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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Frontier Women and Depression

What was once a short story planted in my mind has evolved into a novel on index cards planted all over my house. Scribbles on rectangular cards can be found in every compartment of my pocketbook, bedside table, coffee table, end table, kitchen counter, bedroom dressers, office desk, on the walls and closet door of my office, and on the cork board.

Many contain notes from: books and magazines I've read, on-line classes I've taken, movies and documentaries I've watched, exhibits and museums I've visited, personal appearances I've attended, libraries and court houses I've scoured. Most contain scenes from the novel playing in my head.

Wherever I wind up, and there are some days I'm just "led" to places, I feel as if I am spiritually directed to include whatever tidbit I observe when it flashes a light and whispers a sound, "this is why you're here today." The direction may have started one way, but over the years, yes, years of research I've undertaken, I no longer see a straight line from here to there. Rather, I see a huge oak tree with it's gnarly branches each telling a story. The vines wrap around the trunk, reaching and tangling itself through the branches. The strongest part of the tree, the strongest part of my novel, will be the women.

It wasn't going to be this way in the beginning. It just evolved into their stories. Isn't it way past due for the women who never had the opportunity to speak to tell their stories?

The other night I had the opportunity to attend a program at the Roanoke County library entitled, "In the Footsteps of Their Men. Women's Lives in Augusta County, VA 1738-1770." Augusta was a huge county which eventually split to form Botetout County in 1770, another huge county until it was divied up later on. Roanoke County, where I live and where my story takes place, has been part of both of those counties. So when I heard the lecture was to be given by former Explore Park re-enactor and historian, Ms. Bowers, I made my way there.

The early settlers to this region were German, English, Irish, Scots, Welsh, and Swiss. They may have come from different places for different reasons, but they all shared the same experience of leaving behind their friends and family. I believe the women had it much harder than the men. Besides having more rights than women, men found it easier to bond with other men, and forge friendships. They could go to a tavern and drink. They could hunt together, or, be part of a militia. If there were business or legal dealings, if would be the men who handled it. The women's "place" was at home. If there were children, they were her company. If she needed help with them, the support staff she might have had in Europe had disappeared. If she needed a friendly ear to hear her woes and worries, few were to be found. I wasn't surprised to hear many of the women suffered from depression. It was much harder for the women to make friends in their new land. How sad it must have been to those who had a full social life to find themselves in a valley of rocks and trees who couldn't speak back.

Even as the years passed by and more settlers came into the area moving closer to each other, there was still a barrier put up between the nationalities. The Germans might have had it a little easier because they settled in larger groups whereas a Scottish or English settler might have had just their immediate family. Over the years, that family may grow large enough to fill their lonely void, but then they put up a fence around their family, and newcomers are locked out. Her husband may get the opportunity to meet men, but often times the wife remains hidden in the home and fields. Sometimes they die before they even get to remember what it was like not to be lonely.

As a transplanted New Yorker who has had her own share of being unable to find friends here as easily as I can up in New York, I can sympathize with these early frontier women. I always have said that we were pioneers for uprooting away from all our loved ones, and I can't help but see the similarity to those women and myself. My husband has a slew of friends. It was very easy for him to bond, the same way the early settlers did -- over beer, in a shop, on a range, etc. For me, not so much. Even though I am a business owner, the few functions I have attended in a business capacity were fraught with segregation between the genders. That is something I could never tolerate, and had never experienced before moving to Southwest Virginia, but it's alive and well, right here, in this age. There are many other factors which exclude me from "fitting in" but that's irrelevant right now. My point is...I may get depressed once in a while, but at least in this time period there are social & technological options I have to alleviate my loneliness.

Think of those early frontier women and what options they had to alleviate, not only their loneliness, but their boredom...not many. If they were lucky, they had a spinning wheel or could quilt, but those are lonely hobbies, and actually in that era, necessities. And although their daily acitivies probably took up most of their hours, I'm sure the women wouldn't have minded a personal distraction/interaction once in a while.

