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Friday, April 17, 2015

Cutting the Cord

Dear Verizon,

I know we have been going steady for twenty years, and I probably will miss my phone number, but I think the time has come for us to break up. You've served your purpose pretty well over the years. Whenever I picked up the receiver there was a dial tone, sometimes it was crackly, but you usually fixed that in a timely fashion. When my folks were alive they had my number on their speed dial, but since they're gone not many others call me on that number. Oh sure, Kroger will leave a message to tell me if I don't come right now to pick up my prescriptions they're going to go back on the shelf, and the library will let me know that I have four days to pick up a book I requested, but other than those two parties the rest of the time that phone rings I don't pick it up.

Why don't I show love for your line any more? Because most of the time it's telemarketers calling, and even though I'm on the supposed "do-not-call" list, every day I get at least a couple of recordings, hang-ups, automated calls telling me "DO NOT HANG UP!" and political messages. In fact, if I see an unavailable number, 800, 888, no name number, or one I don't recognize, I let the phone ring. I always say, "If it's important they'll leave a message." Nine times out of ten, they don't. And since your line allows anyone to call any time of the day or night, it's gotten to the point that I take the phone off the hook before going to bed, and sometimes I even remember to put it back on when I wake up. Sometimes I don't, and don't even notice.

Now, my husband is opposed to you and I breaking up. He keeps saying, "What if there's an emergency and we have to get in touch with our loved ones?" Well, if there is an emergency more than likely I will be calling them from my iPhone to their cellphone. Most of the people I speak with do not even have a landline. His response, "Well what if they have to call us?" Ummm, they can call my iPhone or your cellphone. He asks, "What if there's a disaster and all the cellphone towers are inoperable?" I say, "If that's the case then no one is talking to anyone!" He reminds me, "Remember 9/11?" Of course I do, but except for his mom, everyone else we know in the New York City area no longer has a landline. Besides, that means his mom could still call out and us not having a landline has little effect on that.

Whereas my husband doesn't want me to write you this Dear John letter because of practicality, my hesitance is because of nostalgia. I like my phone number and will probably feel bad losing it. If I do I'll have to remember my cellphone number, which I don't. There's also nothing more satisfying than slamming down the receiver on someone who I want to piss off. Luckily, since I no longer deal with people who get me to that point, I can just hit the "end" button on my iPhone.

We've had a good run Verizon, but you have taken advantage of me. I received your bill this morning and you raised my rates once again so that I now have to pay you $79.97 for the privilege of having an obsolete landline. I have no fancy services, other than caller ID, which is free on my iPhone, and call waiting, which is also free on my iPhone. Yet your bill has a bunch of other charges, like Freedom Essentials for $61.99, Taxes, Governmental Surcharges and Fees for $5.67, and Verizon Surcharges for $12.31. My iPhone costs me $46.27 and that includes unlimited talk, texting (something you can't do) internet (something you can't do) taxes and fees (something you charge me $17.98 for!)

Another great thing about my iPhone is I really never get any telemarketers calling. I did get some druggies, I believe, calling when I first got my Straight Talk number, but after two years they know Ms. Black no longer has that number. Besides, I have the ability to block a number I no longer want to get calls from. Can you do that Verizon, or would that cost me even additional fees??? About the only thing you can do that my cellphone cannot is send and receive a fax. But you know what, this isn't the 80's any longer and I barely fax anything. If I have to, I can go to the shop and use that one. I cannot get rid of you there because you have me over a barrel as I am a business. So although we are breaking up here, rest assured you will still get your $130 monthly ransom from me.

So there you have it. I took you out to dinner one last time. When my husband comes home I will talk into seeing things my way. If only you hadn't gotten so damn greedy maybe we could have still dated, or at least be friends...

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tulips, Dogwoods & a Pine Cone

Tulips in full bloom...

Dogwoods beginning to bloom...

And the last reminder of winter...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Noah Thomas Didn't Have to Die to Be in a Better Place

"So long as little children are allowed to suffer, there is no true love in this world."  -Isadora Duncan

The parents of Noah Thomas, the five year old boy from Dublin, VA who was found dead in a septic tank near his parents' rented trailer, were arraigned this Good Friday afternoon. Ashley White, 30, and Paul Thomas, 32, were charged Thursday with two felony counts of abuse and neglect of children.

