Thursday, October 19, 2017

products I love ...

I finally finished reading where i end by Katherine Clark!  You will have to wait until January 2018 to get it when it is finally published, but if you are looking for an encouraging and inspiring memoir, you won't be disappointed.

Katherine is a young, active mother of two children, and one afternoon at her son's school she is hit by a child jumping off one of the large playground items. Her neck is broken, she is instantly paralyzed and her life changes forever.  Telling her story, all the humiliating, humble bits and pieces of it, Katherine shares her amazing recovery.

I was brought to tears and laughter, and inspired by her will to live a life better than the one the doctors said she would have after her injury.

So here is probably one of those TMI (too much information) moments about me ... I once suffered horrible ulcerative colitis brought on my internalized stress while I was living with my abuser (my divorce was an amazing healing process in more ways than one).  Since then, I occasionally have bouts of irritable and stress-sensitive "issues."  'Nuff said about that.

But almost a month ago, I received a free box of Culturelle Pro-Well Probiotics to try.  I have been amazed at the difference in how I feel since starting the capsules!  Not just physically, but just in my overall health.  I'm losing weight (YAY!!!), sleeping better, and no longer have the discomfort and panic of trying to be close to a restroom 30 minutes after eating.

I've always known that eating yogurt was good bacteria for my innards, but I don't always remember to buy it when shopping, and honestly keep forgetting that I have it when I do buy it.  Now I take one capsule at night before I go to sleep (no, it will not make you drowsy ~ it's just when I take all my meds) and let those little buggers do their thing while I'm dreaming of rainbows, puppies, kittens and ducklings. (and that is an entirely different subject to blog about another time!)

links are affiliates ~ thank you!
I know.  You are tired of me going on and on about how thrilled I am to have found Jade Bloom Essential Oils and their awesome University.

But look at this!!!!  My October Collector's Club Gold Bag (for an affordable $18.95) had two amazing oils in it that would have cost me almost $100 if I had purchased them on their own! 

Jade Bloom University explains how different oils are made (super fascinating!) and how to use them.  For me, understanding how they are made and the best and safest ways to use them was what sealed the deal for me.  I knew aromatherapy was a great tool to use in physical and mental health, having studied it years ago, but there was a lot that 'book-learnin' just doesn't cover.  The University is free ~ in fact, you get paid to learn because you earn free oils in the process!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

Hayden watched the shadow of the tree outside his window on his bedroom wall as the lightning flashed.  He counted the seconds between the flash and the thunder as his dad had taught him before he died.  Thunderstorms used to give him nightmares when he was younger, often causing his asthma to get worse.  Counting helped him to stay calm, and it gave him courage after his dad had died.

After his father's funeral, several of the children he went to school with had come up to him in the recess yard the first day he had gone back to school.  His friends had stood in front of him as the other boys and girls teased him about his father getting eaten by the boogyman.  Hayden hadn't said a word and a teacher had finally come over to see what was going on.  Parents had been called to the principal's office and letters sent home with the warning that if there were a recurrence of the bullying, there would be expulsions with no further warnings.

After that day, he had mostly kept to himself, choosing to go to the library rather than out to recess.  His friends told him he shouldn't hide in there, that it just made the bullies think they had won.  But Hayden didn't care.  He missed his father, and in the library, he could pretend the rows and rows of books were magical tunnels that would lead his father back home if he just wished hard and long enough.

At the harvest festival, after his dad was gone, Hayden had been frightened by a clown that had popped a bright red balloon behind him.  The clown had laughed when Hayden jumped, spilling his popcorn into the water at the apple bobbing tent.  His mother had shooed the clown away with an angry word and bought him a new bag of popcorn, but they had gone home when he hadn't wanted to let go of her hand long enough to get on any of the rides, even the ponies that he usually loved.

Lightning lit up his bedroom again, bright enough to momentarily distort his vision, followed by a crack of thunder that didn't give him any time to count.  His ears were still ringing when another flash made the shadow of the tree on his wall appear to have some kind of bear sitting on the limb.  As he blinked, trying to adjust to the sudden darkness and flashes of blinding light, the shadow moved back and forth, closer and closer until it seemed as if it was in his room with him.


She could barely hear his scream over the crash of continuous thunder as the storm reached its strength.  Racing to the top of the stairs, calling his name as she reached for the door handle, she suddenly realized that she wasn't alone in the hallway.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Words for Wednesday 18 October 17 ~ the prompts ...

Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast. I joined in when Elephant's Child was hosting the prompts. This month I will be hosting.

Essentially the goal is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating ignoring them. We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. It would be wonderful if as many people as possible joined into this creative exercise. If you are posting on your own blog - please share the link to your blog post in the comments below so that we can come enjoy and applaud.

Keeping with October's theme, the words this week are taken from Stephen King's It.  

I read most of King's early works, but when Needful Things made me upset over the way he killed a dog, and Insomnia touched on child molestation, Rose Madder was too close to home as I was in an abusive marriage, I stopped reading his books.  Of all his books, The Stand is my ultimate favorite, and when I left my abuser, it was the only book of King's that I took with me.

1. Clown
And your image to use [Image Source]
2. Tunnels
3. Children
4. Nightmares
5. Water
6. Friends


1. Visions
2. Red
3. Courage
4. Asthma
5. Recurrence
6. Hide

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

She paced the living room floor, trying to fight off the melancholy fog of grief that threatened to overtake her. The violent storm outside caused the electricity to go off once again, and as she stood in the darkness, she remembered the first storm they had shared when they were dating.

His kiss had caught her by surprise since the room was so dark she couldn't see him at all. He had whispered to her that he had memorized her face before the lights had gone out, and she had laughed, amused and amazed at his outrageous love for her. The sensations of his touch on her skin after that first kiss still lingered, even now, a year after his murder by some savage beast in the ravine behind their house.

Her family couldn't understand why she had stayed in the house after that.  But it had been their house and each room held a memory of them together.  Painting walls that turned into giddy splatter wars, and writing "i love you" on the walls.  Hours spent sanding down the wood floors, and the time they had found themselves cornered by wet sealant when they hadn't thought to work towards the door.  They had spent the night sleeping curled up in each other's arms, until the floor was dry enough to tip toe out of the room.  Even now she could still see their toe prints faintly on the floor.