Woman doing laundry

Cooking, sewing, cleaning, child care, do the laundry, baking, spinning, soap making, candle making, gardening, preserving, processing fibers, caring for livestock, all without modern conveniences and without having a social outlet I imagine would make any woman depressed.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Behind Roanoke Library

I've lived in Roanoke 19 years, and today was the first time I saw what is behind the main library...



Friday, March 14, 2014

P. DeRosa Grocery

I recently discovered that the original storefront of the first DeRosa to come to America was still standing on 8th Street between 4th & 5th Avenues in Brooklyn. Here is the pic from Google Maps.

View Larger Map

It came to my attention from my cousin who told me about an article written by Willard Spiegelman for the Wall St. Journal entitled Cultural Connections in a Tour of Brooklyn, which he found out about at a recent DeRosa family picnic. From the article: "My guide was the estimable CUNY sociologist William Helmreich, whose forthcoming book "The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City" is a lively account of his four years of treks (1,500 miles annually) through all five boroughs."

Also from the article: "Then we drove down Fourth Avenue into Gowanus, where we stopped on Eight Street for a visit to one of Mr. Helmreich's other urban finds. A plate-glass window at No 180 1/2 announced at a building void of other signs of commerce -- 'P. deRosa Grocery,' with Schaefer and Rheingold beer signs beneath. The main entrance to the house is next door, at 180. What was this?

If you see something, ask something: That's the key to becoming an urban sociologist. On an earlier trek, Mr. Helmreich met Mr. Helmreich met Mr. de Rosa's grandson, who gave him the skinny. Paolo de Rosa came to Brooklyn at the turn of the last century and opened his little market, which closed in 1972. His son and now his grandson have kept the original plate glass intact as a gesture of respect to the Sicilian "nonno."

Paul de Rosa and his wife, Doris, came outside. I asked about an appealing 19th-century frame house across the street. "That was the original farmhouse here," Mr. de Rosa said. It's now the residence of Steve Hindy, the owner of Brooklyn Brewery. Who knew?"

I certainly didn't know about the original store's intact window, nor its exact location, but I do know our name is not spelled deRosa, it's DeRosa. I also don't know who Paolo is. I always thought it was my great-grandfather who owned the grocery.

My Great Grandparents, my Grandfather and his sister early 1900's

Apparently not, as if it had been him, then my father would have had a brother, Paul, who was quoted in the article. Did my great-grandfather own a different grocery? I don't know. Was Paolo my great-grandfather's brother? I'm leaning towards that scenario. Maybe my great grandfather worked in the family store. I don't know. That was one thing about my dad, he barely ever spoke about his family.  I was extremely close to his father, but grandpa died before I became interested in  family history. I have so many questions now, and no one to answer them. Don't squander the time you have with the elders like I did.

Two things are certain -- The next time I'm up in Brooklyn I plan on visiting the storefront to take some pictures in front of the original plate glass window. and knocking on the door next to it. And...I plan on getting a copy of The New York Nobody Knows. Mother's Day is coming up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cash Cow Patients

No matter how old your kids get, you will always worry about them. Once they pass the age of 18 you do not have as much say, in the legal sense, as you did their whole life. Medical decisions are left up to them and no matter what you say they will have the final decision. Doctors and hospitals will no longer share information with you unless they have written permission from your child, I mean, young adult. It's hard to not go to doctor appointments and hear first-hand what their observations and treatment recommendations are, especially for ailments that are mysteries. You have to depend on your child, I mean, young adult, to relay that info and oftentimes they do not have the answers to the questions you pose. You want to call that doctor up and ask point-blank ??? or tell them did they mention !!!, but you can't. You have to become a spectator in your child's, I mean young adults, treatment.

