My Crazy Life – October 26, 2011 – “Nana May I”

            Today was early dismissal and I picked up the grandchildren. Andrew had a fist full of reward certificates that he has earned for being good. He had several for “Eat with a friend”, “Water Passes”, and even one to “Eat with the teacher”, although he indicated he may let that particular one expire. He chatted non-stop while we waited in the pickup line for Cara.

Cara hopped in the car and took over the air space with her chatter. They were both in a good mood and bantered back and forth all the way back to the house. The dogs greeted them with lots of licks. Calypso hopped up on Cara and was taller than she is. She wanted that lick at all cost.

We eventually wound up on the front porch playing “Nana, May I”, our version of “Mother, May I”. I was evil today and decided to have some fun. I had Andrew duck waddling and Cara hopping. Then, I gave Andrew the instruction to pirouette six steps forward. After informing me that he would probably hate me at some point in the future, he complied (laughing the entire time.) Then, it was Cara’s turn. I instructed Cara to turn around (facing me as she was facing the opposite direction) and take five steps backwards. She had a frown until Andrew caught on and explained it. Then, she was all smiles. I do love this game now that I am an adult!

Hubby’s cousin owns the dry cleaners that we use. For many years, they owned German Shepherds, so as anyone would be apt to think, I thought the wife loved the dogs. That turned out not to be true and I almost gave the woman a heart attack! I stopped off on my way home from obedience class and went in to tell her I had something I wanted to show her. Thank goodness she was in the doorway about 20 feet away because when I opened the back door to the suburban, she let out a blood curdling scream that may have woken the dead in the cemetery down the road. She was freaking out. I was freaking out. Ryka and Calypso were freaking out. I didn’t know what was going on.

Turns out, she is deathly afraid of dogs, especially German Shepherds. I didn’t know. I felt so horrible. She told me that she never touched them and if she had to feed them, she put on gloves. She told me she would drive into the garage and they stayed outside. Hubby told me that they had dogs for twenty years. I just assumed that she liked them. Thank goodness, I did not bring them in with me. I had to calm her down and believe me when I say that she was screaming like a banshee (whatever that is.) Then, I had to calm the dogs down. What a nightmare!

Since today was early dismissal, I cancelled Calypso’s final lesson until Friday. That gives me two more days to work with her. WE WILL GRADUATE! Since I woke her from her nap this morning, she was pretty good on the leash, although her new thing is to hold the leash in her mouth. I am trying to break her of this habit, but at least she heels. I guess I should mention, she has no choice – it’s a two-foot leash! After making several rounds up and down the drive way, I made her sit (she must have been tired because she actually listened) and I took the leash off her. Once I released her, she then followed me for another lap before sitting in the shade.

Then, I decided to try something (I can never leave well enough alone.) I dangled the leash next to me while I was walking rather than tucking it into my pocket. It wasn’t long before Calypso took the bait – or the leash – and was walking along side me. I am concluding that she doesn’t mind listening so long she is in charge – or thinks she is – or maybe she is.

 

Donna

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My Crazy Life – October 25, 2011 – Dogs ARE like children

            I know I probably seem like a broken record these days, as my life seems to revolve around the dogs. Obedience class and practicing the commands we are learning is very time consuming.

Calypso has such a stubborn streak! She actually reminds me of one of my daughters. From the time my daughter was very young – about the time she started to put together sentences – she would answer in a complete sentence to avoid saying, “Yes mam, No sir”, etc. You will get where I am going with this in a moment.

Before allowing Calypso and Ryka to come in, I make them “sit and wait” until I open the door and invite them in – after me, (same goes for going outside.) Ryka wants to come in and does not mind following the command, although she acts as if it is beneath her.

Calypso, on the other hand, has way too much pride and is very stubborn. She will walk up to the door and the minute I tell her to sit, she will look at me (with the look), turn, and walk away. She spent the morning outside by herself today, while Ryka had a nice, long, peaceful nap inside.

I normally let them come in while I fix their dinner bowls, but before they can come in, they have to “sit and wait”. Twice today, Calypso gave me “the look” and walked away. At least with a child, you have a chance – albeit a small one – of them understanding your words when you explain something. I am at a loss with Calypso, so much so that I bought one of Cesar’s (The Dog Whisperer) books! If I weren’t so tired, I’d stay up all night reading about the “miracles” that are going to happen once I apply his techniques! I wonder if he would consider a trip to bayou country.

This has been a very busy week. Saturday, Cara was invited to a classmate’s birthday party at the skating rink – it was roller skating – we live in South Louisiana. Mommy Jessica was trying to get things ready for a party celebrating her birthday and times were overlapping causing some conflict. I volunteered to bring Cara to the party.

Now that Jessica bought a house and has moved a little farther away, the kids have changed schools. This means that I do not pick them up for school anymore. I think Cara misses our drives to school because as soon as we were on our way, she wanted to play the letter game we used to play every morning on the way to school. Then, as we crossed over a big bridge, she was pretending we were on a roller coaster, which was another one of our games.

Once we arrived at the rink, and had her feet snuggled safely in her skates, she tried skating. It was then that I realized she did not know how. With a few little swishing moves, I was able to show her how to glide and off she went with a little more confidence in her abilities.   I loved to roller skate and was wishing I still had my roller skates. I remember taking my daughters skating when they were growing up. We always had lots of fun.

I managed to write three book reviews while watching Cara skate. She was so excited to learn how to skate by the time the party ended and definitely wants to go back skating. I hope that Katie-Beth still has my skates. I think I want to skate again! Cara also realized that Andrew would be too afraid to skate and said that he could just play the games instead. She certainly has her brother all figured out!

Now, to do some more ironing!

Donna

My Crazy Life – October 21, 2011 – Obedience School

            Calypso and I have one more class before the teacher deems us ready to graduate or counsels us on participating in another session. I have learned to sit and stay, heel, go left, go right, and sit and wait. Calypso, on the other hand, is having a little more difficulty accomplishing the commands for more than a few moments. Her attention span rivals my attention span – about 5 seconds.

Calypso is very head strong and independent. She wants to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and how she wants to do it. Does this sound at all familiar? As in – children? I have realized that raising dogs is quite similar to raising children. The same techniques work in both situations.

