Saturday, December 31, 2005

Pet Peeves

We've all got 'em. And I have a lot of peeves. Gum smackers, candy wrapper crinklers, people who hack and cough and sneeze and make nasty noises in restaurants (God, do us all a favor and stay home! I don't want to hear the phlegm in your throat!)

Let's see ... I'm sure there's more. Kids that chew with their mouths open and the parent thinks it's funny. Driving in cars with cell phones. No thought whatsoever of using a turn signal. People who drive in left lanes ... for no damn good reason. Tailgaters. Speeders. Loud cars. Loud music in cars that invades my space. TV on all day.

People who can't clean the crumbs off their kitchen counters ... or keep their dishes in the sink for more than a day ... or don't wipe the grease off their appliances. Dirty bathrooms. Neighbors that slam their car doors or honk in the driveway late at night. Or a neighbor kid that bounces his basketball late at night. Or a neighbor that can't shut his dog up. Or a constant barking dog kept on a chain ... cruel to the animal ... just plain evil. People who smoke and drop their ashes everywhere.

People who talk in movies. People who kick the back of my seat in movies or in church. People who stop in the middle of a grocery store aisle. People who talk loud in public (like everybody's interested in what they have to say.) Truck drivers that cut me off. Old people that think they can drive. People who can't close doors, or drawers. Fingerprints on the walls. Junk drawers. Moody people. (I could go on, but I think I'll stop here.)

Oh, wait ... Howard Stern and Jerry Springer and Judge Judy ... and a few others. Jerry Falwell and Binny Hinn and John Hagee ... and a few others.

Talk about extremes.

Sorry, can't forget about this one. Babies crying in restaurants. For the past few years, I've sat in the smoking section (not that I care for cigarette smoke, either) but I'll take it over a crying baby any day. Listen, I had two kids. I know you need to get out once in a while ... but hire a sitter when they're in high chairs or too young to listen when you say, "Hush! You’re too noisy!"

I've asked waitresses to seat me anywhere but around a baby, and don't you dare sit one next to me after I'm seated. I'll move or get up and leave. And I mean it. I've done it. I've had many ruined meals because some parent can't stand the thought of leaving their child home. It's not the baby's fault. Not at all. Poor little thing. But parents ... get a clue ... us older folks ... we done raised our kids! We don't want to hear yours scream and ruin our meals. It drives me nuts. I pay for a nice dinner out with my husband and friends ... I don't pay to hear somebody’s kid scream, cry, and throw a hissy fit.

That includes taking kids to movies, church, grocery stores, and any other public place. Does that mean you have to stay home all the time?

Pretty much. Yeah. You had them. Find a sitter. Or stay home.

I'm sure I can think of a few more.

But my biggest pet peeve? Fat people like me that think they know everything.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, December 30, 2005

...Okay, So I Like Roosters

I don't do Hummels or Precious Moments (yuk,) I've even graduated from Teddy Bears. I wouldn't know the first thing about collecting stamps or coins. And the only doll you'll see in my house is a tiny porcelain-faced doll my son brought back to me from Portugal on his Mediterranean tour as a Marine. I don't put apples in my kitchen or fish or seashells on the walls in my bathroom. Even my kids' bedrooms never had a theme ... no Snoopy, Holly Hobbie, or Superman bedspreads.

But I have a weakness, a soft spot, and a fascination with roosters. And chickens. I know ... gross. I'm a country girl, what can I say? I believe it all started when I was little, my mother let me buy those blue, green, and pink chicks at Easter. But it was my grandma King that encouraged my fondness for these birds. She kept a chicken coop. The rooster perched himself on the fence line every morning and woke us as the sun peeked over the mountain. My grandpa swore every day he was ... "gonna shoot that dadgum varmint." But grandma loved her banny rooster. He'd strut around the yard like he owned the place. I have a picture of the old bird ... it's just a childhood memory now.

So I collect them. They're not in my kitchen. They stare down at me from shelves above my desk. Whimsical and unique, I've collected these birds from cities all over the country. I have a Canton, Ohio fat rooster, a Myrtle Beach rooster (dressed for the beach, complete with beach umbrella and swimsuit) ... a Williamsburg, VA rooster, a Gatlinburg, TN rooster, a New York City rooster, and a special rooster from Gettysburg, PA ... and one from Louisville, KY. My daughter gave me a rooster in a ballerina tutu I just love, and then there's 40% off rooster--ask Michael about that one. I have a signed Bob Timberlake rooster, and roosters made from rocks straight from the state of Idaho, and of course ... what Southern girl would be without her confederate flag rooster. I gasped when I saw it. My friend Tina even bought me this tiny dead tree with six hand carved roosters perched in it. I know ... it's out of hand.

