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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spooky Cat

I'm not a fan of cats, but this one is spooky cool...Happy Halloween. Boo!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

After The Rain

I wish this blog offered Smellivision...the pines were amazingly aromatic after the rain. Almost November and I still haven't turned on the heat, and I still have flowers in bloom. Hope this lasts a little while longer...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I really don't know if orbs that show up in photos have anything to do with the paranormal or not, but many "ghost hunters" think they do. I find them interesting especially when they're captured in an eerie location, under clear weather conditions. My daughter sat down and looked at the 83 photos I took recently during the Salem Ghost Tour at East Hill Cemetery. She's convinced at least 15 of them contain orbs. I've posted a couple. You can decide for yourself. I would recommend clicking on the photo to get a better view.

If you look in the middle of the square headstone you'll see something...

Look to the left of the moon...

I call this the Orb Fruit tree...

Here and there...

And everywhere...

I had turned around quickly and snapped that shot after hearing a noise so it's a little blurry. Now this big bright orb in the left hand corner is really clear. Too bad it's the moon...

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Salem Ghost Walk

It looks like the girl saw a ghost!

Under an almost-full moon she and I took part in the 13th Salem Ghost Walk held this past pleasant Saturday night.

Rather than getting spooked the event actually was an "historical pilgrimage through Salem's East Hill Cemeteries." It started inside the newly renovated Salem Museum where we first met two ghosts from the Salem Flying Artillery. The gentlemen ghosts who both served in the Civil War reminisced about their time in uniform. Naturally it was filled with the usual anti-Yankee sentiments, which Salemites have been known to still express.

The next ghost we met was India Bradpher, a member of Salem's African American community. India recounted her pride felt towards her neighbors and husband in the then segregated city.

Next up was the ghost of Geroge Terrill, a physician, major and military leader who recounts his family's anguish in the Civil War as one son fought for the Blue and the other for the Gray. Notice the orbs?

The ghost of Andrew Lewis, a very popular Salemite as evidenced by having a middle school and a Fort named after him, told his story. I was particularly amused at how much the Lewises sounded like deadbeats. His family first came over to the states because his father felt the rent they were paying was too high so he wouldn't pay it. When the landlord came over they got into an altercation and Lewis killed him. It was "self-defense" but they fled across the ocean anyway. Another tidbit about Andrew Lewis' character came out when his ghost told the story of how they needed a minister for their local church. So Lewis placed signs, I think in Williamsburg, asking for one. The minister uprooted his family and took over the church in Salem but left because Lewis never paid him. Like father, like son.

Colonel Broad, a prominent banker and civic leader told the story of how Salem lost the railroad to Big Lick, now Roanoke. Their smugness did Salem in, and a little bribe from Roanoke might have helped secure the tracks. Wasn't Salem positive they were getting the intermodal recently? Hmmmm, some things don't change even many years later.

Figures the banker would have such an elaborate grave marker...

The ghost of Clementine Chapman told the tale of how she and her husband lost the fabled Lake Spring Hotel, all due to a curse. The beggar must have been Sicilian.

All the re-enactors offered authentic performances and were quite entertaining. Unfortunately some of the children in the large group we were in became a little bored and began asking their parents, "Where are the ghosts?" and "Can we leave now?" Even my teen became a little tired hearing Salem's history lesson and had to rest her weary bones.

Once the tour broke up I wanted to go into the other East Hill Cemetery, the not so grand one behind the Salem Museum where the blacks are buried. As you can see there's quite a difference between where Andrew Lewis and Mr. Board rest than where Ms. Bradpher does.

It was very dark and the hill was too steep to climb so we didn't explore much of this cemetery. I want to go back in the daytime and check it out more thoroughly. Meanwhile I did have a digital voice recorder going the entire time to see if I picked up any stray EVP's. Once I download it and check it out I'll report back.

Now, two strange things did occur. The first happened when we were in the Salem Museum listening to the first tale. I felt the floor vibrate, almost like a rumble. I looked around and no one else seemed to have felt it, no one except my daughter. We both looked at each other and when we went outside I asked her what she had felt. Besides a "creepy feeling" she did feel the same vibration I did.