This week we practiced sit and stay. Calypso and I sat (she sat, I stood – not the other way around) by the front door of Pet Smart. She was not there to greet people, although I am pretty sure that is what she thought. She is learning not to be distracted and to listen to my commands. We still have a lot of work to do. Calypso was clearly under the impression that everyone who walked by was there to visit with her. She did not like having to ignore them.

We also walked up and down the aisles learning left and right. There is one section of the store where Calypso will sit and stay for as long as I will let her – the birdcage. She loves birds. And, with all the activity, she is never bored. Her head swings from side to side as she watches the little colorful birds fly around their cage. She gets a dreamy look on her face – and that is not good. “Me thinks she’s dreamin’ of a snack.”

I have to admit that both dogs are wonderful travelers. Pet Smart is an hour away and they sleep most of the way. I open up the back door of the suburban and they hop in – okay – sometimes they hop into the car. At other times, I have no choice but to haul their lard butts up with a good shove to get them in. Once in, they stay there. They will sit and look out the back window if a car is following us. When they get bored, they lay down until I have to stop. And, right on cue two heads with ears standing on end pop up and look around. It is also funny to look in the mirror and see two dogs looking back at you over the seat. When we enter the city, all of the colors and action fascinate Calypso and she likes to watch the world go by.

It is amazing how they have learned in such a short time, the track from the car to the store’s front doors. They are barely out of the car before they are running (or trying to) pulling me behind them.

I have been practicing walking each dog on the leash separately so I can work on different commands. This means one stays in the outside kennel while the other gets to walk. I began doing this because whichever dog is not on the leash picks at the other dog. This morning, I decided to let them have the distraction so we could work on distractions. That was an adventure.

Calypso was pretty good while I had Ryka on the leash, but when I switched them, Ryka did herself proud in the distraction department. She used to sit in the yard with her bone and just watch, but she has learned that she is free and Calypso is not and she has learned to take advantage of the situation. Ryka was running circles around us and then she would walk right in front of Calypso. Calypso does not not like being second dog so this did not go over to well, but it was a good lesson. As if that wasn’t enough, Ryka left for a second and came back with Calypso’s blue ball. At this point, I was trying not to laugh. Just as you would expect one child to taunt another with their toy, Ryka was taunting Calypso with her ball. Ryka likes her bone; Calypso is possessive of her ball.

Just as Calypso was lunging for the ball, I remembered we had learned a new command – leave it. I used it without thinking and Calypso left the ball alone. I was stunned. She listened! Yeah, Calypso! Obedience class has not been for naught. I consider it a success! (Even if we don’t graduate.)

 

Donna


Dogs at Play. Dogs at Rest.

 

 

My Crazy Life – October 12, 2011 – The Princess gets a Crown

            Yesterday, something happened that I never in a million years – or at least in my lifetime – would happen. I received a crown. No, it was not made of gold and decorated with rhinestones (poor man’s jewels.) It is the same exact color of my teeth and has taken its rightful place in my mouth and not on my head (where, in my opinion, the crown should be.)

Turns out, my sassy mouth needed a little taming. The fact that I had two weeks to anticipate my crowning just about drove me crazy. I thought about what I should wear and what my acceptance speech should sound like. I finally settled on comfortable attire and said to hell with the speech. I decided that I would be humble (okay – I would make an attempt.)

I am deathly afraid of needles and my active imagination had the dental techs pinning me down for shots and then producing a huge drill that they hoped to use in my mouth. My dentist, the kind man that he is, anticipated my first question after he announced the news at my regular check-up, and had the good grace not to just fall on the floor laughing. You see, he knows me well. When I asked if there were shots involved and would it hurt, he offered to give me drugs (with a straight face, but I could tell the smile was there.) I declined and decided I would wear my big girl panties when the day came.

THEN, I scurried out to quiz the tech that would be helping and had her explain the entire procedure – twice. I have never been one for the unknown. Even if it gives me nightmares or scares the begeezes out of me, give it to me straight. Then, I will just close my eyes through the entire ordeal.

It actually wasn’t that bad. The doctor came in and gave me the shots to numb my mouth. He is very good. He massages the gums as he sinks the needle in and it deadens as it goes. I bruise easily, so my mouth is a little sore this morning, but that’s all. Then, I sat for a while and read until they were ready to start work. This is where my imagination went a little wild.

In order to put a crown on a tooth, the tooth is first shaved down – all around the perimeter – get my drift? For all my anxiety, and me this is torture because as he is grinding the tooth down, I am mentally following the instrument around and around the tooth and freaking out. Of course, the tooth is not that big to begin with and your mouth is only so big, but in my vision, there is a huge drimmel tool grinding a huge tooth – I told you my imagination goes wild! Just picture one of those dumb television shows where they depict the patient strapped to the table and the mad doctor holding the drill. There is where my active imagination took hold.

After the grinding process, which, in actuality did not take that long, he sprayed the tooth with a powder film. That felt a little odd – like someone had sprayed baby powder in my mouth. Then, the dentist took pictures with a little camera. The images where then fed into a computer program and I was able to watch as he created the crown. I was fascinated by this amazing technology. Once he was satisfied with the image on screen, the computer was programmed to make the crown.

After the crown was constructed, the technician then fit it onto the tooth and had me bite down on a carbon paper. The carbon spots left on the crown indicated where adjustments needed to be made for my bite. She took the crown off and worked with it until it was perfect. I could feel the difference with each adjustment she made and once it was completed, it felt like my real tooth. I found that part quite tedious, but only because I have problems sitting in one place for so long, and my short attention span was wearing thin. The crown was then polished, baked, and glued in place. The entire process, start to finish, was two hours on the dot.

It was an educational afternoon. The only downside was that the injections were around three in the afternoon and I could finally feel my mouth around nine last night. Hot cocoa this morning soothed the soreness from the shots and now I am fine.

Hubby gets his turn this afternoon. Turns out he has to have the crown on a tooth replaced and just so happens, it is the exact tooth I just had worked on; strange coincidence. I have to give him credit too. He came to check on me during the process to make sure that I was okay. That was very sweet of him. I think he was trying to stay awake too. He said he woke himself up with his snoring (I forgot to warn the receptionist.)

