Hey, girlfriends: what do you call trinkets and other mementos that remind you from sad times in your life?

Well, I coined a word for them — “miserabilia”. Like so many other words, it comes from the Latin — “misery” or “miserable”.

Okay, I lied about that one. Still, some of us still have them in drawers or jewelry boxes, somewhere, never to be worn again.

Necklaces, bracelets, earrings — even rings.  We happen onto these relics from “other lives” while we are rummaging for something else:  loose change or  forgotten $100 bills.

Yeah. Those.

So, what do you do with them? Wear them, anyway, thinking, “They are mine. So, what the heck?”  Hold your breath and pitch them into the  “give-away” pile? Sell them at garage sales? Relegate them to deep, dark drawers. Find a way to turn old into new?

And what about those “selfies” of you and ol’ “Mr. Wrong”? Before my husband and I married, I exorcised those suckers as fast as my finger could delete, delete, delete and freed some space to store a lifetime of happy memories with my “Mr. Right”.

Yes, some memories are worth re-visiting. Other memories — and trinkets — are best forgotten, in favor of  newer and happier ones with your soul mate.

So, ladies, what did you do with baubles from other beaux?


CARS, COMPUTERS, AND CASH: My Top-Three “Necessary Evils”


What things do you most hate to be without? Contraptions and gizmos that, when they work, you’re in love. And, when they go kablooey, you curse the day you ever discovered them? Well, my three are cars, computers, and cash. As David Letterman used to do, I’ll present these from least to most.

Number-threecars. You love when they run.  You fire up the engine, crank up the tunes, slide open the sun roof, and go, go, go. That is, until the needle on the gas gauge hovers below that red “check fuel” zone. Unless you want to walk twenty, ten, or even five miles to work, you gotta swing by the pump. Then, sooner or later,  those pesky tires and batteries rear their heads and twiddle their thumbs, waiting for you to deal with them. And, lest we forget, those annoying inspection and registration reminder.As the late Gilda Radner always said in her Roseanne Roseanna Anna Danna persona: “It’s always something!”

Number two: computers — the second biggest object of my affection/disgust: computers. And why are cars less annoying than computers? Because even if your car breaks down and you are stuck at home, you can always crack open that trusty laptop. Or can you?  Included in this category are printers, particularly the wireless ones, iPhones and I-anything-elses. As a college professor, I can count on my wireless printer to develop Alzheimers at three major times of the semester: the beginning,  the middle, and the end. Around our house, printer cartridges and toner drain like sieves, and printer paper becomes precious as  gold. Before we know it, we run out.  And don’t even trip my trigger about the short life span of even the trustiest laptop. Last year, my faithful,  five-year-old Toshiba — fifth in my laptop lineage– succumbed to a killer virus that rendered the screen totally black, never to light up again. Of course, its untimely demise happened two weeks before payday.

That leads to the number-one “root of all evil”– money.  Without it,  you can’t buy gas, pay for inspection or registration, or other matters automotive. Without “moolah”, you can’t replace the toner or buy paper, or, worst-case scenario, buy another computer. Without “dough”, you can’t buy food or even use your credit cards. In other words:  “no mon, no fun!”

Cars, computers, and cash — the top three on my list of necessary evils. What are the top three items you love until they go belly-up or need maintenance?

AND WE’RE BACK: Continued Tales From The “Trenches”


On August 31, the Fall 2015 semester at the community college where I teach started off with a bang. Having been an instructor of Composition 1 — the dreaded “Freshman Comp” — I should know what I’m in for. I mean, I’ve been at this for more than twenty-six years. Let’s face it — college students’ thumbs may flutter like hummingbird wings over their phone keyboards, but when it comes to their being able to follow directions, it’s a different story. As I’m writing this post, it reminds me of others I’ve written:  “They Like To Watch Me Tap Dance”. Granted, as an instructor in a Humanities course such as English, I must teach the format prescribed by the Modern Language Association (also lovingly known as “MLA”)  in which sources are cited within the paper according to an author-page format and then the publication information for that source, listed in a Works Cited page following the last page of the paper.

But, first, before they start writing full-blown essays, they must practice with the three types of research notes: direct quotations, summaries, and paraphrases. Particularly paraphrases.

Just the other night, I led them through instructions for paraphrasing homework. A popular online college website, the the Purdue Online Writing Lab, has an excellent site for practicing paraphrasing and summarizing in order to avoid plagiarizing the original source. At the end of each class, my face was bathed in sweat and my hair hung in strings, sort of like when I gave birth.

Face it, folks, teaching this stuff is not for wimps.

Every semester, I look for other exercises. Sure-fire, slam-dunk ways to put these skills across. I’ve been teased and even accused for giving people too much information during my instructions.So I inserted a link to the exercise I wanted my students to complete. To be sure they saw it, I even posted it in that assignment and even color-coded the parts of the original citation that I wanted them to include:  the source’s last name or the article title (whichever they had to work with) and the page number. I also pointed out the information in the original source’s citation that they did not need to include in their own citations of the sources, such as journal titles and publication dates. I tap-danced ad nauseam about the fact that, even though the original sources included citations, already, that they, my  esteemed students, were also supposed to include their own parenthetical citations also, following the last line of each passage.

My final instruction:  they were to upload their homework to the “assignments” link of the Blackboard page for their course and section number by the following Monday, stressing that I would not, under any circumstances, accept hard copies.(After all, I gave the assignment on Wednesday to be due the following Monday. Certainly, that would give them enough time to complete the assignment, as directed, thirty minutes before class time.)

Please excuse me, here, while I bang my head against a wall.

Yesterday, when the earliest assignments reared their heads in my grade book, I discovered that, while a few computer-savvy souls followed the directions, many others turned in “creative” spins on my assignment. Ether they did not listen, or they asked others what they were supposed to do, or, my favorite, they blatantly forged right ahead and did it their way, anyway. One even assigned each word in the citation a different color, even though I stressed that I had color-coded the parts of the citation only to show them what I needed to see.

During my lesson on this exercise, the other day, I also stressed that paraphrases were about the same length as the original sources’ passages. So if the original one consisted of a paragraph, then their paraphrase of it should be about the same length.

Well, to put a twist on Bill Clinton’s famous words about “what the definition of is is,”, I began to think that my illustrious students redefined the word about in the same way. For instead of paraphrases that were about one paragraph in length, as the originals, I saw only one-or-two-sentence summaries of the source’s words, instead.

Even worse — here insert the JAWS or PSYCHO soundtrack — there was no evidence whatsoever that they had tried any kind of parenthetical citation!

Granted, paraphrasing and summarizing are skills that are difficult to grasp, but I was doing my darnedest to reduce those skills to their simplest terms.

The first week — shoot, make that the first month — of Freshman Comp is fraught with woes. See my posts, “Cries From Babes In The Woods” and “The Second First Grade”. College freshmen may stand heads taller, wear bigger clothes, and have more hair on their bodies. They may be real whiz-bangs at texting and even copying and pasting, but there appears to be a disconnect in uploading anything online and following directions.

Tell me, do I care too much?





Back in December 2014, a company from whom I ordered a messenger bag emailed me that it was on its way.

“Thank you for your purchase,” said the email. “Your package has shipped. You will receive it in seven to ten business days.

While it was good that it was on the way, I wanted it to arrive as soon as possible. Like yesterday. Like mostly everyone else, I hate to wait. Seven to ten business days from the date of the email meant it would not arrive until almost two weeks later.

That email got me to thinking, which is always dangerous. Depending on what or whom we are waiting for and whether he, she, or it is good or bad, seven to ten business days – almost two weeks – can seem fleeting or eternal. It all depends on how badly you want what’s about to happen.

A lot of major events happen quickly. Some of them –- a baby or a wedding — are happy. Others — bills, assignments, taxes, or death — not so. Ever notice how things we do not want come around quicker than those we do?  That same week-or-so can be interminable while we wait for something good to happen.

Case in point, when my husband and I planned to meet in person after talking on the phone, chatting, and emailing each other for the first three weeks, our big day was frozen by a record ice-storm that paralyzed Dallas and Fort Worth in December 2013. As a result, the big “reveal” was postponed until the next weekend. As it turned out, he proved to be worth the wait.

Seven to ten business days are basically two weeks. It can come quickly for something you dread. If it is something or somebody you want, the time can drag like a forty-eight-hour clock.

What thing or event came entirely too fast in your life? And for what or whom did you have to wait an eternity?





“Get real.”

“Get a life!”

“Get a job.”

Every day, people hear those words from friends, family, colleagues, and even enemies. But where do they go to “get-a” something they cannot get with money? Welcome to the “Get-A” Mall — the place you go to “get-a”. Open 24/7/365, this mall is available for all your “get-a” needs. But, a word of caution, it is not online. You need to “get-a” there in person.

The “Get-a” Mall offers a variety of stores, including its three most popular:

* “Get real”: First, do you really want to get real? Reality is scary. Sometimes, it even sucks! Divorce, disease, disability, death, bankruptcy — they are all part of life. But, if you are tired of your virtual existence, the nice folks at “Get real” aim to serve.

* “Get-a life”: Now this store’s waaaay more fun. Always wanted to be a stuntman? Here’s your chance. A ballerina? We have a tutu for yuyu. Rock star? Rock on!

* “Get-a job”: “What?” you say, “I don’t have any training!” Relax, man. Get someone else’s job. Be a doctor. Yeah, being a brain surgeon would be cool. All you would need is a good Black and Decker drill and you’re golden. Just go operate on someone else’s brain, okay? I’m good for now.

Attorney: (You really want people to vilify you?) Get a pair of running shoes – handy for chasing those ambulances.

*Teacher: (What? Are you crazy?)

Those are only three of the “Get-A” mall’s most popular stores. But how many times have people’s faces gone brain-dead and their eyes glassed over when you told them a joke? For those unfortunate sense-of-humor-challenged souls, there’s the “get-a joke” store. In one department, “stand-up comedy” schticks. In another, vaudevillian slapstick. And in a deep, dark medieval dungeon reserved for the truly humor-deficient, court jesters hired to jump out and tickle them senseless.

So, there you have it. “Get real”, “Get-a life”, “Get-a Job”, and “Get-a Joke”. Be the first to visit the “Get-a” Mall today.



In the original National Lampoon’s Vacation, Clark Griswold is determined to take his wife and two children to “Wally World”, a theme park about the size of Six Flags. Soon after they start out, they get lost, visit down-on-their-luck cousins, wreck their vehicle, go broke, and wind up with crotchety, walker-bound Aunt Edna (Imogene Coca) for the rest of their trip until she dies in her sleep. Rather than returning her to Cousins Eddie and Catherine, they strap Edna’s corpse on top of their car and, after a highly unconventional prayer,  leave her on her children’s doorstep, in pouring rain.

In spite of his wife (Beverly D’Angelo) urging him to give up the idea and drive them home, Griswold ( Chevy Chase) shouts, “Oh, no.This has become a quest!

Quest. I know that word well. I’ve been known to launch into a few, myself. Earning two degrees, launching out for Port Aransas all by myself and even searching for a husband.

Let’s face it. I can be relentless when I need to be.

So, in April, while we were browsing the booths at McKinney Trade Days, someone sat me down and gave me an Instantly Ageless demo. After tapping it here and there — under my eyes, on my wrinkled cheeks, she handed me a mirror. Even my husband was astounded at the two-minute results. My wrinkles were gone. My weary eyes, rested. I had to have some for my own.  With my fifty-year high-school class reunion only a month away, I wanted to look good. No — breathtaking.

Toward the end of May, I took the next step toward the Fountain of Youth.  I found someone local to give me some Instantly Ageless samples for my husband and myself; I also decided to become a distributor.

Now, in my past experiences in promoting skin-care from another company, I have learned, the hard way, that people can be really skeptical. It seems to be the nature of the beast.

Feeling pumped at my first “Wine and Wrinkles” J-Party,  I sold a fistful of Instantly Ageless sachets to someone on a budget. The experience empowered me. After all, when people see their wrinkles diminish and the bags under their eyes disappear within two minutes, something almost super-human happens — that little drop of product  starts to sell itself.

After hearing about this cutting-edge cream that packs the same one-two tap on wrinkles as its rival, Botox but without needles or risks, I started brainstorming types of people who might use it. My first thought — people in the “beauty biz”.

I remembered the person who gave me facials.

“Oh, I know! I’ll try it with *Lisa (*not her real name). She can use it on her clients.”

Well, it sounded like a good idea, at the time. So, on Tuesday, I called the massage center where I once had a membership and made an appointment. When I arrived, the girl at the desk escorted me to the “Tranquility Room” to wait for her.

Lisa was in her early twenties, if I had to guess. Her face was already flawless and wrinkle-free. But, hey, I had to get my feet wet. She sat patiently while I fumbled with my phone, wrangled with a slow-loading demo video and forgot to take a “Before” picture of her before I started. At last, the easy part — squeezing out a droplet of Instantly Ageless to tap-tap-tap below her already bagless eyes and smooth complexion.

As I inexpertly performed my first demo of the product, I remembered the famous words: “Don’t try this at home.”

Finished, at last, I snapped an “After” picture on my iPhone and showed it to her. She loved it. At least, she acted as if she did to make me feel better.

Okay! Moving right along, here, I thought, before I homed in for the “close”.

“So how much Instantly Ageless would you like, today?”

Her eyes clouded. She bit her pretty lower lip. She cleared her throat.

“Actually. We’re not supposed to use any other products but the ones the company gives us.”

Now, I have to tell you that, before I walked into her room to do my schtick, I had heard grisly tales — about  “ex-pats” who defected from rival companies after they saw the amazing results of Instantly Ageless on themselves. I was prepared to show Lisa a picture of that “scoundrel”. At least, I thought I was. Alas — as I dug through my bag, I discovered I didn’t have it, after all.

My big-time “bad”. Still, I remembered other famous words: “Never let ’em see you sweat.”

“Is that so? Okay, then. But, you know, I’ve been known to work a deal with people who want to try it for themselves.”

Again, she smiled ruefully. “Sorry, can’t. But thanks for coming.”

Well, I know enough about sales to know the odds. It’s like inviting people to a party. You have to ask twelve to wind up with six who actually show up.

I remembered what someone in a rival company once told me about customer behavior: “Remember, they’re not rejecting you. They’re just rejecting the idea.”

Hey, no problem, I thought, as I returned to my car.  There always has to be a first time. Besides, I have another appointment with someone at a nail salon. The same one I have used for eight years. Certainly, the techs there will be receptive.

Or not?

Okay, on my first day out, I batted zero. But, at least, I went out.  And, as my sponsor told me, “You did great. Keep it up.”

Yes, I’m determined. By the way, I did mention the word quest, didn’t I? Meanwhile, besides for having my web site with the company, I also created a Facebook page, Fountain of Youth by Kim Terry. Come in out of the heat. Look around. Make yourself at home.

So, how can you look at least ten years younger? Click the link below and see this woman’s amazing results for yourself.


ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL: Part 4, “Highlander Heads and Threads”

June 7, 2015

Part of being a Highlander in the 1960’s, besides for the hangouts, the hits, and the reunions, were our hairdos and our clothes, or  “heads” and “threads”.



1. The “Flip” — a high-maintenance “do” requiring us to use over-sized brush rollers (and, even, soup or juice cans), Scotch tape to keep our bangs from curling, a metal ratting comb, and enough hair spray to alert the EPA. We spent enough money on our “do’s” to buy our own beauty salons or sat for what seemed like hours under our own portable bonnet hair dryers.

Please note: the YouTube video shows someone using a blow-dryer and a curling iron. To that, I say, “No pain, no gain”. They’ll never know the fun or the sleep they missed doing it our way.

2. The beehive was another “do” we attempted, usually for dressier occasions. It didn’t work out too hot in the gym. See the YouTube link below.

Again, how can these “twenty-somethings” know how to do up a good bouffant? Sheesh!

Boys: Crew-cuts (successor of the flat-top and ducks of the 1950’s). Relatively low-maintenance (I guess, as I never wore them). Thanks to Bing images images for providing this picture.


Girls: Although women were influenced by the simple but classic elegance of Jackie Kennedy with her pill box hat, we wore pleated skirts, Oxford-cloth blouses, cardigans, and suede penny loafers in coordinating colors to school in cooler weather and spaghetti-strap sundresses in warmer weather.