But, for what its worth, they make me laugh. They're tacky as hell and I love every one of them. Okay, it's my one decorating flaw ... but they live in my office--I don't show them to company. Unless somebody says ... "I know this is crazy, but I collect roosters."

"You do? Would you like to see mine?"

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Life Is All About Change

...but growth is optional." A quote by Karen Kaiser Clark. I'm changing ... I feel it. I'm growing another year older, but that's not all of the change I'm talking about.

I'm finding that after years of writing, researching, reading volumes of books, plotting stories, discovering the quirks and psychology of my characters ... I've grown, as a person. I'd like to think it's made me better, but I doubt some members of my family would agree. However, part of having an open mind, I believe, is to change and grow. And for one to write, one must keep the doors to the mind wide open.

I don't look at politics, social issues, or religion the same way I did even ten years ago. I don't shut down when somebody disagrees with me. I've learned to listen. I give it a chance. I think everyone should have a voice. I regret stifling the voices of my children when they were little. "Seen and not heard," that whole stupid thing ... who made that up anyway?

I don't have all the answers, and my opinions only matter to me ... not the world. So changing and growing is a daily thing with me. I can be preachy ... I have ideas I want to put out there for the world to ponder too, but it won't piss me off anymore if you disagree with me.

All that being said, there are certain people I don't like and never will ... but if I happen to overhear Howard Stern say something that interests me ... I'll listen. I might even agree with big nasty guy. It doesn't mean I have to like him. Or watch his show. Because I don't. But who knows, some day Howard Stern may say something magical and contribute to society ... whereas Dr. Phil, who I adore, may say something totally off the wall, and I'll find him offensive and hurtful instead of helpful.

You see what I'm saying here? People change, but whether they grow from it or stop dead in their track ... that’s optional.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

29 Years Ago Today

She arrived at 2:02 p.m., ten pounds of pink baby girl. Her brother waited at home, her grandmothers were in the waiting room, her daddy wasn't around. He missed her birth, devoted more to his "job" than his family ... but that's another story for another time ... anyway, it was just me and her. That was the 70s. They didn't have the capability at that time to tell the sex before the birth. I had a little boy at home, loved him dearly, but really hoped for a girl this time.

Half way out, the doctor said, "I think this one's a linebacker. Look at the shoulders on this baby." She flipped over and ta! da! She certainly fooled them! Jillian Leigh came into the world.

They laid her on a table next to me. She blinked and started to suck her fist. She was beautiful.

She still is. All these years later. She was a cheerleader, a perfect student, a bright and funny girl with lots of smiles for everyone. She has her moments (don't most girls?) but she has given me 29 years of bliss and blessings as her mama. A Masters Degree and a great job at The Ohio State University, a new love interest who is quite charming, and lots of friends. A great eye for decorating, knows how to dress, dance, loves to read, can cook more than a few great dishes, and treats her friends and family with love and kindness.

It's not easy being born three days after Christmas. Most of your gifts are all wrapped in leftover Christmas paper. People slight you because they have to buy your Christmas and birthday all at once. It doesn't seem to carry the same punch as her brother's April birthday. But this is an important birthday. You always remember, or should remember, your 29th birthday. You refer to it often the rest of your life.

I'm not with her today. So I have to rely on my memory. They brought her to me in a red Christmas stocking, after they cleaned her up and put her first diaper on her. I kept my little girl in bonnets, dresses, lacey socks and panties for the next four years ... but she remained a girlie girl. Athletic, but never a tomboy. She was the meaning of pink.

Today, she's celebrating with her boyfriend in New York City. I hope she's having a marvelous day. I hope she has 29 more wonderful birthdays. And 29 more after that.

Knowing her has been one of the three major highlights of my life. I am privileged and blessed that God picked me to be her mama.

Happy Birthday, Jillian. I love you.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Dreamin' It

Did you ever have a desire so big you had to get close to it once in a while? Did you try to experience a little of the dream, or spend time planning for it?

We spent the day in the mountains, or near the mountains, yesterday. Michael and I have this dream log home we plan to build on as many acres as we can afford. A place with water, views, and trees ... and rolling pastures. A place where our nearst neighbor is acres away. A little corner of heaven.

Yesterday, we walked on it. Got away from all the holiday nonsense and took a stroll on a piece of land for sale with all of the above qualities. Dodging the horse dropppings (most of it is being used for pasture right now) we walked down to a flowing creek, a up to a ridge and could see all the way to the Blue Ridge.

We were loving every second of being outdoors, feeling the sun's warmth ... just having a very nice day ... dreamin' the dream.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It's Christmas Eve

The sun is bright overhead, the air will warm this afternoon. No snow. Jillian is on her way to Philly to meet Rob, Aaron is in Ohio with Annie, Christopher and Nicole are at home in Arizona.

