Saturday, September 16, 2017


Dani parked her old Mustang under the big oak on Prairie Avenue and after checking the traffic—there wasn’t any because it was late—stepped out onto the street and shut the door behind her, taking care to not slam it too hard. It was spooky quiet out here, but Leo had asked her to meet him out here, so she had come.

She walked across the street to the old gas station where he had told her to meet him, her shoes crunching on the loose stones on the asphalt. She stepped into a pothole and almost twisted her ankle and muttered, “Shit,” but she was okay and continued over to the station. A dog howled in the distance and it sent shivers down her spine. Why the hell had he asked her to meet him out here? Couldn’t he have just come to her place?

As she got closer to the station, she looked up. The moon was full and shone down on the building, and the security light lent a green glow to the structure. It had a weird metal siding on it and she wondered why people had ever made buildings out of this metal. It seemed to her that it would be really cold in the winter and stiflingly hot in the summer. She had lived in a mobile home for a while and it was like that. But when she looked at the building, she had to admit that it looked pretty cool. The metal seemed to glow under the moon and the greenish tint of the fluorescent security light.

She walked up to the side of the building and wondered what the graffiti scrawled across the metal tiles meant. Before she could think about it too much, she heard a low whistle from behind the garage. She walked over to the corner and peeked around without saying anything. She heard another whistle and then a whisper. She stayed silent and then she heard her name.

“Dani. It’s me.”

She breathed a sigh of relief. She walked around the corner towards the voice. “Leo! What are you doing?” She kept her voice quiet because of how silent the street was, but she wanted to laugh. “You scared me!”

She got closer to him and then he stopped her with a harsh, “No!”

She stopped in her tracks. He was huddled against the building, slumped down in the fallen leaves, in the shadows. “Leo? What is it?”

“Stop. Don’t come any closer.”

“Well, if you didn’t want me to come out here to be with you, why the hell did you call me? And for that matter, why the hell didn’t you just ask if you could come over to my place? It’s not like you’ve never been over there before and it’s not like I haven’t told you that you’re welcome to come over and—”

“Dani,” Leo whispered. “For fuck’s sake. Shut up.”

“Leo, you do not get to tell me to shut up. I came out here to this creepy-ass old gas station at one o’clock in the morning because I thought you might be in trouble and it really is creepy as hell out here and you do NOT get to tell me to shut up!”

She thought she heard him chuckle. “Are you laughing at me, Leo? You had better not be laughing at me!”

Then what she thought was a chuckle turned into a horrible gurgling sound.

“Leo! Are you okay? You sound like you’re choking!” She started towards him and he stopped her with a loud moan. “Leo. You do not sound like you’re okay.”

He coughed and it sounded kind of...clogged. “I’m not okay. I got bit, Dani.”

“Bit? By what? A bat? A raccoon or something?”

He laughed quietly, but it turned into another coughing fit. “No. Not either of those.”

“It was that dog I heard howling down the street, wasn’t it? I bet it’s rabid! It was fucking Cujo, wasn’t it? We have to get you to the hospital!” She stepped towards him again.

“Dani. No.” She could barely see his hand raised to stop her, and then he pointed towards the garbage bag a few feet from him. “There. That’s what it was.”

She stepped over to the garbage bag, broken glass crunching under her shoes. She was glad she hadn’t worn sandals. She toed the garbage bag and it shifted, rolling towards her. It wasn’t a bag of garbage. A human face stared up at her, grey and pockmarked, Leo’s pocket knife stuck in its eye.

She sighed. “Ahhh, goddammit, Leo.” She looked over at him.

He nodded. “I know.”

“You knew they were heading this way. Why weren’t you more careful?”

“Do we really need to have this discussion now, Dani?”

“No. I suppose we don’t. It’s a done deal, isn’t it?”

She saw him nod and then the clouds cleared and the moon shone brightly on Leo’s face. It was as grey as the “garbage bag” a few feet from him.

“Leo. I’m so sorry.”

“I know. Me, too.”

She pulled the pocket knife out of the garbage bag’s eye and stepped closer to Leo.

“Dani, stop.”

“No. I have to.” She took his hand and kissed it. “We had some good times.”

“We did. You know what you need to do now.” His voice had become more guttural. “You know the plan. You have the supplies.”

