Friday, December 30, 2005

Second Trip

I failed to mention in my last post that Seth was diagnosed with acute bronchitis. "Acute bronchitis? That's different than ugly bronchitis isn't it," Seth asked as we left the ER that night. I laughed till I almost cried.

"No son. It means you have a severe case of bronchitis." What I didn't know at the time was acute bronchitis is highly contagious. There was something about the diagnosis that gnawed at me. We've had bronchitis before, but they've never called it "acute."

When we arrived home, I looked it up on the trusty internet. Great. Now everyone in the family will get it, I fumed. The dawn of the next day did not bring good news. Not only was Seth hacking his head off, he was throwing up too. Motrin was not controlling his fever, so in the early afternoon, I left Robert with my hubby, and off we headed to the ER again.

The day before we only had to wait an hour, this time the ER waiting room was wall-to-wall people, and we had to wait seven hours; not fun when you have a sick, bored and cranky child. I tried to started a conversation with a young boy seated near me, but the mother glared at me and moved with child to another part of the waiting room. "What's her problem? I was just being friendly," I huffed.

Seth, who had been dozing in a chair beside me, opened his eyes and studied my appearance. "Probably because you look like crap," he reasoned before shutting his eyes and resuming his nap. No way, I can't look that bad. Curious, I went to the bathroom to check out my reflection in the mirror. My short hair lay on my head like a mound of melted dark chocolate, and dark circles were under my eyes, giving me that hated raccoon look. I left the bathroom and back to my seat, wishing for a paper bag to put over my head.

A little later, I felt a tightening sensation in my windpipe and chest. I'm very familiar with this feeling. Oh crap! I can't be getting bronchitis! This can't be happening, I thought. Well, I won't let it happen. I set my jaw stubbornly and stomped over to the coffee machine. Maybe some coffee will loosen everything up. Wrong! The coffee was so weak you could read a paper through it, and it did nothing to help me. As time progressed, I began my barking, sea-lion sounding, cough. My entire body ached, and I longed for my bed.

Finally, we were called into an exam room where we waited for another couple of hours. If you're keeping track of the time, you're not mistaken, we waited a total of nine hours; seven in the waiting room, two in the exam. The doctor, a friendly guy, informed me that in addition to having bronchitis, Seth had a stomach virus. Lovely!

After a quick trip to Walgreens to have the script filled, we made it back home at a little after midnight. I soon found out that Robert had bronchitis too, so all of us had a turn with the nebulizer (breathing treatment machine).

This does have it's upside. The kids are better, I'm better and getting some work done on a story I've been putting off.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Going out with a bang

This year is determined to go out with a negative bang. Yesterday, I spent most of the afternoon in the emergency room with my oldest. He has been sneezing and coughing for a few (4) days, and thinking it was allergies, I treated it as such by giving him a decongestant and Benedryl. It seemed to work as first, but yesterday his cough became worse, and he had a temp. His doctor's office was closed, so off to the ER we went.

I prayed it wasn't the flu. Where I live, it's hard to get a shot unless you're elderly, a baby, or in poor health; my sons fit in none of those catagories. They have a history of asthma, but it's not chronic.

I had pneumonia when I was young and almost died from it. Times have changed and medicine has advanced, but when my children have anything wrong with their lungs, I'm terrified. The worrying is probably is uneccessary, but if they were to succumb to pneumonia or anything else . . . My children are my heart, without them I would be an empty shell.

In the ER, I watched my oldest sit in the waiting room, tears streaming down his face. I thought it was because he felt bad; he told me later he was crying because he feared he had the flu, and his brother would catch it. He also admited he was disappointed about delaying our trip out to the Devil's Backbone. I explained that since we lived only 10 minutes away, we could easily go when he was better.

On yet another note, our dog has disappeared. He's been missing for a week now, and with each passing day, the possibility of his returning is slim. There have been dogs stolen out of our neighbors' yards, and I'm afraid it's happened to us too; none of the animal shelters have him. The dog food bowl looks empty, as empty as the place in my heart Blue used to occupy.

