Wednesday, March 31, 2010
For starters most people in the category have gone several days without a shower. When I was in the hospital, they refused to let me shower, though I was ambulatory, because of my IV. I tried to point out the IV could be unhooked from my port long enough for me to clean up.
Instead, a lovely nurse's aid came and washed me as though I was a two year old. You haven't lived until your private parts have been washed by a total stranger while you stand next to the bathroom sink. Like I said, she was a lovely woman, but...
Secondly, people who have been injured, especially around the head, may end up with dried blood in their hair that doesn't get washed out until they get that shower. Very off-putting, you know?
And people that hurt are not sparkling conversationalists. They're in pain! If they're not in pain, they're brain fogged with drugs so they're even less coherent.
When I read scenes where the hero/heroine is supposed to suffer some major injury and there's no mention of blood, pain, or other visible signs AND the injured character is engaging in sparkling repartee with other characters, I want to throw the book at the wall.
When the love interest is also thinking sexy thoughts about how attractive the injured character is, I want to throw them against the wall! Let's think about this. I've been shot. I'm bleeding. I'm in excruciating pain. The last thing I'm interested in at this point is sex. Likely, sex will be the last thing I'll be interested in for a long time. Do I really want a lover who's thinking, "Wow, she has great boobs?" while I'm suffering?
I don't think so.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The suspense and action fizzle and die. I know there's a real art to stringing out the suspense and choreographing the action. What exactly is it?
I confess I don't know. I suspect I'm in too much of a hurry to get to the resolution. I want the good guys to win. Now.
They can't do that if I drag out the action! So instead of having a long fight scene like you see in one of those chop suey fight films, my fight scene is more like those old slow-mo fight scenes in the first Kung Fu television series. By the third kick, my good guy has vanquished all the bad guys. C'est la guerre.
As for the suspense thing...I can't seem to keep a secret. Instead of doling out the clues a bit at a time, I dump them down by the handful in every scene so that by the time I've reached the middle of the book, I have no more clues to dole out.
So...what is the secret? How do other writers craft that perfect suspense and action over the entire length of the book until the chilling denouement at the end?
I'm seeking the secret of writing threatening prose. What are your ideas?
Monday, March 29, 2010
Hmmm. I wonder why that is?
Perhaps its a matter of feeling like I should be out and about, accomplishing shopping or something like that. Whereas if its raining, why would I want to go out anyway? I suppose that could be. I just found it interesting that I accomplish more writing on gloomy days.
It could also be that the "house" is quieter on gloomy days--even if everyone is home. There's something about a dark rainy day that dampens the spirits a bit. The kids tend to play quietly with their dolls or coloring. The adults tend to read or play computer games. Whatever is going on, its low key.
On sunny days there's more activity, whether the kids are home from school or not. Speaking of the kids being home--this entire week is their spring break, so we'll see how that works out.
In the meantime, while everyone is sleeping or doing their thing quietly, its time for me to take advantage of the silence and get to writing!
Blessings on your day!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Thought maybe y'all would like to read a piece of one of my current works in progress...
The house rolled past Beau’s camper at two a.m.
Woobie, the mutt he’d inherited when his Aunt Agatha died, raised her head and woofed softly. Beau blearily reached over his head and flicked the blinds closed to block out the lights. He’d imbibed too much Irish ale at the fall cookout The Traveler’s Rest held for the residents, so his mental processes weren’t firing on all cylinders. Knowing he didn’t need to get up the next morning because it was one of his half-days, he’d taken advantage of the chance to hang out and enjoy an impromptu jam session.
On the very edge of sinking back in the black hole of slumber, the words moving and house coalesced into an alarming picture. He struggled upright. His feet promptly tangled in the jeans twisted around his ankles. When he stumbled into his camper after the cookout he’d rushed to use the bathroom before passing out on his bed. He paid for his oversight as he ended up in a heap on his knees in the tiny space between the bed and the miniscule toilet.
Woobie whined as she trotted over to the edge of the bed. She licked his face and nudged him with her nose.
