Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Perfect Christmas

We stayed up late, last night, filling the kids' stockings, putting the Santa gifts under the tree, and cuddling by the fire, sipping eggnog.  As we were heading toward bed, he grabbed my hand and stole a kiss under the mistletoe.

I wake up in his arms, the electric blanket keeping my feet toasty warm.  Throwing on my fluffy robe, I rush to the kitchen (turning the thermostat on as I went), turn on the oven, and stick the casserole I had made the night before into the oven.  Rushing back to bed, we whisper and cuddle while waiting for the children to wake up.

I hear the little one open her brother's door and climb onto his bed to wake him.  In our home, Santa leaves the stockings in front of their doors.  They can get into their stockings while they wait for us to get up.  We put satsuma oranges, granola bars, and nuts into the stockings to keep them from starving away to nothingness before we get up.

When we can hear the sugar rush is starting to hit (we're not heartless - we also include candy in their stockings) we get up so they can put that energy into ripping into their presents.  While I go into my son's room to say good morning, my husband goes downstairs to plug the Christmas lights in so the kids will come down to a magical morning.  I know he is also lighting a fire because he knows how much I enjoy sitting beside a glowing fireplace.

"You guys coming?" his yell comes upstairs to us.  The kids look at each other, sheer excitement in their eyes.  They rush off the bed, their early morning treasures spilled all over the bed beside the stockings, and speed toward their father.  As I reach the top of the stairs, they are hitting the landing.  There stands their father, video camera in hand, recording all of the Christmas excitement for me.  By the time I was on the main floor, they are kneeling in front of the tree, finding which presents belong to them.

I sit on the loveseat beside the man of my dreams and he hands me a cup of steaming cider that was cooking in the crockpot through the night.  We watch the kids, enjoying the "ooh"s and "aah"s, accepting the hugs they dole out when their Christmas wishes were coming true.  My son brings us the gifts which have our names on them.  My husband enjoys the gifts I had purchased for him.  When I open the one that was from "Santa" to me, it was more beautiful than I had wished for.  He helps me with the clasp and I admire it as it sparkled against my skin.  The mouth-watering smell of eggs, cheese, and bacon lets us know that breakfast is ready.

After breakfast, as we prepare for the day, I put some candied pecans in the oven so the warm smell of cinnamon fills the house.  We all get into our Christmas outfits, collect all of the gifts for our families, and pack up the food we had prepared and set out over the river and through the woods.  The smell of ham and stuffing washes over us when we enter the warm and cozy home.  The children take the gifts to the beautifully decorated tree and place them among the other shiny, sparkly wrapped presents while I take the food to the kitchen and share hugs with all gathered there.

Dinner is delicious, which is to be expected with my family full of talented chefs.  Yes, I do eat too much, but that's allowed once a year, right?  It is all just too good to refuse.  After dinner, we all sit around and open presents, everyone enjoying what they received.  When the shredded paper is all cleaned up, some of us sit around the table playing games while others sit by the fire to visit.

The children fall asleep in the car on the way home and the snow starts to fall just as we pull into the garage.  We carry the children upstairs and put them into bed, kissing them goodnight.  After shutting their doors, he takes me into his arms and kisses me.  "Merry Christmas," he whispers.

It really was.

Or, at least, that's how a single lady who is alone on Christmas imagines it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

School Sit-In

I was going to blog about the whole Duck Dynasty Debacle, but then I realized that anything I might say has already been said.  To Death.  Enough about them.  On to bigger and better.

Instead, I want to share with you a piece of local news for me.  Teacher Fired for Marrying a Man.  This news article started out quite negative, but the further I read it, the happier I became.

The story tells of a vice principal who was forced to resign because he married his true love, who happened to be a man.  Pathetic, sad, and wrong, but nothing illegal or unexpected was done by anyone.

Where it became happy was when I read that the children held a sit-in for their VP in the school cafeteria.  Now, I try really hard not to assume things about people, but we all do to a certain extent, right?  I think of today's children, and I think of open-minded, accepting children.  And then I think of private school children, and I wonder how open-minded they are.  Aren't they raised by yesterday's Republicans?  Their opinions had to have been at least somewhat influenced by their parents, right?  (See - that's me judging Republicans - shame on me!)  The students of this Catholic school know what's right and what's not, and they are standing (sitting) for what's right.  Good for them!

And then it got even better.  Their teachers aren't forcing them to go to classes.  This, too, surprised my pre-conceived notion of Catholic schools.  Obviously, I know nuns don't teach the classes, but I assumed (shame on me) that more conservative teachers would be influencing the minds of the next generation.  I am pleased to find that they support what the children are doing and are also doing the right thing.  (I refuse to believe that they aren't just taking the easy way out or that they don't have enough control over the students to force them to go to class).

And then it got even better.  The movement has found its way (through social media) to other schools, who are likewise supporting the sit-in.  I love what this means.  To me, it means that love is spreading.  It means that intolerance isn't being accepted.  It means that our future leaders have a better grasp of how to treat each other than our past ones.

I refuse to believe that it means children just don't want to go to class on the last day of school before winter break.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lovely Evening

As I walked down the sidewalk, I wondered to myself, "I sure hope she's real."  We had been chatting online for a few days, and a large part of me assumed she was a scammer.  I've had my share of them.  I really didn't want her to be one of them.

She was a little confusing.  She didn't come up on a Google image search, as most scammers did, but she claimed to have two cars (what normal single woman has two cars?)  She wasn't online all day as most scammers are, but she said all the right things, as all scammers do.  Was she real?  Wasn't she?  I kept the online dating website up on my laptop right up until the last moment just in case she had an emergency meeting she had to go to (a typical way for a scammer to cancel a date).

Walking toward the coffee shop where we were scheduled to meet, I doubted she's actually be there.  I turned a corner and saw a figure.  From the distance and in the dark, I wasn't sure it was her, but I kind of thought it was.  As I neared, I saw her big, lovely smile and knew it was her.  We both admitted that neither of us knew if the other one was going to show up and laughed at ourselves.

