Sunday, December 27, 2015

Trill Goes on Sale December 27 thru January 2

Hi, all! 

Just a quick up-date. Trill is going on sale December 27, Sunday for $0.99

And if you want a nicely read bit of it, go and visit my good friend, Shelly Arkon at her Vlog post.

Below, find reviews that aren't seen at Amazon.

Vampire Ascending/Ascension @ Two Fur-Peeps

All Things Me

Trill Book Page @ Creativia

And a Teaser Tuesday



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Traditions: Their Pagan Beginnings



I remember growing up and gazing at the lights and decorations on the tree. Oh. And all the presents underneath. It all goes hand-in-hand when Christmas comes around.

The word Christmas comes from the Old English Cristes maesse (Christ's Mass), and was first used in the eleventh century. In German the word is Weihnacht (holy night). Then there are other familiar and not so familiar words, depending upon your upbringing. There is the French Noel. And then there is the word Yule which is from the Anglo-Saxon geol, which means feast, primarily the feast of the winter solstice. Ah, which brings us around to the beginnings of why Christmas is celebrated at this time of year to begin with.

It is impossible to determine the exact date of the birth of Christ. There is no mention of a date, and scholars point to the fact that Jesus was more likely born in the spring, since the shepards were there with the sheep. It is one main reason some do not celebrate Christmas (or birthdays) at all--I need not mention who, do I?

The choice of December 25th came about because the Romans celebrated the Mithraic feast of the Sun-god, and Saturnalia was also celebrated at this time, and the church, in wanting to turn the people away from these pagan observances, turned it into a day of adoration of Christ.

The Tree:
Dancing around the Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree seems to have come from early modern Germany... (where it is today called Weihnachtsbaum orChristbaum) with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly 15th century, in which devout Danish Christians brought decorated trees into their homes and danced around them.
The Christmas tree has also been known as the Yule-tree. There are numerous speculations as to its origins. Its 16th century beginnings "are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther who is said to have first added lighted candles to an evergreen tree." But many of the 18th and 19th century traditions seem to point mostly to the lower Rhine of Germany.

Britain took it up after Prince Albert, who was German, married his cousin, Victoria, and from their the custom became more widespread.
The trimming and lighting of the Christmas tree seems to have its origin in the medieval German mystery plays, when a tree, the Paradeisbaum (tree of Paradise) was used to symbolize the garden of Eden. Back then it was fruit, nuts and cookies--and eventually candles. But then the plays were suppressed by the church, but somehow the tree was snuck into the houses. It is believed that the Christmas tree is directly from pagan tree worship, which can be traced back to ancient Rome and Egypt. By the nineteenth century the custom had spread from Germany to most of the countries of Northern Europe. Then, was introduced to England in 1841 by Prince Albert of Saxony, husband of Queen Victoria. Later on, German immigrants brought it to the United States. So, yes. The use of evergreens to decorate the house at Christmas times is very pagan to be sure.

Mistletoe, Yule log, Poinsettia:
 Another pagan tradition. The mistletoe was sacred among the British Druids and was believed to have many "miraculous powers".The Romans considered it a symbol of peace, and at some point or another, kissing under the mistletoe became popular custom. According to one legend, Christ's crown of thorns was made of holy leaves, and this is where the Christmas wreath came from.


Poinsettias were discovered in 1828 by a Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, growing in Mexico, where the plant was known as the "flower of the Holy Night". The Aztecs used it to produce red dye and for medication to reduce fever. The claims that the plant is highly toxic is only urban legend, however, if eaten by a small child or animal, they may become very sick, so, remember if you have one in the house, keep it out of reach of small ones.

The Yule Log can be traced back to the German tribes of Northern Europe, and was part of their winter solstice observance. Let's face it, you need a huge log to last a whole night of the longest night of winter! Sometimes the whole trunk of a tree was chosen on Candlemas Day (February 2) and stored to dry out until the next winter solstice. On Christmas Day the Yule log was dragged into the house, and kindled with the unburnt parts of last years log, saved for this purpose.

Gifts & Cards:
The practice of exchanging presents at this time stems from the ancient Roman custom called Strenae. During the Saturnalia Romans used to give "good luck" gifts (strenae), of fruits, nuts, pastry or gold to their friends on New Year's Day.

In England, the feast of St. Stephen, on December 26th, is called Boxing Day. In medieval times, the priests used to open the alms-boxes and distribute the contents to the poor. It later became customary to give Christmas "boxes" to servants and public workers. In Germany these gifts are called Christmas bundles. In some European countries children are told their gifts come from the Christ child. In others St. Nicholas brings them. Today, Santa somehow goes to each home throughout the world and delivers them in one single night. Well, that's the magic of the season I guess.

