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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Challenging the Mind

Last night a friend and I attended a Roanoke Library event entitled, "From Challenger to Extraterrestrials: Answering the Call of Space" presented by speaker/author Richard C.Cook. According to the press release, "Cook was the first NASA official to testify in 1986 on the causes of the Challenger disaster. Since then, his study of the future of humanity in space has expanded to include all aspects of space exploration including the question, "Are we alone?" His answer is, probably not." He is the author of "Challenger Revealed."

Apparently a lot of Roanokers are interested in space and/or UFO's because the library was the most crowded I have ever seen it. We sat in a back row which was not conducive to viewing the screen in its full capacity so I'm sure we missed quite a bit. I also had the "pleasure" of being seated near an anti-heckler. This alcohol-reeking gent was enthralled with Cook's presentation -- nodding his head enthusiastically and chiming in aloud. It got really annoying and very distracting.

One of the great/bad things that Roanoke Library has at these type of events is free food. Unfortunately too many of the people who attend these events are there only for the free food so are less than considerate of the people around them. It's great that the large homeless population that is found at the library gets to eat, but bad that their sometimes brutal smell kills the appetite of anyone who has the misfortune of having a seat nearby. Avoid sitting in the back where the food is at all costs, not only because of the odor, but because you will miss hearing the speaker at points when the pizza boxes are being crumbled up and smashed into the garbage can, or ice is being sifted through to find a bottle of water. I didn't eat any of the food on site, but did get a bag of Astronaut food to take home to the kids. It was freeze-dried Neapolitan ice cream. Although the kids said it did have a strawberry flavor, it felt like I was eating a chunk of Pepto Bismal.

Even with all the distractions I found Cook quite interesting, very informative and mind challenging. I think people my age who remember watching the first moon landing and tune into every shuttle and rocket launch find space exploration fascinating. I enjoyed hearing the history of NASA -- the glory days as well as the screw ups -- and the UFO/ET segment. Yes, mine was one of the hands that went up when asked, "Who has seen a UFO?"

The one thing that piqued my attention was something I hadn't heard about before -- the Aether theory. According to Wikipedia: "Aether theories in early modern physics proposed the existence of a medium, the aether (also spelled ether, from the Greek word (αἰθήρ), meaning "upper air" or "pure, fresh air"[1]), a space-filling substance or field, thought to be necessary as a transmission medium for the propagation of electromagnetic waves...Although hypotheses of the aether vary somewhat in detail they all have certain characteristics in common. Essentially aether is considered to be a physical medium occupying every point in space, including within material bodies. A second essential feature is that aether's properties give rise to the electric and magnetic phenomena and determines the propagation velocity of their effects. Therefore the speed of light and all other propagating effects are determined by the physical properties of the aether at the relevant location, analogous to the way that gaseous, liquid and solid media affect the propagation of sound waves. The aether is considered the over-all reference frame for the universe and thus velocities are all absolute relative to its rest frame. Therefore, in this view, any physical consequences of those velocities are considered as having an absolute, i. e. real effects."

Cook went into the theory a little more, and I couldn't even begin to explain it, but it interests me enough that I want to do some more research into it especially regarding linking it with my "theory" of how paranormal/spiritual entities are able to "communicate."

Hmmm, are those orbs near Cook? Nah, probably just dust...Kudos to Roanoke Valley Libraries for offering these type of free events which allow the attendees to learn something, and booking guests who give folks the opportunity to walk away with their minds being challenged to different possibilities.

Monday, March 28, 2011

No Cause, No Cure

The latest doctor visit, this time to an ENT specialist: After a lengthy waiting room wait, a quick observation and the prerequisite hearing test, it was revealed the girl has idiopathic tinnitus. "Idiotic tinnitus?" she asked. No, "idiopathic tinnitus," he replied. Based on idiopathic's definition, "of unknown cause, as a disease" it might as well be idiotic, and join the ever-growing list of no-cause, no-cure conditions my girl bears.

The good news is the girl does not have any loss of hearing. I could have told the doctor that just based upon her hearing whispers between my husband and me three rooms away. The bad news is not only not knowing how the condition arrived, but there is no known cure either. The good news is the MRI is so sensitive that even if the patient had a small allergy, or beginning of a cold, the sinus cavity of the brain would be thickened as hers was. The bad news is she's not having a sinus problem so there is no pill to treat it, and not the cause of her headaches.

The ringing in her head sometimes masks the ringing in her ears, and I can only imagine how annoying it must be to have both. I have tinnitus too, but only in my left ear. She has it in both ears. The left ear is the ear I use when talking on the phone. I imagine the radiation emitting from the cell phone does not help the condition, and although I try to use speaker phone as much as possible, it's not always feasible. I've always advised my kids to use the cellphone sparingly, and not just because of the minute drain, but because of the brain drain. The girl mostly texts so she's hardly holding the phone to her head. I've been to hundreds of rock concerts, have stood next to speakers and felt the bass boom in my chest, so I can understand why I have ringing in my ear. I'm also gonna be 52. The girl has been to two or three county music concerts, and I have a feeling the noise level at the Roanoke or Salem Civic Centers would pale next to the sounds from major acts in Madison Square Garden or some squat punk rock performance in a crowded space in New York City. Besides, the girl is only 17.

IF MY MUSIC IS TO loud THEN HONEY, YOU'RE TOO old Pictures, Images and Photos

By the way I still listen to my music loud...not because I'm "cool," but because I can't hear it unless it's loud. Definitely stood next to one too many speaker.
Anyway, after the idiotic diagnosis I asked the ENT about the non-stop headache and he said, "Oh, I have no idea about headaches. Ask her doctor to recommend a neurologist." I wanted to say, "If you don't do headaches, what the hell are we doing here?" but I didn't. Does she really need to see another doctor who will probably tell us she's having idiopathic headaches that even the prescribed pills aren't alleviating? The parade of doctors and tests offer no relief, just frustration. This is not working. I think it's time I explored other avenues for the girl...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cut 'Em Out!

The lack of common sense, and lack of loyalty of some of our customers continues to astound me. Apparently some of them think my husband is their Yankee whipping boy and mistake his kindness for stupidity. Those same customers are lucky I'm not at the shop, or answering the phone, when they pull their crap. I tell my husband to "Cut 'em out!" and although he has replied in the past, "If I cut everyone out that you wanted me to too, we'd have no customers left" he's finally realizing I may be right...once again.

What has me riled up this morning is a call my husband received yesterday from a "customer." This woman called to tell him she needed to bring her car in be vacuumed. Vacuumed? Yes, vacuumed. Ummm, my husband doesn't even vacuum my car so I asked him what she was talking about. Apparently, as a service to her because she's "elderly," the last two times my husband changed her oil (which with the prices we have to pay are a lose-lose situation for us so if it was up to me we wouldn't even offer oil changes any more) she asked him to vacuum out her car. He did. I told him that was a mistake because I've found if you give an inch, too many people want a foot. Well, the "damage" was done so he asked what time she would be arriving for an oil change. This was her response..."Oh I don't need my oil changed, I got that done at Speedee. I just need you to vacuum out my car." Excuse me??? Ummmm, did I mention we're not a car detailing shop, or a car wash? Ummmm, did I mention that this "elderly" woman, like most of our customers, would never even consider tipping my husband a lousy buck?

My husband was stunned yet said she should call him tomorrow. I was furious and wanted him to call her back and tell her not to bother to call, ever again. We left the shop for a little while and when we came back there was this message on the machine from her...."I want to come at 3:30. I'm sick as a dog. This flu is killing me so I want to get home quickly so leave 3:30 open so you could vacuum my car right away."

Ok, now I am livid! Not only does she expect my husband to drop everything to vacuum her car, for free, but she wants him to get into the flu-infested vehicle to do it while she sits in our waiting room hacking her germs all over the place. Yeah, just what my immune-comprised system needs. "Call her back and tell her not to come!" She must have been out spreading her germs on the handles of shopping carts or something because she wasn't home so he left a message telling her, not to come and to call after she gets well. He's too kind.

