what he has to say when he says it).

Why did God let Evil into the perfect Garden, into Paradise, in the first place? He didn't. There is one thing a person of faith must accept and accept whole heartedly (yes, I know this will bring more questions): God is Omnipotent (all powerful), and Omniscient (all knowing). He knew what was going to happen when He made human kind. He knows all the flaws we have. He knows our selfishness and our selflessness coexist in us. He let decisions be made on both sides.

Evil (we will just let it rest as that for a name) came to the Garden to deceive and try and sway the new creation of human kind. How new it was is unknown. It was Evil's choice to deceive and corrupt and human kinds choice to accept and be swayed. God let Free Will happen and let human kind follow through with the consequences.

Someone said, when I had told them this, "So God doesn't care what we do! He just wants us, expects us, to screw up!" No, that isn't the case either. Of all things, God has Hope in us. We, as a species, a race of creatures, had more ability on this planet than any other Creation God had made. We are always striving for something better, a higher calling, to be more successful, and then to go forward and be happy. The problem is, people can never truly find what will make them happy in the world, but they can find something that makes their spirit happy. We are beings of body and spirit - the body was made first - and then our spirit was given to us. This links our body with our spirit. That is why when we do something horribly wrong we sometimes "feel sick" over it.

Like the most wonderful parent, God has hope in us that we will do the right thing. He gives us room to be individuals and to have Free Will. He knows all of the possibilities of the consequences from the choices we make. He doesn't try to force us to make the "right" choices. He let's us run into the wall sometimes because we take a stubborn moment and won't change.

It is the people around us, and even ourselves, that try to force others into accepting or doing what we perceive as right and good. Some people want power and to be able to say I did this or I did that. In reality we may have destroyed a hundred people to get what we desire.

It pleases me to know Orthodoxy has never had a "conquest" to change or convert people religiously as many other religions have done, and are still doing. We point the way and answer questions and leave it up to an individual to decide what they want to do, even if it takes then five or ten years of study to decide they don't want to accept Orthodoxy. It is simply their choice and we give them room to make that choice, accepting them as individuals and people.

The Orthodox faith isn't perfect, because it is composed of human people, but it does give more room than any other religion I know of to think and ask questions without being condemned. It gives people room to explore and make choices - just like a good parent, with God as the Father.

I never wanted, in my life, to see disappointment in my Daddy's eyes for me. He loved me and trusted me, believed in me far more than I deserved or had a right to even expect from him. And, I loved him more than any man on this earth, even my Hubby and best friend. Unfortunately, I did see disappointment in his eyes for me, but was able to win back the trust - his belief in me and his love for me, however, never once diminished.

God is like this. He has a region and expression of Hope for us, His creations, as no one else can. He Loves us with a love we cannot comprehend, and this Hope for us is inexpressible to the human mind.

God didn't "let" Evil into Paradise. He "let" human kind and Evil make choices, but He had unboundless Hope in human kind it would make a far better decision than it did. He still has Hope for us.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Author of Grief, Part I

Have you ever truly thought about who the author of grief is? On the surface it seems as if the answer is quite simple, especially in the Christian world - Satan. The Devil. The Evil One.

In the beginning of the Human race we were perfect creations of a benevolent God and given so many wonderful things. All creatures lived in peace. Then something happened, and, if the story is true, our free will got us into trouble, but even then the first humans were merely kicked out of their perfect garden and several laws were laid before human kind to deal with its mistake.

Then, as human kind aged, greed and envy began to happen and Cain killed Able. Death happened in the world. If you look at it, if Evil had not tempted what was supposed to be good, then none of this would have happened? Right? It would be very easy to blame Evil for being the author of grief, but in reality, I don't believe it is.

You see, human kind, people, had the opportunity to stand up to the temptation of the fall and permitting death to exist. It wouldn't have mattered if it was male or female, truly. Somewhere along the way, human kind would have wanted to receive knowledge that made them just like God and The Fall from Perfection would probably still have happened. If "Eve" had stood up to the temptation, what would "Adam" have done later? Would he have succumbed?

So, what is the answer? Human kind is the author of grief itself?

I think, actually, it is a combination of the two. If Evil was so jealous of human kind it could not permit it to exist in its most perfect state, it does share the blame for letting death into the world and thus grief. It is also a good deal the responsibility of human kind, because human kind fell at the very first temptation they were given.

Evil is not the soul reason grief exists today in the world, nor is it the human race. I think it is an equal responsibility to both.

Because there was a tempter death exists and people must grieve at the loss of someone they so dearly love. Because of human kinds eagerness to be more than they were ready to be at the time death exists and people must grieve at the loss of someone they dearly love.

What would human kind have been had it not fallen? God has a plan for all things, but, as is humanity's want to do, it was too eager and wanted it all now. How sad to contribute to such an outstanding sorrow for the world now.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Feeling Better and Plans Are In The Air!

Excitement is growing for the approach of the writing of the novel. I'm feeling as if that great Grand Thing just out of my clear vision is nearing.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Beginning of a New Adventure...?

Have you ever had the feeling, and it's usually out of no-where, that you're on the verge of something really, really good? Well, that's where I am. Despite my pain level being ungodly high recently and feeling like crap physically, emotionally and spiritually I'm soaring. I'm heading toward something grand, something good and it feels wonderful.

I've an inkling the great Grand Thing has to do with my writing, but I'm not positive, not sure of it yet. Not only that, but I know it has to do with something absolutely creative and good for me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A short poem

A short poem for the day while we wait for more submissions.

Do not republish. This is not my work and I do not claim any copyrights to this material.

By Shane Stewart
Copyright (c) 2004 by Shane Stewart

For those of us, those few dim lights,
Those who fail, falter, fade,
Stutter, stumble –
For those who attempt yet somehow
Fall short,
For those who stood and stared
Failure in the face,
There is nothing to compare
To that moment
When as we stare at Failure
And Failure stares at us,
We straighten, rise,
Strengthen, smile
And bid Failure good bye.

Shane Stewart

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"A quandary on the horizon, Cap'n!"

No matter what happens, November will see a novel written. Problem: Now I have more than two ideas for a good novel. One is about TK as you all know, and the other is a new idea, a horror idea with Dram Warrensfield as the central character. The third is about my dear werewolf! Oh, the choices!

Also, part of me is dying to just start writing it long-hand to see how fast it can go and how far. There is even a journal waiting for a novel to be written in it in my writing bag!

I know, if I wrote it long hand I would have to type it all in as I went. Would that be so bad? There is a very practical part of my brain screaming it is; however, the creative side of me thinks of the feel of the pen in hand and the words literally flowing onto paper!

I say again ... Ah, the choices!

Monday, October 18, 2004

I Can't Believe I Did This...Moment

I said I was never going to do it, but I collapsed and did it. I joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Why? Because I want to finish TK's story and if I have something pushing me forward with a deadline, I just may actually do it. Well, I'm going to do it.

In the beginning I was feeling guilty because TK has already been started, but today, as I was looking over my novel I realized I screwed up terribly between points A and B so guess what.... I have to start over.

This time I am making copicious notes and not really working with an "outline" per se, but actually a loose diagram of what I need to happen to get to point Z or at least X.

So, I will be starting over in time for NaNoWriMo. *shiver* So, an entire novel in a month. I know it can be done, and all they are asking for is 50,000 words. I'm pretty sure I can come up with that, and it doesn't really have to be finished as in a completed project by then. Still, it will take me really working and cracking to get the word count. My most important worry is keeping the story on track. I mean, I could write absolute garbage to reach 50,000 words.

There is a week bit of excitement as well. There is a potential for submitting this novel somewhere and having it accepted, and that is one of the most important things. Well, there are two major important things I want to have accomplished: 1) a good story is told; and 2) it makes it to its conclusion.

So, for the month of November you all may be coming with me on this wild ride of novel writing. Let's hope I succeed and don't kill anyone in the house, or outside of it! Just kidding.

