Page 3 of 16

My mother was a woman

The strange fact my mother was a woman never occurred to me until I was well into my adulthood, with kids of my own even. I always thought of her as, well, just a mother. My mother. And my mother would never…you know…that. It wasn’t that she didn’t like feminine things. She did. She wore slips with her dresses and high heel shoes. She wore pretty necklaces and simple earrings. She had a beautiful diamond and wedding band set she was never without. She wore makeup.NBOutline_0004

Daddy used to come up behind her while she was cooking or doing dishes and wrap her her a tight hug and kiss her neck. She’d giggled and pretend to shoe him away.

She enjoyed seeing movies staring Robert Redford and/or Paul Newman, Clark Gable, and so on. She enjoyed watching Hawaii 5-0 (the original with Jack Lord) and Medical Center with Chad Everett. She appreciated a good looking man as well as any other woman.

But it never occurred to me why she appreciated these handsome men.  Why? Because she was a woman, but I never saw it until she and my father had been married close to half a century.

Daddy was in the hospital about to undergo his second quadruple heart bypass surgery the following morning. I was staying overnight with mom at the house so I could drive her to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning. That night, we left the hospital late. We got home just in time to go to bed so we could get up at 4am. While we were getting ready for bed, the phone rang and I answered it. It was a man, calling for my mother.  She sat down at the table and talked to this gentleman for about half-an-hour. I made a feeble attempt to not listen. She laughed on occasion and relayed information about daddy’s upcoming surgery.  After a little while, she thanked him for calling then hung up the phone. I asked her who the caller was. Very nonchalantly, she said, “an old boyfriend. He heard about your daddy’s surgery and was calling to wish us well.”NBOutline_0002

Few words have ever—ever—struck me as hard. Devastated doesn’t begin to describe how I felt at that moment. It wasn’t that I suspected anything other than what it was—an old friend calling offering thoughts and support—but the mind-numbing, punch-to-the-gut reality that my mother, my mother, had a boyfriend before my father.

Did she kiss him? Did she hold his hand? Did they ever talk marriage? It was at that moment, I realized for the first time, my mother was a woman. That holier-than-thou, not my mother pedestal I had her sitting on didn’t tip over that night—it rose a few feet higher. My mother was a woman, through and through.

To fold or not fold

I’m a non-folder. I’ve been a non-folder for several years. It probably started when my kids were grown and on their own and it was just me – alone with no one to answer to. I’m single, so there was no husband/life partner/domestic cohabitant to hold me accountable. Just me and Sam and he’s a pretty self-absorbed cocker spaniel who didn’t care if I folded or not as long as he was fed fourteen times a day.

When my kids were at home, I wanted to set a good example so I folded.  I never understood why exactly but it was something my mother had passed down to me, and her mother had passed down to her, and so on and so on. But I broke the cycle of folding and have been liberated ever since. I cherish those extra few minutes non-folding allows me. I can’t say that I really know what I do during those minutes but it must be something grand.

Things I do not fold:

tumblr_inline_ml12wi1p4N1qz4rgp1) Underwear. Why would you fold underwear? Most people keep their undies in a drawer that isn’t clear and visible to the public eye so who cares if your undies are rolled, stacked, or folded in a neat order? Saves me all of an estimated five minutes to take them from the laundry basket and just drop them in the drawer. Same with bras.

2) Socks. I don’t even match them. I grab a handful from the laundry basket and dump them in the sock drawer. Saves another five minutes. IMG_0731

3) Dish towels and washrags. I have a big, open bin under my sink where they are stored. I open the cabinet door, dump them in and I’m done. Close the cabinet door and the whole wadded up stack is concealed to neighbors who might judge because they themselves are folders. Saves another five

4) Sheets. This is kinda a half-and-half. They probably wouldn’t pass a Good Housekeeping test but there is some uniformity to their state, before being shoved into a matching pillow case. Easy storage. Saves several hours since no one I know has ever really mastered folding a fitted sheet.

So there you have it. I’m a non-folder and proud of it.



I’m angry. I’m worried. And I want to scream at someone, anyone. I want to shake my fists in the air and shout “FUCK YOU, EPILEPSY.” I want to point a finger and say it’s your fault, or maybe yours, or maybe you over there. But there’s no one to blame, not really. It’s just one of those things. Yeah. Fuck you.

11081380_10204902989031749_715333339806534571_nWhat is one of those things? It’s watching your daughter’s husband carry her like an infant into the house, bearing her total weight in his arms, begging her to “hang on.”