I also did take various shots as we were walking through the cemetery. I kept hearing "noises" close by behind us when we trailed the group. I would turn and no one would be there so I whipped out my camera and just took some shots. Indeed I discovered quite a few of them had orbs. Actually there are so many shots that I haven't included them in this post as they warrant a post of their own. If I ever find some "spare time" haha, I'd like to put together a small video of them. For now I'll pick out the "best of" and post them in the next day or so.

There's going to be one more tour held on Tuesday night (hope your weather will be as beautiful as ours was) which will have an additional ghost of a gravedigger. If you take any photos let me know if you pick up any orbs too. I thought the tour was enjoyable and it sparked my interest enough to visit the cemetery another the daylight.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Garst Mill Greenway

Walking along the same trail day after day, week after week, month after month, can get boring so I went back to Garst Mill the other day. The trail is much shorter than the Roanoke River Greenway in Salem but it was a nice change of pace...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I'll Stick to the Cigars

When a new restaurant opens one of the main things they should concentrate on is good service. When they neglect that basic tenet the diner will usually leave with a bad taste in their mouth. Add the bad taste left by the food and chances are the same diner will never return. That's how I feel after dining at the new Cuban restaurant that just opened in Salem.

Why I thought Cuban food would offer some "healthy" choices that would allow me to stay on my diet, I don't know. I'm mad at myself for not only allowing my "cheat" day to be moved up four days but for the poor choice in food as well.

First off let me say Cuban flies are nasty. You can't just wave them off. They don't take no for an answer and they're fast, like Speedy Gonzales fast. Strike one.

Since I'm not familiar with Cuban food I thought the best option would be to choose the appetizer sampler which I thought, according to what I read on the menu, would be a little bit of each of the four appetizers. My friend went with a sandwich, which she thought was going to be pork.

As we waited for our lunch we both opted for water as our drink. It was Salem's finest water, which if you work or live in Salem you know is pretty rank. Filter's are a must. Strike two.

The waiter came and brought a mini platter of some sort of very finely chopped mystery meat placed on top of a fried something. Spanish olives, the crappy ones you get in the $1.00 bottle, were placed on top of the meat. When he sat the plate down he said, "this goes with the sandwich." We were both surprised as the menu said French fries went with the sandwich. My friend starting eating one but couldn't decipher what it was so offered me one. I tried it and it reminded me of the Jamaican beef patty mystery meat on top of what I believed was -- although it didn't look anything like the ones I've had in Brooklyn -- a fried plantain. Just to be sure we called the waiter over and asked what it was and he told us in Spanish, which meant nothing to us. I asked if he could explain in English and he said beef with plantain.

A little while later the waiter brought out my friend's sandwich which wasn't what she thought it would be as there was ham and swiss cheese in it. It was rather large and came with a side of fries. After a couple of minutes more without my meal, I asked the waiter if they forgot about me, and he pointed to the leftover mystery meat appetizer. Apparently that was my lunch, and it didn't come with the sandwich after all. Luckily my friend didn't like it too much, so there were leftovers. I didn't like it much either but I felt weak after our walk and needed to eat something.

After I finished them I asked again where the rest of the appetizers were and was told they were still making the shrimp. Since the menu had listed four different items I thought I would be getting two others as well. More minutes passed with nothing brought to the table so I called over yet a different waiter. He couldn't speak English so he called another one over who then asked my friend if she wanted the second part of her sandwich boxed. I remarked that I was still waiting for my meal. He looked perplexed and left never to return again. How long does it take to cook shrimp anyway? Strike three.

A waiter came by again to fill my friends glass, neglected mine, (damn I should have left my invisibility cloak home) and asked her again if she wanted to take home the half sandwich. By the way, she did say it was good, but wouldn't try the fries since they looked rancid. I asked the waiter to bring over a menu and pointed to what I had ordered and asked what had happened with the rest of the items. From what I could garner with the language barrier and all, they put two of the items together -- the mystery meat and plantains and they were still cooking the shrimp. I pointed to the other two appetizers listed and he said they didn't come with the sampler. Silly me. We had to leave so I told him to forget the shrimp. He says, "Oh you wanted it to go." "Ummm, no I didn't. I wanted to have lunch with my friend at the same time. Just charge me for the one appetizer and that'll be fine." "Do you want separate checks?" "Yes please." Naturally he brought one check.