In her pictures, she looked pretty and happy, but you never know, you know?  She also said that she was BBW (which means different things to everybody).  Her pictures were basically only from the chest up, so I had no idea how big she really was.  I was pleasantly surprised that she was not BBW - at least in my opinion.  She has a lot of masculine qualities, but she doesn't look like a hard core butch, which I also appreciated.

Ever the gentleman, she opened the door for me and paid (gotta love it- my last boyfriend never did that).  We sat at the little table talking about everything and nothing.  I was (hopefully not too noticeably) nervous, but she seemed completely at ease, which was nice.  Before I knew it, we had been talking for an hour and a half.  You know something good is happening when time passes without you realizing it.  I've been on dates where time almost seemed to stop as I desperately tried to come up with an excuse to leave.

She seemed genuinely interested in me, asking all sorts of questions.  We seemed compatible on most things.  She said a lot of things which made me admire her, and she made it sound like she thought I am out of her league (let's not tell her that I'm not, 'kay?)

Afraid the coffee shop wanted to close, we decided to leave.  We crossed the street of the outdoor mall so I could pick up a gift for my son.  She appreciated that I shop like a man - go in with a plan, get it, get out.  Granted, I don't always shop like that, but for the most part I do.

And then... what happens?  Do we call it a night?  Do we try to extend it?  We both start work early in the morning, so the responsible side of each of us wanted to call it a night.  The parts of us that were connecting didn't want to say goodnight so soon.

So, we stood on the sidewalk for a few minutes chitchatting a bit longer.  The cold, dark evening was lit up by the trees lining each side of the road which were decorated with strands of white lights.  The night was clear, so the stars were visible overhead.  It felt kinda magical.

But it was stinking cold!  She didn't want to wear her camo coat because she knows I'm femme and didn't want to overwhelm me, so she was cold.  Finally, we decided it was time to end our date.  Was she going to hug me?  I started slowly walking away when she said, "See I respected your bubble."  Online, we had talked about the large personal bubble I have.  I laughed, returned to her, and gave her a hug.  I think she wanted to, but was afraid to scare me off. 

Aww!  How sweet!

When I got home, I sent her an e-mail, telling her that I had a nice time and hoped she did too.  I also said that I'd love to see her again.  And then the nail biting began.  Did she enjoy herself as much as I did?  Would I get to see her again?

I got a text a short while later.  She had a WONDERFUL time and she wanted to schedule another rendezvous with me. 


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Best Sentence Ever!

About half a year ago, I gave a friend my manuscript to read.  And that was that.  I never heard back from her.  At first, I thought her busy life had gotten in the way - two active kids, a budding business, and an adoring husband.  And then I realized that six months is just too long for other things to get in the way. 

I had to face it - she didn't like it.  She hated it and she didn't know how to tell me.  Not wanting to hear how pedantic it was, I never asked her about it.  We talked about other things, but I never brought up my book again.

Sure - I've been working on that series for nearly a decade and I felt that the first book (the one she read) was ready to be published.  Sure - I had pinned all of my hopes and dreams on this series.  But, I had to move forward. 

I moved on to other things.  For Camp NaNo, I wrote a twisted fairy tale.  For NaNoWriMo, I wrote a romance novel (those are easier to get published, right?)  I thought I would pursue other genres, get my name out there, improve my writing, and try the YA thing again in another decade or so.

And then my friend contacted me.  Things had gotten in the way.  She hadn't been able to get to it.  But, the first day she opened it, she contacted me to tell me that she had to run an errand, but she couldn't put my book down.


Oh my goodness!  The sun shone more brightly than ever, the heavenly choir sang, and rainbows were sprouting up all over the place.  Could a more beautiful sentence ever be said to an author?

The next day, she let me know that she had finished it and she wanted more.

OH MY GOODNESS!!!  I can die happy right now.

So, here's the quandary - I've heard that authors need a platform.  I'm no good at building platforms.  I need to build a following.  I'm a painfully shy introvert.  How does one make friends and get people to follow you?

I'd like to think I'm good at writing.  I've always said I was born in the wrong time.  In previous eras, an author was selected by how good the writing was, not how many people followed him or her on Facebook.

So, do I spend the next year trying to develop a following, or do I just submit and hope that my manuscript is good enough to stand on its own?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Electric Blanket

So, I finally got an electric blanket.  It's been a journey.

I'll just say it - I'm a cheapskate.  At night, I turn my heat all the way off.  The house I rent literally has no insulation, so heating that thing can be extremely expensive.  So, I keep the heat low during the day and off at night.  This can lead to a really, really nippy bed.

Sure, there are things I can do to ease my pain - remember to wear slippers (I'm getting better at that), we have throws on both couches, and I drink warm drinks.  That all helps, but it's still pretty cold in my house.  I know I could turn up the heat, but that wouldn't help all that much - the floor is still cold and the furnace would have to be constantly on in order to warm the house thoroughly.

It doesn't help that I ignore my body.  I frequently have really cold feet, but fail to notice until I crawl into my chilled sheets, and it somehow becomes painfully clear exactly how frozen my feet are.  I have spent over an hour, trying desperately to warm up my bed with my body heat.  I have even placed my icy feet on my warmer calves in order to defrost them.

I had a boyfriend for a while who slept over almost every night.  He was always so warm!  It was nice to have him there to warm my frigid tushy.  He would patiently spoon me until my rump warmed up.  It was the only thing he was good for.

When he left, I was back to a wintery bed.  When I complained to my mother, she offered me Grandma's and Grandpa's old electric blanket.  Eagerly, I accepted, ecstatic to bring it home and try it out.  Apparently, it preferred Grandma and Grandpa.  It aged rapidly in my house.  When I first got it, it took about half an hour for it to warm up my bed.  Last week, it took closer to an hour and then it was hardly even noticeable.  It was important to remember to turn it off before falling asleep or else one spot would superheat (the spot to which my feet naturally gravitated), nearly burning my skin and scorching my bedding.