My daughter has not been up to par since November of last year. She's had numerous blood tests and has seen numerous specialists. She pays for her own insurance, pays her own doctor bills, and it's come to the point where it seems she is working just to pay medical bills. She's on so many prescriptions I've lost count. She's been on medications that interact with each other, sometimes possibly deadly. I often feel the left hand is slapping the right hand, and even though they fall under the same medical facility umbrella, each doctor's office might as well be on different coasts, treating a different patient. Web MD is my friend and even if I didn't stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night I'd like to think I am not a medical moron. I also have my daughter's best interests at heart. I've made myself clear as to what course of action I would take, but she's trusting her doctors more than me. What can I do? I can be there for her when she needs me, like she did yesterday.

The latest round of tests involved a colonoscopy, endoscopy, and biopsies. I'm 54 and never have had the pleasure of any of those tests. Well, I did have biopsies, but not of my intestines. She's 20. When I was 20, other than a dermatologist, I don't think I even went to the doctor. I never would have met a $1,000 deductible by March. Each day the mail brings another insurance letter, another doctor bill, another laboratory bill, etc. My daughter has become a cash cow patient.

She asked me to go with her yesterday, and of course,  I wanted to go. I planned to speak with the billing office who wanted her to pay some money up front, and I also had questions for the gastroenterologist that my daughter couldn't answer. We arrived early for her 9:30am appointment. She was starving and in discomfort from the dreaded 64 ounce mixture. We waited, and waited, and waited some more, until we were the last people in the waiting room. Billing never brought up the up-front money issue. She didn't get into pre-op until 12:30. We waited, and waited, and waited some more while the nurses tried to insert a needle into the top of her hands for the IV drip. Couldn't do it. I winced everytime I saw the girl shudder as the needle was maneuvered in vain to find a vein. They finally determined it was impossible and inserted one in the crook of her arm instead.  I prayed the Hail Mary asking her to help the nurse who wasn't sure it was going to work. Finally, it did. And then we waited, and waited, and waited some more, until the anaesthesiologist came by. As I've done for every one of her past surgeries, I speak to them and tell them they are the most important person my daughter will be seeing. This one brightened up and said, "It's true, but many people don't realize that." I told her I most certainly did, and that I was entrusting her to take care of my daughter. She promised she would. And then we waited, and waited, and waited some more, another hour more, for the doctor to stop by. They almost brought her into surgery a half hour before then, but then realized the doctor hadn't spoken to her yet, so the gurney did an about-face.

Luckily I was there, because when they thought she was going in the first time, they erased her name off the board. When the doctor did come around I saw her look at the board and pick up a file. I knew it wasn't my daughter's file as I had seen the nurse put hers first in line. I went up to the doctor and introduced myself and asked her if we could speak. I pointed to my daughter and said she was her next patient and I had a couple of questions. First she asked my daughter if it was okay for her to discuss her chart with me. Naturally, she said yes. As I asked the questions I noticed her looking confused, as she moved papers around in the folder. And although she was asking my daughter to sign some papers, they weren't her papers. I didn't want to say that's not her chart until I had to, but I was prepared to. The nurse we were speaking with earlier realized it was the wrong folder and switched them out. So, had I not been there to bring her into my daughter's room, the poor girl would probably have gotten pushed back again. It was now 4 hours that she had been waiting, and she looked like she was fading fast.

Anyway, I asked why she was taking biopsies. She explained that she needed to perform them to rule out some illnesses. I told her I looked at my daughter's test results from two weeks prior testing for some of those illnesses, and they were all negative. She said sometimes it's a "false-positive" and the only way they could eliminate them would be through a biopsy. I hope that's true and it's not just a Ka-Ching! They wheeled her off, and by the time I went to the cafeteria to eat a granola bar, followed by a stroll up the block once, she was in recovery.

The doctor said everything looked good, but we wouldn't know definitely until the biopsies came back which could be a couple of weeks. She also said she had tonsillitis and recommended removing them. Ka-Ching! Seriously?! My daughter said her throat doesn't hurt at all. We figure maybe they're irritated from all that gross mixture she had to drink. Tonsils are the last thing on the medical maladies list.

