Wednesday, November 27, 2013

thanks, but no thanks

Thanksgiving is a very big deal in our family. We go to great lengths to observe the holiday according to tradition. This year we are making room for nine people at the table, with four big, and (I'm afraid) muddy dogs drooling patiently at our elbows.

The kids are all coming home, and our new in-laws are joining us for a traditional turkey dinner. We'll watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning, and collapse in front of the TV to watch football in the evening.

A lot of people aren't so lucky, though. Some of them lost their homes and everything in them just a couple of weeks ago when tornadoes barreled through the Midwest. Last year the problem was Hurricane Sandy.

Many families won't be gathering with friends and family this year to enjoy a home cooked feast on Thanksgiving Day because they have no place to go, no way to get there, and nothing to celebrate. I'd invite all of them, and their dogs, to join us if I could.

In fact, all across the country, people will go hungry on Thanksgiving Day.

Many will spend the day alone.

Some will set one less place at the table this year.

And...some will go to work.

Not that this is anything new. Doctors and nurses have always worked on holidays. For over thirty years, I was among them. Chefs and waitresses serve up a feast for their patrons while their own families make do without them. Police and firemen go to work. Gas station attendants man the pumps. All of them sacrificing a traditional holiday in service to the rest of us...for our safety, well-being and convenience.

Thank you one and all.
And what would we ever do without the CEO's of the mega-retailers on Thanksgiving Day?? The ones sipping an apertif while the stock boys and customer service reps and cashiers who work for them excuse themselves from the holiday table because they've been ordered off to work. How did we ever make do without that additional 12 hours of shopping when Christmas is ONLY 4 1/2 weeks away? God forbid we should miss a single markdown.
Worse yet: What if they run out of this year's Holy Grail of gift giving--the latest high-tech gadget or trendy doll? What then?
Oh, no'o'o! We could be left EMPTY-HANDED on Christmas Day!
I have to admit that there are a few things I will not be giving thanks for this year. I'm not thankful for the tornadoes and the devastation they wrought in the mid-west. I'm not thankful for the escalating tensions in the Middle East. My heart goes out to everyone who has to spend the day in a hospital and to the families and friends who will spend Thanksgiving there with them.

We could do without poverty. Without hunger. Without illness. Without violence. Go name a few.

Surely we can do without a trip to the likes of Target, Walmart, or Kmart on Thanksgiving Day. Thanks, but no thanks. Shopping can wait one more day.

If you are having a hard time counting your blessings today, whatever the reason...because you're lonely or angry or hurt or ill...I hope that you can find just one thing or one person to be grateful for this Thanksgiving Day, because...

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart,
it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a challenge is a challenge

In a desperate attempt to keep up with my NaNoWriMo word count this week, I never got around to dreaming up a blog post. So instead I am sharing a brief snippet from the story. On the bright side, I'm approaching 40,000 words. On the other hand, it ain't all that great. And this storyline takes me way out of my comfort zone. But, a challenge is a challenge, so here we go:

In this scene, pedophile Ray Bolton has kidnapped two girls, three year-old Abby, and her babysitter, twelve year-old Gracie. He has managed to smuggle them into Canada where he is about to hand them over to his contact, a woman who is charged with getting them to India. There they will be traded for sex, and he will walk away a rich man. (Remember...this is NaNoWriMo. We're talking quantity not quality here.)
A woman emerged from the shadows, draped from head to foot in Muslim garb, in a tunic that reached to the ground, her head covered with a black hijab. Gracie recognized it from what she’d studied in school, and from what she’d seen on the news. The only clue to the woman’s identity were her unsmiling eyes.
 Ray greeted her with a bow.
“Ah, Stephen, I see you made it.” She nodded at the man Gracie knew only as Ray. “And this is the girl?” She peered at Gracie, and drew a single finger down the side of her face. She ran her hand through the girl’s hair. Her tresses fell like a golden veil as they slipped through the woman’s fingers. “Beautiful. Perfect,” she said.
“As agreed,” he said. Fair skin and blond hair traded generously on the street. 
“But what is this?” The woman’s eyes narrowed. She took Abby’s hand. “What is she, two years old? Three at most?”
When the woman touched her, Abby wailed. She squirmed in Gracie's arms to pull free. “Stop it,” Ray bellowed. Then, glaring at Gracie, he snapped, “Hold on to her, for God’s sake.”
Gracie stared at Ray, or Stephen, whatever his name was, with questioning eyes. Fearful eyes. The color had drained from his face. His jaw tightened. “She, too, is beautiful, is she not?” he proffered.
“You fool.” The woman spat at him. “You poor pathetic fool. What use is she to me? We had a deal.”
“But she is soon four,” he said. His right eye twitched. Beads of perspiration clung to his forehead. Gracie sensed trouble.
“Stephen,” the woman said, “a deal is a deal. Business is business. You know this.”
“Sanjana, please,” he said. “She will grow into a princess just like the other one. You will have many good years with her.”
“And who is going to feed her while we wait for her to grow up? Who will take care of her? You have made a terrible mistake, my friend.”
Ray’s face twisted with what? Terror? Despair? 
“But, Sanjana, please try to understand," he implored her, his face contorted with his unspoken anticipation of what would come next. The woman pulled a hand out from beneath her robes and in it, a pistol.
He threw his hands up as if to ward off a punch as a shot rang out. The sound of the blast echoed off the concrete walls, around and around, down and down through the silent parking garage. Blood spattered across the wall as he fell backward and slid moaning to the floor. Then his eyes went blank.  

