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.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bogged Down in Books

Although I originally had thoughts about staying in Brooklyn after my husband came back to Roanoke, with each passing minute I knew that wasn't going to happen. I always say Brooklyn never fails to disappoint, and this trip was no exception. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Brooklyn, with the hate part usually winning out after a couple of days. What can I say...I've grown soft and appreciate the less-stress lifestyle I have become accustomed to. I have no patience/time for broken promises and appeasing anyone who doesn't have time for me. Many of the things/social activities I did when I was younger no longer appeal to me. My priorities have changed, yet I still don't want to sell the Brooklyn home. I know if I do, I will never visit there again, and I don't want that to happen. It's hard to shake the New York out of someone who was born there.

Anyway, at the last minute I changed my mind about the percentage of my staying there, the scales began tipping to no, and decided we should rent a car in Virginia and then leave it in Brooklyn while we drove back in the U-Haul truck. If I changed my mind and decided to stay, I wouldn't need a car there anyway. So we rented a vehicle we thought we might have an interest in purchasing figuring this would be a good test to see if we liked it or not. I highly recommend this practice. We decided on a Chrysler 300 and at first loved it. Driving on the highway it got great mileage and even told us how many miles we had to go before we ran out of gas. It wasn't that roomy inside for a "full-sized" car, and with each time we got in and out of it, it became harder and harder to do so easily. Creak, creak.

As is the usual practice, once we hit the city I take over the driving. I quickly realized the car had too many blind spots for me and the shape of it made parking hard. It was like I couldn't see where the front nose ended nor where the back began. The wonderful mileage we had experienced on the highway dropped to crappy as soon as the car hit those city streets. Suddenly the tank was draining quite quickly and I thought the gauge must have been broken as I would be driving two city blocks and the mileage left before running out of gas meter would drop one mile! By the end of the week neither one of us liked the car and we decided that maybe a car isn't the best vehicle for us to get after all, and perhaps we should look into a small SUV. We'll see.

Back to the task at hand, and boy was it a task. It took my husband and me almost three days to pack up all the books, magazines and tapes. Since they had been in the basement over six years I had to examine each one to see how much damage it had undergone.

We lost a lot of stuff during the last flood when the closet collapsed taking many periodicals with it. That was the breaking point for me and when I realized my brother was not only not being a caretaker, but had no intention of ever trying to sell anything.

My father had always said he would never live long enough to read all the books, or watch all the movies he had acquired. He also said after he was gone to not just throw his collection away. He said it was "worth something." Maybe. Things are only "worth something" if one has a buyer. I was willing to give it a shot so when my husband said he wanted to take an old wood-working table that was in the basement I figured we could rent a van and take that and whatever periodicals were in decent condition. We quickly found out that we couldn't rent a van one-way and round-trip was too expensive so a U-Haul truck seemed to be the best option.

Since we were renting a truck my husband asked his mother about the pinball and arcade machines he had been promised years ago which were being stored in her basement. When she said he could have them, without paying for them like he's had to in the past, I was shocked! I figured there must be something wrong with them. We were told they were fine, however, the legs had been removed and they were stacked away in a closet. I told my husband to forget them but he insisted they would be okay so what could I say. I thought a ten foot truck would be large enough, but he thought he should go for the fourteen foot one. For the extra hundred dollars there was a ramp which would make our lives easier. So that's what we did. And good thing we did.

It took us another full day to load the truck. My brother and cousin helped at the house. When we arrived at my husband's mother's house, the machines were already waiting in the driveway. They were in poor condition with broken glass and water damage on the bottom of two of them. The main pinball machine that my husband wanted had been sold! They were really heavy and awkward but my brother-in-law had his friends there to help load the truck.

 We barely fit everything in. My husband asked for the keys to the machines and then he was told they couldn't find them.  Those machines are useless without them. Was I surprised? Nope, not one bit.

The following morning we drove back to Virginia. My husband's friend had a forklift so he was able to get those machines out and the boys piled the rest of the books, magazines and tapes in the bays of the shop.

I had no room at the house to store any of this crap, and we needed to have those bays cleared, so my husband proved once again how much he loves me. He offered to take down his Dallas Cowboys shrine at the shop and build shelves for me. Over the weekend he measured, bought the wood, built the shelves and got everything, well, most everything on them. He did a great job.

Once we realized how musty everything smelled, I knew it is going to be a process to get rid of that funkiness. Thank God we didn't bring it back to the house. The fresh cut wood used to build the shelves already is helping. We placed industrial fans on everything for three days to get the dampness out of it. Then I bought more plastic containers and placed books in there with boxes of baking soda along with dryer sheets.