Give me a slow-falling rain, and the mournful wail of a steam engine in the distance, and I could write one heck of a country song right now.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


Lately, I have been running non-stop like a car with no brakes. For the past few days, my kitchen has been a beehive of activity. My family and I have been making homemade biscotti, cannoli, and fig cookies to enjoy during the holidays, and to give to friends and neighbors; it's one of our family traditions that I enjoy the most. Stories are told and memories are made as the kids stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us and help with the baking.

Seth no longer believes in Santa, and while that leaves me feeling very old, my heart swells with pride as I watch him lovingly wrap each package of baked goods for the neighbors. Several times during the past few days, he has paused and said, "so this is what Christmas is all about. Makes me feel good to it." That one comment couldn't have made me any happier.

Late this morning we were treated to the comforting smells of the ham, homemade lasagna, and ciabatta bread baking in the oven as we opened our gifts. Robert danced around the room with the presents Santa had left the night before as Christmas carols played in the background. Even though he loves the gifts, he's still at the toddler stage where the boxes the gifts came in are more interesting.

Tomorrow, bags of pretty used wrapping paper will make their way to the end of the drive and await the overworked trashmen. My "monster" Christmas tree stands forlorn in the corner, stripped of the brightly wrapped packages it sheltered with is low-hanging limbs.

Yes, all this will be gone tomorrow, but old memories of Christmas past and the new memories of this Christmas still remain in our hearts.

I hope everyone of you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Good old Days

I truly miss the "good old days"; the days when people weren't too busy to show their fellow human warmth, and a man's word was gold. I grew up in the 70's on the "tail-end" of that era, but I remember neighbors stopping by to pass the time of day, and the little "mom and pop" stores were thriving. These stores were family run, and had a homey feel when you walked through the days. Not only were the stores the owners' livlihood, they were their passion, and it showed.

Now in the age of progress, many of the small stores have been "out-sold" right out of business. The customers have no time to hear about Martha's cobbler recipe, or John's gardening tips; they instead opt for the speedy and impersonal superstores.

I remember one old store from my youth. It was a two-story rambling country store colored grey by the passing of time and the unforgiving Texas sun. Giant barrels of beans and peas stood in rows in the middle of the store, gardening impliments hung from the walls, and handcrafted kitchen chairs dangled from the ceiling by sturdy leather straps. The store was not fancy, but to a child it was a dream come true. In the front of the store were giant glass jars of any kind of candy you could imagine. The owners were friends of my family, and I often had the joyous privilege of taking a handful of candy out of a jar for myself.

Like the other small stores in the area, this store gave way to progress, and now stands empty; a haunting memory of a gentler happier time. I always had a contented feeling in that store, and was saddened when it shut down. It's been years since I had that same feeling in a store.

Tuesday, after my root canal, John took me to lunch at the CENTERPOINT STATION, located here in San Marcos. The building is a rustic old train depot, decorated with memorbelia from the 1930's to the present. I'm not a huge hamburger fan, but the cooks make their own buns and use real meat; delicious! The other half of the place is a gift shop and fudge store. On this trip, I was introduced to Mr. Warran, the owner. He is a very charming person, a former pro CFL football player, and a friend of John's.

Before we left, he gave us a 5 lb. Texas-shaped tin of fudge of Christmas. I was touched; I guess some things never change after all.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I got this from Tracey's blog, who got it from Jude, who got it from Rhonda.

2005 Year In Review

1) Was 2005 a good year for you?
Any year that I'm still alive at the end is a good one.

2) What was your favorite moment of the year?
There were so many . . . one that really sticks out is getting my story published in Chicken Soup

3) What was your least favorite moment of the year?
my very first book signing

4) Where were you when 2005 began?
at home with my hubby and kids

.5) Who were you with?
Hubby and kids

6) Where will you be when 2005 ends?
I have no idea; probably at home or with family

7) Who will you be with when 2005 ends?
family and/or friends

8) Did you keep your new years resolution of 2005?
Are you serious? No.