The first Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and illustrated by John Callcott Horsley in London on May 1848. I've read that this could be disputed. But so can the invention of the lightbulb.

However the traditions got started, it's obvious that over the centuries they've been refined and re-defined by those who practice. Does putting up a Christmas tree make you a pagan? No. Not unless you bow down to it. I think it's all the matter of what your belief system is. I love the look of a real tree, hung with ornaments and the lights. Oh, and those specially wrapped presents underneath makes it all the more special!

Here is hoping you have a very Merry Christmas, no matter what your faith, or how you celebrate it.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Santa Claus

from an old Coke ad

Of course you know who that is. And possibly you know him by other names like Old St. Nick, St. Nicholas and the name Sinter Klaas (which we know as Santa Claus), came from the Dutch. So, obviously, the jolly old elf was brought over by the immigrants from various European countries, and certain traditions which have long been observed. The customs actually date back centuries to when the historical St. Nicholas actually lived... but more about that in a bit.

In Europe they called him St. Nicholas and celebrated his Feast Day on December 6th, with festive sports and gifts for children. Once the idea spread in America, his visit was soon popularly associated with Christmas, rather than the aforementioned day. And his whole appearance eventually differed from the Dutch St. Nicholas, that it had become exclusively an American creation.

St. Nicolas was bishop of Myra in Asia Minor (Turkey), of the Byzatine Empire in the 4th century. He had a well-known reputation for kindness and generosity, which then gave rise to many legends that made him the most popular and revered of all Christian saints. One well-known legend says he gave a bag of gold to each of three poor daughters of a pious Christian on consecutive nights to provide dowries for marriage and saved them from having to turn to prostitution--[what a cruel world it was back then].  It was also said that he "restored to life three young students who had been cruelly butchered and placed in a salting tub by an evil innkeeper."-from Collier's Encyclopedia & Wikipedia.

A popular custom in America, where Christmas became a holiday for children, it was easy to plop Santa Claus in the guise as the bringer of gifts to children. The history of December 25th as the Nativity of Christ has it's own historical story. Evolving from midwinter festivities ranging from various feast such as Epiphany, which is on January 6th (which Armenian churches still observe), the Jewish Hanukkah Feast of Lights, and the Yuletide Feast of the Winter solstice (Norse, Briton, Saxon), have all combined for celebration of some sort during this time of year.

Of course the association of Santa Claus with snow, reindeer, and the North Pole does suggest a Norse, or Scandinavian tradition of the Yuletide season. In Clement C. Moore's poem, "A Visit from St. Nicolas the eight tiny reindeer could fly from roof-top to roof-top" is without a doubt one of it's better known stories.

We didn't have a chimney for Santa to come down, but we always had gifts somehow dropped off on the front porch on Christmas Eve. I knew later that while we were distracted elsewhere in the house, one of my older brothers would go around to the front, make some sort of stomping noises and go "HO-HO-HO", and be gone. The gifts were probably already there.

Where did the idea of him coming down the chimney come from?

In pre-Christian Norse tradition, Odin would often enter through chimneys and fire holes on the solstice.
In the Italian Befana tradition, the gift-giving witch is perpetually covered with soot from her trips down the chimneys of children's homes. In the tale of Saint Nicholas, the saint tossed coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, down a chimney when he finds the window locked.

The hearth was held sacred in primitive belief as a source of beneficence, and popular belief had elves and fairies bringing gifts to the house through this portal. Santa's entrance into homes on Christmas Eve via the chimney was made part of American tradition through the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas"where the author described him as an elf.
~from Santa Claus - Wikipedia

The first published illustration of Santa was from a woodcut by cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1863. I don't happen to have access to this woodcut, but he wears the traditional hat and coat and beard, a sack over his
back about to go down a snow-covered chimney.

For a saint to be so popular in such traditions over the centuries, you have to figure the original St. Nicholas must have been the nicest guy. We now have Santa trackers, parades with him as the star of the procession, and Santa websites and schools (yes, there are such places where one learns how to act and ho-ho-ho like the jolly old elf himself).

