Sunday, July 30, 2006

Seth's intervening

Update: Just got back from the store and hubby has surprised me with a two-day vacation to the coast. See ya'll when I get back.

In my family, even something as ordinary as a trip to the eye doctor can be an adventure. Thursday was Jonanthan and my annual eye exam; needless to say, we needed it. That morning, I watched in disgust as my last contact lens flipped of my finger, fell to the floor, and headed for parts for unknown. More than likely, they're having a rendevous with all the socks that are MIA

Seth appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, holding a mangled ball of metal and plastic in his hand.

"What's that?" I demanded.

"My glasses."

"Uh huh. And why aren't they on your face?'

"They fell off as I was riding my bike and I ran over them." Seth replied, acting as if this was a normal occurance "By the way, why are you on the floor on yout hands and knees?"

Always as irritable as a wet setting hen when I lose a contact, I glared at Seth. "I'm paying homage to the dust bunny king under the counter." I snapped sarcastically. " What do you think? I lost a contact lens."

Seth frowned, and squinting like Mr. Magoo, dropped to his knees and began searching too. "Maybe if you leaned further over the sink--"

I was not in the mood to be lectured in Contact Care 101 by my teenager, and it sometimes irritated me when he "mother-hened" me. "Don't act like my father," I returned coolly, glancing at my watch. Oh great, an hour until the eye appointment, and we're all only half-dressed. With efficiency my ex-military officer father would have been proud of, I made sure everyone was dressed, then herded them off to the truck. .
I hate to be late, and was happy to learn we got to the eye doctor's with thirty minutes to spare.

The wait was painful; Robert zoomed around like the Energizer Bunny, and Seth moaned constantly he was "growing old with boredom." Finlly, before my sanity was totally lost, we were called into the exam room. I gort in the chair first, and the doctor, an older Bon Jovi look-alike, entered the room. He began to put my eyeballs through the paces by reading the charts. Satisfied with the results, he scooted nearer until we were knee to knee a he examined each eye. "Don't look down," he instructed. I was shocked when I felt a hand rubbing my knee.

This guy is coming on to me! I had heard of some incidents on the news in which this occurred, and doubted the validity of the accusations. But this was real, it was happening to me! He's not even shy about it. He's rubbing my knee in front of my boys. Just as I was about to give the doc a blow they would feel in the next country, Seth yelled out, "Robert, stop rubbing Mommie's knee." The baby was rubbing my leg! For once, Seth's intervening paid off.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


This is a revised version of a story I wrote. Please tell me what you think.

Excess Baggage
By Debbie Roppolo

“Look you spineless little worm, I don’t care if it is Friday, I want those reports on my desk first thing Monday morning!” Cheryl McAdams screeched into the phone. Idiot, she thought, twisting the receiver cord around her fingers. She looked at the spirals knotted around her hand like a tangled ball of yarn, and wished with all her heart the cord was knotted around her assistant’s, Dan Pepper’s, meaty neck.

She closed her eyes and indulged herself by imagining the cord digging deeper and deeper into Pepper’s neck as he clawed frantically at the vise-like grip. His breathing becoming labored and raspy before collapsing on the floor like a broken puppet. Oh god I hate him, she thought, listening to Pepper babble another excuse. He was her third assistant in two months; all the others couldn’t withstand Cheryl’s tyranny, and quit. Pepper had been in good standing with Cheryl until a few afternoons ago when she had heard him talking in the break room as she breezed past.

“Oh yeah, McAdams is a witch,” Pepper told a group of men seated at the table with him.

Oh I am, am I, Cheryl thought. She stopped and listened just outside the door.

“But I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a woman run me off!” Pepper laughed. Cheryl had fought to contain the anger bubbling up from the depths of her soul. You haven’t seen anything yet, mister, she fumed.

After the incident, Cheryl doubled Pepper’s workload, and made him run personal errands for her, making completion of assignments almost impossible. It warmed her heart to see Pepper scampering around like a disoriented rat, a “deer in the headlight” look on his face.

Now, as he offered yet another reason for not having the reports on time, Cheryl sensed a weakening in his demeanor, gone was his self-assured tone. I almost have him, she thought gleefully. Now for the “kill”.