I have begun to catalogue everything. I'm starting with the books. There are three main collections, entertainment, history and baseball. I'm starting with entertainment since that is the largest collection. I'm creating spreadsheets organizing each book by author. Everyday I devote a couple of hours to this. I start by pulling all the A's & B's and placing them in the baking soda buckets. I then take one book at a time, clean it the best I can, look inside for all the info and then fill out the spreadsheet which looks like this:

After I input the info I put them back in the buckets. After a week, I'm still on the B's. When the buckets get full I will then begin to shelf the A's. Then I will go onto the next letter. This is not going to be a bing-bang-boom job. It's a process. And every time I feel overwhelmed, I will hit one of the bar codes on a random book and see if it's worth anything. Like this one...

A used copy is selling on Amazon from $199 to $349. Like I said before, it's only worth something if there is a buyer. So once I get to a point where I am in control of the inventory, I will then make a website to attract film buffs. I haven't figured out the best way to go about selling this stuff -- direct, eBay, Amazon? I have no freaking idea. In my "spare time" I've been reading eBay for Dummies and the like. If anyone has any advice they can give me, please do. I've already spent over $2,000 on just getting this collection out of danger and I would love to recoup at least that much. Meanwhile, even though I am bogged down in books, I tell myself my father is happy I have taken over. I am kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

Stay tuned...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Greenwood Cemetery in the Summer

Before we tackled the basement I felt like I needed some divine help so we headed to Greenwood Cemetery to visit my parents. I had hoped to be able to go on Greenwood's Trolley Tour this visit, but alas, once again, it was not to be. I love taking photos every time I go because with each season it's more beautiful than the last season. Here are some summer shots...

This was the first shot I took. My parents' grave is on the left in front. Notice the mist in the middle of the shot. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day without any fog whatsoever.

This is the view from their resting place.

As we were looking at the pond, the white heron came to say hello.

Greenwood was hit pretty hard from Hurricane Sandy and they're still repairing many gravestones.

Many stones are so old you cannot read them.

Black Moccasin, chief of the Hidasta Indians, is a bronze statue by John Coleman, based on a painting by George Catlin who is buried at Greenwood. Since he arrived in July of 2012 he has been my guide and has made finding my parents much easier.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

TWA Flight 800 Memorial

Before we even thought about tackling the Brooklyn basement, we went out to Long Island to visit with my husband's family. They live a couple of miles away from Fire Island and his uncle was kind enough to take a couple of us to visit the TWA Flight 800 Memorial site.

It's right on the beach,

behind a bar, which struck me as a little odd...

but I guess it is what it is, and that's where many pieces of the plane wound up. Some of the passengers' possessions are buried under this "tail."

This wall lists the names of all the lives lost...

And the flags represent the countries they came from.

It's very sad reading all the flagstones...

but it's really a beautiful monument in the midst of a beautiful beach. Definitely worth a visit the next time you find yourself out on Long Island.

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Stop Atlantic City

Back in June, the last time we had to go to Brooklyn, we made the mistake of heading into New York first with the intention of getting away for a couple of days afterwards somewhere else. By the time we were through in New York, we were so disgusted and overwhelmed we headed straight back to Roanoke without stopping anywhere. We weren't going to make the same mistake this time, so before we landed in Brooklyn we decided to take two days for ourselves and stop in Atlantic City.

The last time we were in Atlantic City has to be about a decade ago, and at that time we said it would be the last time we went there. My son said AC stood for All Crime, and he wasn't too far off the mark. Lately, we were hearing good things about the seaside resort since it was rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy. When I received an offer for $55 rooms at the Golden Nugget we figured, why not stop there. It was sort of on the way to Brooklyn, closer than the Mohegan Sun Resort up in Connecticut, and it made more sense to stop there first instead of driving past Brooklyn and into Uncasville.

The way we usually head up north is I-81 to I-78. To hit AC we would travel I-81 to I-95. According to Google Maps, the trip should take us 6 1/2 hours. Ha, Ha, and Haha! I-95 is a freaking horror! Once we got close to DC it took us about 3 hours to get past Baltimore. There was construction everywhere, and heavy traffic, and it wasn't even rush hour. Well, it wasn't when we first got there. We have gotten soft on heavy traffic living in Roanoke where missing one cycle traffic light to turn on Apperson means heavy traffic. What kept us going on was one of us saying, "Imagine if we had to do this every day." Ummm, no.

Now you would think with Google map directions printed out, a GPS system, and an iPhone, we would be okay. Think again. Once we hit Jersey we saw a sign saying Atlantic City and instead of driving the PA turnpike like Google suggested, we turned off there. Bad move. Ms. Garmin took over and had us driving down dirt roads with no lights through parts of Jersey that may be lovely in the daytime, but were scary as hell once the sun set. After seeing a turn off sign for Mays Landing for about the tenth time on every road we wound up on, we began to think we were in a Stephen King novel. We didn't hit Atlantic City until about 10:00pm. It took us longer to get there than it would have taken us to get to Connecticut!

