Fractured Facade


"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $3.99 and available everywhere e-books are sold including Amazon, iTunes, Kobo Books, and Barnes & Noble

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THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, is Free on Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Scribd, Page Foundry and Tolino

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Roanoke County Wants a Wind Farm? E I E I O!

Last night I watched about four hours of Roanoke County's Board of Supervisors meeting. Yeah, I do things like that sometimes, although I was playing Blackjack on my Kindle as I was listening. All of the speakers were either "for" or "against" establishing a wind farm in Roanoke County on Poor Mountain. A couple of observations...

I think more people spoke "for" the wind farm than against it. However, most of them did not live on Poor Mountain, or in Roanoke County. Some live many counties away and there was one person from West Virginia who takes people on tours of the wind farm that's established there.

The "for" people were well organized. For weeks little green lawn signs proclaiming "We support wind energy...It's Patriotic!" have been dotting the area. I've been asking who paid for them and have been ignored by the local media. Finally someone answered my question on a blog and said it was the local Sierra Club. I figured it was them, but was perplexed as to why they wouldn't "take credit." I could only imagine the outcry from the local media had an "anti-wind farm" organization planted signs and proclaimed "It's Patriotic!"

The "for" speakers last night clearly had been well prepared and directed as to what talking points needed to be established, over and over and over again. It was like they were reading from the same bullet-point sheet. One thing that struck me was how they all had a problem with the setback requirements. They felt they were too stringent!

I noticed the more initials and degrees they had after their names, the more annoying and disrespectful they were. At times I felt like I was watching the smug Prius owners "South Park" episode where they loved the smell of their own farts.

Before each person got up to speak I would turn to my husband and say, "for" or "against" just based on their look. Once they opened their mouth I was usually correct. I felt many were very condescending to the folks who live on Poor/Bent Mountain. It's like they think of them as rubes, and too stupid to realize how "wonderful" this wind farm will be.

I felt bad for the local residents who are fighting these behemoth life-altering wind turbines. When they got up to the lectern for their three minutes you could feel their pain. Many of the residents are elderly and have lived on Bent Mountain their whole lives. I imagine anyone who chooses to live on the mountain has done so because they love that way of life. Although it's beautiful and serene, it's not for everyone. It's not easy to get there, residents are often "stranded" in winter months, and there's not much up there, other than stunning vistas, abundant wildlife, a tight-knit community, and a peaceful existence. And that's all some people want.

The "against" folks aren't necessarily against different energy resources, including wind energy. They're just against it in their backyard. After hearing some of their concerns and doing quick research I can't say I blame them. Although they didn't throw a multitude of facts, figures and fancy shmancy degrees around they spoke from their hearts and did bring up some pertinent points...

The sound level -- right now the Board of Supervisors is looking to allow the noise factor to be no higher than 60 decibels. At the end of this post you can hear for yourself what an actual wind turbine at the level sounds like, but I think one speaker was more effective when he said what 60 dbs sound like. He said something to the effect, "This is me speaking a couple of feet away from you and it's about 60 dbs...not bad, but picture me speaking to you at this level 24 hours of day, 7 days a week -- blah, blah, blah, blah, blah -- and you can't shut me up." With my low tolerance of sound, that alone would drive me insane.

The setback level -- too close to homes. It's not like people do not live on top of the mountain. They do. Obviously the closer these turbines are to their homes the louder it will be. I don't understand why the "for" people want the turbines even closer.

There were a couple of teenaged boys who brought models to scale of the enormous size of the turbines -- 440 feet tall if I'm correct, higher than the Statue of Liberty. The tissue box sized home was dwarfed. The blades themselves are 165 feet in length and this made me pause. How the hell would they get up Bent Mountain? The road is twisty curvy and barely navigable to me in my Jeep. I can't imagine a tractor-trailer navigating it with those blades on its bed.

Someone else spoke about all the wind farms that have been abandoned because they didn't work, or the companies went out of business, and just left the turbines like rotting corpses. A quick Google search shows there are thousands upon thousands of dead rusting turbines dotting the landscape. No one is removing them. I wonder if they still offer "tours?"