Boys: white or light-colored jeans with Oxford-cloth shirts (with loops in the back), Madras plaid shirts, Italian-style slip-on leather shoes.

Thanks to YouTube and Bing contributors for their videos and images. I could not have written a post like this without their help.

In conclusion, I have inserted pictures of some popular haircuts, styles, and clothing  from back then. One question remains — what styles worked for you, back then? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!


ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL, PART 3: “Highlander Hits”

June 5, 2015

Hey, Highlanders, on count of three, raise your hands if you can name the artist for each song. Ready, set, GO!

1. “California Dreamin’ ”  a) the Grateful Dead  b) Jimmy Buffet  c) the Mamas and the Papas

2. “Poor, Poor Pitiful Me”  a) the Rolling Stones  b) Linda Ronstadt  c) the Mama’s and the Papas

3. “Come See About Me”  a) The Supremes  b) the Shirelles  c) Linda Ronstadt

4. “Little Deuce Coupe”  a) Jan and Dean  b) the Beatles  c) the Beach Boys

And the last one <drum roll>:

5. “Cherry, Cherry”  a) Elvis Presley  b) the Beatles  c) Neil Diamond

Okay, let’s see how everyone did. Below are the answers to each of the five quiz questions.

1.  c (Mama’s and the Papas) 

2. b (Linda Ronstadt) 

3. a (The Supremes) 

4.  c (the Beach Boys) 

5. c (Neil Diamond) 

* My thanks go to the YouTube contributors for these embedded links.*

The next level of the quiz, #6-9 matching the following numbers with the name of their AM radio stations. Here we go, again!

6. 1360  a) KFJZ  b) KXOL  c) WBAP  d) KLIF.

7. 1270   a) KLIF  b) KFJZ  c) KXOL  d) WBAP

8. 1190 a) KLIF  b) WBAP  c) KFJZ  d) KXOL

9. 820  a) KLIF b) KXOL  c) KFJZ  d) WBAP.

And for the trivia question <another drum roll>

10. Charlie Hobbie was a deejay on  a) KXOL  b) KLIF  c) WBAP  d) KFJZ.

Let’s see how we did on the second round. Please hold your applause until the end.

6. b (KXOL)

7. b) KFJZ

8. a) KLIF

9. d (WBAP)

10. d (KFJZ)

So, there you have it. My favorite song from the 1960’s was the Diamonds’ “Li’l Darlin'”. What was your favorite? I’d love to hear from you!


ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL, PART 2: “Highlander Hangouts

June 2, 2015

Come on, Highlanders, show me your hands if you remember any of the following bygone East Lancaster sites:

*  Jack Collier Drug Store

* Fair East Shopping Center

* Hart’s Dress Shop

* Pizza Tower

* Gateway Theater

Growing up on Sargent Street, off Meadowbrook Drive, I terrorized East Lancaster almost every day, for one reason or another. My earliest memory was munching animal crackers and looking at the new Golden Book Mama bought to keep me peaceful while she grocery-shopped at Worth Food Market. If she was “flush”, we stopped off  for a greasy burger and a Coke “suicide” at Jack Collier Drug Store. I shopped for school supplies and made sure they added up to at least a dollar so the nice soda jerks would give me a free shake or malt. And Hart’s, a little hole-in-the-wall dress shop, was the source of many of my outfits for those special school events.

Along about my teens, I loved to walk up to Fair East Shopping Center just for the exercise and browse the magazine rack at Skillern’s, rummage through and play 45-rpm records at the record store, drool over the darrrrling dresses at Monnig’s and Kay Fleming and stroll the creaking hardwood floors of Mott’s, just to sniff that unique, five-and-dime  smell.

The Pizza Tower was the perfect little restaurant for a romantic candlelight dinner with a date after a football game or a movie at the Hollywood, Worth, Palace, or Gateway Theaters (where I know I paid more attention to the crowd than I did the movie or the game).

Also located on Lancaster, the Griddle System. I remember my “bestie”, Tonya Woolbright (now-deceased EHHS 1967 grad) and I would walk up to the Griddle System on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and feast on their “special”: a burger with special sauce, French fries, and a frosty root beer.

After gorging at the Griddle, we would head up to the Gateway for the rest of the afternoon. Back then, if we showed our “Teenage Discount Cards”, we would get in for under a dollar with change left for popcorn, candy, and a drink from the Coke machine. Tonie and I watched the movie, cartoons, and any serials at least twice before calling it a day and starting back home. The Gateway, being up the street from my house, was also a convenient landmark for directing anyone to my house before I was able to drive by myself.

There were other places along our much-decayed but never-forgotten “beat”: Spartans, Char-Bar, the Crown Root Beer stand,Driftwood Drive-in, and Cox’s Department Store.   Now, each of them is  out of business, boarded up, or transformed into something else. Still, whenever we meet for our monthly lunches at Mexican Inn, I try to allow time to drive down East Lancaster Avenue and, once more, relive  our “Highlander Hang-outs”.

“ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL, Part 1: A Highlander Reunion

June 1, 2015

Pep Rally Days, 1965. It was our tradition. The Highlandettes would march down the aisle to “Loch Lomond” and file into the front-and-center rows of the auditorium. The band would play. Cheerleaders would lead us in “What’s the Good Word?” and other cheers, the football players would come up on stage, and our principal, Roy C. Johnson would practically throw his shoulder out leading us in another yell. Toward the end of the rally, we would sing our Alma Mater before crossing our arms, chain-style, and grabbing the hands of those on our left and right. If we sat on the end of the row, we’d hold the hand of the person behind us. And then we would shout, “All for one, and one for all!”

We are the Eastern Hills High School Highlanders, and this is our cry.

So it was only natural that these golden words would be splashed across our decorations when we celebrated our fiftieth class reunion on May 29 and 30. We’ve been ramping up to this event since as early as 2014, actually, when we received the first “Save the Date” postcards with a photo of Class Officers Phil Luebbehusen, Mike Gentry, and Steve Morris on the front.

Now, two days later, as I’m writing this post, Jeff and I are still winding down from the excitement — okay, image

that, and the dancing — but my  head, a runaway balloon, has drifted far above Cloud Ten. A two-day event — May 29 and 30 — the fifty-year reunion of the Eastern Hills High School Class of 1965 has been nothing short of beyond amazing. Our Howdy Party at the Ventana Grille of Tierra Verde Golf Course, Ladies’ Luncheon, complete with Mimosas at Ridglea Country Club, and a party-to-end-all parties at Mira Vista Country Club reinforced the fact that we Highlanders can still party like nobody’s looking.

We have Reunion Chairman, Marsha McCarty Hilcher, and her illustrious and accomplished Committee to thank. Starting in 2014, Marsha, the brains and beauty behind this extravaganza, and Terry Allen, in charge of “Save the Date” cards, Reunion invitations, and Facebook correspondence, began whetting our appetites for the  “Big Do” in May.  Some of us  posted our own “throwback” photos of those bygone days  on our EHHS Class of 1965 Facebook page. If Marsha did the “enfolding”, Susan Hunsaker Gregg did the “investigating”, doing an outstanding job of rounding up the lost “clan members” and providing contact info for students and teachers.

Since the day we marched down the aisle  to strains of “Pomp and Circumstance”, we have remained remarkably close-knit, in spite of our large class size — roughly four hundred grads. Thanks to Facebook, we have remained even closer and  have even met  for monthly lunches at our favorite Mexican Inn and the Dixie House Cafe on East Lancaster Avenue and other places in the area.

On Friday evening, the feeling I experienced by being surrounded by my classmates — some I hadn’t seen since graduation — was that it was the closest thing to Heaven, short of seeing my parents, grandparents, departed friends, and, of course, my dogs. Before we lined up for our buffet of fajitas, rice, and beans, our classmate, Ron Sellers, directed everyone to touch someone else and led us in a stirring prayer to thank God for our parents and teachers who brought us  to that moment. A video of our high-school memories as well as music from the 1960’s, such as Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” had us dancing in our seats as we ate.

Saturday, May 30 began with the Ladies’ Luncheon in the Garden Room of the Ridglea Country Club. Thanks to Patty Groody Enstrom, Karen Brantley Faulkner, Debbie Maddox Self, Becky Wright Gibbs, and Joann Hooten Mayer and a snort-worthy “stand-up” routine about the highlights of our high-school years delivered by Peggy Brooks Bain, we all dined sumptuously on salad, some chicken dish with angel-hair pasta and cream sauce, grilled zucchini, rolls, and lemon, pecan, and chocolate squares the consistency of brownies. After many more hugs and a group picture, we waved good-bye and “See you tonight!”.

A few hours later, Jeff and I drove out to the Mira Vista Country Club in Benbrook. Many thanks to Jerry Conatser for lining up such a beautiful location and a talented band. As we had been told, a guard would check our names on the list of attendees before opening the gates. Then, thanks to John Sparks for our nametags and the 50th Reunion video. What other words can I use to describe this event other than “absolutely unforgettable”?  Otis Schmidt, owner of the 1957 T-bird, was generous in loaning his snazzy little ride for any photo “opps”. With the help of Jan Bussey, she and I contributed parts of our Highlandette uniforms — she, the plumed cap and requisite white Oxford-cloth shirt and me, the vest and blue-gray-and-white wool Tartan skirt. Jerry Wood was the Golf Tournament Chairman and Texas Wesleyan University provided golf prizes. A roving photographer, Dave Roth, snapped group pictures on the staircase and candids of us as we mingled with each other and our teachers: English teacher, Beverly Hanks Weatherford; business teacher, Marjorie Reid McLendon, and Ronnie Martin, our band director.

Of course, there had to be someone to collect our money for this long-awaited shindig. Thank you, Jan Pack for being our treasurer for all these years. Better you than me to handle all that money.

While we mingled, Mira Vista servers circulated with shrimp, shish kebobs, and pecan chicken fingers and expert bartenders served our wine and beer and mixed our cocktails.

And thanks to Jimmy Bilderback for snagging a “real-live” bagpiper to usher in Phil Luebbehusen and Mike Gentry, Class Officers and the Master of Ceremonies.

Then, there was the buffet, offering three kinds of meat — fork-tender chicken, succulent salmon, and juicy beef — plus salad and pan-fried potatoes with their skins left on, and sauteed green beans was well worth the wad of cash we had to pay. Even on top of that were two huge cakes with Eastern Hills Class of ’65. One with chocolate cake, and the other, white. The buttercream frosting was so scrumptious that I was tempted to go back for a bowl of it, by itself.

Of course, the fun of reunions is — well — reuniting with classmates from all over the country. Although there were some who never wandered from the DFW Metroplex, others were from various points in Texas and other states. For example, among the nine at our table on Saturday night were two people I have not seen since junior high and high school. Two of us, Catheleen Jordan and I, are now college professors. Our friend from the East, the talented James Martin, is now an renowned artist living in New York City. Brian and Francine Hilliard — high-school sweethearts — settled in Rockwall, Texas. And Danny and Nancy Webb drove in all the way from picturesque Hot Springs, Arkansas.

After a video reenacting the highlights of our senior years, the band kicked off and the dancing began. I’m still seeing spots before my eyes after what seems like a million cell phone cameras flashing in the dark. At the beginning, couples rushed out to dance to a mixture of 1960’s music such as “Unchained Melody” and “The House of the Rising Sun” and even a few country-western songs such as Jim Reeves’ classic,”Welcome To My World”. Around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m., tired husbands rested their “doggies” while we women kicked off our shoes, got out and wiggled and jiggled amongst ourselves and with each other.

At 11:45 p.m., the party started drawing to a close and the band sang their last song. After waving good-bye and yelling, “See you at the monthly lunch” or “See you at the Sixtieth”, we and our pooped-but-patient spouses  headed for home.

I can hardly wait for our sixtieth. The beauty of class reunions, as I’ve oberved them, is that the more I’ve attended, the more we all appreciate each other. The more “vintage” we become, the more we experience Life and Her ups and downs and the more we share and empathize with each other.

Photo courtesy of Sharon Patterson

LIVING ON ISLAND TIME, PART 5: “Shoes Full of Sand, Hearts Full of Memories”


In the corner of our living room stands a rolling cart bulging with vacation clothes. For some reason, I have yet to unpack them. Around one a.m., this morning, my husband and I pulled into our driveway after a four-hundred-plus mile jaunt down to our beloved Port Aransas for a visit with my cousin, BeeGee and our favorite beach cottage, the Wahoo.

Once again, after a hectic semester that led to a scary fever-with-chills spell, I forced myself to be well enough for a jaunt to our favorite coastal area. It would be the perfect getaway to rest, write,and relax.

Monday, 5/18

After a weekend of Oma-and-Opa duty with two grandchildren, we get up around 9:00 a.m., pack the car with our vacation gear, and board Russet with her vet. It feels good to take off and grab a little time for ourselves before I have to start teaching summer school. After a round-about route ending on the ferry across Aransas Pass, we wind up in front of the Wahoo.

After resting and refreshing, the three of us — BeeGee, Jeff, and I– drive to Harbor Grill where BeeGee gives the cook some redfish, ordering half fried and the other half, grilled, before we find a table at The Back Porch, an outdoor bar facing the harbor. After dinner, we come home to visit some more before BeeGee mixes up a special breathing potion in a mister and sends it, along with some peppermint and eucalyptus oil. to cure an annoying cough I had developed during my last day at school.

Sure enough, the salty beach air mixed with peppermint-and-eucalyptus scented mist sent me off to blissful sleep.

Tuesday, 5/19

Feeling so much better after the mister has cleaned out  those nasty toxins, I am ready for a romp on the beach.  After a quick cereal-and-coffee breakfast, Jeff and I head on down to a beach splashed with puddles from frequent, daily rains. Splashing through the puddles, we finally find a place to park. At last, I get to kick out of my flip-flops and squish wet sand between my toes as we stroll the beach. Among a variety of shells and broken sand dollars lay the bluish jelly-like Portuguese man-of-war. Knowing not to touch them, lest we touch one of their stinging tentacles, we dodge around them. Although the water is murky, even early in the morning, it doesn’t dull our fun of finding shells and feeling the cool water on our  toes.

Tired from the sun, we go home mid-afternoon, after stopping for fish tacos and a stroll through at Moby Dick’s souvenir shop. After purchasing a glittery visor and two small Talavera figurines — a turtle and a star — we head for the grocery store on the island for burger fixin’s for supper and then back to the cottage, which Jeff has started calling “home”.

That evening, we get together with BeeGee for a hamburger cookout. Ground beef  mixed with bison makes some mighty tasty burgers. Added to that, fresh melon, tossed salad, and wine provide a satisfying dinner. Afterwards, we all watch the finale of “The Voice”. Soon after Jeff excuses himself to go back to our cottage, I follow suit.

Wednesday, 5/20

After a morning romp on the beach, we strike out to surrounding areas — Aransas Pass and Rockport — for the possibility of homes to retire in.  We were particularly enchanted with picturesque Rockport with its La Buena Vida and neighboring City By The Sea neighborhoods. Although we have not decided, yet, we’re certainly open to the idea of moving closer to the gulf area where I can write and we can take life easy.

That night, BeeGee orders pizza and we watch t.v. until we get sleepy and cruise on back to our cabin.

Thursday, 5/21

As we are packing up our car to start back home, we get a call from the security alarm people. They have received  a “glass break” signal from our kitchen. As there have been bad storms in the Arlington area, the person on the phone admits that the lightning has probably set off the alarm. Still, she asks us if we wanted  to call the police, just to make sure and we say, “Yes”.

After we hug BeeGee, we head out for Padre Island in search of more shells. At the gate to the Padre Island National Seashore checkpoint, I purchase a senior’s pass that is good for a lifetime. Stopping at Malaquite Beach for our turkey-sandwich lunch, we drive along the beach where we find two men coaxing a beached shark back into the water and a number of washed up Portuguese man-of-war, which, according to Visitor’s Center display, is not one animal but many ]in the tentacles of one bluish jellyfish.

