Summer’s End

Summer turns to Fall in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.  Yesterday we did some spiedies and fresh garden squash on the grill. What the hell are ‘spiedies’? I hear the non-locals reading this say. It’s our regional culinary claim to fame. Tip: If someone is trying to pass this delight off served on a roll with toppings like lettuce and/or cheese, it ain’t a spiedie.  A slice of Italian bread, maybe a touch of butter, meat. That’s it! Don’t mess with it! Today, Jim fired up the smoker and tossed a big ole slab of pork ribs on the grate. Six hours later – meat candy! Add some macaroni salad, beans, and watermelon and that says Summer!

The Harley roared to life this afternoon, too. It didn’t leave the garage, but still … it’s the first time I’ve heard it since we wrecked in mid-July. I have to say, it made me tear up a little bit, that sound, the feel, the smell. She, like us, has taken a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’. If there were any doubts in my mind about getting back on once the old girl is fixed, hearing that rumble shoved them all away.

A shame Summer is over with so fast, but you can’t stop the march of time and despite not accomplishing all that we had planned, there were some positives!

I read some awesome books! Andy Davidson’s novel In The Valley of the Sun takes top billing! As a long-time fan of vampire fiction, this book simply blew me away! It’s going to take something phenomenal to bump it from my #1 spot of the year – including Stephen King’s The Outsider that I finished up a couple weeks back. Sorry, Steve! You’re good, but Andy’s got you beat this year. I also laid my eyeballs on some Sci-Fiction I really enjoyed with Eight Minutes, Thirty-Two Seconds by Peter Adam Salomon and top honorable mention to W. Sheridan Bradford’s debut novel, the literary Horror title All Hallows. I’ll be finishing Hunter Shea’s latest release Ghost Mine this week, too. Thank God for great summer reads to push aside the aches, pains and boredom of the past three months or so.

We were able to get No Rest For The Wicked re-released after a brief hiatus. That felt good. I really hated having the book down and unavailable even if it was only for a couple of months. I expect to finish the first draft of my Texas Gothic Horror – The Inheritance by the end of this week. YAY!

I also did some paintings. Just as our trip last November to Terlingua, TX to be part of their Day of the Dead celebration was an inspiration for writing The Inheritance, it also inspired some art work in the form of four 8X10 paintings, El Cuervo, El Gato, El Lobo, and El Lagardo – The Crow, The Cat, The Wolf, and The Lizard. I’ve already done some prints for the first two, but haven’t managed to get the second two that far. Still – it’s been nice to have a paint brush in my hand again – and I don’t mean painting the house. That’s another story all together that I really don’t want to talk about.

Several things loom large for the Fall season, like book signing events! First one is coming up October 4th and 5th in Oneonta NY at the Horror-SciFi Festival. It will be my first convention. I’m super excited as well as a bit nervous. Maybe a bit more now that I won’t physically be up to speed. I still have a broken collar bone and a lot of pain so, it’s going to be a huge challenge. The second signing will happen a month later on November 1st in Owego NY at Riverow Bookshop as part of the village’s First Friday event. A lot closer to home and a lot less stressful. Those are the positives.

The negatives will see Jim getting surgery for his separated right shoulder on October 11. I’ll be taking a week off work to take care of him as best I can. Six weeks later, I go under the knife to get my collar bone put back together by way of pins and screws. It’s going to be a very rough fall and into the holidays for us. Sorry, family – Mom won’t be making Thanksgiving Dinner this year! Hopefully, this will be the beginning of the end of all this pain and suffering. Recovery, recovery, and more recovery.

New short story ideas have popped up here and there. I might go back to writing a Barnesville Chronicle I got overwhelmed with last year or work on re-writes for another title while I’m out (again) from the day job. Plenty of things to do that aren’t all that pressing in my mind right now, but will keep me from going too stir-crazy – I hope.

What I Didn’t Want To Do On My Summer Vacation

Greetings, All –

It’s been far too long since I made a blog posting, almost a month! Yikes! I have a really, really good reason, though.

On July 13th my husband and I took part in the 11th Annual Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway of Valor Tribute Ride – phew, that’s a mouthful!  Anyway, it’s a 100 mile motorcycle ride that runs the length of Route 38 from Owego NY – Hannibal NY.  We had a great ride up. This was our first time and I was so surprised at how many spectators there were along the route, town after town. There were families sitting in lawn chairs, people waving American flags, and color guard units stationed at attention as hundreds of motorcycle road through. At the end of the ride was food, music, beer, and a few vendors. The weather had been perfect all the way and promised to be fine for the ride home.