“Oh sure you could have the reports done by Tuesday,” she said. “Then after you hand them in, go home and explain to your mousy little pregnant wife why you don’t have a job.” Cheryl smirked at the dispirited tone in Pepper’s voice.

“I thought you’d see it my way,” she said, hanging up the phone. Ah yes, another spirit crushed, she thought gleefully. She sank into her padded leather chair; poured brandy from a crystal decanter into a shot glass, and downed the fiery drink in one gulp. Cheryl picked up a voice-activated recorder from her desk. “Note to self. Fire Pepper on Monday.” She twirled around and stared out the window of her high-rise luxury office.

Becoming an executive in Greenbrier and Associates had been a hard fought battle for her. 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.

A well-dressed older gentleman sauntered into her office. “Kind of hard on the secretary weren’t you?”

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

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

“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? Maybe a relative to look after her rug rats?”

Mr. Greenbrier shook his head disgustedly. “No Cheryl, she’s not like you. She adores her children.” Groaning with the effort, he rose from the chair and left the office.

“I adore my children too!” Cheryl shouted after Mr. Greenbrier’s retreating form. I can’t believe he implied I don’t care about my children. She punched the intercom button angrily with her finger.

“Amedia, get me the Templeton file.” An older woman entered the office and, avoiding eye contact, timidly 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 once sparkling with happiness and mischief stared back at her, as dull and lifeless as a corpse’s. She automatically raised her hand to her cheek and caressed the heavily lined skin. When did I get so old? She was only thirty-three, nowhere near middle age. Cheryl shrugged to herself and jammed the car into drive. Oh well, can’t worry about it now.

The interstate resembled a parking lot as inch by inch, the cars slowly moved along. 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 her game is tonight, Cheryl thought.

Cheryl dropped to her knees so she was eye-level with her daughter. “Baby, Mama doesn’t think that . . .”

Hannah’s smile faded. “That’s okay Mommy. Daddy will take me. He always takes me!” Hannah burst into tears and raced into the house. A couple of minutes later she emerged, this time followed by Cheryl’s husband, John. Cheryl hated the accusing glares 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. Tears coursed down her cheeks, and she angrily brushed them away with her sleeve.

They have no concept of the sacrifices I make for them. I work my fingers to the bone to help pay for our luxurious lifestyle; 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 dragged 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 dresser. On trembling legs, she walked across the room and picked it up. It was a photo of Cheryl and John just after Hannah 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 threw herself across the bed where she cried herself to sleep. As she slept, she dreamed.

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 snapped at the front desk attendant.

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

Cheryl gasped in horror. Several large grotesque suitcases sat on a gilded luggage rack. As if she were being pushed, Cheryl walked over and inspected the luggage closely. She ran her hands over them; luggage was rough to the touch, and had a greasy, slimy feel. T-These can’t possibly be mine!

“Are you sure these are mine?”

The attendant smiled broader. “Yes madam. I heard you drag these around with you everyday. You must get very tired. Yes, they’re definitely yours. 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, HATRED, IMPATIENCE, INGRATITUDE. There were three smaller pieces of luggage at the very top. Her hands trembling, Cheryl took down the two pieces. They were smaller then a change purse, and made of satin. On them were written the words LOVE, SELF RESPECT, TIME FOR FAMILY.

“These large pieces. I-I don’t want them. How do I get rid of them?”

“Only you know the answer to that,” the porter replied politely.

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. First, I need to take care of unfinished business. 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 on the other end.

“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. I wanted to talk to you about giving Pepper a raise; he definitely deserves it. About the meeting, you’re going to have to get someone else to make that meeting. I have prior obligations and I. . .well, I have some large baggage getting in my way I need to get rid of.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Making a choice.

With eyes still droopy from sleep, I squinted near-sightedly at the clock in my bedroom as I sipped my coffee. Eight o'clock. Now is the time to strike, I thought, sitting the still steaming cup on the desk by the computer. Quieter than a ferret, I slunk down the hall and peered cautiously around the corner of the living room.

There, in front of the "boob tube" sat my two unsuspecting victims, Seth and Robert, engrossed in Mr. Rogers. Ah yes. . .Mr. Rogers. . .little do children know he worked for us. With fox-like cunning, he held their attention to the television, while we, the parents, were able to indulge in the forbidden fruits such as an uninterupted bath, or the occasional unshared chocolate bar. Oh whoa is the parent whose child rails against the distraction of PBS or Discovery Kids.