Ho Ho Ho ... Hum.

But Beth is here, Michael's cousin, and Aunt Betty Smith from South Carolina. Mama's here ... of course ... and we're sure to have a house full this evening and tomorrow. The pies and cookies are baked, the rest is waiting in the refrigerator. The outside of the house is decorated to the max ... our usual. Wreaths, the house is covered in blue lights outside (one big Kmart blue light special,) deer in the yard, bows on the windows, and of course Santa riding a cow next to the driveway. Inside our tree is lit and beautiful, we have a Dickens village covering the top of the TV cabinet, dogs, frogs, pigs, cactus and cows that sing Christmas carols (don't ask) the house is filled with ornaments, manger scenes, centerpieces of poinsettia and greenery, and sweets galore.

So why doesn't it feel like Christmas?

Maybe it's the weather, maybe because we miss our kids, maybe it's just me. I don't know. I think I've been a fairly good girl this year. I love having Beth and Betty here ... it's really been fun ... watching movies, eating, watching football, eating, talking to Beth about her trip around the world, eating ... and on and on.

But I think Michael and I just feel like we want this holiday nonsense overwith. We're ready to get on with the new year. We're ready to hop on into 2006.

I suppose we should just kick back and enjoy the day.

After all, it's Christmas Eve.

Blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Secret Squirrel

My best friend, Tina, and I have a secret code.

“Secret Squirrel!” It means “just between us.”

A long time ago, years and years ago (in case you’re reading this Tim) we went shopping and spent lots and lots of money we shouldn’t have spent.

“He’s gonna kill me!”

“No way, the man worships you.”

“I tell you, he’s going to kill me!”

“You needed that new dress! And those shoes … to die for. And you sure couldn’t buy those shoes and not by the bag!”

“But they weren’t on sale!”

“Since when do you buy things on sale?”

“He is going to kill me!”

Finally … after reconfirming our right to shop, we pulled into the garage. Tina looked at me and yelled “Secret Squirrel!” the second before we hopped out of the car.

I died laughing … you had to be there.

We kept our mall bags in the trunk of the car … brought them into the house on the sly, one day at a time. It worked. Husbands were oblivious … mission impossible? I hardly think so. Mission accomplished. Our secret code avoided confict!

From then on … every time we want to keep something on the sly, or between just us girls … “Secret Squirrel!” is yelled back and forth just as we’re getting out of the car or going into the house. And we laugh for the next five minutes.

It’s a girl thing.

Blessings to all you squirrels out there!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Very Good Day

It's recorded in a picture that hangs on the bulletin board beside my desk. Not a great picture, just a snapshot. Of my two rugrats. Not really rugrats in the picture, though. Nope, all grown up.

I remember it was a good day. Everything about the picture reminds me of what a very good day it was. A warm August day in 2000. Aaron, Jillian, and I went to our favorite restaurant in the country in an old converted barn. Called ... The Barn (obviously) in Smithville, Ohio. Great place, great food, wonderful salad bar. Twice the size of regular salad bars, all homemade stuff ... different hand grated cheeses, not the processed grated cheese ... cornbread with applebutter ... homemade soups ... mmm.

Anyway ... I snapped their picture in front of Aaron's relatively new Toyota pickup truck, all black and shiny. In the background is the old farmhouse that was converted into the gift shop that smells of cinnamon and apple when you walk in.

The sun was shining ... they were smiling.

I just remember ... it was a very good day. I miss having dinner with my children.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


How does one get a handle on goal-setting for the new year? How do you make resolutions that will last? I've never had much luck getting past the second week in January before pushing my "start date" to Valentines Day ... then March 1st ... and by God, I'll start by Easter!

I don't have much faith in the first day of January, that's for sure. I mean look around you on January 1st. Christmas is over and more than likely, your tree looks tired and ready to be put to sleep for another year. The presents are all gone, the bills start coming in, you've got leftovers to serve for weeks, and even football season is coming down the home stretch.

It's cold outside, winter is such a dreary time of year, all you want to do is crawl back into bed and pull the electric blanket over your head.

Who wants to start a list of new goals?

My husband.

I woke up yesterday morning to a list of goals he'd been up working on since five that morning. A list of eight things he's bound and determined to do this year! In fact, he's already started ... no such thing as waiting until January 1st in his mind ... he's pumped ... he's ready to kick some butt.

That's nice, dear. I support you 100%! You go! You do this! You show me this same list this time next year with every last one of them crossed off!

I've made too many resolution lists in my lifetime. They're the same thing every year anyway. By this age, you ought to know your strengths and weaknesses and set goals around them. I know my goals by heart. I know I can make every one of them.

