I Still Can’t Say Goodbye

daffodils

Sometimes we struggle with introductions, blurbs, short biographies, anything that might touch beyond the shells we carefully construct. Then, one day something comes along to blow your construct into dust. Such it seems, has happened to me this week when I least expected it. I’ve been through therapy with this only to have my therapist tell me “sometimes you never get ‘over’ a loss – you simply learn ways to get around the deepest part of the grief and carry on.”

I don’t know how to carry on. My best friend died in my arms from an insidious, evil disease. There hasn’t been a “tinker’s damn” worth of research done into it. In fact, in the nearly 30 years since my best friend’s death, women’s health issues are still considered of minor significance. Heart disease is the largest killer, however since the symptoms for a woman are quite different from a man’s, there has not been a widespread campaign to educate the public or even health professionals in the furthest corners of America.

There is no test that is 100% accurate and indicative for ovarian cancer. There are blood tests to see if a woman carries the gene for breast cancer, but even those can be flawed and some women that don’t test positive for the BRCA will still get breast cancer. Worse still, even with interventional mammograms, there was be aggressive forms of the disease that will ‘sneak past’ any diagnostic; leaving behind mourning families and friends.

The state of women’s health in this country is pathetic because of the allowances made for superstition to permeate the halls of government. There, I said it. Whatever personal beliefs you have should be left at the door when determining healthcare and the monies needed for research and indigent care for the populace. It would be almost entertaining for a voting male member of our Congressional houses to be suddenly struck with the monthly pain of endometriosis or PCOS.

This is an election year, and I am very, very aware of the high level of angst, anxiety, and anger flowing like cheap beer at a frat party. I am going to ask politely that you step back from the rhetoric, step back from the fear-mongering, step away from whatever media you’re watching and do some quick, reliable research on your own. Look at the advancements made in testicular cancer versus anything remotely resembling the same for ovarian cancer. Look at the statistics for survival of coronary artery disease for men versus women. Look at the statistics for diabetes and alcoholism amongst the First Nation tribes. Do the same for childhood mortality amongst the poor.

I think I have a handle on why I have this repeated grief. No steps of any significance have been made for those of us that don’t have access to quality health care, save for the ACA. Even this piece of legislation is flawed because it allows for someone’s mom or dad or sister or son to fall through the cracks. I’m still grieving my friend because of the thousands of folks that are dying needlessly. Folks that could have been my friend, folks that were treasured and beloved, folks that could have goofed off and accidentally created something monumental for the human species. But, we’ll never know because of greed and shortsightedness and stupid, insane superstition.

I’m just one sobbing mess of a human creature right now. Selfishly crying because I lost my best friend nearly thirty years ago to ovarian cancer. I can’t look at daffodils the same way, and in some years I can’t even function beyond the darkness of a bedroom and a case of tissues. Maybe this year, exercising my voice and my vote will have the effect of a pebble tossed onto the still surface of a pond. It sure beats sitting here sobbing, because I still can’t say “Goodbye.”

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My Fellow Sentient Beings Have Lost Their Minds.

 

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Somewhere, born of helplessness, hopelessness and hunger, a mad cruelty was created. In its bitterness, it sang a deadly descant designed to infect and poison the minds, spirits and hearts of star-born souls. While it has stalked this planet in one form or another for millennia, on a certain Friday night in a city known for Light and Enlightenment, it decided to make a killing field of cafes, a concert and a stadium. All of this in the name of a bastard child of the twisted interpretation of a spiritual philosophy.

We have lost ourselves if we think of this disaster within the narrow definitions of culture, geo-political boundaries, religion or gender. This problem simply cannot be constrained, defined or addressed in finite terms. The very germ, the infinitesimal seed of what has become a monster must be located and cured of its self-perpetuating madness.

Perhaps it began in hunger. Food is a very powerful tool used by those who seek the ego’s own ends as a means to control the hungry. We are born needing the nurturing of The One Who Birthed Us in more than simple lactation, but the comfort of arms to hold us, the warmth and rhythm of a human heart to steady undeveloped neurons and imprint compassion upon our being. Hunger is more than food. It is touch, it is a caress, it is a certain knowing that your being is welcomed into a larger present and part of a larger community. We need to belong.

Perhaps this undefined evil was born of illness. When our bodies are attuned to their maximum expression, we not only radiate health, we express that energy in activity. We sing with voices or movement or creativity of imagination. When we are ill, all we wish to do is to return to the state of being where there was no pain, no weakness, and no burdened breath. When one we love is sick, the compassion of the beings we truly are will seek any level, any amount of respite for our beloved. This drive, this will for another to live is often as strong as our own survival instinct.

As a final observation, perhaps the horrific monster capable of deluding young promising minds and spirits into acts of murderous depravity was created from the simple lack of love. There were no welcoming arms, no extended family or tribe for an orphan exempted from inclusiveness. No blanket woven from the softest fleece to enfold or embrace a shivering body. No shoes to caress tender feet, no gentle finger to wipe away frightened tears. No calming voice to ensure that the terrors of the night were simply wisps of dream and nothing to follow an unsure spirit into the next dawn.

We are far too quick to blame when we should be stepping back to look for that “alpha moment” when it all went so wrong, and was allowed or indeed enabled to fester into a deadly example. If we as a species are to survive for millennia to come, perhaps we should realize that the ‘human race’ is either outpacing itself in the mad dash to dive over the cliff, or we need to stop running from ourselves.

We Gotta Fix This…..Now.

US-GreatSeal-Obverse

Once every four years, this country goes slightly bat-shit crazy, (or crazier than usual) and all the uglies come out into the light of day. Our citizenry, en masse,  decide to strip politically buck nekkid and parade themselves as most fit and capable to lead the rest of the thundering herd over the cliff. Someone I consider a friend decided to fly the flag of “I double-dawg dare ya’ ” on her blog post here: writerslane.blogspot.com – and the gears began to grind between my temples.  I am soooooo going to go out on a limb here, but what the hell – everyone gets at least one chance to stand in front of the diving eagle and raise the middle mousy finger of fate. To wit: Sorry, fellas. No more men in politics. You guys have have the stage for over 200 years and you have yet to accomplish anything of concrete value that has lasted with the exception of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (or as I call it “Our Acceptable Do-Over List.”)