From this WDBJ package - "Media members were allowed to attend the hearing, but cameras were not allowed inside. White said she did not want media inside of the hearing because this is the worst thing that has ever happened to her and she doesn’t want her life to be the topic of everyone’s dinner conversation."

Excuse me? This is the worst thing that has ever happened to her??? Not her son? Not her boy? Not her child? Not Noah?

And from this Roanoke Times article came this statement by Noah's father, Paul, who also objected to the media present -- “I don’t want my life to be their news story.”

Again, his life? What about his son, his boy,  his child? What about Noah's life? More than likely, it is thanks to the selfish likes of you two, that he no longer has one.

From the same Roanoke Times article, as of today, the parents are charged as follows:

"Thomas was charged under a subsection of the law that relates to “reckless disregard for human life.” His charges are a Class 6 felony and carry with them a minimum of a one-year prison sentence and up to five years for each charge.

White was charged under two different subsections of the law. One charge, like Thomas’, relates to “reckless disregard for human life” and carries with it the same punishment. However, she is also being charged under a more serious subsection that is a Class 4 felony which is punishable by no less than two years and no more than 10 years.

That subsection involves “serious injuries” to a child that were received under an adult’s care. Those injuries, as defined by state code include: “disfigurement, a fracture, a severe burn or laceration, mutilation, maiming, forced ingestion of dangerous substances, or life threatening internal injuries.”

I bet after toxicology reports are completed, additional charges will most likely follow. For this 5 year old boy did not accidentally fall into a shit-filled septic tank. Some sociopath placed him inside. We could only hope Noah met his demise before he wound up inside the tank, and didn't drown in it. Hopefully that, and many other questions, will be answered. Was Noah's little body submerged for all five days as hundreds of concerned folks, traipsed nearby and searched for him? So close, and beyond, yet still in hearing distance of the tank, he never heard his name being called.

And who, or what, could be so evil as to place a 5 year old child in a septic tank? Certainly not a parent! That is what the community hopes. Surely, it had to be an accident. It's hard to admit it wasn't, because to most everyone with a heart, it's an unthinkable situation. But other than falling into in a terrible immediate family, it certainly looks as if Noah did not accidentally fall into anything else. Well, all the evidence is not presented, so we don't know yet if the child fell into someone's stash. If you watch "Shameless," you'll remember that happened to their dysfunctional family. As soon it was realized the child had ingested cocaine, he was brought to the emergency room. He survived, and the older sister went to jail. To their "credit," they didn't wait for him to die and then hide him. We don't know if that happened to Noah. All the public knows is that, according to the mother, he wandered off when she was napping. Let's see how long that story sticks.

These two parents, and I really hate using that word parent, didn't go the Susan Smith route, wailing in public, pointing fingers to fictitious folks. No, these two were silent from the start. What mother, what father, wouldn't be out in the media, begging for help for the return of their son? Probably only ones who knew he wasn't coming back. Every time I heard the sheriff say Noah's parents were cooperating fully I thought of Smith. So did she. Thankfully, the young infant who also lived in the home, was taken to a safer place the night Noah was reported missing. Clearly something was not right in that household.

Was it drugs? Ummmm, again, I don't know for sure, but damn, I'd sure bet it is. Take a look at their mug shots.

Look into those vacant eyes. Those are the eyes of self-absorbed addicts who don't give a shit about anything but themselves. Their drug of choice is more important to them than anything else, even their children.

I am so angry that this beautiful boy was snatched away, even if it was from a hopeless life. To all those people who say over and over again, "He's in a better place now" I say, he didn't have to die to be in a better place. He could have been placed with another family who would have loved him more than anything else. I know of too many parents who have lost a child, and would do anything, anything, to have that child back. I know of too many couples who want a child, more than anything, anything, yet they are unable to conceive. I'm sure they would have welcomed this little boy, yet they, many other loving couples, and especially, young Noah, were never given the opportunity. Tragic.

If any "good" could come from this heart-breaking case, I hope it will help open the eyes of men and women to recognize an abused child, or one living in a dangerous household. Know the signs, and rather than turn a blind eye, make that call to get that child safe before something tragic happens to them too. Never underestimate the power of drugs, and the damage done by them, and poor parenting.

Rest in peace, Noah Thomas...Gone, but you will never be forgotten.

"It's the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."
- Mother Theresa

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

GoFundMe - Free Money For Me

Lately there's been a rash of folks abandoning the "donate" button on blogs and heading to every other social internet site begging for money via GoFundMe. I won't say all of them are deadbeats with their hands out, but I have noticed quite a few, which leads me to believe it must be really easy to start a GoFundMe account, and, there's a sucker born every day.