You know what Friday was?  Black Friday!  I was one of the crazies who went out among the throngs in search of great deals.  Guess what I found?  An electric blanket over half off!  Sold!

I washed my bedding to welcome the newest member and then put everything back together, excited to get into bed that night.  When the time came, I found that it warmed up in about 5 minutes.  I was thrilled!

And then I really got to experience it.  It was the yummiest warmth I have ever experienced.  It wasn't the suffocating, inescapable heat of summer.  It wasn't the scorching, dry fieriness of a desert, nor was it the lung-soaking, sweat-pouring heat of the sauna.  It wasn't the uneven, unpredictable heat of the old electric blanket.  This was a delicious heat that warmed me through and through.  It was welcoming and comforting and soothing.  Even my derrière was warm - the heat washed through me so thoroughly that it even warmed the part of me which is consistently chilly.  It was the best night's sleep I'd gotten in a very long time and I woke up warm and ready for my day.

There are a few small pleasures which make life so much better.   My new electric blanket is now on that list.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ghost Children

Some nights, I have the weirdest dreams.  It seems to happen when I'm not in the process of writing - like my creativity is desperately trying to find a way out.  Last night, I experienced one of these dreams.

I was walking to a dark and dreary house with wooden siding which was beginning to crumble.  Tall, dried weeds surrounded the house, as if someone had planted a garden in centuries past but had just left them to run rampant, their skeletal stalks warning those who approached.  The weather even seemed to reflect the drab color of the house and yard.

When I entered, I was surprised to find that it felt more lived in than the outside did.  Warm candles were lit in every room, giving it a homey glow - the only light in the whole place.  It was pleasantly devoid of dust and cobwebs, even though it was clear that nobody had lived there for a very long time.  No TV graced the living room, no computer sat on the roll-top desk, and there was an actual icebox in the kitchen.

I began my search.  It was an odd kind of hunt - I didn't know for what I was looking.  I knew I would know it when I saw it, but until that moment, I hunted blindly.  It wasn't a buried treasure, it wasn't a scavenger hunt.  Maybe it was an item which I could hand in for a prize?  I looked fervently, hoping to be the one to find it.  Others had found it before, but not many.  I looked under, behind, and in.  I searched high and low.  Touching centuries-old items, I didn't take the time to appreciate them, but I hunted.  I squinted in dark corners and held my breath in the places which stank of old, un-aired heavy fabrics which had lost their luster.  I thought of all of the places I might hide it, hunting for hours.

"If you haven't found it by now, you're not going to," a man who sat on the ratty settee called to me.

That made no sense to me.  I just hadn't found the right hiding place.  I needed to think better, search more thoroughly. 

"Honestly," he added.  "If you didn't see it right off, you're not going to.  You have to want to see it."

Well, of course I wanted to find it.  I'd been searching for hours, hadn't I?  I stood up from my crouch, letting the logs in the holder beside the massive fireplace fall back as they were.  Breathing deeply, I closed my eyes. 

When I opened them, the sun began shining through the windows.  The room in which I stood suddenly became brighter, cheerier, the color returning to it - like when Dorothy landed in Oz.  Looking to my left, I noticed the banister was changing, as well.  Lush grass began to grow up it, flowers sprouting from it.  Dust mites, floated lazily in the sunlight streaming through the windows which curved up the wall with the stairs. 

Looking back in the room where I stood, children appeared.  They were well-dressed, but their clothes were of an era long passed.  They played and giggled, inviting me to join them.  I ran through the house with them, playing and laughing.  My friend who had joined me looked at me like I had gone insane.  She couldn't see them - she couldn't see any of it. 

The children were ghosts and unseen to her eyes.

After a while, it became clear that they were in distress.  Someone was after them and he wanted to harm them.  They looked to me, the only adult who could help them.  I thought of all that I knew about ghosts.  Why were these children still here?  I found it hard to believe that they had unfinished business.  Maybe they just didn't understand that they were dead and that it was time to move on.

So, I told them.  As gently as I could, with all of the motherly love within me, I let them know that they didn't belong here and that they would be happy and safe if they moved on.  Slowly, one by one, they dissolved before my eyes, a smile on each of their faces.

And then my stupid alarm woke me up.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Did Anyone Else Disappear?

So, for those of you who didn't notice, I was missing for 10 days.  I haven't blogged since November began, due to my insane desire to write a novel in 30 days. 

I had something to prove to myself.  The first time I tried NaNo was last November.  I wrote a book in 11 days.  I figured it didn't count since I was unemployed.  So, I tried again in July.  I was working, so it took me a bit longer - almost 4 weeks.  But, I still figured it didn't count since my son wasn't around to distract/need me.  So, I decided to try again this month.

I finished yesterday.  I wrote a full-length novel within 10 days.  That includes a job, a son, an inspection from my landlord, making a birthday present, and all of the other various things which are included in a normal life (making dinner, washing dishes, sleeping, etc.)  If you want to get technical, I actually wrote the book in 8 days (the first day, I only wrote about 500 words, which I could have easily worked in yesterday and one entire day was dedicated to celebrating my sister's birthday, so no writing happened that day. 

I realized that if I wanted to (and didn't have a job and/or any other distractions) I could easily write a book in under a week.  That's an interesting thing to know about yourself.  Obviously, it's pure crap at this point, but it's a starting point.  I think I'm going to continue working on it (maybe not at the break-neck pace I did for the writing of it) and see if I can edit it to make it something I wouldn't mind others reading before the end of NaNoWriMo.  Now that would be an accomplishment. 

Yup - I have a new goal for the month - to have a decent book by November 30th.