A stop in Groton for food, drinks, and a good leg stretch.

At around 4:00, we decided to head back home.  At around 4:30 – all that came to a crashing halt, literally. I heard my husband shout, “Shit! A stop sign!” and felt the bike shift and heard the squeal of brakes. Next thing I knew, I’m apparently in the middle of the road on my back. I hear someone say something about calling 911. Sirens follow. A woman’s voice says, “I’m an EMT.”  I asked about my husband; is he okay? I’m told he is and that he’s in an ambulance behind us.

Instead of that day’s journey ending back home in our own garage, it ends with us at Upstate Medical in Syracuse. Broken bones, dislocated joints, a concussion, lots and lots of pretty bad road rash which, even after almost 2 months, we can still see traces of. We stayed with my parents for a week after my discharge on July 17th. I’ve yet to return to work. That happens next week. So much for all those summer plans.

Welcome To Upstate Medical’s Trauma Ward.

On the bright side, we’re alive! We’re banged up. We’re still in pain. There’s a least one surgery to be had before the year’s it out, but WE ARE ALIVE. And we will ride again… but likely not this year. The bike can be fixed but its repair is low the list of things to pay for right now.

For almost a week, sitting at a computer wasn’t even possible. Eventually, I was able to sit up and  check my emails, Facebook, and Twitter, but only for short periods, an hour, maybe two, tops. Most of the time was spent sleeping, watching TV, waiting for the magic hour to take more pain pills, figuring out how the hell to take a shower with only one good arm while the other side of my body throbbed and shrieked in pain, and stopping everything when the room started to tip and spin from the concussion.

It still took at least another couple of weeks before I could sit at the computer long enough to even consider writing fiction. My brain wasn’t ready, quite honestly. I’d had a blog post written up for awhile and then seemed the perfect time to post it. Vanishing for who knows how long didn’t seem like a good idea. Eventually, however, fiction writing started to happen. Ideas came trickling in. My first try was only a couple hundred words, but it was progress. Progress beget progress and now I see light at the end of the tunnel. Another first draft is almost done.

On one hand, I want to get back to work, the day-job. I miss having people to talk to and interact with throughout the day. Plus, I’m running out of medical leave to supplement disability leave so I can draw a full paycheck! I hope I am able to do my job when I get there. Parts will be pretty difficult and I’m going to have to find alternative methods for sure.

On the other hand, I’ve liked having all this time to write and do other things. The only problem with that is there’s still so much pain and limited mobility in my left arm and shoulder. It’s hard to have fun when your body keeps saying, “Oh no you don’t!”

So – what other than writing have I been up to these past almost eight weeks now?

 I got the rights back to “No Rest For The Wicked” a couple weeks before the accident and we were able to get a new cover designed and the whole things reformatted recently. You can find links to this beauty below.

I’ve been reading Stephen King’s “The Outsider” which is totally awesome! Murder-mystery meets Horror. Right up my alley.

We also celebrated our 3rd Wedding Anniversary on August 27th with dinner out to Texas Roadhouse.

Our Wedding Day – August 27, 2019

Last but not least, I was recently interviewed by Sue Rovens of Plump Toad Press. https://suerovens.com/meet-greet-author-q-as/

There you have it, a rather unconventional version of What I Did On My Summer Vacation. Let’s hope and pray next year’s plans are a whole lot LESS painful and a whole lot MORE enjoyable.

How was your summer?

Movie Review – Hereditary (2018)

Directed by Ari Aster. Staring Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, and Gabriel Byrne.

With all the ranting and raving I’d heard about this movie from so many different directions, I figured this has got to be awesome. Super scary, people leaving their lights on, afraid to look in the shadows, the whole nine yards.

So, to celebrate my Hubby’s birthday, he wanted to go see this movie. Of course, it’s not playing anywhere near us anymore, so the next logical choice was to hop on the motorcycle and make a whole day of it by riding to a theater 115 mile away. We decided to catch the first available show at 11:15 so headed out at 7am to give us plenty of time to stop for breakfast and get to the theater before it got too ungodly hot outside.