Now, we all could use some extra dough, and I guess it would be too crude to just start one saying "I Want Your Money!" although it would be honest, so I've thought of a couple of scenarios whereby I could pick your pockets with an account. Do you like any of these ideas?

"Hi friends and strangers...after thinking long and hard, I've come to the conclusion that robbing a store, selling drugs, or selling my body is not the best way for me to get money. Instead, I've decided to create a GoFundMe account which I will call FREE MONEY FOR ME. Funds are desperately needed for the following reasons listed below. In each GoFundMe there are four levels of donations - PLATINUM - $500, GOLD - $250, SILVER - $100 - BRONZE - Whatever you can afford. If you donate to any of my FREE MONEY FOR ME funds, you might be entitled to some trinket, might be...

1. WRITER'S BLOCK - Help me overcome this terrible disease of being unable to finish any of the four books I've been writing! Platinum - You will be a well-loved character in my next book. Gold - You will be a character that doesn't die in my next book. Silver - You will be in the acknowledgements. Bronze - You will be a despised character that meets an untimely and cruel death.

2. BRACES FOR BELLA - Bella, a Malti-Zhu was the runt of the litter who lived in a cage. When she was "bad" the breeder would shoot water on her. The only toys she had to play with were rocks. These rocks caused her mouth to be a scary sight. She needs braces badly!

Platinum - You will receive a video of Bella chasing rocks. Gold - You will receive a photo of Bella. Silver - You will receive a lock of her hair. Bronze - You will spend an afternoon with Bella listening to her bark at every single passer-by.

3. HOME AWAY FROM MY NEIGHBORS - You could only imagine the torture I undergo when the weather turns warm and the thud thud, thud of the basketball, and the vroom, vroom, vroom of the leaf blower begins. With the arrival of another child last year, the constant crying has overcome the constant whining of the older child and the drunken cheers when they play corn hole. Even the song birds have left the neighborhood and have been replaced by vultures.

Help me move! Platinum - You will receive one of our many lawn mowers. Gold - You will receive a koi from the pond if the raccoons have left any. Silver - You will receive a bouquet of flowers grown on the property from the bushes, shrubs, trees, garden bed, that our neighbor's child has not damaged. Bronze - A bucket of rocks from Bella's yard.

4. NO MORE AUTO REPAIR - In case you didn't know, there is no such thing as an old auto mechanic, and my husband's hands are becoming so arthritic he could barely hold a wrench. So, after owning an auto repair shop for 19 years, the time has come to put him down. Since I also work there I will become unemployed and there is no way I want to go out and get a regular 9-5 job, God forbid! I will still need to feed Bella her very expensive treats so I need some sort of income, so please help. Platinum - A tune-up for your vehicle, but you pay for the parts. Gold - An oil change for your vehicle, but you pay for the oil. Silver - An inspection for your vehicle, but you pay for the sticker. Bronze - A recommendation of another shop where you can take your vehicle for repair.

If none of the above suits you maybe I can appeal to your heart instead...send me FREE MONEY or the dog gets it...

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Hey all, just wanted to drop by for a quickie, no not that kind silly, a quickie update!

I see it's been over a month since I've posted. Wish I had a good reason for that, but I don't. I'd love to say I've been working furiously on my new book, but I'm not. Would love to say I've been traveling to some exotic ports, but I haven't. I might lie and say I've been busy working at the shop, or cataloging books, or creating the website for those books, or creating a website for my husband's woodworks, or, or, or, or...but I can't. I haven't been blogging because I am suffering from writer's block which I have determined is being caused by depression. Hopefully I'll snap out of it soon, or at least write about why I'm depressed which might help break the block, but when? I don't know. Until then, carry on...and I'll share the one thing that makes me smile these silly Bella.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Snow Mower

At least someone in this house enjoyed the recent snow blast. You can see by the chunks of ice stuck on her face, Bella has been digging for rocks. If it was up to her she'd stay out there all day until she was one matted mess. I let her defrost, then return outdoors for her leaping, burying pleasures. I have given up wiping puppy prints all over the house and figure the floors won't be clean until spring.

There was someone else in the house who, in the beginning, welcomed the husband. You see, for the last couple of weeks his toy has been waiting under the blue tarp on the back of that trailer. Just waiting patiently to be called to action.

