Fractured Facade

"A fathers death...a daughter's life...a sociopath's vendetta...FRACTURED FACADE ...a novel written as memoir. Only $4.99 and available exclusively on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited members read for free! Click here for direct link.


THE VALENTINE'S DAY CURSE -- A Short Story, Free everywhere...except on Amazon (boo! hiss!) where it's $.99 to buy! Click here for direct link! Let them know it's free at these stores and they may price match it! Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books...more to come.

Friday, April 30, 2010

No Prom, Yes Job!

So this weekend is my son's high school prom. And, no, he will not be attending. He actually was asked. Yes, he was asked, he didn't do the asking, on Facebook of all places, but he ignored the request. "I've never even met the girl in person." And he never wanted to meet her in person either, no matter how many times I asked him if he was sure. "Mom, she's posing with Mickey Mouse as her picture." Clearly he wasn't interested.

Well, there's always the after-prom. He wouldn't have to waste all that money on a tux, limo, dinner and date with someone he never met in person, as he could go stag. "Mom, why would I want to go to that? It doesn't start until midnight and it ends at 4:00am. I have an AP test Monday morning at 7:00am, so uh, no." He is so logical. Truth be told I didn't go to my prom either. And, no, I never regretted it. I doubt he will either.

The boy has always been responsible, and he showed me yesterday just how responsible he really is by getting a job, a real paying, part time job! His first job, and today he takes his first drug test. I have no worries about him passing that test -- at least I think I have no worries. He told his new employer that he couldn't start until after next Wednesday because he has AP tests up until then. Thankfully he still he realizes his education is important. After he aced the job interview he went right down to VWCC and took the placement test (I guess his 1910 SAT score wasn't high enough) and dropped off the application for a scholarship, which he had just found out needed to get in their hands by today. The 500 word essay was written during his lunch period so I'm not banking on that money. He also asked two teacher for letters of recommendation so he could join the honor society which he qualifies for. His plan of action is to attend VWCC for two years and then transfer over to either VT, JMU or W&M. Although he intends to major in computer science, with a minor in mathematics, lately he's been expressing interest in law. My son the senator...hmmmmm, I like the way that sounds.

I don't care what he majors in as long as he goes to college. I don't want him to end up like me, not that I'm a slacker or anything. It's just that I got my first job at 15. By the time I graduated high school I was making so much money I poo-poohed college..."Who the hell needs a degree???" I didn't. I did just fine without one and made plenty of money, and went as far as possible with prestigious titles, but I don't want my kids to fall into the same money trap.

I keep telling him it's only four more years, and then he sighs...very loudly.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This Is Not A Paid Endorsement

Have you noticed lately how many blogs have been "raving" about a product, highly recommending it, posting a link to it and then revealing at the end of the post that they are being paid to do it? I have and I gotta tell ya, I'm not liking it. I don't mind the ad here or there when I know it's an ad, but I feel like I'm duped when I devote my minutes reading a post from someone I regularly read only to find out at the end that it was a paid endorsement. Note to bloggers who participate in this practice - Please, please, please put a disclaimer at the beginning of the post, not at the end!

I've gotten quite of few requests myself from myriad of products, many of which I've never heard of. Usually in exchange for writing a glowing review or providing a link I will get said product "free." I have yet to endorse anything for money. My feeling is if I like your stuff I'd probably let the world know for free when/if I wanted to. If you're a reader of this blog you know that sword has two edges -- if I don't like your book, your software, your restaurant, your whatever, I'm gonna let the world know that too. I wonder what happens if the blogger does give a negative review to one of the products or services they are asked to review. Do they still get paid or get the free product? Have you ever read a negative post from someone who was paid to review? I don't think I have.