When she had gotten pregnant, they had been over the moon with excitement.  They spent hours refinishing the room next to theirs for the nursery, arguing over names with each paint stroke, and each sanded board. They hadn't wanted to know the sex of the child before birth, and had finally chosen a first name that could be appropriate for either gender.  They had agreed upon middle names using their grandparents names which would seal the gender.  When their son was born, he had glowed for days with happiness and had driven her almost crazy by catering to her every need instantly.

Now, six years later and a year after his father's death, his face reminded her of him.  Each time she heard him running down the stairs to greet her in the morning, her heart skipped a beat. There had been so much joy in that house, and she knew that she had to remain strong for their son.

The phone rang unexpectedly, startling her in the darkness, and as she stumbled over a chair the lights came back on.  Gasping in pain from the fall, she answered the phone.


"Hello! This is Detective Frank Enstein.  I wanted to let you know that we finally got the results back from the laboratory on the saliva found on your husband's wounds."

"What? It has been a year.  I didn't even realize that the case was still open.  I thought that you had determined it was some kind of animal?"

"Well, yes, that was our preliminary conclusion, but there was something about the saliva that the lab wanted to look into further.  They found a connection to several much older unsolved murder cases."

"What does that mean? It wasn't an animal?  Are we in danger?"

"We're not sure.  We're sending equestrian and K9 teams out in the morning to search the ravine behind your house."

"What are they looking for?"

"About 60 years ago, there were a series of five murders on the outskirts of town.  It was long before there was even any thought about DNA, especially in these rural areas, but one young police officer, my dad in fact, thought that he should preserve some of the evidence somehow.  He managed to seal some of the clothing that had blood and saliva on it into glass jars that sat in a box in the lab closet.  One of the older techs remembered something his parents had talked about in hush-hush tones at night, and how when he was a kid they had all been told to stay away from the ravine.  I found my dad's file of his personal notes from the cases, and asked the lab if they had the box was still there.  When they found it, they managed to extract a small amount of DNA from some of the fibers to test."


"Well, it turned out to be a match.  An exact match actually."

"So what happened in these other cases?"

"They just had old black and white pictures and pencil sketches in the files that had mostly faded from age, but some of them were pretty gruesome looking.  Not only did they kill the men, but in once case where they had broken into a barn chasing a man, they had killed a cow and a pig.  Dad had penciled 'like a slaughterhouse' in the margin of his notes."

"And you think this thing, or person, is still out there after all these years? Haven't you watched too many X-Files episodes?"

"I know it sounds crazy, but not as crazy as the DNA matching was.  If it is the same person, it could be the start of another series of murders.  We've had inquiries from the county on the other side of the ravine about some missing hikers, but nobody made the connection until now."

"Is my son in danger?"

"I honestly don't know, but if you have a gun in the house, I think you should keep it close to you, and stay close to your son until we get this sorted out.  I can send an officer out if you want to just keep an eye on things if you'd like."

"I don't have a gun, and I would appreciate it if you could send someone.  I'm worried now."

"I'll have someone out there in the next ten minutes, but in the meantime, just keep the house locked up and the curtains closed.  I'll call you as soon as the officer is there so you know who it is."

"Thank you so much.  I really appreciate it."

Hanging up the phone, she limped around to make sure the downstairs doors and windows were all locked, and the drapes all pulled tightly shut before going upstairs to check on her son and pull his curtains closed.  As she slowly went up the steps, she paused as she heard a noise from the stairs above her ...

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Words for Wednesday 11 October 17 ~ the prompts ...

Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast. I joined in when Elephant's Child was hosting the prompts. This month I will be hosting.

Essentially the goal is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating ignoring them. We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. It would be wonderful if as many people as possible joined into this creative exercise. If you are posting on your own blog - please share the link to your blog post in the comments below so that we can come enjoy and applaud.

This week, the words are from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

I've not read Frankenstein, but I think that what she accomplished in writing and publishing a novel such as this in 1818 was an amazing feat for a woman who was once thought to be unworthy of educating.  Reading her biography, and knowing my own demons that I put to paper, I have to wonder how much of Frankenstein comes from growing up motherless, and the deaths of her children, sister, and husband. Perhaps she daydreamed of what life would have been like if she'd been able to bring them back to life?
And the image for inspiration ... [Image Source]

1. Electricity
2. Grief
3. Laboratory
4. Slaughterhouse
5. Kiss
6. Amuse


1. Melancholy
2. Murder
3. Ravine
4. Laugh
5. Sensations
6. Violent

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Words on Wednesday ...

Image Source:
The beast perched on a branch in the tree closest to the child's window on the second floor.  In the darkness, it could see farther into the room than the occupants were aware.  The wind picked up, howling sorrowfully in the trees, as the fall leaves fluttered to the wrap-around patio, rustling against the door.

A dog, forgotten in the neighbor's yard with the approaching storm, whined as it caught the scent of the beast on the wind. It pulled on the chain that kept it in the yard, not wanting to get closer to the beast, but farther away.  The chain remained unbroken, rattling loudly each time the dog relented as it pulled harder and harder to escape.

Unexpectedly, the light in the room the beast was watching came on, nearly blinding the beast with the brightness of it. Grimly it watched as the young soul bounded into the room and onto the bed.  It feared the monsters under the bed, not the one watching ominously outside the window.

The beast sniffed the air again, smelling the freshness of the soul, the innocence unprepared for the disaster that awaited it ...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Words for Wednesday 4 October 17 ~ the prompts ...

Words for Wednesday is provided by a number of people and has become a movable feast. I joined in when Elephant's Child was hosting the prompts. This month I will be hosting.

Essentially the goal is to encourage us to write. Each week we are given a choice of prompts: which can be words, phrases, music or an image. What we do with those prompts is up to us: a short story, prose, a song, a poem, or treating ignoring them. We can use some or all of the prompts.