“Yes. I’ll do what I need to do. Good night, Leo.”

He nodded. “Good night, Dani.” He kissed her hand and she tried to ignore how slobbery his kiss was.

She did what she needed to do. She walked around the front of the gas station and looked up at the green glow of the corner of the metal building. She walked rapidly back to her Mustang and headed back to her place.

It was a whole new world.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Education saved the day

Well man built a boat and he learned how to sail
And he traveled far and wide
Then he looked up above saw the stars in the sky
So he learned how to fly
And the inventors with their high I.Q.s
And the professors in their colleges
Trying to feed me knowledge
That I know I'll never use
Thank you sir for the millions of words
That you've handed me down and you've told me to learn

~~ “Education” by The Kinks

I read something the other day that really dismayed me. NBC conducted a poll asking whether people thought a four-year degree was worth the cost and it turns out that there has been a sharp drop-off in those who feel that it is worth it.

You’ll get no argument from me that college is quickly becoming out-of-reach for far too many. This is certainly something we need to address and I wish that every person, no matter their age, would have access to affordable college classes. It is also hard to argue with the idea that many who graduate aren’t well-equipped with skills that will result in an immediate, good-paying job.

But what really bothers me here is that there seems to be a deepening notion that an education isn’t really needed. I’m not saying that college is for everyone and I am totally on board with vocational schools that teach much-needed skills. In fact, there are a lot of high-skilled jobs out there going unfilled and that is bothersome.

I also know that college is a lot more expensive than when I went to school. A lot more expensive. I don’t remember the exact amount, but I was able to get a Bachelor’s degree for under thirty grand at one of our state schools (Ball State...go Cardinals!). I am also really fortunate in that my folks saved for my education and with the help of some small scholarships, some loans, and some strategic T-bill investing (and high interest rates at the time), my college was paid for. Believe me, I know just how fortunate I am and I am grateful every day.

Ball State isn’t an Ivy League school, but I got a degree that helped me get a job (Medical Technologist/Microbiologist) that I found very rewarding and interesting. Because it was a four-year degree, I also got to take electives that didn’t relate to my major and I enjoyed those very much. Psychology, Sociology, Archaeology, things like that. In retrospect, I wish I had taken some literature or art history courses, but that’s where online classes come in now. I still love to learn and enjoy taking the occasional course (I’m about due for another one!).

The experience of getting a four-year degree and living on campus taught me more than information. I grew up in a small town and getting away to meet new people and experience new ideas was a gamechanger for me. It exposed me to so many different concepts and ways of looking at things and taught me to see other viewpoints. Not everyone gets to go live on campus but taking different courses in a community college or local university can still give you insight into the experiences of others. This was invaluable to me and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. I’m certainly not a perfect person but the education continues. There is always more to learn!

It makes me sad that the value of education has dropped so low. Maybe a lot of these people still want to learn and just think that a four-year degree isn’t the way to go about it. I’m okay with that. But I think this survey shows a little more than seems to show that knowledge is no longer a valued commodity.

This is dangerous. The successful operation of our society and our republic depends upon an educated citizenry. When education is not treated as a top priority, and is sometimes even ridiculed, we have a problem.

This can’t end well.

Monday, September 11, 2017

He thrusts his fists against the posts

The old fortune teller lies dead on the floor
Nobody needs fortunes told anymore
The trainer of insects is crouched on his knees
And frantically looking for runaway fleas
Let's all drink to the death of a clown

~~ “Death of a Clown” by The Kinks

I know that there is plenty of serious shit happening today so please don’t take this post as ignoring that stuff. I’m not ignoring anything and have had a quiet day of listening to news and reflecting on things. I’m watching for friends and family in Florida to post that they are okay and so far, so good. Others have written quite eloquently about the serious things, more than I ever could, so I’ll go with writing about some pop culture news.

We all cope in our own way and I’m not one to question the validity of anyone’s coping skills. Whatever works for you, as long as you don’t harm yourself or others, is okay with me! One of my ways of coping is to immerse myself in something else, something that brings me joy. It’s often music (and I’m listening to some Kinks as I type), it’s often books, and sometimes it’s favorite shows or movies.