From there, we travel onto San Antonio in sporadic but blinding rainstorms. Thanks to Hotwire, I’m able to book our room in the Holiday Inn, near the Riverwalk. We arrive around four p.m., freshen up, and hop a shuttle to the area, lined with gift shops and restaurants catering to a variety of appetites from enchiladas to barbecue and beyond. Our quesadillas and the frozen margarita we share on Rita’s On the River are piquant and delicious.

“I stop picking up at 8:50 p.m, but if you run into a problem, just gimme a call,” said Steve, the shuttle driver.

Although we tried to be through in time to ride the shuttle back to our room, we wind up walking back to the hotel. It is a winding trip, but as there are others finding their way home, as well, we are perfectly safe. Although I had set up my laptop for some work, later,it takes only lying down on our comfy king-sized bed for us to realize how wiped-out we really are.

Friday,  5/22

“Hey, babe. Do you realize it’s nearly eleven?”

My eyelids, as if on hinges, spring open. “Yikes! What time is checkout?”

“Dunno,” says Jeff, picking up the phone in the room. “Let’s check.”

After a few minutes on the phone, I hear him say,”At noon? Thanks.”

Disappointed that our Holiday Inn doesn’t offer complimentary breakfast as its Express versions do,  we scout out a restaurant and find a Jim’s Restaurant which reminds me of the old Fort Worth Kip’s chain. Our egg-and-sausage breakfast tacos with hash browns and sliced tomatoes were generous and filling and the coffee, hot and bracing.

With the car freshly gassed and our tummies full, we head out for New Braunfels, driving through spurts of blinding rain, to see Jeff’s son and daughter-in-law and their sons, Jayson and Bryon and watch Bryon play the first of a three-game basketball tournament. After a stop at the Brackenridge Japanese Gardens, Jeff and I  decide to head on home instead of staying overnight with his son and daughter-in-law. After all, we are still hacking and coughing and don’t want to share that crud with anyone else.

On the way to San Marcos, the site of the game, we find stop-and-go traffic on nortbound Interstate 35. At the time, it is 6:45; the game is at 7:00. Still, there is no hope of the traffic clearing. All we know is that Bryon and his parents are two cars up ahead.

We were glad we went. After watching Bryon play and come out victorious when his team won, we headed on in to Arlington, stopping only in Belton to gas up and grab coffee and iced tea.

When we walk through our door, we discover that the lightning knocked off of a chunk of plaster in our living room, bottles from our kitchen window and even stuff from the window ledge in our office. As our townhome is located next door to the pool, the impact from the lightning must have been strong enough to not only set off the alarm but rattle our door and windows.

Saturday, May 23

Now, with our pooped puppy bailed out of the vet, here we are — sleeping off the trip. The whirlwind trip has been fun; we’re already looking forward to the next one. For now, as we shake the sand off our sandals, our hearts teem with memories. We are mighty glad to be home.



Several weeks ago, a local college rolled out a new campaign in a public-service commercial. Their strategy: “We believe everyone is college material.”

While I can understand what the advertisers were trying to say, the “touchy-feely, fuzzy-wuzzy” slogan galled this professor.

The first time I heard the commercial, I was slamming out essays.  The pain that my students’ copious comma splices, fragments, “text-ese” and other essay no-no’s were inflicting made me yearn for a nice, slow a root canal  without Novocaine, or any kind of “caine”.

I have taught college English since the late 1980’s.  I love teaching college students and wouldn’t want to teach any other level. During my years in the classroom, I have taught many kinds of students: returning students, first-timers, part-timers, you name it. While there are a decent number who are there because they want to be and have set aside time to give me their best effort, too many fit within the second category I am writing about. Good kids, probably. But they are the ones who would have done better to hang back a year or two and do something else, instead.

Found a job.  Enlisted in the military. Traveled to Europe. Enrolled in a trade school.

Anything but showing up in class in body only.  Straggling into an 8:30 a.m. class at 9:20, just as I’m winding up. Or, after they have already arrived late, telling me they have to leave twenty minutes early to go to work. I can’t help wondering why they haven’t had a heart-to-heart with their bosses about coordinating their school requirements with their work schedules. Attending school is every bit as much of a commitment as is working.

Yes, college is tough. That’s why it is called college. It is a proving-ground for life. And no. Not everyone is ready for it. At least, not at first. Sometimes, not ever. Those of us who remember our college days have tales to tell. About  “mean” professors assigning at least fifty pages of reading per each book. About writing essays in response to challenging and, sometimes, downright impossible topics and turning them in by the end of the period, finished or not. And toting all of our required textbooks to class.

(*Raise your hands, here, if your backpack weighed more than you did, back then.)

Back in “the day”, there were no cell phones, no tablets, no Internet, and no e-books. While I am certainly not campaigning for doing away with the Internet — as that would take away my Facebook — I have noticed that students these days seem more distracted by their surroundings. technology, other students, their very lives. Pick one or all.

And what is this I hear about today’s students not being required to have textbooks? While I understand that those textbooks, especially the ones thick as a New York City phone directory, probably cost the same as one semester of college, purchasing them from the college bookstore is not a student’s only option. They can buy them used online, rent them, or find a friend who has finished the course and is dying to unload it.

Also, back then, there was no “bargaining” for grades. We took what we knew we had earned, barring unusual circumstances, of course. Today, it seems everybody  wants– no, demands –an A, whether they have earned it or not. Recently, some young lady asked me why she got a zero for a quiz when she waltzed in after I had taken them up. When I advised her to review the “no late or make-up work” policy in my syllabus, she protested.

“But I came, didn’t I?  Don’t I get a grade for being here?”

In a perfect world, maybe.

In conclusion, getting a job, traveling abroad, enlisting in the military, or learning a trade are all noble pursuits. Those experiences give people’s lives dimension and texture. Even the best student needs  a breather after high school. There is no shame in not plopping down behind a college  desk immediately after high school. In fact, waiting until they are ready and finding other ways to enrich their education might  make  students not only the best, but phenomenal!




Okay, this week’s prompt included two animals talking to each other. The dialogue goes as follows;

Animal 1: “I told you this was a bad idea”.

Animal 2: “You said that already.”

Animal 1: “Yes, but it bears repeating.”

Or something like that. Anyway, after closing another semester, I opened my Mac, flexed my fingers, and this is what happened. Enjoy!


Happy Valley Animal Control Center 


“Elvis? Elvis, wake up boy!”

Chiquita, the Chihuahua, as usual. The little rabble-rouser is at it again. All around us, a cacophany of yips, yaps, and woofs, all because some stranger, leash and clipboard in his hands, is strolling along the sidewalk between the cages before stopping at Number 40, the home of Bruiser, the Boxer.

“C’mon, boy. Let’s go for a walk.”

Within minutes, Bruiser, stubby tail wagging, lets himself be led through the double doors.

“Oh, noooo!” whines Chiquita. “Poor Bruiser. Elvis, you know where he’s going, don’t you? Elvis! Wake your butt up, boy! I’m talking to you.” 

Oh, go away.

Just when I am dreaming about juicy steaks, grassy yards and a new dog mommy, Chiquita has to go and wake me up.

“Aw, girl, what are you raising Cain about now?”

Her ears perk. Her tail is a blur. Her claws grip the fence.

“Haven’t you heard? A whole lotta us ‘seniors’, including you and me, have a date with
‘da room’.”

“What room?”

Chiquita rolled her doggy eyes. “You know – da room. I’m tellin’ ya. We gotta get outta here.”

Harrumph, I thought, as I curled back up, tucking my muzzle under my tail.

Go pester someone else.

“Okay, then. Don’t say I didn’t try to warn ya,” she says, before turning to the Rottweiler in the cage to the left.

“Ruby, Ruby! It’s gonna happen!”

Unfazed by the drama queen’s hysterics, the Rottie yawns.

The next day, as I’m wolfing down my dinner, Chiquita sidles up to my cage. “Psst…Elvis,” she says, outta the corner of her mouth. “One word: play time.”

After lapping water from my bowl, I look up at her. “Um, in case you haven’t heard, that’s two words.”

“Oh, shut up and listen. When they come to walk us, today, we play along. We don’t know nothin’, ya hear? Then we pull out all the stops: the puppy-eyes, the licks –blah, blah, blah. We catch ‘em off guard. And we wait for our moment.”


Who needs a rooster to wake you up when there’s a Chihuahua around? Yep, Chiquita is at it again.

“Wake up, Elvis. Time to rock and roll, boy.”

I yawn. I stretch. “I’m up. I’m up.”

The fresh morning air carries the aroma of freshly-mowed grass and dog poop – my favorite smells. As I let my volunteer lead me around, I play it to the hilt: rolling over so Chad can rub my speckled belly, licking his hand, and flapping my puppy-dog browns at him. He bends down to scratch behind my long, leathery ears and rub my muzzle.

“Elvis, if I let you off the leash, are you gonna be a good boy?”

I nod and roll over as I watch for Chiquita. Soon, I see her trotting out at the end of a leash. We make eye contact. Then, as I was hoping, the dumb chick walking her bends over, unhooks her, and throws a ball.

This should be interesting, I’m thinkin’, as I look for her to fetch and come a-runnin’ back.

But she keeps on a-goin’. So, I slip through the leash and take off running.

It doesn’t take us long to figure out that we goofed up big-time. As I catch up with Chiquita, a nervous little twit I wouldn’t be seen with, otherwise, I see a tall man who walks kinda funny. He has a big, bleeding hole in his throat and he’s missing an ear.

Meanwhile, people are screaming and running like their lives depend on it.

“Watch out for that ol’ boy, Chiquita. There’s something seriously wrong with him.”

But Chiquita, for all her street smarts, has the brains of a worm. She bounces up to him and pirouettes on her hind feet. He scoops her up and grins ghoulishly.

“Ugggggh!” he grunts, as he caresses her head and clutches her throat.

Well, don’t ask me how I know this, but when I see that gooney-bird open his mouth and go for her head, I run up and bite him on the ankle.

“Waaah!” he roars, swiping blindly at the air.

Suddenly another joins him. And then another. Men, women, even children, all shuffling around.

“Chiquita, I told you this was a bad idea. I don’t know who – or what – these people are, but I’m ready to head back to where we came from.”

“I know it,” she says.

“But it bears repeating. I’ll race you back there.”

“You’re on, Elvis.”

Turning tail, we run back to Happy Valley, past a stand with newspapers. Their headlines: “Day One of Zombie Apocalypse!”




Well, after a hairy school week, I flopped into my recliner, pulled up the latest prompt offered by Weekly Writing Prompts and tinkered around with each of the five ideas. To follow is the one that inspired me the most: “One bullet is a lifetime supply.”


PROMPT: One bullet is a lifetime supply

 May 30   5:25 a.m.

Lindsey Brewster lifted her head off the pillow long enough to readjust it so she could fall asleep for five more precious minutes. Soon, the snooze alarm on her clock would bleat for the last time. Whatever she had done, the day before, she would do all over again. Pull self upright with her only good hand. Hobble downstairs on one crutch to start the coffee. Wake up five-year-old Crane and get him dressed so her mother could drive her to her job at Denny’s.

 Oh, for the luxury of calling in sickagain.

The hand she wrote with was braced with a cast clear up to her elbow. Her left foot, broken in two places, throbbed after her husband slammed the car door on it  when she didn’t get into the car fast enough. She needed more pain pills, but the doctor said, “No way”.

   Truth is, she mused. I need to be in the hospital. And Rance should be in jail. 

She ran water over last night’s dinner dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Bending carefully, she groped under the sink for the dishwasher pods but found only liquid soap. Remembering Rance’s hair-trigger rage at coming home to an amoeba of soapsuds spreading on the kitchen tile, she backed away.

Nope, she thought, remembering how he stood over her and forced her to mop it up. I am not going through that, again.

Two nights ago, he had packed her and her broken foot into his pick-up and driven to an emergency room at a different hospital. In order to evade suspicion, he had taken her to every hospital in Fort Worth: Harris, Baylor, and even John Peter Smith. This time, it was North Hills.

The reactions were always the same. Sucked-in breath and shocked eyes.

“What happened?” a triage nurse would ask.

“I ran into something”, Lindsey would say.

Something like a mean husband.

She swiped away the tears stinging her swollen eyes, as she tried to remember happier times. Like, before they married.

            June 1, 2011

When Lindsey Myers, a newly-divorced young mother, gazed into Rance Brewster’s golden brown eyes, she saw a hero. An EMT for a Fort Worth ambulance crew, Brewster with his burly physique, swarthy good looks, and homespun charm appeared to be everything she had wanted in a man.

As they grew closer, one question –the deal breaker – burned like acid in her heart.

How will he treat Crane?

As their relationship escalated. Rance gradually earned Crane’s trust. One day, as they navigated the hilly terrain of the Fort Worth Zoo, he turned to Crane and held out his hands.

“Here, buddy, wanna ride on my shoulders? These hills are kinda steep.”

After piercing him with cobalt eyes, Crane held out his arms for Rance to hoist him onto his broad shoulders. Before long, Crane acted as though he belonged there.

Two months later, as they were perched at the top of a Ferris wheel, Rance presented Lindsey with an engagement ring. Although the diamond was only an eighth of a carat, Lindsey flashed it proudly wherever she went.

Then, a week after their honeymoon, she began to see changes. At first, she doubted herself when his snide comments and criticism pricked her heart.

“I was only kidding,” he grumbled. “Can’t you take a joke?”

Next came the “accidents”. Branding her arms with cigarette burns. Yanking her hair so hard that her scalp tingled. Calling her a stupid whore after she happily announced their baby was on the way.

Candlelight dinners and “honeymoon” trips, flowers, and candy followed.

Two weeks after they brought their own little spitfire, Penelope, home from the hospital, Lindsey walked into the nursery to find Rance standing over her crib. Eyes once misty with “new-dad wonder”  burned with suspicion and doubt.

“Who’d the red hair come from? No redheads on my side of the family.”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Could be from someone in my family.”

“Hmpfh”, he snorted. After pulling the cover a bit too close to the baby’s tiny nose, he lumbered into the kitchen, popped the top off a beer, and hurled himself into his recliner. Within minutes, the thin walls between the living room and the nursery shuddered from a Dallas Cowboys game cranked up as loud as it would go.

But the din in the living room was no match for their daughter’s strong lungs.

“Shut that brat up or I damn well will!” he would bellow.

Before long, Lindsey had Rance all figured out. One glimpse of Penny’s copper curls sent him stalking from the room, cranking up the television, and yelling and cursing  when he heard their children cry.

Yet, for all his yelling, it had been just that — noise. Oddly enough, he hadn’t laid a hand on Crane. Penelope  — his own daughter — was a whole different matter.

At her first birthday party, Rance swirled his beer as he watched the celebration from behind the screen door.

“Hey, Rance,” urged Lindsey’s dad, camera in hand. “Come get in the pictures!”

“Catch you later, maybe,” Rance mumbled, faking a grin.

“Yes, come on out, Rance,” urged her mother, as she rose from a chaise. “Come take my chair. Penny’s about to blow out her first candle.”

Brewster’s lip curled. His eyes narrowed.

Bet-ty, I’ll be out in a minute!” he nagged, biting off the last syllable of his sentence.

“Cut that out, Brewster,” her dad chided. “We’re not idiots.”

So went  family celebrations – especially the kids’ birthdays . If they were not about Rance or for Rance, he went out of his way to make everyone else miserable. To Lindsey’s shock, her husband had become two people in one body. And, from one minute to the next, she never knew which one of them to expect.

Still, in spite of his threats against Crane or Penelope, Rance had never hurt either one of them. At least, not yet.

One stormy June night, around 11:30 p.m. Lindsey had straggled in from working a double shift when she heard  Penelope scream from the upstairs bathroom.

“Noooo, Daddy! You hurting me!”

“Aw, quit’cher cryin’ or I’ll give ya somethin’ to cry about!”

Short of breath from taking the stairs two at a time, Lindsey banged on the bathroom door. When Rance didn’t open the door, she rattled the knob. It was locked.

“Rance? What’s going on in there?”

“Mom-meeeeee,” Penelope shrieked, between gasps.

Suddenly, her strangled cries were followed by a sickening glub-glub. Shoulder to the door, Lindsey rammed it open and barged in.