Did I mention that I am such a chicken; I had sealants put on all my teeth as an adult so I wouldn’t have cavities? Oh, yes! I did! I always say, “An ounce of prevention”. (I do know that someone else said it first!) Does anyone out there have a dental story? Let’s share!

 

My Crazy Life – October 12, 2011 – Superstitions

Superstition: an irrational, but usually deep-seated belief in the magical effects of a specific action or ritual, especially in the likelihood that good or bad luck will result from performing it.

One of my most favorite bloggers in the world is Totsymae. If her stories don’t make you laugh, well, then you just don’t laugh – at all – at anything. Her blog link is http://totsymae.com  She posted a story on superstitions the other day that I thought was quite amusing. We all have them whether we want to admit or not. Take a look at hers and then add your own. I cannot wait to hear what others are superstitious about.

 “Now, my mother, bless her heart, was raised on a good number of them. Born and raised in the south, what other choice did she have? She told my sister and me, years back, that she’d not instill those kinda thoughts by raising us on them. Yet, she ran down a list of them and I can’t get them out of my head. Naturally, I want to believe the good ones. Like, if your hand itches, you’ve got some money coming. Who wouldn’t want their hand to itch in that case?

 My great-grandmother said if you walked with one shoe on and the other off, it was a sign of bad luck. So you know I fear walking with one shoe on to this day? I tell you folks, I’m all discombobulated with these superstitions rattling in my head sometimes. Here are just a few of them:

·        A man needs to be the first one to come to your home on New Year’s Day to bring good luck. Let me tell you, folks. The then husband would get up on said day, do a little something out the doors and then come back. Now, I’d never heard tale of that ’til I married Then Husband. I never quite got that if he’s already in the house, why he had to walk out and come back? Wasn’t it enough that he lived there already? I’m not sold on this one. Shit, sometimes it’s good luck if a man leaves the house and never comes back.

·        On New Year’s Day, a meal of collard greens and black-eyed peas would bring good luck. See, the collards were for money and the peas were so you could have a discerning eye for the future. I think that’s how it went. Folks, I ain’t seen no more than I’ve always seen really. Only time and experience has helped me to know what’s good and ain’t good for me. I ain’t picked up no extraordinary psychic powers to this day. And money? I work, therefore, I get paid. Did I necessarily have to eat greens to know the paycheck was coming? Plus, I’ve never heard no lottery winner claiming to have eaten them some collards to win the jackpot. Shit, they just played the hell out of them numbers is what happened. This one I picked up from the then in-laws when I lived in Texas. It didn’t quite stick but I may have such a meal for good measure.

·        If your nose itches, somebody’s coming to your house. If you don’t feel like being bothered, you’d hate to have a nose itch but I’m telling you folks, every time that’s ever happened, somebody always ended up coming to my house.

·        If your ear itches, somebody’s talking about you. Then, I’d go to wondering who the hell could have me on their minds to be talking about me.

·        Laying a hat on the bed brings bad luck. That’s another one I learned through Then Husband. I don’t particularly have a thing for hats but with this in my head, I’m careful that a head scarf ain’t laying around on my bed, folks. I’m telling you, this shit’s got me all messed up.

·        Breaking a mirror will bring seven years of bad luck. I may or may not have done it but maybe one could curtail bad fate by eating some collards and black-eyed peas?

·        Dropping a dish rag on the floor will bring death to a family member. Folks, you should see me trying to catch a damn dish rag falling to the floor. A baseball player sliding to home plate ain’t got shit on me.

·        If you walk between two poles, your mama’s gonna have a big tit and a little one. This one I got from my cousins growing up. Now, you could correct the fate of your mama’s tits by walking back in reverse order. I was in elementary school when I was enlightened to this one and making sure I didn’t cut the poles. I think I used to check my mama’s tits from time to time too. Making sure I hadn’t screwed up her tatas and all.

 I’m sure I could call off a few more but will end it here. Maybe I should see what my co-pay is for therapy and get myself some help. So, any of you out there stuck with a few superstitions in your head? Show and tell, folks.”

 One of my superstitions is the one about not walking under an open ladder because it is supposed to bring you bad luck. My view on that is bring an open ladder. All my life I have been one to attempt to defy all odds. Under the ladder is normally where I can be found. Had I been under the ladder when Hubby and I were painting the house, I might not have ended up with a head full of yellow hair. I rest my case of this one.

I’ve broken so many mirrors that I’ve lost count. Maybe the superstition should be that if it breaks when you look into it, then some bad is definitely gonna be heading your way.

As for all of those people throwing salt over their shoulder, don’t let me passing when you do it. I just do not take kindly to having salt thrown at me, or on my shoes, or my clothes, or in my hair. Just sayin’.

In all honesty, I don’t know if I believe in superstitions. There have so many bad things that have come my way, I think they just come. I guess I never had time to give superstitions a great deal of thought.

 

My Crazy Life – October 8, 2011 – My Birthday

The grossest thing happened yesterday. Well, maybe not the grossest, but right now I am having trouble thinking of a grosser incident (give me time though.) I walked into my closet and saw what I thought to be a feather blow across the floor. Then, the feather moved and I realized something was crawling and of course, I stomped the daylights out of it. It was no longer recognizable, but I think it was a baby roach.

I say this because when I straightened a stack of shirts (you’ve seen my closet – this is NO surprise. If not, see here My Life. One Story at a Time.: From Fashionista to Raganista) I noticed that there was a substance that resembled dried dirt going down the stack. It was at that point I observed a trail of black specks – oh yes – roach poop. Me, being me, freaked out immediately and then I froze in my spot. Bugs freak me out, especially roaches and spiders. Since I was home alone, I garnered my courage and began taking the shirts off the stack one by one desperately hoping that a roach would not come flying out at me. By this time, my heart was pounding.