Another person reported that electricity use in the Roanoke Valley is at its peak during summer months. Wind barely blows during those same months. I don't know if or how the electricity is stored, but I would think wind production would be a factor in deciding where to put a wind turbine.

I don't know anyone who is not "for" finding clean, renewable energy sources. I don't know anyone who would be "for" having an industrial wind turbine farm in their backyard. So after watching over 4 hours no action was taken, and won't be taken until September. The Board of Supervisors have a very difficult task ahead. The smell of money is wafting under their noses. If they allow this farm to proceed it will set a precedence. Any mountain top will be up for grabs. Will Sugar Loaf Mountain be next?



If they don't establish regulations that can be enforced we're screwed. What happens if the sound goes over 60 dbs and its intolerable? What could be done after the fact? Once they're up, they're up. Oh, of course all the supervisors will wag their fingers and say how much they want to protect the valley, yada, yada, yada but in the end I predict the wind farm will pass with a 4-1 vote. The only no will be Ed Elswick who lives on Bent Mountain. At one point I thought Butch Church might say no, as his district is Catawba and there are quite a few mountain tops there as well, but this is an election year. I believe he'll say this will bring jobs to Roanoke, so with a "heavy heart" or something to that effect, he has no choice but to vote for it.

Anyway, in case you'd like to read a family's personal experience, check out "Our Life with DeKalb Turbines" blog. Below is a video of what they listen to every...single...day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Fig Tree

My last hope to reap a crop...



The fourth fig trip in as many years is doing better than any of its predecessors. Those never got a chance to grow this big. The wildlife has always found the tree a tasty treat, especially at its young tender stage. I've never eaten a fig leaf but something around here loves them. Twice, my next door neighbor in Brooklyn handed me shoots from his tree, but the clay and rocky Virginian soil has not been conducive to quick growth and the critters have taken advantage of that. I had given up attempting to grow a fig tree until I was advised to pot it instead of planting it in the ground.

The owner of a local Italian restaurant, an elderly gent, lets call him Vito, proudly displayed his fig tree, along with his lemon tree, orange tree, and various other trees all thriving in pots. His flowers and bushes always look as luscious as his food. Clearly he has a green thumb. In Brooklyn, the Italian men were in charge of growing the gardens. They grew everything -- inside were all the plants, outside the spectacular vegetable gardens. But their prized possession was their fig tree. In September delicious ripened fruits were popped in the mouth without washing. At dinner a plate of figs, nuts and cheese ended the meal. The wives would steal some and cook them into preserves which would fill their Christmas cookies.

The men nutured and protected their fig trees, not from critters, but from the cold weather. Before winter began some would wrap them mummy like in canvas or thick plastic, rope encircling them as if they were hiding a body. Others dug a trench next to the tree and carefully bent the tree to fit in the hole and then covered it back up with soil, as if they were burying a body. I'm doing neither. I plan to bring my fig tree into the sun room for the winter. But first I have to hope these figs grow larger and ripen. Then I have to hope I get to them before one of my critters do. So far they've gotten to the tomatoes, peaches, apples, blackberries, and anything else I've grown, except the basil. And that's because the basil was lousy this year. I think I was able to snatch one tomato and a handful of blackberries. They were delicious, but hardly worth the efforts and expense of daily watering.

C'mon guys, keep your claws and paws off this fig tree. Between the koi sushi bar, wild strawberries, various other berries, bird feeder and whatever else it is that you love about my yard, you're well fed. There's nothing like a fresh fig. Let me have this...


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

RA - One Year Later

Grand Canyon Pictures, Images and Photos

It's been a year since I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I guess the worst part of it came last week when I saw my rheumatologist and asked him, "So when do I get off the Methotrexate?" and he answered, "Never." What...the...hell?

After I picked my jaw up off the floor I reminded him that during my initial visit a year ago he claimed we could put the RA into remission by dosing me heavy with the horrible MTX. Was that just a ploy so I wouldn't feel "devasted" by my diagnosis and sink into deep depression? He countered some people do go into remission, but it's very rare. In order to qualify that someone is in remission, my RA level and inflammation level would have to be "normal" and I would have to be pain free for over a year. I am nowhere near that.