Some of us put our creation in comments on the post, and others post on their own blog. It would be wonderful if as many people as possible joined into this creative exercise. If you are posting on your own blog - please share the link to your blog post in the comments below so that we can come enjoy and applaud.

This being October, I thought I would offer up prompt words and pictures appropriate to the season. This week, I'm selecting the words from The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

And your image to write about or include
I have an affinity for ravens, and their place in many Native American legends and myths. However, in reading The Raven it is so apparant that it was never intended to be a horror poem, but instead, a love letter.

1. Forgotten
2. Sorrow
3. Rustling
4. Darkness
5. Unbroken
6. Window


1. Perched
2. Grim
3. Beast
4. Soul
5. Disaster
6. Ominous

Thursday, September 28, 2017

a month of Wednesday's Words ...

[I have been absent, but not completely ignorant of the words and actions of the world (sadly).  I'm joining (finally) this last Thursday in September for the witty words that have been provided by Granny Annie all month.  In October, the words and pictures will appear here on Tuesdays for those in the Southern Hemisphere.  Which reminds me of a wonderful picture I saw once for those end-of-the-world doomsday preppers ... "Keep Calm and Remember ... It is Already Tomorrow in Australia!"]

I know. I know. I’ve been gone for a while. I took an arbitrary absence. A diminution in my writing. I have no plausible excuse, just an immense sense of being overwhelmed. It has caused me to temporize everything lately, which has only served to create more pandemonium in my garbled thought processes.

I wish I had the élan of other writers who can produce perfunctory ghost-written articles for income. But I am not able to bifurcate my desire for toothsome writing with what sometimes reads like vermicular spew. I have an edacious desire for words that fill me like wine in a crucible. To write meaninglessly is gauche. The resulting melee between my values and my wallet festers with an inhere greed that I cannot submit to.

The bona fides work of an author should be without question. Subjecting readers to anything less would make one a schadenfreude of a chthonic region. So, I submit myself to a regimen of splenetic work until the manumit of this onerous life, looking at meme of angry cats for entertainment, occasionally with a yawp of copacetic laughter.

If there were only a savant writer who could advise me. One who would not look at me with one arm akimbo, as though to wreak posture in a haphazard fashion. As if I were a tare set to vindicate my inability to write.

My dream of becoming a best-selling author is flat-hatting away from me. It is true I construed it was my inalienable destiny as the dithyramb of my sleep prodded me awake night after night like a sericeous mouse dropped in my bed by a ludic kitten. My fidelity to that dream makes no difference if I find myself becoming a poltroon.

No! It shall not happen. Instead, I repudiate the turpitude of those thoughts, and choose to assay the direction of my next book in the solitude of the autumn bosky before the winter snows fall and imprison me.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Products I love ...

(click on photos to enlarge them)

I recently received my first Collector's Club Gold Bag from Jade Bloom. I was amazed and thrilled at the product included in this $18.95 monthly surprise package.  When I added up the cost to have ordered each of these, I could have easily spent $50!
Included in my first gold bag: an AromaWave Essential Oil diffuser for the car, two oil blends (Citrus and Namaste), and replacement diffuser pads.
What I love (love Love LOVE) the most about this company, is the fact that they offer up to 8 free oils as you learn about essential oils.  (and I confess to having been an essential oil newbie ~ I'm still learning about oils, blends, and their use ~ but Jade Bloom is an incredible resource!)
I'm using two other blends in the car because of how stressful our lives are right now.  Well-Being helps with anxiety and boosting confidence, and Alleviate helps with relieving our tension headaches.
(links are affiliate links, and thank you in advance!)

Several weeks ago I received two pre-publication books for review.
 (longer ago than I should admit actually since my reviews were due months ago, but moving got in the way and the books were packed into boxes I just recently found)

"Follow the Cloud" by John Stickl has been an aHa! read for me so far with pages and pages of underlined and highlighted paragraphs as I've poured over his words.  At the end of each chapter has been questions designed to dig deeper into what I know and need.  This will be a book I read again and again, especially in times when I feel lost.

"Where i end" by Katherine Elizabeth Clark will come out in January with Moody Publishers has been a heart-wrenching but inspiring read so far, and I can't wait to share with you my final thoughts when I finish it.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Words from Wednesday

I'm joining again with fellow creative bloggers down under, up here and over there. Words this month have been provided by River at Drifting Through Life.  Next month's words will be found at Granny Annie's spot

"I wasn't ready for another dog!" she whispered as tears rolled down the sides of her face and into her ears. Pulling her t-shirt up over her face, she tried to dry out her ears and sat up on the sofa.  It had been seven months (2 weeks, 4 days, and 10 hours, but she really wasn't counting) since her soul-dog had died unexpectedly in her arms, and there still wasn't a night that went by that she didn't catch her breath and cry under the covers, her pillow muffling her sobs.

But there he was, at the other end of the sofa, looking as if he understood he wasn't wanted.  It was something he was familiar with, although he didn't understand it completely.  He really was a complaisant dog, there were sometimes just extenuating circumstances.

His first home had too many small children that wanted to pull on his fur. After one such torturous afternoon of bedevilment, he had reacted with a snap at some clutching little fingers.  The child jumped and fell backward with a "splat" sound from their very full diaper.  He went to a shelter that very day.

The shelter had been frightening and loud, with each dog barking in competition to get the attention of the people that would sometimes walk by.  He hadn't known what to do at first, he was so traumatized by the noise and sudden change in his environment.  He huddled in the far back of his kennel, where he could hear the rain dripping from the eaves outside at night.  It was cold in the small building where he stayed in a narrow run between two larger, and meaner, dogs.  At night he shivered, whining and sometimes howling in fear and loneliness.

One afternoon, two nuns came into the shelter. They were seeking a companionship dog for an elderly nun who had recently been ill and was now living at an institute for retired and disabled clergy men and women.  As all the dogs barked and howled, jumping at the gates to get their attention, he instead had stood in the center of the kennel, unsure of whether or not he wanted to approach the women.  One of them knelt down and tried to get him to come to the gate, but she smelled of illness, so he backed away from her and curled up in the corner with his back to the gate.