One by one, I lifted the shirts and about half way down the stack, I found a little dead roach. I was ready to get down on my knees to say a word of thanks at this point. That little sucker must have done a Fred Sanford death march by the mess it made. I’m sure you’ve seen Sanford and Son. Old Fred grabs his heart and makes his way around the room several times before collapsing upon the sofa with a heart attack. This roach must have digested one of the thousands of roach pills I had scattered about the floor of my closet and then performed a death march up the stack of shirts I had nicely folded. I was none too pleased, but at least he was dead.

So, yesterday was spent washing that stack of shirts (short-sleeve), the long sleeve shirts, and about half of my sleeveless shirts on the same shelf. You just can’t be too careful. I was moving and scouring everything in my quest to clean. I am not embarrassed to write this story only because I know how clean my house is. I can honestly say that there hasn’t been a roach of any size in my house in ten years. I am that careful. Any item brought in from the market in a box is emptied into a container and the boxes are disposed of. The outside of the house is sprayed on a regular basis, the yard is treated, and ant and roach pills abound everywhere they can safely be placed. I am a fanatic. I do NOT like bugs.

Well, today is my birthday. It always begins a little melancholy because October 7th is my sister’s birthday. She’s been gone a very long time, but I still miss my big sister, a lot. She is two years and a day older than I am.

I am 54 years old today and not at all one of those women who can’t spit out the number. It is what it is and as long as there are people out there who think I’m younger than I am, I’m perfectly happy to shock them with the number. I am fairly certain that will end one day and reality will set in. Besides, I know a lot of people older than I am.

The day has turned out pretty quiet. I guess that will happen when you live in the country and your kids live far away.

Today was one of those days I was happy for technology and what it affords us. We have email and Face book and through those entities, I did not lack for birthday wishes and that made my day. Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes!

Donna “Lucy”

My Crazy Life – October 6, 2011 – Dog Obedience Class

            Calypso and I had our first private obedience class on Tuesday this week. Ryka got to come as well. She is after all, Calypso’s biggest distraction. I had been working on the ‘sit’ command for a while and both dogs are good about sitting, so we moved on to ‘sit and wait’. This command sounds a lot easier in theory than in reality. The idea is to get Calypso and Ryka to sit and wait until I open the door or fix their food (you get the picture) and I give them the command to come.

Ryka (front) and Calypso

Calypso was doing really well until we added the door opening. She thought we were leaving the Pet Smart classroom and going home. It took ten minutes to get her to settle down and refocus, which allowed me a little time to work with Ryka. Have I mentioned how bored Ryka seems to be with the whole ‘listen’ concept? She listens, follows the command, takes her treat, looks at me, and turns around to find a corner or spot to lie down and watch. She seems to be telling me, “Been there, and got the t-shirt Mom. It’s Calypso’s turn to listen.”

Well, Calypso is nowhere near getting the proverbial t-shirt yet. As soon as I was able to gain her attention once again, I made her sit and just rattled the door. At least she didn’t jump and bolt for the door this time. I tried the door rattle a few more times and she waited so I opened the door just a tad a few times. Calypso was very good about waiting. Finally, I gave her the command to sit and wait and I opened the door wide. I have to give her credit. She sat and waited. She did not try to get up and leave. I still haven’t figured out if I am more proud or her or me. At this point, the instructor (Dory) explained to me the difference between ‘sit and wait’ and ‘sit and stay’. She also told me that the dogs would find them a little confusing in the beginning but eventually they would catch on.

It’s Friday and Calypso has already distinguished between the two – as long as Ryka is not around. She likes to run Ryka off and then come back for individual attention. She is what I call a rat of the worse kind.

With those two commands under our belt, we advanced to the ‘come’ command. You can start laughing now because it was that funny. Calypso likes to pretend she ‘doesn’t get it’. I am still hoping that no one I knew was in Pet Smart on Tuesday. There’s a good chance since we live 45 minutes away. Ryka had taken up residence in the kennel for a nap (on her own.) I guess she thought that if she pretended to be invisible, she would not have to participate.

We put Calypso on a thirty-foot leash and headed out into the store. Once Calypso got about ten feet in front of me, I practiced calling her and getting her to come back. Then, we let her advance to twenty and then thirty. Would you like to take a guess at what happened at thirty feet? If you guessed that she went exploring, you would be right.

Pet Smart is set up for animals like Wal-Mart is set up for kids. There are bins and shelves, all at eye level, to catch their attention and draw them in. This is where the ‘puppy dog face’ act came from. Calypso doesn’t particularly care for bones but she knows that her sister, Ryka, does so she decided to pick one out for her. Then, she found the balls, which is her favorite toy. After Calypso had completed her shopping, we went back to the task at hand. Turns out I was using the wrong tone of voice to call her. So, armed with my ‘new’ voice (wish I had a tape of it) I began to work on the ‘come’ command. Since Calypso insisted on exploring the store, I was trailing behind her calling, “Calypso, come. Come Calypso.” I am still feeling mortified! The new tone does work wonders but I feel like an idiot (of the worse kind.)

We also played hide and seek. I would go down the different isles and then call her. The instructor said that she put her ears and head down and when she saw me, she perked up. I think it’s a good sign that she was at least glad to see me.

Then, Ryka came to join us. There were many people in the store that became absolute statues, as two huge German Shepherds walked up to them and began sniffing them. I guess if they were not my dogs, I would be a little intimidated by them as well. I have grabbed them by the tail and pulled them to me when that was all I could reach (although I would NOT recommend this tactic to anyone else.)

I think our lessons went really well for the first day. They were more than eager to leave the store when it was time to go. However, our adventures were not over for the day. It was finally the day when I could get a new phone so we headed over to the AT&T store.

I am giving a shout out to the great salesperson that helped me in case she is reading this. Thanks Brandy!! She was fantastic and so patient. Jessica had to get a new phone too so we met up at the store to do our shopping together. We had so many questions and Brandy was an absolute doll. She also has a dog so she was very patient when I had to make several trips out to the car to let Calypso and Ryka walk around. Especially since Ryka insisted on crossing over the seats to sit next to a window. She is fine in the back of the suburban as long as we are traveling, but left to her own devices, she would rather be in a seat.

Calypso had no choice but to stay put as she was in her kennel. Had they been welcome in the store, they would have sat at my feet, but, alas, that was not an option. They were really quite patient and soon we were on our way home.