How much do you want to bet this inconsiderate, clueless woman still comes to the shop today. I hope I'm there when she arrives...

stupid-people-warning-sign-the-stupids Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"I was a vision
in another eye
and they saw nothing
no future at all
yet I was free
I needed nobody
it was beautiful
it was beautiful

and if there's one thing
could do for you
you'd be a wing
in heaven blue"
- Patti Smith

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Blossoms & Buds

I blinked and spring had arrived...

Dogwood flowers..

Cherry blossoms...

Peach blossoms...

Pear blossoms...

Some sort of bells...

Mini grape hyacinths being pollinated by a bee...

The first tulip, not quite opened...

Max guarding the yard...

Monday, March 21, 2011

It's Not a Tumor!

For the last 14 years everytime the girl got x-rayed, cat-scanned, probed and prodded I would say, "It's a tumor" and my husband would say, "It's not a tumor" in his best Arnold voice trying to diffuse the gravity of the situation. For the last 14 years I was always right and my husband was always wrong, so it is with great joy and happiness I can report the results of the girl's MRI results by saying in my best Arnold voice..."It's not a tumor!"

Thank you God, thank you Jesus, thank you Mary, thank you Padre Pio, thanks to all of my friends and family who have prayed for us. We still don't know what's wrong but at least "it's not a tumor!"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sympathy Side Effects

Last night as I was telling my husband I felt weird -- like off-kilter weird and slightly nauseous -- my daughter came out of her bedroom reporting the same symptoms and others. She felt dizzy and had pain in her arm where the contrast was injected from yesterday's MRI. The nurses had assured us there would be no side effects but feeling the way we did, I doubted that, so headed to Google.

Sure enough, I found a site where many, many others were citing the same side effects and others after they underwent an MRI. My daughter's side effects were pretty intense so I suggested she drink a lot of water to flush her system out and try to go to sleep.

I wondered why I would have any of the same feelings since I wasn't in the machine and thought perhaps I was having sympathy side effects. But the odd thing is that I mentioned how I felt before she did. In order to sit in the room right next to her I was asked all the same questions she was and had to empty my pockets and remove any metal. There is a sign on the door that says the Magnet is on constantly. I wonder if I received residual magnetic waves just sitting in such close proximity to the machine?

brain drain Pictures, Images and Photos

My husband didn't want me to go in there with her, but I had to. One little peep from her and I would have jumped to hit the panic button! I could never get an MRI because I know I would have hit the panic button as soon as I entered the canister. Sheesh, I can't even sleep with less than three pillows so could not imagine lying flat on a board for thirty minutes...that alone would set me into a dizzy spin.

The girl said she felt better this morning, but I still feel off-kilter. Go figure...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Now Comes the Hard Part

MRI Pictures, Images and Photos

I've dreaded this day for more than one reason. It was eleven years ago March l6th when my mother had an MRI. She had been in pain for months -- had turned yellow, but kept getting told from her regular doctor her "problem" was she was "overweight" "diabetic" or it was "all in her head." Finally when the pain became unbearable she went to the emergency room. They ordered an MRI on her.

The following morning, March l7th, she was told rather nonchalantly, her "problem" was she had pancreatic cancer -- with a tumor so large it was inoperable, and "oh, by the way, the cancer is also in your lymph nodes and brain." I won't go into all the horrid details but will say this -- three agonizing months later she was gone.

So when my daughter's MRI was scheduled for today, March l6th, my mother's plight flashed through my head. I haven't slept the last couple of nights, although I must have dozed off for a couple of minutes because last night I dreamt I was in a crappy funeral parlor. I was so upset I woke myself up.

We just got back from the MRI and if I had to use one word to describe it, that word would be LOUD! I sat in the room with the girl who was entombed in the magnetic canister with headphones blasting a "My Chemical Romance" cd. The nurse gave me foam ear plugs which didn't block out the sound, but did mute it so it was bearable. It's a constant noise, with an array of different sounds, all of which are loud. The girl lay perfectly still, even when they injected the contrast in her, for over twenty minutes. The nurse said she did wonderful and the girl said she's now claustrophobic.