9) Do you have a new years resolution for 2006?

10) Did you breakup with anyone in 2005?
I ended a friendship with a childhood friend

11) Did you make any new friends in 2005?

12) Who is your favorite new friend?
They're all my favorite!

13) What was your favorite month of 2005?

14) Did you travel outside of your country in 2005?
No, not this year.

15) What different states did you travel to in 2005?

16) Did you lose anybody close to you in 2005?

17) Did you miss anybody in the past year?

18) What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2005?
Hide and Seek

19) What was your favorite song from 2005?

20) What was your favorite record from 2005?
I really didn't have a fav record.

21) How many concerts did you see in 2005?

22) Did you have a favorite concert in 2005?

23) did you drink a lot of alchohol in 2005?

24) did you do a lot of drugs in 2005?

25) How many people did you sleep with in 2005?

26) Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?

27) What was the worst lie someone told you in 2005?
Didn't tell any "devasting" lies.

28) Did you treat somebody badly in 2005?

.29) Did somebody treat you badly in 2005?
Still are, but that's life

30) How much money did you spend in 2005?
Not much. I'm pretty tight

31) What was your proudest moment of 2005?
My book signing

32) What was your most embarrassing moment of 2005?
Takes a lot embarress me. . .none

33) If you could go back in time to any moment of 2005 and change something, what would it be?
Giving my former best friend the "final chance" that she asked for

34.) The best thing that happened to you in 2005?
A lot of wonderful things happened; can't name just one

What are your plans for 2006?

Have no idea

Monday, December 19, 2005

Whatcha gonna do when Mama comes for you?

This holiday season has brought my family something that we don't really need . . . allergies. This last Arctic front has caused the mold count to soar through the roof, and my babies are suffering.

Seth started sneezing and hacking first. Oh please don't let Robert get allergies, I prayed. Giving meds to Robert is no easy task. Quite honestly, giving my feisty toddler meds is like a scene from COPS. When he sees the medicine bottle in my hand, the chase is on. With agility that would make my high school track coach proud, I skillfully leap over toys on the floor without breaking stride as I pursue Robert from room to room. I finally apprehend the tiny fugitive and wrestle him to the ground.

"Quit resisting. You're only going to hurt yourself," I reason with the wailing squirming toddler. Finally, no worse for the wear, Robert is released after he gives in and takes the meds. The rest of the day he usually avoids me like the plague. He has never taken meds willingly, and since he is older, this is the only way I can get them in him.

Once, Robert awakened in the middle of the night with an ear infection. So, off to the ER we went. Robert is an equal opportunity bad patient; he treats the doctors and nurses the same way he treats me . . . with screams and struggles. It's a blessing in disguise; because of his bad attitude, the ER visits are always short and sweet. On the downside, the haggard medical staff look like the need a good stiff drink after we leave.

After this particular visit, we went to a local pharmacy to have his scripts filled. At 2 A.M., there was not a long wait, and in fifteen minutes, the scripts were done.

"Give the antibiotic to him three times a day," a pharmacy tech said, looking at her watch. "Since he had a pretty high fever, the first dose needs to be given now."

I gulped. "N-Now?"

"Yep." Oh, is she in for a show, I thought, removing a lethargic Robert from the shopping cart. When he saw the medicine, his entire body tensed, and the fight was on. Down to the floor we went, with him seated between my legs. For one I was grateful of my long legs as I wrapped them around him, pulling him in tight to my torso. With one hand I pinned his arms to his chest as I poured the meds into his mouth. I looked up and saw the tech staring at us and smiling.

Why the heck is she so happy?

"I'm glad I'm not the only one who has that kind of problem," she laughed. "My little one acts like that too."