The next day a man came to the shelter. He was looking for a small dog that didn't shed much.  He had researched breeds on his computer and had heard that there was a Shih Tzu at the shelter.  

The man picked him up and looked at him.  "He'll do," he said, before paying the fee and carrying him out the door.  He didn't care what it cost, or whether or not it was friendly.  He just wanted something low maintenance so that his children would stop whining about wanting a dog since his wife had walked out on all of them.

They called him Charlie. The shelter said it had been his name before, and they thought he was about a year and a half old. As time passed, Charlie began to wonder if he wouldn't have been better off staying at the shelter.  The man would go out of town on business for several days at a time, leaving the children to take care of him. But they would all go their separate ways, to friends' houses or older siblings.  He sometimes went several days without seeing anyone, or without getting any food, water or walks.  He learned to limit how much water he drank because it became too uncomfortable to hold it, and when the man came home and found places where he had been forced to go to the bathroom, he would yell and punish Charlie.  He would howl at all hours of the day from loneliness and fear that he would be left alone forever.  

Sometimes when the man was home, the children would bring friends over and Charlie was never sure who was going to treat him nicely, or push him away.  He became afraid of strangers, and one time he even snapped at one of the children when they roughly pushed him away. He was punished by the man but wasn't taken back to the shelter.  Charlie almost wished he had been.

One day some people moved into the basement. After a while, the man went away on business again and all the children went to their friends' houses.  Charlie got hungry and lonely and started howling. Unexpectedly, he heard a voice in the back door hallway talking to him. He growled and barked, but didn't go close enough for the voice to see him.  Suddenly, a little piece of hot dog rolled across the floor, then another, and another.  He waited until the voice went away and he heard the door to the basement close before he went out to eat them.

Every night that the man was gone and the children didn't come home to feed or walk him, the voice would talk to him when he started to howl. There would be treats, or hot dogs, or some other concoction of food tossed over the pet gate that divided them.  He would wait until he heard the voice leave before he ate.

One week there was a great deal of turmoil in the house. The man was putting things in boxes, and the children were crying. Charlie didn't understand what was going on except that he heard his name mentioned a few times when the man talked on the phone or to the children's friends.  Finally, the man carried him to the basement door and knocked.  He heard the voice ask who it was, and the man said it was him and he had a favor to ask.  Could they watch Charlie for a few weeks until things got sorted out?  The man was moving far away, and the children were either staying with older siblings or their mother and couldn't take Charlie.  He would pay them.

The door opened, and for the first time, Charlie saw who the voice belonged to.  It was a woman who looked sad and lonely just like Charlie.  She reached out her arms and took him, and said that as long as it was temporary, they could watch him.  Charlie growled a little as she held him, and she whispered in his ear, "Shhh. It's okay. You won't get hurt here, you won't be left alone, and you won't ever be hungry."

Now the two of them watched TV together, went for walks, and snuggled at night.  The man never called or came back for Charlie, and Charlie didn't miss him or the children at all.  She might not have thought she was ready for another dog when they met, but she was, and Charlie knew that they were meant to be together.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

The original Words for Wednesday was begun by Delores and eventually taken over by a moveable feast of participants when Delores had computer troubles.  The aim of the words is to encourage us to write, a story, a poem, whatever comes to mind.
If you are posting an entry on your own blog, please let us know so we can come along and read it.  This month the words are supplied by River and can be found here.

Image Source:

Dusk is beginning to come early these days, the sun turning northern clouds an exquisite shade of amethyst.  The morning dew turns spiders' knitting into jeweled silk gossamer.  Apples on the trees are beginning to turn red, and I've been searching for recipes for homemade applesauce.

As I glance out the window, the turbulent winds toss the branches in the trees as the cold moves south. The sweater I've been forced to put on this evening is itching my skin as my brain tries to wrap around the thought that summer might just be too short. There is no security in the date on the calendar. The truth is in the wind.
An unexpected death today ~ a nephew gone too soon, and under unnecessary difficulties.  My heart breaks for his mother, brother, and sister.  Life is too short. Always. Too short. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Words on a Friday ...

I'm sneaking in late to join the amazingly creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life for this week's words.

He sat in the dark, listening closely to every sound. He knew she must be sitting just on the other side of the door as well, waiting to see if he made any noise.

He had seen the open trap door to what must have once been a root cellar and as he turned to tell her to be careful, she had tripped on a chair and fell against him. Thrown off balance, he had almost fallen down the stairs but had been able to grab the edge of the floor to keep from going all the way down.  When the trap door had fallen shut on his hand, he had cursed at her as he jerked his smashed hand away and landed heavily on his back.

The fall had knocked the wind out of him at first, and for a moment he wasn't sure if he was even still alive. As he lay on the dirt floor, huffing and puffing to try to get into a normal breathing rhythm, he was confused about what had actually happened.  Had she really tripped, or had she deliberately pushed him into the cellar?

As breathing became easier, he slowly moved up the stairs until he was just under the door.  He couldn't see any light in the room above through the cracks in the door.  He felt a panic rising in him and started counting backwards from one hundred as he had done as a child when his anxiety made him a target for bullies.  As he mouthed the number eight, he heard her move in the room above and suddenly threw himself at the door, screaming and shouting her name.

He heard her laughing at him, then suddenly stifle herself and run from the cabin.  His anger reached such a supreme intensity at that moment, he could scarcely contain himself.  Screaming obscenities at her, pounding on the door, he continued until he could feel the blood pouring from his splintered and shattered fists, and his throat was so sore he could only manage a whisper.  How long had he been at it? He didn't know.  All he knew now was that he desperately wanted something to drink and to wrap his hands around her throat to watch her slowly die.

He sat back on the floor and felt something underneath him.  Shifting his weight, he realized that his cell phone had fallen out of his pocket somehow and quickly turned it on.  Zero bars. No signal at all.  But there was still enough battery for him to use it to see what was in the cellar that he could use to his advantage.