OK. It's time to get back to work:
...or so I keep telling myself.

Monday, November 11, 2013

sure signs you're doing nanowrimo this year

Here are eight sure signs you're participating in NaNoWriMo this year:
  • The cupboards are bare and the refrigerator is empty, except maybe for a box of white rice and a can of tuna, but it doesn't bother you...

  • ...because you just received a hand-written thank you note from the local pizza place thanking you personally for the boom in their business this month.
  • You catch your neighbor peeking in through the kitchen window for signs of life because you haven't been out in days, you haven't answered the phone, and you haven't been picking up texts.

  • You've gained 5 pounds on nothing but coffee, dark chocolate and good red wine.
  • The dog has to go out really, really bad...and doesn't understand the phrase: "Just another 250 words. Please!"
  • The dust bunnies have morphed into gorillas.
  • There's smoke coming out of your laptop.
  • When November draws to a close, it suddenly dawns on you that you have just 24 shopping days left until Christmas...and you haven't even thought about it yet.
Oh well, not to worry! Just
Happy NaNoWriMo!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


In case you missed it because you were so caught up with Halloween,
or so focused on the news last week, or so entranced by the fall foliage...

...I am here to remind you that NanNoWriMo officially launched on November 1st.

We are now three days into it and theoretically should have a good three thousand words down already.

I'm doing OK. Pant, pant, pant. Doing OK. I have a stockpile of K-cups and a big bar of dark chocolate to get me going, and a couple of bottles of good red wine for consolation at the end of the day.

So...the title is "Touchpoints," and here is the opening:
Ray Bolton turned onto Andover Street and glanced into the rearview mirror. To his relief, the street was empty and the sidewalk deserted. He pulled up to the curb across the street and a half block down from the house, and settled into his seat to wait. Moments later his wife, Lynne, stepped out onto the front porch. She locked the door, climbed into her car, and backed out of the driveway.
He glanced at his watch. Seven o’clock, right on schedule. He knew her Tuesday evening routine like he knew the curve of her neck. He’d been watching her for weeks. At 6:45 the babysitter arrived. At 7:00 she left, and she wouldn’t get back until after 9:30. Plenty of time.
As soon as she was out of sight, he turned on the ignition. “It's payback time,” he announced to no one at all.
He pulled into the driveway, and strode up the sidewalk with nothing but a cautionary glance over his shoulder. The fact that there was a warrant out for his arrest didn’t worry him. He’d managed to elude the police for weeks. No one would suspect him here, not in his own neighborhood. It had, after all, been his home for fifteen years. Still, by morning his name would hit the headlines along with a plea for anyone with information to come forward. Had they observed any suspicious activity? A strange car in the neighborhood? Anyone they didn’t recognize? Had they heard anything out of the ordinary? Any kind of a struggle? He didn't expect to attract that kind of attention.
He rang the doorbell and shifted uneasily as he waited for Katie Witmer to answer. She babysat every Tuesday night. He knew the routine. Her mother dropped her off, and then she and Lynne headed out to some class—meditation or weaving or something. If they stopped for coffee or drinks on the way home, he’d have a good head start before they knew what hit them.
He tried to remember why he’d married the woman in the first place. Because she was so much younger? So attractive? So clueless? When Abigail Madigan-Bolton came along Lynne had insisted on hyphenating her last name. If marrying Lynne had been a mistake, having a child was his downfall. She had her mother’s glacial eyes and thick blonde hair, her soft skin and easy smile. He liked changing her diapers and bathing her. He took pleasure in bouncing her on his lap a certain way. He missed that now. While Lynne kept house and tended the yard and cooked the meals, he descended into darkness, driven by a demon he couldn’t out run. All because of her.
Interested enough to read on? Comments? Suggestions? Remember, the goal in this challenge is to:

Next week, I'll post another snippet. In the meantime, are you aware that you only have 51 shopping days until Christmas (minus 30, for me...)? If you're looking for a great gift for the woman/women in your life, check out "Empower--Women's Stories of Breakthrough, Discovery, and Triumph", available on here. And thanks for your support!