The dentist told me the other day that I grind my teeth. Hmm. I wonder why? (LOL)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Music to my ears

This week has been full of learning experiences. This past Monday night, while at Seth's band concert, a young lady approached me and thanked me for reading a story of mine to her class last year. She told me remembered the story, then told me several key points. I was moved to tears; there are times when my thought processes are running slow, times I haven't heard from editors in months; in the hazy hours of the early morn, it is these occurrences that make me wonder why I write at all. Thanks to the young lady, I remember.

I write for the sheer joy of it. I like the rush of adrenaline as I create a story. If I have a story idea while I'm at the store, I can't wait to get home and start on it. I sometimes find myself so absorbed in the story that everything else is forgotten. Once, I was writing a horror story for a magazine. The deadline loomed and I was coming up empty; finally the day the piece was to ve turned in, inspiration hit me. I worked way into the night and became so engrossed in the story, I didn't hear John come in the room.

His touch on my shoulder sent an icy chill down my spine, and my heart skipped a beat. "Argh! What the hell do you want?" I blurted, spinning around in the office chair. I thought the icy hand of the corpse in my story had come to life and grabbed me. Watching The Ring a few hours earlier for inspiration had taken its toll on my nerves.

"You don't have to scream at me. It's past midnight and I wanted to know when you plan on coming to bed."

"Soon . . . soon. I'll be there as soon as I'm finished." I completed the piece and scampered off to bed a few minutes later. I'll never watch that movie again. It still has me scared silly.

Late yesterday afternoon, I learned that Seth and his 4-H group were to go caroling at the local nursing homes. I resembled a caffeine-crazed "Kramer" as I buzzed around the kitchen, trying to get everything done before caroling.

Time was ticking away, and just as we were getting ready to leave, Robert zipped out the front door and played a merry game of catch-me-if-you can. Isn't funny how a toddler can outrun an adult for a few yards? I had to break the sound barrier as I raced after him on foot. Finally, after my little jackrabbit was caught and strapped into his car seat, we hastily delivered cookies to neighbors before caroling.

All that rushing around was for nothing. We arrived at the nursing home before everyone else. The home was tastefully decorated, but the mood was depressing as we passed several lonely forgotten residents on our way to the nurses station. I was horrified when the head nurse said that they knew nothing of our group caroling there.

"But you're welcome to walk up and down the halls and sing if you wish," the nurse smiled. "The residents would really love it."

That's what you say know. Wait until I start singing, then there will be a steady stream of bedpans thrown at me, I thought. I can play instruments; as I've said many times before, singing is not my greatest skill.
I was thankful when the rest of the group arrived.

I'll never forget the looks on the resident's faces as we walked by; eyes that were filled with misery lit up in delight as the melodic strains of our singing reached their tired old ears. A woman, bent with age, walked up to every one of us and said, "God bless you." That simple phrase almost reduced me into an emotional wreck. We were the ones that were blessed; we were in the presence of ones who had helped to create our great nation.

I left with a feeling of fulfillment. Once again, the Christmas spirit had touched me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I absolutely love this time of the year! Oh sure, I grumble about commercialism at the beginning of the holidays, but it's hard not to get excited as the season progresses. The true meaning of Christmas envelopes me like a shawl and gives me a sense of peace and warmth.

Christmas is a welcome familiar friend to me. With it's arrival on the tails of cooler weather, it brings fond memories of Christmas past, the promise of wonderful times to be spent with family and friends, and family/cultural traditions that are dear to me.

As I look back at events from the passing year, I realize how truly blessed I am. I've made wonderful new friends both online and off, and the bonds of much older friendships have been tested and strengthened.

My extended and immediate family are in relatively good health, and I haven't broken any bones--yet--this year; I did pluck a few plastic Christmas tree needles out of my nose after that fall into the tree though.

I'm still riding on a cloud, because it appears that my writing career is beginning to take off (hopefully). I can't take all the credit. I couldn't have done it without God's help and the support of some wonderful online and offline friends. I'm deeply grateful.

Makes you think

I got this in an email from a friend today. It has a lost of truth to it.

