The Magical Hour

Posted By on May 1, 2015

When I lived on the East Coast, I learned that the summer days are not only hot, but humid. The humidity is sometimes so thick you can see it, a steam-like film that gauzes the air and makes everything uncomfortable. The first few really hot summer days I experienced, I waited, with great naivete and anticipation, for the sun to go down and things to cool off.

That didn’t happen.

Oh, the sun went down. But nothing cooled off. More often than not, the temperature stayed roughly the same until about three AM, when the humidity laid down some dew and gave up ten degrees before furnacing up for another day.

It took my West Coast self about a week to realize this was not some abnormal weather pattern. This was normal. I’d get used to it, they said. But let me tell you, I’m just not wired that way.

There exists a magical time in a western summer day. When the sun is low and the earth starts to cool. When the grass and trees go fragrant, sighing into the dusk. For a short window of time, the world quiets as it transitions into night. And if you’re paying attention, it is in this moment that everything seems possible. Every dream, every thought, every love–all possible.

I remember, as a kid of a certain age, when my bedtime co-existed with the magical hour. I wailed the usual, “But it’s not even dark yet!” that all kids wail. I lobbied for an extension until it was dark. But in my heart, I liked it. I liked crawling into bed during the magic hour, staring out the window as the day shut down and went quiet, liked being aware of the lengthening shadows in my bedroom until daylight blinked out completely.

As an adult, I don’t often have the luxury of being in bed before the sun goes down. But the peaceful feeling that comes with the dusk on a hot summer day, that moment when the world sighs and opens, will always be something I love.

Welcome to the Methorhood

Posted By on April 30, 2015

Next door to me is a trailer that has no business still being upright. Owned by the woman in the big, new home a few doors away, it is a dilapidated, pieced together metal, plywood and glass rectangle that depends on tar and duct tape. It has been rented to some very shifty characters over the years. There was a Mexican family that had so many members it was hard to know who actually lived there and who didn’t. They played loud music late into the night, got in drunken fights on the other side of the fence, liked to pee off their porch, and threw diapers out their front door and promptly forgot about them.

My manual push mower disappeared from the shed during their residence and I’m pretty sure little hands squired it away to live over there. I let it go in hopes it would be put to use, though I never saw any evidence of that.

After the family moved suddenly in the night, a couple moved in. They had two little boys with the most stunning blue eyes and constant dirty faces. The mother gave birth to a third boy shortly after moving in and forgot to make it to doctor appointments, couldn’t understand why her baby couldn’t be circumcised six months after the fact without anesthesia, and I learned way more than I wanted to know when she came over to use my phone again and again because hers wasn’t working. They used all the community services possible; transportation a church provided even though they didn’t ever go to church, the food bank and food stamps even though the kids always seemed hungry, the local police were their marriage counselors. One day they were gone.

Which brings us to my current neighbors. The first couple years were pretty smooth. The guy liked to chat, he was nice enough. Odd, but hey, who isn’t. He has two pitbulls he says are service animals because the woman he lives with is handicapped. They’ve lived next door for years and I’m still not sure if she’s his wife, his girlfriend or the person he takes care of. It seems to depend on the day, the weather and which one I’m talking to. At any rate, she has some mobility issues, the paramedics were over there quite a bit in the beginning.

But if those pitbulls are service dogs, I’ll eat my socks. The older dog often gets out. He comes to hang out in my yard. He likes to lay on my porch, lethargic and slow. Getting him back to his own yard is pretty easy, carry a bowl of water and that dog will follow you like you’re God. Which tells you a lot about the situation.

So, the first couple years, they were the odd couple next door. The dog got out some. The flashing lights of the fire department and paramedics were common. He grew pot for his medical conditions. Live and let live.

But then there was fighting, giant screaming matches that sometimes ended with police involvement. There was an incident with gasoline being poured on the trailer and threats to burn it down. There appeared signs about No Trespassing — This means you [insert name here]. And then there came a lot of people in and out of there, cars that park for five or ten minutes and leave, a newly installed porch light whose bulb changes color periodically–some days clear, some days yellow, burning of charcoal briquettes in a pot barbecue with no food. When the wind is right, a chemical smell underlying the charcoal.