It’s watching her three year-old squat down in front of her, staring at his unresponsive mommy, then look up and at me and his daddy and say, “Mommy dead?”10406689_10202720249749269_9165213114148148499_n

It’s watching Ava outside on the trampoline, not jumping, just sitting there with tears in her eyes, scared to go in the house.

It’s seeing your daughter finally come out of a grand mal in the Emergency Room, crying, and the first thing she says in a tiny, strained voice is “Ava’s party—I need to go to Ava’s party.”

It’s Ava, in her classroom at school on the day of her Easter party, worried why her mommy isn’t there yet.10846410_10203259521950737_3235638873962084950_n

It’s Landon being roused out of bed by his dad to come lay beside his mom when Allen leaves for work. Call 911, he’s instructed, if she starts seizing. He’s only 11. It’s a heavy burden for any kid but he’s the oldest.

It’s Ireland being clingy to mommy after a brief stay in the hospital.10689606_10202813739246448_3036788874787617335_n

It’s seeing pictures of Landon with his best friend and his family snowboarding and wishing it was you, his own family, that he was there with.

10337728_10202124470815168_6976740376654001142_nIt’s having to ask for help from neighbors to get your kids back and forth to school, or can they hitch a ride with so-and-so to church, or maybe to the ballgame.

It’s looking into special phones that a four year-old like Ivy can learn to use to call 911 with a recorded message that says “mother with grand mal seizure, small children in house.” 10689643_10203246598267653_2778571335627677453_n

It’s organizing the daily round of pills. She’s only 31.

It’s the unspoken fear of going anywhere, the what if...

It’s a disease, a condition, a whatever-the-hell-you-want-to-call-it. And it’s a thief. It’s robbing my daughter of memories she’ll never get back; it’s robbing her kids of mommy moments.

And that pisses me off. Fuck you, epilepsy. You’ve knocked us down a couple times, but we get right back up. And we’ll keep getting right back up because we will not be your victim. You will not win this war.1394779_10201464344107775_868260868_n



On the Road with Gypsy and the Cheese Guy

I haven’t posted in a few weeks because I’ve been on tour. You know, the book tour. It’s taken me to far-away places like Burlington, Graham, Asheboro, Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte. And Mebane. Can’t forget Mebane. I even graced the lobby of the O’Henry Hotel, a swanky place in Greensboro. You may be thinking Burlington as in Burlington, Vermont. Or that Graham is the town in Texas, or Arizona. True – there are towns in those states with those names. Of course there are also towns in North Carolina with those names, too. Guess which towns I visited?

My travels with that Private Eye named Gypsy may not have taken me across the country, or even the state line, but I have learned some valuable lessons so far. Like no matter how important you think you are, someone will always misspell your name.

Not once. Not twice. Not even three times. Four times. Yep, four times my name was misspelled on publicity posters and press releases. The posters even had a picture of the cover of the book with my name spelled correctly, yet the graphic artists apparently didn’t make the connection. The host bookstores were horrified when they learned of the mistakes, but I assured them it was all well and good.  Keeps one humble.10153676_1040074639351505_2093175272172025536_n

At one of the smaller, independent bookstores, I sat in the cafe prior to the reading/signing sipping on a $4.00 cappuccino I paid for chatting with the store owner/manager. When the start time for the event rolled around, the owner shook his head and said “looks like the author is a no show.” Yes, the publicity flier they had posted in the cafe, on the store window, at the register had my picture on it. But they had my name spelled right.

I was second billed at a book fair with 20 other authors. Rather impressed with that one. Until I realized I was the only author present who wrote genre fiction. Me and Gypsy—right smack in the middle of the poets with their chap books, MFA grads with their literary short story collections, and non-fiction authors pushing their photo-heavy “travels with” books. But me and Gypsy sold right many books so maybe there were closet genre readers in the crowd.

And then there was the cheese guy. it was at the same book fair with the literary minds. The host staff waiters and waitresses worked the crowd, offering trays of gourmet delectables. Everything looked so yummy, and carb rich. I noticed one of the other authors asked a waiter if they could perhaps bring something a little less carb heavy. She got a beautiful cheese tray so I followed suit and asked for the same. The waiter was happy to oblige and brought me a gorgeous marble tray with two different chunks of cheese, a variety of crackers, grapes, and warm pecans rolled lightly in confectioners sugar. Oh my! A nibble here, a nibble there…and I was wondering if it would be, like, really tacky to wrap what I hadn’t eaten in a napkin and stuff it in my bag to take home? But I never got the chance.10418877_10203180163046814_8643532505995193040_n

It’s kind of an unwritten “rule” at signings, book fairs, etc…to place your snacks or drinks in a corner of the table, behind a stand-up poster of some sort so your bag of Doritos and Diet Dr. Pepper aren’t on public display. Well, my cheese tray was behind my stand-up poster of Wink of an Eye, clearly out of public view, and totally understood for my consumption only. At least I thought so.