Tune in next week for more on our adventures at doggie obedience class. We will be learning how to walk on a leash (as oppose to pulling our master with the leash.)

My Crazy Life – September 21, 2011 – The Pecan Tree

            As promised, here is the story about the pecan tree. It’s not a big one, just a typical story about me and my bright ideas. We have 12.5 acres of yard – the majority is behind our house, one LONG strip of land (customary of what you find when you front water.)

There is the “bayouside” that I have written about. I found out that we actually own the land under the highway and the state only has the right of way. Ummmm. That got me to thinking – thinking can lead to trouble with me. If I own the land, then maybe I should put a stop sign at either end of my property. Being a major highway (one of two going up and down the bayou to Port Fouchon) there is a lot of traffic, a lot of fast traffic. If the traffic had to stop first, and then travel “through” my property, then it would be a much safer environment for my dogs (and me, because I cross the highway to go to the boathouse.) I think it sounds like an awesome idea. I am not sure the state would think so.

Barring the stop signs, I could just change the speed limit for those ninety-five feet. I’m sure the bus drivers would like it. They would finally be able to make stops and not have the trucks blowing horns at them. I would poll the neighbors, but they are still at war and not talking to us. It was fun thinking about it.

Then, we have the “first” yard. This is where our house is located and we have a “front” yard and a “back” yard. We refer to the back yard as the orchard (take notes if you can’t keep up) as we have pecan trees, orange tree, grapefruit trees, lemon trees, fig trees, more fig trees, a bay leaf tree (great tea) and some dead trees.

And, that folks, brings me to the pecan tree I mowed over. It used to be a fig tree and then it died but the stalk was still there. I was tired of mowing around that silly stalk and mowed right over it last week. Well, this week Hubby went to check on his fig tree that he has been nursing back to health. Needless to say, it ain’t as healthy as it used to be. He was beyond upset. Obviously, he has been nursing it for a while now and I didn’t have a clue. I thought I was mowing over a dead twig. It wasn’t pretty folks. He was not that understanding, especially when I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. I laugh at the most inappropriate times. I laughed when my father fussed me as I was growing up and it hasn’t changed. I really and truly mean no disrespect. I have now been instructed – in no uncertain terms – NOT to mow over anything EVER! Even if it looks dead – cuz ya just never know. Apparently, one man’s dead tree is another man’s live tree.

I was back to mowing the yard this week and as I drove by the “not-a-tree-anymore” tree, my heart kind of skipped a beat because it is now only a minute twig in the ground. I started thinking that it was probably a very good idea for me to insert that “for better or for worse” clause into the wedding vows. It has certainly come in handy. As my blog description says, “Deep in my heart, I know there’s no promise I’ll be free from trouble in this life. In fact, I’m usually either getting out of trouble, currently in trouble, or about to meet trouble around the next corner.”

Then, there is what I refer to as the “north forty” which is located beyond the first fence. It is where Hubby has his garden, shooting range, and general wilderness for hunting. You can see some of the land in this post: My Life. One Story at a Time.: My Crazy Life – September 19, 2011 – So, I ran over a pecan tree… And, so goes the tour of the land.

Off on another subject, Hubby likes me to follow him around everywhere he goes. This man can ro-day like nobody’s mother. And, talk, don’t get me started. Through 13.5 years of marriage I have come to the realization that if I dare to get in the car with him, I had better be prepared for the long haul. Yesterday was no exception. He needed to mow grass at his father’s house and at our rental houses. I packed two magazines, one Kindle, a Planter’s peanut bar and a thermos of ice water. I figured that would get me through the ensuing hours.

Left alone, my mind begins to wander. We have been discussing purchasing property for a weekend getaway. We haven’t gotten past the talking, but there’s been plenty of planning for the house on the non-existent piece of getaway property. I found a picture and story about a “dog-trot” style house. By the time Hubby was finished with the mowing and climbing in the truck for the ride home, I had completely modified the house plan and had it decorated. I made the mistake of sharing my excitement. The look on his face was priceless.

He was thinking cabin in the woods, I was thinking – well, you know what I was thinking – pretty little cozy cottage in the woods with lots of screened-in porches for the dogs and catching those breezes, sheers blowing in the wind at the windows, fireplace. What was I thinking!?

That’s what happens when I am left to my own devices for too long a time, especially with all that grass and pollen blowing in through the open truck windows because Hubby couldn’t hear the horn blowing or see me frantically waving at him. He had the truck key in his pocket and I had no way to close the windows!

Saturday night, we attended a murder mystery dinner play with friends. The name of the play was Gone with the Hurricane. First off, my friend and I decided not to use our husbands as go betweens to plan an outing anymore. Do you remember the game that we all played as children when the teacher wanted us to behave in lines? I think it was called Post Office or some other ridiculous name. The teacher would whisper a sentence in the first child’s ear and that child would pass the message by whispering in the next child’s ear and so on down the line. By the time the message made its way to the last child, it was a jumbled mess. That was okay since the message traveled through at least twenty kids. This message traveled through two husbands.

Hubby phoned me to tell me about the dinner play and to find out if we had plans that night. He was so excited. Husband No. 1 had told him that the play was about a hurricane so Hubby picked right up on it and exclaimed that it must be about the hurricane of 1930 (or around that) that hit South Louisiana and it would probably be very interesting. Keep this scenario in mind folks because that was NOT what the play was about.

I love history so I gave my friend a call (after the husbands said it might be better if we talked) to find out more information. This is what she told me. The name of the play was Gone with the Hurricane and it was a murder mystery and spoof off Gone with the Wind and we, as the audience, would get to guess who the murderer was. Now, how did this story get so turned around?

The play actually began in a different room than which we were seated.The actors began the starting argument and then walked into the dining room arguing. We had to pay attention from the very beginning. One of the characters, Nellie (spoof of Melanie) stopped by our table and was holding a conversation with one of my friends. My friend got so into her character that her husband and I were looking at each other and back at her with bewildered looks. As soon as she completed her long drawn out conversation and turned back to the table, we both asked her how if she knew the actor. Don’t laugh – she didn’t. And, this is how the night began and continued. Friend and Hubby were participating in the play (did I mention that it was interactive?) and her husband and I spent the night asking each other – Was that real or pretend? It was an interesting evening and we laughed until our faces hurt. The characters in the play were Harlot O’Mara Cutler, Brett Cutler, Dashley Wilkes, Nellie Wilkes, Charmin Caliente, Bruce Cummin, and the Detective.