On my last blog I had some ads. I signed up for the Adsense. The only thing that did was clutter my blog. I never made one penny from it. Supposedly there was a tiny balance but I never received a check. Frankly, I wouldn't do it again. Obviously I don't have enough readers who are stupid enough to click on the ads to warrant them taking the space up on my blog. On this blog I have one "ad" under the "sponsored by" heading which is for my own auto repair business and which I don't even get paid for it. Hmmmm, maybe I should charge myself a monthly fee! Actually I probably wouldn't turn away any advertiser that wanted to pay me to go under the "sponsored by" banner. So is that hypocritical? I don't think so. Most readers are well aware what "sponsored by" means. It's their choice to click on the link or just ignore it.

For the record, I don't begrudge any blogger making some money off of ads, but I just wish they would be more upfront when their actual posts are designed only for that purpose.

Paid advertisement. Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Yes, even though we awoke to 38 degrees this morning, it is still spring and I'm loving this weather. It'll be too hot soon enough. Last week the cherry trees saw the last of their flowers fall. This week it was the dogwoods, my favorite flowering tree. I captured these shots before all the flowers fell off and stuck to my patio...

See you in the fall with your glorious red leaves and berries.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do Sports Trump Academics?

Yes, I am a proud parent, and when it comes to bragging about my kids' achievements I'm not shy. The Roanoke Times' SwoCo Blog did post my blurb about my daughter's first place state win for Prepared Speech in the Skills USA competition that was held this past weekend. Thank you!

I hope that Burton sends the Roanoke Times, as well as other media outlets, a press release about the Skills USA competition and all the students who placed well. I noticed when the students won the District VII competition last month, they didn't receive any acknowledgment, no press, nothing, not even a congratulations from their home schools. You can be darn sure if these kids were on some sort of sports team and placed first in the state their pictures would be splattered everywhere. The Board of Supervisors would be honoring them. Their home schools would be touting their abilities, make an announcement congratulating the winners, putting them in the newsletter, or at the very least the principal would acknowledge an e-mail with a "job well done." Heck, if these kids went to school in Salem and placed first in the state for some sort of sport, the city would put up a plaque in the median on 419. I hope I'm wrong and these students do get some sort of pat on the back, but I do have a question. Why do students who do well academically not get the same respect as those students who do well in sports?

That is something that has irked me throughout my children's academic career. When I was coaching the elementary school chess team, I made sure those kids got press and acknowledgment whenever they won a tournament. I felt their accomplishments were just as "important" as the students who could hit a ball far. As the kids get older it's clear physical sports become way more "important" than mental sports. Parents, students, educators, coaches, and especially schools find more prestige in sports than academics. The higher up the education ladder, the more "important" sports are. I believe kids have a better opportunity to get a scholarship worth more money from a college through sports than anything else. So are our priorities screwed up?

Not only do some students not want to participate in sports, some students are physically unable to. Point in case, my daughter. She has a medical condition (MHE) that has prevented her from enjoying even the most basic physical activities. She doesn't whine about it, and although there's been times where other students have teased her, she never once cried, "Why me?" Instead she's harnessed her brain power.

What's really amazing about her winning this Prepared Speech competition is that she has had a speech impediment that I tried to have corrected with the Roanoke County schools since she was in kindergarten. Unfortunately the speech teacher she had in elementary school did nothing to help her. I never could understand how having a child color pictures, or play with play-doh, would help a lisp. It was keep busy work. When I found out my daughter was left alone with a coloring book in the speech teacher's room while the teacher went to do volunteer work at her daughter's middle school, I freaked out and pulled her out of the class. The teacher resented my child, thinking she was only getting speech lessons because she couldn't participate in gym. Yes, I inisted on gym period (I had to pull her out of gym after she got hurt and the gym teacher told me he had 500 students to worry about and couldn't focus on just her) as the time she get "help" so as now to interrupt her education. How the speech teacher couldn't hear her impediment was beyond me. But I digress.

At home we've tried to help her as much as possible, correcting whenever she would say something wrong, which is ironic since I pronounce so many words wrong. With my New York accent and her hearing a Southern accent her whole life she's developed a Boston-like one..."Say water." She's still not a "perfect speaker" and she's the first one to laugh that she actually won a state competition in Prepared Speech..."Is there no one in this entire state who is a better speaker?!"