In a corner, he found a candle and a handmade fishing pole.  There weren't any hooks, and the line was just a piece of twine that crumbled under his touch.  Frowning, he turned to look at the rest of the cellar as the cell phone began to dim.  Swiping his finger across the screen, he noticed for the first time along the bottom of the phone which read "emergency calls only." Quickly tapping out 911 on the keypad, he listened to see if the call would be answered. Static, then a voice that was broken and indecipherable.

"Hello?!? Hello?!?! Can you hear me? I need help! I'm trapped!!"

The phone suddenly went black as the battery finally died. Angrily he threw it against the wall, hearing it smash and fall into pieces on the floor. He felt his way back to the stairs and trap door, beating and screaming until he slumped exhausted to the ground.


She had gotten into the shower as soon as she got home, turning the water as hot as she could stand it as if she could wash the despicable names he had called her off her skin. Seeing his brand new razor on the edge of the sink, she had used it to shave her legs and underarms, the second act of defiance she'd done in the last ten years.

Later, she had stood in front of the bathroom mirror, and wiped a circle in the steam to look at herself. He had always made her keep her hair long, even when the summer temperatures exceeded 100°.  It gave him something to grab and pull when he wanted to punish her.  Now she cut it off until it was just at her chin. She took his razor again and shaved uneven layers in her hair to give it texture.  It was her third act of defiance.

A week later, when no one had knocked on her door, she had filed a missing person report on him.  No, she didn't know where he could have gone.  He didn't have many friends. She thought he had gone on a business trip, but didn't know for sure since he seldom told her his plans.  Interviews with his clients confirmed that none had even known he was married.

A month later, when the police were still without any clues or anyone who had confessed to even missing him, she stood in front of his closet and took all of his tailor made white silk shirts off the hangers.  He spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on each shirt, yet couldn't spend $4 on a bar of soap or bottle of shampoo to wash his body or hair on a daily basis. He bathed or shaved only when it would financially benefit him ~ when he had a business meeting with one of his investors.  For them, he would look and smell his best, but for her, he wouldn't even brush his teeth.

She carefully slid a piece of cardboard covered in plastic wrap inside the first shirt and began to work.  Taking a lit candle, she dripped wax across the silk making flowers that would impress even Monet. Next, she took an eyedropper and carefully colored in her flowers using fabric dyes. As the silk dried, she began working on another shirt until there were thirty completed shirts, one for every season of flowers she could imagine. In the corner of each collar, she had carefully dipped a toothpick into the wax and signed them "DBH."

It was her fourth act of defiance.

After she had carefully ironed the wax out of the fabric, she had tried each of them on, some worn as dresses with a solid colored silk tie as a belt, others as shirts.  A few she had made with her sisters and old girlfriends in mind, and so she sat down to write them each a long overdue letter before wrapping their shirt in tissue paper and addressing the labels for the shipping envelopes. He had cut her off from everyone he knew within the first two years of their marriage.  Now it was time to reconnect.

It was her fifth act of defiance.

A year later, when she had forgotten what his voice sounded like, what he looked and smelled like; when the police had misplaced their few slips of paper notes about the man no one missed, she had stood in front of the small gallery with the "DBH Gallery Grand Opening" banner and smiled.  In the window, she saw her latest silk shirt creations, along with artwork some of her new friends had made for the occasion.

Defiance Becomes Her.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Words for Wednesday ...

Let the word games continue ... I'm joining the wonderfully creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life and Elephant's Child for this week's words. 

When you live in an abusive relationship, it can sometimes seem like having multiple dynamic personalities.  Who you are alone in public, or your demeanor at work can be dramatically different from who you are at home. What may seem like an easy solution to the problem ~ leaving ~ isn't always that simple. The longer you stay, the harder it can be to leave because you often don't have many ~ or any ~ friends or family that know your situation. It is not something that is easy to talk about or explain why you have stayed.

To someone who has never lived that life of fear and uncertainty, they don't understand that you didn't choose that life, or that person because of how they would treat you. Abusers lure you in with all the right words and actions.  Even when you start to suspect that something isn't quite right in your relationship, they know exactly what to say to make you question yourself and not them. By the time you realize that you are in trouble, usually, after the ring is on your finger, it is often too difficult to easily walk away.

Choosing to leave requires thought and planning.  Oh, you can certainly drop everything and run. But chances are that your abuser has so completely controlled you, so completely manipulated you, that you may have little or no financial resources to fall back on if you choose to run. So when you make that decision, you need to make sure you can stick to it because going back shouldn't be an option.  Going back may not mean smoothly going back to a familiar situation. It could mean going back to something much worse because now there is retaliation for having the audacity to leave.

She knew all these things when she made the decision that enough was enough and that she wouldn't be able to pull off any Jennifer Lopez moves. She also knew that she never wanted him to be able to treat another woman the way he had treated her. She wanted out and she wanted to be able to sleep at night.

The cabin was deep in the woods.  So deep that when the real estate agent took her out to show her the property, they had to walk a mile off the dirt road that required four-wheelers to get even that close.  There was no mobile phone service, and without electricity, there were also no lights in the cabin. For a hunter, it was the perfect property.  For the hunted, it was the perfect property.

It had taken her ten years of putting aside loose change and spare dollars. She'd had to save them at the office where she worked, hidden in a locked box, in the back of a locked desk drawer.  As soon as she'd saved enough she would exchange her smaller coins and bills for a larger denomination bill to save space in the box.  Eventually, she'd been forced to buy three other lock boxes.  But she finally had saved and hidden enough. Buying the cabin for $6000 had made a dent in her savings, but she knew it was perfect for what she had in mind. 

The real estate agent was surprised that she wanted to pay cash, but he didn't complain.  The cabin had been on the market for ten years, and there weren't even any living heirs anymore to transfer the deed.  In fact, there wouldn't be any transfer.  The terms of the sale were that the cabin would need to be moved or burned within the next year when the land lease with the national forest was up. The cabin would be hers, but there would be no way to prove it if anyone ever asked.  The cash she paid for the property already filled his pockets, and the deed to the property would line the bottom of his bird's cage in the morning.  He didn't dare risk depositing any of the cash.  No reason for the IRS to be alerted. It wasn't as if it was a huge sum anyway. If he was careful, he could probably not need another commission for three months.