So I’m standing there behind my table chatting up a closeted mystery reader and this guy—a middle aged guy so it wasn’t like he was a kid—comes around behind my table and starts helping himself to my cheese. He even asked me where the knife was since the cheese was in chunks—a clear indication is was for one person and one person only. I was a little shocked so barely squeaked out that they didn’t bring a knife. Wait for it…it gets better. The man whips out his pocket knife and starts carving up my cheese! He helps himself to most of it and picks through the warm, sugar coated pecans for the better ones. He then went on about his merry way.

Sigh. Keep it humble, folks. You never know when they’ll misspell your name or steal your cheese.


Photo by Patti Phillips




Wink of an Eye Makes SIBA Long List!

Woke up to this this morning. Doing a happy dance. Wink made the long list for “Best of” by the SIBA. Check it out then go to your local indie book store’s website and vote.

SIBA Book Awards

Their Story

NBOutline_0004Wednesday, February 25th will be my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. They’ll celebrate it together in heaven like they’ve done the last 17 years. The last anniversary they celebrated here on earth was Saturday, February 25th, 1998.  Daddy was admitted to the hospital that day and somehow, although no one wanted to speak of it, we knew.

I sat with my mom on one of the benches on the rooftop solarium at Cone Hospital that day. She wanted a cigarette and at that time you could still smoke in designated areas. I don’t think she ever did smoke, though. But she cried. I was thirty-seven years old and until that time, I had never seen my mother cry. My mother was a strong woman. But she cried that day, for just a moment, and said, “I’ll never bring him home.” NBOutline_0002

She then stood up, sniffled, smoothed her blouse and we went back in. My dad had mesothelioma. It’s a long, suffering, painful death. That week either me or my sister or my cousin would take turns taking mom to the hospital where we would sit all day and night by daddy’s side. He was still coherent and knew we were there. He’d make a joke; mom would roll her eyes. That was them—he’d crack a joke, she’d roll her eyes.

But we knew. It was a matter of time.

NBOutline_0001What we didn’t know was  how fate would play out. Mom got sick a week after daddy was admitted to the hospital. It was on a Saturday. They took her by ambulance to the E.R. where they had to put her on a ventilator. She had COPD but it was managed. Until the day she realized she’d never bring my father back home. She never recovered and was never able to be weaned from the ventilator.

She was in the hospital a few days the same time daddy was in a different room on a different floor. We didn’t tell daddy what was going on, fearing he’d give up and stop fighting. But he knew. Like mom knew she’d never bring him home, he knew she was there. NBOutline_0006

When we came clean, he wanted to see her. She wanted to see him. He had a team of nurses help him into a wheelchair and take him down to mom’s room. They pushed his wheelchair up to the side of her bed and they held hands. She couldn’t talk because of the ventilator but with those eyes, those eyes she’d rolled a million times at him, she told him she loved him. She told him not to worry, she’d be there to take care of him.NBOutline_0003

When they removed the ventilator, me, my kids, my sister and cousins took turns staying with her and staying upstairs with daddy so he wasn’t alone.

She died March 8th; he died 12 days later on March 20th. She was there, waiting on him. NBOutline_0005



Here’s Your Chance To Read The Rising Free

If you haven’t read The Rising yet, and you have an e-reader, here’s your no-excuse chance to grab it FREE. Pelican Book Group is offering every non-subscription title in their ebook catalog absolutely free beginning today through April 2.

If you’ve already read The Rising, you might want to consider some of Pelican’s other titles. They have a stable of wonderful writers with great stories crossing many genres.

Click here for The Rising and other Pelican titles


My Lovers and A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

dog-etsy-valentines-day-1Did you know the celebration of Valentine’s Day began with the Romans? There are two basic theories. One, a raucous Roman festival known as Lupercalia took place on February 15.  Men stripped naked and spanked young maidens in hopes of upping their fertility. Okay – here the writer me has to stop and shake a finger at the pronoun “their”. Are the spankers trying to up their own fertility or the fertility of the young maiden getting her fanny reddened? Whatever, right?