I finally stopped taking prednisone three weeks ago and the consequences of that action have enabled me to sleep better, but also have raised my inflammation and pain levels. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't. And damned, I don't want to be on it anymore, so I am dealing with the pain as best as I can.

To look at me you wouldn't know I have this disease unless you could read something in my eyes, or notice I cannot open a jar without help. You wouldn't see my struggle to get out of bed some mornings, but my husband does. I try not to complain but he knows when I'm having a flare up. He's been very good with it, although it gets really annoying when he still asks me, "What can I do to help you?" There is nothing you can do to help me. It really irks me when he follows up with, "I could never imagine that you would get something like this." You don't have to "imagine" it, it's happened. "There's got to be something you can take."

There are no magic pain pills. I can't even take Tylenol because the MTX is hard on the liver and so is acetaminophen. And so far I've been "lucky" that my liver has been able to handle the MTX. I go for blood work every other month to make sure. It seems my pattern of taking the chemo pills on Monday and then waiting until Thursday evening to drink is working. I've pushed the envelope a little and allow myself to imbibe throughout the weekend, clearing out my body for 24 hours before the Monday MTX dosage. But I can't drink as much as before, and not only because of the potential liver damage. My blood counts are so low that my body reacts as if every drink is equal to two drinks. I know exactly how many glasses of wine I could tolerate. So far, so good.

Another side effect of taking a chemo medication is loss of hair. Lately I've noticed I've been losing more strands than usual. It could be a seasonal thing so I'm not going to panic, yet. If it happens I will buy a wig in every color and have fun with it. In the beginning, I used to keep a pain chart based on the weather, humidity, and barometric pressure, trying to determine if I could see a pattern. Once I realized even if I did find a common link I still wouldn't be able to do anything about it, I figured I was just wasting my time. And if there's one thing RA has taught me is that time is precious and not meant to be wasted.

When I say I don't have a year to spare I mean it. I live on the edge of wondering if today is the day I wake up and I'm rendered severely disabled. Yet, in my glorious belief in miracles, I know I can be cured. I believe in healing. Don't know when, don't know how, but do know life is meant to live now. Waiting for that "special" occasion to wear that "special" dress will only gather dust. Everyday is special.

Nope, I don't have a year to spare. And that's another reason I've decided not to go the traditional publishing route for my book. Too long to print. Deadlines? Yeah, I want to set my own. And that trip out West I've always dreamed about? That's happening next year. I don't want to drive a Hover-round along the Grand Canyon's rim. I'm hiking it. I'm taking a month to drive tothe West and visit all the locations I've always felt drawn to. No more waiting for the, "We'll go out West after -- insert parental obligation here -- is finished."

So, on this RA anniversary -- physically, I feel much better than I did one year ago when I thought I had bone cancer. RA sucks, but it's nothing I can't handle. There's much worse diseases out there. Mentally? Better than I felt a year ago. It's liberating when you give into your heart.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No Sleep in West Virginia

For the first weekend alone without children, ever, I decided to bring my husband to Nitro, WV for a relaxing time at the Mardi Gras Resort and Casino. My husband had suggested we head to Atlantic City, but I didn't want to drive that far, and figured a three hour trip rather than an eight hour one would give us more "fun-time." Haha! What a mistake!!!

I'm sure many of you in Roanoke have seen the commercials for Mardi Gras. It looks like a really nice place, and the reviews on Trip Advisor were glowing, so even though I thought it was a little expensive for West Virginia, I figured it would be well worth it. And, it was way less expensive than the Greenbriar! On our way up we stopped at Tamarack for lunch where they claim the food is from the Greenbriar. After a less than stellar-tasting meal, I was glad we hadn't bothered going to the Greenbriar.

The Mardi Gras is so new that even our GPS system couldn't find it. No matter how many variations of the address I punched in, Ms. GPS said the place didn't exist. When we got close to the resort I saw a car next to us that had fuzzy dice hanging from their rear-view mirror and thought they looked like "casino people" so directed my husband to "follow that car." We followed them and ended up in Walmart's parking lot. They did know the way to the nearby casino so I was right.