Beau absently patted the dog. Something was not right. As he plucked at the wrinkled fabric around his thighs he decided that must be the problem. Ahhhh. Stupid jeans. When he twisted so he was sitting upright, his balls came in contact with the icy tile floor, shocking him into a sharper awareness of his surroundings. Levering himself up on the side of the bed, he yanked up the plaid boxers twisted around his knees and then pulled up the jeans.
With a weary sigh, he stood up and finished hauling his boxers and pants in place. Won’t have to find my shoes, he thought. Never took them off. Zipping his pants half-way, he opened his camper door and sailed out into the darkness, missing the two steps entirely as he measured his length in the cold damp grass.
Spying the open door, Woobie took the opportunity to answer the call of nature. Business taken care of, she trotted over to Beau, tail wagging furiously as she snuffled his ribs with her cold wet nose before plopping down next to him. He rested his big hand on her head, gently rubbing the soft white hair between her floppy ears. She whined and wriggled closer. Her fluffy tail thumped the ground.
Beau lay there, cursing his stupidity and lack of judgment in hanging around with the Irish band after the cookout. Most sane people went back to their campers or RV’s. Why didn’t he? Because he was an idiot, he concluded. He groaned and sat up, noting the lights flickering through the hedge that divided his site from the next one over—the site that was empty when he came home from his ill-considered binge with the Irish rockers. The site that was reserved for staff members only.
“Go back inside,” he growled at the dog.
She sat up, tongue hanging out and woofed.
“No dammit. No barking. Go inside.”
Tail dragging, she trudged back to the camper and hopped inside.
Climbing to his feet he staggered out to the blacktop road that ran around the outer edge of The Traveler’s Rest staff area. Stumbling over to the driveway for the next site he wavered to a stop and stared at the occupant in disbelief. No one should be occupying the site. A chill breeze sifted across the wide driveway, raising goosebumps on his bare chest and arms. He rubbed his arms and frowned, trying to solve the conundrum presented by the inexplicable appearance of his new neighbor.
A tiny house was parked there. The little house was complete with porch, peaked roof, and stained-glass windows. Two pots of creamy mums sat next to the steps. A soft pink light illuminated the porch. At the foot of the steps a rubber mat with bright yellow sunflowers on it bid him welcome.
Beau had lived at The Traveler’s Rest for nearly six months. His working visit was part of the requirements imposed by his uncle in his will. If Beau wanted to inherit whatever his Uncle Richmond had seen fit to leave him, he first had to complete six specific tasks at The Traveler’s Rest.
At loose ends after abruptly ending his military service with a spectacularly busted ankle, Beau had shrugged and agreed with the terms, figuring his uncle’s behest was better than nothing. In the meantime, he had a place to live, an adequate paycheck, and responsibilities that kept him busy. During the time he’d lived at The Traveler’s Rest, he’d encountered quite an array of traveling homes from the minimalist Teardrop campers to the plushest converted bus RV’s. This was the first time an actual house had shown up.
Shoving his hands in his pockets, he hunched his shoulders against the cold wind and prowled down the driveway, slowly circling the house. The occupant had hooked up the electricity and water. According to the license plate on the truck parked at the other end of the driveway, the owners lived in Montana. Meandering down the other side of the house, he noted the fine attention to detail.
Shaking his head, he went back to his camper. Tomorrow would be soon enough to deal with his new neighbors. Next to the little jewel of a house, his trailer looked decidedly worse for the wear, even in the dark. He had an idea it was going to be more so in the glare of full daylight. Without turning on the lights, he climbed back inside, shucked his clothing completely this time and stretched out on the bed next to his dog.
Narrow shafts of sunlight sneaked past the blinds to bombard him in the face. Grumpily, Beau rolled over and pulled the lumpy pillow over his head. A series of muffled thumps from outside nudged him closer to awareness. Then the strains of a man singing wove their way from next door. Cursing, Beau sat up and glared at the door. The melody sounded a lot like opera—his least favorite genre of music. When it occurred to him that the man wasn’t even singing in English, his outrage knew no bounds. Snatching up his plaid boxers, he jerked them on wrong side out before leaping from his camper to storm his way to the driveway next door.