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Time really passes slowly when you want to get out into the sunshine and enjoy it and can never seem to get there.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Open Call For Fiction

Wednesdays are open for fiction. Check out the guidelines or e-mail me and I'll give them to you. Send in that fiction!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Art of Reading a Book

Last night with nothing on television, I settled myself down to read Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. Sometimes the debate caught my attention, but, for the most part, I was lost in reading the book.

I loved the feel of the book in my hands, the feel of the pages as I turned them. I was warm and comfy and the animals were scattered around my feet. Even Hubby grabbed a book and did a bit of reading, but he went to the computer (because he doesn't really have any computer time during the day).

My imagination latched on to words and scenes and descriptions and helped bring the book to life before me. Like most things, the book is absolutely nothing like the movie. They are so totally different I can look on the book and it is brand new, nothing like the movie - they are separate entities and I love them both for their differences.

Like all good books, this one has me thinking and looking at my home without a critical eye. For the first time I am looking at my house, my home with an eye to what it could look like and I am quite pleased. Isn't that part of what makes a book wonderful? The spark of ideas.

Reading a book isn't something that should just happen - it should be enjoyed like tasting the purple of a grape!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Mists of a Gray Day

It's gray outside. The sky is gray. The trees have an odd gray overlay to their bright leaves. The very air you breathe into your lungs is gray, feels gray, tastes gray. It is one of those damp gray days where no rain has fallen, but the moisture in the air is heavy, pregnant with more than just the possibility of wet. It is one of those gray damp days where you automatically pull the sweater or coat tighter around you when stepping outside, not because it is all that cold, but the gray chill just might enter you some way and make its home there - so you pull your coat, or sweater tighter around you in hopes to protect yourself from it. Still, like a moth to a cold gray flame, you still go outside. You still look up at the sky. You still shiver in the chilled, damp air.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Patron Saint of Cooks

Our Lord made it quite clear that we all have different talents and abilities, which should always be used for the greater glory of God. The Saint depicted on this morning's Bulletin cover is a prime example of the unique ways Christ can be served by us.

A simple, but pious young man, ST. EUPHROSYNOS had a greater desire to spend his life on Mt. Athos as a monastic. But what type of work was he best suited for there? He was not a scholar or a liturgicist. He had no administrative skills. A place was found for him, however, in a kitchen of one of the monasteries. While others may have found his labor meaningless and degrading, Euphrosynos joyfully went about his business of preparing meals for his fellow monastics.

One night, the abbot of the monastery had a strange dream. He found himself in Paradise, where he saw Euphrosynos, who gave him three golden apples. When the abbot awoke the next morning, the apples were on his pillow. It is said that the apples had miraculous powers, but Euphrosynos never experienced them. Embarrassed by the attention that this dream brought him, he fled the monastery and sought refuse in a desert cave. Here this 9th century saint would remain for the rest of his life.

The Orthodox Church commemorates Euphrosynos the Cook each year on September 11/24.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin

Monday, October 11, 2004


I found out today through talking with a friend Christopher Reeve had died. Probably like a lot of people I was stunned at first, then sad, then we let the conversation drift over to other topics. After having hung up the phone I really let myself just be and found myself quite sad.

I have loved Superman since I was in the hospitals growing up and fighting the pain. Superman, for me, was someone who would keep his word and help me when no one else would dare to try. He was someone that believed in himself and in others until proven wrong, and he was smart. Really smart. Superman was someone I really liked and exhibited qualities I would have liked to find in friends and, one day, in the love of my life.

As I grew older I watched the Superman movies and found someone who made Superman really come to life for me. Then, later I saw Somewhere In Time and fell in love with a man who would defy everyone, including time and death to get to me.

When I found out Christopher Reeve had been injured in a horseback riding incident I was stunned like everyone else, then, as the time went past, I came to admire Christopher Reeve as a man far more since I had had several quadriplegic friends in my life. That he kept his sense of humor and he still was so outspoken was remarkable.

Now, now he has gone to the Great Rest. I hope he knew God. It would really be wonderful to get to Heaven and have Superman there.

*a thoughtful sigh*

Hubby and I watched Under the Tuscan Sun Friday night. I've been wanting to see the movie for a while, but, Hubby is a guy and doesn't really like to watch "girlie" or "chick flicks" all that much. It was a wonderful treat for me he finally broke down and rented it. I have to say I loved every minute of the movie, especially the thoughtful parts about putting your life back together again after something devastating happens. For the main character, Frances, it was a divorce.

As I watched the movie I found myself reflecting on my life and how it has changed and continues to change, because that is what life seems to do for you, change things about you - your circumstances, hopefully, are never the same, if they are then, perhaps, something is wrong. (Then again some people are quite happy with nothing ever changing for the better or worse, they like the status quo of boredom. I've known a couple.)

Through the progression of the movie you discover, with Frances, you have to actually do something to make your life change. It doesn't just happen, although sometimes it feels like it. We make choices that lead us forward or backwards in our progression through life itself. We live because of the choices we make. And, if you perceiver, "happiness slips up on you" as Frances says at the end of the movie (if I haven't misquoted her - ah, a good reason to watch the movie again!).

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Shutter Bug 101a

I love taking pictures, as I've said before. Only recently have I begun putting some of the pictures I take in my blog or elsewhere. Part of me thinks "No one else is going to like the pictures I take or find interesting." Now I am slowly coming to the conclusion, "OK, not everyone is going to like what I do, so why sweat it? I like what I do and some of the pictures I take make me think."

This one is one of those pictures that makes me think. Everything close up is very clear, but the things a little further away aren't clear, but you can come up with a glimpse of what the images are. To me, that's like life. Sometimes the treats are close, just under your nose, and other things, things you know little about, are farther ahead and you have to sometimes leave where you are to find those out. Just make sure you know how to get back.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

An Interesting Blog Note

I was roaming around the Blog world and looking, really glancing over, many blogs. Some were in languages I couldn't read, others were, well, juvenile and uninteresting except for the "I can't believe he kissed me! Finally he kissed me!" That made me smile because I can remember saying the same thing several times in my diary when I was a kid.

I was on the verge of just giving up and going back and logging out when I decided to click one more time ... and hit gold! The blog is called The Corsair and is
here if you want to take a look. I highly recommend it.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Sometimes Change Is Good

Don't you just love how things change sometimes? I mean, look at cooking for example. If you take some raw meat, some vegetables, and some water with some salt and a few other spices, you put them in a pot and let them cook you have stew! Change. Another example: If you take flour, add water, some sugar, some fruit of some edible type and bake it for a while you end up with a pie! Change. The items in the beginning have changed their internalness into something different with a lot of the original good characteristics they had before.

Why am I mentioning this? Because, for the first time last night, I looked in the mirror and saw the possibility of change within myself.

Hubby and I were working out and I was on the sit-up machine and paused between sets and glanced at myself in the mirror. Usually I try and ignore what I see there. I mean, I don't have the body I want and it doesn't make me feel better to see it in all of its sweaty glory. You know?

Well, last night, during my pause between sets, I looked at myself in the mirror and felt a chill go down my spine. I could see what I wanted to look like underneath the surface of the unshapely form looking back at me.

It was as if I had two bodies. One I currently have and am molting ever so slowly, and the one I want just there, just underneath it all. That has never happened before. I smiled at myself in the mirror and felt something change inside me, something warm and filling like warm apple cider.

What was that feeling? I knew I had felt it a few times before, but couldn't quite place my finger on it. The feeling is still there, rolling and tumbling inside me like a happy kitten. It wasn't until today I figured out what the feeling was: love for myself. It has been a while since I've felt that. Hopefully it will stay a while.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Beauty's Flash

Today I went outside with the dogs and sat on the back porch for a few minutes. The sky was a brilliant baby blue with a dappling of cloud streaks making the sky look almost marbled. The birds were singing so joyfully, as if Spring had returned. A squirrel was up in our mulberry tree and chirped and twittered at me, annoyed for disturbing his peace and probably placing his (or her) life in danger by letting out the dogs.

The warmth of the day seemed to fill my skin, my bones, my heart with joy, too, much like the birds. The dogs ran about playfully, even the 13 year old Teddy. They seemed to care less if they actually did their business as promised, but wanted to soak up the warmth today as well for themselves.