After a fun weekend in Chicago (although we witnessed an absolutely brutal Cubs loss to the Brewers), which included a couple of visits to an actual speakeasy (too cool for school!), we headed back early so that we could catch a late afternoon viewing of the movie “IT.”

I had been hearing good buzz about it and every friend who saw it said they really enjoyed it. Any Stephen King fan knows how hit-and-miss the productions of his novels can be. Some hit it out of the park (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “Stand By Me,” “Misery,” “The Shining,” although SK himself wasn’t a Number One Fan of the latter). Some are cult favorites and we love them even though they’re not the greatest of productions (“Pet Sematary,” the TV miniseries of “It” and “The Stand”). Some are just not very good, and “Maximum Overdrive” is the poster child for that category.

I’m always cheering for a movie or TV show based on one of his productions to be good. I’m not an unbiased critic because I really love seeing a beloved book come to life and I usually find something to enjoy in it, even if it’s mostly kind of bad. Based on the early buzz, I had high hopes for this current ITeration. (Get it? Get it??)

I was delighted to find out that not only was it not BAD, it was genuinely GOOD! Like crazy, fun, scary, exciting good! It adheres to the book fairly faithfully but with a few differences that don’t take away from the enjoyment if you’ve read the book. Bill Skarsgård’s Pennywise is a creepy, drooly, fangy mess and while I think Tim Curry will always be the quintessential Pennywise, Skarsgård makes him considerably more menacing compared to Curry’s somewhat campy clown.

The true star of the movie is the kids, though. The Losers Club. I loved every single one of them, from motormouth hypochondriac (by his mother’s proxy) Eddie to the comic relief Richie to the lovely, mighty Beverly. They were the embodiment of every single one of us who has been bullied or put down or abused and who finally said “Enough!” and fought back. Enough abuse, enough humiliation, enough fear. The kids had the courage to make their stand and I loved them all for it. The actors who played the kids were so good that you cheered for them almost immediately and wanted them to not just be okay, but to thrive and be safe and free from harm, whether it was from the town bullies or the murderous clown.

I’m a lifelong horror movie fan so it takes plenty to genuinely scare me. This movie did not genuinely scare me although there were plenty of oogy parts (to borrow one of Annie Wilkes’s words). There were the usual startling moments but the ones that made me go “Ewww” the most were the pharmacist Mr. Keene going all creeper on the pubescent Beverly and even worse, her own father doing the creeping. There are many dangers in this world for kids and killer clowns are but one of them.

They balanced the creepiness with strategically placed comic relief, usually in the form of Richie and his voices and jokes, but occasionally in Eddie. I won’t give away the joke but one moment that made me laugh out loud was when he confronted his horrid mother about the pills that he’d been taking for years, after finding out from one of the girls at the pharmacy that they were placebos and always had been. It is a rare thing to be able to balance what is really a pretty serious moment with a tiny little line that can make you laugh.

So major props to everyone involved in the movie, because twenty-four hours later, I’m still smiling about it. Not because it’s a feel-good movie, although for a movie about a murderous clown, it made me feel surprisingly good! It’s just a great adaptation and it will be a true pleasure to revisit our Losers Club in a year or so when we find out what they’ve been up to and how they have fared as adults.

And for those parents who brought young kids to this movie? What in the holy hell were you thinking? I’m not going to totally judge you because I realize that some kids can handle horror and separate fantasy from reality better than others. I was one of those kids and I grew up to be totally normal.

Wait. What? Why is everyone laughing? Stop it!

All kidding aside, this really is not a movie for young kids. I was seeing a few that were maybe 8-years-old, if that. There are some truly disturbing images in this movie, ones that made even jaded horror aficionados like me and my sister Diana look at each other and go, “Gahhhh!”

So really, don’t take kids to this movie. But everyone else should go see it because it is a total blast! From what I’m reading, it’s a genuine hit, and our theater at 4 PM on a Sunday was pretty full. Big box office on opening weekend! You might even say it…


Bahaha! Beep beep, Richie!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Looking forward

No more looking back
No more living in the past
Yesterday's gone and that's a fact
Now there's no more looking back
Got to be hard
Yeah, look straight ahead
That’s the only way it's going to be
Yesterday's gone and that's a fact
Now there's no more looking back

~~ “No More Looking Back” by The Kinks

Before I start, I’m thinking about everyone in the path of Hurricane Irma. I have lots of relatives and friends in Florida, and New Smyrna Beach is our home away from home. I hope everyone will be safe. Hunker down, pals.