The place still has that new hotel smell and clean carpets. The room was just okay, but hardly what I would consider "resort-like." I could spend this entire post dissing the "resort" and the crappy casino but will instead spend time on the absolutely worst part of the rooms...no sound-proofing! It was the worst hotel room I have ever stayed in. I spent four days in Midtown Manhattan on the busiest block in NYC and experienced less noise and a more comfortable stay than in the isolation of Nitro, West Virginia.

At first we thought that children were left alone in the room above us while their parents went gambling. It sounded like the little elephants were jumping from bed to bed, running around (which I couldn't imagine how since the rooms were so small), stomping, dropping things, scraping the one chair around, etc. I figured they got into the mini-bar and drank all of the expensive energy drinks in there. The noise was non-stop from 9:00pm on. We went back to the room early figuring we could have some nice quiet alone time. Haha! Impossible with all the noise. Every time we'd settle down BOOM!!! the room would shake. What the hell??? At 1:00am we heard the "parents" get back announcing loudly they had sangria, merlot and beer to frenzied cheers. Apparently these were not parents and little kids after all. Once Lady Gaga kicked it up another notch and the stompings became even more unbearable we finally called the Front Desk. They said they were sending security up there. Well, the noise NEVER stopped, so either security joined the party, or never went up there.

At 6:00am I turned to my husband and said, "We are outta here!" I could not see paying all that money for the antithesis of what this weekend was supposed to be. He looked so relieved. The casino sucked too and I call "shenanigans" on the slot machines. One of the slots I was playing had 2 blue 7's pop up (a very nice payout) and then suddenly "malfunctioned" so the attendant had to reset the machine causing me to lose those two 7's. When I questioned him as to what the heck happened he said I pulled the lever too hard. Haha! Yeah, my arthritic right hand has super human strength. That as they say, was that...I wasn't giving them another penny. And for a Friday night the casino was empty. Yet they had only one $5.00 blackjack table open. Clue -- if no one is playing the $25.00 table, open up more lower ones. Couldn't get near it.

Anyway early Saturday morning I went downstairs to the front desk and told them to cancel that night's room. When they asked if everything was okay I unloaded on them. The woman told me there was a bachelorette party with 17 year olds above us, 6 girls and 4 guys! "Oh you should have seen how worn out the bride looked, and she's getting married today!" Never mind the bride, look how worn out I look with no sleep! They did drop $30.00 off the room but only because we had lodged a complaint the night before. $30.00 wasn't enough becuase actually there were two complaints the night before. The first time I called was because the television signal kept breaking up, tiling, freezing and fading to black. I felt like I was home. The front desk said that happens with satellite so she had to reset the system which took over 15:00. Now I really felt like I was home!

Oh, and when we had gotten back to the room on Friday night I went to put my cellphone in the drawer and discovered a case on top of the bible. I wondered what it could be and opened it. Lo and behold it was filled with jewelery! Who would bring that much jewelery to a resort and why wouldn't they put it in the safe??? I figure they might have been hung over since there were college graduation rings in there amongst other trinkets. Now, if I was one of those bachelorettes I probably would have said, "Score!!!!" but I'm not, so I headed down to the front desk with the pouch. Apparently the cleaning staff doesn't look in drawers either as evidenced by the plastic pieces of something I found, and the fact that the jewelery was still there after they cleaned. I turned it in and asked them if they would call the people who had my room before. They said they would put it in lost and found and wait for them to call. If it was me I would have called the previous guests as I'm sure they're quite upset at their loss. Oh well, I did what I could do and hope the hotel does the right thing. I know if I had left all my jewels (which I wouldn't bring to a room anyway) I would hope someone would turn them in.

By far the most interesting occurrence happened while I looked at our room window. There I saw what looked like a white deer. I took these snapshots so if anyone is familiar with deer let me know what you think of it. One of the other guests said it was a goat, but clearly it's not a goat.