It did feel like mid-Spring out there today. Everything had a brilliance to it that has been fading slowly of late as Winter approaches on slow, steady feet.

Today is the sort of day to go out and enjoy yourself doing something else other than what you're supposed to do in celebration of its very existence!

What can I come up with to do?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Material on the Bed

None of my sewing projects are done yet. Why? Because I haven't found a large enough place to cut my material. Today as I was puttering around the house it hit me! The bed! Mommy used to cut material and patterns out on the bed all the time when I was growing up. I can do the same!

When this thought hit me I was filled with a different warmth, a warmth I haven't known for a while. It is a good thing, a wonderful thing, a memory thing.

In seeing this answer to my problem it is almost as if Mommy is telling me, showing me what to do. Now I understand not all the lessons we learn in growing up and growing older are truly lessons learned from teaching, but also from glorious example. My Mamaw did the same thing.

This is a good day and tomorrow will be an even better day because I don't feel quite so lost suddenly.

Fall Has Arrived in the Bluegrass

It is very cool outside - 61*F. Hubby is convinced it isn't, but, then again, he can go out into the snow in bare feet and not be phased. For me, it is cool. It is time for wrapping an afghan over my legs and drinking hot teas and cocoas with a splash of coffee. I may just enjoy this Fall after all.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Is Nostalgia Always a Sad Feeling?

Last week, Hubby and I went to Richmond, Kentucky for his doctor visit and we did a few visits while we were there. Hubby went to visit one of his friends who now has a store of his own, which is a good thing. Not very far from the store is the old Dominoes building.

It is empty now and the paint is dull. When I was going to college at Eastern Kentucky University it was the place to go and get pizza. Best deals, many kids could walk to it, and, well, it just looked cool with the Dominoes colors painted so vividly (then). It was the era of The Noid and it was wonderful to get those plush things from Dominoes.

Seeing it now and remembering it then made me sad. I loved the memories it brought back to me so brilliantly, yet it made me sad to see the paint dull and faded and the shop itself empty with a large FOR SALE/LEASE sign on it.

Straight across from it is a strip club. That also did not exist in Richmond when I was going to college. Rumor has it (I myself have not ever been inside it, nor has Hubby) that the girls only strip down to a g-string and pasties. Richmond, Kentucky is a very small town but, coming from Stinnett and Hyden, Kentucky, it was huge way back then. What would the guys I knew in my college days have done if the strip club had been there then? I can only guess.

Things change. Some people advance with the change and grow, while others do not, but the core of the person usually doesn't change - it just takes on a different aspect of growth.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Something I Haven't Really Thought About

Sunday I had to miss Church service because of pain. Hubby got me a flyer for the day and on the back of it is something absolutely wonderful to read, so I thought I would share it with you all.

The Power of the Written Word
Do you realize that Jesus Christ did not put even ONE of His divine thoughts into writing? Fortunately, men like the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did, enabling us to learn the wonderful and meaningful teachings that our Lord gave to the world.

Throughout the course of Church History, the written word has had great significance and importance. The works of suck illustrious Church Fathers as Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom have been preserved and handed down to us. Their sound explanations of the Scriptures as well as their commentaries on daily living have been of great value to the Christians of later generations.

When Holy Orthodoxy reached the shores of America at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a scarcity of books and publications available about our precious faith in English. Consequently, the Church found herself in a time of crisis: if we could not LEARN about Orthodoxy, how could we be expected to LIVE it? Through the grace of God, however, the potential gravity of this situation was recognized by the hierarchs of all jurisdictions. Catechetical materials for faithful of all ages now exist. Every diocese has their own newspaper and other publications for the edification of their own flock. The printed word not only provides permanence and has regularity but also offers participation to the layman. Many brilliant Orthodox Christians have left us their thoughts. Yes, we can be rightly proud of the use of the written word in today's Church. May it continue to be a "light" to enlighten a darkened society!

I've Missed You! Have You Missed Me?!

I'm back, at long last, I'm back blogging away to my heart's content and hopefully to your all's as well.

The past few days have been pretty pain-filled for me. The elevating leg rests for my wheelchair have yet to arrive, so my real knee, so very arthritic as it is, has been stressed and is just letting me know its displeasure with how I am sitting every day. Also, the weather is changing and that also puts me down for a couple of days. However, have good meds now ((r)Bextra for those who would like to know), and it seems I may just be able to face fall and winter with a modicum of grace instead of pure out-and-out agony.

So, here I am, back again and feeling better than I have for days.

Even emotionally I am feeling better. I'm feeling as if I'm actually going to make it through so to speak.

Monday, September 27, 2004

A Decisiveness - An Acceptance ... sort of ...

Last night Hubby and I had a talk, a genuine talk that I didn't let escalate into an argument. It was hard listening to some of the things he had to say. All of it was important, but two things really stick out - they made me wince with pain and a strange sort of acceptance.

1) I can't take silence any more. Silence drives me insane any more. If the radio, TV, or music in general isn't playing to fill up the silence, then I'm agitated and aggravated.

I used to love the stillness of the house, though. I used to love the most quiet places in the libraries and bookstores where I could just simply get lost in the story I was reading at the time, or, if I was home, probably writing too.

I have sat for hours just reading and being quiet, marking time with the passing of the sun or the ticking of a clock when it would enter into my consciousness. Now something like that is enough to make me go bonkers.

It has been well over a year since I've been able to handle the silence.

Mommy died in silence. We all were so quiet beforehand as not to disturb her, because the event was such a strange thing for us to have to face, go through.

Since then I haven't been able to take the silence of any place, really. There just seems too much of it.

2) I don't have a certain sense of determination I used to have, a certain fire. That one really hurt. Not because he said it, but because it's true. There was a time when I absolutely couldn't fathom letting anyone or any thing winning over me, making me defeated. Now I just move along quietly and hope the wagon doesn't get over-turned instead of trying to find a way of getting down the slope, or collecting what I need to survive. I was determined to succeed at everything I undertook, and now, I just really look to surviving.

What does all of this mean? I'm not really sure, except, I know it needs to change. Hubby was right - if I don't do something with all of my writing I have nothing more than a very expensive hobby. One that is partially tearing me apart and yet helping me to possibly re-create myself.

I'm not at all sure how to get the old fire back. Maybe it isn't something I should get back, maybe it should metamorphose into something different, something stronger and more mature than what it has been in the past.

I know I want peace in my life, but, I am not peaceful. I have never been a "peaceful" person, but I have been a "happy" person milking joy out of every moment. I want that again. Sometimes I think I almost have it, but it slips away into so much smoke after a day or so.

It is time to figure out how to begin again, not just begin the writing again, but begin everything again. Begin looking at myself with joy, at my home.

For the first time I really want a pretty house and I want it to happen as much as possible through my hand. There is a part of me terrified at the enthusiasm of it all I genuinely feel. This is a different thing, totally alien to my usual nature.

I've started working toward changing it, though. I got up today and went straight away and washed my face and brushed my teeth. Usually I wait an hour or so, but not today. Why? Because Hubby asked me when was I my most happiest. There were several things that have now popped into my head, and one of them was just meeting him, getting to know him, and wanting him to see me as beautiful. Another was a time before I decided to go to college. Another time was when I was learning in college and I had a regimen in all times of doing that - getting up and immediately washing my face and brushing my teeth, even if it was before eating, and I would brush them again.

I have to fully accept the changes in my life and figure out how to keep going. Grieving does not mean the end of my life - I suppose now begins the hardest chore of re-building my life.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Some Helpful Ideas for Helping Others with Grief

Currently I have come to the conclusion I am still grieving and the grief will pass ... eventually. At last I am not actively looking for an end to the grieving, but am finally able to accept what I am currently going through. There are more good days now than there are bad ones, and my life is slowly going back into place.

Hubby found something that he brought me recently that I would like to begin sharing with you Dear Readers. It has some good advice for helping those who are grieving in fresh grief, and it helps with those, perhaps, at my stage of grief as well. So, for this week, The News will be covering a bit about grief and living again.