This entry is prompted by a couple of recent stories about Hillary Clinton’s upcoming book. Excerpts are being released here and there as the book is hyped. First was the part about how the Yam was creeping on her at the one debate. There was also a bit about how Sanders’ attacks contributed to her loss. To be fair, she also claims full responsibility for the loss, because she was the candidate, after all. But then she continues to blame others.

When the excerpt about how she wishes she’d “gone nuclear” on James Comey came out, that was just a bridge too far for me. Don’t mess with James! Not on my watch!
Okay, okay, I know I’m biased here. I’m in total fangirl mode. And honestly, everyone knows that I was a proud and enthusiastic supporter of Hillary, and I was happy to cast my vote for her. But something about this just strikes me as I posted on Facebook that I really don’t feel like reading her book and it led to a very good discussion, which made me want to write more about it here.

I think that plenty of us were traumatized to such an extent by the outcome of the election (as well as the ongoing actions of the current administration) that we are just ready to move on and start working on the future rather than relitigating the past. She has every right to voice her thoughts and I hope she will continue to be a force in the Democratic party. She is a smart and formidable woman who has plenty of ideas and I completely disagree with anyone who says she should “sit down and shut up.”

But can she maybe be a force behind the scenes?

Friends commented that she has valid points when it comes to people to blame. I don’t disagree that many of the players were a part of her loss, including Sanders and Comey (Jaaaaaames). But it is absurd to blame it on any one person or any of several people. It was a total shitstorm of circumstances, and yes, plenty of the blame goes to her.

I can’t begin to tell you how conflicted I am about this because I truly did support her. It wasn’t a matter of “I don’t like her but I’ll hold my nose and vote for her.” I thought, and still think, that she was the most qualified to be President, and I think she would have been a good one. I feel almost guilty about my feelings about this, like it’s kind of a betrayal. I still love ya, Hills, but I really think it’s time to move on.

And that goes for much of the “older guard” of the Democratic party. I respect and admire many of these folks, and I adore Joe Biden. But NO. Don’t run for President again. I feel the same way about Sanders and Warren. Continue to make your mark in the Senate. You can do good things there and have a big influence. Can we have some younger blood, asked the 55-year-old?

Non-gratuitous picture of Comey
Many of my friends are still angry about Comey, but I still get his reasoning and understand his rationale. I’m not going to belabor the point, though. I’m not going to change their minds and they aren’t going to change mine. I’ve read enough and watched enough about his thinking to believe that he was doing it from a standpoint of how best to protect the FBI and the DOJ from any sort of partisan label. I’m really not sure how anyone can think that he was for one side or the other...he was directing investigations of both sides.

While I’m on the subject of Comey, the latest brouhaha is that he was drafting a memo that was circulated within a small group of FBI higher-ups. Some are up in arms, claiming that he’d decided the outcome of the Clinton email investigation well before the FBI closed the case and even before they’d interviewed Clinton herself. My initial thought was, “A draft memo doesn’t mean that.” He didn’t close the investigation until everyone was interviewed, but it doesn’t surprise me that he saw which way the investigation was going and that it probably wouldn’t result in any charges. He was a prosecutor, remember, so he knew what was prosecutable and what wasn’t. If things had changed, the outcome of the investigation would have changed. A draft memo circulated amongst a small group doesn’t mean that he’d made up his mind. I’ve read that it is not uncommon for court decisions to be written up as a draft before the final verdict is made. So this is a silly criticism.

Anyway...jeez, I’m tired. Sometimes I just get so tired of all the chatter, you know? I’m ready to move forward.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Beth’s Books - Enemies: A History of the FBI by Tim Weiner

I’ve made no bones about my fascination with former FBI Director James Comey, Special Counsel Robert Mueller III (also a former FBI Director) and his investigation into “Russiagate,” and the FBI in general. As I’ve said before, if I had my career to do over again, I’d definitely consider a lab job with the FBI. Wouldn’t that be fascinating and rewarding? I sure think so.