The next theory is that while the Roman Emperor Claudius II was trying to build his army, young men weren’t allowed to marry—apparently single men make better soldiers. Kinda like no sex before game day for football players? So anyway,  in the spirit of love, St. Valentine, a true romantic at heart, defied the Emperor and performed secret marriages. For his “crimes”, he was executed on February 14. Thus…we have Valentine’s Day.

So that’s the history of Valentine’s Day. I thought I’d share my history with Valentine’s Day.

First, let me clarify, I’m single.  Have been going on 30 years. It’s not because I’m anti-marriage. I’m anti-jerk.

1) Dated this guy for a while through several holidays. So there was ample time to, you know, maybe notice those giant Hallmark displays every time you walked into an establishment. But alas no cards, no flowers, not even a mid-price ranged meal at a restaraunt without a drive-thru. Said guy actually asked me to marry him. His marriage proposal—verbatim—”You might as well. You’ve got a crappy job, you’ve got two kids, and you’re not Miss  America.” The sad part? I actually thought about it for a few days.10099type

When I said thanks but no thanks, said guy “broke up with me” and was married a month later. The real funny part was when he asked me if I’d watch his three kids that he had custody of while he and his new wife were honeymooning. I politely told him no. He then showed up on my doorstep on the eve of his wedding and wanted to make sure we were still friends, and would I consider just one more roll in the hay for “old times sake”. I wasn’t so polite that time.

2) Ever met a guy that was sooooo nice, it became annoying? Yeah. That guy. I did get flowers, not for any holiday or anything—just because he was completely, 100%, totally, without a doubt, in love. Second date. When I told him I just didn’t think it would work, he called. And called. And called. Sixty-three times. In a row.

3) The guy with no heat in his car. I could be sympathetic. I mean, I could wear a coat, right? But…something was messed up with the front seat and it wouldn’t, like, stay in place. This was an old car with a bench front seat. And apparently, it wasn’t bolted to whatever it needed to be bolted to. Every time he would put on the brakes, the seat would, really, no lie, slide forward. Then if the force of gravity or whatever scientific term applies didn’t work and, the seat didn’t slide back far enough to unwedge your knees from under the dashboard, you had to join forces with the driver and push back a little. Gosh darn it. I’m really not a pampered princess, but…seriously?

images4) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Guy wasn’t too bad. He was actually nice, not bad looking, had a good job. We saw each other for a couple weeks and had actually progressed to simple kisses. Then one night it kinda went beyond that and moved into a little heavier kissing. I’ll spare you the details, but, you know…when you’re all in to it and running your fingers through someone’s hair. Nothing can spoil the mood faster than your fingers coming across all kinds of bumps and lumps on your guy’s scalp. Hair plugs? Toupee? I had no idea but all I could think about—and I swear this is the truth—was “He’s a Mutant!”  I ended the relationship soon after. Like right there and then. I know, I know. It was probably really shallow of me but I just couldn’t move past it. I could have dealt with plugs or a rug even, but the not knowing before did me in. Never give a writer’s imagination fuel. The man was a mutant.

So that’s my Valentine’s Day history. I’ve always managed to not even be casually dating someone around February 14 so no flowers, no cards, no candy, no jewelry for me. But I’m okay with it. My own car has heat and the seats only move if you want them to.


The Top 10 Reasons They Fight

Last week was a mind-numbing, eardrum shattering, nerve wracking week of keeping the little lovelies. The older ones were out of school three days. Instead of sleeping in, like, oh maybe until 8:00, they all wanted to make the most of every hour of every day. So they were wanting to shake it a little, or a lot, to Just Dance before breakfast. Before my second cup of coffee.Shaw Photography Group

My Granny Nanny daycare consists of two different age groups. Landon, Emma, Ava, and Paisley are in school. Aiden, Ivy, Casey, and Ireland are not. Some days the kids in the younger group fight enough to earn spots in the UFC. Some days the older kids have more drama than a high school prom. Some days, when both age groups are together, they dance together, play together, sing together…and some days they don’t.

The Sharks and the Jets. The Montagues and Capulets. The Hatfields and McCoys. They would all be envious of my grandkids’ abilities to make mountains out of molehills, lay blame, and scatter like rolling marbles when something gets broken. My grandkids are the champs. I need one of those bumper stickers to proudly display these abilities. Right along beside the ones that read “My kid can beat up your honor roll student.”