Now comes the hard part, waiting for the results, and praying history doesn't repeat itself and I don't get a phone call tomorrow. I figure no news is good news and if I don't get a phone call before the follow-up exam next week, it won't be anything serious.

Damn, I wish it was a cheat night...I could use a glass, or bottle, of wine.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunny Sunday

I love the smell of my recently bloomed hyacinths...

"Achoo, achoo, achoo!" husband doesn't. "It's not even spring yet and the yard is already making me sneeze," he says...

"Sorta smells like a funeral parlor, or a cemetery..."

I like the smell, and the stirring of life...

The hot sun soothes our tired bones on this sunny Sunday afternoon...Too bad the day flew by so quickly!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Day, Another Doctor

We saw my daughter's regular doctor this morning. She performed a battery of tests and based on her symptoms, as well as my daughter's history of osteochondromas, she is ordering an MRI to scan her brain. She used the "T" word as I feared.

MRI Pictures, Images and Photos

Her doctor also said it wasn't "normal" that the girl suffers from a constant ringing in the ears. Don't we all hear a constant ringing in the ears? Apparently we don't. So she is going to schedule an appointment with an ear/eye/nose specialist for her.

Regarding the actual headaches: her doctor had a different take on migraines than the previous doctor did, so she hasn't ruled them out totally. She has prescribed some "preventive pills" that the girl will have to take daily in the evening as well as a "reliever pill" in case ibuprofen doesn't work (it doesn't.) The "preventive pills" take a month to get into her system.

When her doctor asked about her pain level, my daughter responded as I thought she would...she can't really gauge how bad pain is because she's always been in pain throughout her life. Her constitution is not the same as the average 17 year old girl who crumbles in distress when she gets her period. So my daughter's 5 might be someone else's 10.

My life is on hold, again, while I wait for the phone to ring to find out when and where we have to go. I'm not going to panic. I am going to be as strong and tough as my daughter is. I pray this is just a "glitch" and she'll be fine. At some point she's got to catch a break, right?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Brain Typos

So for the last two weeks my daughter has had a headache. Sometimes it starts on one side of the back of her head and then radiates to the other. She goes to sleep with it. She wakes up with it. I tried many over-the-counter remedies and nothing has worked. Last Thursday she didn't "look right" to me. Once again I asked her, "Do you still have a headache?" and when she said yes I asked her if there were any other symptoms besides the throbbing she had been experiencing.

She told me she sometimes felt a little dizzy and light-headed, saw a jagged line of light in her eyes a couple of times and that lately was experiencing brain typos. I asked her what she meant by a brain typo and she said it's when you're thinking of one thing and something totally different comes out of your mouth, ie. "It starts with the yellow" instead of "It starts with the letter."

So last Thursday as soon as she got out of school I took her to the doctor. They wouldn't see her because she didn't have an appointment and wasn't really "sick enough" to constitute an urgent visit so we had to return first thing Friday morning. Her regular doctor wasn't in so we met with another doctor. I was gearing towards migraines but this doctor doesn't think so. She said if my daughter was suffering from migraines she wouldn't be able to function, and certainly wouldn't be able to go to school. Of course she doesn't realize my daughter has been in pain her entire life so her threshold is probably higher than most other people's. She also ruled out migraines because once you go to sleep, "they go away, and you don't wake up with a headache."

She thought the headaches are most likely from tension and caused by a couple of factors including eating certain foods. She ran down the list and my daughter does not eat any single item on that list. The doctor looked at us like we were lying, "you mean you don't eat cold cuts." Um, no, she doesn't eat processed meat as she says, "it's disgusting." "So you never eat a sandwich?" Um, no she really NEVER eats a sandwich. Not only does she think processed meats are disgusting but so are processed cheeses and bread. Believe me, the girl eats the healthiest out of all of us.

They could be tension headaches even though the girl says she doesn't feel "tense." She worked her butt off the last couple of weeks with the play, rehearsals and performances until all hours, lack of sleep, stress from her AP classes not giving her any slack with missed assignments, lots of tests, SOLs, and the SAT coming up this Saturday. So it's certainly possible, but if that's the case, she needs a remedy.

The doctor said my daughter should exercise her neck by stretching it and stand against a wall and run her fingers up and down it. She should drink 64 ounces of water a day. And to knock out the headache that evening she should take 1,000 mg of Tylenol with 800 mg of Ibuprofen. "Together?!" I asked. "Yes, just this one time. If there's no improvement after a couple of days make an appointment to see the eye doctor."

Well there's been no improvement although truthfully the girl has not drank 64 ounces of water a day. I didn't believe it was a problem with her eyes but I am a concerned mom and will jump through the hoops to make the doctors happy before I insist on them giving her the tests and treatments I think she requires. So we went to the eye doctor, and there's nothing wrong with her eyes, the poor vision hasn't changed and everything looks good. Her eye doctor also said, the same thing I thought, if it was her eyes the pain would not be originating from the side and back. He mentioned possible migraines, or sinus, or worse something with the brain. I dare not utter the "T" word.

From his office we went back to her doctor's office. No, they would not see her today. We had to make another appointment. So back we go tomorrow. I'm preparing myself to jump through the next set of hoops. Move over girl, you're gonna have to share that ice pack with me...

headache Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Final Chapter?

Too many times I thought I was almost finished with the third draft of my book when "something would happen" of such magnitude and relevance to my tale that another chapter needed to be added. Each time I would say, "That's why I haven't finished yet...I needed this to happen." Thanks to the latest "happening" I couldn't make up a better ending if I had to, and I really had to.

It's all come full circle, and the circle can close. I don't need another chapter. So life, save it for the next book, please.

I now stand at 101,234 words before the final chapter is written. Will it be written today, tomorrow, this week, next week? I've got a full plate today which may turn into a full plate all week which may spill into next week so who the hell knows...but the final chapter will be written.

I sometimes wonder if writing my book would have been "easier" had I started when I was younger and/or had a different life...with no children, no business, no husband, no health issues, less worries and fewer problems. Maybe, but those "problems" make me who I am, and the story, what it is.

I knew writing a memoir, I mean novel, would be difficult, but never imagined it would be this draining. And here's a cliche I won't be putting in my book...whatever doesn't kill me, makes me stronger. And by the way, cliches only suck if they aren't true. That last one is true...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

End-Of-Life Lessons

"I hope I die before I get old..."

Didn't happen. I'm still kicking around, but not like I used to, not like I want to. I never really thought about getting old and leaving this world until recently. Now I do, a lot. I've come to grips with my own mortality. I'm not afraid of dying. I'm afraid of how my family will function without me.

I've started schooling my husband on how to handle the books -- logging invoices, paying bills, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly taxes for the shop shit. Every week I add another step (I don't want to overburden him.) When he makes errors I show him how I knew there was an error "somewhere" and how I went about finding and then fixing it. It's been challenging for him not only because he's "just a mechanic" and not as detail-oriented as I am, but because my handwriting sucks so bad he could barely read it.

I've also been showing him the important house-type duties -- where I keep the unpaid bills, the order in which they're to be paid, how to balance a check book, how to call-in a prescription a couple of days before the bottle is empty, the importance of writing dates on a calendar and looking at the calendar, where I keep all the "important papers", policies, statements, etc. I've also shown both my kids as a back-up. They don't want to hear it, and pretend they don't hear me, but I know they do. I know I can count on them to help their dad when it's my time to go.

I'm not being morbid. I just don't feel like myself. Something's wrong and I don't want my family to find themselves in the same position my father found himself in after my mother passed and I found myself in after my father passed. My husband doesn't like my end-of-life lessons, but I tell him they're necessary. I'll only be able to do so much from the other side. The rest will be up to him.

My biggest worry is where he'll bury me. We want to be buried together, but he doesn't want to be buried in New York and I don't want to be buried in Virginia. I hope I made myself clear to him -- if he dares bury me in Roanoke, and not in Brooklyn, I will haunt him forever...and if he think's I'm a pain in the ass now, just wait.