I just have to keep the "start date" a little closer to January 1st.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Pain In The Neck

I woke up with one.

You know, that aching muscle cramp from sleeping in some twisted fashion your body's not used to. How does that happen, I wonder. A hot shower, Ben Gay (whew, stinky), and Advil ... but it still didn't kick it. I walk around like Frankenstein, holding my head in a fused position with my neck.

I'm supposed to wrap presents today. Lots of them. Something I do every year with my friend, Dena. A volunteer thing for our writers group. I'll be two hours at the Barnes & Noble in Greensboro ... wrapping ... I can't imagine how I'll do it ... not easily, I'm sure. All while putting on my best smile.

I need a heating pad and a good stiff drink. Enough of this typing position here at the desk.

Today ... everything is a pain in the neck ... maybe tomorrow will be different.

I'm thinking positive.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I set out to write in this "blog thing" every day. Today, I've run out of topics. I'll think of something tomorrow. But it's past noon, and my writers block has kicked in. I think I'll head on into the kitchen, make a sandwich, read the newspaper, wrap a present or two. Maybe later, I'll finish some edits on a story I've been working on ... cruise the net ... read my latest copy of Writer's Digest.

How long does writers block last? It's like a bad cold. For some of us, we can nip it in a day with hot tea and rest. Others ... it hangs on for weeks until we can't take it another minute. I've read tons of articles on the dreaded writers disease, but when you come down to it ... we have to find our own holistic cure.

Then, one day, the sun breaks through the clouds and warms the room, our fingers start to twitch and our butt itches to sit in our desk chair ... an idea begins to take shape, we meet a character, or get the first line to an article ... or hear the title in our heads.

And before we know it ... wham! Writers block is gone and we've written our latest masterpiece.

Well, maybe not quite. But at least my blog is done for today.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Commercialism Of Christmas

When the kids were little, oh my Lord ... I'd spend the entire month of December in stores. We'd scan the newspapers and find the best deals on the latest Fisher Price toy or Cabbage Patch Doll ... and my son always wanted the newest "Transformer" ... those monster robots that turned into big bad fighting machines to save the world from evil. We'd spend hours in the grocery store buying everything needed to make tons of cookies and pies ... and then sing carols all the way to the corner lot and pick out our tree, hoping it wouldn't be as lobsided as last year's tree.

We overspent, overate, watched endless Christmas movies and cartoons ... our lives stopped between Thanksgiving and January 2nd. It was all about the holidays and the kids.

We never had enough money ... but the kids never knew it. There was more than enough to open from Santa. I just spent the next six months paying for Christmas. Then we started all over again.

I miss those days.

Not the struggling for money part, but how much fun we had. Now? I spent a half hour in line at Target and some fancy store in the mall today. The traffic's like wading up the Amazon amidst piranhas and crocodiles and the endless advertising is nauseating.

It's not as much fun as cruising the toy stores at midnight when the sales hit. No ... I just go on-line to avoid people lines. I buy from web sites and it's delivered to my door. There are no children to buy for ... no grandchildren, yet. My adult children are busy and live out of state, I don't even get to see them on the holidays. We're all busy with our lives. If I bake one pie and a dozen cookies ... I'm lucky. Scaling down our gift giving ... toning down the commercialism ... we say to ourselves, "Jesus is the reason for the season."

Don't misunderstand ... I still feel we're the most blessed and spoiled nation on the face of the earth, and we've overblown our budgets and our need for material possessions way too long ... we all need to cut back and remember we don't have to buy gifts to make the holidays special and it should be a sacred time.

But the commercialism was much more fun.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Cards Are Sent By Women

Go on over to your Christmas card collection and take a good look. How many, without a doubt, were signed and sent by a man? Virtually none, I’ll bet.

There’s always an exception to every discovery, of course. But let’s think about it a minute.

I asked my husband, “Honey, did you ever send cards when you were single?”

“To a few business associates, that’s about it. I don’t do Christmas cards, Pookie. That’s your job.”

Hmmm. Sexist statement from a liberal man … unusual.

It got me thinking … why do we even address them to men in the first place? I mean instead of sending to Joe and Mary Jones and family … why not send just to Mary and kids? For cryin’ out loud, when’s Joe going to notice you sent him a card? You think he’s apt to stop by the string of cards Mary’s hung around the doorway and read them all? Maybe one or two that’s fallen on the floor and he grumbles about having to pick up … but that’s probably the extent of his Christmas card viewing.

I’m sure Hallmark employs male artists and poets creating these things, but most cards (unless there’s a big busted woman on the front) are geared to the female consumer.

Okay, okay … my gay friend, Tony … loves to card shop and use his gold ink pen to address his Christmas cards. God love him. I love him … he’s one of my best friends … but I’m not talking about gay men, I’m talking about heterosexual married men.