His eyes were bloodshot from the inside out and tiny leprechauns were lustily hammering in his head. He howled and cursed as he stepped on a sharp stone. Hopping sideways on his bad foot, he twisted his ankle landing squarely on his butt in a small puddle of water. Clapping his hands over his ears, he tried to block out the music as the singer reached a powerful crescendo.
Abruptly, the music stopped. He closed his eyes, savoring the exquisite relief.
And then she laughed.
Standing at the end of her driveway, Dulcia studied the nearly naked man sitting in a puddle on the edge of the road. His dark brown curls looked like they’d been whipped with an egg-beater. When he opened his eyes, she caught a glimpse of sharp blue bloodshot eyes. If he wasn’t so cranky he might even be attractive. The placket on his boxers gaped open, affording her a yummy view of his morning wood. Pressing her lips together, she fought the wild urge to laugh until a small white dog freckled with black spots trotted up and washed his face with an enthusiastic pink tongue. Dulcia gave up the fight.
“Who the hell are you?” Beau demanded as he pushed the dog away in vain. “Dammit, Woobie, quit licking my face!”
The dog sat down, tail wagging and regarded Dulcia with a friendly doggie grin.
“Apparently, I’m your new neighbor. Dulcia Fairchild. And you are?”
“Had a rough night, Beauregard? Too much booze?”
“Shut up.” His eyes traveled slowly down her body from head to toe. “Planning on peddling your ass?”
Dulcia cocked her head to one side. “It depends. You think there’d be sufficient money around here?”
“Hell if I know. But I sure wouldn’t advertise if it isn’t for sale.”
She nodded her head. “I’ll keep that in mind.” Turning on her heel, she strolled slowly back toward her little house. “Oh, Beauregard? That’s a mighty fine advertisement poking out of your boxers…How much do you charge?” she inquired before opening her door and going inside.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Then it was a matter of looking...and looking...and looking...and you get the idea, I'm sure. There are thousands of sites with crochet hooks. I finally identified the particular brand and type of hook I was looking for.
Well...no. Every site I looked at didn't have the size hook I needed. So I checked site after site until I finally located a site that had the brand, type and size hook I needed.
Well...no. That site didn't have any way to order the hooks. I'm serious. No. Way. To. Order. They had an 800 number which I called...so I could talk to an answering machine.
Back to the hunt. Twenty minutes later I located the hook at another site. Ordered. Done.
By the way, that site I ordered from? They had the hook in every size made. And I bought one of each. So for them, it was a WIN situation. It seems to me if you're going to sell something on the internet you ought to make it as easy as possible for the customer.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
In the past I've written in the midst of eight or ten kids roaming in and out plus the television blasting and dinner cooking. But I can no longer do that. Now I find it very hard to concentrate with even the smallest noises around me. That probably has something to do with my age.
Most days it's quiet at my place as the grandkids are off to school. While they're gone I write, saving my internet stuff for when they come home. But just occasionally, there is the two box day. You know--the type of day that you can't concentrate when the wind chimes blow or the fire siren howls or a car alarm goes off.
Yesterday was a two box day.
My mind circled around with no place to land. Nothing much was accomplished yesterday. I couldn't even settle down long enough to crochet or work on my maps or read. Nothing!
Two box days are usually followed by jitterbug nights. My mind leaps about all night working on the items it should have settled on during the day. Argh!
So this morning I'm tired and anxious to get all the new ideas I dreamed about down on paper. That can't be a good combination, can it? Fortunately, it's quiet and cool this morning so we'll see how much I can accomplish.
I wish you all blessings of the day.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Nope. It was warm and muggy. Eventually, I gave up and turned on the AC so I didn't pass out from heat stroke. It's amazing how hot you get when you're working, especially in a small room.
Today it's supposed to rain but the temps are expected to be a bit cooler. Figures. I'm hoping to write today.