1. Be patient with the one grieving. How hard that is sometimes for us, because we so want to help them.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Friday, September 24, 2004

An Up-Coming Birthday

Tomorrow is the 25th of September. The 25th of September is my Mommy's birthday. She would have been 86 years old this time.

Each year at her birthday as many of us as possible would try and gather together for it. As the end drew nearer the need to be with her on her birthday was a driving force for me.

Last year it nearly tore me apart realizing she wasn't with me ... us ... any longer. This year I hope things are different. I hope I can view the day with quiet happiness for having had her in my life as long as I did, and to honor the life she lived.

How am I going to honor her? I don't know. I've thought of lighting a candle for her on her birthday or having a special service done in her honor at Church. I may begin my Winter Project on that day. In whatever way it happens, I hope, on the 25th of this month - tomorrow - I can smile at happy memories instead of weep at her passing.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Anne Rice gone over the deep end?

I am a writer and I love praise. I would love to be able to write everything and have it published, but I am well aware not everyone is going to like what I write and, hopefully, when I make it big I won't do this:

Anne Obrien Rice (New Orleans, LA United States) - See all my reviews

Seldom do I really answer those who criticize my work. In fact, the entire development of my career has been fueled by my ability to ignore denigrating and trivializing criticism as I realize my dreams and my goals. However there is something compelling about Amazon's willingness to publish just about anything, and the sheer outrageous stupidity of many things you've said here that actually touches my proletarian and Democratic soul. Also I use and enjoy Amazon and I do read the reviews of other people's books in many fields. In sum, I believe in what happens here. And so, I speak. First off, let me say that this is addressed only to some of you, who have posted outrageously negative comments here, and not to all. You are interrogating this text from the wrong perspective. Indeed, you aren't even reading it. You are projecting your own limitations on it. And you are giving a whole new meaning to the words "wide readership." And you have strained my Dickensean principles to the max. I'm justifiably proud of being read by intellectual giants and waitresses in trailer parks,in fact, I love it, but who in the world are you? Now to the book. Allow me to point out: nowhere in this text are you told that this is the last of the chronicles, nowhere are you promised curtain calls or a finale, nowhere are you told there will be a wrap-up of all the earlier material. The text tells you exactly what to expect. And it warns you specifically that if you did not enjoy Memnoch the Devil, you may not enjoy this book. This book is by and about a hero whom many of you have already rejected. And he tells you that you are likely to reject him again. And this book is most certainly written -- every word of it -- by me. If and when I can't write a book on my own, you'll know about it. And no, I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut, or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized and polished myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me, and I will never relinquish that status. For me, novel writing is a virtuoso performance. It is not a collaborative art. Back to the novel itself: the character who tells the tale is my Lestat. I was with him more closely than I have ever been in this novel; his voice was as powerful for me as I've ever heard it. I experienced break through after break through as I walked with him, moved with him, saw through his eyes. What I ask of Lestat, Lestat unfailingly gives. For me, three hunting scenes, two which take place in hotels -- the lone woman waiting for the hit man, the slaughter at the pimp's party -- and the late night foray into the slums --stand with any similar scenes in all of the chronicles. They can be read aloud without a single hitch. Every word is in perfect place. The short chapter in which Lestat describes his love for Rowan Mayfair was for me a totally realized poem. There are other such scenes in this book. You don't get all this? Fine. But I experienced an intimacy with the character in those scenes that shattered all prior restraints, and when one is writing one does have to continuously and courageously fight a destructive tendency to inhibition and restraint. Getting really close to the subject matter is the achievement of only great art. Now, if it doesn't appeal to you, fine. You don't enjoy it? Read somebody else. But your stupid arrogant assumptions about me and what I am doing are slander. And you have used this site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies. I'll never challenge your democratic freedom to do so, and yes, I'm answering you, but for what it's worth, be assured of the utter contempt I feel for you, especially those of you who post anonymously (and perhaps repeatedly?) and how glad I am that this book is the last one in a series that has invited your hateful and ugly responses. Now, to return to the narrative in question: Lestat's wanting to be a saint is a vision larded through and through with his characteristic vanity. It connects perfectly with his earlier ambitions to be an actor in Paris, a rock star in the modern age. If you can't see that, you aren't reading my work. In his conversation with the Pope he makes observations on the times which are in continuity with his observations on the late twentieth century in The Vampire Lestat, and in continuity with Marius' observations in that book and later in Queen of the Damned. The state of the world has always been an important theme in the chronicles. Lestat's comments matter. Every word he speaks is part of the achievement of this book. That Lestat renounced this saintly ambition within a matter of pages is plain enough for you to see. That he reverts to his old self is obvious, and that he intends to complete the tale of Blackwood Farm is also quite clear. There are many other themes and patterns in this work that I might mention -- the interplay between St.Juan Diago and Lestat, the invisible creature who doesn't "exist" in the eyes of the world is a case in point. There is also the theme of the snare of Blackwood Farm, the place where a human existence becomes so beguiling that Lestat relinquishes his power as if to a spell. The entire relationship between Lestat and Uncle Julien is carefully worked out. But I leave it to readers to discover how this complex and intricate novel establishes itself within a unique, if not unrivalled series of book. There are things to be said. And there is pleasure to be had. And readers will say wonderful things about Blood Canticle and they already are. There are readers out there and plenty of them who cherish the individuality of each of the chronicles which you so flippantly condemn. They can and do talk circles around you. And I am warmed by their response. Their letters, the papers they write in school, our face to face exchanges on the road -- these things sustain me when I read the utter trash that you post. But I feel I have said enough. If this reaches one reader who is curious about my work and shocked by the ugly reviews here, I've served my goals. And Yo, you dude, the slang police! Lestat talks like I do. He always has and he always will. You really wouldn't much like being around either one of us. And you don't have to be. If any of you want to say anything about all this by all means Email me at And if you want your money back for the book, send it to 1239 First Street, New Orleans, La, 70130. I'm not a coward about my real name or where I live. And yes, the Chronicles are no more! Thank God!

So, what do you think? Has she gone over the deep end? And no, she didn't use paragraphs. It is all stream-of-consciousness writing and rebuttal: it is not a "crafted" reply.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I'm Curious

According to the FCC the breast exposure of Janet Jackson is a fining offence. If she had been white would it have gone so far? This so smacks of censorship to me.

If you look at everything on TV and how the envelope is pushed every day, why does this matter? There are women wearing thong bikinis on TV and on Las Vegas they were touting a new "topless pool" for the hotel just Monday. A woman walked away and you could see the outline of her breast quite plainly. Is it the nipple that makes the difference?

If a woman wears pasties and her nipple isn't exposed, you can view that on TV. If not, well, just the outline and knowing she has her breasts exposed is fine.

More and more I am beginning to believe this big todo over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" is prejudiced. Britney Spears can get away with see-through clothes, but she is supposed to be so "pure" and Janet Jackson is one of the more saner acting people I've seen on TV so far. If she was white what would it have mattered? The blame would probably have been focused on Justin Timberlake for misconduct!

Hubby said, "If the envelope is going to be pushed, it needs to be done away with." I agree - if you're pushing an envelope the size of it is going to have to change.


Sorry, Dear Readers, no fiction for today as I have been quite under the weather of late and no musings to place before you either, because still feeling under-the-weather-ish today.

I did come up with a question though.

Who would win in a fight WonderWoman (my personal favorite) or Supergirl?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Flavors of Fall

Yes, very late with The News today. I apologize Dear Readers. Your editor and main contributor to The News has been laid low by a very nasty something, but am sitting up now and looking at tomorrow with some hope of feeling better - not just dreading it.

As I slept (all day), I had strange, sick dreams. Sick as in "caused by feeling horrible", not sick as in a cat and an elephant getting it on. In one of my dreams, one of the more realistic ones, I was making caramel apples.

I only want caramel apples in the fall and winter. It is sort of one of those seasonal treats you either love or can leave behind. Except for caramel apples I'm afraid I have not viewed Fall with an eye of love because the leaves begin to fall and soon it will be very cold and everything will have a grayness to it, even in the brightest of sunshine.