As silent as death, I scurried down the hallway to the bathroom. I put a Kenny G CD in the player, lit the two candles on the rim of the tub, and closed my eyes and breathed in the heavenly scent as it wafted around the bathroom. I prepared a hot steamy bath with apple-scented bath salts, slipped off my PJ's and into the soothing waters. I needed this after the past weekend and the boys antics. The boys. . .I sighed and sank deeper in the water, reflecting on the events that had transpired.

They had both been wound up tighter than tops when we arrived back home from town on Friday. Always the bundle of energy, Robert ran to the small forest-green colored love seat, climbed onto the arm, and before I could blink, swung off the couch like Tarzan, using the miniblind cord. While I reprimanded Robert, Seth, otherwise known as the-walking-stomach-who-looks-and-talks-like-a-boy, sifted through the grocery bags until he found the cereal bars that came free with my coffee purchase.

"Let's go brother," he yelled to Robert. "There's a cereal bar here with your name on it. A whirlwind, in the form of my toddler, zipped past me and joined his brother in their room with the coveted box of bars. A few minutes later, the evidence was left in the trash can, without even the whisper of a crumb for me to nibble on. Grr. (BTW There were only 5 to a box)

After having lulled me into a false sense of security by being good on Saturday, my toddler hit on Sunday with an attack Ceasar would have been envious of. My hubby was going to be away, leaving me alone with the boys. I thought I would have all afternoon to write, was I wrong.

That afternoon, Robert discovered how to get in the pantry. After slaving over a manuscript for an hour, I tottered into the kitchen for a drink, my poison that day: Coke Zero. As I reached for the door of the pantry, I happened to look down and see a trail of white powder-like substance; with tiny footprints in the middle of it. This can't be good.

I followed the trail to the living room; there, in the middle of my Oriental carpet was a mound of flour with hazel eyes. The flour and I stared long and hard at each other until the mound clapped its hands together and cheered, "Yay Robert!"

I had two choices; either I could scold and cry, or I could laugh and treasure the moment forever in my heart. After all, they're only little once, and after these walls cease to ring with childish laughter, I will have the memory of that wonderful moment, and the house won't seem quite as empty.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


I should have known better to plan a trip into town. Every time I venture outside the secure confines of my home, Fate strikes swiftly, squishing me like an ant under its giant thumb. My boys have been victims on more than one occasion, and it's like a scene from Animal Planet as I herd them, unwillingly into the Jimmy. I never realized how serious it was until I once heard my toddler ask my oldest if he had insurance as we left the drive and headed toward town. To date, we've:

1. Had a turkey stolen out of the Dodge Ram we used to have.

2. Broken down in the Ram in the center of a very busy street.

3. Been hit in the store by elderly people on scooters.

4. Had a store display fall on us. (Luckily it was toilet paper)

We reached Target unscathed, and scurried like cockroaches across the parking lot to the safety of the store. For once, nothing traumatic happened, and we merrily walked back to the truck celebrating our inexpensive booty of school supplies.

Yes! One more stop and then we'll be home; finally, a normal trip. I was "counting my chickens before they hatched." I should have known, given our "track record" something was bound to happen, and something did.

I stopped at the local grocery for decongestant. Finding they were out, the boys and I left the store and decided to ckeck at Wal-Mart. I got in the truck, and my door wouldn't close. "That's strange," I told Seth. Bewildered, I got out of the truck and examined the door. What I saw made my blood pressure skyrocket; there, in the middle of the driver's door was a cantaloupe-sized dent. There was no note, no apology, on my windshield. There are few things that make me truly angry: someone intentionally hurting my family and friends, and someone damaging my property and not admitting it. Seething with barely contained rage, I got the boys out of the truck and marched back into the store, where I asked the manager to allow me to see the video of the parking lot.

"We don't have that, madam," he replied cooly. "It's not necessary." I stared at the manager blankly, and gaped at him like a fish out of water.

They have cameras all over the store to catch shoplifters, but let something occur in the parking lot, and they don't care. Lovely, I could have the crap beaten out of me, or raped out there, and they wouldn't see it as their problem, I thought sourly. Walking like I had a corn cob shoved up my hindparts, I stormed over to the customer service desk and used their phone.