Lying face-up and unresponsive in the bottom of a tub full of soapy water was her daughter. Frantic, Lindsey fished her limp body out of the suds, stretched her out on the bath mat, and began CPR. Through her tears, after five failed attempts, Lindsey wrote down the time of death on a scrap of toilet paper.

“Shit,” huffed Rance. “I was only givin’ the little brat a bath.”

Her blazing green eyes leveling at her husband, Lindsey cocked the gun.

“What the hell? What’re you doin’, Linds?”

“You son-of-a-bitch,” she spat, as she aimed the Colt at his heart. “You’re goin’ down!”

With a single blast, Brewster’s chest exploded against pink tiles.

After making sure the monster was dead, she punched in 9-1-1 with fluttery fingers and hit “Call”.

“Nine-one-one,” answered a female voice. ” What is your emergency?”

“ I just shot an intruder.”

I’ll fill in the rest when they get here. 

 Still in shock, Lindsey cradled her daughter in her arms. As she waited for the ambulance, she smirked at the irony of it all. She had found only one bullet in Rance’s pistol.  For someone who never — ever — expected to shoot another human being — especially her husband — she had done a good job. For her, that one well-spent bullet was a lifetime supply.




The last few weeks of school staring me down, I thought I would have to let this week’s prompt pass. But, last night, before I went comatose, this is what I came up with. Enjoy!

WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT   “Agent O’Malley, God, and A Woman Named Kim”

Agent Patrick O’Malley shook his head as he watched a verrrry exasperated but dazzling professor scribble angry, crimson-inked notes on her students’ papers before pitching them across the room.

“What’s the matter with these kids?” she muttered. “It’s as though they have eaten their books. Did they ever have them, to begin with? This is the lousiest stack of themes I’ve ever seen!”

Perching atop her desk, as his charge fumed, fussed, and generally carried on something awful, O’Malley, a Texas angel, shook his head, and looked heavenward. “God! It’s me, O’Malley. Reckon you could help me, down here, dreckly?”

An earthquake knocked over a nearby oak tree.

“Patience, there, O’Malley,” boomed the Almighty. “I told you, ahead of time, that Kim was a handful. And I put my very best agent in charge.”

“Me? Well, thanks,” said O’Malley, briefly humbled. “But you didn’t warn me how much of a handful she is. Like, do you really know this chick?”

“Know her?” said God. The earth rumbled with the roar of his laughter. “I created her, remember?”

“That You did. I can’t let her out of my sight for one minute. I’m trying to tell you, this broad – um, woman – requires twenty-four-hour surveillance. Let’s face it, she needs a keeper.”

O’Malley scratched the budding wings on his shoulders until they bled. Suckers itched like the dickens.

This God never failed to amaze him.

“So, tell me, God, how on earth do you manage to watch everyone, everywhere, all the time, anyway? Doesn’t your neck hurt? Don’t you ever get eye strain?”

Again, the ground quaked. God was, no doubt, rolling on the floor of Heaven, clutching His sides.

“Whaaaat?” the angel said, hands on hips.

The heavens opened. Shooting stars zoomed back and forth.

“O’Malley, while you’ve been flapping your gums about Kim, she’s been spewing words vile enough to make old Lucifer blush, and now – uh-oh, look out! — she’s stomping into the kitchen to make herself another margarita.”

He raised His Almighty hand to shoo the angel away. “Get along, now, boy. Go do your job.”

Continuing to watch Kim from His VIP section, God shook His omniscient head.

“Boy, is she ever going to regret that second ‘rita when her alarm goes off at early-thirty. It’s not like I didn’t try to tell her. From the prayers I’ve been hearing, those rascals bring on raging, five-star hangovers.”

“So, why do you still put up with her, anyway? Really?” asked O’Malley, still hanging around.

God chuckled. Trees swayed.

“O’Malley, you’ve been in charge of Kim for only a little while. Maybe you are too close to the situation to see what I see from up here. Now, she made seem a little rough around the edges, but, trust me, she’s a good old girl with a heart big as Texas. She loves her kids and grandkids something fierce. And that husband I sent her? Well, if you could see what I see– zowee! They unwrap my wedding gift almost every night.”

“Wedding gift? What do you mean?”

You know,” said God, with a pregnant wiggle of His eyebrows. “My little gift to all husbands and wives. Just in time for their wedding night. Hee-hee.”

He rubbed His hands gleefully. A host of baby stars twinkled in the evening sky.

Well, O’Malley was not the brightest agent, His eyes clouded over. “God, I still don’t know what you’re talking about but I’ll take Your word for it.”

God smiled beatifically. The moon glowed like the noonday sun in the midnight sky.

“Boy, can that old girl teach! I’ve seen her students mesmerized by her lessons on Shakespeare’s Hamlet…that’s hard to do, you know, keep today’s students engaged by stories about guys in knee breeches.”

O’Malley nodded. “Okay, I hear you.”

“And, frustrated as she gets, she takes the extra time to write notes on even the worst essays to encourage the clueless. So, before I give you an easier charge, give her a little more time.”

“Yeah,” said O’Malley. “If you say so, sir.”

“So are we good, here?” asked God.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Hey, remember who you’re talking to, here. A yessir will suffice.”

“Yes, sir,” mumbled O’Malley.

“Good. Now, go head on. I have wars to end. People to heal. Prayers to answer.”


WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT, PART 5: “Not Another Stupid Blind Date!”


Wow, what fun I’ve had with these prompts. This one’s no different. Read on and enjoy!


So, here I am, in my drawers and undershirt, leaning back in my recliner with crushed beer cans takin’ over my snack table. But no snacks.

Where’s a wife when you need one, Herschel, I ask myself. Right about now, I’d be like, “Hey, hon, we got any more pretzels?”and she’d be all, “Sure, babe. If we’re out, I’ll run get more. Anything for the king of my heart.”

Yeah, right, I sit there a-thinkin’, as I belt out a thunderous belch. Who am I kiddin’? Five times divorced, in my late sixties, a bald spot in the back of my head, despite the “enhanced” color in front, thanks to “Just For Men”. Well, as I’m waiting for the queso I scraped out of a jar to heat up in the microwave, I duck into the bathroom and am “seein’ a man about a horse” when I hear the doorbell.

Aw, who in Sam Hill is that knocking on my door at nine o’clock at night? Well, after hitchin’ up my drawers below my growing pot belly, I hurry as fast as an ol’ fart with arthritis in his hip can hurry to get to the door.

“Sam Mann? You old geezer, I thought you died!”

New hair plugs in place and draped across his forehead, Sam-the-Mann strides through my door like he owns the place and we fist each other in the shoulders.

“I been thinkin’ the same ‘bout you, old pal. Been a long time. A long, long time. What the hell have you been up to since our glory days?”

“Man, you’re asking me to remember back to forty-some years ago. I don’t even remember havin’ lunch. How ‘bout you?”

“Just got married again, dude,” he says, his new mustache curves upwards.

“You old son-of-a-gun. How many does this one make?”

He holds up three fingers. “Numero tres. Y numero ultimo. Say, man, that’s why I’m here. She’s got a sister you oughta meet.”

“A woman? For me? Naw. No way,” I say, holding up my palms to fend off Sam and his hair-brained ideas. “Been there. Done that. Got the divorce papers to show for it.”

“I hear ya, buddy, but this one’s special. Me ‘n Suzy Jo, we’d double with ya, but with our livin’ in Lubbock?” He shakes his head. “That there’s a fur piece from Arlington. But no reason you two can’t get together. Whaddya say. Grab coffee, maybe a burger, the first time. See if you hit it off?”

I mess myself up by pausing, giving Sam the notion I’m even thinkin’ ‘bout it.

“No strings. You go your way; she goes hers. Unless, of course…”.

He winks lewdly.

“C’mon, man. Dating? At my age? Can’t we just be – y’know – ‘buddies’?” I give him the wink-wink back.

“No strings?”

He nods. “No strings absolutely.”

Two days later, I walk into Starbuck’s lookin’ for any reason to turn tail walk out, again. I scope out the other customers, but I don’t see the kind of woman Sam and I used to go for in UT.

“Welcome to Starbuck’s, sir,” chirps a creamy-skinned girl my granddaughter’s age. Her badge says, “Hi, I’m Amber!”

“Naw, I was looking for someone. Don’t see her here.”

Don’t know why, but outta the corner of my eye, a redhead waves at me. “Yoo-hoo! Over here!”

She’s petite, fit, and really good-looking in a chiseled sort of way. Her blue eyes and shapely lips have the perfect touch of color.

“What did you expect?” she asks, her face dead-pan, as she sips Chai tea. Beside the tea is a plastic cup of fresh fruit chunks and a bottled water.

Not one of my usual women. I look away and snort, remembering all my other blind dates. “Oh, I don’t know. Probably a blonde, busty, single-digit IQ MILF.”

“MILF?” she asks, arching a tweezed eyebrow. “That’s a new acronym. Please translate.”

Embarrassed, I turn my head so she won’t see me blush. “Uh, you don’t really wanna know.”

She holds me with her gaze. “Then why did you say it?”

“Never mind. ‘My bad’.” As I utter the last two words, I remind myself of my sixteen-year-old grandson, Lance.

As she nibbles on a pineapple chunk, she pins me, a helpless butterfly, with her shrewd gaze. “You don’t do this very often, do you, Mr. Lloyd?”

“It’s Floyd, actually. And, no, I don’t.”

“Sorry, Floyd-actually.”

“Meaning no disrespect, ma’am. You seem like a decent lady, but ya gotta know somethin’ ‘bout me. I suck at this blind-date crap.”

She smirked and covered her mouth. “So do I. When Sam told me about you, I almost didn’t show up.” 

Well, now we’re even, I’m thinkin’, as I look over this little bird-like woman and her sharp, downturned nose. Shit, it even looks like a beak! 

“So, how do you know Sam?” I ask, as I knock back a slug of espresso.

She curls her perfect lips. “He’s my ex. I can’t believe he set me up with you.”

“No kidding? No, I don’t believe he did, either. All my exes? Shit, they’re long gone. Good riddance to all of ‘em except, maybe, the mother of my sons.”

“Why are they all your exes?”

I’m speechless. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. Why did all those women divorce you?”

I make a sound that somewhere between a laugh and a grunt. “I can’t believe you’ve got the nerve to ask me that on our first meeting.”

“All right, I could ask you the same. What went wrong between you and Sam?”

I back away, waiting for an explosion. There, lady. Let’s turn the tables.

Her eyes sparkle. “Touche!” she says, as she sets down her Chai and dabs her mouth. “Sam and I were never on the same intellectual plane. Rather hard to converse with someone so unenlightened.”

“Unenlightened? That’s a kind word, I suppose. Unenlightened about what?”

She shrugs, gazing out the window at a young couple taking PDA to a whole new level: arms and hands slithering up and down each other’s bodies, tongues flicking. She shudders and looks away.

“Oh, philosophy. Politics. The Classics. The last book Sam read was Hank, the Cowdog.

She titters. “Can you imagine such?”

I look back at her, straight-faced. “As a matter of fact, I’m about to finish the last book in the Hank series. Good reading.”

She assesses me with that gaze of hers and allows me a teensy-weensy, lipstick-y smile. “Well, at least you’re honest.”

“Hey, ma’am, we’ve talked the whole time and all I’ve called you is ma’am. You do have a name, don’t you?”

She smiles a rather jerky, mechanical smile. “It’s Lucille B-b-b.—.” Without warning, the woman’s head and face twitch and then freeze.

Oh, God. She’s had a stroke, I’m thinkin’ when my phone goes off. It’s Sam.

“Hey, Hersch, how’s it goin’ with your dream girl?”

“Not so good, Sam, I think she might’ve had a stroke. Her face won’t move.”

I hear a gasp and an “Aw, mannn!” on the other end. And here I am thinkin’ the worst.

“She runs on batteries, man. Plug her back in.”

“Sam, you been drinkin’?”

  1. “No way, dude. There’s somethin’ I forgot to tell ya about Lucille. She’s a robot.”


WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT, Part 3: “Four Little Old Ladies Go On the Run When Their Secret Is Exposed”

“Little Old Ladies” Prompt


Noonish, 2004 Fort Worth, Texas

March 10 — another semi-normal day at Cherrywood Villa, an assisted-living and memory care facility. The able-bodied stroll down the hall in groups, lured by the aromas of chicken-and-dumplings and home-baked yeast rolls in the French Provincial-decorated cafeteria. From the east and west wings, aides roll the wheel-chair bound and position them at tables for two and four. The Alzheimer’s Gang, as the Memory Wing residents are called, are awaiting their turn to eat when sirens begin whooping. Chaos ensuing, no one misses the five residents, including one on a walker — hobbling out the emergency exit. They certainly have no clue that Mabel, Mavis and Maude, Gladys, and Daisy – upstanding denizens of Cherrywood have commandeered Hazel Greenwood’s grandson’s vintage Volkswagen.

As they rush out, Mabel herds her passengers into the cramped kiddy-sized car.

“Daisy, you ride up front with me. Mavis, hurry Maud up. And Gladys — where the heck’s Gladys?”

“Yoo-hooo! Here I am!” Running as fast as she can, huffing and puffing, pendulous boobs jiggling, Gladys catches up with them and settles her well-upholstered chassis into the back seat.

After folding her 5’10” frame into the tiny car, Mabel buckles up herself and straps in Daisy, a mid-stage Alzheimer’s patient.

Mabel releases the clutch and starts the engine. “We all in? Everyone buckle up, now.”

Mavis, a flapper-throwback, with her bobbed, red hair and cupid’s bow lips, scoots as far away as she can from her sister, Maud.

“You’re clear, Mabel,” she chirps. “Gun it!”

Pink, plastic sacks crisp from years of storage balanced on their laps, Mabel and Daisy, up front, and Mavis, Maude, and Gladys, squirm, scrunched up close to each other in the back. Soon, the back seat becomes a battlefield of dueling elbows. To make it worse, Gladys seems to have bathed in Estee Lauder’s “Youth Dew”.

“Somebody roll down the windows, will ya?” growls Maud, as she scoots away from Gladys. “Gladys’s perfume is gettin’ to me!”

Although Mabel and Gladys had originally said only four could go, they relent when Mavis insists she cannot leave without Maude.

“After all,” she explains, “we are conjoined twins.”

Mavis, whose doctor has pronounced her condition “terminal”, sniffles from the back. Gladys passes her a crumpled tissue.

“I’m sure glad we’re finally doing this,” she blubbers, dabbing her eyes. “It’s been on my conscience for years. Now that I’m about to — you know – I want to be wearing a robe of white for the the Good Lord.”

“Oh, can it, Mavis,”  Maud grumbles. “Gettin’ that nonsense was all your idea to begin with.”

Mavis turns her head sharply, meeting Maud’s judgmental gray-eyed glare.

“You think I don’t know that, sister dear? Why, every day of my life, since our sleepover at Daisy’s, my heart has been weighed down by guilt.”

“Hmph,” snorts Maud, as she gazes out the window. Beside her, Gladys unzips a black satchel-handbag roomy enough to stow a toddler and pulls out a round, red, poinsettia-decorated tin and opens the lid. Peeling off the plastic wrap, she passes it around.

“Any of y’all want any peanut brittle? My granddaughter, Nessie, gave it to me at the Christmas party.”

Mabel peers into the rear-view mirror. Here we go, again. Gladys has been trying to palm that sticky stuff off on us since last January. Damn crap sticks to my dentures.

“Um, Gladys? That stuff’s a year old, by now.”

“I know,” she says with a sigh, as she plunges in her chubby hand to pull out a piece of brittle the size of a pie plate. “But it’s so good. Mmmm!”

Mavis narrows her over-tweezed eyebrows at Mabel. “Reckon this place will still be there? I mean, like, what if we go all that way only to find a parking lot?”

Clutching the steering wheel in a death grip, Mabel keeps her eyes on the road.

“Shoot, yeah,” she mutters. “It’ll be there, all right. It’s only been – what — forty or fifty years, at most?”

Soured by Maud’s ever-present bitch-face and her arms crossed at her chest, Mavis elbows her.   “Whatever is wrong, now?”

“Told you I didn’t wanna go, Mavis. Didn’t back then and I don’t now.”