I tell her it's not just how you say the words, but the meaning behind the words you write that's important. She did write a great speech and practiced the delivery over and over again. She's Italian so she talks with her hands and is animated, and has a strong stage presence, so I really wasn't surprised she won. The national championship will be held in Kansas City in June. She won't be able to attend. Sometimes medical conditions stop students from not only physical competitions, but academic ones too. She has surgery scheduled at UVA to remove tumors on both legs and her arm the same week. This will be her third surgery in three years, and the most invasive. Although she feels bad she can't represent Virginia, she still doesn't complain, "Why me?" She's just happy she got as far as she did. I know in the future she will go even further. She's already a world champion in my eyes.

Congratulations to all the students who competed from Burton. Whether you placed or not, you did a great job! Good luck to those students who will be representing Virginia...we're proud of your achievements.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Someone Wounded My Tree

So the other day I'm backing out my driveway and as I'm about to go down the road I realize something is not quite right so I stop short. My husband asks, "What's the matter?" I reply, "What the f&*k!" as I look down the driveway and see my beloved Japanese maple tree is wounded. I quickly pull back in and jump out of the car to get a closer look...

Sure enough, something terrible happened to my tree. One huge branch was dangling off of it and it looked as if someone pulled on the branches and tried to rip them off. (See pic 5) If that wasn't bad enough the trunk of the tree was damaged as well (see pic 3). I was devastated. Who would do such a thing?

I thought back to something odd that happened earlier in the day. There was a banging on my door, bang, bang, bang to the point I almost expected the person behind it to say, "FBI let us in!" only it wasn't the cops but this weird looking guy with really bad teeth, unkept semi-long hair, wild eyes and a push lawn mower, "I want to mow your lawn!" I was taken aback by the brute force of his "request" and quickly locked the inside door, "That's okay my son will be doing it. Thanks anyway." I closed the door and heard my dog in the yard going nuts. I didn't run out to see what was going on. Instead I doubled locked my back door.

After a couple of minutes I looked outside and saw this freaky guy walking down my driveway pushing his mower out into the street. I was surprised he was still here but really didn't give it a second thought. Now, I'm not saying this guy killed my tree because I didn't see him actually do it, but I have no idea what else could have happened.

This is what it used to look like...

That Japanese maple tree was given to me by my children on Mother's Day the first year we bought this house, so it's about 13 years old. I love that tree. It's not dead, yet, but I don't know if she's gonna make it or not. Bastard!

Now one other strange thing...when I was selling my house in Brooklyn I had the same type of Japanese maple tree in my front lawn. I had just replaced a huge rose bush that had gotten struck by lightning, twice. I only had that tree a couple of months before I put the house on the market. One morning I woke up to find that someone didn't kill the tree but actually dug it out of my yard and stole it! We followed the trail of dirt down to the avenue when the trail disappeared, most likely in somebody's car. Yes, they are expensive trees, but damn, buy your own!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ciao Cherry Trees

Thanks to one of the worst winters we ever experienced in Roanoke, our cherry trees were spectacular.

Judging from the cherry blossom snow carpet this will probably be the last weekend any flowers will remain. Ciao cherry trees, see you next spring...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Metal Climbing Domes or Dumbs?

When I was a kid the parks in Brooklyn were much different than the ones my kids played on here in Roanoke. I loved climbing the monkey bars, and although dreaded being tossed from the see saw by a heavy friend onto a concrete surface, I couldn't get enough of them. My mother would tell me to wash the blood off my scraped knees in the water spout that usually was in the center of many parks. If I got hit in the head from one of the heavy metal swings it was my own fault for being stupid enough to walk in front of, or behind one, when some kid was attempting to reach the moon.