Let them try and stop me from using the phone, and I'll give someone such as wedgie, I fumed. I told John what happened, and we agreed to meet in the parking lot in half an hour. The kids were begging for snacks, so I shopped while I waited. As I shopped, I calmed down, and entertained my oldest, whose face was drooping worse than a Bassett Hound's, with sarcastic humor.

I told him I wanted to jump in the cherry bin, and pelt passersby with the luscious fruit while screaming, "Who hit my truck?! Somebody better confess or else everyone will be picking pits out of their hair."

We finally got through with our shopping, and met John in the parking lot. He fixed the door--the lock was off--and we journeyed home without incident. As the days pass, I see the humor in it. Every day is literally an adventure for me. . .wanna come along?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Odds and ends

The weekend is upon me, and I have so much to get done I don't know where to begin. Here's a couple of fun things. I'll try and post more later.

I always thought I was a little "catty."

You Are: 40% Dog, 60% Cat

You and cats have a lot in common.

You're both smart and in charge - with a good amount of attitude.

However, you do have a very playful side that occasionally comes out!

I didn't cheat on this one. I swear!

You Are An ENFP

The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.
You are also unconventional, irreverant, and unimpressed by authority and rules.
Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.
You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're qutie the storyteller!

You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Running off at the mouth

Believe it or not, I'm pretty quiet at social gatherings. I have a good reason to be; I have diarrhea of the mouth. Like many of my afflictions, it started in high school.

My freshman year, I was in the pep squad. I had loads of school spirit, and school games were the one place I could scream my head off and not get in trouble, with the exception of a home basketball game played before Thanksgiving break. Wouldn't you know, that on this particular night, my dad took me to the game and insisted on staying to watch the game.

It was a miserable game; the opposing team worked together like a well-oiled machine, making our players look like "donkey basketball" participants. Frustration running high, we began a cheer:

Stawberry shortcake, banana split

We think your team smells like

to the left, shift to the right. Stand

up, sit down. Fight, fight, fight!

Notice the word was supposed to be shift. You guessed it. . .me, in all the excitement yelled out sh*t. It was horrible, our team called a timeout just as I yelled out. As if it had wings and a mind of its own, the horrid word reached the ears of the referee and my dad. The ref, thinking it was intentional almost penalized our team. Not only was I bawled out by the squad leader, I got an earful from Daddy all the way home.

I still don't know when to keep my mouth shut; irritate me enough, and I'm a little smart mouth. Several months ago, I was at a swanky political dinner with John. A well-dressed woman, who looked like she needed a laxative in the worst way, looked me up and down, then asked,"Tell me, what do YOU do for a living?"

I smiled politely and replied, "I'm a writer."

"Oh," she sneered. "I classify writers and actors in the same catagory, as bums. Tell me dear, are you going to be a bum all your life?"

I counted to ten, and plastering a smile on my face that would make the most hardened criminal cringe, replied, "I might change my profession, you can never yell. But I think you're a witch. Tell me, are you going to be a witch all your life? Judging from your personality, probably so." Yes, it was immature, but it made me feel good , and the woman left me alone the rest of the night. Sometimes being mouthy comes in handy.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Saturday I was buzzing like a bee, and here's the reason why:

If you're a coffee lover, like I am, this a treat. "La Bibita Di Solo Caffe" means that the soda drink contains only straight coffee, and of course sugar and carbonation. My sweet hubby picked this up at the Italian food store in town; after what happened earlier that morning, he knew I needed it.

My poor Husky, Blue, had a heck of a week, and it wasn't getting any better for him. On Monday, I looked out my front door and saw my elderly neighbor running his hands over my dog's muscular body. Like a race horse out of a starting gate, I flung the door open and stepped out on the porch. Startled, my neighbor jerked his head up and glanced briefly at me before turning his attention back to the dog.

"Uh. . .Debbie. . .I hate to tell you this," he said in voice choked with emotion, "but I accidentally ran over Blue with the tractor. I'm sorry."

I staggered backwards and leaned against the house for support. I felt like I'd gone ten rounds with a prizefighter. I'd lost a dog when I was a teen to a similar fate, and since then had never let myself get close to another dog, not until Blue. You idiot! I chastised myself You let yourself get attached to another dog, and look what happened. I took a moment before replying, blinking furiously to keep back the tears that burned like fire behind my eyelids and threatened to fall at any minute.