She told her husband that a friend had offered her their cabin for the weekend. She said it in an offhand way as if she really didn't want to go, or even wanted to mention it to him. She knew that if she acted disinterested it would pique his interest and curiosity to the point of obsession. He asked where it was, and she said she wasn't positive, only that it was quite far and difficult to get to. He said they should go that weekend.

From the dirt road where they left the side-by-side four-wheeler, it should have been a straight mile west to the cabin, taking them less than 30 minutes to reach. But she didn't want him to know she had been there several times already to prepare. Instead, she went southeast, then east before turning north and making a gradual southwesterly turn, taking two hours to get to the cabin.

Sunset was in an hour by the time they reached the cabin, but they were deep enough into the forest that it seemed as if the sun had already set. Holding her cell phone as a flashlight, she followed him into the cabin and making sure that the trap door to the tiny root cellar under the cabin was still open. She waited until he was close to the open door, then acted as if she tripped on a chair leg and threw her weight against him.  As he went flying down the stairs, she quickly slammed the door closed and put a lock on it.

There had been an audible thud when he had landed on the bare sand floor, then nothing. She waited in the darkness and silence.  She thought once she heard him curse her name but then realized that it might have just been her conscious making her feel guilty.  Looking at her watch, she suddenly realized that she had been sitting there for almost an hour.  There hadn't been any sound from the root cellar in all that time.

She slowly stood, the floor creaking as she moved. Suddenly it was if he had been waiting at the top of the stairs the entire time, just listening for her to move.  He pounded angrily on the trap door and screamed profanities at her, demanding that she let him out immediately so that he could deal with her face to face.

The irony of his demand and the sudden shock and fear she felt of what he would do to her if the lock or door didn't hold made her burst into hysterical laughter. She quickly put her hand over mouth, shaking so hard she almost fell to the floor.  He screamed at her and began pounding on the trap door again even harder.

Turning quickly, she ran from the cabin and into the darkness.  She had made the hike through the woods several times to learn landmarks that she would have to feel in the darkness when she didn't want to use a flashlight. But she still stumbled and cried out with fear when she thought she had taken a wrong turn.

It took her an hour to get back to the side-by-side, walking with her hands in front of her to feel for the next landmark tree, counting her steps along the way. Every sound, every snap of a branch, or rustle of leaves made her freeze and listen, holding her breath until she couldn't hold it any longer. When she finally got back to the truck and trailer they had rented, she drove the side-by-side up the ranps onto the trailer and quickly drove back to the rental yard.  She dropped the keys in the rental box and drove her car straight home.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wednesday's Words ...

What?!? Wednesday already?!? Where has this week gone??? I'm picking up where I left off last week and joining the wonderfully creative bloggers at Drifting Through Life and Elephant's Child for this week's words. 

     It had been their anniversary the weekend prior. As he had regularly for the past 11 years, her husband had forgotten about it until he came home from work and saw the candlelit dinner she had prepared for them. He stood in the doorway of the dining room for a moment with a confused look on his face.
     "I guess today is some kind of an occasion or something?"
     She looked up at him and hesitated before answering. She had to carefully process her response. If he was just testing her, a sarcastic response could be dangerous. But if he had truly forgotten, then reminding him could also be dangerous.
     "Every day with you is special, dear."
     He studied her face, moving closer until his height towered over her. She knew instantly that he had been testing her and that her cautious answer had been too close to being sarcasm.  She mentally kicked herself. He leaned down, whispering to her.
     "Perhaps we should celebrate with a matinee movie.  Not this crap you made that they wouldn't even serve in the concessions stand."
     She held her breath, waiting until he stepped back before she inhaled again. Something had obviously died inside of him.  The stench of his breath and the blackness of his teeth had almost made her vomit.
     "That sounds nice.  There is an indie film festival this weekend. Maybe we could see something? I heard there was a movie showing called Suburbia. Or maybe it was called The Safety of Objects? I can't remember which.  But it has Glenn Close in it, and I know you like her work."  

     They had gone to the movie and later had dinner in one of the nicer, more expensive restaurants in town.  She had been surprised at his willingness to see an indie movie, and even more surprised when he had suggested the restaurant.
     The next morning she had woken up early, thinking of something Glenn Close's character had said in the movie.

"How did I get here? Somewhere along the way, things have gotten out of hand. I don't know how. I tried to do things right, but... maybe that's the problem. Maybe there is no right or wrong. We're ruled by chaos. That would make more sense. That there are no rewards, no punishments. Life isn't a series of results of things done right or wrong. It's all just random. Those are the rules. There are no rules."
      The movie had given her the courage to take the next step. She knew that what she had planned for him would almost be considered overkill but she knew she couldn't do another year with him.  It was time to end it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wednesday's Words

It is Wednesday and we are getting ready to go out of town to see Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame in concert.  I'm rushing to get my words in with Elephant's Child and Mumblings before we have to leave.

She picked the suitcase up off the carpet and as she set it on the bed with determination to unzip it, she shook her head. It wasn't just that he was filthy and disgusting that was making her want to leave him. It was everything else. He had become a maniacal megalomaniac, with his finicky quirks about cleaning. Just that morning he had hit her repeatedly with the duster as she was trying to reach the tops of the ceiling fans. He had found a speck of dust on the magazine that she had been reading in the bathroom, the only room of the house where she felt like she had some privacy away from his dominant display of arrogance and hypocrisy.

For a man who was a freak about cleaning the house, from the baseboards to the ceiling fans, his personal hygienic habits were completely opposite.  She couldn't remember the last time he had bathed, used deodorant, or brushed his teeth.  The stench that emanated from him was overpowering and reminded her of a dead deer they had once stumbled upon when they were hiking shortly after they married.

She paused in her packing, thinking back to that day. They had literally stumbled upon the dead deer, rounding a corner in the path they had tripped over one of the deer's hind legs and he had fallen elbow deep into the decaying abdomen of the pregnant doe.  She had managed to catch herself on a tree limb to keep from falling, but he had not moved for several minutes before she had finally called out his name.  He had jumped up at that moment and kicked the carcass with his boots, but still hadn't made a sound. Turning towards her, she saw his hand reach for his carbine strapped to his waist and for a moment she was afraid.