“Oh, Maud,” snipes Mabel. “You never want to do anything or go anywhere. We’d have left you back at the home, had we any choice in the matter. Now shut up and quit’cher belly-achin’.”

“We’re gonna be late for school!” wails Daisy, off in her own little world, until now. “My parents will ground me til I’m thirty if I get caught, again.”

Used to Daisy’s Alzheimer’s-induced ramblings, the other three ignore her.

“Whatever got into us, that night, anyway?” asks Mabel. “And why Longview, of all places?” She shakes her head and laughs, in spite of herself. “Parents dern near tanned my hide, they did.”

“For the fun of it, probably,” says Gladys. “You’d just gotten your license, hadn’t you?”

“Yeah, I think you’re right. But how in the world did we sneak out of Daisy’s house without her parents knowing?”

“My parents are gonna kill me when they find out,” Daisy whimpers, wringing her hands.

“Remember when these things used to be called ‘marital aids’ ?” Mavis says, giving Maud a good-natured nudge. “There we were, silly teenage girls looking for thrills. Then, that night, we found that stash of True Confessions magazines under Daisy’s bed. Lo and behold, there they were. A place in Longview actually sold them. Never mind it was a two-hundred-mile drive. We just threw on our clothes and skedaddled.”

She chuckles. “Curiosity got the better of us. Remember what fun we had when we got those gizmos home and set ’em all off, at once?”

They are almost to Tyler when red-and-blue lights flash in Mabel’s mirror. She pulls over to the shoulder.

“Aw, crap! Game over, ladies.”

“Oh, God,” Daisy murmurs. “My parents will kill me.”

“Okay, everyone. Act natural,” Mabel hisses, as the trooper approaches the vintage Bug.

“ Good afternoon, ladies,” he says, scribbling something on a pink slip. “Know why I’m stopping you?”

“Um, yeah, but we’re bringing them back,” blurts Daisy in her little-girl voice.

Feeling defeated, Mabel sinks her forehead into the steering wheel. Sheesh, Daisy. For a quiet, little lady, you can be a real loose cannon. 

“Them?” asks Officer Wilson. He removes his Baden-Powell-style cover and mops the beads of sweat jeweling the top of his bald head. “What are you ladies telling me?”

“Why don’t you tell us?” Mabel asks.

“Y’all know what the speed limit is, around here? I clocked your car doing eighty in a sixty-five mile-an-hour zone. What’s your big hurry, anyway?”

Quick, Mabel. Make something up.

Gladys leans forward and lays her manicured hand on Mabel’s shoulder. “Officer, if I may? We’re hurrying Daisy, here, to a hospital. She got sick on the peanut brittle I brought along.”

“I did?”

“Oh, Daisy, bless your heart. You don’t remember?”

“She has Alzheimer’s”, Gladys explains in a stage-whisper, shaking her head.

“Oh, well, why didn’t you say that, in the first place? Follow me. I’ll escort you there.”

Oh, shit, thinks Mabel, grimacing. We’re knee-deep in ‘gators, now.

“Thanks for your offer, sir, but we have another stop before we swing by the hospital.”

“But, I thought you said your friend, here, had an emergency.”

“She did – er, does, but….”

Wilson’s smile fades. “Okay, ma’am. Fun’s over. I need to see your license and registration.”

Finding an official-looking document in the glove box, Mabel hands it over. Wilson scrutinizes it.

“One minute, please,” he says, as he walks slowly to his cruiser and opens the door. Her heart down to her knees, Mavis watches him key information into that little computer of his.

“Oh, dear me!” Gladys says, fanning herself. “What are we going to do?”.

In about five minutes, Wilson returns. He is actually smiling.

“Sorry for the trouble, ladies. We’ve been looking for four fugitives from a Fort Worth nursing facility. But I see, here, there are five of you.”

He tips his hat. “Y’all drive careful, now, y’hear. And take care of your friend.”

Incredulous with relief, Mabel starts the engine. “Longview, here we come!”

“Shouldn’t be too much farther,” Mavis says. “As I remember, the store was on the edge of town, back then. Off the Loop, I think..”

But, as Mabel, Mavis and Maud, Gladys and Daisy pull into the still-familiar, gravel driveway with a Taco Bell on one side and a Shell station on the other, they gasp: the adult-toy store/”peep show” from the late 1950’s is now a Toys R Us.

Mabel turns around and grins. “Girls, the store’s gone. We are home free. Now, whaddya say we go play with the real toys!”



WEEKLY WRITING PROMPT, PART 2: Man After Midnight, suspense turned fairy tale


So, I’m at it — again. I’ve accepted the second challenge: to turn one of my WIPs into a fairy tale. After brainstorming a few ideas and half a jillion rough drafts, here is what I came up with.

From my mystery/suspense WIP, MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT

Fairy-Tale PROMPT

Once Upon A Mirror

A long, long time ago, in a warehouse/high-rent loft in Greenwich Village lived a hippy chick named Destiny. Unbeknownst to her, a sly, shape-shifting predator, Luce DeVille lurked in the haunted but enchanted Facebook Forest. Now, DeVille had a  magical mirror that allowed him to see what others in the village were up to. No one escaped his glowing, red eyes. From the least to the greatest, Luce DeVille knew everyone – and I do mean everyone — in Village of Greenwich.

One day, on Destiny’s sixteenth birthday, Good Witch Melissa appeared in a puff of pink glitter.

Destiny was holding a pity-party, when the Witch pulled  a baton out of her pink-and-purple hair.

“Your wish is my command, my dear. Ask away.”

“Oooh, can I have a car?”

Witch Melissa curled her lip. “No way.”

“A puppy?”

The witch rolled her violet eyes.  “Pfft” she snorted. “Get real.

Destiny’s brow furrowed before her face lit up. “Oh, I know! Can I live forever and ever?”

Witch Melissa shifted her weight to her other foot, the one without the sore toe.

Kiddo, you don’t know what you’re asking for, but what the heck. Knock yourself out!

“Ooookay! But don’t say I didn’t warn you?”

And, just like that, bibbety-bobbity-POOF! Her wish was granted.

From that moment on out,  Destiny, as her name implies, got to live forever. Yeah, you heard me right — forever.  Live. Live. Repeat.

Oh, but let me tell you a little  secret. The Good Witch Melissa happened to be Destiny’s mother. So, naturally, she promised her daughter she could live forever. Mothers always say stuff like that.

Anyway, here was Destiny, smack-dab in the middle of Life-Number-Five and counting. This forever-and-ever stuff, she found out, was a real hoot. In fact, she got to be a little of everything: a duchess, a bar maid, a midwife (which got messy), and a magician. The magic stint was cool because she got to change into a swan, once, just to see what it was like to glide around in a pond without drowning. (Oh, didn’t I tell you Destiny couldn’t swim?)

One day, as she lay on her canopied bed, she realized that never, in all of her lives, had she ever been some handsome prince’s passion.

Now’s my chance, she thought, popping a zit on her nose as she gazed into the mirror.

“Mirror, mirror,” she implored. “Please send me a hot, hunky prince.”

Well, here, I need to let you in on a teensy detail; Destiny was blonde. As blonde as a blonde can get. And that’s pretty blonde. She begged until the royal cows came home but the mirror just stood there, looking like — duh — a mirror.

(Did you, kind reader, reaaally expect it to be anything else? I mean, seriously?)

One day, she pestered that mirror to send her a man until – zap! –it suffered a brain-fart and shattered. She collapsed, weeping and wailing over her grave misfortune when, suddenly, she heard singing.

Singing and galloping.

Up from the distance rode Sir Erik-the-Schmuck in his coat of mail. As he alit from his steed, he took her left hand in his, kissed it, and knelt before her. Recoiling, she jerked her hand away.

“Oh, it’s you!”

He nodded and bowed.

“Yes, my beloved. ‘Tis I.”

 Well, that blows it, she thought, growing more fretful by the minute.

“But I want a preeeeunce,” Destiny whined like a two-year-old, stamping her foot. “Not a skirt-chasing ex-husband!”

Erik looked crestfallen. Disconsolate. Despondent (and all those other SAT words).

“But, my darling, I love you. I came to ask for your hand in marriage – again.”

Destiny shoved him as hard as she could. Erik reeled backwards, landing within stomping distance of old Guinevere’s hooves.

“Buzz off, freak!” she yelled. (Yeah, this language is tame, but, hey, isn’t this a fairy tale? You know — rated “G”?)

Anyway, little could Destiny have known that Old Luce, CEO of Facebook Forest, also owned the mirrors of everyone in the village.Much to her dismay, the mirror through which she marveled over her beauty didn’t belong to her, after all.

Bloated and bummed amid shards of her precious mirror, Destiny curled up in the fetal position and lived miserably ever after.

And there you have it. Want something happier? Read Mother Goose.



WEEKLY WRITING PROMPTS: “An Idiot With a Crayon”


So, last night, I joined a Facebook-based group called “Weekly Writing Prompts”. Today, I’m playing around with the first writing prompt: “We Are Being Led By An Idiot With A Crayon.”

So, now, not knowing what the administrator wants — fiction or non-fiction — I wax philosophical in an essay. See below:

“We Are Being Led By An Idiot With A Crayon”: My First Writing Prompt

As a college English professor, I instruct students to pre-write in order to generate ideas for a major assignment. Now, it is my turn to become my own student. As I ponder this one-sentence challenge, several ideas occur to me.

First, who are “we”?  Townspeople? An army? A tribe? An enclave? A special-interest group?

And what lucky soul gets to be the “idiot”? How else will we recognize our esteemed leader? After all, “idiot” seems so unkind. Perhaps this person is only a grossly-misunderstood, much-maligned genius or free thinker instead of one who is profoundly challenged.

Next, the crayon. Could it be a metaphor for something greater than a stick of wax that colors pictures? And what color is it? Playful orange? Tree-hugger green? Regal purple? “Kiss me, you fool” lipstick-red? “Just-the-facts-ma’am” black? Or, just maybe, an “invisible” white?

Finally, we must consider the tone. Serious? Sarcastic? Matter-of-fact? Tongue-in-cheek?

So many angles to consider. Where on earth should I begin?

Nah, I thought, wadding it up after I read it. Too erudite. Too…teacher-y.

After batting around a couple of ideas, Ideas, like hailstones, pelted my brain. The following story is what I  posted to the group.

“We Are Being Led By An Idiot With A Crayon”

“Family Day” in the Fernwood Asylum dayroom is going about as I expected. Charlie, ninety-years old and toothless, in his backless hospital gown, is mooning anyone who gives a rip. Inez, a tiara on in her two-toned red-and-black permed head, is parading around in her swimsuit, serenading the visitors with an off-key falsetto solo of “Here She Comes, Miss America”. And I – a run-of-the-mill, garden-variety likeable nut – am doing my best to steer clear of the real crazies in this joint.

In one corner, “Wheel of Fortune” blares from a wide-screened television. Inmates and their families shift around, crossing and uncrossing their legs in metal folding chairs and yell out the answers faster than Vanna can turn the letters. In the center of the room, four sit around a card table playing “reverse strip-poker” with the loser winning unclaimed clothing from the laundry. The Grand Prize:  someone gets to wear someone else’s choppers for a day.

All is reasonably quiet. Okay, that’s not entirely true. In a place like this, you learn to re-define “quiet”. Even so, with family here, we are all on our semi-best behavior until our newcomer — Hazel, renowned ballerina who runs around in a tutu, wound up in here after someone found her hiding from militant extra-terrestrials – pirouettes into the dayroom, embarrassing the snot out of those of us who are trying our best to act civilized in front of our mamas, daddies, spouses, and kiddos.

Commanding our attention by banging on the back of a bedpan, she turns the page on a huge tablet we use to play Pictionary with on “Game Night”. Pulling a red crayon from a sixty-four pack of Crayolas, she then passes the box around as if it contained fine chocolates.

“Take one without noticing what color it is and wait for me to tell you what to do with it once everyone has one.”

Well, knowing Hazel, or “Witch Hazel”, as we like to call her, just to piss her off, there’s no telling what she’ll do, next. She waits until we all settle down before she asks us to put our crayons in our mouths and hum “Yankee Doodle” at the same time.

Well, we may be a bunch of nuts, here, but we ain’t stupid. We wouldn’t be caught doin’ half the stuff she dreams up in that frizzy head of hers.

Bubba, a Larry-the-Cable-Guy wannabe,  stands up in back. “I ain’t-a gonna do this,” he yells, thumping his chest. “It ain’t right. It ain’t natural!”

“Me, neither,” says his side-kick, the one we call his “Other-Brother Bubba”.

Well, after one right after another rebels against Hazel’s wack-a-doodle idea, we have us a good ol’ riot goin’ on.

Cupcakes fly. Punch sloshes. Babies cry.

Suddenly, Pedro, a former inmate-turned-security-guard pulls me aside.

”What’s goin’ on, here?”

As Hazel in her pink tutu leads everyone on a march around the day-room, holding their Crayolas to their mouths and playing them like flutes, I point to her and whisper, “We are being led by an idiot with a crayon.












My mother Lois Terry



This Monday, March 2, Jeff and I will celebrate our first year of “Mr.-and-Mrs-ness”. We’ll buy a bottle of champagne at Costco, feast on their $1.50 hot-dog-and-drink special, and go home and rescue our frost-bitten wedding cake from the freezer and take turns licking it like a popsicle. Then, we’ll reminisce over our wedding pictures and dance to our wedding music. If we have any money left over after paying our bills, we might even take a day trip to Canton Trade Days.

Yes, March will always be our favorite month, but it will always be bittersweet. My mother passed away on March 10, 2004. So, a week after I married my soulmate for life, I took him. flowers in hand, to meet my parents — at Rose Hill Cemetery.

I wish they were alive to meet Jeff.  He and Daddy would have loved each other — you know, in a guy-kind of way. And my mother and I would go off in another room where she would ask me how I met him, what I wore, where we went on our first date, and whether he acted “smitten”.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I miss both of my parents. But my mother? Well, helping me plan my wedding,  zipping up my dress, calming my nerves, looking regal as the usher walks her down the aisle, and crying happy tears from the front row?  Well, isn’t that what mothers do when their daughters get married? Shoot, it’s in their DNA!

From the first day I met Jeff, on Thanksgiving Day 2013, I ached to tell Mama about the handsome cowboy I met on The one with the kind face and eyes and — be still my heart! — gray sideburns peeking out from under his cowboy hat. I wanted her to be the first to see my engagement ring — a one-carat, three-stone “past, present, and future” design — that Jeff presented, down on one knee, when he asked me to marry him.

I yearned for Mama to go with me to David’s Bridal for my wedding dress and at Michaels to help me find silk bluebonnets and yellow roses for my bouquet and Mason jars for our unity sand.

I wish for my parents every day of my life. To drop in and have a bowl of fudge-marble ice cream with them because, as Daddy always said, “our little girl has come home”. Their faces would beam when I tell them what fine  husbands, and fathers Tam and Terry have become. To meet their grandchildren, Harald, Sofia, Sadie, and Thomas. And to hear all about my teaching and writing triumphs. And, finally, to get to know Jeff, the love of my life, my husband and their son-in-law.

But, you know — I sort of get the feeling that, just maybe, they already know.





On December 1, 1995, I was released to my mother’s care to recover from successful brain surgery. Now, twenty years later, as I look back on our nine years together, I now realize that we were  passengers on different trains arriving at the same depot. Our journeys in life, as if on parallel tracks, had finally converged.

Three weeks before a respiratory crisis sent me to the hospital, Mama and I laid Daddy to rest; my was-band and I were separating.  As much as we both denied it, my mother and I needed each other.

On March 10, 2004, she said “See you later”. Only then did my writer’s mind’s-eye see our story as a play-in-the-works. Please take your seats, now, as the drama unfolds.

Lights dim. Curtain rises. Audience awaits. The stage is dark. Suddenly, red and blue spotlights follow two women — mother and daughter — as they enter stage left, stage right, to front and center where they stand side by side within a single, white beam.

Mama wears widow’s black;  I, bridal white stained and tattered from countless skirmishes.  Mama’s eyes are weak, but her spirit, strong as she continues to care for me until I become the strong one. With steady hands, I become her caregiver, guiding her faltering feet.