"It's not your fault," I said shakily. On rubbery legs, I walked over to my dog, my canine "baby", took his large head in my hands and stared deep into the ice-blue eyes. They were clear and unclouded, completely free of pain. A tiny flame of hope ignited in me, and burned stronger when Blue sat and offered to shake hands. Relieved my neighbor left and asked me to keep him posted. That was MONDAY, and the pooch was fine until Thursday.

Late Thursday afternoon, my cowgirl skills payed off when the dog hobbled up on three legs. He had a cactus thorn in his front paw, and it took Seth and myself to take a dog, the size of a miniture horse, off his feet and remove the thorn. Blue sang his misery to the world as Seth held him down and I worked to remove the thorn. After it was removed, our prisoner took off, without so much as a tailwag. Hmph. That's gratitude.

Now. . .finally to Saturday.

I walked out on the porch with my coffee and was greeted by my dog, or who I thought was my dog. Blue's face was twice it's size, his eyes swollen shut. Ever the curious canine, he had stuck his nosy snout into a ground-level wasp's nest and been zapped by an indignant occupant. A quick call to our vet resulted in Blue taking two Benedryl tablets a day for a week.

I guess Murphy's Law applies to dogs too.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Thanks so much for all your questions and comments, you all are wonderful.

GoofyJ asked: " . . .what genre do you like to write in (understanding you probably have a few) and as you state you are published, can I ask what you've published? Or is that classified information?

Since I'm so much of a kid at heart, children's writing is my main genre. I base a lot of my characters on antics I pulled when I was a kid (scary) and my children's. They think they've had some adventures, but have they ever taken a horse in the house? Noooooooo. . .I don't think so.

Anyway. . .back to the topic. I love writing humor. I'm an "eternal optomist" and always try and see the brighter side of things. I view life this way. . .either you can cry over the fact your toddler has just climbed onto the table and bathed himself with the brownie pie you slaved over all morning; or you can laugh over how ridiculous he looks. They're only little once.

I've dabbled some in the horror genre, I love reading it, but writing about vampires are a real "pain in the neck" for me. I also have a few inspirational stories "out there" too.

Here's what I have published so far:

2003-- A Battle of Wills published by Grace Abraham Publishing in the collection of Anthologies entitled Laughing and Learning: Adventures in Parenting
05/2005--"The Hero" published in the newsletter.
07/2005--"The 'To-Do' List" published in the newsletter.
08/2005-- Some Snowballs Dont Melt" to be published in the upcoming Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover s Soul (estimated release 10/ 05).
08/2005--"Cinnamon Rolls!" published by Mommies' Magazine
01/2006--"Things that go Bump in the Night" published by Holiday Crafts 4 Kids
02/2006--"Honey, Where's the Instruction Booklet on this Kid?" accepted for the March 2006 issue of Sasee magazine

I forgot to mention, I also do freelance sports writing. (As you read this, beads of sweat pop out onto your brow, and your blood runs as cold as glacier water through your veins. "Awww!!!!!!!! Noooooo!!!!!!!! Grab the children and lock the doors." you yell, your heart pounding like a base drum, "she's also a reporter." LOL.)

Dave wrote: OK, if this is too personal, I'll understand though. What kind of renumeration did you receive for that story you had published in the chicken soup series? And do you still get payments, or was it a one-time lump sum?

No, it's not too personal at all. Chicken Soup paid me a one-time payment of $250. The rights to the story are still mine, and I can submit it elsewhere as long as I include the Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul publishing credit. I'm also considered a member of the Chicken Soup family, and receive perks. I really encourage you to submit to Chicken Soup. In the reguards to anthologies, the $250 is thought to be high pay; plus the corporation goes above and beyond to help you with whatever you need.

Thanks again!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Getting in Trouble

I love writing, almost as much as my coffee, but it sometimes gets me in trouble. Like every writer, I sometimes experience "mental constipation," otherwise known as "writer's block". No matter how I struggle to get past the mental obstacle, nothing moves for me; then, sometimes it moves at the most inoppertune times.