Just kidding about that last part. The school age kids are honor roll students.  The fact they can defend themselves too shouldn’t be held against them.

The good days, when they’re all getting along, or even just getting along in small groups, does outweigh the cat fight days. By a slim margin. 1374328_10203101440438798_5484075955927398661_n

I made a mental list last week of the things they fight over. Yes, these are actual reasons. They may not seem important to you (trust me, they’re really not but I have to at least act like they are) but they are life and death issues to a three, four, seven – take your pick on the age – year old. Here’s what I came up with:

1) Fruit snacks. It doesn’t matter if one is puking, or have just finished eating everything on their plate plus any of their siblings or cousins’ plates, if one kid gets a pack of fruit snacks, it’s a chain reaction. You might as well give in. You will not win that battle. Save the breath.

2) Vanilla wafers and/or animal cookies. The Jones’ have animal cookies, the Willis kids get vanilla wafers. Except the Jones kids eye the Willis’s vanilla wavers with watering mouths, while the Willis kids look lovingly at the Jones’ animal cookies. Switch them up, you say. That’s good until one of them gets fruit snacks. See above. 10701960_10203028462174387_6190323071891812217_n

3) Shopkins, My Little Pony, and Hot Wheels. These have been known to incite near riots. Hair pulling, pinching, ear-splitting screaming…but they’re sooooo much fun!

4) Just Dance. With me! No me! I want to do it! My turn! Okay, you’re on my team. How come I get stuck with Casey?

5) Minecraft. See above. Except add he burnt my house down! Stop following me! Press X…Press X! PRESS X!!!

6) The playground. Four slides. Three clubhouses. Six swings. And they all want to slide down this slide, not that slide. At the same time.

7) Reading time. Rarely do they choose the same book so rather than reading one story, we must read four. Except, most of the time we can get away with three because by the second story Casey’s wandered away and is stashing the shopkins in his backpack while no one is looking. 10671364_10202855696655357_587792342953513918_n

8) They all have to touch the book. See above. Each one has to be the one to open the flap, pull the tab, turn the page, etc…

9) Running time. Yes, I let them run in the house at a designated time when it’s too cold or wet outside. I give them ten laps to run off some energy. Works great until one of the faster ones gets behind one of the slower ones (Ireland, not to mention any names). The slower one will get pushed down, knocked aside, and ran over. 10730897_10203057513900662_7782004996232389269_n

10) Helping. Yes, they fight over this too. No one wants to help until one wants to help. When I asked one to hand me a diaper, I get five. When I tell one who has finished their lunch to clean their place at the table and put their dishes in the sink, I get fourteen forks in the garbage and a trail of spilled milk from the table to the sink. But they helped. And they were willing. Even if it was only because a sibling or a cousin did it first. But I’ll take it.


Bingo, Oral Sex and Singing Off Key

A new year usually brings new laws. Some good, some not so much. I propose that for every new law approved, an old law must be repealed. There’s plenty of laws that can make you shake your head so we could just consider it thinning the herd.

For instance, did you know in North Carolina, it is illegal to: use an elephant to plow a field. Why this law had to be passed is what I’d like to know. North Carolina isn’t exactly home to herds of elephants. elephant

Did you know in North Carolina it’s against the law to sing off key? Karaoke bars must be a haven for those guilty of this crime.

How about this one: If a man and a woman who aren’t married go to a hotel/motel and register themselves as married then, according to state law, they are legally married. So that’s all you have to do? And if one or both are already married, but not to each other, does that make them polygamist?

Even the best of neighbors probably wouldn’t object to this but spelling it out makes it a little, um, odd: All couples staying overnight in a hotel must have a room with double beds that are at least two feet apart.

For people, like me, with a clown phobia: Organizations may not hold their meetings while the members present are in costume.

1.jpg.CROP.original-originalAnd then there’s this: Bingo games may not last over 5 hours unless it is held at a fair. The sad part of this you know somewhere in North Carolina, a bingo game did last longer than 5 hours, thus a law had to be passed.

If you’re doing the bio diesel thing just so you’ll know: It is a felony to steal more than $1000 of grease. So then it’s okay to steal $999 worth of grease?

I’m glad this one was repealed back in 2004. Nothing against amateurs: No one may be a professional fortune-teller, and if one wishes to pursue the practice as an amateur, it must be practiced in a school or church.Fortune-teller

And finally, did you know in North Carolina oral sex is considered a crime against nature? Talk about prison over crowding!

« Older posts Newer posts »
%d bloggers like this: