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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Curtain Has Fallen

For the last five days right before my daughter dashed out the door and headed to Hidden Valley's school stage I'd sing..."Overture cut the lights, this is it, the night of nights, no more rehearsing or nursing the part. We know every part by heart..."

After I finished singing I'd call out "Break a leg!" and then mutter under my breath, (don't really break a leg.) I worried if those fragile little legs that have spent the last three summers in an operating room, would hold up as she skipped, ran, danced, climbed and fought as she portrayed a Lost Boy.

Those rag-doll scarred-up legs held out and when tears came into my eyes after watching Peter Pan it wasn't just because it was the best play I have ever seen in Roanoke, it was because I was filled with pride. And not just proud of my daughter's performance, but proud of her determination to overcome her shyness and bone tumors.

Oh sure, she'd come home at night after rehearsals and crumble to the floor in pain, but she refused to let it stop her. She soldiered on, never complaining and never once thinking about quitting. Then the payoff: After the first night's performance she glowed. I have never seen her so happy as she relayed the evening's events. "The audience laughed, the little kids yelled back 'I believe' for Tinkerbell, they clapped and cheered, and at the end we got a standing ovation! And then some little kids asked for our autographs! They were so cute. It was great! I loved it!" Would she do it again? "Without a doubt!"

Ah, there's nothing like the rush of a live audience, hearing thunderous applause and seeing hundreds of folks standing in appreciation. Throw in an autograph and it's no wonder she has been bitten by the theatre bug. She doesn't know it yet, but within a couple of days she will most likely become depressed. The curtain has fallen. The lights have gone out. The action is over. She won't have the camaraderie of her troupe. She will feel empty, as empty as this theatre...

theatre Pictures, Images and Photos

She'll be back to reality...playing school-catch up, trying to make up all the work she got behind in, preparing for a trip to Hampton Roads for Skills USA competition, shooting video for a backlogged assignment, and studying her heart out for the SAT's, SOL's, AP exams -- Nothing as fun as acting. This should be interesting...

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Dog's Friday

It's Friday, the sun is shining, the wind is blowing, no one's petting me, what's a dog to do?

Aaaaah, that felt good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Real Housewives of Boone County

I've always been a fan of John Waters. I know he doesn't appeal to everyone, but I find his off-kilter personality and his bizarre films fascinating. They are so over the top with caricatures of people who couldn't possibly exist, like Edith Massey's portrayal of the Egg Lady, that they crack me up.

EGG LADY Pictures, Images and Photos

Recently I stumbled upon a documentary called "Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia."

Although it was produced by the same folks who brought us that classic "Jackass" it is truly a documentary worth watching. These West Virginians from Boone County are the real deal. They are proud to be "hillbillies" who live by the credo family first. Except of course for the one young un who went on a rampage and shot his uncle in the face a couple of times with a shotgun, or, the one cousin who slept with, and then moved in with, another cousin's husband while her cousin was in jail. But, they are a forgiving lot, and boy do they know how to let their hair, and pants, down.

Boone County is about 3 1/2 hours west of Roanoke, not far from Charleston. If you read the county's website listing "Quality of Life" facts it sounds like a wonderful place to raise your family, however, I noticed they neglected to list the White Family on that list. Watch this documentary and you'll see why.

I think Bravo really needs to get down there and start a Real Housewives of Boone County show. They would blow all the other housewives out of the water...literally.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Targeting Teens

Although I had hoped to reach a "larger" audience with the following post, both local newspapers declined to run it without some heavy, and I mean, heavy editing. Luckily I have a blog so my artistic integrity doesn't need to be compromised and pertinent details can be left intact.

If you see this girl, beware...she's certainly "suspicious" looking...

"Targeting Teens"

When I was a teenager in Brooklyn I had a crush on a boy who worked as a cashier at the local supermarket. I’d pass through his line, sometimes several times a day to buy gum or candy, saving every receipt. If you’re a teenager in the Roanoke Valley who shops you best hold onto your receipt, not for sentimental value, but because there’s a good chance the police will ask you to produce it.

This realization came after my daughter and two of her friends were detained, questioned, and searched at a local supermarket by a police officer on suspicion of shoplifting. It took five sleepless nights before she confided in me.

She said a male friend asked her and her friend to accompany him to the store to buy deodorant. After the boy paid, a police officer stopped them and asked them if they knew why. They said no. He informed them he’d been watching them, thought they were acting suspicious, and believed they had shoplifted.