On one occasion, during the middle of the night, I tossed and turned as my hubby lay beside me, sleeping like a baby. One day, I was so close to the end of a story I could smell it, then fate reared its ugly head and I was slapped with a horrible case of writer's block. To be so close yet so far away to completion was doubly frustrating. Then, in the middle of night, the ending to the story hit me like a ton of bricks.

"That's it!" I screeched, jumping out of the bed and racing down the hall to my office. I swiched the monitor and began typing frantically as if I were possessed.

"Is that what you were screeching about?" I turned and saw a disgruntled John leaning in the doorway, yawning and running his hand through his hair. "I thought the house was on fire. Almost killed myself getting out of the bed. Half-jokingly--as jovial as one can be after being jerked awake--John offered me the option of coming back to bed or I could get the computer out of a tree the next morning; I took the first choice.

Something I sometimes do when I write a fictional story, is "talk out" the conversation between my characters. It sounds strange, but it enables me to hear how it will sound in the text.

First tme I did it, John eyed my warily, and spent the rest of the afternoon asking me how I felt. I have to admit, if I saw him walking around outside talking to himself and gesturing with his hands, I'd think he was nuttier than a fruit cake. I filled him in eventually, after he pampered me most of the day. Wicked, huh?

I've learned not to talk out my conversations around strangers. Again, I was stuck in a story; I thought the conversation was too stilted and had no idea how to fix it.

Then, there in the frozen food aisle in Wal-Mart, I suddenly knew what I wanted the characters to say. I never thought to check to see if anyone was sharing the aisle with me, and happily began spouting off the conversation.. I turned and saw an elderly lady staring at me strangely. Before I got a chance to explain, she gave me a deer-in-the-headlight look, whipped her cart around, and took off faster than a NASCAR driver leaving the pit row.

She must have told management, because a minute later, I heard the announcement over the speaker, "Security, scan aisle 1." It was the same aisle I was on, and I was the only one on it. I guess they though I was going to rip open a bag of Ora Ida french fries, pour them on the floor, roll in them while sing Crazy by Patsy Cline.

Maybe I should keep my conversations to myself.


I'm borrowing this idea from Ms. Vicki. Sometimes you just want to know more about a person; something they have yet to divulge. If there's a questionn you want to ask, go ahead. I'll post the answer in the next entry.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Extremely lucky and other ramblings

I can't believe how lucky I am. I dodged a bullet. . .er. . .appearantly several bullets. Let me begin by saying I do not live in a high crime area, I live in the country.

According to my local news last night, two young men went on a shooting rampage in my town. They shoot at anyone and anything they saw; a sixty-eight year old woman was shot in the head.

Here's what makes my blood run cold. . . The night it happened, around 9 PM, the boys and I were outside. I heard the sound of car tires squealing, people shouting, and what I thought was fireworks popping, coming from the highway. Someone's celebrating the 4th late, I thought. At the time, I had no clue what it really was.

Any other night, I would have walked the entire length of my drive, which runs to the highway; that night, because the boys were outside, I stayed closer to the house. If I had been close to the highway that night. . .well. . .I would have bought the farm. Things definately happen for a reason.

On another note. . .

If you're looking for a great family movie, I strongly suggest Nanny McPhee. A cross between Lemony Snickett and Mary Poppins, the film teaches painless lessons on morality. I truly loved it.

Yet another random thought. . .

I see why snakes rub themselves silly over rough objects when they shed their skin; they're itching.
Like I said on an earlier post, I rarely burn, but since I did, and so badly--eight hours in the sun--I'm peeling and it's driving me bonkers. I'm perfecting my impression of a cow as I rub my back against anything I can find; my hubby too until he complained. Oh well, it prompted him to give me a good scratch. At that moment, if I would have been a dog, my leg would have thumped a hole in the floor.

Have a great one!

Friday, July 07, 2006


As I mentioned yesterday, we just returned from the coast, which is a 2.5 hour trip for us.

We had been planning a trip to the Texas coast for a month, and with the passing of each day, excitement built and overflowed like soda spewing out of a bottle. The night before we left, bags were packed and repacked, and the house was cleaned till it shone like a newly minted penny.

The Dopplar radar website predicted rain on the coast, but we weren't too concerned; as many people know, Texas weather is unpredictable and can change in a few minutes. Just to be safe, we checked Dopplar before heading out, and to our disappointment, the ran chances had increased. John wasn't ready to throw in the towel yet. "I'll call the hotel, maybe the website stats aren't current."