So now we wait. And I pray nothing "bad" comes back, or if it does, it's something minor so they could finally treat her, or perhaps even, gasp, heal her. There's not a lot of money in healing though, is there?  But...if nothing "bad" comes back, where does that leave her? Right back where she started from. Only much, much poorer. And then, maybe then, she'll finally listen to what I've been saying is her problem all along...those damn pills they're feeding her, and will continue to feed her. If she stops them, then she wouldn't have to visit the doctors so often, and I'm sure they wouldn't want that. After all, cash cow patients are probably hard to come by these days. Or, maybe I'm wrong. I'm not a doctor. I'm just a mother.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Nutrisystem Jumpstart Final Results

Saturday was the final day of the Nutrisystem Jumpstart 5 day program. I have to apologize because I did not keep the containers and wrappers which have the nutritional value information on the final meals. Well, I did put them to the side, but someone threw them out, me, when cleaning the table. Diet brain I guess. Anyhow, for breakfast I had the Peanut Butter Granola Bar.

It was very tasty and as I've said in the past, their bars and desserts seem to be the best "meals" they offer.

For lunch I had the Loaded Baked Potato.

As you can see it comes in a cup. I don't know what it was loaded with other than sodium, potato flakes, and two bits of "bacon." The "bacon" bits were so hard I thought I cracked my filling. If you like boxed fake potatoes you'll like, not so much.

I was supposed to have the Italian Herb Flatbread Pizza for dinner. Looking at the picture on the box I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I figured it had the same "bread" as the chicken pot pie did and that was inedible. I was not a fan of the tomato sauce either macaroni dish had and I can't imagine this one would have been different. At 270 calories with 580mg of Sodium and 21% of my daily value saturated fat allowance, I passed on it. Instead I went to Wasabi's and had a spicy tuna sashimi appetizer and shared half of a Sumo Roll. It was delicious! I also had two bottles of hot sake which was the first time I had alcohol in 5 days. Usually I could drink at least three small sakes, and couple of glasses of wine when I get home, but just the two sent me for a loop! Guess it was the lack of calories or something. I didn't even eat last night's dessert when I got home. I was so full from the sashimi, which usually never happens.

So what is the result of this 5-day diet? Well, I did lose six pounds, so Nutrisystem did make good on its five pound promise. Will I join the program and continue? No, I will not. The food is just not "healthy" enough in my eyes due to the high sodium and fat content of too many of its meals. If I was able to buy some of their products singularly such as the breakfast bars and desserts, I would go that way, but I have not seen them sold anywhere. I've also not seen any of their shakes that I keep seeing the commercials for on store shelves either. If anyone has, please drop me a line in the comment section or email me.

Would I recommend this 5-Day Jumpstart program? Yes, I would. By losing 6 pounds it has motivated me to lose way more. It has taught me to monitor better exactly what I am eating, the portion size, and ingredients. I have decided to continue dieting and am going back to one that helped me lose weight in the past...The Sonoma Diet. There are no pre-packaged foods...everything is made from scratch. I have to go with a list each day, or every other day, and buy exactly what I need so it is fresh. The preparation takes time so it's not an "easy" or "cheap" diet either. Frankly, I was a little turned off by Nutrisystem's meals since they did not have to be refrigerated or frozen. It's like eating astronaut food. The Sonoma Diet has a ten day plan to "jumpstart" the body as well. If I deviate from any of the meal choices I probably could substitute it with a Lean Cuisine after checking the nutritional values of a meal. They taste much better than the Nutrisystem ones, but I don't want to make my life all about eating pre-packaged foods. My husband has decided to join me on the Sonoma Diet which means my son will also, as I am not making three different meals a night, especially as these meals cost a pretty penny. The three of us need to lose weight. What about the girl? Well, that's a post for another day...let's just say gaining weight is not one of her problems.

I'll let you know how it goes, but not on a daily basis. I figure I'll weigh myself once a week to see if progress is being made. I started with the Sonoma Diet yesterday and stepping on the scale this morning reveals I did lose another two pounds, which brings the total to 8 pounds in one week. I wish I could lose 8 pounds every week, but I know that's not going to happen. If anyone has had success with any other diet plans, let me know. And good luck to all those who struggle with weight. It's a tough road, but the hardest part is taking that first step. And if you cheat once in a while, so be it...just work out extra hard that day...that's what I plan on doing!

"Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."--Thomas A. Edison

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Read an eBook Week!

Train - Read an Ebook Week 2014
I'm happy to be participating in Smashword's Read an e-Book Week promotion. If you click on my Smashwords Profile you will get a link to both of my eBooks.  The Valentine's Day Curse is Free, no coupon necessary, and Fractured Facade is 50% off from March checkout use the code REW50.
Although the Valentine's Day Curse remains free everywhere, unfortunately I cannot create a 50% off coupon for Fractured Facade on Amazon and retailers other than Smashwords for the week, but you can download it to your Kindle or other reading device via Smashwords!
Happy Reading!
"A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people." - Will Rogers


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Nutrisystem Jumpstart Day 4

Day Four's breakfast was Granola Cereal. I thought it was a wee bit small, but it actually filled me up and held me to lunch. Quite tasty as well.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 160. Fat 2.5g-3%. No Sat Fats! Sodium 90mg-4%. Carbs 31g-10%. Fiber 3g-11%. Sugars 11g. Protein 4g. 13 different Vitamins and Minerals ranging from 2%dv to 40%.

Low calories, low sodium, packed with vitamins and flavor make this breakfast a major Pass.

Red Beans & Rice which consisted of kidney beans and rice with chicken sausage in a spicy sauce was lunch. As you can see from the bowl, it's pretty tiny. There were three slivers of chicken sausage in it. It was just okay, nothing to write home about. I needed to supplement it with some grapes about three hours after I ate it.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 170. Fat 2.5g-4%. Sat Fat 0.5g-3%. Cholesterol 10mg-3%. Sodium 530mg-22%. Carbs 31g-10%. Fiber 5g-20%. Sugars 1g. Protein 9g. Vitamin A 20%. Vitamin C 120%. Calcium 2%. Iron 10%.

Other than the very high sodium the rest of the numbers were good. I especially liked the low calories and high Vitamin C content. Begrudgingly I will give this a Pass.

The highest calorie meal for Day Four was dinner's...Chicken Alfredo. Once prepared it looked nothing like the package it came in. The sauce was no Alfredo but it wasn't half bad, tasted like it had mushrooms in it. The noodles were few and far between and were so mushy I couldn't tell if I was eating them or lumps of sauces. I really disliked the chicken chunks. The consistency of them was horrible, stringy and mushy at the same time.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 250. Fat 6g-9%. Sat Fat 3g-15%. Cholesterol 45mg-16%. Sodium 590mg-25%. Carbs 29g-10%. Fiber 4g-18%. Sugars 5g. Protein 20g. Vitamin A 2%. Calcium 10%. Iron 4%.

Lousy taste, poor consistency, high calories, cholesterol and sodium make this entree a Fail.

Dessert was a bag of popcorn. We got a big laugh out of that. It didn't even cover the bottom of the bucket that we fill when we go to the movies! This was the worst dessert I had thus far. The popcorn had a strange taste to it, very artificial and the kernels were hard to chew. It was so lousy I didn't bother finishing the bag.

Nutrition Facts: Calories 140. Fat 7g-10%. Sat Fat .5g-3%. Sodium 140mg-6%. Carbs 16g-5%. Fiber 4g-15%. Protein 4g. Vitamin A 150%. Iron 2%.

Although there was a high Vitamin A content, I don't think the popcorn was worth 140 calories so I give this a Fail.

Here is the final day's meals. I already had the breakfast bar which was good. I am not looking forward to the dinner which is pizza, based on the bread-like slab that was on the Chicken Pot Pie and the sauce that was on the Lasagna. The picture on the box looks like it has both of those ingredients and at 270 calories and the other nutrition facts on the box I'm thinking I may just pass on this and opt for something else...maybe sashimi. I haven't had a drink in five days and I think I could reward myself with some sake. We'll see...but for now I am off to glide!