Why have they all left the drudgery of sending dozens of Christmas cards to women?

One of the mysteries of life, I guess.

So this year … we shared the experience. I sat in my hotel room in Florida, paging through my address book, and completed over 25 cards basically all the same way … Hope your holiday’s a happy one … Merry Christmas … Love, Pam and Michael Cable. Then I sealed them, addressed them, slapped on a return label and two days later when we returned home I shoved them at Michael and said, “Here, take these to the post office, put a stamp on all 50, and mail them.”

“Okay, I guess it’s the least I can do …”

Yep. I agree.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I See Dumb People

That's right, I said dumb, not dead. It's a bumper sticker that struck me as funny riding up Interstate 95 this past weekend. But how true it is. How many dumb people can you count in a day on the road? Where do some people get off thinking they can drive? And Lord knows, I don't want to take away the independence of the elderly, but I swear to God, if I'm 87 and still driving ... I hope my children have enough sense to take my keys away before I kill myself and someone else because I either a) can't see over the top of the steering wheel b) refuse to drive faster than 10 mph under the speed limit or c) ride my brakes.

Dumb people are everywhere. In the grocery stores they're oblivious to the other shoppers, blocking isles and paying no attention to their screaming two year old. They're in the post office. The line is out the door and they chit chat with the front desk clerk as if no one were around. They serve me coffee at Starbucks and expect a tip! (I agree with you, Dena!)

They work in restaurants by the boatload. Either stopping at my table every two minutes to ask if I need anything, or completely ignoring me and I have to go find a manager to get my check. Then they get pissed off when I leave less than 20% for my meal ... which was cold when they brought it. And I'm not against leaving a big tip ... (my daughter supported herself through college as a waitress) ... I'll even tip a dumb person if they do their job, leave me alone, let me eat, or keep my water glass filled and bring me a check within a reasonable amount of time.

Dumb people appear everywhere. On TV, the radio, I see them in church, in schools, and working in hospitals! God help us all. Everywhere I turn, there's a dummy. Aik! I can't get away from people whose common sense took flight years ago! They're one taco short of a combo meal.

Then, I call for information on booking a room for my March book launch, and after three tries to get a response and no one cares to return my call ... I think ... maybe it's me. Maybe I'm the dumb one, thinking anybody works the last two weeks of December. Maybe I'm the bigger dummy, believing that people care enough about me to give me the time of day. Answer a friggen email. Thinking that maybe I could be a good reference for them if they'd just do their damn job! Okay, I expect way too much from anybody on December 14th.

Now who's the dumb person?

I guess, that'd be me.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


We can jot put them on paper, let them roll off our tongue, and scream them from microphones, soapboxes, and rooftops. But the words we publish, immortalize us.

"The power of life and death is in the tongue." It's an old scripture I've been handed over and over for years. It's yields power in the hands of a skilled orator. Great speakers know this. Ministers, politicians, salesmen, and teachers all know their words will follow them for decades. Either hailing them as great men and women of the twenty-first century or haunting them, ruining their careers and subsequently marking them as fools.

Writers know this, also. Much more so.

I've been told the one person in your family to be afraid of is not the gossipping grandma, the bully brother-in-law, or the bitchy old aunt ... it's the writer. We write about the people we know. We can make you look good or worse than you really are, taking bits and pieces of the familiar and weaving fictional stories into timeless pieces of literature for all the world to read until the end of time.

Unless written down, a speaker's words will eventually fade into memory and then altogether be forgotten, but a writer's words ... last forever.

Will this blog last forever? Who knows. As long as the Internet exists, I suppose. But, the manuscripts made into books, those indelible pages of ink on paper found in libraries, private collections, and flea markets five for a dollar ... live on through eternity. E books can't compete with that. Sorry.

I remember finding a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin in the attic of an old house I rented once. An old man had lived there for years as a widower. When he died, his children sold his home and contents and my landlord told me if I cleaned the place up, he'd knock some money off the first month's rent. But what I discovered, was a goldmine.

The old man's long ago deceased wife worked as a librarian in the 1920s. She was obviously a book lover from that time period having collected a ton of books and storing them in boxes in the attic. The diamond of the collection were a few first editions. One being an Uncle Tom's Cabin ... yes, that's right.

Immortal words, stored for over fifty years in ancient boxes in an old man's attic. I blew off the dust and held this precious book in my hands like I'd found the Hope Diamond. Many of the books were from the 19th and early 20th century. Some were just old school books, one was a picture book-- a souvenir of Niagara Falls from 1900, some books were written in German, there were books of Shakespeare, and a book of poems by Longfellow. A copy of Moods, by Louisa May Alcott, hid itself on the bottom of the last box opened.