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank
while they carried us.

> They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

>Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based

>We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking

> As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE
actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but
we weren't overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes. As well as jumped elastics for hours!
We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!
Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned
And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!
>You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.
and while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Thanks for the memories

Thanks for the Memories ...

This came from True Blue Semi-Crunchy Mama/Writes for Chocolate .../Perpetualchocoholic

Please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME. It can be anything you want–good or bad–BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you’re finished, post this paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON’T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Friday, December 09, 2005

On another note . . .

I've been in a funk way too long over the Identity theft issue. There are other people out there that have been violated worse then I have, and they re-group and go on with their lives.

I consider myself lucky; the thiefs were not able to access my credit card info, nor my bank account. So, I've decided to be a little more wary, and chalk this whole experience up as a lesson learned. Didn't someone once say "whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger"?

In my opinion, not only do crooks do this greed, they do it for a thrill. I can't help but think that the turd who did this to me sat back and laughed, thinking that he had ruined my holidays. Sorry to disappoint the creep, but that isn't going to happen.

Anyway . . . on to a different topic.

A couple of weekends ago we celebrated an early Christmas with my in-laws and their families at Antonia's, my sister-in-law's, house. Antonia's house looks like a picture out of Martha Stewart Living magazine every day of the year, but this time she really went all out. The entire house smelled of Christmas--yeah I know I write a lot about smells but if you saw my snozola you'd understand--and festive decorations and arrangements were tastefully placed throughout the rooms. The atmosphere was magical; a huge cloak of happiness and love surrounded us all as we sat around the fire recanting memories and enjoyed being together.

My other sister-in-law presented us all with beautiful hand-blown and painted glass vases that she got on her recent trip to Italy. I'll post a picture of it when I get the guts to take it out of the box again; I am soooooo clumsy.

I when it was time to leave. Being with the family was wonderful, and I left at the end of the day with a renewed excitement for the holidays.

My ID was stolen

I never dreamed that it would happen to me. I spoke with my attorney general yesterday, and he said that it happens to thousands of people a day; I'm talking about identity theft.

The other day I received an email from an upset Ebay seller claiming that I owed them money, and they were going to see that my account was suspended. The email LOOKED legit; it had the Ebay logo all over it.

I knew that I didn't owe anybody money, so, like a dummy, I entered my Ebay password and user name and responded. Something didn't feel right, so after I sent the reply, I went back to the message for another look. There in the "To" field was several other email addresses. I had let my emotions get the better of me initially, and had never noticed the flaw.

I contacted EBAY right away. They investigated and said that the email was a hoax, and to run a spyware scan on my computer right away. I felt better when the scan came up clean.

Later that night I opened my email and was horrified to see that several (14) cell phone cameras had been placed on my EBAY account for sale. They ranged from the starting bid of $100 to a whopping $300. The thief had set the auctions up to end within 24 hours; I guess he thought I wouldn't catch it until it was too late.

After being online with EBAY live help for an hour, they confirmed that my ID had been stolen, and they ended the auctions and credited my account for the funds taken from it. I had to change my password on everything.

I feel so violated and enraged. My attorney general advised there's really nothing I can do; most of these scams originate overseas. I'm not going to say what I would like to do if I caught them; my punishment would have made Al Capone beg for mercy. That's not a nice way to think, but I'm still angry. What angers me even more is that I'm not the only victim. If that creep's scam would have gone through and all the phones sold, innocent bidders would have sent their money and gotten nothing in return.

What does put a smile on my face in knowing the turd who did this can't access the account and knows they've been busted.

I changed all my passwords on all my accounts and updated my anti-spyware and virus detecting systems after all this happened.

Moral of the story: Don't click on anything in a suspicious email. I don't want this to happen to all of you.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Excess Baggage

Excess Baggage
By Debbie Roppolo

“I don’t care if it is Friday, I want those reports on my desk first thing Monday morning!” Cheryl McAdams screamed into the phone. She twisted the receiver cord around her finger as she listened to the assistant babble another excuse.