I hope to check in a little before Christmas and shed some light on how Christmas came to be celebrated on the 25th, and maybe a few more of the traditions like the Christmas Tree. If I don't make it on the 25th, I'll work to get it up soon after.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Time I Occupy: Enter Me

I like getting the new year's calendars from our bank, and hardware store. You get what you get. But our bank puts out images from people who have gone out to our parks, and afield. There are also sayings to go with them, quotes from famous poets or writers. I like this one:

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
~Muriel Strode

This week was our 27th wedding anniversary. As a tradition we always talk about the memory of our first date, for it was there that it all began, and it is this one night, March 1st in 1986 when our life really began. Thirty years will have passed coming up this coming March 1st. We have always been together, save for two times. Once, when I was in the hospital, and once when he tried to do OTR driving. We realized we could not be apart for that long. Not even for a night, and certainly not for weeks at a time. 

My husband likes to remark upon how unique I am. I did not/do not follow others. Not in the styles of dress, I wear what I like, and ignore fashion of the day. In fact, I've been a step ahead of fashion, to be downright truthful. Also I don't act the way other women act--emotionally, nor do I like to talk about others like they do. I don't go to any "hen parties". Those would just bore me to tears. Most men, who don't know me, probably are a little confused at first, but they come to grasp that I am an individual. That is what attracted my husband to me. He did not want the same type of woman to be involved with again. He'd gone "through hell". I won't get into that, as it is very personal.

On our second date, remember it was March, we went to a state park. There was still a lot of snow down, yet it got to 60 degrees then. (He can remember exactly what I wore, and that my feet got wet and we had to go back to my house to get me some dry shoes and socks.) In this white pine very hilly park, we traversed steep, rocky trails overlooking the river way below. I following him like a sheep, and he was amazed at how I adapted to such adverse conditions.He found out I was very outdoorsy, a hardy country girl. (He would later find out just how tough I was when he asked me to marry him and come out to Colorado with him. We enjoyed camping in several western states, in which it rained nearly the whole time.)


Dennis had already made up his mind to leave for Colorado by the time we'd met. He was working 2 jobs in order to leave. One week he put in nearly 100 hours in both the school bus driving (where we met), and the pizza place. He was very depressed and lonely. The last thing he expected was for his prayers to be answered.

Enter Me. 


I, meantime, was taking classes at NIU, but I wasn't really into my studies--art history. I would have worked toward some sort of degree. But I had been divorced, thankfully childless, and had had several boy friends in the years between and found no one that was similar in thought, likes, and especially someone who actually loved me.
I too had prayed. I didn't expect my prayers to be answered. 
But they were.
Of course, once I met Dennis, I was--how shall I put it? Extremely distracted. Needless to say, I didn't go any further with my studies. His proposal was one of those he popped the question: "

Today we put up our tree and decorated it. We haven't celebrated Christmas in a long time. Especially putting up the tree. I think this year of changes, with a lot of depression stemming over someone else getting a job he wanted, had his emotions in a real tangle. I helped him through, but he did it himself. Maybe he prayed again. At any rate, he took 2 weeks off after the park job ended and before he came back to driving the bus (transit) with me. He did a lot of walking. I think he did some soul searching. I told him it would help. I know it did.

"A friend is a second self."
~Aristotle

We lean on each other a lot. We know we are similar to those "misfit toys" in that Christmas cartoon you see every year when it comes on. Members of his family call us "black sheep". Whatever.

We are friends first. A friendship, it is said, will outlast romantic love every time. You never want to hurt your friend, nor stay mad at him. I've know women who want to hurt their husbands, or get even with them, make them buy them something expensive to "make up" for whatever they did.
I'm not like that. Neither is he. We don't hurt one another emotionally.

Not that there isn't, or wasn't romance in our relationship. Dennis was the most romantic guy I've ever known. He always thinks of me, in many ways, showing it in the things he does. He lets me do my thing, while he does laundry and does most of the cooking. He'll let me take time off from work in the summer.
Flowers in a vase, I've told him, only last a few days. It's our love that lasts forever.

This is from a wonderful anniversary card sent to us by his father:
"When you find the one
who moves in step with you,
sets the pace with you,
and looks forward to the same bright future...
...then you know you
have truly found your soulmate.
Lunch in Taos 2010



Friday, December 4, 2015

Homeland Security ala Trump

There's a real division as to how to address what can be done about the alarming rate which we have seen shootings in America, and world wide.
There have been more shooting incidents (where 4 or more people have been killed), this year thus far than there are calendar days in the year.

Some say because of lack of gun control, the wrong people can get guns.
Lots of guns and amo.
That's one side.
The NRA says guns don't kill, people kill people. 
Yeah. But a person has to first buy the gun, go and pick up the gun, load and aim it. So, this is true. Just how many freaking guns does one need anyway?

Well, let me see what the experts in the field say...