Since I am now sitting up and viewing Fall's arrival and Winter's approach, I am going to try and enjoy every season, not let the gray of Winters coming destroy my spirit.

Monday, September 20, 2004

An Orthodox Fortune Cookie

Went to a Chinese restaurant yesterday. Hubby opened his fortune cookie and what came out was a rather Orthodox Christian sounding fortune.

"Pray for what you want, but work for the things you need."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Even At a Festival I Can Find Stickers!

Last weekend was the Roots & Heritage Festival here in Lexington, KY. The Roots & Heritage Festival is a black festival (sorry, not going to be politically correct here for a moment, will give reason soon) and the vendors come from all over. Many are from Gambia, Nambia, New Guinea, Ethiopia, and many other African nations. There are also some from Atlanta, New York, Washington, DC, and other states as well.

Their wares are laid out everywhere. One of the most interesting ones I saw were of beads. Since I and Hubby are beadcrafters, we stopped longer with these stalls than others and spoke with the vendors for a longer time.

Music is loud and of varying types such as gospel, hip-hop, rap, Old School 70's, and my ultimate favorite reggae. How they all mix so well is unbelievable.

We usually go to the Roots & Heritage Festival every year because Hubby is black and I am white (though with a black soul as his mother says). The people are always exciting and exciting to behold with authentic African clothing and you can hear the beauty of their native accents in their voices. The Roots & Heritage Festival is one of my favorite festivals to go to here in Lexington, and it grows larger year after year.

I love everything about the festival, and so does Hubby. We walk and look at each stall and usually end up staying to listen the first night, Friday night, to the blues concert.

The people in the crowd and the vendors as well, do not call themselves African-American, unless they have literal African-American dual citizenship. They call themselves "black" Americans and this festival is a celebration of who they are and what they have accomplished. It is a very positive thought pattern, and the people are positive and filled with life.

Whites go to the festival as well, and there are differing degrees of attitudes. Some look at the festival and find it very "unique" because it is so "black" and "free" and "wonderful to behold." There are others who roam and look and make no difference and call no difference to anything and enjoy everything about it. Another set is the "hippie-ish" set that roam and buy and have terrific fun.

This year at the festival I saw Hispanic and Asian faces as well, and it was great to see. They accepted everything with joy and presence and you could tell they were having fun.

At the festival this year, I just enjoyed it from top to bottom and roamed and spoke to many and had fun just being with Hubby. We bought a few things on Friday and were getting ready to leave when I saw a Kerry/Edwards table. I stopped. Not because I wanted a yard sign, not because I wanted a button, but because I saw Kerry/Edwards stickers.

What did I do? I went over and got two of them! Then, the next day I went back and got two more! Am I going to actually use them to tout my support of Kerry and Edwards? Heck no! I'm going to put one in my new paper journal that will begin probably around November, and then I will put the others in my sticker box (as soon as one can be procured)!

Life is good when you find stickers in the most unexpected places.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Soap Opera Time Is Heading This Way

I'm not one who watches soap operas on a constant basis. They tend to bore me, except in the fall and winter as the weather is changing and I am usually sitting in the living room working on my craft projects in the afternoon after writing all morning. It is a special "geeky me" time.

All through the summer the TV is rarely turned on during the day because I am busy with so much else - writing, reading, research, going out places, and, of course, playing with the animals. In the winter, this routine changes and I stay a little more quiet and closer to the heater because of arthritic joints and pain.

I am not one who stays quiet mentally and even though my hands may be busy doing something, my mind must have something to grab it every so often just to keep my hands working. It seems my mind never slows down or shuts off for very long at a time. Hubby says I have a problem relaxing. Maybe I do.

All I know is that when the winter comes, in order for me to keep working on my projects, my mind needs a little extra fluff to occupy it and slow it down enough in order to get my wonderful craft projects done. So, that means soap operas are playing in the background.

Yeah, really sappy background noise to keep some part of my girlie brain occupied while I can work on my quilting this year.

You know, I'm looking forward to it this year. Sort of like a power-down for a little while.

Friday, September 17, 2004


Today Hubby was looking for batteries to go into a flashlight (he has decided that, on his vacation, he is going to remodel as much of the bathroom as he can - more on that later).

"So, how many new batteries did you put in your camera?" Hubby asks.

"Two," I say.

"And your camera doesn't work, Right?" he said, drawing ever nearer my camera.

"Yes, it does," I said. Hubby stopped advancing on my camera.

Since I was very young I have been something of a shutter-bug. I always was taking pictures of things I found very interesting, and my Mom and Dad were convinced I was wasting film.

As I grew older I became an even bigger shutter-bug and took tons of pictures, but, like most semi-adults I never took the roles of film to the developer so I never got to see what my interesting pictures turned out like. Then, lo and behold, Hubby gave me a digital camera and the world changed!

I didn't have to go to the developer to see my pictures! They were right there on the computer for me to see and edit and when I wanted I could save them to disk and take them to the developer and have hard, tangible copies of my photographic eye. So far I haven't done that because, well there didn't seem to be a need in it.

Now, I'm wondering if it isn't time to work on getting some hard-copies of my photographic eye and put them in a scrapbook of sorts. Although I can share my pictures with all of those that have a computer (and most everyone does), sometimes it would be nice to have pictures to pull out and say, "This is when we/I went to so-and-so."

I have even actually thought of blowing up some of my pictures and putting them as decorations in my home. Hopefully they will be good enough that people won't laugh at them.

It seems my creativity is going out in several different directions and calling me forward to explore so many different avenues.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

A New Book on the Horizon

I believe I have stumbled into a novel.

Hmmm, that didn't come out exactly right.

I believe I have stumbled my way into writing a new novel.

Much better.

You see, I had this story idea. A good story idea. So, yesterday I started writing on it. When I finally was exhausted from working on it, I was up to the beginning of Chapter Five!

So far the chapters are very short with breaks that are working absolutely beyond wonderful. I can see, hear the characters. I can glimpse, a little, things that are just around the corner, so my own attention and interest is really intense in the action.

Admittedly, the "action" hasn't really started yet, but the excitement of what could be happening is there. Questions need to be answered and I know the setting where the majority of the story is going to take place.

We have friends betraying, nay torturing friends, and a love interest that, well, seems plausible.

As with much of my writing, I don't plan very far ahead because I like to be surprised. Unlike most of my writing, this one has an ending I can glimpse. Getting there is the fun part, at least for this character and story.

Oh, and I'm re-reading a very interesting book. One I may post excerpts from here. It makes me go .... "Whoa! I didn't know that!"

Much is happening and much is going wonderfully so far on the writing front.

Forward! Hoooooaaaaahhhhhooooo!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Fiction: A Reasonable Man

Here is a story a little different from what The Kentucky Mountain Girl News usually posts. It really caught my attention. Jack Thrift is a new author and I'm sure he would love feedback on his piece of work - so tell us what you think. Enjoy!

A Reasonable Man
By Jack Thrift
Copyright (c) 2004 by Jack Thrift

When the kid in the Camaro outside Dessie's Movietime opened his car door into Frank's Lexus, it didn't have to be a big deal. It was a simple mistake, anyone could do it. But as Frank looked at the kid, expecting an apology, the kid narrowed his eyes and puffed out his chest, a look that said, "Yeah, I hit your car - so what?"

And that did it.

The kid was all of nineteen or twenty. He was wearing low-riding shorts and a tank top that showed skinny white arms and a sweep of pimples across his shoulders. Look at his face and you saw this was the kind of kid who wanted you to think he was angry at the world and wasn't taking shit from no one. Frank looked at me.

"You want me to grab him?" I said, behind the wheel of the Lexus.

The kid stepped into the Camaro and fired the engine, setting off a humping bass beat from its stereo that vibrated the rearview mirror of the Lexus.

Frank sighed. "Nah."

I looked at him. "You serious?"

He shook his head calmly and took a sip from his can of Pabst Blue Ribbon. "I want you to follow him."

"Christ, you had me worried there."

The Camaro whipped back and tore out of the parking lot, hitting a right on Howard Avenue. I took my time backing out, and pulled into traffic about five cars behind.