For the next 200 years, you must be possessed of ovaries and or the secondary sexual characteristics of the feminine persuasion in order to create, amend, consider and/or approve of any legislation whatsoever at any level within the current geo-political boundaries of the United States. Additionally, at the mere mention of your personal spiritual dogma, you will be considered ineligible for office. While we’re at it, the folks that have considered themselves as the un-taxed stanchions of religious liberty? Guess what? If you’ve made any political contributions within the past 50 years you’re going to lose your tax-free status. Yes, I suppose you could call that “Hard Core Separation of Church & State” – I prefer to call it Jeffersonian Socialism. In the old days, it was more commonly referred to as “Put Up or Shut Up.”  Yes, I hear the beginning moans of displeasure. They make a product for that now, it’s called “Depends.”

If you’ve ever presided over a group of children, refereed a herd of soccer, baseball, softball, or other team sports for young ones, or organized a birthday party for anyone under the age of 12, and are not male, you are now considered eligible for public office.  Please put on your big girl panties and report to whatever passes for a local political party’s district chairperson in your area and let’s get to work. This country’s infrastructure is in a shambles, our veteran’s needs are going unmet, we no longer have a safety net for the mentally ill, and with the dissolution of the unions our manufacturing base has likewise faded to gray.  Our educational system is mediocre even though we have access to the most powerful tools ever known to disseminate information to the populace. We can no longer rely upon a standard of ethics to guide us within the parameters of the reporting of daily events, the priorities of the Fifth Estate being handed over to profit makers instead of policy makers. There are numerous other matters that must be attended to that far exceed the vagaries of tanning salons, liquor stores and golf courses.

Once upon a time when young ladies decided to gather within their peer group, the first item attended to was appropriate footwear. This usually extended itself to the donning of “trainers” or “sneakers” or “kicks” or “tennis shoes.” Ladies, listen up. It’s time. Lace ’em up, or tie ’em up, or rip the velcro – we’ve got work to do.

Sailing Unknown Waters

Earlier this afternoon, (after the painful introspection that we all need to do from time to time, but choose to refrain from) I discovered that part of the unease and unhappiness was due in part to the anticipated exit of the college kid from the nest. This is her senior year, and she already has staged plans to launch herself into that vast sky of Adulthood. The remainder of that reeking pile of gooey, emotional miasma is pure, clingy motherhood and the unwillingness to let go. Like most human beings, I am perfectly happy to dig a ditch and drag in a decorator, so overjoyed am I to contain myself in the habitat of a comfortable rut.

There is a joy in the simple terror of being drug out of the comfortable routine. Please note, I still use the word terror. I would have preferred ‘bloody screaming horror with a ninety-eight percent chance of pissing myself” but the husband claims I tend to over elaborate, exaggerate, embellish with prejudice. Of which I might own up to almost all of that, but only after a suitable period of retrospection. An epoch or so. Oh, that “joy” part? Only occurs when I discover some unique pattern to the scars left behind from planting fingernails, toenails and front incisors to the sides of the rut I am so damned determined to stay within.

catamaran

I must also admit to some pea-green jealousy when I espied another mother’s self-exposure of her anger and rage issues. Personally, I thought her more spectacular explosions of angst perfectly justified and I admired her self-control to refrain from reducing the gene pool by at least a half dozen self-righteous incubators of Chaos and kindred. I also wished I’d had her ear when I was mounting my campaigns against the windmills of public education for my ADHD challenged offspring.

All of the above aside, there is a certain private liberal arts college in Mt. Vernon, Iowa that took my daughter four years ago and has transformed a starry-eyed high school kid into a young adult with a stunning future ahead of her. I was so terrified to let her go 1100 miles away from Mom and Dad, even if I drove the big red truck with all that she deemed necessary. What if she couldn’t get her meds? What about the weather? I mean, she’s wasn’t exactly used to four seasons and all that white stuff that falls from the sky in the more Northern climes.

Now? Well, yeah – she’s convinced the parental units that moving to a Northern clime would probably be a good thing when the heat and allergens make it damn near impossible for them to get out and be as active as they need to be to stay relatively healthy. Score one for the offspring. There are probably more brownie points in the offing for her, but as she leaves our nest this one last time there is something else pending.

The Dane and I have only been without kids in the house for months at a time, this time there is the very real possibility of the child leaving for an overseas position. The others have fledged the nest, this is the last one to try out those wings. In truth, it’s not exactly an empty nest. The fur and purr-kids are still with us. Of those, only Toby has been with us almost as long as the kids, and we all know that eventually 13 year old ginger tomcats will find the Rainbow Bridge. I’m not ready for that transition, either.

I’m not and never will be a Domestic Goddess. Yeah, I can cook kick-ass Chicken & Dumplings, and the kids call me for my Mock Stroganoff recipe. Yeah, my grandfather’s chili recipe is an award winning fire starter. But, there is so much more to be said for the echoes of conversation, running footsteps, bus horns honking, dogs barking, kids laughing and the smell of pizza on a Friday night.

I don’t think I ever considered downshifting, and after all these years spent in “Adult Parent/Standard Cruise” I’m not sure that the old transmission remembers the lower, slower gear. Bear with me if you hear some gear grinding, or the chassis starts creaking, or worse yet one of the hoses fail. I’m assured by others that have made this change, that the slope is navigable and the waters will be somewhat constant. Further, the transition from Conestoga to Catamaran is possible.

Hell, with the size of my underwear these days, it is entirely possible.

But, if you hear me mumbling about needing a “tall ship and a star to steer her by” – please pull me aside and check my caffeine levels. For that matter, please double check that I’m not smoking the local wildflowers. Goddess only knows where this is going, but something assures me the journey will be epic.