Because of my push to get it done as quickly as possible (I did so in order for my normal life to resume) other parts of my life were put on hold.  I haven't blogged since October 31st, I didn't exercise in that time, and I didn't do any baking (gasp!)  I wonder how many other WriMos are as crazy as me.  I wonder - did the number of blogs decrease when NaNoWriMo began?

Saturday, October 26, 2013


The following is a scene I had to cut from my book, but I still wanted to share with the world.

In one of those hostile areas there were no trees to offer shade, no breeze to cool the sweat droplets that trailed their way down our dusty flesh.  The ground took as much of the heat as it could, hurling the rest at our already superheated bodies.  That place felt as unwelcoming as the dead caves and the depressed forests. 

While my mind was apprehensive about spending too much time there, my body lost interest in getting me to a better place.  My muscles grew more and more fatigued with each step, my lungs screamed that there wasn't enough air and swallowing became an arduous task.  The grooves left behind me were no longer just from my carrier; I wasn't able to actually lift my feet, so I just dragged them.  Finally, they failed completely and I fell to the blistering sand, my cheek slamming hard into it.  My arms didn't work any better than my legs, so I remained where I fell.

The thought of calling to Momma buzzed around in my head, but never actually landed anywhere.  She was too far ahead to hear me, anyway.  Closing my eyes to block out the blinding beams, sleep beaconed. 

Time passed, unnoticed by me.  Had it been a day?  A year?  I couldn't tell.  “Chi!  Chi!”  A voice called to me from far away.  Whoever she was, she sounded scared.  I should reassure her.  It would be nice.

It wasn't important,  I wanted to hide.  To make the heat and light and sound go away.

Something moved.  It might have been me.  I couldn't tell.  It wasn't graceful—more like quick and jerky. 

Noise and movement was bad.  Couldn't it stop?  It bothered me.

She spoke again.  “No!  Not now!  How could you take her from me?!  After all I've done for you!  We've done everything you've asked of us!”  More movement.

Words bothered me—weren't happy.  Ignore them. 

Sound changed.  Words became noise.  Crying?  Moaning?  Mine?  Not sure.  Changing.   

Something cold.  And wet.  Here and there, all over. 

Loud noise.  Screaming?  More movement. 

Sound and movement stopped.  Wet didn't.  Almost asleep. 

More words.  So desperate.  Focus.  Need to hear. 

“Chi!  Swallow!  Chi!  Wake up!  Drink!”

Could I?  Might hurt.  Too difficult.  No.  Don't want to.

“CHI!  NOW!” she screamed.  So much fear.  Don't be scared.  Drink.  Swallow.  Ah.  So cool.  So wet.  Feels good.  Swallow more.  Mmm.

Words faded.  “Good girl.  Sleep now.”  More movement.  Hair being stroked?  Felt good - like drink. 


Thursday, October 24, 2013


It was time.  I had waited for this moment for years and it was finally here.  I was going to meet my first child.

Having been raised Mormon, being a mother was the most important thing to me.  When I was in school, people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Consistently responding, "A mother," I was always told that I needed to have a profession with which I could earn a living.  This confused me since my mom was a stay-at-home mom, as were most of my friends' moms, but I would answer "An author" just to appease them.  If I had to make money, writing stories seemed like the best way to do it (little did I know!)

The plan when I was in high school was to go to BYU to get my Mrs. degree.  I ended up not going to the Y, but I still got married at the very young age of 19.  As I walked toward my future husband in my JCPenney wedding dress, my manta was, "I'm carrying his baby - I have to marry him.  I'm carrying his baby - I have to marry him."  Still having some of my Mormonism in me, I believed that I couldn't have a baby without a husband.

We were both ecstatic about the pregnancy.  Well, I was - he just wanted the baby without all of the hassle of me being pregnant (it actually was the beginning of the end of our marriage.)  He made it clear that he would not be bothered with anything having to do with my pregnancy, so I dealt with my changing body and raging hormones on my own, leaving him alone if I felt any negativity so he wouldn't feel the need to make me feel childish again.

Years later, he told me that he had intentionally knocked me up so he could finally have a baby - he was much older than me (nobody else was stupid enough to give him a child).  Before he knew I was pregnant, we had plenty of sex.  It all but stopped after I told him I was carrying his child.  He later admitted that the only time he wanted to have sex with me was when I specifically didn't want to.  Sex was about control for him.

But, I enjoyed being pregnant - feeling my baby move within me, hearing the fast heartbeat (the father didn't bother going to my appointments with me, so he missed that), and the joy of knowing I would have a pink, chubby baby of my own.  I didn't suffer from the normally bad parts of pregnancy - heartburn, morning sickness - I was immune.  I was in this glowing bubble of pregnancy bliss.

Not to mention that the pre-natal vitamins made my hair and nails amazing!

I still remember the night I went into labor so clearly.  I had been having Braxton Hicks for weeks, but this was nothing like that.  This was real.  It was time.  I awoke my husband at 2:00 and told him he needed to drive me to the hospital.  When he asked if my contractions were 5 minutes apart, I let him know that they weren't.  He was tired and grumpily instructed me to wake him when it was time.  Sitting up alone in the middle of the night, I carefully timed the precious moments between agonizing pain.  Finally, it was time, so I carefully woke him so he wouldn't yell at me again.  We loaded into the truck and proceeded to drive down the road, which was dark and foggy, but luckily devoid of ice and standing water (I had made sure of that a few days prior, knowing that water had surged over one of the bridges the week before).  Thank heavens we lived in a very rural area, so there was no traffic out on such a cold winter night. 

Excitement bubbled up in me.  To be honest, I was at the end of my pregnancy and suffering from the all-too-normal plight of wanting to not be pregnant anymore.  Plus, I would get to meet my baby.  We decided to not know what gender it was, figuring it would be nice to find out.  Actually, my husband made that decision.  I thought it would be nice to know so we could prepare and buy gender-specific items, but gave in to his demands.  I had learned that if he wanted something, he would yell and threaten, making my life as miserable as he could, until he got his way. 