Rambo on Guns:



Donald Trump has said, soon after the Paris tragedy, and I quote:
"Had there been some guys with a gun, there would have been a shootout and probably the primary people that would have gotten whacked would have been the killers.

I work for a transit bus company, and we have had one instance of a shooting several years ago where a former student let himself into a class and shot several people, including himself. So, it's happened in my neck of the woods.
Today we were handed small pieces of print-out paper from US Department of Homeland Securty on what to do if you believe there is an active shooter in your vicinity.
1. EVACUATE
Have an escape route and plan in mind
Leave your belongings behind
Keep your hands visible
2. HIDE OUT
Hide in an area out of the shooter's view
Block entry to your hiding place and lock the doors
Silence your cell phone and/or pager
3. TAKE ACTION
As a last resort and only when your life is in imminent danger
Attempt to incapacitate the shooter
Act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter
CALL 911 WHEN IT IS SAFE TO DO SO

This is only a partial list, we really have to understand, this is our world, today. I'm more concerned about someone coming back to my bus and shooting me for something I've said, or done. Only this week I observed a woman acting strange and called it in. Well, it was nothing. She was homeless, and when the police officer and a security man went through the things she laid out on the bench near my bus, they found the pills she should have been taking.
The officer said to me, "They're homeless for a reason."
Yeah.

Charlton Heston said in a Meet the Press interview in 1997:
"There are no 'good guns'. There are no 'bad guns'. Any gun in the hands of a bad man is a bad thing. Any gun in the hands of a decent person is no threat to anybody, except bad people."


Bad or good, anyone with a gun in their hands it can go off. A lot of children have been killed by other children by accident when they've found Daddy's gun.
Just saying.

Folks, let's face it. It's not the wild, wild west. You don't have gun slingers, or Marshal Dillon to come out to the street to meet those "bad men". There's no Rambo in the neighborhood. And even if a person happened to be "carrying", in a situation where people are being shot up I highly doubt someone who has three kids at home is going to pull out her hand gun from her purse and go all Rambo on their ass. Especially when they have AK 47's and pipe bombs. That's just my take on it.

How do you feel about gun control? Is it tough enough? Not tough enough to keep insane people from getting their hands on guns? What do you think?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Forgotten Holiday

Christmas decor, lights, six-foot tall Santas who move, or the kind you blow up and put out on the lawn, and fake Christmas trees have taken over what was the Halloween displays in stores.

Sure, people begin thinking it's only a month or so away, but Christmas isn't the next holiday. Thanksgiving is. Everyone I've talked to calls it "the forgotten holiday".

Well, what is Thanksgiving, really? Aside from the history, to me it's a turkey dinner that smells and tastes so good you can't not cook one. One year we went to a restaurant, and it just wasn't the same. No left-overs, for one thing. You wait hours for it to be done, and all the real work comes at the end when you try and get the potatoes mashed and the gravy done just right and heat up rolls....

Since it's only Dennis and I these days we do the easy microwave potatoes, now. And since he's staying away from bread (and really so am I), we don't do stuffing. Why be in misery afterward, right? But I miss it. I miss making it in the morning, and getting that turkey stuffed. Oh, yum!

I don't know why this holiday has come down to a meal (some are simple, like ours, some are lavish with lots of pie and deserts), and having family over, and football, and then wanting to just nap wherever you are while the game is on.


Maybe because there aren't any gifts involved. But isn't the gift in family? The people you love? As a tradition Dennis and I make a toast to either each other, or say something we want to be known, like how we've gotten through a year of hardship, or whatever the case was for our year.

Do you have any traditions for Thanksgiving you want to share here? Leave them in the comments, I'd love to hear about them!


Sunday, November 8, 2015

As the Pumpkin Rots... I Rant

I was busy this past week trying to do several things on the Internet. Being that I'm lost as to how to do certain things these all gave me headaches.

First of all the company I work for has gone paperless. Meaning that they no longer give you pay check stubs. I remember when they went direct deposit, which was fine, but we still got a pay stub. This past September they told us we had to go on-line to view it. There was an instruction "packet" for this. Now, as you all know what is required is some sort of User Name and then your password. Any variation on these things gets you nowhere fast. So, when I did all that I was supposed to [which included my social security #], and got the message they couldn't find me I'm incredulous. I've only worked for this company for 16 plus years, now.

So, I go to work the next day, tell my boss about it. He had someone he could speak with and they'd get it all straightened out.