As I look around, it was worth it to rearrange things, but I'm sure not in any hurry to rearrange it again anytime soon. What is it about spring that suddenly impels us to clean up and move things around? Is there a twelve step program for that?
Monday, March 22, 2010
The body doesn't need the winter insulation anymore (and besides, the summer shorts and tee-shirts are getting a bit past snug) so we haul our butts off the couch, talk about eating healthier, and head outside long enough to walk around the parking lot or possibly even around the block.
The househunk hauled me off to McDonald's the other day for a lunch treat. The trick? I had to walk there and back. I made it. Both ways. And didn't even collapse from the shock.
His next plan? We'll walk around the block. It's quite a hike, actually, and at least half of it is uphill. I'll tuck my inhaler in my pocket, make him carry the water bottle, and stop to catch my breath if I have to.
So how about you? What have you planned for your spring body renovations?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
However, when I saw this photo, it occurred to me that there are two particular elements that are very attractive in men. One is the man who is comfortable with animals. I'm not talking about just when they're doing well. But the man who can comfort/deal with an animal who is ill or stressed is a man to keep around.
The second man is the man who can take care of a child. There's something about a man diapering a baby or braiding a little girl's hair that is reassuring to a woman. The man who can deal with his teenaged daughter's PMS and his teenaged son's first tux is also a man who can likely deal with most other problems in life.
So what do you think makes a man sexy?
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
2008 is the UN Year of the Potato I challenge you to bring a loveable, romantic potato into your blog in honor of that!---H, our editor
Hmmm. I was looking through some old posts and ran across this one. Thought I'd repost it just for fun.
Masher McArthur stretched his burly body and wedged his back against the side of the hot tub while he watched Scallop Ziemniak slowly ease into the steaming water. Her smooth curves glistened in the gentle bubbles. He inhaled her luscious scent and savored the anticipation that skittered up his spine.
Tonight he had plans for Scallop. Hot lusty plans. First the hot tub. When he had her softened up, he would drizzle her with fragrant oil and they would bake a while side by side, like two French fries in an oven.
Ah, yes, the touch of her body next to his…
“Masher, what on earth are you thinking?” Scallop demanded. “Your eyes are drooping!”
“Just you and me, baby. I’m gonna cover and smother you so well you’ll never think of that puny Yukon Goldie again!”
“Oh, Masher,” she sighed. “Don’t you know that I love every handsome russet inch of your body? Your warm tan skin smells so earthy and feels so rough. It drives me wild when you grate against me. Are you ready to leave the tub?”
Masher reached for her and gently poked her dark red skin. “Yep, I would say that we’re definitely done. Time for the milk and butter bath.”
Scallop joyfully embraced him before hopping out of the tub. “Hurry up! I can’t wait! Mash me, baby!”
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
So, as lovely as these men are (and they're very lovely--I met them all) I've come to the conclusion that beefcake photos don't do much for me. Sad, I know, but I would rather have a beautiful picture of a lush flower on a bookcover than a half naked man.
Of all the covers on my books, my favorite is still Dancer's Delight. It was a beautifully put together cover with a gorgeous font and is still a delight to look at.
I know there are many attractive models out there who work hard and I understand everyone needs a job. But I have to wonder if the proliferation of sexier and more explicit covers really sells books. Am I the only one who would rather have a less explicit cover on my books?
Monday, March 15, 2010
In the last few weeks I've received several solicitations for charities. Not from strangers, mind you. No, these have all been from friends and relatives. Now, if I heard from these folks on a regular basis--you know, the occasional phone call or e-mail--perhaps I could understand their reasons for asking me for money. Maybe.
But I never hear from these particular people except when they want money for their particular charities. And it seems to me that personal appeals such as these smack of a tad of blackmail, if you will. "You're my friend (or family), therefore I know I can count on your support for my cause."
Well, no. When was the last time you communicated with me in a personal fashion. Do you know anything about me? Do you even know if I'm employed, homeless, terminally ill or supporting seventeen refugees?
When was the last time I asked you for money for my pet charity?