Four hours later with snacks and cold drinks in hand, we settled into comfy chairs and were prepared to be scared.

Annie Graham’s estranged, secretive, and controlling mother, Ellen, has passed away and quite frankly, Annie seems less than upset about it. Very soon after, Annie starts seeing what she believes to be her mother’s ghost. Her son, Peter, 17 and daughter, Charlie, 13, are also acting strangely and seeing their grandmother’s spirit. The only one seemingly immune to all of this is their father, Steve. Peter becomes plagued with nightmares and hallucinations. Charlie decapitates a dead bird for one of her strange little dolls – a foreshadowing of things to come.

Forced to take his sister to a high school party, Peter must later try and rush her to a hospital when she eats some cake with peanuts in it and goes into anaphylactic shock. Charlie opens the car window in an attempt to get some air, sticks her head out and BAM! is decapitated by a telephone pole. That moment, and her mother’s utter agony over the death of her daughter, was the most shocking and gut-wrenching part of the film for me.

The real insanity of the family comes full on after that, as little by little Annie begins to unravel the true, non-material legacy her mother has left behind. It’s bizarre and twisted and gruesome to say the least.

But, was it scary? Would I be keeping an eye on the shadows for weeks to come? Would I insist on sleeping with a light on? Would every waking moment find me haunted by images and thoughts of this alleged “…uncommonly unsettling horror film whose cold touch lingers long beyond the closing credits.” Would this “scariest movie of 2018” hunt me down even in my sleep?

Um, no. Not so much. And to rank it up there with The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby goes beyond the absurd.

I’m a big fan of weird stuff. I’ve dabbled in the occult since the day my grandmother decided I needed a Ouija board for my 13th birthday – yeah, you read that right. I’ve read hundreds of novels about vampires, witches, ghosts, demons, and all things that go bump in the night. I teethed on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Outer Limits. I grew up watching Twilight Zone and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. I’ve read even more novels and non-fiction books about the subjects. I know what I find frightening and disturbing. Hereditary isn’t it.

It’s not even that I don’t ‘get’ what was going on in the third and final act. I get it. I know what old Gramma Ellen was all about. But, I was never scared. There wasn’t even a single jump scare. Actually, kids, I may have dozed off for a couple minutes at one point. Hubby wasn’t impressed either. He wondered if maybe it’s because neither of us are of the Christian persuasion. We both liked A Quiet Place better, even with its myriad of logic flaws. At least it had some real suspense and jump scares going on.

In fact, there were two far more frightening events that day than this movie. First, the very sudden, tire-squealing stop we had to make on the motorcycle and second the last half hour of the ride home through a cold and torrential thunder and lightning storm. Any idea how painful rain drops are on your bare arms and face at 50 mph?

2 out of 5 Ravens.

The Raven Scale:
1 Raven: Yuck! Don’t eat that.
2 Ravens: Bread crumbs, but it’ll keep us alive.
3 Ravens: Oh, hey! Peanuts, popcorn and cat kibble!
4 Ravens: Lunch time pizza place dumpster. Hell, yeah!
5 Ravens: Holy Shit, Fellas! Fresh Road Kill!

Are We Acclimated Yet?

I hear tell that it takes a human two years to become acclimated to a new environment. If that’s true then in two more months Jim should be all settled into the various climates of Central New York State. The cold should not bother him so much, or the lack of sun, or the over generous amounts of rain we get compared to his native state of Texas. Oh, we have our warm moments up here in the Northeast, don’t get me wrong, but not like they do down there. I’ve had the pleasure of being in Texas for three of the four seasons, or what passes as seasons anyway.

In the middle of January it was in the mid-80s with clear blue skies.

In early July it was in the mid-90s with clear blue skies.

In mid-October it was in the low 80s with clear blue skies. It did rain once while we were there this last time and I immediately thought as I stepped out and saw the overcast sky, “Ah, just like home.” Of course, the very next day we were right back to those blue skies and in the 80s.

I’m pretty sure I could get acclimated to that sort of thing in two years, but I think you need more than that when going the other way. Hell, I’ve lived in these parts for almost fifty years and I can’t say as I am all that tolerant of the cold, at least not anymore. Maybe it’s just old age. I can’t stand to be cold anymore and I complain about it from September to May, at least. Once upon a time temperatures in the 80s-90s would have sent me running to the sanctuary of A/C. Now I think on them with an ever-growing fondness. While visiting Texas, as the others would all be inside, I’d find a glorious spot in the shade, the warm, warm beautifully warm and comfy cozy shade, to read and relax and wallow in the heat like I can so seldom do in New York.