"Little bastard probably damaged the door," I said.

"We can have Larry look at it, fix it up, no problem. It's the principal of the thing."

"Yeah, I hear you."

"I'm dead serious about this. Everybody and their mother's been shitting on me all the sudden. I got to do something to end that streak, know what I'm saying?"

"Yeah, I believe I do."

The Camaro was riding a Jeep's ass. When a little space opened up in the right lane, the Camaro swerved over and started bullying a Caprice. The thump of the bass made heads turn on the sidewalks. It pissed me off, this kid acting like he owned the streets. I wanted to knock some of the attitude out of him - that, and maybe some teeth.

Frank hunched over suddenly and ballooned his cheeks. I braced myself, thinking he was going to puke, but instead he opened his mouth and out came a belch like a whole yard of burlap tearing right down the center. The car filled with the sour stink of beer and stomach acids.

"Jesus Christ, Frank." I swished at the air in front of my face and lowered the window.

"Put that shit back up," he said.

I gave it a few seconds, and then raised the window. The smell was making my eyes water. Since ten o'clock this morning, Frank had been hitting the booze. I'd found him on his couch wearing his bathrobe and nothing else, splashing Wild Turkey over a glass of ice. I'd sat on a chair in front of him, trying to ignore the way his knees were spread, and suggested we take the day off, give him time to nurse his broken heart and float his liver in booze. But Frank said no. He'd be damned if he'd let some chick affect business, even if that chick happened to be the love of his life, the woman he'd let slip through his fingers because he was nothing but a lousy, selfish prick who didn't know how great he'd had it until she called it quits last night - saying all this with his chest hitching like he was holding back tears.

Then he shook his head as if to clear it and said, "Fuck it. Let's roll."

Now he was slouched a third of the way down the seat, his eyes flaring with raised capillaries, the skin of his face haggard and drooping. He'd brought himself to the brink of inebriation but couldn't seem to take the plunge, despite the number of beers he pounded. We'd been driving around for a few hours, visiting a few of our guys that worked at the pier and dropping by the state pen to say hi to his uncle doing twenty-five to thirty for armed robbery. If Justine's breaking up with him hadn't depressed him enough, seeing his uncle in the orange jumpsuit behind the glass reinforced with chicken-wire had more than done the trick. After that, all he wanted to do was rent some chick-flick called *She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not*, the one his ex, Justine, had begged him to watch with her though he never had. In his present melodramatic funk, that movie had come to represent everything he'd done wrong in their relationship; if he'd just listened to her more, done some of the things she wanted to do, maybe she never would've left him. I listened to his moping and tried not to roll my eyes.

"He's taking a right," Frank said. "Where's he going?"

"He's got a U.S.F. sticker on his back window. If he's going all the way out there, forget it. I'm not driving that far."

"The hell you're not." Frank shifted in his seat and finished the can of Pabst in three big swallows. He belched again.

I shot him a sidelong glance. "How can you drink that shit?"

"My old man used to drink this when I was growing up. He used to give me baby sips."

"All right, but do you think you can keep the can down? There's cops all over this area. Might be good to practice some discretion."

"You let me worry about discretion."

The light on Armenia and Cypress went yellow, and the Camaro shot through it. I got stuck behind a minivan and missed the light.

"Shit," I said.

"Go through it," Frank said.


Frank pounded the window with the meaty underside of his fist and said, "Go through it, you piece of shit."

I gripped the wheel tight enough to feel the muscles all the way up my arms.

My job as Frank's right-hand man included looking out for him, being his better judgment when his own brain wasn't functioning as it should. Maybe it was time to call it quits for the day, turn around. Frank would be pissed all right, but he'd get over it, and he'd probably thank me later when his thinking was clearer.

But the thing of it was - I didn't want to let the kid get away. Frank was right when he'd said everyone was shitting on him lately. Not just Justine, his ex-girlfriend, but everyone working for Carlos - they were all treating him like yesterday's news. This new crop of thugs Carlos was recruiting; they were all muscle and no tact - brutes, to use Frank's word, which had no use for the wisdom of their elders. In their presence, Frank was a dinosaur, a lumbering brontosaurus. They were the future, and Frank's days were numbered - he knew it, so did I.

I owed Frank a lot. I'd been with him for twelve years, the two of us working under Carlos the whole time. And I wanted Frank to have his moment with this punk in the Camaro. Who knew? Maybe it would be just what he needed to give him back some of his old fire.

So I pulled around the minivan and darted through the red light, causing cars on either side to scream to a halt and blare their horns. Frank grabbed the armrest and pushed himself into the seat, bracing for a crash. When we made it through, he was whooping and beating the glove compartment with his fist.

"Yeah, fuck you, too," Frank said to the other cars, and laughed.

The Camaro was a few blocks ahead, stopped at a light. I heard the engine revving, loud because of the excised muffler. I kept us back, hitting the brakes a little to let a car fill the gap between us and the Camaro.

"What're you going to do to him?" I said.

Frank furrowed his brow and hooked a finger at his lips. "I hadn't even thought about it. You bring your piece with you?"

I shook my head. "Didn't think I'd need it." I thought for a moment. "We got those tools in the trunk. We could fuck him up pretty good with those."

"What, you mean, like, torture?"

"Yeah. What?"

"Nothing," Frank said. "It's an idea." He dipped into the box between his ankles and pulled out another Pabst.

"How many is that for you?"

"Never mind. Just keep driving." He cracked the beer open and sucked off the foam that wormed out.

We passed a sign for I-275, and the Camaro moved into the right lane.

"See, I told you," I said. "He's going to U.S.F."

"So follow him."

"On the interstate?"

"Jesus, what's with you? Always with the fucking whining lately. Just do your job and stop being a bitch."

I got in the right lane a few lengths behind the Camaro. The drive to U.S.F. would take at least another fifteen minutes, probably more given that I-275 was still under construction. I got headache thinking about the traffic.

But then the kid took a right, down a side street about a block away from the on-ramp for I-275, not headed for U.S.F. after all. I eased on to the brakes and crept to the corner, so I could sneak a look down the street before I turned. The Camaro was already burning it pretty good down the road.

"There, you whining bastard," Frank said. "He ain't even going to U.S.F."

I took the right.

It was a brick road, lined on both sides by wide-porched houses with crumbling facades and parched, yellow-spotted lawns. An old black man stood by the street with a hose in his hand, directing a spray of water at a row of very dead azaleas by the sidewalk. The look on his face suggested he was well aware of the futility of what he was doing. His eyes flicked up at us as we passed, but his _expression remained fixed.

The Camaro angled to a stop down the street under a spectacular oak tree whose boughs bore down like a nimbus cloud. Under the tree's shadow, the taillights of the kid's car glowed like demon eyes. The Camaro huffed with one last rev before the engine cut and the lights winked out. The stereo ceased with its pounding bass. I parked against the curb a couple houses down the street.

"What do we do?" I said.

"We watch. I want to see what our man's doing here." He took a slurping sip of beer, made a strained face. "Christ. I got to piss."


"Well pretty goddamn soon."

The door of the Camaro opened and our boy stepped out, wearing wrap-around Oakley's. He slammed the door and hot-footed it to the porch of the house, opened the screen door and rapped his knuckles against the wood, then stepped back with his body propping the screen door open.

Frank said, "What do you think? College kid, out here in the ghetto - it's got to be drugs."

I grunted noncommittally.

The front door opened and the pale face of a teenage girl poked out. Even from this far away, I could see the piercings all over her face. Her hair was black with a purple sheen, like a crow's feathers.

"Check this out here," I said. "Kind of cute."

"She's a freak. Look at her. Who's she trying to impress with all that metal in her face?"

The girl stepped back and the kid followed her into the house, closing the door behind him.

"What now, chief?" I said.

"Let me finish my beer and think on it."