To Boldly Wander…

dystopian Alex Andreev

Art By Alex Andreev

In keeping with a personal vow of total and complete honesty, I was destined to be a nerdy girl. I vividly remember watching the Friendship 7 and Mercury space flights with awe, wonder and envy. The first book that I bought was the unabridged version of H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds,” which would be followed by the purchase of Homer’s “Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” By the time I’d digested ancient space and space invaders, ‘Star Trek’ premiered and I would damn near trample anyone that got into my way while sprinting home on Tuesday afternoons to catch that week’s episode. In my time, the term was junior high school; by the time my shadow crossed the threshold, Bradbury, Asimov, Heinlein, and Cherryh were to become my mythic pantheon of worship. I learned The Three Laws of Robotics simultaneously with the obtuse directives of Boolean algebra and vagaries of photosynthesis. It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do what John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and others would do; the destruction of that dream took years of sexist oppression, rape and substance abuse to kill. Oh, was that a bit too raw for you?

This is no less shocking to me than the sight of law enforcement officers beating and killing pedestrians or other citizens of color and then attempting to use the ‘Unwritten Code of the Blue Brotherhood” to shield their perversions and crimes. The great minds of Literature Past and Present have ever warned us of the dangers of complacency and ennui. The Voices of the Great Enlightenment spoke deep and vast cautions against allowing our baser human natures to rule over our better selves. The Bells that Toll have been doing so for a very long time without a single voice to query “Why?” Or worse, “For Whom?’

There are no less than 40 years of a perverse directive to destroy an educational system and a safety net of worker’s rights that have a once-powerful nation on its own edge of internal destruction. We lack the compassion to enfold our veterans in a blanket of services, our populace in the gentle guiding hands of mental health professionals, and the once solid separation between Church and State is nothing more than a bloodied smear on the artifact of a printed newspaper.

Flags that symbolized our nation’s historic shame of human ownership still fly where they should have been taken down and archived with the memories of that intolerance and hatred. There is no genetic basis for race, just as there is no marker for sexuality. We are all shades of the spectrum, we come in all flavors of joy and tears. I dream that perhaps one day the bipedal hominids of this planet will actually awaken to the puppet master and clip the strings of ignorance and oppression that bind them to the mirage of their despair.

For now and for today, I quietly sit in a forgotten corner of a rolling Texas plain watching the clouds that drift overhead and envy them their freedom; trying to remember when watching the clouds was a moment of peaceful joy.

Once Upon A Time….

farmhouse

Of all of my childhood memories, these simple four words could and often did fuel the rustling of the wings of my imagination. Taking flights of sheer fantasy and fancy, my imagination and daydreams got me into more trouble than I can recount. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I was written up for daydreaming, I’d have been the first child billionaire. Nevertheless, I also used to dream about writing; creating worlds in such a way to allow friends and strangers to share in those far-flung journeys of whimsy and wish. To that end, I thought perhaps I could write a short story ‘het’ romance. Yeah, this one brought its own sorrow and heartache, so I’ve kept it carefully hidden. Nurtured with my own flavor of sighs and tears, however – I recently told someone I deeply admire that “I’ll never fly if I don’t jump off the cliff.”

So, with the aforementioned in mind I present to you a story inspired by the 80’s song by the “Romantics.”

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Talking In Your Sleep

There’s a simple magic at work when you’re sitting on a wooden porch on a moonlit night in the middle of the no-one-can-reach-you-backcountry-sticks on an autumn evening. It’s even more enticing when you can hear the soft whisper of white linen curtains against the zinc window screens and you know from the delicate under-the-breeze scent that later that night there would be rain. Everything that encompasses you at that moment is there to heal you, revive you, wash away all the insanity that you’ve left when you kicked off the pumps, stripped off the suit and the oxford blouse, grabbed your jeans, t-shirts and chukka boots, packed the weekender bag and left the oh-so-ritzy-townhouse condo you rented with your friend in the big city.

When you’ve driven past the last vestiges of encompassing city madness, the scent of open meadows and living landscape begs you to turn off the artificial environment inside the car and lower the glass barrier between you and nature’s earthy scent. The wind rippling thru the open window tugs at your hair, embraces your skin and reminds you of days gone by when you lived without care – barefoot in the timeless dance of youth. All the light captured by the flashing air dances off the hood of your car, reflects in accidental rainbows thru the chrome and mirrors and just below the surface of your façade is a whoop of joy just begging to be given voice.

The day winds itself down to a point of sacred silence as the road behind you winds itself into a sliver of tarmac, then to a dusty trail then to a remembered by-way that wanders around pastures and fences. Rich memories of yesterday fill your mind as the tires gently crunch the limestone gravel, then you come full circle to the present and the presence of someone in the car to share the adventure. What will the weekend hold? Will he be the one to dance to the edge of tomorrow with you? The moon soars in full majesty to illuminate your destination with a grace to the place and the space with a magic like no other.

The routines of alarm clock, shower, dress, pack lunch, grab commuter pass and run for the shuttle had left my mind as I sat in that silvery silence on the well-known and much beloved wooden steps. Memories still danced in and out of the edges of thought as the scents of evening began to waft up from the rich soil.  I watched in awe as a barn owl snatched the first of his nightly snacks from the field in front of the old farmhouse and I had heard absolutely nothing of the drama save for the whispered breezes in the wind-sculpted live oaks. I kept observing the rippling stalks of grass in the hayfield, looking for more evidence that life was secretly dancing under the assumed calm waves of green. As scattered clouds began to rip the moonlit darkness in purplish shreds of haloed mist, a deer stepped out of the brushy break on the farthest edge if the field and I found myself holding my breath to see what would happen next.

First one doe, then three others, stepped out of their camouflaged safety into the moonlit expanse of the small meadow. I’d thought that perhaps this was the extent of the group, and then a stag of at least 10 points stepped out in all his breathtaking beauty. The small herd moved toward an area that had been recently mowed, a move I’d questioned until I remembered that they were looking to graze on the tender new growth, not bother with what was to be harvested soon. I squinted through the stark whiteness of the moonlight unsure of the shadows I was seeing until they hopped again. The jackrabbits were feeding with the deer! Of course! There was a hungry owl out there, and the deer would alert them first to any sudden movement.