"Oh sure, ya'll come on," the front desk clerk chirped happily. "We're predicted to have rain, but the sun is shining and there's not a cloud in the sky."

I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, grabbing last minute essentials (yep, grabbed the sunscreen)and barking orders to my children like a Whippet on steroids. Finally, we were off, the only thing missing from the overstuffed truck was "Grannie Clampett" perched on the roof, and the twangy sound of banjos resonating in out ears. (In other words we packed everything but the kitchen sink.)

The road to the coast seemed endless, and thankfully the kids slept most of the way. Gentle rolling hills were replaced by marshes and sea grass the closer we got to the beach; however, white clouds and sunshine were also replaced by clouds darker than a rustler's heart. Despite the threatening clouds, I let my giddiness overcome me, rolled down my window, and hung my head out like a dog, sucking in the sweet, salty air. I can't explain it, but the sea and the hills are alluring to me; they offer comfort like an old familiar friend. Anyway, back to what I was saying.. .

As we pulled into the small ocean side town of Rockport--where we were staying--, the heavens let loose their heavy load, and we were hit with blinding rain, and near hurricane force winds. "Ya'll come on, the sun is shining," John sneered, mimicking the desk clerk. "Hmph. Bet it was raining then," he grumbled. Rockport is like a second home to us, so luckily we knew our way around and soon came to our hotel.

Moments later, drenched like rats, we made it into the hotel room. "It could be worse, we could have not made it at all," I said, always the optomist. As the wind howled outside and the rain slammed against the window, the four of us were content to watch old movies and snack on popcorn I had brought along.

Before too long, the rain stopped as abruptly as it started, and the sun peeped from behind the clouds. We took a walk on the Rockport Beach, which has been classified as a Blue Wave Beach by the federal government, which means it's one of the cleanest beachs in the United States.

We had supper at the Big Fisherman. A former airplane hanger, this local eatery is legendary for their scrumptous seafood, friendly service, and VERY reasonable prices. How reasonable? I had the fish special, which consisted of a large cup of chicken noodle soup, SEVEN large fresh fish portions, a half cup of coleslaw, a HUGE baked potato with all the trimmings, and tea; the cost was $5.95, and I couldn't finish what was on my plate.

Our tummies bloated from the wonderful meal, we waddled to the truck and went to the local Starbucks. Of course, in classic Debbie style, something had to happen.

I don't know if it was the mouth-watering fragrance off freshly ground coffee, or he got his second wind, but the minute we walked into Starbucks, Robert went crazy. Like a load from a sawed-off shotgun, Robert raced around the coffee shop, yelling happily. Before I could stop him, he raced behind the counter. I was stopped by an indignant staff member who said, "Madam, you can't simply help yourself to the coffee back her; you have to pay first."

I gave the model-thin counter person a you've-got-to-be-kidding-me look, and counted to ten before replying.
"I have no intentions of stealing coffee, but I do want to grab the child trying to work your drive-thru window." I replied cooly. I grabbed Robert, apologized for the trouble, ordered a banana-coconut frappachino, and joined John and Seth on the balcony to watch the sun set.

Our hotel room faced the water, and the next morning Seth and I walked out on a pier that stretched a half mile into the ocean. As the tangy ocean breeze gently caressed my cheeks, I became immersed in my thoughts as I stared out at the choppy, pea-green ocean. The ocean whispered tales of explorers sailing on her waves hundreds of years ago; the very same waters I was staring out into now. I felt myself getting emotional as I thought of the brave souls, sailing on the ocean for months. Then suddenly, the lookout in the crows' nest spots land, precious land! "Land ho!" he cries, scrambling down from his perch. "Land ho!"

The cry reverberates throughout the ship as the remaining crew members celebrate. At last their journey is over.

My journey ended that day too. Even as I stood on the pier, storm clouds were moving swiftly toward Rockport. We learned the tiny city had received 11 inches of rain in two days, and were going to get more.

We packed and headed back home, along with other vacationers. My heart grew heavy as I turned and watched Rockport grow smaller as we drove further away. I plan to return at the end of the month, and I know the town will still be there, waiting to share more of its secrets.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sometimes you feel like a nut

I hope everyone has had a great week and a wonderful 4th of July.