I've loved words all my life, and as I sat there in the midst of that smelly musty attic with the lone light bulb hanging down from the ceiling, I heard the ghosts of those long ago writers breathe a sigh of relief ... somebody found their words again. Somebody who'd read them, appreciate them, and pass them on to the next generation.

Words ... I like to imagine my words being spoken by readers in 2080 ... don't you? Yes? Then get busy, writers ... we've got work to do.

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Little Closer To The Mark

West Palm Beach was a great success! I made great contacts, shook a lot of hands (I felt like a politician) and spoke to crowds of women! (and a few men!) Though the attendance for the entire week-end was not as high as they had hoped for, the Southern Women's Show in West Palm Beach (their first ever in the area) still rocked the town for three days!

I spent thirty minutes every day on stage delivering Southern Fried Women to the men and women who came to hear me or just happened to wander by and sit down to listen. The word is out and they want the book! Yikes! I have to meet the deadline! The preorders are hitting my web site!

Then we decided to mix in a little pleasure while in sunny Florida. Saturday evening, we took a drive to Hollywood and stopped at Hard Rock Cafe. Dinner at Bahama Breeze (one of my favorite restaurants) and then we cruised down to Miami. The weather was in the 80s and the balmy night air sucked the holidays right out of my head ... until I saw the harbor in Miami and every yacht was decorated to the max in Christmas lights! I just don't associate 80 degree weather and Christmas in the same venue. Stopped at Miami Hard Rock (I collect the pins) and strolled around the harbor wondering what it would be like to have the kind of money those boat owners obviously do. Whew! Decked out! Drove down Collins Avenue and then took our lives in our hands as we headed back to West Palm Beach. They drive 95 or faster on I95 around the Miami area!

If you ever visit Palm beach, cruise the beach area! Now that's a place of fantasy. Especially to a country girl like me. My goodness gracious. Every other car was a Porche, Rolls Royce, Mercedes ... or a Jag. I felt a little like the Beverly Hillbillies in our 95 Honda Accord.

But we did stop at the only Independent Bookseller in the area. The Palm Beach Book Store. I introduced myself and left information about the book. She indicated once the book was out, there's a good possibility she would have me back for a book signing. An enjoyable visit to a great little store.

That, plus the personal connections, networking, and the Southern Women's Show ... I did what I set out to do. I raised the platform higher. A little closer to the mark. A bit more of the dream realized.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

On My Way To West Palm Beach

… and the Southern Women’s Show. I have the Spotlight Stage 2:30 on Friday, 1:30 on Saturday and Sunday to present SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN.

Michael and I pinch our pennies, travel light, and cheap … but it’s all part of the business plan – it’s not a vacation. It’s work. We’re not there to take long romantic walks on the beach, or for the fine dining and sight seeing. We go for one reason only … to promote my book. We’re serious about making a dent in the publishing world.

Plain and simple.

With any luck, we’ll bulldoze through the dent and breakthrough to the other side … the side of successful book sales.

Blessings to you and yours.

I Was Born A Coal Miner’s Granddaughter

I’ve been thinking about my grandpa a lot lately. Writing the short story, COAL DUST ON MY FEET, I dug deep into the crevices of my memory and tunneled through pages of old picture albums Daddy and Mama kept all these years. The truth is -- my grandparents, the miners of West Virginia and their children, didn’t romanticize their lives. They lived them and survived the best they could. The outside world didn’t exist much past an occasional radio program or newspaper article. Time stood still in the hollers and mountains around Clay County … life for Troy Jennings King consisted of a wife, five children, and a job … mining coal for the Elk River Coal and Lumber Company.

COAL DUST ON MY FEET is a very real story … in some ways. The strike did happen. The violence in 1952 and for the next year is legendary and men who were killed and maimed live on in the memories of their families to this day. Families were torn apart, cousin against cousin, father against son—and the union, though it failed to break the back of the company by the time the strike ended, changed things. Eventually … the company closed its doors. The coal camp or town of Widen, West Virginia folded up except for the post office and a few that refused to leave.

This place is real to me. I felt it simmer in my bones when I walked the dirt roads that exist in the area today. My story burns in my heart and struggles to free itself on the page. Although the story is fiction … it’s alive to me. It’s a love story in the town my family lived in for many years. A story of the supernatural and the women who brought it about.

I remember my grandpa clearly in my mind. I can still hear his voice the day he helped Daddy build a room on the back of our house. He sat on a milk crate, drug hard on his cigarette, and then pointed at Daddy. “Now Darrel,” he’d say, “make sure you cut that board long enough and use a 2 by 4, hear me?” I miss him all these years later. He was permanently bent over at the waist, walked with his hands held together behind his back. But he loved us. Always had a hug ready for me. The coalmines warped him. And they killed him eventually. Lung cancer, black lung or otherwise took his life in 1979.