The officer asked their ages and if their parents were present. They all told him 17, and no. The officer asked for identification and they handed him their licenses. The girls were told to empty out their pocketbooks. An unopened tin of mints was in my daughter’s, and an opened can of frosting was in her friend’s. The officer asked if they stole the items and the girls said no; my daughter had purchased them an hour earlier. The officer asked for the receipt. As the girls frantically searched for the slip of paper the officer led the boy to the aisle where they were acting “suspicious” to see if they damaged anything. (When the boy had found the deodorant he had been searching for, the girls noticed the cap was missing. They looked for the cap and found a broken one on the shelf. The cap was switched out, they proceeded to the check-out and paid, and then were stopped.)

When the officer returned with the boy my daughter produced the receipt she had found crumpled inside the change she had crammed in her front pocket. Before the officer handed back their licenses he wrote down their information. My daughter’s friend asked if he would be calling their parents to which he replied, “That’s not necessary. This never happened, unless you want it to have happened, in which case, it happened.” It happened. The kids were released.

My daughter relayed this story through tears adding, “Why do I feel like a criminal? I didn’t do anything wrong. It was so humiliating.” Disturbed, my husband and I paid a visit to the supermarket the following Saturday. I was shocked to hear two managers claim they didn’t know the name of the confronting officer, nor have a log of who had been patrolling the store at the time of the incident. I refused to back down and asked, “Are you telling me that anyone can put on a uniform, patrol your aisles, stop teenage girls, search them and take down their personal information without the parents being notified? How do I know it’s not some psycho who will now be stalking my daughter? Is this your store’s policy?” Shortly thereafter I was handed the officer’s name.

When I requested to file a complaint I got the run around again. I informed them I was not leaving until my concerns were documented. I was brought upstairs to file an “incident report” which was geared more to pointing the finger at my daughter than complaining about the incident. I asked for a copy of what the manager had typed and was denied. We left.

To the officer’s credit, I did receive a phone call a couple of hours later. I expressed my concern that we hadn’t been called before my daughter was searched and asked if that was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. He explained it didn’t apply because he felt he had reasonable cause to stop them. They were acting “suspicious” -- the male walked back and forth a few times in an aisle, stopped at a shelf, and took something off it. In my eyes that’s called shopping. Then the three of them huddled together and my daughter intentionally turned her back to the camera blocking his view. Since she is 5’1” and 113 pounds, I guess her girth would make her the ideal “screen” to block a camera she didn’t know was focusing on her. I pointed out the boy paid for the item, but the officer felt he did so because he spotted security nearby. I didn’t know police were also trained at the Kreskin Academy of Mind Reading.

I asked the officer what would have happened if my daughter did not have her receipt. What if she would have thrown it out along with the bag? He said they would have checked the debit and credit card records. She doesn’t own a credit or debit card. What if she had bought those mints at another store and didn’t have the receipt? She would have been charged with shoplifting. Farewell to the 50+ college offers she’s received. I was informed had drugs been found in her pocketbook she would have been arrested.

I’m unfamiliar with the law, the supermarket's and police policy regarding juveniles being accused of shoplifting, but I’m troubled I was not called before she was searched. My daughter dumped out her bag because she has been taught to respect and listen to the police. It was acquiescence to a claim of authority. Is she allowed to deny the officer’s command and request parental notification without the assumption she is trying to hide something? I was assured had she been charged I would have been called. So why was her personal information written down after she was cleared?

The officer stated that 99% of the suspects he stops have committed a crime. It’s not my contention there aren’t problems with teenagers and shoplifting. If there wasn’t, the police wouldn’t be working overtime at supermarkets guarding 99 cent tins of mints. But just because they are teenagers, that doesn’t make them juvenile delinquents. I could fill a commentary solely on my daughter’s character, academic and community service record.

I knew helicopter store clerks hover over teens as they shop, but I am disheartened to discover police target teens as soon as they walk through the door, and sometimes they don’t get that far. My daughter stated she and two other friends were denied access to this same store over a year ago by a police officer (she doesn’t know if it was the same one or not) purely based on their looks.

I hope everyone uses our experience as a teachable moment. Teens acting “silly” could be misconstrued as acting “suspicious.” I wonder how many other innocent teens have gone through a similar experience -- feeling bullied, afraid, ashamed, and confused, and their parents have no idea. Parents, talk to your children. Teens, talk to your parents. Everyone, save your receipts! If you don’t, you might find yourself placed on a No Shop Terror List.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Blue Heron Returns

The blue heron is back along the Roanoke River in Salem. Looks like he, or she, has grown during the winter...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Anti-Valentine Wish List

Anti Valentines Day Pictures, Images and Photos

Dear Husband,

I know you find it hard to believe that when I answer, "Nothing" to your question, "What do you want for Valentine's Day?" I really mean it. I know you can be a little "thick" but it's been over twenty years and you still do not seem to get it, so once again I will spell out what not to get me...