Anyway, I came across this book and thought it would be interesting to read up on the birth and history of the Bureau. I wasn’t disappointed! Here are a few of my takeaways.

  1. I would be fascinated to pick an FBI agent’s brain (or a former Director’ me, Dir. Comey!) about their thoughts on J. Edgar Hoover. Good grief, what a conundrum! On one hand, he made the FBI into the powerhouse that it is, consolidating power and making it a force to be feared (and too often, hated). But wow, he did some really bad things. He circumvented the rule of law and sometimes just ignored the law entirely. I have read that Director Comey kept a copy of the letter signed by Hoover authorizing the illegal wiretap of Martin Luther King, Jr. on his desk to remind him of the abuses possible in the office, and it was practice to require new recruits to visit the Holocaust Museum in DC to remind them of the same thing. Comey added a requirement for recruits to visit the MLK Memorial as an added reminder.
  2. The FBI wasn’t computerized at all until the 1990s and they didn’t have an extensive network until much later than that. Can you imagine doing the kind of work they do without computers?
  3. There was some discussion of moles within the Bureau. There are many reasons that people “turn,” but I had to wonder, “How could anyone betray their country that way?” I cannot imagine that kind of treason, no matter how much money was thrown at me or what kind of blackmail or perks. Beyond the dishonesty and betrayal of it, you’d have to know that you’d eventually get found out, right? How stupid.
  4. The saga of Director Mueller and then-Deputy AG Comey defending AG John Ashcroft while he was in the hospital, fending off the nefarious efforts of the Bush administration (in the form of Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales) to continue the unconstitutional Stellar Wind program that collected personal information on pretty much everyone, read like a spy thriller!
  5. I was surprised to read how close the FBI came to being dismantled entirely in the mid-aughts, due to the practices and directives of the Bush administration.
  6. That was staved off partly due to the efforts of Robert Mueller who is obviously an impressive person. He reshaped the Bureau into something that was more honorable and above-board than it had been for many years, and I believe that James Comey continued that culture of accountability until you-know-who fired him and I will never like you-know-who because he did that, so there.

I’ll include a couple of passages that I found particularly interesting.

“Nixon believed that if a president did it, it was not illegal.”

Remind you of anyone?

“The Watergate hearings convened by the Senate wrung damning testimony out of Nixon’s foot soldiers. Pivotal stories in the press laid out the facts. But the information, almost all of it, had its source in the work of the FBI. And the information had a gathering strength, each rivulet flowing together into a mighty river, the force that lets water cut through solid rock. Backed by federal grand juries and the prosecutors who led them, the FBI’s investigators preserved the rule of law against the obstruction of justice. And under law, the agents were accomplishing an act of creative destruction that the radicals of the Left could only dream of achieving. They were bringing down the president of the United States.”

Again...remind you of anything? Robert Mueller, save us! More on Mueller.

“Mueller had a sharp mind, a first-rate temperament, and a high regard for well-crafted cases. The future director of the FBI was a born leader. And he was a marine.”

I especially like that “well-crafted case” part. If I were you-know-who, I would be very worried.

And finally, because Comey is still my homey, this on his efforts to protest the unconstitutionality of the Stellar Wind program.

“Comey was a persuasive advocate. One of the FBI’s favorite prosecutors, the grandson of an Irish police commissioner, he had worked with skill and intensity on terrorism cases as the United States attorney in Manhattan for two years after the al-Qaeda attacks. The trust vested in him that day showed that the awe-inspiring force of American national security rested on personal relationships as well as statutory powers.”

I just bet he’s persuasive! [grin]

This took me a while to read, partly because it was a little dry in spots, but mostly because I eased up on my book-reading while I enjoyed the summer. I still read plenty on my news feed, because there was plenty to read, wasn’t there? Great googly-moogly. This book really started to buzz for me when I got into the more recent history because this is stuff that I remember, and I enjoyed reading about the background of those things. I was still kind of young when Watergate happened, so I probably need to read a book about that, too.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep living and experiencing the Russiagate investigation in real-time, and know that Mueller’s efforts will be thorough and meticulous AND that Comey will be vindicated.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Generosity and Gratitude

Thank you for the party
But I could never stay
Many thangs is on my mind
Words in the way

I want to thank you falettinme
Be mice elf agin

~~ “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” by Sly and the Family Stone

I mentioned in a previous entry that I had a great birthday and the best part was the generosity of my family and friends who contributed to my birthday fundraiser for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

My fundraiser ended today and I am blown away by where I ended up. My goal was $50 and thanks to all of the amazing people I know, I raised $450!!