My kids have never climbed on monkey bars, gotten tossed off a see-saw, got hit in the head by or slipped off a metal swing, nor slid down a hot slide burning their butts. The biggest threat they faced was getting splinters from a wooden play set or mulch in their shoes.

When I was in Brooklyn recently I was reading about a state-of-the-art park that had recently opened near the Brooklyn Bridge, aptly called Brooklyn Bridge Park. Since my kids are teens now that wasn't on my must do list.

I was fascinated by one of the new features placed in it...metal climbing domes which are just that -- shiny, smooth, metal domes. According to this article, not many parents were thrilled with the domes..."because the metal domes get so hot on sunny days that kids cry when they touch them. "Within five minutes of being here, [my daughter] burned her leg," said Jennifer Bollard, 37, a mom from New Jersey who traveled to check out the much-hyped park with her kids, Julie, 3, and Jonathan, 7."

Yeah, that'll happen when the sun bakes hot metal. Keep in mind this was in April...imagine what it would be like in July or August! Not to worry, the powers that be came up with a solution by placing shade umbrellas over them. The problem with that is that the sun moves so within an hour or two the dome was hot again. Well, duh!

According to NY 1, they've come up with a better solution..."The new Brooklyn Bridge Park playground is back open for business after being closed for repairs due to safety concerns. Parents have complained that the park's metal climbing domes heat up in the sun, burning their children. Last week, the park was closed for two days to repair some holes in the playground surface. Workers also put tents up over the domes to keep them in the shade. Parents are pleased with the changes, but say they'll be cautious when allowing their kids on the domes."

Besides the opportunity to get scorched I wondered what "fun" a child would have on a metal dome. It's not like they really could climb anywhere, or slide down it, so what would be the point of installing them? What am I missing? Anyway, if the heat wasn't enough to want to keep your kids off these climbing domes maybe the picture of this little girl is...

According to the Daily News article, she broke her nose and lost a tooth playing on the domes. Maybe they should be called metal climbing dumbs. And they say monkey bars aren't safe.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Bonsai Tree Grows in Brooklyn

"Enough with the pictures, Ma!"

I don't have much time to blog today, and frankly am getting bored of the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens,

so I'm just posting a couple of more shots from there and that's that. Actual words to return soon...

"Can we go home now?"

Yes, yes, we can...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Brooklyn Boids, I Mean Birds

Although I actually have even more pics from the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens I thought I would show you some pictures of some birds I captured in Brooklyn. Now when you think of Brooklyn birds you're probably thinking, "dirty stinking boids" like the rats with wings, pigeons. At our Brooklyn house we have a huge pine tree in the back yard that the neighbors have been bugging me to cut down since my father died. I refuse to cut that one and the other pine that I have in the front of the house. Both trees house some songbirds including one that wakes me every morning singing, "Sweet Marie, Sweet Marie." I imagine that's my dad saying good morning to his granddaughter.

For the most part the birds are the usual ones that you would see here in Roanoke -- cardinals, bluejays, bluebirds, sparrows, wrens, pigeons along with many seagulls. This trip I saw two more types of birds I had never seen before in Brooklyn.

On our way back from the Botanic Gardens we stopped at Greenwood Cemetery to see my folks...

The place is huge and even though they issue maps it's easy to get lost. We know we finally found the gravesite when we stumble upon this gargoyle-filled monument.

My parents are located near one of the two huge ponds. We usually get lost trying to leave as well even though we follow the pond. This time we saw a beautiful bird that we've never seen there before.

Later on I took my daughter to Shore Parkway to go shopping. As usual we walked to the shore to take pictures of my favorite bridge, the Verrazano...

I had to look twice after taking the picture because I thought I saw some birds in the ocean which were too large to be ducks or geese...

We walked closer to the shore and saw that there were two swans diving for fish in the ocean...

My daughter said she didn't know swans swam in the ocean. Neither did I! You never know what you're going to find in Brooklyn.

Wouldn't this shot make a nice postcard? "Greetings from Brooklyn!"