Please understand. There are hundreds or thousands of causes out there that are worthy. Every person has to determine a) which of those causes they feel comfortable supporting, and b) if they are capable of supporting them without depriving their own family.
A very long time ago, the house hunk and I chose specific charities to support. If we have extra funds, we donate more to the charities of our choice. If everyone did the same, no charity or cause would ever have to have a telethon or a concert or any other money raising scheme.
In the meantime, to those individuals who fire off those personal appeals for money... try getting to know me before you ask for my hard earned dollars.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I always think about the limo scene with Kevin Costner and Michelle Pfeiffer in No Way Out. They go at it hot and heavy and when they're all finished, he tells her his name. Um, that's too soon for any of my stories.
Call me old fashioned but I can't think of any circumstances where my characters will engage in sex while still strangers. I know this is not an issue with all writers. But it's a personal issue for me. Can't do it. Can't make it work.
Some writers say it depends on their characters. I submit that our characters originate somewhere in the depths of our minds and much as we like to believe they just pop up full blown from the ozone, they reflect our beliefs and ethics to some extent.
I've read quite interesting stories that began with stranger sex. But my characters won't be engaging in that behavior...which leads to the original question. How soon is too soon?
Publishers of erotic romance have varying requirements, but most prefer the sex to start fairly quickly in the story--and continue at a steady rate through the story. This creates a problem for the writer if they don't write "stranger sex". How many scenarios can they create that support immediate sex?
The basic one of course is the story line where the characters already know each other--perhaps are already intimate--and the story begins in effect in the middle of some crisis in their lives. Maybe they've had an argument and are making up. Maybe they've separated and are coming back together. In any case, they are not strangers and have a history.
Orrrr, perhaps they are dealing with some major crisis and end up in bed (up against the wall, in the back seat of a limo...) with each other in response to that crisis. He (or she--usually the heroine) has almost died (been murdered, threatened, etc.) and the hero is impelled to place his stamp of ownership on their relationship. Okay. It happens. Not my favorite story line, but it works if well-written.
Another possibility is the someone-will-die-if-we-don't-have-sex-immediately scenario. I admit. I used this scenario in my very first book. I was a complete newbie and couldn't figure out how to meet the submission requirements. And after all my maneuvering, the story still didn't quite have enough sex in it to meet the heat levels. Hmmm. Sometimes it's better to go with the story and just let the requirements go.
This is my new philosophy. Write the story. Don't worry about the sex. Like all human partners, there will be great variety with the characters. Some will go at it like bunny rabbits. Some will be more restrained. Some will take every opportunity to engage in sex. Others will seek out a more romantic, less spontaneous intimacy. With every story, it will be different. So rather than try to engineer X number of sex scenes in a book, I will write the story. And if they happen to end up in bed, well, that's fine. In that case, that will be the right thing for that set of characters.
The truth is there is no one-size-fits all for intimacy. And that's a good thing because we're all individuals.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
In times of crisis it's interesting how we humans adjust. There's a predictable pattern we follow when a crisis comes.
First we deal with the immediate emergency. We automatically sort out the top priorities and make arrangements for them to be met. In the case of the water, we needed drinking water, water to wash hands, and water to flush the toilets.
Then we assess what to do about the secondary issues. Cooking, dishes, bathing are all long-term necessities. Some people went to restaurants and hotels. Some did take-out and made do with sponge baths. But everyone dealt with it in some way.
Finally, we deal with all the "other" stuff. Laundry, cleaning, etc. Some can be post poned. Some can be dealt with by traveling farther away to a laundromat. But we deal.
That's what we humans do in a crisis. We adjust and deal with the new circumstances whether it's a water shortage or a hurricane, earthquake, flood, or tornado. Over and over we see people pulling together and moving on.
Obviously, some adjust better than others. But ultimately, we all make the necessary changes to survive. More than any other trait, I think that ability to manage a crisis is what separates us from the animal kingdom.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Rain today, tomorrow, the next day...until next Monday. That ought to make the repairs go faster--NOT! Ah, well, a trickle is much better than a dry faucet, so we'll move on.