But, what of Jim and his battle to acclimate the other way around? Will he ever be warm again? Will he ever employ the dressing in layers method? Will he ever forgive me for being the reason he can no longer ride his motorcycle twelve months out of the year? It tugs at certain guilt strings every time I see him sitting at the computer or on the sofa watching television wearing his winter coat over a hoodie sweatshirt over a t-shirt. I’m miserable when I’m cold and yet, I fear I am not as cold as he must be all the time in these Northern climes we call home.

He’d surely jump at the chance to move back to Texas to be toasty warm again. And yet, as much as I’d love to be warm more times than cold, I cannot find it in me to move. I love the changing of the seasons. I love to see the snowdrops, crocus and daffodils push their way up through the molding leaves and melting layers of snow. I love how the silence of winter is one morning suddenly broken by the sweet, beautiful chirping of returning birds. I love when the smell of lilacs drenches the air and when the sun finally returns. I appreciate every single amazingly cloudless and wonderfully blue sky. And in the fall, the hillsides are ablaze with the most brilliant of colors and the air smells of fallen leaves, ripened fields of corn, and pumpkins. And yes, oh, it is beautiful when we get just the right amount and type of snow that clings in tiny white lines along the leafless branches and all is quiet. At night, the blankets of white sparkle under a full moon, reflecting the twinkling stars above; breathtaking. I find myself humbled in those moments. Even as I may long to be warm and cozy, I can’t yet give those wondrous, child-like times up just yet.

I don’t think two years is long enough to learn to love a place so different than what you are used to. I have to admire the man for even trying and I count myself amongst one of the very lucky to have found a person willing to put up with it all in the name of love. As we enter our second winter today – the third if you count when he moved up here in the middle of January – I sure don’t look forward to shoveling snow, scraping ice and those Oh-So-Mighty heat bills. I do look forward to snuggling on the sofa and sipping hot cocoa though. And it’s been mentioned that someone wants to actually trudge out into the cold and snow very soon to get a real Christmas tree. Maybe he is acclimating after all.

He’s Not A French Model But…

I did meet him on the Internet.

Yup, it’s true. I’m head over heels, madly, truly, deeply in love with a man that, less than a year ago, I’d never met in person. Today, we live together. Maybe that doesn’t seem so dramatic in this day and age, but it’s the back story that’s cool.

We met in a little place called Second Life where anything and everything you can possibly imagine and quite a few things you can’t – or maybe didn’t want to – have been brought to the surface. It can be a very scary place. Everyone looks good in Second Life. We’re all young and slim and rich. We can be pirates in the 1700s one day, Native Americans in the 1800s the next then hop over and be modern day kick-ass bikers once we’re tired of being shot at by outlaws. Not to mention all the vampires and fae that seem to crop up everywhere. It’s crazy and I love it.

A Facebook friend introduced me to SL in the fall of 2010. For that first year I was a vampire on an estate called Legacies 1891. Sadly, Legos, as it is so affectionately known, closed down a while ago. I moved around a lot after that and eventually gave up the whole vampire thing in favor of the American Wild West in a place called Amiville. Had a lot of fun playing the boarding house owner but eventually that didn’t much hold my attention. I moved on to join the Native American population and that, dear friends, is where our Love Story begins.

I was a wandering Indian maiden without a tribe. He was a Cherokee. As I was about to log off for the night, I got a notice that they were having a story hour in the Cherokee village. I almost didn’t go but the Fates had other ideas. By the end of the night, my little Indian girl was madly in love with the handsome brave who had sat across from her at the fire circle. In less than a month, on Feb. 17, 2012 they were married in a traditional Cherokee wedding ceremony.

Four months later, he would drive over 1600 miles from Central TX to Upstate NY to spend a week with me. Like that virtual first night, the sparks flew as we held each other for the first time. Swear to God, I thought he was going to snap me in half. Seven months after that, I would make my first trip to the Southwest since my family had moved away in the Summer of 1966. You see – one of the odd things that we have in common is, we were both White Sands Missile Range Kids. I was born there. He was there during his high school years. Had we lived there at the same time, we would have lived less than a mile apart.