I was born a coal miner’s granddaughter, and that is the catalyst that inspired the story, COAL DUST ON MY FEET.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas In Boone Part II

No more cult-talk, I promise!

So we’re having a lovely dinner – homemade spaghetti sauces, Italian salads, fresh mushrooms sautéed in wine, the works. The evening is filled with laughter and friendship with our friends from Boone and Ohio … the atmosphere is warm and inviting … the gourmet kitchen is overflowing with the smell of fresh baked breads and apple pie … a breathtakingly beautiful home and the view outdoors is like living a fantasy … we’ve taken the tour of the custom built, three level structure … Christmas carols set the mood ... presents surround the …


Bill and Margie didn’t have a Christmas tree! What’s up with that? They live in the Christmas tree capital of the world! North Carolina fir trees are the best and most beautiful trees around! They ship these trees all over the country. On our way to Boone, every other car had a tree on top or in the trunk! But noooo, not our affluent friends … they had a fiber-optic Charlie Brown tree, crooked, and two feet tall. In a room with 21 foot beamed ceilings!

We’ll never let them live it down.

Take a look. And if you're wondering why there's a monkey in our Christmas pictures (instead of manger scene or a stuffed reindeer)--that’s Circus. Circus monkey is in pictures from the past ten years of vacations and holidays. No gathering would be complete without a picture of Circus. Quite Christmassy, don’t you think?

I mean, how do we know there wasn’t a monkey swinging from the rafters in the Inn? Maybe he ended up in the stall and was the first to see Jesus. I mean, they do have monkeys in that part of the world. Maybe a monkey rode with one of the three wise men, or quite possibly … Joseph and Mary had a pet monkey! I know the scriptures don’t mention it, but monkeys are God’s creatures, aren’t they? Maybe baby Jesus received a monkey from a fourth wise man or somebody like that? It could happen. Sure. Why not? I mean the scriptures don’t tell us every little thing that happened. I can see a monkey in there somewhere … absolutely.

In that case, Circus is very much a part of Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Circus!

Needless to say … we had a wonderful time in Boone!

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas In Boone

We spent Saturday night at the home of Bill and Margie in Boone. Joining us were Tim and Tina (my best friends from Ohio.) All of us great friends since our early 20s. We all met at and attended the same church. And we all came out of the same church. (Except for my Michael, who just sits, listens, and shakes his head at our church horror stories. He's thankful he was raised Methodist.)

Bill, Margie, Tim, Tina and me ... came out of a fundamental church (some call it a cult) in Ohio. If you've followed my blog, you've read how I've "come out of the dark." All of us found our way out of the dark. All of us are scarred in one way or another, and all of us ... according to our former pastor ... should be dead by now, God having slayed us for leaving his church. None of us ever amounting to anything for God. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah ... you know the things people say when they can't control you anymore. The "reverend" in short, cursed us.

Well ... we all sit around and laugh a lot these days, and wonder ... how did we go through that? It really doesn't matter. Because here we are. Blessed beyond measure. The curse our "minister" put on us, went back to him seven times over ... and I doubt he's yet to feel the full affect of all his cursing. But I believe he will someday.

Tim and Tina are in the process of building their third new home. The floor plans are spectacular! Bill and Margie live in a million dollar home (I'm guessing, but it sure looks it.) It makes me smile to see how richly they've been blessed. But it's not just the material things that God has blessed them with, they're blissfully happy people ... married over thirty-some years now. What God joined together, my friends would not allow their "minister" to separate.

Bill was one of nine children. (I think ... it could have been more) but anyway, I remember there was a carload of them! He was raised below the poverty level and the stories he tell us are nothing less than awe-inspiring. It's like Margie said, "God's blessed us extra good because of what we went through!" They live in the most picturesque part of Boone, on the side of a mountain, in an unbelievably gorgeous home.

I agree. He's blessed us all extra good. I sound preachy today ... which is not my norm ... I suppose it's because I realized this weekend, if we believe in God, we need to give Him credit when we know He's made the way, caused the blessing, opened the door, and saved us from calamity. If we are able to do that, then the dark side never won.

We lived through nightmares and we survived. More than that --we're proof that God has not abandoned us.

Thing is, being with my long time friends and hearing about each other's plight out of "Egypt," tells me there needs to be some kind of self-help group for people who come out of those kinds of "ministries." There are stages of grief and anger and yes ... forgiveness that takes place.

What does all this have to do with Christmas in Boone?

EVERYTHING, my friend. Because Christmas to survivors, whether it be from surviving cancer, or the death of a loved one, or divorce, or a cult ... Christmas takes on a whole new look.