We were driving down the road, a little too fast in my opinion, when another contraction hit.  This one hurt.  A lot!  I unbuckled **gasp!  I have never ridden in a car without a seatbelt before!** and turned around in my seat, clutching the headrest to me.  All of a sudden, this wasn't so much fun.

We arrived to the hospital without any incident (phew!) and I made my way through the cold hall to my room as my husband parked the car.  We had so many plans, so much great stuff in the bag we brought to help me through it.  We checked out the bathtub which was meant for women in labor and saw a green scummy ring around the top.  Um, no.  So, we did our best to try to get me comfortable through each contraction. 

In my moments of rest, I suggested that we call our family and/or friends so they could be there with us.  My husband refused me, saying that he wanted it to be a special day - just for us.  Not wanting to anger him, I resigned myself to sharing the news with them after the fact.

My husband had urged me to not use any drugs and just go the natural way.  "Women have been doing it for centuries - you can do it.  It's better for the baby if you don't."  I would do anything for the good of my baby.  No pain medicine, no epidural.

At one point, it all seemed too exhausting for my husband.  He laid down on the couch and fell asleep, leaving me to suffer alone in silence (I was too good of a wife to bother disturbing his sleep with my excruciating pain, and I didn't want to give him yet another reason to belittle me).  My delivery bag was beside him, all of the items unused.

A nurse came in a couple of hours later and checked me.  "Don't you want to push?"

I nodded, not knowing what it all meant.  My room bustled with excitement moments later.  It filled with half a dozen people, my bed was converted into a delivery table, and my husband was awakened.

During the delivery, my husband was far too excited about the birth of our child to be able to notice me.  He was down with the doctor, watching the action.  TV had told me that he would be with me, encouraging me, telling me how great I was, but I should have known that my husband wouldn't be like those idyllic men on TV.  I was the last thing on his mind.

To my horror, the doctor on call arrived and reached down there during one of my contractions.  "Can you wait a moment?" I requested through the pain.  He assured me that he was going to massage that area to make the delivery easier and that it had to e during a contraction.

Pain exploded within me like I've never known.  I'd heard of the Ring of Fire, but had no idea what they were talking about.  It is a pain which will never be forgotten.  There isn't really a need to try to describe it beyond the name.  Just imagine it - a Ring of Fire down there during a contraction and then continuing until after a head pushes its way out of a far-too-small hole.

My labor was only about 4 hours, so I wasn't as tired as those women you see on movies.  I was able to push my baby out in about 20 minutes.  It was such a relief!  The Ring of Fire was gone, the urge to push was gone, and the contractions were over.  The nurse tried handing me my newborn, but I requested that she clean up my new baby girl before handing her to me.  My husband had just given me the nightgown I was wearing and he would be disappointed if I let it get messy.

Things happened next for which I was unprepared.  I was given medicine to help deliver the afterbirth since my contractions had ended.  My legs shook uncontrollably.  I was colder than I could have imagined, so a nurse brought me a warmed blanket (heaven!)

Finally, my daughter was brought to me so I could nurse her.  Making a noble attempt, I tried.  Knowing my husband wouldn't want me showing my naked breasts to anyone but him, I refused the female nurse's offer of help and struggled along on my own.

After about an hour, the excitement had worn off and my husband was once again tired.  He left my daughter and I alone in my room so he could go home and sleep in his bed. 

We weren't alone for long.  While he was gone, I was just starting to fall asleep in my uncomfortable hospital bed when his mother and step-father showed up to meet the baby.  She was sure to tell me how awful I looked, reminding me of the first Christmas I spent with her.  It was the first one I had ever spent without my family in which I was 7 months pregnant and she had told me how horrid it was that I had gained so much weight and how gross I looked.  Being the dutiful daughter-in-law, I just smiled at her.  Looking back, it amazes me that I was able to carry my daughter to term without any semblance of a spine.

When they left (after far too long) my daughter and I were once again alone.  I had gotten four hours of sleep the night before and had pushed a baby out of my body.  I wept for so many reasons, exhaustion being one of them.  One of the biggest reasons was the fear that my baby and I would be alone a lot.  Little did I know how right I was.  On her 1st birthday, her father decided it was more important to be with his friends than to be home with us, celebrating the day of her birth.

Apparently, that day wasn't all that important to him.  I wonder if he even remembers it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Confession

I did it.  I've been thinking about doing it for a few months now.  I've been talking about it for a couple of weeks.  Yesterday, I did it.  I killed him.  I tried to find a way around it, but he needed to die, so I finally manned up and did it.

Since I have been thinking about it for as long as I have, I've had time to consider all of the angles.  The method was carefully decided, the clean-up was considered, and the repercussions were taken into account.  I had it all figured out.

The clean-up wasn't as bad as I had thought.  Actually, with the amount of preparation I had done, it was a relatively easy clean up.  It only took about half an hour, and it was all taken care of.  I know there will be things to deal with later due to it, but the immediate deed has been done.  I'll deal with the fall-out when it's time.

It's not like this was my first homicide - I have offed people before.  When it started out, I wasn't directly involved in murder, per se.  I think that helped me ease into it.  My first real kill was this past summer.  It did take 3 hours of listening to Screamo in order to get in the right frame of mind, but I was able to do it.  This one seemed much easier.  Get in, get it done, get out.

I was quite pleased with how his loved ones handled it.  Of course, they were sad, but they weren't at all surprised.  They had feared it for a long time, wondering if/when it would happen, so shock wasn't a factor.  They did, true to form, cover it up.  They didn't retaliate in any way.  In fact, they made an excuse for the murder and went about their lives as if they weren't living in fear (if I were in their place, I would be!)

I'm also happy that I feel no guilt.  Actually, I'm quite pleased with myself.  This was my easiest kill yet and my most direct.  It wasn't like slicing a throat or pulling a trigger.   No blood was involved; I'm not ready for anything like that yet.  But, I was gleeful at how easy it was for me to kill someone that others loved (in the past, most of my killings were of bad people).