1. A Vermont Teddy Bear - I am not two years old. If you spend $100 on this dust-catcher I will rip off its arms, legs and head and place them under the covers on your side of the bed.

2. A dozen roses - If you spend $100 buying roses that normally go for $12 I will pull off the heads and place the thorny stems under the covers on your side of the bed.

3. A box of Godiva chocolates - I am on a diet. No sugar. The end. If you buy me chocolates I will squish each one between my fingers and place them on your pillow.

4. A bottle of champagne - I cannot drink, especially on Mondays when I take my chemo pills. Seeing the sparkly bottle will depress me. If you buy me champagne I will hit you on the side of the head with the bottle.

5. A Valentine snuggy - I am not waiting for the comet to hit. If you buy me a snuggy I will put it on the floor for the dog to lie on.

6. A Valentine pajamagram with feet - I sleep in a sleeveless nightgown with the fan on even in the middle of winter. If you buy me a pajamagram I will turn the fan higher and face it towards you.

7. A skimpy nightgown - I know it doesn't bother you, but I am not the size 5 I was when we first met. It is not comfortable feeling like a sausage breaking through its casing when I try to sleep. If you buy me a small nightgown I will make you wear it.

8. Dinner out anywhere - We eat out already a couple of times a week. There is no need to subject me to a crappier menu than usual at double the prices with lousier service because the restaurant is filled to capacity. If you "surprise" me with reservations to a "fancy" restaurant I will pull out my black leather motorcycle jacket, combat boots, put on a blue wig and make a grand entrance in said restaurant.

9. Perfume - I still have four bottles of Samsara somewhere, from the last couple of holidays I told you I didn't need any more. If you buy me another bottle of perfume I will douse myself in Old Spice.

10. Jewelry - Really? Jewelry? Don't I have enough I don't wear? If you buy me any jewelry I will give it to our daughter who will promptly lose it.

11. A fancy card - If you simply must buy me a card, make sure there are scratch off lottery tickets in it. Whatever you do, do not buy me a fancy card that costs more than the one I get you from the dollar store.

Ok, that's the list. I'm sure I forgot something. If you really want to know what I "want" for Valentine's Day, besides the excuse-for-making-men-spend-money Hallmark Holiday being over, just get me what you get me every other day of the year...the gift of love and respect, and I'll do the same.

Love always,

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Investigation Pending

Been busy investigating. Pass the can-opener -- these worms need to see daylight.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday Grandma

Today my grandmother is 100 years old. The picture above was taken when she was seventeen. I don't know nearly enough about her as I should and that's a damn shame. I do know she emigrated to the United States through Ellis Island and her name is on the wall. She and my grandfather who died in the early 80's became citizens in the 1960's. I do know My grandmother worked in a sweat shop most of her life. I do know hers was not an easy life, living through the depression with six children and having to bury two of them. I do know she beat cancer, and a stroke tried to beat her, crippling some of her fingers. Even with her limited mobility she still cooked every night and growing up in Brooklyn Sunday afternoon dinners were the culinary highlight of my week.

I learned how to mix Pepsi with wine, make a gravy with meatballs and roast beef with sliced potatoes and onions from watching her. I loved the way she crocheted beautiful lace tablecloths, table runners and doilies. No matter how I tried my hand at that skill I always fell short. The only thing I could crochet is a scarf. She cross-stitched beautiful framed wall-hangings until her eyes gave out and her fingers could no longer hold the needle. I enjoy cross-stitching too although my eyes have made it harder to focus on the small squares and my hands are having a hard time holding the needle as well. For her birthday I decided I would cross-stitch something for her. I picked a subject she loves, cats, and a project I thought I could easily accomplish. The "weekender" project took me seven weeks to complete. My hand would cramp up after an hour and some days I couldn't even hold the needle. Threading it was a chore. I finally finished it.

I had hoped to hand-deliver it to her at her birthday party, but Mother Nature had other plans, so instead I mailed it. Non-stop snow in Brooklyn has made it an impossible venture. The temperatures have not risen above the freeze mark since their first huge storm in December. Mountains of snow remain five feet high and parking is near impossible. The final straw came earlier this week when I heard about the impending ice storm. I checked the ten-day weather forecast daily and determined it would not be wise to drag my family up there. The only thing worse than driving through a snow or ice storm on the interstate is arriving in Brooklyn to find there's no place to put my car.

I hope my grandmother understands. I plan to see her in the spring -- hopefully the city will have thawed by then.

Happy Birthday Grandma!