Yesterday, the house hunk was sitting on the side of the tub, refilling our water jugs with the trickle when he slipped off the side, into the tub. Then he compounded that bit by trying to set himself upright by pulling on the shelving unit over the toilet.
Um, the shelving unit has a bunch of baskets with various toiletries, razors, wash cloths, etc, etc, all of which ended up on the floor. And that made it so much easier for him to climb out of the tub, right?
A couple hours later things were cleaned up, the jugs were filled, and everything was settled down. Nothing like peace and quiet when you want to write.
Last night I had a chat over at Love Romances Cafe. Met some lovely ladies, had a chance to get reacquainted with some old friends, and some fellow authors dropped by and shared some excerpts. A nice time was had by all. I have one scheduled next month and I hope y'all will come by and join us!
Just in case you missed it, my FREE story, Larkspur, is now available from Ellora's Cave. It's one of the Naughty Nooners. For those who don't know, all the Naughty Nooners are free stories. If you've been wanting to check out an author with no risk, here's your chance! For the entire list click on the FREE READS on the left column of the home page.
That's it for today! Have a blessed day!
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
We're on day four of a broken water pipe in our area. Earlier yesterday morning we had a trickle of water...enough to fill the toilet water tanks about every hour. But last night? No water. Nooooo water.
Kids have no school because there's noooo water. Cooking and dishes becomes problematical. Baths are mostly of the sponge variety. And laundry is...not possible.
The daily ritual in the evening is a water run out to a fire house four miles away with a zillion empty jugs where the young volunteer firemen very cheerfully fill them up and even help carry them to the car. Life changes. Everything revolves around the lack of water.
I will say one thing. This crisis has given all of us a new perspective on how fast water is used and how very inconvenient it is without a ready supply.
How long will this mess last? We don't know. It's a day-to-day thing. In the meantime, consider this. Most toilets take THREE gallons of water for each flush. So if you have fifteen gallons, that mean you can flush FIVE times in that twenty-four hours.
Kitty? I suspect you'd better drink out of the water bowl in the kitchen...
Monday, March 8, 2010
Click on the book cover to check it out! Here's the blurb...
There’s nothing worse than a horny dragon in search of his mate. Rajah, second-in-command to Percival the Wise, is winging over the northern seas when he spies the lissome Larkspur fleeing, with pirates in hot pursuit.
Larkspur has dreamed about mating with a fabulous dragon of Chrystal Isle. When Rajah snatches her to the safety of his arms at the last possible moment, carrying her off to his lair, it leads to hours of hot lovemaking as he practices his most seductive wiles on his chosen mate.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Now if you don't think this is a crisis, just imagine six people without water. No drinking water. No washing water. No FLUSHING water. Hmmmm. Things could get a bit sticky.
We didn't hear how long they anticipated it would take to fix the darn main (which is broken underneath a stream!) until late last night. At that point we went in search of water. And found to no one's great astonishment that there is no water for miles. Ended up at a Wal-Mart twenty miles away at midnight buying gallons of bottled water.
It's amazing how many things we do with water everyday without thinking about it. And it's given me a new perspective as I write my futuristic after-the-plague story. Where are my characters going to get water? How are they going to purify it? And how are they going to carry enough water to survive on their journey?
Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest. How would you deal with it if the water was suddenly turned off forever?
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
But what about cars? A Jaguar is not at all the same as a VW Beetle. One indicates money, the other not. On the other hand, a truck is a truck is a truck unless you're a real purist. A van is a van. An SUV is an SUV.
For me, whiskey, beer, and mixed drinks are just that. When the writer mentions a specific drink or wine, I have no clue what they're talking about. In the past few weeks, I've read several books that have all sorts of special drinks in them. I generally skip past that part because it doesn't have any bearing on the story for me.