I’ll be blogging soon on obedience classes, so stay tuned. I’m sure it will be an adventure!

 

Chasing Amanda by Melissa Foster

About the Book:

Nine years ago, Molly Tanner witnessed a young girl’s abduction in the busy city of Philadelphia, shifting her occasional clairvoyance into overdrive. Two days later, the girl’s body was found, and Molly’s life fell apart. Consumed by guilt for not acting upon her visions, and on the brink of losing her family, Molly escaped the torturous reminders in the city, fleeing to the safety of the close-knit rural community of Boyds, Maryland.

Molly’s life is back on track, her son has begun college, and she and her husband have finally rekindled their relationship. Their fresh start is shattered when a seven-year-old girl disappears from a local park near Molly’s home. Unable to turn her back on another child and troubled by memories of the past, Molly sets out to find her, jeopardizing the marriage she’d fought so hard to hold together. While unearthing clues and struggling to decipher her visions, Molly discovers another side of Boyds, where the residents–and the land itself–hold potentially lethal secrets, and exposes another side of her husband, one that threatens to tear them apart.

About the Author:

 “Melissa Foster is a wonderful connector of readers and books, a friend of authors, and a tireless advocate for women. She is the real deal”–Author Jennie Shortridge

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of two novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way. Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she’s written a column featured in Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa is currently working on her next novel, and lives in Maryland with her family. Melissa’s interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

www.MelissaFoster.com

www.TheWomensNest.com

Guest Post by Melissa Foster

The Genre Dilemma, by Melissa Foster

I’m what you might call a “genre hopper”. I’m lead by my stories and characters rather than being led by a specific genre. My debut novel, Megan’s Way, was a work of literary fiction, while Chasing Amanda was suspense. My next book, Come Back to Me (working title) is general fiction and my work-in-progress, Shades of Gray, is a women’s fiction/YA crossover. There’s no rhyme or reason for the genres I write other than what I’m feeling at the start of the project.

There are many authors, most, I believe, that write in one specific genre. They build a following in that genre, and their readers know what to expect with each book, while my readers are taken down completely different paths with each book.

Settling into a genre can be a very valuable avenue for writers. I’ve been told that it’s easier to build a loyal following by doing so. And, let’s face it; it’s an easier process to follow a genre formula than to recreate the wheel each time you write a book.  So why, you may ask, do I take the tougher road?

Nothing I do in my life is for the outcome that is typically expected. I don’t write to sell the most books or gain the loudest kudos. I write because it fills me with happiness. I write to share my stories with others, and I write because it allows me to continuously learn while doing something that I love. I follow my heart when I write, and I think my readers appreciate the diversity and raw emotions that I bring to them.

Is genre hopping okay? That depends on how you look at it. I don’t think that traditional publishers necessarily think it’s a wise or representable avenue, but then again, no one could have predicted the industry being overtaken by eBooks either. Who knows, maybe I’ll start a revolution (I doubt it, and I’m not looking to spearhead the notion, either). Good writing comes from the heart. Whether you’re a genre hopper or a tried and true monogamous genre writer, write what you love and your readers will follow.

Book Quotes:

It had been a cool October evening. Molly had left Walmart with an armful of groceries. She popped open the trunk and threw the bags in, trying to ignore the little girl’s screams coming from the black minivan two cars over. She settled herself into the driver’s seat, and rolled down the window. The deafening screams continued. Molly backed out of her parking space and inched slowly past the van’s rear bumper. The child’s father frantically tried to settle the little girl into the van, the little girl’s arms and legs thrashed wildly. The frustrated father’s eyes shot in Molly’s direction.

“She didn’t get the dolly she wanted,” the man had said through gritted teeth.

….It was three days later, when Molly had seen Amanda’s face on the front page of the newspaper, that Molly put her nightmares and the image of the man together, and realized that it had not been the little girl’s father she’d seen, but Amanda’s abductor, her murderer.

“Are you going back already?” Molly asked Hannah.

“Some things are better left untouched,” Hannah said.

 My Review:

            It has been a long time since I have read a book that truly held me captive. Chasing Amanda is a very well written book. The story line continuously delves deeper and deeper into a community of people and takes one surprising turn after another. Just when you think you have it figured out, wham! Another twist is revealed. It is not until the end of the book that the entire plot and cast of characters and their hidden secrets are exposed.

The book begins with child abduction, one that Molly has had visions of happening. Unable to hone in on the specifics of her vision, she is unable to help the child. Years later, the past seems to be unfolding before her eyes when another child disappears. Even with the risk of destroying her marriage, she is drawn into her visions and her quest to help find the missing child.

I began reading the book anticipating a simple storyline – child abducted, woman finds child through visions – but was pleasantly surprised as the story unfolded. The only analogy I can think of to describe Chasing Amanda is to picture the story line as a maze of intertwining vines leading downward to one stalk. There were a lot of surprises and twists and turns and entanglements with one discovery leading to another, each one more surprising than the last.

Being quiet in tuned with my own sixth sense (in my own life) I have always been intrigued with books involving the sixth sense. Molly and her son, Eric, share this trait. While sometimes tugging at them, it proves to be a bond between them in the end. It is Eric, who finally convinces Cole, Molly’s husband and Eric’s father, that the visions are real and that Molly was in need of help.

The use of Molly’s visions does not consume the book. The book also depicts the difficulties of having special abilities on a family, especially when family members do not want to believe or acknowledge the gift. Molly’s marriage is repeatedly pushed to the brink of collapse because of her gift.

The loyalty displayed between some of the characters was impressive. It is very hard to find such loyalty and as a person who values loyalty, I appreciated this part of the story line. Chasing Amanda was also a story of understanding our human traits and idiosyncrasies, and learning to respect our differences.

I could tell you a lot more about the actual story – but that would spoil the reading of the book. The book blurb tells you enough about the story, I hope my review seals the deal and makes you want to read the book.