When I saw the animal it reminded me of a spirit familiar of a Native American Indian. I don't know why but that was the vibe I received. Oh, and I do believe the room may have been haunted because of all the knocks I heard. I could tell the difference from the ones above and next to us. These were in the room and when I asked aloud, "Is there someone in here who wants to speak with me?" I kept getting a response. Unfortunately I did not have my digital recorder with me to conduct an evp session. The Indian presence was so prevalent that when I came home I GTSed American Indians and The Kanawha Valley and found this page. I was particularly fascinated about Mound Builders..."These burial mounds were monuments to the dead, and only important community or religious leaders were buried in the large mounds. Common people were buried in stone mounds that are often found on the hills and along the ridges overlooking the Kanawha Valley. The dead were sometimes cremated and their ashes were also buried in mounds." Hmmmm, like the hill right behind the hotel? But I digress.

I also saw a wild turkey, the first one I ever saw. My husband thought it was odd since turkeys usually don't travel alone. I wouldn't know.



Anyway we left early Saturday morning without trying out the pool, or jacuzzi, and headed back to Virginia. I was determined to salvage something out of this trip so suggested we check out a different city on the way home. Beckley was my choice. Haha! Bad choice. Not one person in Beckley could direct us to downtown. It was like it didn't exist. After about an hour, a visit to a smelly antique shop (the smell of it stuck in my hair) and eating a crappy cheesesteak sandwich at some dump, we gave up. All we saw were depressed areas, and spoke to people who we couldn't understand.

Although the first trip ever without children wasn't as "wonderful" as I had planned, we still had a lot of fun. It's good to laugh...and laugh we did. It's also good to take trips like this because every time we go out of town to a different southern city it makes us realize how much Roanoke and Salem have to offer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ants...

When I came home from lunch at Torino's (highly recommend), I wondered who had made coffee and spilled grounds. As I got closer I saw the grounds were milling around and then moving up and down a trail along my windowsill. They were the first ants I've seen all year. And they weren't there when I left.

Ants give me the willies. These were very tiny ants, which really make me squirm. So, the first instinct is to grab the Lysol Anti-bacterial and start spraying. That gets rid of some of them but doesn't stop the army from marching. One must kill the nest. The best product I've found to accomplish that mission is Terro. I discovered Terro from a friend while visiting her in Florida. She swore of its miraculous powers. And it was easy to use...no spraying. Just rip a piece of cardboard off the packaging, place some drops of the poisonous honey looking goo, and set it near the trail.

Patience is key when using Terro. First you have to wait for a scout to discover it. Once that happens all the troops begin to follow. They start on the rim and work their way inwards. On a dime-sized blob of Terro, there could be hundreds of ants. Your instinct is to grab that bottle and spray again. Don't! Let the little guys munch away and bring it back to their queen. That kills the nest.

Within 24 hours there'll be no activity near the cardboard, and probably many ants dead stuck on it. Remove it, spray the counter, and watch while nothing happens. There's no smell either. Props to Terro.

no ants Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fractured Facade

I've started another blog called Fractured Facade.

If you're a writer thinking about self-publishing, or a rabid reader (and I assume you are if you read my blog), it might be of interest.

My e-Eureka! Moment starts it off...

I'll still be posting on this blog, but right now my head is over there.

Come check it out...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Zucchini



You ever see a zucchini that size? Me neither. No, it didn't come from my garden. The teeny tiny tomato did. Luckily my customers are kind enough to bring us veggies and fruits from theirs, such as the mega zucchini. I swear that thing must have weighed ten pounds. I could barely hold it while shredding it.

For those of you fortunate enough to have more zucchini than you know what to do with here are 3 quick recipes I picked up in Family Circle. I've tried all of them and they were easy and delicioso...

1. For an easy side -- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over high heat; add 1 pound shredded zucchini and saute 1 minute. Toss with 1/4 cup sliced almonds. Add shaved Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

2. Make chips by dipping thinly sliced zucchini in milk and dredging in Italian seasoned panko. Place directly on wire rack set on baking sheet and bake for 30:00 until golden.

3. Zucchini cakes -- Mix together 1 pound shredded zucchini, 1 egg, 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1/4 cup Canola oil in nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Form mixture into pancakes and saute 2:00 per side. Serve with sour cream.

Enjoy...and keep those fresh fruits and veggies coming!