I'm still not man enough to actually kill a man, though.  He was only a monkey.  I think I'm working up to being able to actually kill a man on my own.  I'm almost there.  I'm excited and proud that it's getting so much easier for me.  Soon, I'll be able to off a man and not flinch when I watch his blood splatter.

I was even kind of considerate about how I did it.  I allowed his loved ones to find him and he died in their arms.  They knew it was too late to do anything to save him, so they weren't running about, stressing, and they had a chance to say goodbye before he died.

I'm not sure it was dramatic enough, though.  I mean, the point is to get my readers to cry and be angry, right?  Would it be too cheesy for his little monkey hand to fall to his side after his last breath?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Corn Maze

Yesterday, my family and I made our annual hour-long drive up to a corn maze/pumpkin patch.  Sure, there are other ones closer, but we feel this one is worth the drive.

After being pointed to the farthest parking spot in the lot, we got out into the soggy, overgrown grass and headed toward the action.  Being careful not to slip on the slick, muddy path, we finally made our appearance among the hundreds of families, all ready for a day of country fun.  The smells of animals and warm kettle corn met us at different areas of the farm.  The sounds of children crying, screaming, and giggling were everywhere.

Dodging bodies, we made our way to the long lines for the food, figured out what we wanted and which lines we needed to be in, and then found the last available table in the slightly-protected dining area.  I chose a corn dog and a roasted ear of corn and I was glad that I did.  The coating on the corndog was slightly sweet and perfectly crispy on the outside and bready on the inside.  The meat was hot, juice, and flavorful.  Dipped in a bit of mustard, it was perfection!  The ear of corn was cooked perfectly and I had even slathered butter on it (which I don't normally do) so it was a special treat.  My mother shared a taste of her cider donut with me which was the perfectly spiced ending to my meal.

We then noticed that it was time for the Pig Show.  We arrived a tad late, so all of the seats were taken.  From where we stood, it was hard to hear the narrator barking out his lines.  Instead, we got an interesting view of the human errors - the only part of the show I actually enjoyed.  We left after only a few minutes - the show was geared more for small children and the youngest in our group was 14, so he wasn't enjoying it.  I think it might have been enjoyable if everyone in the group was in a silly mood, which we weren't.

We then headed toward the corn maze.  Upon hoisting ourselves onto the hay-bale covered trailers, we sat and listened to Farmer Bob giving instructions and hints.  He then led us in the same poem that he shouts each year, expecting us to repeat each line after he says it.  Long story short - keep your butt on the hay while the ride is moving.  The screaming toddler to my left made me more than anxious to get off the ride.  Her wet, clumpy eye lashes at the start of the ride made me worry that there might be trouble, and sadly, she didn't disappoint.

Now, this maze is pretty cool.  It's shaped like the state of Washington (where I live) with all of the roads and sites to see along the way.  It's pretty easy to get through, if that's your goal.  But, who wants to spend the money and then not get just a tad lost in it?  So, we decided to tour Washington and see some of the sights.  We had fun laughing at whoever was the current leader and had gotten us lost, we took silly pictures, and we enjoyed each other's company. 

Thankfully, the "roads" were hard-packed dirt (not mud, as some years have been) which was a pleasant surprise.  The corn was extra high this year, making the "mountains" a bit harder to see.  And this year they had added some extra trails and roads (we trekked through the "Pacific Coast Trail", which was narrow and fun.)  At each marked site, there was either a small sign, giving us snooze-inducing information about the site, or they had constructed a wooden version of the monument.  The mountains looked a tad bit like a couple of poles with a sheet draped over it.

Probably the funniest thing we saw in the maze was the adults.  They gathered around the little paper maps they were given, having serious, lengthy conversations about the best way to get through the maze.  I think they're missing the point of the maze, which to me is not to conquer it, but to have fun.

When we had successfully exited the maze, we saw the Jumpy Thingy.  It looked like those massive blow-up toys that you see in lakes - the ones where Bubba jumps down from a height onto one end, vaulting three screaming teenagers into the air and then into the cold water below.  Except, this one was half-buried in the ground, leaving the top bubble visible.  Shoeless children then bounced and giggled hysterically on the Bouncy Thingy, bringing a smile to anyone watching.  We were all sad that there was no Adult Hour posted.

Finally, we made our way to the bakery (the whole reason my son wanted to go to this particular pumpkin patch) to buy our treats.  I bought a pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting and a pumpkin scone for later.  My son bought an enormous cinnamon rolls.  My pumpkin bar was moist and perfectly spiced and it was slathered with the perfect amount of a light and fluffy frosting, which tasted as I imagine manna might be.  I later found out that the scone had a light pumpkin flavor and was moist and almost cakey, unlike so many scones. 

My son is spoiled with a mother who enjoys baking and is good at it.  When I asked him how his cinnamon roll was, he told me it was a bit dry.  Cinnamon rolls are one of my specialties - the perfect amount of sugary, cinnamon filling, a light, slightly sweetened dough cooked to perfection, and then all topped by a mound of cream cheese frosting which I spread on while the rolls are still warm so the topping can melt into all of the nooks and crannies.  His roll from the bakery wasn't was he was accustomed to.

As we drove home, a sense of peace settled over me.  For me, this is the start of the holiday season.  I got to spend the day with my favorite people, having a great time.  I had thoroughly layered my clothes, so I was warm the entire time.  It was the type of warm I like - the snuggly warm, not the overheated, how can I get cool? type of warm.  Looking ahead, I see Christmas and Thanksgiving, which bring me great joy each year.  Life is good.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

I Met Him

Yesterday, I blogged about my dream which you might want to read before reading this blog.  Well, I'll tell you the rest.