Clothing is another thing. First of all, designer clothing is not in my realm of experience. For the vast majority of the population, I suspect this is true. When you're trying to decide whether to buy a book or buy groceries, designer jeans aren't in the mix. I vaguely recognize names like Ralph Lauren and Chanel, but quite frankly tacking a name onto the description of a shirt or jeans doesn't do much for me. Jeans are jeans are jeans.
Same goes for shoes. I realize there are shoe brands that practically induce salivating in some women, but most of us are happy to have a couple pairs that fit without making our feet hurt. So sneakers, clogs, sandals, heels...those are all perfectly adequate descriptions for footwear.
Actually, I wonder how much of branding is sheer laziness on the writer's part. Not all branding is bad, but when I can't find the story line for the forest of Manolo Blahniks and Cosmos, then I begin to wonder about the author--and the story. Are the brands more important than the plot?
I would rather know that the heroine's skirt is a midnight blue sheath than the name of the designer. Is her bracelet a chunky gold cuff? Or did she buy it at some famous store on Fifth Avenue? Some branding is alright, but I would rather see some real descriptions.
What do you think? Do you want to know the brand? Or does it matter at all?
Thursday, March 4, 2010
In the meantime, I thought I would post a little excerpt from my story in the anthology, Prisoner of the Heart.
With a wheeze and clank, the car died just as Becky parked at the curb in front of the familiar Victorian house. A cloud of steam billowed from under the hood with a hiss as she pounded on the steering wheel and muttered a curse. “You should go to the reunion. It will do you good to get away,” she parroted her Aunt Mary. “Get away, my ass. Now what the heck am I gonna do?”
She unfastened the seat belt and climbed out just as the man mowing the lawn across the street turned off the mower and ambled in her direction. Marching to the front of the car, she bent to find the hood latch, barely sparing him a glance until he hooked his thumbs in his pockets and said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you—not unless you want to deal with second degree burns.”
Becky paused in confusion. “What?”
“You need to let the car cool down before you pop that hood,” he elaborated. “Right now, all you’ll receive for your trouble is some nasty steam burns.”
Back peddling in a hurry, she moved away from the car, scowling at the smoky clouds. “So what am I supposed to do now?”
His dark hair flopped over the bandanna tied around his head when he bent over to glance at the hot water dribbling to the pavement. “Well. It could be worse. I recommend something cold to drink. We can sit on my porch and have iced tea while we wait.”
She shook her head. “Thanks, but this was my destination, anyway.” She pointed over her shoulder. “I’m staying here with my friend, Karen.”
“I thought I recognized you,” he said with satisfaction. “You’re Becky Iversen.”
“Becky Belker,” she corrected.
“So you married good ol’ Tom.”
“And divorced good ol’ Tom,” she added with faint bitterness.
He dusted his hand on his jeans before offering it, “Don’t know if you remember me. Joe Harris.”
Becky took a long second look. Joe Harris had grown up. The shy lanky teenager who was on the verge of manhood the last time she’d seen him had matured and filled out in all the right places. Beneath his sweat-dampened tee shirt, his broad shoulders and wide chest rippled with the kind of muscle you developed from physical labor. Her eyes skimmed over his flat stomach, halted briefly as she speculated about that interesting package his faded jeans cupped so lovingly, and finally came to rest on the battered work boots covering his feet.
When the odd silence finally penetrated, an embarrassed flush blazed across her cheeks. She realized he was still holding his hand out. Quickly, she slipped her hand in his and gently shook it. “Wow, you’ve changed!” she blurted out.
Her cheeks turned pink when he subjected her to a slow appraisal of his own. She fidgeted under his gaze, knowing what he saw. Her white blond hair was pulled back in a fancy braid that brushed her butt. Her blue denim shirt and jeans matched her eyes. After two children, a few more pounds padded her curves. “You’re still beautiful,” he said softly.
Nervously, she tucked her hands in her jeans pockets. “Thank you.” She looked away, frowning when she realized Karen’s driveway was empty. “Well. I’m sure I’ll see you again before I leave. I better go let Karen know I’m here.”
“Good enough.” Joe loped back across the street to his mower, leaving her standing on the curb by her car.