“Oh sure you could have the reports done by Tuesday. Then after you hand them in, you can go home and explain to your pregnant wife why you don’t have a job.” Cheryl smiled as the dejected assistant agreed to have the reports done on time.

“I thought you’d see it my way,” she said before hanging up the phone. She sank into her padded leather chair, twirled it around and stared out the window of her high-rise luxury office. Ah yes, another spirit crushed, she thought gleefully.

Becoming an executive in Greenbrier and Associates had been a hard fought battle for Cheryl. Through the years, she had clawed her way up the rungs of the corporate ladder, “crushing” all that dared to get in her way. A buzz from the intercom interrupted her celebration.

“Uum . . . Mrs. McAdams. Mr. Greenbrier is here to see you,” whined her secretary. “What should I do?”
“Try sending him in.” Cheryl leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes. Idiots, I’m working with idiots.

Before long, a well-dressed older gentleman sauntered into her office. “Kind of hard on the secretary weren’t you?” Mr. Greenbrier asked.

“No harder on her then you were with me.” Cheryl spun the chair around and faced her boss.

He chuckled and sat in a chair near the door. “Always to the point aren’t you? Well, I need you to pack you bags. I have job for you that involves travel.”

Travel? I thought those days were over. “Are you demoting me?”

“Of course not. Sarah Dickerson’s daughter is sick and she can’t make the Templeton meeting in Dallas. I need you to go in her place.”
Cheryl smirked. “Can’t she get a babysitter?”
“No Cheryl, she’s not like you. She adores her children.” Mr. Greenbrier gave her a look of disgust before leaving the office.
“I adore my children too!” Cheryl shouted after Mr. Greenbrier’s retreating form. I can’t believe he implied that I didn’t care about my children.. She punched the intercom button angrily with her finger.

“Amedia, get me the Templeton file,” she barked. A few minutes later, a timid mousy woman entered the office and handed Cheryl the file. I bet she’d jump right out of her skin if I said boo, she thought nastily, brushing past the secretary as she walked out the door.

Cheryl strode across the parking lot to her car, still fuming over Greenbrier’s cutting remark. She unlocked the car door and slid into the driver’s seat, catching a glimpse of herself in the rearview mirror.

Eyes that once sparkled with happiness and mischief stared back at her, dull and lifeless. She automatically raised her hand to her cheek and caressed the heavily lined skin. When did I get so old? She was only thirty-nine, nowhere near middle age. Cheryl shrugged to herself and jammed the car into drive. Oh well, can’t worry about it now.

The commute home was nerve-wracking, and Cheryl had developed a severe headache by the time she pulled in the drive. Good lord but I need an aspirin. I feel like someone is tap-dancing inside my head. Her seven year-old daughter, Hannah, met her in the drive as she was getting out of the car. Dimly, Cheryl was aware that her daughter was wearing a soccer uniform.

“Ready to go Mommy?” Hannah chirped. Oh great! Don’t tell me that her game is tonight, Cheryl thought.
Cheryl dropped to her knees so that she was eye-level with her daughter. “Baby, Mama doesn’t think that . . .” She saw Hannah’s smile fade, and her eyes fill with tears.

“That’s okay Mommy. Daddy will take me. He always takes me!” Hannah burst into tears and raced back into the house. A couple of minutes later she emerged, this time followed by Cheryl’s husband, John. Cheryl hated the accusing glares that she got from her husband and daughter as they stormed past.

“John, I have a trip in the morning and. . .” John held up his hand to interrupt her.

“Cheryl please. Your excuses are getting old. If you didn’t want to go. . .” John let his voice trail off as he helped Hannah into the minivan. Without another look, her husband and daughter roared out of the driveway, leaving Cheryl alone. She felt tears forming in her eyes, and angrily brushed her sleeve across her face.