My husband seemed to think my imagination was getting carried away. And I will admit, I  have a plot building brain that has the speed capability of an Acela train. But on my truly lucky nights, the neighbors forget to cover their window that looks onto my front porch. And, yay me, I get to witness them lighting up their glass pipes and turning their front room into a brownish fog so that it’s like looking at a sepia toned picture.

A week or so ago, my trailer dwelling, meth smoking, drug dealing neighbors installed surveillance cameras. Yep. On a trailer that should by all rights be put out of it’s misery, there are now cameras that probably cost more than a couple months rent. I laughed when I saw them go up. I shook my head. I thought how ridiculously sad.

Then again, if paranoia has set in, how ugly might this get?


Sorry, Criminal Minds, we’re breaking up (it’s not me, it’s you).

Posted By on April 9, 2015

About halfway through last night’s episode of Criminal Minds, I looked at my daughter and said, “If this was a book, I would have stopped reading by now”.

The episode was touted as an event because there were guest stars from various CSI shows and this hideous lady from Breaking Bad. Why was she hideous? From her first line to her last, her acting skills were non-existent. And watching her try to use facial expressions was just damn painful. I kept wondering how she had managed an acting career.

But that’s not why I would have stopped reading if the episode had been a book. It was the gratuitous leaps of logic.

One of the victims from Florida had both salt and fresh water in his lungs. JJ points out that the Everglades is fresh water, the Gulf salt water. Therefore the victim was killed where those two meet. Boom, suddenly that was the only possible place he could have been killed. A map of Florida shows up on the screen, clearly marked is all the rivers of Florida that run to meet the ocean. But to the BAU, those don’t seem to exist. The only water that matters, of course, is where they’ve instantly concluded is the crime scene. Within seconds, they know exactly where the murder happened.

The killer sometimes wears an orange hat, sometimes blue. From this they know he’s Dutch. Hey, if I wear a blue hat today and an orange hat tomorrow, I, too, can be Dutch. Oh the fun!

The team figures out the killer is holding the family he has kidnapped on a boat, so they use satellite imaging to pick out all the boats currently offshore. Not only that, they know the exact size of the boat they’re looking for, narrowing the satellite image. They also know it’s black and white. There is absolutely no explanation of how they know the boat in question is black and white. But, miracle of all miracles, that narrows the choices from the satellite image to one boat. ONE BOAT out of hundreds is black and white. Okayyyyyy. But let’s take it one step further, this whole satellite imaging and winnowing down takes roughly 1.5 seconds.

By this point, I’m totally disgusted. I can’t suspend my sense of disbelief that far.

My daughter points out it’s ‘just a show’.

The team races to the boat to save the family, who are in imminent danger of death. The madman is, at that second, ready to take them out. In fact, he’s already thrown the young boy overboard. I think the kid is ten. He’s tossed over, his hands are bound with a zip-tie. Bad news for him, right? I mean, it would be very difficult to swim with your hands bound behind you. But perhaps he can manage to float until help comes.

So, here’s the team, swooping in to save the day. They arrive in big noisy boats. And a helicopter. Let me repeat that, there is a helicopter hovering low right next to the killer’s boat. It’s really strange that the killer doesn’t hear any of that. Nope. The first clue he gets that his plan is being foiled is when JJ and Derek board the vessel, guns drawn and hollering. Yeah, I know, because choppers are really hard to notice.

The killer is killed, cause that’s how it goes. Then the team realizes the kid is overboard and start a search. Is he floating in the sea? Has he managed to tread water with no use of his arms? Of course not. That crafty kid has managed to swim quite far from where he was thrown off, and then heave himself into the rowboat that had earlier been released from the killer’s boat in an escape attempt. With his hands tied behind his back. Good job, kiddo. You must have had a dolphin helping you. There’s no sign of a dolphin, no mention of a dolphin. But that makes as much sense as you being able to pull that off with no arms.