This play is no coincidence. The same God who created us placed us on those tracks and in that depot on purpose. He stood at her shoulders when I was born and beside me as I held her hand and awaited her last breath..

And so the story goes. One journey ends. Another one continues.






With the NaNoWriMo marathon over, the inspired sweat beading on my forehead in November has evaporated. After hauling the Christmas tree to the curb, I dusted off my fast draft and began revising. I amped up the drama, created excruciating tension between my protag and her nemesis, sprinkled in more plot twists than a Six Flags roller-coaster, wrecked and  rebuilt my word count, cut flabby scenes, and fired my “little darlings”.

Whew! Now, with January hibernating in its cave until next year, February has emerged, slobbering and baring its yellowed teeth.

“Get offa dat Facebook, girl,” it snarls, scalding me with its breath. “Sit your fluffy butt down and set those keys on fire!”

At times like that, I have learned to say, “Yes, sir!”

February, a short month to begin with, will soon be followed by March and Spring Break, and then little old thirty-day April. Early in May, I will pitch my NaNo-suspense novel, MAN AFTER MIDNIGHT, to an agent at the DFW Writers Conference.

Since I have joined the WANA — We Are Not Alone — group on Facebook, I have watched them dream up and publish book after book while I languished, procrastinated, and lolligagged over my WIPs and wished I could be like them when I “grew up” until, about a week ago, she taught me a new acronym. DWIDI, as in “Don’t wish it. Do it.”

I intend to finish this WIP and its predecessor, once and for all, and do just that.


December 1, 2014
Last night, at 11:59 p.m., I crashed through the “Finish Line” with 50,014 words (that NaNoWriMo counted as 50,150). Before that day, I had worked up to 45,000 words. Knowing I had a long way to go, still, I turned into one romping-stomping writing machine, as I applied the word-count building tricks I had learned along the way.

This has been the hardest part. As a writer and professor who has always stressed the wisdom of tightening up and shearing off excess verbiage, I was now my own worst writing nightmare: writing wordy sentences, leaving off hyphens, spelling out numbers such as two hundred, three hundred forty three thousand…well, I think you get the picture. If I had been reading my own draft, I would have flunked myself.

But, from the beginning, as Chris Baty stresses in his book, No Plot, No Problem, the objective is finishing the draft, polished or not. In fact, it is okay to change character names in the middle of the draft. Or send characters off on a safari when they are in downtown New York. Anything to keep writing.

And that is what I had to remember with only 500 — oops, five hundred — words to go. So, I started wrapping up the story by marrying off my protagonist. Fingers a blur as I typed madly along, I created a wedding for her in which she and her cowboy beau married in a wedding almost identical to my own.

Ah, but once I hit 50,014 words, the next task was to validate my novel by copying and pasting it into a box designated for it. When I discovered that I had copied only the first paragraph of my book into the box, my husband had  to jump in and save me from my raging “NaNo Nerves”. After a quick email to the NaNoWriMo Liaison who was able to validate my novel manually — BOOM! — I was in!

This was not my first NaNo experience, but it is the first time I have ever finished. Now that I know the ins and outs of finishing a draft and have shown myself I can do it, there is nothing  holding me back in future NaNoWriMo experiences.

The next stage of the adventure: revising and editing my brainchild. Stay tuned!

LEAF IT, PART 2: Plant Yourself On The Leaf It ‘Tree’


In Leafit, Part 1, “Money Does Grow On Trees”, I covered the perks of the Leafit mobile app: checking prices, finding stores, and earning commissions.

Yes, you heard me right. You get paid. If someone on  Facebook or Twitter sees the item you posted and purchases it via  Leafit’s “It” app, then Leafit pays you.

Want an example? Okay, let’s say you just got engaged. While perusing Pinterest for wedding dresses, you happen upon the dress  of your dreams. So, you access the Leafit app on your smartphone, tap the product or tag it by writing words that describe it by brand,  and post it to Facebook. If another starry-eyed bride-to-be buys that gown by clicking your posted picture — BOOM! — Leafit pays you.

As if getting paid for your own posts isn’t tantalizing enough, there is a way you can also earn a commission for the posts of others. You can join as a member at no cost. That’s right — you can join for free.

So, how do you get your free app? The “It” app for Apple products is due to be released sometime in early August. Get your free activation membership through my website If you have an Android, you can expect to see the app available some time this September.

Want more information? Click on the YouTube link below or copy and paste it to your browser

Jeff and I work as part-time Leafit Associates, The app is free, but you have to receive it as a gift from someone. That’s where I come in. Please click on my Leafit site below, view the “app demo” and plant yourself on my Leafit tree for free.

The Leafit It app works worldwide



“Snap it. Tag it. Post it – It Pays You!”

As I explored the  Leafit web site, my brain short-circuited, thinking of the possibilities.

Ooooh, I thought, as a shiver raced up and down my spine.  I can definitely do this.

My husband, Jeff, and I are Facebook regulars. Everywhere we go, we “check in” — even at Wal-Mart. Naturally,  I started wondering – what if we got paid for our posts?

Enter Leaf it, a mobile app resulting from the merger of social networking and e-commerce. iPhone users can download the free app from iTunes, starting this weekend. In September, Android users can find it on Google Play.

Leafit’s platform represents over 19,000 retailers and millions of products including Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, Sony, and many others. It appeals to an expansive variety of shoppers and their interests. With this free app, fashion-forward females can price Jimmy Choo shoes. Movie buffs can find state-of-the-art television screens.  Carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, or homeowners can shop for drills, spigots, or monkey wrenches. Bookworms can purchase the latest James Patterson or Stephen King “nail-biters”.

Yep, you get the idea. Almost everything.

After you find your item, snap a picture of yourself with your “hearts desire” or grab the picture off the Internet. Then tag your picture and post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social network. When your  connections click on that picture, they will see the item you tagged. If they choose to buy that item as a result of seeing your post, you have just earned a commission from Leafit.

So whether you want to check prices, shop stores, or post pictures, check out the following link. See what Leafit can do for you.

See the demo video on my Leafit web site.



Any questions?





The woman with short, sorrel-
colored hair smiled back at me in the mirror.

“OMG! I’m gorgeous!!” I said, as I ran my fingers through newly-trimmed, dark red hair. I couldn’t believe how long I had waited before changing from bright, red-turned- sandy to rich brown with glistening red highlights. I had returned to the original me, only better.  My husband, expecting the usual, punky red, went speechless but only until he caught his breath.

“Well helloooo, you sexy thang! I didn’t know you were gonna do this!”

To tell the truth, neither did I. When we started out, that afternoon, I’d faded to a golden tan. Still, I had avoided going darker for fear I’d look older.

Seven years and two life-changing events ago, I frowned at the downtrodden woman with the gray on her temples. Inevitable as I knew it was, I wanted to hit “Pause” on the graying process.

From 1995 to 2007, I had survived brain surgery, lost both of my vivacious and talented parents, and watched. the marriage I’d tried so hard to save go down the drain. The woman I saw in the mirror, though not yet sixty, looked and felt decades older. It was time for a change.

In 2005, I let Stef give me a few blonde highlights. Then, a few more. In fact every time I plopped down in her chair I chirped, “More highlights, please!”  Two years later, as Stef flipped through my yellowed, straw-dry locks, she frowned.

“Girl, it’s time for a change. Let’s try red.”

Two visits later, I arrived at the perfect shade — “Sharon Osborne Red”, as we started calling it.  The bright burgundy red plus the spiky hair style took years off my personality as I cruised into my sixties. even though it faded to a reddish tan only three weeks later.

I’m still trying to get used to the new-old me. I can’t promise I won’t revert to my redheaded ways. Still, every time I see myself, at least from my nose on up, I see my mother.

In more ways than one, I’m back to my roots, again — only better.

MAN ON BOARD,PART III: “Our Wedding, Our Way”


Since Thanksgiving, when Jeff and I met on, our relationship  has broken the sound barrier. In Parts I and II of this series, I have led you from our explosive  chemistry in  “Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom” to “Sometimes You Just Know”, about the moment we realized our meeting was a “God-thing”. In January, we got engaged. Since that first “wink-wink” online, everything about our relationship has fallen into place. Although this marriage is not a first for either of us, it will certainly be the last for both.  That said, Jeff and I have decided to shake things up in “wedding-land”.  Martha Stewart — if you’re reading this post, cover your eyes.  This will be our wedding, our way.

First, instead of printed invitations, we’re using  Facebook to spread our good news. Our friends can RSVP to our event by clicking “going”, “maybe”, or “decline”. For our FOF’s (or, Friends outside Facebook), there is the old Texas “Y’all come” via phone or in person or even email.

Second, no white dress-and-tuxedo for us. In keeping with our Texas/country theme, I plan to walk down the  aisle in my non-white wedding dress and brand-new boots on the arm of my handsome, Western man.  Guests may wear  Stetsons, blue  jeans, and boots, if they choose.  Horses and pickups, also, are welcome.

Next, instead of the white, tiered version,  we’ll serve up slices of sheet cake  the size of a small ranch. Instead of separate bride’s and groom’s cakes, ours will be half-and-half. Cookies or cupcakes will be available for the children. And, because it’s a church wedding, my bridegroom and I will toast each other with sparkling punch, instead of champagne.

Finally, after we toss my garter and bouquet and get ready to skedaddle, well-wishers can mosey outside, scoop up fistfuls of bird seed from a small feed trough, and toss it at us as we dash to our  “limo” — Jeff’s old, Dodge pick-up truck.

We have a list of “to-do’s” before our “I-do’s”. Flowers, wedding pictures, and…oh, yeah…marriage license coming up.

Stay tuned for Part IV, the conclusion of  “Man On Board”.

So, ladies, what does your “dream” wedding look like? If you are already married, what would you change if you could do it all over again?




Thanksgiving Eve

Me?  Alone on America’s first holiday? Perish the thought!

That’s how I used to feel. For most of my life, I’ve  been surrounded by family and friends on Thanksgiving Day. I’m used to asking someone “Please pass the giblet gravy” or “Got any more of that pecan pie?” before flopping out on the couch and slipping into a turkey-and-dressing-induced coma. In fact, I can count, on the fingers of one hand, the times I have had to spend Thanksgiving, or Christmas by myself.

I’ve spent holidays with parents, spouses, a few sweethearts, and sons. When I asked  him what he was doing for Thanksgiving, one son told me that he and his fam would be with the “outlaws” and,  the other son, a resident of Sweden, sees November 28 as a workday, I realized Thanksgiving would be only as special as I made it. I wasn’t looking forward to being alone. In fact, I waited for my eyes to tear up and for my lip to quiver until I remembered what a hoot my three “besties”,  “Me, myself, and I”, are to hang out with.

“Hey, girl,” they reminded me,  “we can sleep late, watch the Macy’s parade and bowl games in our p.j.’s and bunny slippers, and do Thanksgiving our way. After all,” they added with a wink, “turkey-and-dressing is so cliche.”

Yes, I’m long overdue for some “me” time. Since August, I’ve suffered emotional whiplash, survived an almost-heart attack, and struggled with an eighteen-hour course load that gives Hell a whole new meaning. Suddenly, spending tomorrow alone —  catching up on my sleep and my grading, gearing up for finals, and — just maybe — working on my WIP, was a Godsend.

This afternoon, I straggled home from Wal-Mart after shopping for my feast: marinated and broiled rib-eye, steamed corn-on-the-cob, lightly-tossed spinach-and-Campari tomato salad, crusty sourdough bread oozing with butter, a couple glasses of Malbec, and pints of Haagen Dasz coffee, Swiss Almond Vanilla, and  chocolate ice-cream.  A lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken, some roasted-red-pepper hummus, and Mediterranean herb pita chips hurled themselves into my cart before check-out.

And that is the way I do Thanksgiving. What is yours?

Rib-eye Steaks - Grilled and Smoked

Rib-eye Steaks – Grilled and Smoked (Photo credit: Tobyotter)


Only You (And You Alone)

Only You (And You Alone) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


With shaky hands and glassy eyes, I stare at my iPhone. My breath quickens, my heart races.

“Oh, nooooo! You can’t leave me now! Speak to me!”

Having issued its ultimatum — about the maximum number of “free-listening” hours, Pandora Radio appears to have forced me to go doo-wopless cold-turkey until next month. That is, unless I want to tune in to it on my laptop. Or maybe bite the bullet and pay $3.99 a month for the ad-free upgrade.

Honestly, I used to be “clean”, partaking  in moderation, waiting for KERA’s periodic doo-wop concerts.

“I can quit anytime I want,” I rationalized, as I lay back in my recliner, closed my eyes, and zoned out to Mel Carter’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” and The Diamonds’ “Little Darlin'” and “The Stroll.”

Weird thing is, when these songs were popular, circa 1956-1958, I wasn’t even “legal”, yet.

A month ago, when I fell in love,  “Only You” became our song. For three weeks, I’d listen to Pandora Radio almost 24/7, waiting for that magical riff alerting me to drop what I was doing, even emerge, still soapy, from the shower, long enough to listen to the Platters’ velvety voices and swoon like a sixteen-year-old.

Although the Fifties  yielded such classic artists as the Drifters, the Coasters, the Diamonds, and, of course, Elvis, no group can twist and tug at hearts like the Platters can. Besides for “Only You”, “My Prayer”, “Harbor Lights”, and “Twilight Time” allow us vintage listeners to remember what we were wearing, where we were, and who we were kissing at the moments when those songs crackled on  radios in ’57 Chevys everywhere.

That three-week, whirlwind relationship with a fellow “user” has hit the bricks, but “Only You” — the most tender love song of all time, endures.


MAN OVERBOARD! Part II: Behind Doors #2, 3, and 4

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)

Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Well, my ex-honey really did it. He up and married that con artist ex-wife he dumped me for. One and the same who left him to wallow in the muck twenty years ago. She’s a shoo-in for an Emmy in Daytime Drama. First, she played a nun. Now, she’s a nurse. What’s her next role? Doctor? Lawyer? Indian Chief?

And he bought her stories, hook, line, and stinker. In no time, she’ll work him — an upturned cockroach — over until he writhes, wriggles, and begs her to kick him right-side up. If he has any sense, he’ll skitter away to safety. Or look for me.

But I’ll be gone.

Last Wednesday marked a month since my world crumbled.. The bruises from where he dropped me on my backside are fading to yellow and gray. Since then, Someone has wiped away my tears, lifted the lead from my chest, and unlocked the shackles from my wrists and ankles. Four weeks of pounding my steering wheel and raging against insane circumstances out of my control really wore me out.

But, now, pure air rushes into my lungs. Sweet sleep follows.

At last, I am free to choose. Lined up like suitors vying for my hand are Doors #2, 3, and 4.

Behind Door #2: Time. No need to rush home and turn on Skype. I still miss my ex-sweetheart’s emotional support at the end of the day. But now, I have time to wind down and cook myself a leisurely dinner.

Next, Door #3: Choices. I’ll admit that I had become spoiled to knowing where I would spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, now, I’m free. Free to hop a plane to see my family. Free to get away by myself for a weekend retreat.

Last, Door #4: Future. With the man God created for me and only me. The one who, as in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnet, “How Do I Love Thee?”, will love me freely, wholeheartedly, purely, and unconditionally.

One who will, as Beyonce sings in “Single Lady”, “put a ring on it”.


MAN OVERBOARD! PART I: Clues That Your Relationship Is Going Under

September 14, 2013

“Sorry, baby. My heart just can’t forget”.

As I heard these nauseating words from the lips of my about-to-be ex-sweetheart, a month ago, a sledgehammer to my rib cage would have felt soothing.  Our relationship was sixty-four months old — going on six years, and I had truly believed I had landed a “keeper”.

Well, that’s what I get for thinking, right?

I had not seen this coming. Or had I? Weeks later, when I  combed the wreckage, I discovered subtle clues that our relationship had a date with the “deeps”.

Clue One; At first, when we started hanging out together, he would pose for pics with me whenever we went out on the weekends. Yeah, I knew it’s a corny thing to do, but, hey, we were in love.

A couple of months ago, while we were in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, I aimed the camera at us before the server brought our food. He shrank away and turned skittish as a Shetland pony.

“What?” he said, lip curled. “You trying to alert the NSA?”