He did bring a to go box over to me and said I should take the shrimp anyway and he wouldn't charge me for it. It was three small shrimp fried? in a red colored spice placed on top of the exact same type of cup shaped fried plantains as the mystery meat. How many plantains can one person eat??? I took them anyway and tried one when I got to work -- horribly overcooked with the tail on. My husband wouldn't even try one. I threw them out.

Just a note...when I go out for Japanese food, the staff doesn't only speak Japanese, same with Italian and Mexican. I don't think it's too much to ask to have your staff speak English no matter what foreign cuisine is being served.

It may be that the place is so new that it still has to work out the bugs, but I don't think I'll be returning. I'm sure everyone else in the Roanoke Valley will love it and it will remain open for years to come. If this restaurant is an accurate reflection of what Cuban cusine is, it's just not for me...I'll stick to their cigars.

cuban Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sssssssimply Beautiful Weather

It was such a glorious weekend everyone was out along the Greenway. Unfortunately my camera batteries decided to die so I couldn't take as many shots as I wanted to. But my phone came in handy for these two...

Sssssssimply beautiful weather these past couple of days...Today promises more of the same. Days like these make me wonder if there is any place in the United States that has a temperature climate like this most of the time. It would be great for my bones. Any suggestions?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fu to You

Thanks to a Facebook friend, the mystery of this symbol has been solved...

"This Character is pronounced "fu" in Chinese.

The character "fu" is posted by virtually all Chinese people on the doors of their homes during the Spring Festival (closely associated with the Chinese New Years).

One tradition from the Zhou Dynasty (beginning in 256 B.C.) holds that putting a fu symbol on your front door will keep the goddess of poverty away.

This character literally means good fortune, prosperity, blessed, happiness, and fulfillment."

What's really interesting is the person who deciphered the symbol happens to be named Fu too. Thanks to Pearl and Chris for their help.

Fu to you all! Readers, feel free to print up the picture and hang it in in your home. Now let the good fortune begin...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Silver Necklace

I stumbled upon this sterling silver necklace in a consignment shop on Grandin Road yesterday.

As soon as I picked it up it felt like it belonged on my neck. I loved the chain it hung on as well as the delicate details around the symbol. The sales clerk had no idea what the symbol meant or even where it came from. It looks Asian, duh, but I don't know whether it would be Chinese, Japanese or even Korean. I would love to know what it means so if any readers have a clue please let me know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Walking Is My Therapy

There is nothing as refreshing as a crisp apple freshly picked so close to home. I'm fortunate that I live in a beautiful part of Roanoke County very close to Jamisons' Orchards. The mile walk to the farm is always pleasant even if I sometimes have to dodge vehicles.

At the end of my trek I treat myself to freshly picked apples, home-made cashew butter, sugar-free strawberry preserves, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and dried apricots, most locally grown.

Walking back home with the heavy bag on my shoulder I hug the babbling creek and I lose myself in the serenity.

I find the best solutions to problems come when I'm strolling in peace, my mind as clear as the sky. Even though I'm not sitting at the keyboard suddenly a word or phrase comes into my mind that would fit better than a word or phrase I had used in my book. Even when I'm not writing my subconscious mind is. Walking is my therapy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reflections Along the Greenway

Sunday was a beautiful day for a stroll along the Roanoke River in Salem. After today's pleasant forecast I don't imagine there'll be too many more warm days left. The only flowers left blooming were these, which I think are weeds...

I noticed the tree leaf colors aren't as spectacular as they have been in the past but they're still bright enough to get some interesting reflections-in-the-water shots...

Although I wish the weather would remain as glorious as it's been, according to the locals this little fellow's color and thick woolly body mean we're in for a cold winter. I hope it doesn't come too soon...