I honestly cannot begin to express how grateful I am to everyone who contributed. I’m not at a loss for words very often, but you all have left me speechless. (Ken would like to know your secret!)

I know that sometimes it seems like we can’t make a difference, and I know this was just a drop in the bucket. (If I ever win the lottery—which won’t happen until I start playing—I would have a blast figuring out where to give a bunch of it away!) But I still believe that seemingly small actions can make a difference. Something as simple and as easy as a smile can turn someone’s day around.

Never underestimate the power of kindness. Together we can make the world a better and kinder place. It won’t happen overnight, but every step in that direction is a positive one.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Sun in an Empty Room

Cassandra stood in the empty living room and looked around. Dust motes swam in the sunlit air but nothing else stirred.

It had been a difficult year for her and Jack. They had lost quite a bit of money when the stock market crashed and they had managed to hang on in some rather creative ways. As she looked around the house, she thought about the backyard, out near the trees. She told herself that it would be fine.

She took one last walk through the house. As she walked up the stairs to the second floor, the stairs creaked in all the places that she expected them to, and it brought a smile to her face. If she knew little else, she knew where the squeaky boards were. She ran a finger up the balustrade and noticed the little trails her fingers left in the dust. She had been neglecting the house cleaning lately and she vowed to keep a tidier place wherever she landed next.

When she reached the landing, she turned to the left and walked down the hallway. On her right, the white-tiled bathroom glowed in the afternoon sun. The faucet in the bathtub was dripping slowly, a slight ‘plink’ echoing in the empty room every time a drop fell. She walked over to the tub, her heels clicking on the hexagonal tiles, and tightened the handles. The drip stopped.

She returned to the hallway and continued down to her and Jack’s bedroom. She stopped in the doorway as she looked around the empty room, thinking of the way their bed caught the early morning light and how when she would protest the sunlight, Jack would put his hand over her eyes, and then when she laughed, he would kiss her and they would make love, the air cool but their hands warm.

She walked to the window and opened it, leaning out to smell the scent of the pines. She closed her eyes and inhaled. She would remember this smell for as long as she lived.

She closed and locked the window and turned to leave the room. On her way out, she saw a feather by the floorboard near the door. She bent and picked it up. It wasn’t from a wild bird; it was from her feather pillow. It must have been from the time that Jack got angry and pulled a gun on her. She had rolled off the bed before he fired, and although she had survived, her pillow had not. She rubbed the feather between her thumb and forefinger and went back to the stairs.

When she got back down to the first floor, she went left into the kitchen. There was still enough sun this afternoon that the kitchen glowed. The turquoise metal cabinets were pristine and she still loved the color. She hoped her next place would have cabinets that she loved as much as these. She opened the cabinet door where she had stored her spices and the smell of cinnamon, basil, and other spices lingered. The black and white linoleum floor was clean, and one would have to examine closely, perhaps on their hands and knees, to see any stains.

She looked at the stove and the countertop nearby. Everything looked clean, but...what was that under the metal edge of the counter? A small dark spot. She picked at it with her fingernail and was satisfied when it flaked off and vanished in the air. She leaned back against the counter and looked around. As far as she could tell, nothing remained of the night she found Jack with Ginny.

She and Jack had always had an agreement, one that allowed for certain dalliances, but that depended upon the premise that it would always end. In a most permanent way. When Cassandra came home early and found Jack and Ginny in the kitchen, she understood that this was not going to end in the usual way. At least not as far as she and Jack had always planned it. Jack said he was in love with Ginny, no matter that she had recently gotten married to the owner of the Hula Room. No matter that Cassandra and Jack had been partners in both love and...other collaborations...for ten years.

Cassandra had never really liked Ginny, so that wasn’t hard. But she had genuinely loved Jack and felt that he was her partner for life. They had been through many adventures, some bad, but most of them good, and everything that needed to be hidden, they hid together. Things had been really good for a while there, Cassandra thought. But maybe she didn’t know as much as she thought she did. She shrugged. Oh, well.