I stared at him. The old “who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-fun-lovin’-honey?” cliche crossed my mind.

“I didn’t know you minded. Why are you just now saying something, now?”

“I never liked it. I just went along. Okay, just don’t post it to my Facebook wall.”

I stared at him some more. Whoa! Something isn’t right.

Clue Two: The same man who, when we fell in love, seemed eager to plan our next weekend, gradually appointed me Social Director. That,alone, wasn’t so bad. But, within the past six months, when I would ask him what he felt like doing for the weekend to come, he would shake his head wearily.

Gee whiz, I wanted to say, don’t strain yourself.

“I dunno,” he’d mutter, with the joy of one attending his own execution, “I don’t think that far ahead.”

Having lived for the weekends — the only time we had together, I was crestfallen.

Give him a break, Kim, I thought. He’s got a lot on his mind.

A “lot” turned out to be Ex-wife Number-Two. Yesirree, after dumping him twenty years ago, the old girl was back with a hoax that I’m surprised hadn’t listed.   I had to hand it to her. She had his “number”. She knew he was soft-hearted, gracious, and gullible beyond belief, where she was concerned.

A fitting segue to the last clue.

Clue Three:  You know the relationship has sprung a leak when ex-girlfriends, ex-fiancees, ex-wives and — these days — ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands — appear, like Cinderella’s coachmen, to spirit away men we thought were ours.

That was a month ago — August 18, to be exact.

To this day, I still fume over the irony of it all.. He knew I was in it with him for the long haul. I was a constant force in his life, as he was in mine.I had seen him at his best and at his worst. And I loved him, regardless. Within forty-eight hours, he had flicked away “constant” for “variable” — a woman who had dumped him, once, and would surely dump him again.

I’m outraged, sad, hurt, shocked, wistful, and then back to furious, until I remember what all I have lived through: nine years as a caregiver, the deaths of my parents and a beloved dog, two divorces, and brain surgery. Compared to those catastrophes, those gut-wrenching heart-breakers, this little, ol’ break-up is just a skirmish. And, although I would have gladly married the man, several years ago, I now understand why he never stepped up and “put a ring on it.”  He knew she was coming back.

God saw it all. I have HIm to thank for watching my “back”.

Stay tuned for “Man Overboard! Part Two: Anything is Possible”.

So, girlfriends all, gather around and share your worst break-up…and your greatest triumph over it.

SAYING GOOD-BYE: Locking the Door to My Childhood Home


On my way out to the car to run errands, I bumped into my Igloo cooler. As I set it upright, I thought nothing more of it until  I Skyped with my sweetheart.  I don’t know how the subject came up. I just know I told Von about the last night I spent in my childhood home, seven years ago.

It is a collage image of the City of Fort Wort...

It is a collage image of the City of Fort Worth, Texas, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every room in that modest three-bedroom cottage teemed with

memories, both for me and for my sons. When I became a bride, in 1968, I naturally expected that I would never return there to live.

Twenty-seven years later, at nine p.m. on October 6, 1995,.we were about to turn in  when my mother called. Her voice sounded as though she had tumbled into a well.

“Kimmie?  I just got home from the hospital.”  Hearing my sharp intake of breath, she paused. “Oh, honey, I hate to break it to you — your Daddy’s gone.

This was not his first heart attack. Daddy had his first one at a Homecoming Sunday service in 1983. It made me realize that, although I had shown him a lifetime of love, in every other way, I had never come out and said those three, magic words: “I love you.” However, after that pivotal, game-changing moment when Mike picked me up at school with the news that Daddy had suffered a heart attack, I couldn’t say “I love you” often enough.

In shock over Daddy’s sudden death, I tossed an oddball assortment of clothing — a pair of culottes, a half-slip with elastic that had plumb “given up the ghost”, and a couple of mismatched skirts, blouses, and shoes — into a suitcase before Mike drove me to my parents’ home to spend the night with my mother and help her with the funeral preparations.

Although I felt like I was underwater, I was able to walk to Daddy’s grave site with everyone else. Little could I have known what a change the next three weeks would bring.

Within those three weeks, my balance worsened. I fell into walls on the way to the bathroom. Nauseating, migraine-like headaches visited me frequently. And a tremor that I had written off as nervousness during nurse’s training, back in 1977, had become more noticeable within the past few years. Even worse, my neck no longer supported my wobbly head.

As I look back, I marvel at  the way a crisis can turn out to be a blessing in disguise!  Around three a.m., on October 30,  — I gave up trying to breathe. After I gasped my permission for Mama to call an ambulance, I must’ve blacked out. When I finally woke up, the next morning, I saw bars on my bed.

After a round of doctors and their tests came Halloween night. Save this to memory.

The sun had melted into a flaming, red-orange puddle when my neurologist walked in and faced Mama and me.

“Kim,” he said, “you have a brain tumor.”

Here, punctuate the words, “brain tumor”, with  ghoulish laughter.  Still, as bizarre as the news was,  I felt relieved.

After the doctor explained the unexplainable, he looked at me.  “Kim, do you have any questions?”

Relief lifted  my soul.

“So, I’m not losing my mind, after all?”

Fast-forward to the day after surgery. As the doctor had predicted, the tumor was benign. It was also encapsulated, and out of my head. Thank God, all I had to do was get better. And I did.

And still am.

On December 1, a week ahead of schedule, I got to go home. Home, as in the house where I grew up. My doctor had told my mother that I would need twenty-four-hour supervision for a few weeks. Since she was retired, it was a no-brainer where I wanted to  finish recuperating.

Two months later, I was strong enough to volunteer part-time and resume driving. Before long, our roles reversed. I became my mother’s caregiver.

Mama and I holed up together for nine years before she joined Daddy in 2004, leaving me the heir of a run-down but cozy childhood home. Two years later, I discovered that the  white-frame bungalow with  yellow shutters, built in 1949, was in no way secure. After my inherited home got burglarized twice in two weeks, one of my sons said, “Mom, if I were you, I’d start looking for another place to live.”

Although I had hoped to live in that house until someone discovered my crunchy, upturned exoskeleton, I had to admit — Tam’s and Terry’s advice made good sense. Still, my heart wasn’t ready to let go until I distinctly felt Mama and Daddy nudge me.

“Time to get out of there, Kimmie,” my heart heard Daddy whisper.

The following Sunday, I told a realtor friend what had happened and asked her to start helping me look for a house.

“We’re going on vacation, but I’ll help you look when we get back,” she said.

While they were gone, I did my research, looking online at houses near my school and checking the police records for neighborhood safety. After a few days of searching, I found a doll-sized two-bedroom town home in a quiet neighborhood.

When B.J. opened the door, I walked up and down the stairs, looked inside the closets, even flushed the toilets.

“Yep,” I said, after looking at three other homes.. “The first one’s the one.”

The very next day I plunked down my “earnest” money to hold the house.

But back to the ice chest. After I moved in to my new house, Steve and B.J.of Sloan and Sloan Realty got started fixing up and marketing my old home. After school, every day, I went back to my Fort Worth home to continue clearing out remnants of a lifetime and stashing them out on the curb.

Finally, it was time for one more trip before locking up and handing over the key. I wanted my last night to be special. Ceremonial, even. So I purchased an ice chest from the Army/Navy surplus store and packed some goodies — vienna sausages, squeeze-cheese and snack crackers, and a fried pie — to feast on.

Picnic in the living room floor finished, it was time for me to say good-bye to the home that echoed with memories. Starting with the garage, I said good-bye to the space that our boat once filled. Then onto the screened-in porch where we lolled on chaises and celebrated my fifth birthday.

Next, the living/dining area, where  my teeth chattered with excitement while I dug  through my Christmas stocking.  I traveled down the hall and  entered each room as though it were a cathedral. Eleven years had already passed since my daddy died; still, the walls reverberated with his jokes and my little-girl giggles.

Finally, when I reached the back bedroom where my parents slept, I could no longer hold back the tears. At that instant, something tickled my ear.

Could it have been Mama and Daddy saying good-bye and God bless?


ROLL ‘EM, PART 1: Identity Theft — a “Laugh-A-Minute”?

Identity Thief - coming soon

Identity Thief – coming soon (Photo credit: bubbletea1)


The first theme I assigned my Composition II students was a movie critique. For my ROLL ‘EM section, I chose the three best and asked the students’ permission to post their work on my blog.

First up, Eddie’s review of IDENTITY THIEF will have you lining up at the nearest theater in no time. Who knew stolen identity could be such fun? Take it away, Eddie!


The movie IDENTITY THIEF, is a comedy with a little action in it, as well. This movie does a great job of driving people crazy with laughter. The movie is about a middle-aged man named Sandy living a normal suburban life till he realizes he’s been getting into trouble and losing money due to someone stealing his identity. Sandy, played by Jason Bateman, then decides to chase down his identity thief. This is a quality movie because of its setting, characterizations, and just its overall plot and cinematography.

In the movie, IDENTITY THIEF one of the best things were the characterizations of the different characters. The actress Melissa McCarthy, who played Diana, followed her role completely well. She played someone who appeared to be a sweet, middle-aged woman (the cookies-and-milk type), but, instead, turned out to be a tough, malicious con artist who went around committing crimes. This was a spectacular job on her part, primarily because her role was to bring believability to an unbelievable character, and she did it perfectly. Jason Bateman, who played Sandy Peterson, played his role amazingly, as well. Throughout the movie, he perfectly portrayed a simple, modern-day family man who was way in over his head when he went on a journey with the adventurous and completely opposite Diana. These two personalities and how well they played their roles make this the focal point of the movie.

There was really no single setting in this movie, but a lot of the movie took place in Florida because of the fact that Sandy realized that the person who had stolen his identity was living in Florida. The movie also has a number of other interesting settings. This takes place because of the fact that Sandy captures Diana and tries to take her back to his home town in Colorado to show police who has stolen his identity and allow him to move on with his life. In the midst of that, Sandy finds out that they must really get a move on because Diana has made dealings with thugs who are now on the move to kill them both. Because of the plot, these characters cross many illustrious settings such as Georgia and Missouri.

IDENTITY THIEF had the typical types of cinematography strategies. The movie also had plenty of medium close-up shots, as well as master and establishing shots. This wasn’t primarily an action movie, so the cinematography wasn’t as intense to more so focus on the comedy aspect of the movie, but there were a few quick-lensed camera trick scenes when it came to the gun-shooting and fast-paced speed pursuit scenes.

IDENTITY THIEF is a semi-wholesome comedy for primarily the new generation of late-teens and young adults. The movie’s main interest was showing the reactions of each character when a simple, blue-collar man meets an out-of-this-world, party-hard con artist. This movie has a variety of funny comedy scenes as well as an interesting plot that serves well in this day and age where plots can sometimes come off as outdated. This movie has an amazing selection of recognizable actors who play their roles superbly. IDENTITY THIEF is a film that most will enjoy because of how well the acting and characterization are from the characters, the adventurous, on-the-go settings in the film, as well as the well-thought-out plot and cinematography of the film.

So, folks,. If Eddie sold you, start logging onto Fandango and buy those tickets, now!

Now, those of you who have seen this movie, what were your thoughts?


July 12, 2013

I love books. All over my house — in paperback and e-form — are books of many genres: mystery, suspense, fantasy, and even science-fiction. But, about a month ago, if you had asked me if I had read any good zombie thrillers, I’d have looked at you as if you had spinach between your teeth.

“Zombies? Eeeew!”  That’s what I would have said. Back then.

Around the end of June or first week of July, I became intrigued by Dead: The Ugly Beginning, by T.W. Brown. Expecting to stop after the first chapter, I was shocked  to find myself whizzing  into chapters two, three, four, and,  soon, the end of the book. I stayed up at all hours, frying my eyes by the light of my iPad, but powerless to put it down and turn out the light.

“Read Zomblog. That’s good, too,” recommended author Rhonda Hopkins, Director of Kennedale Writers Workshop..

That I am.

Word of caution: don’t read this book right after eating an eight-course dinner, or riding a Six Flags roller-coaster. Your stomach will revolt, and your food will backfire. With all the brain-feeding and bloody, gaping body parts, and dangling entrails, Dead: The Beginning and Zomblog  turn grisly in zero-to-sixty.

Most impressive was the human-ness of his characters. They could be you, me, our kids, our spouses. Even the zombies, including gym trainers, nurses, cheerleaders — had lives, too, before they  “turned”.

Although Brown gives his readers their money’s worth with at least one yucky, creepy zombie on each page, the book is not so much about zombies themselves as it is man’s (and woman’s) discovery that they are capable of survival in even the worst apocalypse imaginable.

English: A zombie

English: A zombie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The take-away? We just never know what we’re made of  until we’re put to the test. Fending off and taking out the “un-dead” with jerry-rigged weapons,  squeezing the most out of the least, and managing, not only to survive but, also, to tell the tale? Now that’s something!

Dead: The Ugly Beginning and Zomblog are only two out of a series. If zombies are your idea of cool, check out all Todd Brown has to offer on Amazon. Tell him Kim sent you.

LIVING ON ISLAND TIME, Part 4: Back to Reality

June 6, 2013

6:00 a.m.

Thanks to Cousin BeeGee’s hospitality, I have reveled in three glorious days on the coast. This morning, after hugging her and packing the rest of my gear, I set the GPS on my iPad, slip in a CD, and set out for Texas 361, the first leg in the journey. I have driven all the way out here and lived to tell the tale. By now, I consider myself a  pro at this traveling thing. I should have an easy drive home.

Key word, should.

After enduring 130 lonnnng miles on I-37, I’m pulling onto I-410 when I see a  tractor-trailer sitting cattywumpus on  the ramp. As this is part of my route and I’m still not familiar with alternate routes in this area, I power down my window and flag down a worker.

“I have to take this highway on my way home. What should I do?”

“If you’ll just wait a sec, he should get straightened out.”

True to his word, the driver straightens himself out, allowing me to drive on around. That settled, I breathe more easily. The northbound route should be every bit as smooth as the southern one.

Or not.

Around Austin, my body starts acting like a five-year-old.

“Stop! I’ve got a charley-horse!”

“I’m hungry!”

” And I gotta pee!”

Yes, I’m hungry, all right. But no McDonald’s or Burger King for me. No sireeee!  Touristy places are everywhere — so why can’t I get to them easily? Could it possibly be because of “road destruction”?

Nah, not a chance.

As I zoom along, I keep my eyes peeled for charming, out-of-the-ordinary places to stop in for a bite. After all, until I pull into my driveway, I consider myself still on my vacay.

Approaching artsy little Salado, my mouth waters. Certainly, I’ll find something here. But once I pull off on the access road, I discover my mistake. Like, don’t these nice people ever eat?  As I pull back onto I-35, I discover — after the fact — that when “GPS-lady” tells me to turn left, she means “a  hard left NOW” or else wind up in the “Neverland” between the construction  and the road.

This, folks, is exactly why I don’t  drive after dark.

Cranky from hunger, I sail into Temple. And, at last, I find a Mexican restaurant. I should be able to find something here.

“Do you have a senior discount?” I ask the man who takes my order.

“Yes, we do.”

“Great! Then I’ll have the number-seven lunch and ice-water.. Within a short time, here he comes. So far, so good, until I lift the lid and find flour tortillas instead of the corn ones I ordered.

Have I mentioned that I’m cranky, by now? Let’s face it —  I am not my charming self. I want food PDQ. So, when the server brings out the corn tortillas, I discover there is no butter on the table. I catch the server as he whizzes past me.

“Excuse me. May I please have some butter?”

“Butter? Okay.” Again, he whizzes by, setting a table, ushering in  customers, serving drinks…doing anything and everything except bringing me butter.

“May I help you?” asks another server.

“Yes, I  asked someone else for butter?”

“Ahh, butter,” she says, on the run, never to be seen or heard from again.

“May I help you?” asks the hostess. (Persona numero- tres)

“Yes,” I said, lip quivering, “You’re the third person I’ve had to ask. All I want is some butter.”

Her face clouds up. “But-tehr?”


Magic word, that one. Within minutes, she brings a bowl of “fake-butter” packets. By now, I have only one tortilla left. I am not about to ask for more.