Frank slurped his beer and belched and wiped his sleeve across his glistening lips. I hit the button on the side of the seat to recline the back, just enough so I was looking up at the boiling leaves of the oak tree and the pieces of sky that filtered through the branches. This was an old Tampa neighborhood, built back in the late forties, early fifties sometime after the war when all the young couples eager to procreate and spit out babies needed starter homes. It must have been a fine sight then, the big porches full of people eating barbecue and drinking beer and laughing, happy to the point of giddy because for a while there the world had been in turmoil, but now they could go on with the act of living and being young. It made me sad for some reason. Not that the neighborhood had gone to shit - these things happened. No, it was something else.

Frank finished his beer and smashed the can in his fist. He put it back in the box between his ankles.

"You ready?" he said.

"What's the plan?"

"Grab the crowbar," he said, opening his door.

I stepped out and popped the back with the button on the key chain, then found the crowbar nestled in the hideaway under the trunk's carpeting. When I slammed the trunk, Frank was standing there, bracing himself against the side of the car. His face was red and shining with greasy sweat.

"Hey, boss," I said. "You okay?"

He mumbled something incoherent.

"Why don't you sit down - c’mon?"

I made to open his door, but he hooked me by the collar. "Don't treat me like some goddamned invalid. I'm fine, just need to catch my breath."

I waited. He straightened up and rolled his head around his shoulders, then used his thumbs to crack his knuckles one-handed. He gave me a nod.

"You sure?" I said.

"Would you shut up with that already? I'm fine."

He started off and I caught up with him.

"I'm not trying to give you shit, Frank. I'm just looking out for you. My job."

He ignored me. His breath was coming out in a ragged, bubbly wheeze that triggered a frenzied coughing. He turned his head, hocked his lungs dry, and then blew a wad of phlegm at the base of the oak tree.

"Nice," I said.

"Yeah, fuck it."

Then we were up the stairs and on the porch. We looked at each other. Frank pulled the screen door open and knocked. We waited. He knocked again.

From the other side of the door came the squeak of sneakers on hardwood. Frank motioned with his chin for me to take his place, and as I did, he moved to the side and planted his back against the wall. I combed my hair with my fingers and cleared my throat.

"Who is it?" said a young woman's voice.

"Yeah, uh, I'm sorry to trouble you ma'am, but I accidentally hit the car parked out front of your house."

She was silent a moment. Then: "The Camaro?"

"Yes, ma'am, I'm afraid so."

The slide and click of a lock disengaging; the door cracked open, and I hid the crowbar behind my back. Her face stuck out. I smiled.

She was pretty, in a pale, queen of the vampires kind of way. It was her eyes that made her lovely. They were big, soft pools with aquamarine centers. Look in those eyes and you could almost forget about the steel glinting like shrapnel from her ears, eyebrows, nose and lip.

"That's Jimmy's car," she said.


"My boyfriend." She bit the side of her lip and rolled her eyes. "Well, it's his brother's car actually. Jimmy drives a Tacoma, but it got, like, totally demolished a few weeks ago in an accident." She sprang to her tiptoes and peeked over my shoulder to get a look at the Camaro. "It doesn't look so bad. Where'd you hit it?"

"I barely nicked it," I said. "Say, do you think I could I speak with him? Your boyfriend?"

"He's taking a shower." She looked me over. I was wearing an oxford button-down and khaki chinos – Mr. Professional. She grinned and swept her arm behind her, apparently deciding I was harmless enough. "You want to come in and wait?"

Frank emerged from the shadows and displaced me with his body. The girl had time to register shock before Frank pushed her into the house. I followed them in and shut the door.

"What is this?" she said, her eyes darting from Frank to me, back and forth.

"Shut your stinking mouth," Frank said. He took the place in - dark wood floors with a mangy Oriental rug. A battered couch and a flat-screen TV. His eyes stopped at a clear acrylic bong, its bowl packed tight with fresh herb, sitting on the coffee table.

The girl was backing away from us. When she looked at me, I tried to inject some measure of apology into my eyes. But her eyes didn't stay on me long enough to catch it.

"What do you want?" she said.

Frank sighed. "What did I just tell you about your mouth?" He snapped his fingers at me and motioned for the crowbar. I gave it to him.

I was feeling juiced. Some shit was about to go down, and this time it would turn out in our favor. My blood was humming, making me itchy, ready to pound on something.

"Go get that piece of shit from the shower," Frank said to me without looking away from the girl. "I'll stay here and entertain, uh...what's your name, darling?"

Her voice didn't seem to work at first. Her lips trembling, she finally got it out: "Clarissa."

"Just relax, Clarissa," Frank said, flashing a toothy smile, "We don't intend to hurt you. Have a seat on the couch there."

I followed the sounds of splashing and singing down the hall to the bathroom. The door wasn't closed all the way, and I pushed it open enough to stick my head in.

Jimmy, our guy, was behind the shower curtain, the top of his spiky head poking up over the rod and under the spray from the showerhead. He was singing something familiar to me, and I found myself singing along in my mind, trying to get a name on the tune. I knocked on the door. Jimmy stopped singing.

"I'll be out in a second, all right, babe?"

I stepped into the steamed air and closed the door, then leaned into it and crossed my arms. Jimmy started singing again. I cleared my throat.

"Didn't you hear what I said?" Jimmy said. His head poked out from around the edge of the curtain, and his eyes went wide.

"Don't let me stop you, Jimmy," I said. "You've got a kick-ass voice."

His face pinched together in rage. "Who the fuck're you? How'd you get in?"

"You don't remember me?"

"Nah, dog, but you got like two seconds to get out 'fore I come out this motherfucker."

I was on him in two strides, snapping the curtain away, backhanding him across the cheek, twisting from the hips to make the blow really count. I knew it was a good hit because the back of my hand caught the shape of his teeth through his cheek. He made a sound - "hoomph" - and fell to the tub, grabbing the curtain and bringing it down with the popcorn sound of plastic tearing from the curtain rings. I turned off the cold water, leaving the hot valve on, and Jimmy screamed. I let him writhe and boil for a few seconds, using my foot to keep him from leaping from the tub. Then I turned the water off and told him to get up.

His eyes were squeezed shut. His teeth were bared in agony. I slapped him again on the cheek.

"Hey, fuck-o," I said. "You hear me? Get up."

He slowly rose to his feet. I averted my eyes at the sight of his dick, bright red and swollen like blood sausage. I handed him a towel, telling him to put it around him.

"Where's Clarissa?" he blubbered.

"Shut up. Let's go."

When he had the towel wrapped around him, I pushed him to the door.

"Hurry up," I said.

His head started shaking. I felt pretty certain he'd fall apart any second now. Just hold on, Jimbo, I thought. We ain't even started yet.

We found them sitting next to each other on the couch - they could have been old friends catching up were it not for the look in Clarissa's eyes and the crowbar laid across Frank's lap. Frank grinned at the sight of Jimmy.

"Hey, son, remember me?" Frank said.

"He don't remember us, Frank," I said.

"That's a shame." Frank rose and sauntered toward Jimmy, letting the end of the crowbar thump the floor with each step. Jimmy backed himself against a wall.

"I don't got the money," Jimmy blurted.

Frank and I started, looked at each other - money? I opened my mouth, but Frank stopped me with a raised finger - stopped me just in time, in fact, as I was about to say something stupid like, "What money?"

"Where is it? Where's the money?" Frank said, jumping into character so easily it made my scalp prickle.

"I told Lou, we weren't able to collect."

"I don't believe you, Jimmy."

"Jimmy?" came Clarissa's voice. "Sweetie?"

"Shut up," Frank said to her.

"Please, don't hurt him," Clarissa said, voice trembling.

"We're here for the money, Jimmy," Frank said. He lifted the crowbar, spread his legs, and took a batter's stance. "I'm going to start breaking some bones 'less you start talking."

Jimmy held out his hands and started blabbering: "I'm telling you, man, the dude didn't have the money, he just skipped town. I swear to God, you can ask Lenny, we did everything we could; we just don't know where the fucker went."

"One," Frank said.

"Okay, listen, all right?" Jimmy said. "You can take anything in this house. It's all yours. Shit, I'll help you load it into your car."


"Please, dude, put that shit down and talk to me." He was about to start crying. "Oh, man, don't do it, please."

"Three." Frank cocked the crowbar across the back of his shoulders and stepped in for a swing.