Like every year, I went to the Holiday Food and Gift Festival to do a little "shoppies" (a term my family has created to mean window shopping - an activity we do to spend time together).  It started out like every other year we'd gone, except this year I had a little money so I could actually buy a few things.  We sampled flavored almonds, tried on hats, and were amazed at the height the small toy helicopter was shot into the air.  We sang along to the old-time Christmas music softly crooning overhead.  We pointed out the colorfully lit tree suspended high above us - the only place it could be seen with all of the stands snaking through the dome.  We even caught a glimpse of Santa in his Autumn Wear (did you know he doesn't always wear the red get-up?)  The smell of pecans roasting and being coated with a sweet cinnamon coating filled the air, dancing with the constant din of voices commenting on wares being hawked.

However, there was one major difference this year.  As we walked on the heavily-trod crimson path laid out along paths between the booths, I clung to the memory of my dream.  A small part of me looked up from the rainbow-hued knitted hats, the PVC pipe bows and arrows, and the scent-infused oils in order to see the faces of men.  Would any of them be him?  I have had dreams come true before - would this be one of them?  Not that I would want my soul mate to be injured, but I hoped my dream had meant that I would meet him.

Finally, I saw him.  I stepped into a booth to look at a beautiful photograph, not looking at the vendor.  Mesmerized by the picture, I walked to it to see it more closely, smiling.  Stepping back, I turned to the artist to compliment him on his work.  The moment our eyes met, we both knew.  There was no game-playing, no awkward moments, no doubt - we both just knew.

"Will you come back in half an hour?" he requested.  I nodded, knowing I would be there, not even bothering to ask my mother if she would mind.

The next half hour was torture, each minute was filled with endless pet hair removers, personalized children books and magic pen sets, and cooking pan set demonstrations.  Regretting not donning my watch, I kept my phone nestled in my hand so I could easily watch the time.  With five minutes left, I parted from my mother and son with their ridiculously over-priced lunches and went to meet him.

Upon nearing his stand, I saw him at the front of it, watching for me.  Where he had been sitting, an older lady was now perched.  Smiling when he saw me, he held his hand out for me to take.  Wordlessly, he escorted me out of the throng of people, past the entry doors, and out into the cold afternoon.  Without asking, he released my hand, removed his jacket, and set it on my shoulders before taking my hand again and leading me to his car.  Being unsure of its make or model, I was still able to recognize that it was a nice car, which pleased me.  So many of the men I've dated had less money than I.  It was nice to know that he wouldn't be mooching off me.

He opened my door for me and then slid into his side after snugly closing me in.  Taking my hands in his, he took a breath and said, "I dreamed of you the other night."

Nodding, I said my first words to him.  "I dreamed of you last night."

Smiling and nodding, he informed me, "That's because after my dream, I cast a spell.  I wanted you to be able to recognize me when we met.  I then cast another spell so you would find me."  When he said those words, there was no fear of judgement, no hiding his actions.  Did he know that I have Wiccan friends and hold no malice for that religion?  Or did he just know that since we are soul mates, I would accept him as-is, as I know he accepts me?

I nodded.  "So, what now?"

"Now we get married.  I've waited for you so long, we both know this is right - what's the point of waiting?"  His words seemed so simple, so right, there was no need to argue.

Laughed, I suggested, "Maybe we should know each other's names first?"  We spent the next half hour getting to know each other.

"I have to get back," he informed me.  It felt like I would be walking away from a part of myself when we parted.  "May I see you tonight?" he added.

I beamed.  "Of course."  We made our plans before he took me back into the crowded show.  At his stand, before releasing my hand, he gave me a kiss unlike any I'd ever had.

When he pulled back, I thought, "So this is love."  Never having experienced it before, I'd always wondered.  Now I know.  And I never want to lose it.

"I'll see you tonight," he vowed.

At least, that's what I had hoped would happen.  It didn't.  I didn't see him.  I did buy some really yummy almonds and a super cute hat though.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Saw Him

Last night, I dreamed about him.  Well, that's not so unusual - I dream about him a lot.  Last night was different, though, because I actually saw his face.  I've never seen his face.  Do you think this means something?  I find it amusing that I can be perfectly okay with seeing a man who has no face in my dreams.  Shouldn't that clue me in to the fact that I'm asleep?

I have hope that somewhere out there, my dream man is looking for me, as I've been searching for him.  I've been working for years, trying to make myself into the kind of woman he'd want to be with.  Oddly enough, that's exactly the person I want to become.  When I finally do find him, our personalities will compliment each other in a way I have yet to experience.

In my dream, which had an ethereal golden glow to it, he found me.  When I saw him, I was instantly drawn to him.  Due to my previous horrid experience with men, I assumed that he would not be interested in me, so I didn't let my attraction to him show.  I treated him with kindness and respect, in the shy way I treat all men with whom I'll never have a romantic entanglement, never flirting or engaging him further.  Throughout the dream, I watched him from a distance, wishing beyond reason that I could have a man like that.

Toward the end of the dream, he was injured and I stepped in to tend to his wounds.  As he laid beneath me, he made a comment (don't you just hate it when dreams fade from your mind, so things become hazy and unclear?) which made me think he might be interested in me.  I responded in kind, letting him know that I found him intriguing, as well.  Shock and joy replaced the pain which had been on his face before he more plainly stated that he wants to get to know me better.  I smiled freely then, telling him that I would like that too.

There is was - that giddiness which fills us all at the start of a relationship.  The security in knowing I've found my soul mate.  The pleasure in knowing someone finds me attractive.  The hope that I might not be alone for the rest of my life.  The warmth which radiates from where he gently touches my cheek.  The electric charge he sends through me when he kisses me.  The comfort which fills me when he holds my hands snugly in his.

And then I woke up.  All of those feelings drained away, leaving me cold, lonely, and missing someone I never had.  What a horrible way to start a day!