The Golden Nugget is not on the boardwalk, but in the marina, and it used to be Trump's Marina Hotel. It's a really nice hotel and definitely worth $55 a night.

View from the room at night

Neat bathroom...I need to invest in a two shower-head shower!

I loved the room, even though they didn't have many decent television stations, but wasn't crazy about the casino as it was a little too small. I didn't hit on any slots, and didn't bother playing any table games since there weren't many open, and the ones that were open were too crowded to get near.

Better view from our room in the daytime. Two pools, hot tubs, cabanas, etc. Nothing we used.

Happy hour

The next day we drove to the boardwalk area and parked at the Taj Mahal. Don't let the outside fool you. Trump has really let this place go. It's no longer just tacky, it's falling apart.


From there we walked all the way to the Tropicana and back past The Taj to House of Blues, easily a  couple of miles. It was a really pleasant walk. I love the smell of sea air, feeling the ocean breeze, hearing the waves, and even the caw-caws of nasty seagulls. My daughter wanted salt water taffy (yuk) and Fralinger's has a couple of stores on the boardwalk where they sold it for $7.99 a box. I bought the exact one at Cracker Barrel for $4.99. Shhh, don't tell her.

I hit almost every casino. My method is to just drop $20 at a time on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine. If I hit I stay, if I don't I'm out of there. I hit in Bally's a couple of times, enough to pay for the room and dinner so I was happy. We were tired so stayed at the Nugget that evening. The next morning after checking out I wanted to hit the Borgata.

Now that's a beautiful hotel and casino. I found my Wheel of Fortune machines and sat down at one but the one to my right was really calling me. Since I had already put my $20 in the machine I was sitting in front of, I asked my husband to play the one to my right. He does not gamble (thank God!) and did not want to. I literally pulled him to the machine and threw a $20 bill in it. I showed him how to make sure he played the maximum number of lines and after three spins he hit 900 quarters! I knew that machine was going to hit. He cashed right out, and as soon as my $20 was used up we left. As we were leaving I saw a roulette table with a $5 minimum open so I figured I'd give it a shot. Although I never hit the 35-1 straight number,I kept hitting the 8-1 corners. After about a half-hour I became bored and we cashed out. I walked away with $20 more than I started with so that was good. Those slots were calling me again, but luckily my husband convinced me not to bother, "We already hit, we're not going to hit again." See, he's not a gambler. Us gamblers always think, "We already hit, we're going to hit bigger next time." We left.

Driving to the Atlantic City Expressway you can see the outskirts still haven't changed. Once you pass all the glitz, lights, and yachts

 the city remains as rundown as it ever was.

The residents might not be, but the seagulls are well-fed
Onward to Brooklyn...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I'm Still Alive

Just wanted to drop a quick line letting you know that yes, I am still alive, and yes, I will get back to blogging...eventually.

You see this picture...

that's a 14 foot U-Haul truck filled to capacity. I'll fill you in on the details in a couple of days. Right now, I have lots of work to do.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Booker T. Washington National Monument

Yesterday a couple of us visited the Booker T. Washington National Monument for its History Comes Alive Weekend. "Learn about life as it was for Booker T. Washington and other residents on a Civil War era tobacco plantation from the park staff and volunteers in mid-19th century period dress."

Unfortunately, only one volunteer showed up. This lovely woman who sat in the blazing sun in her mourning dress.

Although I was a wee bit disappointed I wouldn't see any actual churning of the butter, I have to say I was quite impressed with the grounds and set-up,


as I was with Booker's life story.

Born April 5, 1856 on the Burroughs tobacco farm. In 1861 his "value" was $400.

Died in 1915 and buried at Tuskegee, the secondary school for blacks he founded. His philosophy was  hard work builds character. He and his students constructed Tuskegee themselves, brick by brick, even manufacturing their own bricks.
Below are some pictures I took throughout the park. The park ranger said there would be more volunteers today and the Living History weekend runs through tomorrow. If you go make sure you watch the film first, and when you leave, please consider buying at least a little something as there is no admission and the park is in desperate need of funds. Enjoy!
The cabin where Booker, his mother who was a cook, and his sister lived.

Inside his cabin

The tobacco drying house

The blacksmith's shop

There were quite a few farm animals. I'll assume you don't need descriptions...

The Summer Living History Weekends runs today and tomorrow from 10-4. The address is 12130 Booker T. Washington Highway, Hardy, VA 24101.
For more information call Park Rangers at: 540-721.2094.