Before it wound up here, it has spent many months at the shop getting ready for its debut. Countless hours, and countless dollars, have been spent modifying the John Deere mower into a powerful snow shoveling machine. When he first received the mower he forgot about an old Italian prophecy -- inherit a dead man's vehicle and it becomes your money pit. It doesn't matter if you inherit it, or buy it, it's still the same money drain. And he should have remembered that for all the time and money we've spent on the phantom problems of my dad's Olds.

When he first took the John Deere off of a friend's hands, he told me it only needed to be tuned up and spruced up as it sat still for so long. Otherwise, it's fine. Rather than detail every dollar, I'll just say parts could only be ordered through John Deere (even the parts list and manual had to be bought), and a welder even got involved helping my husband's dream to become a reality. Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!!!

Every time I rolled my eyes, I was assured this was going to work. By the way, for all the money he's spent he probably could have bought a new plow,  a couple of snow blowers, or, hired a local snow shoveling team to be on call all winter. But I digress. It was finally snowing!

My husband came home earlier than usual, stopping at Food Lion to stock up on provisions, two bottles of wine and treats for Bella. He almost made it to the door before he slipped on the ice, tumbled to the ground, shattering the wine bottles.

Luckily he wasn't hurt, but he was pissed, and now, soaking wet. Good thing he wouldn't be spending hours out there shoveling snow by hand in wet clothes!

The night before, he had tried firing up the toy, just in case, and discovered it was dead. Imagine that. So before using it, he had to hook it up to a portable battery. As it charged, the snow fell steadily. A big smile spread across his face when it kicked on, and he gave me two thumbs up. I was cooking dinner and asked him if he would be long. He said to continue cooking, he'd be 10-15 minutes. Bing, bang, boom.

I could hear the noise outside as I hovered over the warm stove. A half-hour later I went outside to tell him dinner was ready, and lo and behold, nothing was plowed! Bing, bang, boom. In fact, he never got to try the plow as the toy would not drive in the snow. Huh? Rocking back and forth, spinning wheels, smoke spewing, noise of a thousand blowers, there he sat, going nowhere, on a lawn mower with a snow blade on it.

When I saw the back wheels spinning, I suggested he use the portable plastic road strips I had bought him and my son for Christmas. They laughed when they saw them, but I told them both they would thank me when they were stuck in the snow. Unfortunately, my husband's  practical gift was at the shop in the back of the mini van. So much for them. He was determined to make this toy work and even began shoveling a path for the toy to drive through. Ummm, doesn't that defeat the purpose of not having to shovel?

I couldn't watch any more so I went inside and had dinner by myself. Men can be so stubborn. They don't need to look at directions when putting something together, and would rather drive around endlessly before asking for directions because they are lost. They think with perseverance it will all work out, eventually. He finally gave up an hour later when he got stuck in the middle of the road and had to push the toy back up the driveway. By the time he was finished, he successfully blocked the driveway so that it was impossible to exit now. Even VDOT leaves a smaller pile.

He had as much snow on him as there was in the driveway when he came in. He was more upset he didn't have the bottles of wine than he was about the snow mowing machine. After changing into dry clothes, getting warm, and having a hot meal he said that was enough and he'd figure something out tomorrow. When I went to let Bella out I noticed he had left the shed doors wide open so he had to get dressed again, go back out there, trudge through the snow, and close them.

Today was a new day, the snow had stopped falling, and he was determined to clear our driveway so he could get back to work. All it took was one phone call and a reinforcement arrived.

I thought it was overkill, but hey, what do I know...

Mission accomplished. We're free...

Now, who wants to bet me this very expensive toy doesn't even cut grass in the spring...

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Valentine's Day Curse is Free

Just a quick post to let you know that my short story, The Valentine's Day Curse will be free on Amazon in all its stores from 2/11 through 2/15.

"When Lisa’s Valentine’s Day ritual is interrupted by a phone call, she is surprised it’s from someone she hadn’t heard from in many years. What could her ex, Joey, possibly want from her on what could have been their 25th wedding anniversary?

The Valentine’s Day Curse is a short story about stirred memories of unrequited love. For some people Valentine’s Day is not always a bed of roses."

I hope you enjoy this tale with a twist and that all your Valentine's Days are better than Joey's!

Just click on your country below for a direct link. Thanks for your support, and any reviews and/or recommendations to friends are always greatly appreciated!

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