 

Giveaway!

Melissa is a very generous author and she is providing 3 e-books for an

International giveaway. The only requirement to enter is to follow this blog via

GFC or NetworkBlogs and sign up for Melissa’s newsletter here:  www.MelissaFoster.com

 

Please leave an email where you can be reached. The giveaway will run from September 30th

Through October 8th (my birthday!) I will post and email the winners on October 9th.

Any tweeting about the giveaway is greatly appreciated! (but not required)

 


Disclaimer/Disclosure:

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.

 

Megan’s Way by Melissa Foster

About the Book:

What would you give up for the people you love?

When Megan Taylor, a single mother and artist, receives the shocking news that her cancer has returned, she’ll be faced with the most difficult decision she’s ever had to make. She’ll endure an emotional journey, questioning her own moral and ethical values, and the decisions she’d made long ago. The love she has for her daughter, Olivia, and her closest friends, will be stretched and frayed.

Meanwhile, fourteen-year-old Olivia’s world is falling apart right before her eyes, and there’s nothing she can do about it. She finds herself acting in ways she cannot even begin to understand. When her internal struggles turn to dangerous behavior, her life will hang in the balance.

Megan’s closest friends are caught in a tangled web of deceit. Each must figure out how, and if, they can expose their secrets, or forever be haunted by their pasts.

About the Author:

“Melissa Foster is a wonderful connector of readers and books, a friend of authors, and a tireless advocate for women. She is the real deal”–Author Jennie Shortridge

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of two novels, Megan’s Way and Chasing Amanda. She is the founder of the Women’s Nest, a social and support community for women, and is currently collaborating in the film production of Megan’s Way. Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she’s written a column featured in Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa is currently working on her next novel, and lives in Maryland with her family. Melissa’s interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping women see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa enjoys discussing her books with book clubs and reader groups, and welcomes an invitation to your event.

Book Quotes:

“Though Megan’s heart ached for the pain her death would cause her daughter and most treasured friends, and she longed to have been the one to tell Jack that Olivia was his daughter, she felt horribly conflicted because she was also strangely enveloped by a sense of peace and wellness. She had passed through her life with gracious friends and an amazing daughter, taking with her a small part of each of their beings, and stashing it away in her very own soul. She wept, not for her own death, but for the life she had shared with each of them and for the cumbersome job they would now have of putting her body to rest. Megan passed through on May 1st, the same day she had come into the world. She hoped that her friends would continue to celebrate that day for themselves in years to come, as they had for her.”

“She sat up abruptly. Okay. That’s it. I can’t tell anyone. What’s done is done. I can’t tell Olivia, and Jack and Peter don’t need to know. It would only hurt them. And what would they think of me? of my deceiving them? It’s better left unsaid.”

“His voice was just above a whisper, deep and solemn. ‘There are some friends who are always there for you, even when they are not present. There are others that are always present, and yet, somehow never there.’”

“One will be released, and returned after death.”

My Review:

            Megan’s Way is about four life-long friends whose lives are so intertwined it is hard to see where one ends and the next begins. Yet, they end up harboring the deepest, darkest, secrets from each other.

It is a game for me to figure out where the title of a book comes from. Sometimes I am consciously looking for it, and other times it sneaks up on me and all of a sudden, there it is – the reason for the title. That is what happened with Megan’s Way. I was so caught up in the story line that it snuck up on me. Megan is a free spirit that her friends would always describe as “what you see is what you get.” She didn’t hide or pretend. She lived her life as herself and to its fullest; something I think we all would like to do.

When she became pregnant, the only change Megan made in her life was to change the focus from herself to her daughter, Olivia. Even when she was diagnosed with cancer, her focus remained on what was best for her daughter. Megan had a sixth sense when it came to her daughter, Olivia. She knew and felt when she was in trouble or in need of her. I understand that sense and I really enjoyed experiencing it in the book. Not to give the story line away, when you read about their connection and learn about the secrets, it will leave you pondering.

I admired Megan’s decision not to continue treatment. I have often wondered about what my decisions would be and I always come back to the same decision. I lean in the direction of not taking treatments. The book gave me some insight into how it might affect those around me.

I will tell you that I spent a lot of time crying. This book is a must read, but first, buy yourself a box of really soft Kleenex!

A conversation with the author – taken from the book:

What was your inspiration for Megan’s Way?

Many years ago, my mother went in for surgery that I was told was for several benign cysts on her ovaries. It wasn’t until a year later that she told me that there had been an oncologist in the operating room because they had thought she may have cancer, and that she had already determined that had they found cancer, she was not going to undergo treatment. This was over ten years ago, when treatments were not as advanced as they are now. My heart sank when she told me, and I hung on to that feeling and mulled over what it would have been like for both of us – I could not let it go. That’s how Megan’s Way was born.

What was the underlying theme you sought to impart to your readers?

There are so many. I think it is important that we do something in life that we enjoy, and that we make decisions based on what we feel is best in our own individual circumstances, rather than what others think is best. In this case, Megan thought that prolonging her death would, in the end, be more treacherous to Olivia than her passing on sooner and more quickly, and her decision was made. Forgiveness, belief in one’s self, the depths of friendship, and cherishing each moment as we live it – that’s what I was going for.

Did your own lifestyle influence the book in any way?

In some ways, yes. I paint, and therefore wanted Megan to live a very artful lifestyle, hence the art shows and flea markets. I think instincts are overlooked far too often, and that’s why I gave Megan a sixth sense with Olivia. If we are open to them, I believe these lines can become strong within our own minds. I cherish the few close friends that I have, and felt it was important to show their feelings toward Megan’s death.

Do you believe in life after death?

This will either turn off my readers or entice them. The truth is: yes, I do believe in a certain type of life after death. I do believe one has a certain amount of time to reach out and touch our loved ones. Weird, I know – but that’s me.

With six children, when do you find time to write?

I had to wait until my youngest was in school full time, and then I wrote for six hours each day, but Meagan’s Way wasn’t my first novel. My first novel was The Knowing, which has not come to print yet. Megan knocked on my door, and I had to let her in and set down The Knowing for a bit. I continued to write while my children are in school and after they go to sleep at night, or while they are doing homework otherwise busy.