Well, I did it again. I gritted my teeth, turned off the monitor and took a little more R&R with my family; believe me, I needed it. With trying to meet deadlines, submit manuscripts, and tend to my family, I've jumpier than a maggot on a hot coal.

On Monday, I ventured out of my stale office to go to the pool with John and the boys. I assumed it was safe; I'd gone a whole week without an accident. I'm usually very organized, but when it comes to getting two children dressed, gathering things for a spur-of-the moment picnic, something it bound to get left behind, and it was, my sunscreen.

Finally, our truck was packed fuller than the Beverly Hillbillies, and we were off to the city pool. "Did you get everything?" John asked, his eyes never leaving the road. I checked the mental checklist I had stored in the dark, cobweb infested recesses of my mind.

"Uh. . ." I began, shifting like a scolded child, in my seat. "I forgot the spatula for the meat patties, and my sunscreen; but I did remember the boy's sunscreen," I added quickly.

John glanced at me briefly, rolling his eyes in exasperation before returnng his gaze to the road. Hmph. I don't know why he's so irritated; at least I didn't forget the children, I thought huffily.

"I guess we'd better stop at the store and get what we forgot," John grumbled.

"I didn't mean to--"

"I know you didn't mean to forgot, but it's a stop I didn't plan to make, time wasted, " he explained kindly.

Everything went fine until we arrived at the store. The boys and I, pushing the cart, strolled casually behind John as we walked up and down the endless grocery aisles. Inevitably, John saw someone he knew, and that's when everything fell to pieces. Like a mule stopping in it's tracks, John stopped abruptly causing a chain reaction.

Robert plowed into the back of his daddy, dropping his sippy cup. "My sippy!" he screeched, bending over to get it. His outburst caught John off-guard, and John stepped backward, almost stepping on the delicate toddler hand.

Watching toddler and hubby, and not looking where I was going, I ran over the back of Seth's sandeled heel with the shopping cart. Seth howled like a tortured wolf, and every person in the aisle. With a tense smile plastered on his face, Joh scooped Robert up and deposited him in the cart. "Do you always have this kind of drama at the store?"

"No. Just since you're here." I repled sweetly.

Before we left the store, hubby asked if I needed to buy sunscreen. "No. I never burn, just tan." Yeah right. We stayed out in the sun for eight hours. The next morning I felt like a walking shelled Spanish peanut with eyeballs.

Just got back from the beach, so I'll share that adventure tomorrow.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Selective Listening

My son oldest son has selective listening. It started when he was a toddler, and got progessively worse as he aged.

With selective listening, some words can't be used together. The words "clean" and "room" can be heard, but when used together in a sentence coupled with the word "your," he suddenly has an attack of SLS.

It also gives the "sufferer" almost super human hearing. Seth can hear the soft pft of a soda open or the crinkle of a candy wrapper all the way across the house. The foam on a freshly poured glass of cola has not yet disappeared before Seth is at my elbow wanting to share the sweet velvety goodness of the coveted drink.

Several years ago, John, I, and then four, Seth, were on our way to St. Louis, Missouri, and had a layover in Houston. As we walked casually though the airport, enjoying the mall-like atmosphere, we passed a terminal where a smiling attendant annunced, "Boarding now for Mexico. . ."

The three of us had been to Cancun earlier that summer and loved it; appearantly Seth was ready to go back. Quicker than a bug being chased by a bird, Seth jerked away from me, raced pass the attendant, through the long hall, up the ramp, and into the plane, with me in hot pursuit. I dodged passengers weilding heavy bags over their heads as I cornered my runaway at the rear of the plane. He braced his legs like a stubborn mule mule and yelled, "No! I'm not going with you! I want my Daddy!" I felt a vise-like grip on my arm and turned to face a male flight attendant.

"Is there a problem madam?" he asked, his voice dipping venom.

"I have an explanation--"

"You'd better talk fast before I call security."

Near tears, I told my pathetic story; luckily my son looks like me, and my story was so ridiculous it was totally believable. The not very amused male attendant escorted me and a bawling Seth off the plane. I shudder as I think what would happen to me if that same incident happened now.

The selective listening is contagious; it's passing on to my toddler and driving me nuts. My mother swears it's genetic, I had it too.