They have no concept of the sacrifices I make for them. This is the thanks I get! Cheryl rose to her feet, brushed off her pants, stormed into her Victorian style house and up the stairs to her bedroom.

She drug her mammoth suitcase from the closet, threw it on the bed, and began throwing clothes haphazardly into the yawning mouth of the suitcase. As she packed, she caught a glimpse of a framed picture on the nightstand. On trembling legs, she walked across the room and picked it up. It was a photo of Cheryl, her husband and their daughter just after she was born. They were so happy then; it was right before Cheryl was named executive at Greenbrier and Associates. With a strangled sob, Cheryl clutched the picture to her chest and fell across the bed where she cried herself to sleep. As she slept, she had the strangest dream.

She was checking into a hotel, as she had so many times before, but to her amazement, she had no luggage with her. “I guess the airline lost my luggage,” she told the front desk attendant.

“Oh no madam. Here comes the porter with your luggage now.”

Cheryl gasped in horror. There were several large grotesque suitcases on a gilded luggage rack. As if she were being pushed, Cheryl walked over and inspected the luggage more closely. She ran her hands over them; they were rough and had a greasy feel to them.

“Are you sure these are mine?” The attendant smiled broader.

“Yes madam. I understand that you drag these around with you everyday. You must get very tired. Take a closer look.” Cheryl hesitated, then looked closer. Each piece of luggage had a word on it. The largest pieces of baggage had the words GREED; HATEFULNESS; IMPATIENCE; INGRATITUDE. There were three smaller pieces of luggage at the very top. Her hands trembling, Cheryl took down the pieces . They were smaller then a change purse, and on them were written the words LOVE; SELF RESPECT; TIME FOR FAMILY.

Cheryl woke from her troubling dream with a start. Anxiously she looked at the digital clock on the nightstand. I’ve only been asleep for 10 minutes, she rejoiced. I still have time to make Hannah’s game. Cheryl grabbed her cell phone from her purse and dialed her work number. Please, please, let someone still be there.
Seconds later, she heard the high tinny voice of her secretary, Amedia. “Amedia, hi. This is Cheryl. Could you please connect me to Mr. Greenbrier’s office.”

“I’m sorry madam, but Ms. McAdams is gone for the day. Perhaps you could call back one day next week. Thank you for calling Greenbrier and Associates.” Cheryl heard the unmistakable click of the receiver being put back on its base, then the line went dead. She counted to ten before calling back.

“Amedia, this is Cheryl McAdams, your boss. I called a few seconds earlier and asked to be connected to Mr. Greenbrier.”

“M-Ms. McAdams. I had no idea that was you earlier. You never referred to yourself by your first name before. I-I ‘ll put you through immediately
“Amedia, wait.” Cheryl interrupted. “Before you transfer me, I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate everything you do.” There was silence on the other end.

“Amedia? Did you hear what I said?” Cheryl heard the sound of sniffling .

“Thank you. That means a lot. I’ll connect you now.” Cheryl hummed to the muzak playing on the phone. This is most content I’ve felt in a while, she thought. The muzak ended abruptly and was replaced by the deep voice of Mr. Greenbrier.

“Mr. Greenbrier, I’m glad I caught you before you left. You’re going to have to get someone else to make that meeting.” Cheryl glanced at the old suitcase on the bed and smiled ruefully. “I can’t go because . . . you might say I had too much luggage to fit on the plane.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

Golden Girl

I had the crazy idea when I was still a teenager. It was the era of the Black Stallion books, and like so many young girls, I despertly wanted a black horse. My dad couldn't understand it. I lived on a ranch where we had dozens of horses, why a black horse? I wanted a black because they were rare; never mind I was the owner of a palomino, another very rare color.

When my neighbor bought a retired racehorse, a black stallion, I jumped at the chance to breed my mare, Dewdrop, to him. Dewdrop was my beloved palomino, and a registered Quarter Horse. She was definitely a one-person horse, and skillfully dumped all but me on the ground; I was the only one she tolerated on her back. Like me, she had a restless, spirited look in her eyes, and we understood each other. As we raced across the prairie land of my dad's ranch, we ran as one. She was more then a horse, she was my friend.