I bought a one-way plane ticket to Austin, TX. Yes, one way. You see, at the end of my ten day visit, we packed up everything we could into the smallest U-Haul that we could and drove back, half way across the country, so we could be together. In less than a week, we’ll be celebrating the one year anniversary of our first face-to-face meeting!

So far, so good. Since January 18th, 2013 we have not spent more than half a day apart. We’re still head over heels, madly, truly, deeply in love and grow more so as time goes by. He’s not a French model (nor a crazy ax murdered) but then, neither am I, but we did meet on the Internet and I’d not change that for the world.

I Can Haz Sissy Bar?

Yep, I’m a sissy. I admit it. Or, maybe I’m just getting old. No. No. I’m a sissy.

This weekend was a bitter-sweet one. The sweetness came in that it was the first weekend of the motorcycle riding season here in Upstate NY that we’ve been able to enjoy since Jim moved in back in January. Saturday we rode out to Binghamton, NY to Southern Tier Harley Davidson for their Spring Open House. We nabbed two of the few remaining roast pork sammiches, oggled a few bikes, bumped into one of my co-workers and, much to JIm’s reluctance, ordered a pad for the sissy bar he took off the bike years ago. Our return ride included stopping at the Blue Dolphin for lunch. Sunday afternoon we headed out again. Stopping at Punk’s Place in Candor and The Pub in Waverly. Arriving home in one piece, Jim set to work starting some beef stew. Oh, my aching inner thighs!

Now, about that sissy bar. I’m not sure when my interest in motorcycles began. I remember my brother had a minibike when we were in middle school and I know my Uncle Jack had at least one bike he’d take me for rides on around the same period. It’s been more years than I care to admit. Uncle Jack didn’t have a sissy bar and as much as I loved riding with him, I always felt like I was hanging on for dear life when we rode. It was likely then that I decided that when/if I ever got a bike of my own, I’d do any passengers I might carry, the favor or not suffering as I had always done.

In 1986 when I bought my Honda Rebel I did just that. I had the bike for four years and only had a few passengers but they all were grateful for that bar. I’m sure it had nothing to do with my skills as a driver. LOL!

Fast forward to this weekend and the lack of said bar. I love to ride with my guy, don’t get me wrong, I really do, but without the bar there’s always that slight moment of terror when the red light turns green or that 40 mph speed zone ends or when someone finds it amusing to gun the engine then reaches back and pats me on the leg as if to say, “You still back there, baby?”  I couldn’t see it but I can bet ya he was smirking up there. My head fills with images of either 1) me flying off backwards and my head ending up looking like a smashed pumpkin the morning after Halloween Night or 2) me holding on so tight it yanks us BOTH off the bike. Neither is pretty and for some reason those images put quite the damper on the whole Fun Factor for me as a passenger. Not to mention those sore inner thigh muscles mentioned earlier and the sore arse I had because I kept sliding just far enough off back seat to make it well – unpleasant. I try not to be a selfish person, but in the case of the bar – it makes a HUGE difference to me. It will be a totally different and much more enjoyable ride for me once it’s there. Personally, I think he should think of it this way, if I can lean back a bit and relax, he can then in turn lean back a bit on me! It’s a win-win situation and if his biker friends pick on him about it, I’m more than happy to have the blame put on the Old Lady.

That was the Sweet part.. now the Bitter.

As mentioned, this was our first weekend ride together in Upstate NY. Sadly, it may be our last. He’s starting a new job that will include working weekends which means all the awesome stuff that goes on will likely be missed. We can really do with the income and it’s not like there won’t be week nights we can’t go out – still…just sorta a bummer in that regard. I’m happy and sad at the same time and I’m sure he’s feeling a bit of the same. We’ll make the best of it because that’s how we both roll. It’s just another life change and being as we took pretty close to the biggest step possible as a couple last January when he moved up here from Texas, I’m sure we’ll manage this.

So, I can haz a sissy bar as soon as the order comes in and one or the other of us can get out to pick it up and he gets it put on. And even if the rides together may be more rare, they will be made all the more sweeter when they do happen cuz I’ll be able to straddle my guy from behind a little less tightly and my thighs, though they could benefit from the workout, will be a little less sore.

The last time I had inner thighs this sore… well, never mind that.