All things considered, although the food at this place (which shall go unnamed) is still pretty tasty,  I am slap  out of adventure. And, by now, my neighbor’s sending me panicky texts that it’s raining sheets and buckets in Arlington.  Russet is about to become a soggy doggy.  But I know my baby-girl’s smarter than that.  She knows how to huddle up under the patio cover.

The last hundred miles until I-35 turns into I-35W drag on. By now, with Mexican food in my system, I start getting sleepy. Now, my car is yelling “Feed me!’. Stopping off at West, I pour my money into their gas pump, use their facilities, and guzzle a Red Bull, while I’m at it.

Before long, I see I-20 up ahead. Within minutes, I’ll pull into my own driveway, hug my dog, and call my sweetie. Shoot, I bet I can even scare up some butter.

In all, my first-ever solo road trip has been exhilarating and liberating. You tell me — which direction should I go next?

English: A pat of butter, served on a leaf, wi...

English: A pat of butter, served on a leaf, with a butter knife and bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

LIVING ON ISLAND TIME, Part 2: “Feelin’ All Right”

English: Tourist shops at Port Aransas, Texas.

English: Tourist shops at Port Aransas, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


6:30 a.m.

As I stepped out on the patio of the Wahoo, one of the cozy beach homes offered by BeeGee’s Coastal Quarters, the sun was staining the sky a soft gold on her way up. Salty breeze caressed my face as I  sipped espresso from my French roast pot and munched a Cheerios bar. Below the  table, Cousin Beeg’s short-haired, orange-and-white cat, Rusty, wove around my legs and meowed. As I twirled his tail, I leaned back and drank in the serenity of the moment.  I came down here to research Port A, but I would have to wait until the sleeping town woke up.

Chill out, Kim. You’re island time, now.

After washing out my coffee pot in the full-sized kitchen, I dressed in white crops, Skechers, and a black tee-shirt from the 2013 DFW Writers Conference, and grabbed my tote bag. Within minutes, mugginess shrink-wrapped  my body. The black tee, I decided, would have to go.

Around nine a.m., I parked at the Islander, a souvenir and beach shop on South Alister Street,  for a  lighter-weight tee in a cooler color.  Seeing their sale on four tees for $20, I went inside and chose a powder-blue tee-shirt with the logo,  “Port Aransas: Feel All Right.”

“I’m also here to research my next mystery, which I intend to set in Port Aransas,” I told the sales person as I offered her my card.

“Oooh, really? Well, come with me,” she said, leading me to a bookshelf and handing me Images of America: Port Aransasby J. Guthrie Ford and Mark Creighton.

According to information appearing on the back cover of the book, aficionados of  Port Aransas and Mustang Island have Dr. Ford to thank for  establishing the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association, and writing the four-volume Port Aransas Historic Series. And hats off to Mark Creighton, a Cornell University graduate, for over 8,000 archived digital images of Port Aransas and Mustang Island.

Recognizing a super source when I see one, I added it to the bill.

After dropping the purchases in my bag and changing into my new shirt in a neighboring restroom, I followed Avenue G to the beach where I shed my Skechers to sink my toes in the sand. It had been too long — January 2009 — since my last beach-fix.  Wet sand and cool water felt heavenly on  tired, sweaty feet!  One thing I have always loved about Texas beaches is that I do not get winded walking on them.  By the time I  walked all the way down to Horace Caldwell Pier and back to my car, I had logged about two miles and sweated off about ten pounds.

Around 10:45, that morning, I returned with face flushed and tummy growling. Time to poll the locals.

“So, where’s your favorite place to eat?”

Avery’s Kitchen,” chimed the Islander staff, almost in unison. They pointed to a blue frame building with white trim, located on the other side of Spanky’s Liquor.  In celebration of the annual SandFest, someone had built a sand castle beside the balcony. The sign outside Avery’s Kitchen read “Keepin’ It Simple.”

“Actually, we’re still serving breakfast, but you’re welcome to wait,” said Meredith, who fixed me up with a tall glass of ice water, a menu, and a copy of the South Jetty, Port A’s newspaper.

“Great! What is the best thing you serve?”

” Breakfast or lunch?”

“Both, really.”

“Well, our egg platters are really popular, particularly the corned-beef hash-and-egg one. For lunch, our hand-breaded fish and chicken-fried steak are good, too.”

My mouth watered. “Is the owner here where I could speak to him?”

“Sure! Just be careful back there. It’s slick.”

When I pushed through the swinging door, owner Avery Hernandez was covering a vat of cole slaw. After i shook his hand and introduced myself, I got him talking about his food.

“We hand-bread all of our own fish. And I make my own corned-beef hash. Basically, we serve comfort food.”.

“Yum! Here’s my card. While I’m here, I might grab some breakfast.”

“Sure,” he said. “In fact, I’d like to buy your dinner.”

As I dug into the corned-beef-and-eggs platter, my mouth told me this was not the  run-of-the-mill canned stuff. No siree-Bob! As Avery himself said, he had cooked the corned beef, chopped it, and mixed in potatoes. It went down smoothly with two eggs over-medium,a homemade biscuit with strawberry jam, and coffee.

Not only was the breakfast blog-worthy, so was lunch. Avery’s fish-and-chips, advertised on a blackboard outside, was $7.95. Having eaten fish and chips  at Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s, I asked Meredith about how Avery fixed it.

” It’s grouper, freshly-caught and hand-breaded.”

The grouper was so tender that it self-destructed in my hand. No “fake” fish, here.  The fries were so well-seasoned that I needed no additional salt.  Chunky cole slaw in a light, not overly-sweet dressing complemented the meal..

I was wiping my mouth and shoving my plate aside when Meredith approached me, again. After pouring more ice water, she pointed to a table where a cake and bowls were set out.

“When you’re ready for dessert, you’re welcome to a complimentary piece of our lemon cake.”

When I finished the square of cake — satisfyingly tart and sweet and just the right portion —  I paid for my meal and waved my thanks.

. “I will be back!”

Still on my agenda, the marina and the Chamber of Commerce. I had a lot of ground to cover in three days.  This was only Day One.



One thing you must know about me is that I’m a biiiiiig weenie about driving long distances. But when I saw, on Facebook, that my cousin’s  daughter-in-law got to spend some time with her, I told Brandy I was downright jealous.

“Well, come on down!” she said.

Sigh. If only it were that easy.

In a few days, the summer-school onslaught would begin. But, two days later, I got a call from school. It was Amber, my Department Chair’s assistant.

“First off, I’m only the messenger, so don’t shoot me,” she began. “We had to give your class to a full-timer. Your Summer II classes are still good, though.”

All right, then. I thought. During the past year, I had become really worn-down with not only teaching four face-to-face classes each semester, but, also, building an online course. I was ready for a break. This was my God-given opportunity to head down to Port Aransas.

Since I’m planning to set my new mystery, Suffer The Little Children, in “Port A”, I saw this as an excellent time to   research motels, restaurants, and fishing areas where Earl Savage and Burrneece Barefoot of  Barefoot Savage Investigation — would most likely hang out on their vacation before he reels in a body  off  Horace Caldwell Pier (or maybe the South Jetty.). It was also a good opportunity to interview the local police.

With that in mind,  I started figuring out a way to make it happen. One night, I priced motels,  bed-and-breakfasts, and BeeGee’s Coastal Quarters into the wee hours. Since this  is the peak season, there was little chance of finding anywhere  that cost less than $125 per night. That is, before I told Beeg I planned to come visit.

My original plan was that I would head on down on June 3 and return June 5.  But, as my sweetheart reminded me, doing it that way would give me  only one day in “island paradise”. Hardly any time at all to turn around before I’d have to head on back.

“Why don’t you go down there on Sunday and return on Thursday?” said Von.

He was right.  Three whole days. Yeah, that would work.

The next concern, getting there.  Round-trip airfare, particularly within Texas, was out of the question. At its cheapest, I’d be looking at $400.  The other option, according to the Port Aransas web site  was landing my plane on the island. Not  a pilot,  I had to laugh.

“But, of course!” I said, smacking my forehead. ” Why didn’t I think of that, first?”

At that time, I whipped out  my iPad and punched in Port Aransas on my Google maps. All three routes had me staying on I-35 most of the way. I was ecstatic.

” Kim, old girl,  this is doable,” I told self. “Even on a shoestring!”

On Saturday night, I turned in early and woke up at 5:30 a.m. After dressing, feeding Russet, and packing the car, I headed up the street for the nearest Waffle House for a jalapeno bacon-egg-and-cheese biscuit and a travel mug full of coffee, I hit the road.

From Arlington, I took I-20 West to 35W. At Hillsboro, Interstate 35W turned into just plain old I-35.  When a major accident halted traffic on I-35 in Schertz,  outside San Antonio,  I gassed up the car and headed around the corner to Wendy’s. After a leisurely lunch, the pile-up had cleared in time to switch to Interstate 410 South. From there, it was a short jog onto  I-37.  Texas 358 took the longest, lasting 130 miles. Good thing I had packed plenty of CD‘s to keep me rocking.

Seeing the first palm tree, just outside Corpus Christi, I smiled. Soon, I would smell that salty air and hear waves crashing. Still, State Highway Park Road 22E  and Texas 361, the road into Port Aransas.

As I entered the Port A city limits, I started slowing down to look for street signs.

“Turn right for Royal Palm Drive,” said  “GPS lady”.

Passing it up, I had to look for the next turn-in and double back. The same happened with BeeGee’s street.

 Nearly smacking into an oncoming car while looking for a street sign,  I turned around in someone’s driveway and, in the process, met a new friend (who happened to know BeeGee). When she pointed me in the right direction, I gave Beeg a call.

” I was waiting to hear from you,” she said. ” My street sign’s down. Look for a Port-a-Potty on your right.”

After waving me down in the street, she directed me to drive around back to the Wahoo, a cozy one-bedroom island cottage complete with a full kitchen, living and dining room, a bathroom opening both to the hall and the bedroom. Television sets in both the living room and bedroom and a washer and dryer completed the comforts of home. Outside, a barbecue grill and patio set. All this and Beeg for a  neighbor.  How cool is this going to be?

When I   settled in, Beeg and I met at her house where we kicked back with  snacks and a movie. Most important, we were long overdue for some serious “cousin time.”

Planning to devote Monday through Wednesday to researching my new book, Suffer The Little Children, a murder mystery set in Port Aransas, I knew I had my work cut out for me. However, evenings like my first one were for relaxing. As I drifted off on whisper-soft sheets and pillows, I thanked God for guiding me safely here.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Living on Island Time.  Now, it’s your turn. What is your favorite vacation getaway?

WANACon 2013, Day One of A Writer’s Dream

My own munchies

My own munchies


Love the thrill of writing conferences but not the hassles or expense?  Yearn for reclining seats? Would you attend more of those  shindigs if  you could shun Spanx for pajamas?

Well, thanks to Kristen Lamb and Chad Carver,  I did all that and more on February 22-24 at WANACon 2013.

The first-ever of its kind, WANACon 2013 united writers worldwide by offering the best of both experiences: the “feel” of a traditional conference, complete with a “lobby” (chat-room) so real that I  forgot it was virtual. Thanks to “Tech Surgeon”, Jay Donovan, the WANA International website with its BBB (Big Blue Button) rocked with activity! Also, with Jami Gold’s expert moderation, each presentation flowed seamlessly.

A college English professor who teaches night classes, I look forward to sleeping in on Friday. was different. Up at 6:00 a.m., I jumped into  my sweats, fed and walked my dog, and fixed breakfast. I didn’t want to be tardy to the first class, 7:00 a.m. (Texas time). Settled into my recliner with Cuppa number-two,  I logged onto WANACon.  and let the inspiration happen.

Counting one seminar in Digital Room B, reserved for pitches to agents,  all eight presentations were top-shelf. Among them, I’ll focus on five I found especially  helpful on the first day of this all-out write-a-rama:

First, at 7:00 a.m, Jared Kuritz’s “Publishing 101” enlightened me to the costs of  traditional, self, and independent publishing. In fact, the stats about traditional publishing sent me staggering!

At noon, while mainlining peanut-butter from jar to mouth,  I tuned into Joshua Graham’s  “Indie versus Traditional Publishing” seminar.  He must have been a fly on the wall of my brain, knowing that I have flirted  with going Indie. His notes, entailing the pluses and minuses of indie versus traditional, even included a  third option: ‘hybrid” publishing — a mix of traditional and indie.

At 4:00 p.m, Candace Havens, with her exuberant, can-do attitude, exploded onto my big-screen t.v. Her keynote address, “Dream Big.”  After meeting her at DFW Writers Conference, I remembered her “Fast Draft” and “Revision Hell” presentations as “standing-room only”. With her coaching, I will  gag that  old  “English-teacher-prune” and listen to my subconscious brain, instead.

At 6:00-7:30, agent Helen Zimmerman offered her expertise in  “How To Find an Agent”. With a relaxed and approachable manner, she shared advice about pitching to an agent and composing a query.

Topping off the night, Jenny Hansen presented the Cliff’s Notes version of “LinkedIn: Your Professional Identity”.  A LinkedIn member, already, I noted changes to make in my own profile.

After a brief chat in the lobby, I turned in. Friday had been an all-out write-a-rama, I drifted dreaming of the goodies Saturday would bring.

Sound inviting? For more information about Kristen Lamb, WANA International, and WANACon, follow the links in this blog.  So, writers and readers, what would your  dream conference look like?


English: Lieutenant Colonel rank insignia for ...

Image via Wikipedia

January 6, 2012

The sprawling grounds of Camp San Mateo thunder beneath the boots of hundreds of  utility-clad Marines falling into formation. A brass band with towering tuba tunes up for the ceremony. Old Glory, unfurled as a reminder of what these brave men have fought and died for presides over the upcoming event.  The promenade deck pulsates as a human heart in a surgeon’s palm as the hour grows closer.

This morning, we gather to celebrate two phenomenal Marines as outgoing Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Thomas B. Savage hands the crimson-red and yellow Marine Corps flag — or “colors” –of the First Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment to  Lieutenant Colonel Terry M. Johnson.

Both men are accompanied by wives, children, and other family members, including mothers.  I — Terry’s mom — am wiping away tears as I watch my son take command of hundreds of young men. Although an overnight flu bug fought valiantly to keep me from the very event I flew out here to attend, I thank God for granting me the strength and recovered health to be present.

After a musical prelude, the announcer calls the two men to take their places. Although the crowd is hushed, I feel like hammering my chest and shouting to the Free World how proud I am of my son and everything he has  accomplished even before today:  commissioning to Second Lieutenant. after receiving his yet-untouched degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech commencement, followed shortly by a tour of Okinawa, more tours of Iraq than I have fingers and toes to count, including the one in 2003, when President Bush gave the orders to cross the line, and even a tour in Afghanistan.

Having transferred the colors, the two men salute each other, shake hands, and rotate positions, continuing to stand  ram-rod straight, eyes forward.  Terry is now on Savage’s right.  At that moment, other Marines present bouquets to the wives and daughters. After Savage delivers his stirring good-bye speech, he hands the microphone to Terry.  As I watch this erstwhile little boy from Palo Pinto become a Battalion Commander, I’m sure that  my parents — Terry’s grand-dad and grandma — are relishing this moment from their heavenly perch. My daddy’s smile beams and my mother, dabbing at her own eyes, reaches for Daddy’s hand.

After Terry  acknowledges not only Lt. Col. Savage, he thanks us, his family. Besides for his wife and children — Sallie with Sadie and Thomas — are his step-mother, Barbara and his dad, Allen, a Sergeant in the Marines and father-in-law, Tom, a Marine Lieutenant and His wife, Jane.  Sallie’s sister , Jenny, brother Nathan and his son join our cheering section.  Surrounding me are Terry’s big brother, Tam, and his family,  and college roommate and ever-faithful  best friend, Colin with his bride, Ali.  We  Johnsons, Bests,  Sneads,  Kellys, and one lone redheaded Terry  take up the first three rows. Scattered over the globe, we have flown in from North Carolina, Texas, and even Sweden. As each company parades in review, the “Marine Hymn” sequeing  into the final song, “Semper Fidelis“, raises goosebumps on my arms, in spite of my long sleeves. Finally, the event we have all anticipated for months and even years is now over.  Let the celebration of two remarkable  young men begin.