When the time came, I rode Dewdrop to my neighbor's house. He assured me that the stallion produced only black foals. At last I'll have my black foal, I thought. I left my saddle there, and walked home. I hated to leave Dewdrop, but the images of black horses dancing in my head eased the pain and made the time pass faster.

In a few weeks, I picked up my mare and led her home. Dewdrop was stabled in the barn, given the choicest flakes of hay, and an iron-rich sweet feed. I watched anxiously as her sides swelled with the passing of months. Soon it got to the point where I was searching for a small wet foal every morning. Dewdrop's belly drooped until it looked like it would touch the ground; but still she held out on me.

Then, on one stormy afternoon, I arrived home from school and saw lights on in the barn. Oh my gosh . . . Dewdrop! My legs trembling, I raced across the frozen yard to the barn. The welcome smell of hay, leather, and horses reached my nostrils as I opened the barn door and raced in. Mama met me near the entrance. "Close the door. Where were you born . . . oh, never mind. Dewdrop has a surprise for you."

A surprise? Then . . . she's had it! I bit my lip to keep from screaming in delight. I had to walk to keep from spooking the few other horses in the barn, but my joy knew no bounds. At the sound of my foosteps, Dewdrop stuck her head over the stall door and nickered a greeting. She shoved her head into my chest as I entered the stall, begging to be scratched. "Not now, girl. Let's have a look at your baby. I took her by the halter and moved her away. There, in the stall bedding, lay a small quivering foal. But it's a palomino! I wanted a black!
I was sorely disappointed, and fought back the tears as I gazed at the baby. With a small nicker, the foal tried to stand, but fell in a heap. Dewdrop pushed past me and rumbled encouraging nickers to her baby as she nuzzled and cleaned it. I was disappointed, but I was already in love with the foal.

A few months later, when registering the foal, --I named her Golden Girl--I was in for a very pleasant surprise. I looked at her sire's pedigree, and saw that he was a great- great grandson of the legendary War Admiral . What luck! Sure a filly with this pedigree will leave everyone in the dust! I had visions of a Quarter Horse racing champion as I watched the tiny filly race circles around her dam. It was never to be.

As a yearling, Golden Girl jumped a fence a badly damaged her right foreleg; she would never be ridden, much less raced. The vet saved the leg, and she spent her life as a broodmare. She produced many quality foals. I had a cowboy tell me once that one of her sons was the fastest horse he had ever been on.

Her eyes burned with spirit, like her dam's, but to a lesser degree. Her mother was the "alpha mare," and even though Golden Girl was fully grown and had foals of her own, her mother allowed no other horses to bully her filly. Sadly, a few years ago, my beloved Dewdrop broke her leg and had to be destroyed. Without her mother, Golden Girl was lost. She allowed the other horses to bully her into submission; she was nothing like her mother, but I still adored her.

This weekend I visited my childhood home. As always, the horses greeted my at the fence, all except Golden Girl. When I asked Mom, she tearfully told me that Golden Girl had died several weeks ago. Needless to say, I was crushed. There was no time to say goodbye, only an empty stall that once housed the aging mare. I walked into the stall; everything had been cleaned out. There was no evidence that a horse had once lived there. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something fluttering in the breeze from an open window. Walking closer, I saw that there was several blonde tail hairs caught in the wall slats below the window. It was the only remaining evidence of Golden Girl. I smiled, wrapped the hairs into a neat bundle, and put them in my pocket.

I walked out of the barn and stared at the horses in the pasture. Three young palomino fillies chased each other merrily, while their older brother, a four year-old palomino stallion watched them from his own pasture.

Tears formed in my eyes as I watched the horses twirl about in the pasture with the grace of ballerinas.
Golden Girl may be gone, but she lives on in her foals and in the hearts of those who loved her.