This was not the first Criminal Minds episode I’ve watched that made me grind my teeth because of this kind of stuff. But it was, by far, the worst. This whole season has been pretty far-fetched ridiculous when it comes to the BAU agents. I don’t think I can bring myself to waste that hour of my time anymore.

Today, I learned the whole purpose for all the guest stars on this episode was to serve as a spin-off, Criminal Minds Beyond Borders. No thank you. No, effing thank you.

The best part of the show last night? Gary Sinise. Every time he came onscreen my daughter exclaimed “Lieutenant Dan!” And that, my friends, was ridiculously entertaining.


Posted By on January 1, 2015

Welcome 2015. The year before you wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t too great either. I have good thoughts about you, 2015, so let’s hope you can live up to them. Fifteen is my favorite number, so keep that in mind.

I didn’t celebrate New Year’s Eve. To be truthful, I kept forgetting it was the last day of the year. Even as I toddled off to bed at 8:45, my husband said, “You aren’t going to stay up for the clock?” and it took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about. Realizing I didn’t care, I went to bed anyway. Perhaps that makes me old and boring. On a good note, I’m not starting January 1, 2015 with a hangover. I’m not wondering what I got up to last night. I don’t have apologies to make to anyone. I’m not in jail. I know where my car is. I know where all my clothes are. I don’t have to spend today cleaning up after a party.

I didn’t make any New Year resolutions. I have in the past, then I just feel really bad when they are orphaned before spring is even a thought. There are habits I need to break, improvements I need to make. But orphans are sad. Nobody likes to create orphans. I can’t be responsible for such things. The guilt is too heavy.

I’m not piloting life aimlessly, though. I have two books I hope to finish and publish this year. May 2015 finally be the year they see the light of day!


Senior Pictures

Posted By on November 5, 2014

I have been informed that seafoam green is not a ‘dude’ color. I have learned that if you find a handsome, button-up, long-sleeved shirt in the color of seafoam green, my son will not wear it.

“And what is that? Is that plaid?” he asks.

“Tiny squares. Yeah, okay, it’s a subtle plaid.”

“Plaid?! Plaid!!!”

Oh the horror.

He’s a purist. I get it. But it’s not like I handed him a pink polka dotted shirt (I love polka dots, by the way). Fine. I’ll take it back, I’ll find something else. He’s not wearing a Minecraft t-shirt and hoodie for senior pictures. And, I inform him, he’ll have to comb his hair.

It’s as if I told him he had to rewrite the Bible.

“One hour,” I say. “One hour of combed hair and looking well-adjusted. That’s all I ask.”

He looks at me as though he wants to agree, but the green shirt is still in my hand and he can’t seem to get past the horror of it.


The Right to Choose

Posted By on October 7, 2014


I give this woman props and support her decision. This is the same type of tumor I researched for my book, Leaving Stage VI, and it’s seriously no joke. The five year survival rate is 3%, and that’s with years of treatment.

One Woman’s Quest to Die With Dignity—

and What It Means for Us


One Woman's Quest to Die With Dignity—and What It Means for Us All

Photo courtesy of The Brittany Maynard Fund

Yesterday, a 29-year-old woman announced that she — not the rare tumor in her brain — is going to end her life on Nov. 1.

Her goal is to raise awareness about a growing “dying with dignity” movement that gives terminally ill people the right to choose when they take their final breath.

In an online video campaign with advocacy organization Compassion & Choices, Brittany Maynard tells her story: Debilitating headaches, which started right after her wedding, eventually led to her being diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, a fast-growing brain cancer that usually kills its victims in a matter of months.

“My glioblastoma is going to kill me, and that’s out of my control,” she told People magazine in an exclusive interview. “I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”

After exploring and weighing the options available to her, Maynard and her husband decided to move from San Francisco to Portland, Ore., where she would have access to Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA). Passed in 1997, the law “allows terminally ill Oregonians to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose.”

According the most recent data 1,173 people have had DWDA prescriptions written, and 752 patients have died from ingesting medications prescribed under the DWDA. To qualify under DWDA, a person has to be a mentally competent adult and a resident of the state of Oregon.