As she walked out of the kitchen, she touched the sharp corner of the counter on the way out. After she had taken care of Ginny with the cast-iron frying pan, Jack had tried to grab her, but she had spun away from him and it put him off-balance. When he went down, he hit his head on that corner. She watched him, and she thought about doing something to save him, but when his eyes went to Ginny and he reached a hand to her, rather than Cassandra, she stepped back. “What happened to loyalty, Jack?” she had asked him. He had groaned, and didn’t say anything, and then he had died.

Oh, well.

She had cleaned up as best she could. It was much easier when Jack was helping her and she missed him. At least in that regard. It was much harder to dig a grave on her own, let alone a grave big enough for two!

Cassandra shook her head and shook off the memories. She left the kitchen, walked out the front door, and closed it behind her.

As she stepped out onto the porch, she realized she was still clutching the feather from her pillow in her hand. She let it go and watched it float away.

*** I love Edward Hopper's paintings because they make me think of things, and stories, and situations. This is a follow-up to my Cape Cod Morning story about another Hopper painting. I'm thinking that you don't want to mess with Cassandra!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Our eyes are open

There's a madman looking at you
And he wants to take your soul
There's a madman with a mad plan
And he's dancing at your door
Oh, what to do, oh
What to do
When the walls are built to crumble
There's a madman with a mad plan
And he waits for us to stumble

Oh, but our eyes are open
Yeah, they're really open
I say we rob from the rich
And blow down the door
On to the next
To dance with the poor
Jump on my shoulders
You can jump on my shoulders

~~ “Jump On My Shoulders” by AWOLNATION

Today (technically yesterday) was my birthday and it was a very pleasant one!

After running a couple of errands (my favorite clerk at the grocery store said, “Nice to see you!”), I did some of my favorite things. I listened to some great music and discovered some new stuff; I watered my plants and picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes and another zucchini; I finalized plans for us to meet up with some of my favorite people in the world Wednesday night; I watched some video of James Comey and petted the kitty. Sheeba was a happy cat.


I wore some of my favorite things, including one of my “Lordy I hope there are tapes” t-shirts (yes, I have two), a pair of Daryl Dixon socks, and my book earrings that are the cover of The Stand. For a while, when it was warm in the afternoon, I was able to walk around without pants. What can I say? Little things make me happy.

Then I got some beautiful roses from Ken and opened my cards, and they all made me smile.

Throughout the day, I got well wishes from so many of my family and friends on Facebook and I think I managed to respond to each and every one! If I missed a couple, it is entirely my fault. There was a smile on my face for pretty much the entire day and that is nothing to sneeze at, my friends!

The absolute best thing, the thing that made me cry happy tears, was that this year, Facebook suggested a thing where you can “donate” your birthday to the cause of your choice. I got that notice about a week and a half ago, and after vacillating between Planned Parenthood and the Southern Poverty Law Center, I chose the latter. I donate to PP often and in the wake of Charlottesville, I thought the SPLC was an important cause to champion.

Facebook suggests a goal of $200 to start out with, but I wanted to go low-ball. I figured that maybe people would donate a buck or two, and if enough of my friends did that, it would mount up pretty quickly. So I set my goal at $50.

I was stunned when my very first donation was $50! I had already met my goal!

Today got even better. Multiple people donated today and as I write this, my family and friends have donated $370 to the SPLC and I am absolutely blown away. (I thanked everyone there, so I won’t repeat the thanks here.)

There are still three days left, so if you want to donate to my birthday fundraiser, you can do so here!

This was a small (but wonderful) reminder of the generosity of people and we are seeing that played out exponentially when it comes to our friends in Texas and on the Gulf Coast. It seems like lately we have been seeing the worst of humanity, so the generosity of my friends today and the generosity of the American people to our fellow citizens in Texas has been beyond uplifting. It has, for the moment, restored my faith in humanity.

I still believe that our innate goodness will win and I still believe that there are more of us than there are of them.

A huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated today, whether to my fundraiser or to organizations like the Red Cross. This has been a wonderful reminder that we are stronger together and that when we help each other, we can do good, and sometimes even great, things.

Peace, love, and gratitude to all who choose to make a positive difference.