What are you working on now?

I am working on my second novel, Chasing Amanda, a mystery with a paranormal twist about Tracey Potter, a seven-year-old girl who is abducted, and one woman’s desperate search to find her. Molly Tanner has had visions all her life, but never have they been this horrifying, unveiling images of a young girl being held captive. Guided by her visions, she weaves her way through the secret cavities of people’s lives, creating upheaval in the small town when dark secrets are exposed.

May readers contact you? Are you available to speak with book clubs?

Absolutely! I love to meet and chat with readers. They can contact me through my website(s):

www.MelissaFoster.com

www.TheWomensNest.com

Giveaway!

Melissa is a very generous author and she is providing 3 e-books for an

International giveaway. The only requirement to enter is to follow this blog via

GFC or NetworkBlogs and sign up for Melissa’s newsletter here:  www.MelissaFoster.com

 

Please leave an email where you can be reached. The giveaway will run from September 30th

Through October 8th (my birthday!) I will post and email the winners on October 9th.


Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.

Disrupted lives by Brenda Youngerman

Disrupt: Verb (used with an object):

To cause disorder or turmoil in

To destroy, usually temporarily

To break apart

About the Book:

A name does not make a person, a person makes a name.

Such is the theme of Disrupted Lives, the story of how one adopted child touches and intersects with many lives, but ends up destroying one family name, while building another family’s legacy.

Darren and Amelia Kane were high school sweethearts torn apart by war. They reunite and discover that they both must put their nightmares behind them to build a life together. Betrayed by her parents, Amelia was earlier forced to give up their child.

Fiona Porter and Sterling Lake are thrown together as part of a business proposition. They end up surprising both their families by enriching the Lake empire and family name. The Lakes become synonymous with society, power and money, and their children must carry that torch forward at all cost. When an adopted grandchild is brought into the family, he questions the definition of “family.”

From 1920 to present-day Georgia, this saga of family secrets and old Southern prejudices are explored in the explosive novel Disrupted Lives.

About the Author:

Brenda Youngerman (1960 – ) Was raised in Southern California and has been writing since she was a child. Her first novel, Private Scars, was published in 2006 and takes an insider’s view of domestic abuse and allows the reader a vantage point on how a victim is isolated and alienated from everything they know and love. Private Scars won both the editors choice and publishers choice awards. Since the release of Private Scars Youngerman has released a novel a year bringing up what she calls, “Fiction With a Purpose,” books that take on social issues and very real world problems. She hopes that a reader puts down one of her books and asks the question, “Was that real?”

If one person is helped by reading a Youngerman novel and realizes that they are not alone in their predicament, she has achieved success in her eyes.

Brenda Youngerman lives in Southern California and is writing her next novel, Skewered Halo. “I write what I call ‘Fiction With a Purpose,’ something that I hope takes the reader on a ride so when they put the book down they say, “Was that real?” I also want the messages in the book to stay with them.”

Book Quotes:

“…prepared to leave, her mama whispered in Fiona’s ear, “Remember this one simple rule. You must make your husband feel important in the bedroom. Otherwise, he’ll go look elsewhere for his entertainment. And you must bear an heir to cement your future.”

Sterling, on the other hand, was getting very different advice. “Don’t screw this up, son. This is your last chance to do something right.”

“Dale, you don’t have any choice anymore,” Fiona interrupted him. “You’ve slept with almost every girl in town.” His jaw dropped when she said that. “What? You didn’t think I knew that? Sweetheart, Mama does know everything!” (Chippendale Hartford Lake wed Catherine Liza Cook in front of five hundred guests…)

Ernest Porter Lake graduated high school in June 1951. He did not excel at either academia or sports. He did not have the constitution for either, complaining seemed to be his favorite subject.

“Hartford’s last act on this earth had been to take his hunting rifle and blow a hole in his head, which not only necessitated the books, panels and desk in the den to be cleaned, it also required an expensive rug to be replaced. Lorraine was furious that he had done such a thoughtless act.
“How could that man be so selfish?” Lorraine kept repeating. “He left me here; he left a mess behind; and all because of a little money?”

“Mama, I’m going to Yale and that’s that!” Chad said…. Fiona stared at him, not blinking one time. “Chad, that’s a Yankee school! We are Southerners!” “Mama, the war between the States ended almost a hundred years ago. I’ve been accepted with a full scholarship to Yale, and I’m not turnin’ it down because you think we’re still at war.”

“When all is said and done and the day ends, a rich man, and a poor man both put their heads down to sleep, and both of them put their pants on one leg at a time. The real question as to worth is who can look himself in the mirror and really like what he sees?”

 My Review:

            This was a great book. It was an exemplary example of how Southern manners and bigotry can tear a family apart. Southern families are one part complex, two parts deep-rooted in history, and 20 parts full of unattainable expectations. Breeding and pedigrees a must, and Heaven help you if you make a mistake.

Disrupted Lives showcases Southern life to a sweet tea, and makes a wonderful counterpart to The Help. While The Help depicted how life played out for the Southern help, Disrupted Lives depicted how life played out for the Southern belle.

Life seems to have come to a standstill even though the Civil War was over ages ago. To Southerners, a Yankee is a Yankee is a Yankee. And, never think that Mama doesn’t know all that is going on in her children’s lives. Fiona was that type of mother. She knew that one son was a playboy and he needed to be reined in, and could be with the “proper” girl. And, many a merger was conducted by parents arranging marriages between their children. While she loved her children and grandchildren dearly, she hated her adopted grandson just as fiercely.

The book was steeped in intrigue and the story was truly amazing. The characters were well developed and while containing serious subject matter, there was humor. You always knew who you were dealing with and rooting for. This book contained the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I did find that while the story wrapped up with a surprise ending that I enjoyed, it ended on a quick note.

If you love reading about the South, you will definitely love this book. I definitely recommend reading this book. You’ll enjoy it.

To quote Brenda Youngerman, “I write fiction with a purpose.” Her book definitely did that and each time I think about Disrupted Lives, I remember something new. I cannot wait to read another of her books.

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.