With a sigh, she retrieved her purple fake leather hobo bag from the front seat. Her lips curved in a reluctant smile as she hugged the bag against her breasts. It was a birthday gift from her kids. Lizzie had gravely pointed out the bag’s color because she knew it was Becky’s favorite. And Sean had eagerly explained that they were able to buy it because it was on sale. Becky remembered looking up from the crumpled Sunday comics wrapping paper at the smiles on her kids’ faces, and wanting to cry because children shouldn’t have to know about buying presents on sale.
She thought about the interview she had scheduled at the Heartwood Medical Center this weekend and prayed that she was hired. Life would be so much easier for all of them if she got the new job. And the kids could attend a school where everyone didn’t know their dad was in prison. When the invitation arrived from Karen, it was like an answer to her prayers. With money so tight, a free place to stay was a true blessing.
Of course, Aunt Mary tartly suggested that she find a hunky man who would take her to bed for some hot sweaty sex. Becky giggled under her breath at the memory of her gaunt spinster aunt standing in the kitchen with her hands buried in hot soapy dishwater, her tall angular body swathed in a snowy white apron while she lectured Becky on the best way to find a man with a hard body and a big penis.
Trust Aunt Mary to be up front about what she thought.
And then stuff happens...
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Extreme Makeover--Hermit Crab Edition!
Have you ever watched one of those extreme makeover shows? They start out with a shack and end up with a mansion. Usually in a few days.
I've watched a lot of buildings go up so it boggles the mind when you watch them build something from scratch, decorate it and furnish it in next to no time. That's quite an accomplishment.
I genuinely believe the people chosen for this honor deserve every thing they get, but I have to wonder what they think about the interior decorating once they start living with it.
On one recent show, the couple opened their house to a lot of teens. I've lived with teens. Nowhere in the house do you want white furniture. Yet the decorators gave this couple not one, but two white sofas. Hmmmm.
Perhaps its just me. I suppose the furniture has to look fancy for the show. But if I was going to do a makeover so someplace with tons of kids, I would make sure the furniture was as sturdy as possible.
Who knows? Maybe they ask the recipients about their dreams and what they would love to have. I don't know. If if was you, what would you want the most?
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
We talked a lot this last week about apologies and avoiding apologies by thinking before yelling. The reality is that it is so much easier to not do something we're sorry for, than to apologize for bad behavior and bad judgment.
So after each discussion, she went off to think some more about the nature of apologies and the possibilities of forgiveness. After all, forgiveness isn't guaranteed, even when we apologize. And that was covered in one of our talks.
When you're a small child, you say "I'm sorry," and the adult in your world inevitably says, "I forgive you," and life goes on. But as we mature, reaching young adulthood, one of the things we learn is that forgiveness is not automatic or guaranteed. It's a hard lesson to learn when you're a young lady on the edge of womanhood.
But it's a valuable lesson nevertheless. It's a lesson that teaches consequences. And in our world, consequences are too often shoved to the side.
So last night, the young lady took her courage in shaky hands and went to offer her apologies. It was hard. Admitting you are wrong is always hard. There were some tears. There were some hugs. And after some airing of hurt feelings, there was forgiveness.
She later said to me, "That was the hardest thing I ever did." And that's the way it should be. Consequences and forgiveness.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Oh, she won't fight if you try to take her baby away, but she whimpers and moans and that's far worse. There's nothing as sad as a grieving dog momma who's lost her baby.
She's a very quiet companion. Most of the time I wouldn't know she was under there if she didn't move. The moment I leave the office--for whatever reason--she's up on her feet, baby clutched firmly in her jaws, ready to follow me.
Before I went to the hospital, she wasn't quite so attached, but since I've come home, she keeps a close eye on me to make sure I don't disappear again. For those who don't believe that dogs and cats are aware of their humans, I beg to differ. They know quite well when something isn't quite right.
Someday my daughter's family will move out, taking my doggie companion with them and that's how things should be. But I can't help wondering what she'll do when that happens. And how long it will take her to find a new alpha female to keep an eye on.