I sat around and watched the love and the fun and remarkable friendship we had and I thought to myself ... now this is celebrating the holidays!

Blessings to you and yours,

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Beautician's World

I used to own a beauty shop. Back in the day. Back when everybody got perms and highlights and changed their hairstyle every week. Back in the 80s. Back in the days of big hair and bigger hair bands ... Bon Jovi, Queen, Pat Benetar, and Aerosmith. My daughter, Jillian, was just ten and loved every minute of getting her hair done at mom's shop. (She'll be 29 this December, and we still laugh about her hairdos back then.)

I didn't "do hair." I owned and managed the 12 chair stylist shop. An upscale place for white collar types to get nails and hair done. It was wedged between a pizza parlor and a florist. For two years I had a ball taking the "show on the road." We did free cuts at mall shows and bridal fairs. It's a touchy-feely ballsy business. But there's one thing I did learn about the hair business. These people are artists. And there are good ones, bad ones, and inconsistent ones.

All these years later, I find they're not much different than they were back then. I've yet to find a stylist in North Carolina that can give me a consistent hair cut and highlight. I've resigned myself to doing my own hair. At least if I have to scream about the way it looks, I've no one to blame but myself. I don't want a stylist to tell me how they think my hair should look. I don't give a crap what you think or what "big name" you studied with in New York and London. I don't care you're Vidal Sassoon's second cousin!

If I have to pay $100 for your time (believe me, color and perms don't cost much wholesale...) then I just want you to be consistent, do it the way I want it, and shut up. And if I'm paying that much for your time, then I don't want you rushing me through so you can do a wash and set on some old lady while I sit and wait on you to finish. I don't care about your schedule, I care about mine ... at $100 (the average price on cut, color, and style) I want your full attention.

Last time I went to the beauty shop, I came out looking no different then when I went in! All for the low price of $80.00. Never again. Not until I hear about a stylist that will listen to me, give me exactly what I want every damn time I sit in his/her chair. And not work on two other people at the same time.

Am I unreasonable?

I don't think so. I expect consistent care and service from my doctor, dentist, plumber, cable guy, banker, grocery store, and my minister! These "artists" or stylists as they're called these days, (beauticians for those of you who remembers the shops of the 60s) are licensed individuals. Besides doctors and dentists and your local massage therapist, they're they only people who will put their hands on you. Think about it. They're hopefully trained and paid to give you their best. I give everybody two chances. After that ... I'll find somebody else.

Or do my own hair.

What happened to my shop, you ask? A little thing like D-I-V-O-R-C-E. I couldn't go through a divorce and manage to put in my normal 60 hour week, with two kids to raise. So I went back to medicine, working for doctors ... getting regular paychecks. Life was rolling from one disaster to the next back then. But my employees, my stylists, though I expected a lot from them, were wonderful and warm. They were a consistent bunch and I will never forget the lessons they taught me. Especially about what to expect when I get my hair done.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, December 02, 2005

It's Dena Harris Week!

My friend and collegue, Dena Harris, wrote a cat humor book that is taking the area by storm! She's truly the Erma Bombeck of cat writers! Funny and sweet, her book is a great gift for Christmas, but even more than that ... if you love cats ... or if you know somebody who does, this is the perfect book because she brings to life the day to day events in living with one ... or two as the case may be.

This week, Dena was on the Fox8 morning TV news show, interviewed by Cindy Farmer the co-anchor seat for this highly watched program. Dena is a natural and her personality just lit up the screen! Such a great treat to see your good friend shine on television.

Last night her book launch rocked at The Green Bean Coffee House in Greensboro. The place was full with fans wanting her book. Sometime in the near future, I'll have pictures of this event on my web site and on this blog. There were two cats from Happy Hills Animal Shelter available for adoption - but unfortunately, nobody took them home ... beautiful and sweet animals. I'm only hoping they go to good homes, they were such docile creatures ... oblivious to the noise and all the fingers poking in their cage. Even though I'm not a cat lover to the degree of my pal, Dena, I would've taken "Smokey" home in a minute if I wasn't allergic to cat dander. Ahh, I'm still thinking about him this morning.

Dena's humor book is a wonderful read, but more importantly, I believe she's raising awareness to the need of finding good homes for cats instead of killing them. Getting them spayed and neutered, instead of letting them have litter after litter of unwanted kittens. She's letting people know they need to take responsibility for their pets, love them, care for them ... they're God's creatures.

Go to her web site at You can learn about her book and click to her blog, which is also a daily must read!

Congratulations to Dena! When I introduced her last night, I got all choked up at the end ... yikes! I just hope when she introduces me in March at my book launch, she'll remember not to drink a beer beforehand!

Blessings to you and yours.