"Wait!" Clarissa launched to her feet. "I'll tell you, just don't hurt him."

Frank paused, the crowbar in a quivering hover, Jimmy holding up his hands and shrinking away in anticipation of the blow. They stayed frozen like that long enough to almost make it funny. Then Frank lowered the crowbar and worked his shoulders, saying, "That's more like it."

Jimmy slid to the floor and hugged his knees. "Don't let them take my money," he said, addressing his lap. "Oh, man, please."

"Where is it?" I said to Clarissa.

She was crying. She fell back to the couch.

"Hey," I said, moving toward her. "Look at me." She did. "Where's the money, or my boss here's going to bust open your boyfriend's head."

Through her tears, she said, "It's unner-a huss."

Frank and I looked at each other, shrugged.

"You mind repeating that?" Frank said.

She took a breath. "It's under the house."

"You mean, like, under the house?" I said.

She nodded.

Frank turned to Jimmy. "Why don't you show me where, big boy." To me: "You stay here with the lady, keep your eye on her."

Jimmy turned his head up at Frank. "You're not going to take all the money, are you?"

Frank smirked. "That's a ridiculous question and I'm not even going to answer it. Now get up." Frank prodded him with the crowbar.

I sat on the couch next to Clarissa as Frank steered Jimmy in his towel out the front door.

After a moment, Clarissa said, "Are you going to kill us?" Her eyes had gone soft and distant, focused ahead of her on nothing.

I shook my head. "Long as Jimmy shows my boss where it's stashed, you got nothing to worry about."

She propped her elbows on her knees and lowered her forehead to her palms.

“Don't expect me to feel sorry for you," I said. "This is the chance you take when you keep money that's not yours."

She didn't say anything. I leaned back and crossed my feet over the coffee table.

"This is none of my business," I said. "But your boyfriend is a real shit."

She sniffed.

"You're a pretty girl, you know? You could do a lot better than Jimmy."

She lifted her head and glared at me. "Fuck you, okay? You can take the money, fine. You can hurt us if you want, okay. But spare me your fucking advice."

It caught me off guard, the way she said that. "All right. Take it easy."

Her eyes were still brimming with venom. "We had plans for that money, you know. We were going to start a new life, get away, far away from people like you. Not that you care about it."

"If it makes any difference, I regret doing this to you. Your boyfriend on the other hand...¦" I stabbed my finger in the direction of the door. "He's got it coming."

She turned away, looking disgusted. For a while, we just sat there. I could hear Frank's voice filtering through the cracked window behind the couch, but I couldn't make out the words.

Clarissa stirred beside me, and all of the sudden, I had this impulse to put my arm around her. Strange, I know, but I wanted to tell her it'd be all right. My chest felt tight. I traced the outline of her body with my eyes. I leaned toward her, not much, just enough to catch the smell of pot smoke and banana shampoo coming from her hair.

"There's something you should know," I said. "About me and my boss and how we got involved with your boyfriend."

She held up a hand. "I don't even want to hear about it."

I wanted to tell her anyway, but before I could get another word out, Jimmy came through the front door with Frank tailing him, the crowbar resting on his shoulder, a gym bag carried at his side. They were both dirty, presumably from rooting around under the house. Jimmy had a look on his face like a man who's just discovered his whole family disowned him. He sat down in an overstuffed chair by the TV and crossed his arms, his bony knees jutting up from under the towel.

"Have a look," Frank said to me.

I stepped over to him and peeked into the gym bag. It was full of bills, all twenties from the look of it. There must have been a hundred grand there, at least. For a few seconds, I couldn't breathe.

Frank clapped me on the shoulder and handed me the bag. He regarded Jimmy with a wide grin and nudged me with his elbow. "Well, what do you say? Think it's time for the punch line?"

I looked at Clarissa, then at Frank.

"You want to tell him?" Frank said. "Or me."

"You go ahead," I said.

Frank beamed. He took a few leisurely steps around the room, his eyes on Jimmy. "You ready to shit yourself, Jimmy?"

"Look, dude," Jimmy said wearily, "do what you got to do, I don't care anymore. You going to break my legs, beat me up, whatever."

"Jimmy, listen to me," Frank said. "Are you listening?" Jimmy looked at him. "Good. Now look at my partner and look at me very closely. Do we look the least bit familiar to you?"

He shrugged. "I don't know."

"I drive a gray Lexus. Ring any bells?"

Jimmy looked confused. He shook his head, but in his eyes I could see it, the creeping realization.

"How about this," Frank said. "The video store on Howard. You returned some movies there today."

It hit him. His furrowed brow went smooth. "No shit!"

Frank spread his arms and grinned.

"What?" Clarissa said. "What's he talking about?"

Frank said, "Do you want me to explain Jimmy?" He turned to Clarissa. "I'll explain. The thing is - we didn't know shit about your money until Jimmy opened his stupid mouth about it ten minutes ago. We're here because your jerk-off boyfriend opened his car door into my Lexus and then proceeded to act like an ass about it."

Jimmy's hand went to his forehead, hiding his eyes. "Oh, Christ," he said.
"Know something, son?" Frank said. "I'm a reasonable man. If you'd've been decent about it, apologized for banging my car, offered to pay for any scrapes, we never would've followed you, and me and my associate here wouldn't be walking out with your money. But no, you had to be a tough guy, have an attitude about it." He looked at Clarissa. "This is the kind of boyfriend you have, darling. Remember that."

Jimmy was looking at his lap and shaking his head.

Frank looked at me and angled his head at the door. "You ready?"

I nodded. "Yeah, let's hit it."

As I walked through the front door, I cast one last look at Clarissa. She was hugging herself and looking at the floor.

"Take it easy," I said, for some reason, and she blinked her eyes.

Back in the car, Frank released a victory howl and pounded his fists on the ceiling. We looked at each other and smiled and then laughed, and soon we couldn't stop laughing. I had trouble inserting the key into the ignition through the blur of tears in my eyes. On the way down the street, we passed the same black man watering the same dead azaleas, and he gave us the same blank look.

Frank talked my ear off the whole way home. I'd never seen him so animated. He talked about old times and how he wished his associates from way back when could've been there at Jimmy's place to see him in action.

"How much you think is in there?" I said, patting the gym bag in my lap.

He shrugged. "We'll count it and split it up back at my place."

I stared at the bag. "I don't want any of it." I thought Frank would flinch, but he didn't.

"You'll get your share. I'm not going to argue about this."

"Neither am I," I said.

I coasted to a stoplight. Frank dropped his hands to his lap. He shook his head slowly.

"Take the money," I said. "Go down to the Keys or somewhere. Enjoy yourself."

”Retire," he said.

I didn't object at the term. What passed between us then was an unspoken understanding that came from years of working together. He smiled, but his eyes remained distant.

"This ain't exactly enough to retire on, you know," he said.

"Try to contain your gratitude," I said. "And don't act like you haven't been saving up to quit the business. Just think of this money as the icing on the rest you got stashed away."

He grunted. After a while, he said, "What about you?"

"Me, I'll be fine. Carlos still needs me. Besides, it's past time I started doing things on my own."

The light turned green.

"Maybe you're right," he said. "Plus, I like to end things on a high note, and what could be better than what we accomplished today." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Christ, you'd better hit the gas a little more. I got to piss like you wouldn't believe."

"One thing I was wondering about," I said, pulling forward. "At the house back there. I figured you'd've broke Jimmy's jaw or at least worked him over a little. You barely touched him."

"I didn't have to. I took away his money. I made him look like a fool in front of his lady. He'll probably never recover from it."

I saw his point. "So what's on the docket now?" I said.

"Now? Now we go back to my place and watch the chick-flick I rented."

"Nuh-uh, I don't want to watch that shit."

"You're going to watch it with me and you're going to enjoy it on as many levels as I do." He laughed. "I may be old, but I can still mop the floor with you."

"Yeah. Right." I smiled back at him grudgingly. "You sure you wouldn't rather watch some ESPN."

"Nope. Not today."

I nodded my head and said, "You're the boss."

Frank smiled. "For a little while longer, anyways."