Or, maybe it means I'll meet him today.  I will be out among people (I normally don't see many people during the course of my days).  I'll be sure my hair and make-up look extra good today, just in case.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Mother Nature is gently trying to prepare us for Fall. She is painting fiery fall foliage on the very tips of some trees, while others already have a semi-rainbow washed over all their leaves. Some over-acheiving, friendly leaves have even made their way to the ground, which has been inviting them down for a visit.

The sun has stopped baking the ground, making the temperature more tolerable for those who detest the smoldering summer season. The days are comfortable, the evenings are pleasant, and the nights can be wonderfully chilly, making snuggling under blankets more inviting than those nights when sweat trickles down super-heated skin to dampen sheets. Excercising and working outside is made more bearable with the thoughts of heat exhaustion and dehydration banished.

Children walking past my window have donned bulky sweatshirts and backpacks instead of bright tanks and iPods. They also assume the look that children wear when they know their carefree summer is gone and the novelty of school has prematurely worn off. Instead of gleefully gossiping with each other and planning their day of frivolity, they now drudge along to their mandatory day of socialization and learning.

People are making plans for the last few weekends of good weather. When they pack, they have to remember to bring sweaters and blankets intead of sunblock and beach towels. The crowded highways on Sunday evenings point out how many have gotten out of town for their mini vacation.

Windows and doors are open less, smoke has been seen sneaking silently into the sky. Hoses and sprinklers are disappearing, while firewood and decorative scarecrows are making their first appearances. The more responsible adults have been spotted preparing their houses and vehicles for winter--applying the last coat of wax for the year, squirting new caulking into pesky little holes, touching up paint.

Even some stores are in on it. Halloween is still almost 2 months away, yet the shelved of grocery stores are laden with massive bags of bite-sized candies for greedy little fingers. Despite being months away, Christmas has arrived in craft stores, giving those who knit and sew (and others with similar talents) the urge to make their nests cozy and warm. Some who make all their Christmas gifts have started assembling the lists of what they want to make for their loved ones. As they start making the presents, the love that fills their hearts seeps into whatever it is they produce.

I think it's all quite beautiful!

Monday, October 14, 2013

No Picture for Me

I was driving across a mountain pass yesterday when I regretted that I couldn't stop and take a picture.  There was an image before me which I wished I could have gotten on film.

Close your eyes and imagine.  Oh wait - then you can't read.  Scratch that.

So, I'm speeding along at 70 mph (that's actually the speed limit - I'm 37 and I drive like I'm 87) when I come around a bend and see something which confused me momentarily. 

Directly in front of me was a tree line (I will shortly have to go around another bend).  It is a mixture of different types of trees.  Many of them are the deep, healthy green of evergreens standing proudly in my lush homeland of the Pacific Northwest.  There are other trees intermixed, all with a the warm yellow of the sun increasing the vibrant autumnal hues which the leaves have recently taken on in preparation for their decent to the earth.  (This wasn't the confusing part - we'll get to that in a moment).

Behind that is a fluffy, white cloud laying low in the sky, directly behind and above the tree line.  (No, this wasn't the confusing part either - fog or low-lying clouds aren't unusual around here).  This wasn't fog, it was a cloud.  It was lit so brightly, it was as if it was illuminated from within, lighting everything around it.  The white of it was so pure, as if recently bleached.  It was dense and full - no wispy, wimpy edges or spots - just thick a cotton candy cloud resting lazily.

Above that was what confused me.  You know when you just catch a glimpse of something and you know you're seeing it wrong, but you can't quite figure out what it really is for a moment?  This was one of those moments.  It looked like the cloud was leaking upward.  Thin, trickling fingers of white were climbing up from the cloud into the sky.  It made no sense.  Clouds don't behave like that - at least, not around here.

And then I saw it for what it was.  Behind the cloud stood a stately mountain, powerfully protecting the delicate cloud below.  The rivers of white I had seen were actually trails of snow, hiking down the mountain side.  When I took another look at the scene, the whole thing really was powerful - the glowing cloud nestled between the luxuriant patch of trees and the majestic mountain. 

I love living in Western Washington.  I can see the most beautiful nature!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mandatory Advertising

I've been blogging for years - all the way back since my first blog in **gasp** MySpace.  Quit laughing!  You know you were on it too!  Back then, I learned that the way to get readers/followers was to read other blogs and comment on/like them.

I refused.  It felt like I was prostituting myself out.  And for what?  Popularity?  I had my day in the sun (being head cheerleader can do that).  I don't need that anymore.  My blogs have always been for my family and friends, and for me.  I love going back through them every now and then and reading my old blogs - seeing where I was and where I am now. 

One of my favorite blog posts was one of my first few ones on MySpace.  It never fails to make me laugh at myself (I laugh at myself frequently).  I just tried to find it to post a link, but... have you been to MySpace lately?  No, of course you haven't.  They've become all about music.  My blogs have disappeared.  It will take months to get them back (I've submitted the request).  Until they appear, just let me tell you that it was funny.  It had to do with me falling on my butt in a dark place which was new to me, my apparent disappearance to my mother at that moment, and the look on her face.  I still smile just thinking about it.

Yikes!  I'm long-winded.  Can you tell?

Anyway, I decided that if people wanted to read my words - great!  If not, that's okay too.  I mean, my blog really has nothing to do with my writing.  My blog is about me, personally.  My writing style doesn't even come through in my blogging.  Blogging is how I think, not how I create a new world for others' enjoyment.  So, I successfully avoided the trap of trying to get my blog "out there".

Until today.  I can't avoid it any more.  I've heard that if I want a literary agent to take me seriously, I have to have an online presence.  Ugh!  Which means I have to not only create a blog for potential agents to check out, but I also have to get readers/followers.

Don't get me wrong - I have 50+ followers on my other blog.  Without doing any self-promotion, over 50 people found me and decided they wanted to include me in their blog roll.  Without any particular niche or subject, people found me "add-worthy."  Each time someone added me, I was surprised and very flattered.  Now, I have to put effort into it.


If I want to play with the Big Boys, I have to play their game.