He had always been dominant over her. Setting out the clothes he expected her to wear each day, reading her email and mail, checking her cell phone for calls made or received and questioning her on numbers he hadn't already saved into her contacts list. When they first met he hadn't been so controlling, only slightly jealous and possessive in a way that made her feel wanted and desired. After they married, however, she realized that he was becoming more controlling, more possessive, and more jealous in ways that no longer made her feel special. Instead, she felt like just a thing to be owned, as if she was no longer a person but a cheap material thing he had bought at a flea market.  She became afraid of him as he subtly eliminated all of her friends and family from her life. Her self-esteem diminished to the point of suicidal depression, and she felt trapped and hopeless.

Each day was like waking up to a new nightmare, where she would never know what was coming next. His mood swings increased, often set off by something that had nothing to do with her or him, yet she took the brunt of his anger. Perhaps a customer had made a comment about his weight gain, or he had seen a commercial on television for deodorant. It never made any sense and she had stopped trying to make sense of it at all.

After 12 years of marriage though, he had made one tactical mistake....

Friday, July 21, 2017

collect ... in 5

I'm collecting my thoughts here with the wonderfully talented writers at Five Minute Friday again this week ...

I collect rocks almost as much as I collect words, although currently, my rock collection is probably larger than my book collection.

They come with tangible memories attached to them of places we've been, and in some cases, the people we have been with.

Last night I reached out to a nephew to ask if he wanted a rock I had kept from Carpinteria Beach in California. It was the last time I had seen him.  In 1999.  For me, the rock was a reminder of time spent with him and his brother.  For him, it will be a reminder of a vacation spent with his uncle who recently passed away.

deceptively innocent looking, isn't she?
I also collect bird nests, fragments of varied and colorful wild bird eggshells, feathers, paper wasp nests, butterfly wings, beach shells, sand, driftwood, and birch bark.  Recently I found a double decker paper wasp nest.  I used to keep my "treasures" in a bowl on my writing desk for inspiration.

However, with the addition of one curious kitten named Lucy Magillicutty to our family, I've had to start keeping things in closed jars. She also likes to collect things.  Stray pennies to drop into my husband's work boots. His gently used foam ear plugs from work. Cough drops. Sponge stencil brushes. Guitar picks. Empty toilet paper rolls.

I collect things of nature because of the beauty in all that He creates.

Your adornment must not be merely external—with interweaving and elaborate knotting of the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or [being superficially preoccupied with] dressing in expensive clothes; but let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not over anxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God. 
~ 1 Peter 3:3-4 [AMP] ~

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Words on Wednesday ...

Some weeks it seems like I just blink and it is Wednesday again. I'm joining the creativity, better late than never, over at Mumblings ...

It was a quiet evening on the water.  The sun was beginning to set, and there was a mist moving in from Lake Superior over Chequamegon Bay that gave it a mystical glow.

Just barely in her peripheral vision, Rose saw the Ashland Breakwater Light. She wondered if she would be able to swim to it before the cold water made it impossible for her to move her arms and legs.

Focusing on the beacon of light, she began to swim with determination. With each stroke, she thought of the events that had put her in the water that afternoon.

Rose and Andrew had taken an old sailboat named Misty Mountain Melody out for a test run on the bay. Their lives had finally reached a point where money was no object, and they were thinking of buying the boat to restore and live on during the summer months.  As the sails filled with the wind off the lake, they had tacked back and forth in the bay.  The fish finder radar showed plentiful fish beneath them, but they hadn't brought anything to bait their hooks with.

When the sun began to set, they drew in the sails and dropped anchor for the night. Rose went below to set out the splendid antique china that would come with the boat and opened the cooler she had brought with their evening meal, bacon, and eggs for breakfast carefully packed in it.  The small gas stove in the galley crackled as she lit it.

Hearing a noise behind her in the bow where the hammock that they would sleep in was hung, she turned to see the wispy image of a young woman in a long dress that would have been more appropriate at a debutante ball than in the cabin of a sailboat.

Startled to realize that she could see the hammock through the young woman, Rose backed up to the ladder leading up to the deck of the sailboat. The girl began to move towards her, whispering of long dormant jealousy, and the slanderous lies that had trapped her there in the boat. She had been in love with a sailor, the man who had built the boat by hand over two hundred years before. She thought he had been in love with her as well.

But one day she had surprised him by bringing his midday meal and had found him in the arms of her sister. They had denied their feelings for each other and instead had publically accused her of having an affair with another young man in the city who had recently been caught stealing from the market. Shamed and humiliated, she cursed both of them and vowed the destruction of the boat before she hung herself from the top mast of the sailboat.

The ancient gas stove hisses and popped as the young woman pointed an accusing finger towards her.  "You stole him from me!  How could you do that to me, sister?"

Rose started to respond as she backed up the stairs to the deck, but knew that the ghost of the young woman wasn't seeing her, but was seeing what had happened to her long ago.  The gas stove hissed again and the young woman turned. With a wave of her hand, the flames died as the gas continued to hiss.

Backing faster now, Rose burst up onto the deck and grabbed her husband, throwing both of them into the water just as the sailboat exploded into complete destruction.

Exhaustion now began to creep into her arms in the cold, and she began to doubt for the first time that she would reach the lighthouse.  Suddenly, a fishing boat appeared and pulled both of them out of the water.  

Weeks later, filled with gratitude for the men who had rescued them, she had gone to the local historical society to ask about the boat and the man who had built it.  

The boat had been built in the early 1800's and named for a young woman that the man was engaged to be married to. But tragedy had struck before he had been able to put the boat in the water for her first sail.  For reasons that no one remembered, his fiancée had hung herself from the mast of the sailboat one night.   A year later, when the man and his late fiancée's sister had taken the boat out for her inaugural sail, the man had slipped on the deck, falling overboard and drowning.  When his late fiancée's sister had tried to rescue him, she had been tangled in the rigging of the main sail and had hung to death. Since then, every owner of the sailboat had met with some tragedy.