The scent of fresh brewed coffee brought my mind from the field back to the porch as my “companion for the weekend” came outside with two cups of the hot savory liquid. I knew before I sipped it that he’d remembered the cream and sugar, and just how much of each. “You know, it’s pretty late, hun,” he softly murmured into my ear as he sat down next to me on the darkened porch. “Mmmmmmmmm,” was all the comment I could or would give. I was still bespelled by the silvered silence and leaning up against his sheltering warmth as I drank my coffee and watched the drama of life unfold in front of me in the closest thing to paradise I could imagine. “Oh, here, I almost forgot,” he said as an afterthought and produced two huge white chocolate macadamia nut cookies from his shirt pocket. “You bribing me for something?” I enquired as I hungrily snatched one of the cookies from his offered hand. I could see the moonlight etch the smile on his face as his soft, slow answer came just above a whisper, “Could be.” Before I could get more than one bite eaten, he was kissing the cookie crumbs from my face and lips as his hands gently cradled my shoulders. I was still clutching partially-eaten cookie and coffee as I blinked into the depths of his eyes, “Wow. Can we do the coffee and cookie thing in the moonlight more often?”

Again, the answer was better than the discussion – it was a suddenly-scooped-up into strong arms and walked across a porch, the screen door slamming shut behind us and then we were shedding clothes in the darkness of the bedroom just down the hall. All the windows were open to catch the cool breezes, the ceiling fan on to keep them moving and the bed linens were clean and soft as we moved to capture the moment in more than coffee, cookies, moon-silvered owls and shadowy breeze-swept clouds.

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When you awaken after a night of shared bliss, the first thing that stirs your senses is the smell of the linens you are warmly caressed within. It is the gentle hummock of the pillow where your head lies cradled, the stirring of a pre-stretch where you feel your neck begin a low stretch to allow more air to enter your lungs just before your mouth opens in the first yawn that kick starts the oxygenation of a newly awakened human body. Then your hands reach out for the beloved one, somewhat sure that they are just there, out of reach; and your eyes open to confirm the reality of another dawn, just as your toes reach out to confirm the edge of the sheets.

A hawk’s cry awakened me the next morning, a morning where in the sunlight poured like elderflower honey on everything it touched, even the dust motes were ablaze with a golden glow. I stretched under the sudden heaviness of sheets and blankets to see that I was alone in the bed, my companion not within sight, but the smells seemed to indicate that he’d been awake for hours more than I. Flipping back the bed linens, I stretched my legs out over the edge of the bed and put warm feet on cool wooden floors. Suddenly, my body remembered that it needed the usual maintenance of emptying of excess fluids and I was stumbling my way to the toilet. Immediate grace and knowledge of body space after awakening was never a personal point of strength; I found the edge of the door with my shoulder, the door sill with my elbow and by the time my warm keister found the cold porcelain of the toilet I knew that I would have bruises to remember the weekend with.

“Good heavens, woman! Do you need a nurse?” I heard my companion just outside the bathroom door. “No, but I may need some arnica gel to keep the bruise from looking suspicious..” I countered with the usual wry non-caffeinated humor. “Have you been up long?” I asked. “Well, now that you mention it….” And his voice trailed off quietly.

“I’ll be out as soon as I wash up a bit. Coffee still hot?” I was trying to get a grip on his mood and my clothes.

“I’ll get some fresh going. Hungry??”

“Ummm, cookies?” I asked in a perky query.

“Ahem. Cookies are NOT breakfast food.” I could just hear the mere hint of an unvoiced chuckle under his breath.

“Ummm, and companions aren’t either??” I was snickering, and grabbing a towel to take a shower; making all the preparations that women do in the morning routines that occur no matter where we are, as long as hot water and soap is available. I heard him chuckling and wander down the hall to the farmhouse kitchen as I stepped onto the cold tiles of the shower.

The scent of the simple Castile soap took me back to memories of my childhood and the warmed towels that my Nana used to dry me and my waist length hair as I stood in front of the fireplace or a gas space heater. She’d fuss over me not to catch a chill, wrap me in her huge chenille robe and put clean warm socks on my feet. Then, I’d sit on the embroidered stool as she took a boar’s hair brush and a carved ivory comb to my hair before plaiting it into the delicate multiple braids she loved to weave into my hair. I’d end up looking like a red haired version of the fairy princesses illustrated in the books from her family’s family in Denmark.

Oh, the stories she would tell me about her childhood. Going with her daddy to the edge of the hayfield to carve out her first garden, and the sweetness of the first tomato harvested – fresh off the vine and still warm from the sun. She’d bring her memories of persnickety cook stoves, overprotective hens pecking at her fingers as she gathered eggs, and the loneliness of a little girl growing up without a mother in the harshness of  post-depression Texas.

The water was cooling as I turned off the shower and stepped back into the present and away from my memories. One last whispered, “Thank you, Nana,” into the towel as I dried myself and got dressed for the day, one more day in a hidden heaven. After I dried off the shower stall and hung the towel to dry, I heard my companion in the kitchen, “Ok, come try my cooking. It’s not as good as yours, but it’ll get you going. Maybe even keep you from finding door sills with your body parts!”

I quickly tied my hair back into a ponytail as I wandered to the other side of the farmhouse and into the kitchen. The smell of bacon, hash-browns and eggs mingled with the comfortable warmth of a hug and the happiness of a full cup of coffee. I looked into his eyes with wonder, appreciation and every intent of inhaling the feast in front of me, but I needed to clear the shadows behind his eyes. “Hun, why were you up so early?” I asked as I went to sit down. A soft sigh and then I felt his eyes peer into my soul as I went to sip my coffee. His voice deep and gravelly as he spoke, “Baby, you talk in your sleep. In fact, I need to know – and I want to hear it from you. Am I more than just a weekend thing? I thought we’d agreed to keep things like this. I heard much more.”

I gulped.

How did I tell him, how could I when I was the one who insisted that we just keep things casual, and then fell in love? I let my hair fall forward, trying to hide my heart that had jumped up to blast through those azure windows of my soul. A gentle touch as his finger reached under my chin to pull my face up from the curtain of auburn hair.  I couldn’t deny my heart, and looking at him I saw the little boy behind his blue eyes just waiting to be told that I wanted to share more than cookies and weekend breakfasts with him.

Softly, I stammered out, “I never intended to fall in love with you, but I couldn’t…” That was the limit of all I could speak as he bent forward and enveloped me in an embrace and a kiss that silenced me into tears of joy. Gasping for air, I pulled back just enough to see a light within his eyes that only barely matched the sheer delight on his face. He attempted to express a serious, more somber expression, but it was ruined by his exclamation of “Oh Hell, woman. Me too! You know, we both suck as this casual relationship stuff. So, here’s a question…”

His pause made my stomach flop like being on the high diving board with the water being way down below my toes.

“Are we ready to do more than this? I think I might be ready to settle down if I found someone who appreciates my cookies.” There was the little boy again, right there in front of me. Like the sudden happy surprise of finding ripe peaches in the sunshine, I realized that my inner little girl felt like she’d found a fishing partner that wouldn’t drown the worms or lose the bait. But I wasn’t willing to be an easy catch, or was I?

Wiping tears from my cheeks and onto my jeans, I looked up at him with pure mischief in my heart. “Um, I dunno. That last batch was sort chewy, I think you almost burnt ‘em. But if you’re willing to take a little direction and maybe a bit of criticism, you might’ve found yourself a baking partner.” I flashed him a grin that quickly was covered by another kiss until I broke away to complain, “Hey! What’s a lady gotta do to get some food around here?”

“Aw Lord, woman! Is your stomach all you think about? Here I make you a proposal to make an honest woman outta you, and you’re grumbling about food?”

I leaned across the red checkered tablecloth to grab my coffee and countered with, “Oh no, buster! You are not going to call THAT a proposal.  A proper proposal has flowers and a ring and someone is gonna get down on one knee and get serious! Hash browns and coffee do not a proposal make…but they can come close.”

I watched his right eyebrow begin to climb into his hairline, but the grin that threatened to burst loose from the corners of his mouth belied the seriousness he was attempting to hide behind.

“OK, if that’s what the lady wants….”

He stood up and went to the sink and leaned over to the windowsill to remove the faded plastic flowers that looked like they had been placed there years ago. I grabbed a quick mouthful of bacon as I watched him pull the bread bag from the pantry, remove the wire tie and just as efficiently tie the bag into a secure knot. He grabbed my left hand to measure, and then placing the plastic flowers between his teeth he wove the bread tie into a rough ring and dropped to one knee in front of me. With flowers in one hand and the bread-tie ring in the other, he suddenly frowned, “Music, we need music.”

I was amused that he wanted this as spontaneously perfect as he could make it, and that it was important to him. I was also still as ravenous, so I had one eye focused on his lanky frame bending over the beige plastic box of an old fashioned radio, while the other eye was navigating a fork into scrambled eggs. I’d almost devoured all the eggs when he discovered that the radio still worked, and was negotiating the hazards of hash-browns cooked with caramelized onions when he discovered what he ascertained was the perfect music. I had to agree with him, “Knights in White Satin” was an excellent choice, and he turned, made a bow and then resumed his one-kneed position in front of me.

He was attempting to make light of the spontaneity of the moment- plastic flowers, bread tie ring and all, but behind it he was somber and serious. “Beloved titian-haired lady of my dreams, she who speaks the truth of her heart in her sleep but hides her light behind her hair in the day…..Will you join me in my life and be my lady for all time to come? And will you accept this token of my affection, desire and promise-to-do-better-when-we-find-a-decent-jewelry-store?”

I would have loved to laugh and accept his proposal, but I’d taken a mouthful of hash-browns and any response on my part would have spewed half-chewed food all over him. I was trying to chew and swallow, but there was this silly grin on his face like he was savoring the moment of me NOT being able to say a thing.

“Oh, woman. I do so love you. Look, don’t choke on your answer, just nod your head and take the ring will ya’?”

I was nodding my head when I got choked anyway…and he ended up patting my back with the solid ‘thud, thud, thud’ and the comment that this was getting things off in a good direction. To which I responded with placing his handmade bread-tie engagement ring on my left hand, and jumping up to hug his neck. We sort of got tangled up in the tablecloth and somehow brought all the plates and coffee cups into the floor while exchanging yet another kiss amidst the laughter.

************

It took a good hour or so for the couple to clean up the mess in the kitchen, by then the sun was high enough to take the chill off the morning and actually make the day warm enough for a good swim. They both changed into t-shirts and cut-off jean shorts and wandered down to the broad creek with towels in hand to enjoy the water, the sunlight and each other. As they walked hand in hand away from the old farmhouse, the radio in the kitchen was softly buzzing with another tune, “…I hear the secrets that you keep, when you’re talking in your sleep…”

Sometimes You Have To Laugh – Guest Post by Angel Martinez

Yeah, it’s that dreaded day of the week, Monday. However, to make it a tad bit easier on some of us, it’s also Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start to the summer.   Some of us look forward to those long, lazy days – and some of us greet them with a feeling akin to nails scratching on a chalkboard. However and whatever your particular perception, it’s always better to find a good book and curl up somewhere shady and cool. Let your imagination spread its wings on those lovely summer breezes and glide where it may take you.

Angel is a Gift of Serendipity that I met at GRL 2014, and had seen online a couple of times. She’s come to be a friend and someone I can count on to give an honest opinion when those matter most. Without further ado, here’s her lovely guest post!

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Secret Vampire Shame – or Things Paranormal Authors Don’t Want You to Know 

LimeGelatin

My writing’s about half and half – half serious, half not. Even the serious pieces have comedic moments, funny lines, and the occasional absurd situation. Even the humor pieces have moments of doubt and disaster. But I have a serious soft spot for the satiric, especially when something’s big and loud and popular.