“The goal is to give people who are terminally ill a dignified way to exit,” George Eighmey, a retired Oregon legislator who helped pass the law, told Yahoo Health. “That begins with making sure they are getting the best possible care, and that they have the opportunity to explore every option available to them.”

Maynard’s story shines a spotlight on the so-called “aid in dying” movement that has been slowly gaining acceptance in the United States. Since 2008, four other states have passed “death with dignity” legislation: —Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico.

For years, helping terminally ill patients end their lives was considered immoral, and doctors who answered the call were shunned and stigmatized. Terms such as “euthanasia” and “assisted suicide” caused fear and misunderstanding, said Eighmey, who is now a board member for the Death With Dignity National Center.

“The more educated people become, the less fear they have about it and the less stigma it carries,” he said. “No one is pressured into using this law; in fact, very few people do. What’s important is that the choice is available to anyone who qualifies.”

Despite the momentum that DWDA laws have gained in recent years, there is still pushback, Eighmey said. “People try to make this a religious or political issue,” he continued. “But the diversity of those who use this law does not support that argument.” According to data Eighmey gathered over the years, more than 50 percent of people who participated in the program described themselves as belonging to a religion, and another 25 percent claimed to be spiritual. Politically, 41 percent said that they were Republican and 43 percent claimed to be Democrat. “It crosses religious and political barriers,” he said. “This is an option that gives comfort to people no matter what they believe.”

Advocates of DWDA, staunchly oppose the notion that people who choose this option are committing suicide. “The public generally tends to think os of suicide as something committed by a person who is severely depressed but physically healthy, yet they don’t want to live,” said Eighmey. “Aid in dying involves mentally competent people who are terminally ill but would love to live, if possible. People choose to do this not out of desperation, but to maintain some aspect of control in their lives.”

Maynard specifically addressed the notion of “suicide” in her interview with People magazine. “There is not a cell in my body that is suicidal or that wants to die,” she said., “I want to live. I wish there was a cure for my disease but there’s not.”

Marching Band Fundage

Posted By on October 4, 2014

Support our youth’s  love of music with your love of reading!

From now until October 31st, I am donating $1.00 from every sale of my ebook, Leaving Stage IV, to the Montrose high school marching band.

Bought it? Read it? Leave a review! I’ll donate an additional $1.00 for every 3-5 star review!

These kids work hard, will be going all the way to State, and travel is expensive! Go Montrose!

I get it, already.

Posted By on September 29, 2014

I think it’s no secret that I tend to veer away from books and movies that are All The Rage Trendy. I’ve never seen a Batman movie, haven’t seen Frozen, and refuse to read anything Fifty Shades.

However, I’ve been planning to read Gone Girl since it first hit the stores. My fault that I haven’t gotten to it until now, now that the movie opens this week and I hear about it everywhere. Tonight I reminded myself that the book interested me long before all the hullabaloo, so I Nooked it.

Eight pages of reviews before I get to Chapter One. Eight. Pages. Of. Reviews. This annoys me. I mean, I get it. People think this book is the bomb. Eight pages of reviews seems like the publisher trying a little too hard, yes? Like the powers that be just can’t pat themselves on the back enough for publishing this book. Hey, I already bought the book. Give me a break.

I know it’s stupid. I know this shouldn’t bother me so much. But Gone Girl and I have already gotten off on the wrong foot and I haven’t even gotten to the first actual page. In fact, I put it down to write this post.


I’m Hit!

Posted By on September 13, 2014

The sick! It has me! After a couple of weeks of watching those around me suffer through the Great Snot, I’m down.

At least I can be fairly confident it’s not Ebola. Thankful for that.

Nine hours at work should be interesting. And by interesting, I mean painful, long and horrid.

My Favorite Spam Quote Of The Day

Posted By on September 12, 2014

“I knew it was you, Grimace, by the way you broke my heart.”

I don’t know any other Grimace than the big purple McDonalds mascot. So this made me laugh out loud. Still got deleted. But it made me laugh.

I also had 78 spam messages today. But only 2 views on the site. So, something is flawed in the system, or I have very busy spammers.