As Rose looked at the microfiche news articles showing the original obituary of the young woman, she gasped when she read that Melody had been born in a small Tennessee community called Misty Mountain and had been survived by her sister, Rosemary, and her fiancé, Andrew.

Reaching to turn off the microfiche machine, Rose hesitate when she heard a whisper behind her.

"I told you I would destroy her."

Saturday, July 15, 2017

comfort ... in 5

Joining tonight a day late with the amazing and encouraging writers at Five Minute Friday ...

what was it about you? 

was it the fact that you shadowed me whenever I was in pain and did everything you could to comfort me?

was it the fact that you seemed to know and understand everything I said to you, even when I didn't fully understand myself?

do you know it still comforts me to talk to you late at night? 

you've been gone over a year now, and there are still moments and days when the loss grips my heart in a vice and I struggle to breathe.

they say there is a reason that dog spelled backward is God. 

could it be that the unconditional love shown to us by our dogs is a reflection of God's love for us? or that when we whisper our hurts into your floppy ears, that you whisper them to God for us? perhaps it is that the comfort we feel when you lean into us, is sent from God above?

when I still talk to you, I know that God hears me too.
when I feel comforted, I know that it is from God.
when I think of seeing you again, it comforts me more to know that you wait in God's presence too.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Words on Wednesday ...

Time flies when you are having fun, and I'm joining again with Elephant's Child and Mumblings for Words on Wednesday ...

The scent of jasmine and honeysuckle was heavy in the air. Drawing him in. Enticing. Intoxicating.

A large hornet hovered by him, nearly knocking him over as he tried to avoid it. Something was going on. He could see it now. They were gathering in crowds. He hurried closer.

Oblivious to their proximity, a woman with a purple hairnet over her curlers, hung sheets on the clothesline. Her hair was drenched in a horrifying chemical smell that nearly overtook the flowers' perfume, and for a moment he was afraid his senses would be permanently damaged.

There was a large bumblebee that appeared to be dancing in the air. After a moment, it settled down onto a nearby sunflower. He watched to see what the response would be from the others. Seeing movement, he turned to follow the crowd as they began to congregate closer to the woman.

Chilling screams began to fill the air as they moved in to strike.

Another worker from his hive broke away from the swarm to dance in front of the bumblebee resting on the sunflower. The message was simple but clear:


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Words on Wednesday ...

It is that time of the week again, and I'm joining with Elephant's Child and Mumblings for Words on Wednesday ...

From the moment she watched the Radio City Rockettes perform for a television Christmas special when she was five years old, she talked of almost nothing else. Dancing. Acting. Broadway. She knew she was destined to be an actress, to be in the spotlight. It was her dream. She even practiced kicks when she was supposed to be milking, often crashing over cans much to her father's frustration.

Her four older brothers would tease her in a spastic imitation of her dancing, and their laughter would resonate and amplify on the rock walls of the old barn. When she ran crying from the barn to her mother for sympathy, she was hurt by her mother's blasé response. 

"It isn't worth having dreams, honey. You know you'll never go anywhere or be anything other than a farmer's wife. It's what all the women in our family do. It's expected."

She left her family's small organic dairy farm when she was 18. She hadn't even said goodbye to any of her friends or family and had hitchhiked to the nearest town with a Greyhound bus stop, buying a ticket to New York City. She refused to give up on her dreams, she wanted something different. Something more.
He rose in the early morning hours and walked through the frosty field to the barn. He could hear the cows restless for their morning feed.  He stopped to look at the bull they had recently bought for a bargain price to help increase the herd and ran his hand over where it had been branded, shaking his head.  It was a cruel practice he refused to do to his own cows.

He turned the water valve to full blast and let it run down the trough to clean it from the night before.  He thought of her, as he often did in the quiet mornings when he milked the cows and wondered where she was and how she was doing. He wished they'd been able to talk more, but he hadn't known what to say to a young girl with such lofty dreams.

The farm had been in the family for almost 100 years. Dairy farming was in their blood. It was all they knew. That and acres of corn designated to feed the cows. When he had been a boy, he went to an air show once, and for a little while had dreamed of being an airplane pilot. But his father had told him to forget his dream. They were farmers, it was what they had always been.
She put the tickets in an envelope and added extra postage to make sure it got there. Six bus tickets and six front row seats to the Broadway opening night of Lavender Lies in which she had the starring role.  It had taken her almost ten years to finally make her dream come true, and she wanted to share it with the ones she loved most.
The envelope sat on the kitchen table waiting for him to come in from the fields. She looked at it out of the corner of her eye as she prepared dinner for him and their sons. She had recognized the handwriting and a small sob escaped when she took it from the mailbox. Postcards had arrived occasionally over the years, letting her know that all was well. That she was happy and was making her dream come true. She had slipped them into her apron pocket and not showed them to him, although she didn't know why. She supposed it was because she wanted to believe that dreams could come true and that if he knew where she was, he might make her give up and come back.

She'd had a dream once herself. Before she became a farmer's wife. Before she became a mother. Once she had gone to a museum and seen the most beautiful painting of a beach on a wall.  The sign beneath it said that it was by Claude Monet and an example of Impressionism Art. She had stood before the painting for almost an hour before being pulled away by her friends. Later that night she had dreamed of standing on a beach, feeling the water wash around her feet. 

One afternoon when she should have been doing homework she had sketched a beach scene, shading it with her pencil until it looked almost as if it was a photograph. She dreamed of seeing her sketches one day on a museum wall.
The envelope sat in the middle of the dining table, but none of them touched it or spoke of it.  Finally, when there were six empty plates around the table he reached for it. They waited to see what he would do. The silence after she had left nearly destroyed him, and he realized he should have said more to her. He carefully opened the envelope and pulled out the contents. There was no letter, no note. Just the tickets and a theater card. He looked up at his wife across the table from him. There were tears in his eyes, and a smile on his lips.

"We're going to need to pack. Our girl is an actress."