Pack shifters, anyone? I keep saying I’ll write a send up of all the pack shifter tropes out there. You know, the whole Alpha/Beta, fated mates, knotting, mpreg, thrown out of the pack and needs a new one/ has to reclaim pack from evil overlord/stepfather/uncle-who-married-mom. Haven’t had time to do it yet, but some day. Some day…

Another paranormal send-up I think about involves vampires. Oh, come on. So, so much to make fun of. Though I certainly wouldn’t be the first. But one thing I’ve never seen discussed is vampire eating restrictions. Seriously, the transition to immortal can’t be an easy one. There have to be some. What if a vampire was afraid of a certain blood type? Or couldn’t feed from someone wearing a certain scent? Or thought that feeding directly from a vein is icky? What if a vampire had a bad reaction to certain blood components?

Since Lime Gelatin isn’t about a vampire, but has a vampire as a secondary character, I picked that last one. Poor Carrington can’t consume whole blood, so he has to obtain washed RBC’s (red blood cells washed with saline to remove most of the plasma and white blood cells) from the blood bank. Just not quite the same effect, trying to be a Prince of the Night when you can’t sink your teeth into someone. Can you imagine the try at a hookup conversation in a bar?

“Hello there, I’m a vampire.”

“Oh, cool! That’s such a turn-on. Wanna go out to the car and you know, I’ll suck you off while you suck on me?”

“Um. No, that is, I can’t. You’d make me sick.”

*potential hookup stomps off in an offended snit, possibly after punching aforementioned unfortunate vamp*

Now…about that shifter piece…

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters

Offbeat Crimes 1

(part of Amber Allure’s 77th Precinct Pax)

Blurb:

Officer Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to Philadelphia’s 77th Precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.

Just as Kyle’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, his new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways.

Now, if Kyle and Vikash can learn to work together, they just might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.

Excerpt:

Kyle sat up straighter, shifting to see between the heads in front of him. Soren looked like a poster boy for the model police officer, tall and straight, uniform crisp and sharp. He stood at parade rest beside the lieutenant, impassively surveying his new colleagues. A little knot of resentment lodged in Kyle’s stomach. At his own introduction to the 77th, he’d been nervous and fidgety, freaked out by the collection of…freaks. How can he be so calm?

“Officer Soren transferred from the Harrisburg PD—”

“Don’t they have enough freaky shit of their own up there?” Wolf called out in his rasping growl.

“Since Harrisburg is in our jurisdiction,” she continued with a quelling glance. “He’ll start out partnered with Monroe.”

“What does he do, ma’am? That it’s safe to put him with Kirby, er, Kyle?” Shira Lourdes asked as she flicked nervous glances across the room at Kyle. An empty chair slid away from her and fell over. Her partner, Greg Santos, shook his head and righted the unfortunate piece of furniture.

“Officer Soren’s abilities are his business, which he may or may not choose to share if you ask. And don’t bully him about it either, any of you.” Lieutenant Dunfee swept the room again, pinning each of her officers with her needle-laser gaze like captive butterflies. “Monroe, my office after briefing. Info on your current case.”

She dismissed them, stalking from the room with thunderclouds in her eyes. Kyle found himself approaching the new guy and trying his best not to be awkward. Did he offer to shake hands? Was it safe? Would the guy flinch like so many people did at the sight of Kyle’s scarred hands? Soren was even taller up close, six-foot-three of lean inscrutability, his blue eyes startlingly bright against smoky bronze skin.

“Um, hi, I’m Kyle Monroe.” Kyle fidgeted when Soren didn’t offer his hand either. “You’re with me, I guess. I’ll show you our spot in the squad room.”

Soren followed him silently and Kyle was starting to wonder if he was like Krisk in the not-speaking department until he finally spoke in a smooth, soft baritone, making Kyle startle and miss a step. “Why do they call you Kirby?”

“You’d hear it sooner or later, I guess.” Kyle shrugged. “It’s this thing I do, absorbing other people’s talents temporarily. If they’re close to me. Or touch me. Like Kirby, the little pink dude in the video game.”

“Ah.”

Just that? Soren didn’t edge away, or change expression at all. Was he made of stone? “It’s a thing. Everyone here has a thing.”

After a few more steps, Soren asked, “Always?”

“What… Oh, was I always like this? Who knows? I mean, maybe I’ve picked up stray thoughts or something, but no. It’s pretty recent. Knowing that I do this.”

Kyle took a wide arc around Vance as he entered the squad room, pointing to the double desk in the far corner, well removed from everyone else. “That’s ours. Coffee’s over there, but you might not want that coffee. Let me grab my file and we’ll go see the lieutenant.”

“So what’s your story, Soren?” Vance called across the squad room. “What flies your freak flag?”

“Yeah, what do you do?” Jeff Gatling stopped ’porting his banana from one corner of his desk to the other.

“I don’t really do anything,” Soren answered as he hefted the empty coffeepot. “Guess I’ll make fresh since I’m the new guy.”

He opened the top to remove the filter and every human voice in the squad room yelled out, “No!”

Most people would have startled, maybe dropped the carafe. Soren just blinked at the roomful of people gesturing wildly. He took the filter out and emptied it over the trashcan. “Why not?”

“You don’t want to do that.” Kyle stayed by his desk, a nice safe distance from the coffee station. “That’s Larry’s job.”

“Larry’s not keeping up then.”

The container of sweetener packets began to rattle. It shivered across the counter and leaped to a messy end, ceramic shards skittering across the floor. The desk that Krisk and Wolf shared rose from the floor several inches and slammed back down. Wolf fled with a squeaking yelp just before the desk flipped on its side.

Soren glanced toward Kyle. “Larry’s not a cop, is he?”

“He is…he was! A dead cop. Larry’s a ghost. He gets ticked if anyone else makes the coffee. Put the stuff back, please!”

“Larry?” Soren raised his voice but to all appearances remained completely unruffled. “I’m new here. I’m very sorry I invaded your jurisdiction. See? I’m putting the carafe back. Closing the top. Are we good, Larry?”

A breeze ruffled through a stack of papers, but no further mayhem ensued. The carafe slid from its pad on the coffeemaker and floated to the water cooler where Larry, who never manifested in a visible form, whistled tunelessly while he filled the carafe.

From his dim corner of the room, Carrington said in his dry, genteel way, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Freaks…”

Giveaway:

2 commenters will be chosen at random (’cause I have a formula to do that and everything) for their choice of backlist Angel Martinez book!

About the Author:

Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres. Her experiences as a soldier, a nurse, a banker, and an underpaid corporate drone give her a broad view of the world and a deep appreciation for the astounding variety of people on this small planet.

She currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband of over twenty years, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

To contact Angel with praise, adulation, sarcasm, and complaints to the management (any management, she’s not picky, but it might not solve your flight reservation issue) please try these linky things:

Email: ravenesperanza@yahoo.com

Website: http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/angelmartinez

When You Least Expect It

galaxy 1

There are some days when the daily drudge of life grinds a person’s spirit to the point that stepping out of the routine is nothing short of lifesaving. Of late, the daily repeat of rain, thunder, wind and humidity had pretty well left me feeling like old toweling; I was ready to let the individual threads of whatever was holding me together release their integrity. I’d gotten to such a point within a manuscript that all I wanted to do was pull out a virtual torch and let fly with the fire. Yes, my finger hovered over the “delete” key.

Then, I saw that someone else was struggling with the same hated dance partner that I was fighting with, depression. I do so wish that the stigma of mental illness was a thing of the past. When you’re dealing with any of the monsters that live in that closet, it’s as if they have a life all their own. Your sanity is their prey and they are avid, cunning predators. Mental illnesses know where all the ‘buttons’ are because they hardwired the triggers. If you own a single erg of compassion, then when you happen across a similar soul fighting the same noble battle, there is no other choice but to lend a hand, a shoulder; Hell, take up arms right next to them.

Not all of us are blessed to find the “other” part of us in a relationship that goes beyond a simple pairing, but when that particular magic occurs, very few of us examine the depth of what it can truly be. We’re not a perfect species, even in relationships we tend to mess things up – sometimes beyond simple repair. Then, there are those of us that despite repeated failure find a way to, with great trepidation and despite the inner warning klaxon deafening us, open that door to our fragile, delicate soul centers one more time. When it’s not a fatal error, this becomes the very thing that poets and philosophers have waxed poetic over for centuries.

For near a quarter of a century, I have woven my spirit with that of another. Whatever it is between us, it has served us well as a medium against the criticism of others, as a nursery of hope to raise three children within, and a shelter against the storms of rising and falling fortune. We’ve found a safe harbor to moor within, and gypsy spirits that we may be, this is our base, our home – no matter where we rest our heads when sleep beckons. With all the hoopla over same sex marriage, legal rights, acceptance of sexual identity, etc. I stand baffled. What is it with humanity that we must insist on finding the most inane, bizarre conflicts of consciousness and inflate them to be the dread monsters of superstition?

In some form or another, we’ve managed to scrape together 2.5 million years of bi-pedal hominid history. Did we ever make it from sentience to enlightenment? Are we supposed to? Or, are we destined to dance around the next transformative force we discover and name it as a god, not unlike our distant forebears around a campfire? This day is too young and there’s too much blood in my caffeine system to follow this line of questioning any further.

I was thinking about my beloved last night as I watched the skies momentarily clear from the seasonal rainy weather. To that end, I will share the following:

******************************************************

Infinity Plus One

Somewhere on the shores

of Eternity, we’ll still be

walking hand in hand

until the last star flickers

into the shadows of Infinity.

Then, we’ll just turn, one

to the other and murmur

into our shared breath, “That was

interesting. Shall we do it

again?”

My heart shall ever beat as

one with yours, our feet

will dance the same

steps, and our fingers

intertwine. All our joys,

fears and tears to mingle

in the same rain, dance

on the pebbles of the driveway,

and water the flowers in the garden

of our lives together.

One day, maybe the rest

of the 6 billion souls we

share air with will understand;

“I Love You” is just the beginning.

********************************

P.S. Remember, Angel Martinez will be on this blog on the 25th. Come see what she has to share!

Watch This Space

galaxy

I’ve been so scattered of thought, body and spirit of late that I nearly totally blanked that I even had a blog. No worries though; there’s this little e-mail notification that tells me that the spam-meisters have been hard at it again. I really do wish that I had less of an ethical filter at times, because whamming the crap outta their blatant promo would just thrill my little dark heart.

At some time in the VERY near future, I will be hosting a wonderful author & friend on this site, so if you are following me, please be nice to her. Read some of her work and feel free to fawn all over her awesomeness. (Hope you’re blushing pink at this point, Angel Martinez….<evil grin>) Further, to all the beloved author friends hammering the good times gong at the Romantic Times 2015 convention in Dallas this week, huge and gentle hugs. Sorry you folks had to hit here during the rainy season!

This is the time of the year that the Dane and I shift gears into parental mode because the college kidlet is at home for her final summer break before kicking off her senior year at Cornell College. We are incredibly proud of her and just KNOW that she’s going on to incredibly awesome adventures (especially if the posse’ she’s surrounded herself with is any indicator!) Beyond that, there are other opportunities that are dragging us away from Cat’s Paw Acres. It’s time for us to re-connect, re-consider, re-new and re-vamp. That being said, I’m having to learn about some time management wherein health concerns are part of that equation. Did I ever mention that I SUCK at algebra?

We’ve lost some more of our barn cats due to a bumper crop of coyotes and my heart is heavy with their loss. Until recently, both the coyotes and the cats were fine having co-opted a truce that included George the Anatolian being the gatekeeper of goodness. Once George was taken out of the picture by incarnated slime parading as neighbors, everything fell out of balance and relative peace. While I totally despise the idea of returning to being apartment dwellers, it appears that this will be our temporary respite until we leave the State. Which means I get to explore the outer limits of Creative Downsizing.

On a happier note, a completely different surprise in that I’m actually hitting my stride with “Lyriel’s Moon” – a novel that I’ve had in my head to write ever since I narrowly escaped the clutches of the Evil Day Job with my very life. If you are ever victimized by an evil supervisor, boss or co-worker, I heartily recommend exacting revenge through the medium of writing. Nothing feels quite so invigorating as creating your own version of Karmic Payback to bless them with. I’ve created a playlist on YouTube that consists of all my beloved 80’s hair bands, some late 70’s rock, and a few of the latest happy musical creations that has me chair dancing and rocking out as I put my characters through the blender of human experience. The Yorkie thinks I’m two biscuits short of a snack, the cats are conversing about my shredded threads of sanity, and the neighbors are nervously avoiding me. It’s all good.

Sending out love and gentle hugs to one and all. Billy Joel and the rest are tuning up, and the Muse beckons.

LGBTQ Push Back Giveaway 2015

LGBTQBannerFB

Love is Love is Love

Allow me to state once and for all, I am a STRONG supporter of equal rights for EVERYONE. Likewise, I usually allow folks with a differing opinion to enjoy every bit of their personal opinion – as long as they don’t try to shove it down my throat, or the throats of anyone else, OR decide to legislate their personal beliefs into a public policy. Live and let live is a pretty happy place to be and with very few exceptions, a fairly nice lane to drive through life in.

When my firstborn nervously approached me to venture forth the idea that she might be bisexual, I didn’t flinch an inch. In fact, I think she was sort of shocked when I told her that her biological father was and he was closeted about it. Which, wasn’t a nice to for me to find out about until a couple of years AFTER he left the scene and I had to wait 3 weeks for the results of an AIDS test. (Note to genetic benefactor of first born child: Spurned ex-lovers have a very efficient network capability and a definitive taste for revenge tartare….oh gee, is the blood still dripping down my chin from that? Oops.)

Events of late have left a VERY nasty taste in my mouth; especially when righteous dim-wits go out of their way to show the rest of the world what an absolute failure our educational system currently is and just how decayed the interior working of our democratic republic is. We have the legislative process only the most elite of oligarchs could have wet dreams over and an educational system so pathetic that we’re only microns away from dropping statistically below certain Third World countries. Into this festering cesspool we add laughingstock after vaudevillian sideshow of state mandated ‘religious freedom’ statutes and ‘abstinence only’ sex education.

The pathetic outcome of such short-sighted actions will result in hairless bi-pedal hominids with scarcely enough mentation to punch buttons; those that survive their litter’s gestation in mothers infested with drug resistant venereal diseases, that is.

It’s PAST time to push back against the tides of intolerance, the bulwark of bullying, and the rubber bullets of riot police. I proudly support AJ Rose, Kate Aaron and Meredith King’s organized efforts in this weekend’s LGBTQ Push Back Charity Giveaway, and have a couple of short stories to offer up in exchange for donations to their efforts. OR….(keep in mind that in R/L I am clergy) …I will joyfully write a complete liturgy for whatever spiritual need you have.

There you have it in 500 words or less. Please support this cause; next to our fur-babies and purr-babies, it’s near and dear to my heart. Further, for about the same price as that fancy coffee in your hand, you’ll be supporting authors that could be wandering the streets looking for unsuspecting characters to add to their next novel in compromising situations with questionable motives. Scary thought, no?

Remember: What divides us, destroys us.

For more information, follow the link below:

http://diversereader.blogspot.com/2015/04/lgbtq-push-back-charity-giveaway.html

For a snippet of the some of the good stuff at that link:

It started when my sister Sarah overheard me talking to my boyfriend on the phone.
That afternoon, under the football stadium bleachers, Jonathan and I had our first kiss, and
I told him how much I liked it, how I wanted to do it again. I didn’t notice the click of
another phone in the house being picked up, but I sure heard it when my parents yelled my
full name.
“Elijah Michael Goodman, come here right this second!”
“I gotta go,” I whispered to Jonathan, and hung up before he could say anything. My
heart was in my throat as I went downstairs to the living room to see my mother and father
standing there, looking for all the world like they’d swallowed lemons.
“Who were you on the phone with?” Dad asked.
“Jonathan,” I answered truthfully. They thought he was my best friend. “Why?”
“What were you talking about?” Mom demanded, her voice shaking.
I squirmed and did the only thing I could with no time to think. I lied. “A test in
Algebra tomorrow.”
“That’s not what Sarah heard,” Dad challenged, eyes flashing.
Oh shit, I thought, but would never say out loud. My parents would tan my hide if I
swore in front of them, then take me to confession.
My silence made them angrier. Dad’s face turned red. “She said you kissed Jonathan.”
There was no way to refute that. I wasn’t a good liar. All I could do was take a deep
breath and nod, hoping they’d see the pleading in my eyes.
“Are you gay?” Mom demanded. Another nod.
The rest is a blur. My mother began screaming about my soul and salvation, and
they wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell them I tried not to be interested in guys, but it was
impossible. My dad went quiet, which was scarier than if he’d yelled, or even taken out the
belt.
Roughly grabbing my arm, he marched me up to my room, got out a duffel bag, and
threw three changes of clothes in it, grabbed my deodorant from the top of the dresser, and
shoved my shoes at my chest. Then he dragged me back downstairs, twisting my ankle in
the process, and threw me out the front door, the duffel landing beside me on the dry,
brown lawn.
“Don’t come back. You’re not our son anymore.”
My heart, having never left my throat, exploded, taking with it my ability to breathe.
What did he mean? Don’t come back, ever?
That’s how it started. By the time I’d walked to Jonathan’s, my parents—no, Mr. and
Mrs. Goodman—had already called his parents, and his mother met me at the door with
crossed arms and a stern expression, telling me Jonathan wasn’t home, and that he wasn’t
allowed to see me. As I’d walked away shivering, tears stinging my cheeks in the cold
November air, I’d looked back. Jonathan was at his bedroom window, holding an ice pack to
his eye and looking miserable. He gave a tentative wave, which I returned.
I had no choice. I had no money. I didn’t have my coat. No phone. And no one to call
anyway.