Sure enough, someone on their side boo-booed. For some reason they had my husband's SS # down for me. Now, how do you do that? And it worries me because I wonder if they are doing something elsewhere down the line. So, they "fix" it. I go home and do that first step, and they had me finally. But when I went back to search for my pay stub, I couldn't get through. I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong. I gave up. I talked to my boss, and I knew what I had done wrong. I went back and tried it again. Well, they have such a long dumb ass user name and since I'm dyslexic it took me a couple of tries. Finally I was able to view it!

We had been waiting for pay raises, after this union ratification. I could rant about this for pages. The union we belong to manage to take $35/mo., and I don't know what they do, but we couldn't fight to get much better pay. This company--TRANSDEV--is huge. They could very quickly bring in non-union people from anywhere in the country and drive our buses if we took a strike vote. I was not going to go that route. We had to take the $12.18--barely up a dollar from what I was making so far. And this had been ratified and whatever for a couple of years. Transdev (I like to call them TransDIVE), dragged their feet, sent a contract that conveniently left out three things, so they could postpone payments. We all got some sort of "sign on" bonus. Some were to get $300+ whatever other bonuses were owed us.

Well, finally, that went through... but our pay raise is delayed for NEXT pay week. Can you believe it? One of the richest transit companies nickling and diming us to death. It just goes to show you those people who are at the top making the millions don't want to give those of us who do the real hard jobs what they owe us. I really REALLY can't wait to get out of this business, and it may come next year at some point. I just can't do this much longer. Not for twelve freaking dollars an hour and deal with bad drivers everywhere (in the winter it's amazing we don't kill anyone), all the students who walk out in front of you, expecting you to bring a twelve-tone bus to a screeching halt just to avoid smashing them to smithereens.

The next thing I did--or had to do--was go to my PayPal account and retrieve my royalties which went through at some point last week. Well, I didn't see it, even though I got confirmation through an email that my publisher did, indeed send the money (he also had difficulties doing the transfer, and we had to wait until the end of the month for the PayPal people to resolve the "glitch"--so, I'm not the only one with headaches). Not seeing it there--it should show it right on your summary page--and then I'm wondering why. I eventually see that I have to confirm my email with them (rolling my eyes). So I do that. The next day, YES! It's there. Now comes the tricky part. I'm wondering how I go about transferring it into my bank. If you are not familiar with this type of transaction, I'll explain it the best I can. After you've logged into PayPal, you'll get your page, and it will show you your payments, who it's from. At this point a couple of days ago I called my bank and asked someone via email, how it's done, thinking that they were the ones to contact. Don't do this. It's unnecessary. She sent me an outdated screen on how it's done. You don't need to go through your bank. All you have to do is click on choose bank. When that page comes up it you'll see all these different banks to choose from. If none of them are yours, you simply click on the phrase that says yours is a different bank. I did that. Up came two lines I had to fill out. First is the routing #, and then your account #. As soon as I put these in, my bank's name came up. Great!

Now, at this point PayPal isn't going to take for granted the account is really yours, because glitches can occur. Due to the fact that I'm dyslexic, I'm glad they are being really cautious. They tell you they are going to transfer a small amount (anywhere from one cent to .99) into your account. I think it's two deposits. You are to wait 2-3 business days and check your bank account. If it went through you tell them what the amount is. If it jives with them, then you'll have that money in your bank account. I'm not at that point as yet. I'm hoping I was careful enough to give them the correct numbers.

This stuff all takes time away from other things I have to do. And I don't like doing this after I come home from my full day of driving. It's why I don't get on line too much. I'm trying to detox from my day. Forget what happened, even when it all went well, there's always one or two irritations that bugged me, so I sit and crochet, or whatever I need to do after I get home.

Then, yesterday, I got the bill for getting my Internet hooked up. I was charged for things I wasn't supposed to get charged for. Plus, it's not no $29.99 per month, I find I'm charged $34. The bill came to over $100. I did call, told him my beef. Asked why I was charged all this and I got nowhere. So sick of beating my head against the wall, I tell Dennis (in a heated discussion), I'm just going to eat the loss. Neither one  of us wants to go into town to try and get this resolved (which we know they'll only do the dumb act on it), I tell him my royalties will cover it easily. Which it will. I can pay for it on-line, but I can just imagine what sort of headaches that will cause. I just don't like doing that. The mail service in my part of the world works just fine and I still can write out a freaking check, put it in an envelope and slap a stamp on it. If you lose the Internet for some reason, and need to pay you're out of luck!

So, that's been my week, thus far. I've made gluten-free pancakes for my husband this morning (Bisquick has this and you can find it in your grocer's health food area). I've got strawberries to clean, and will be doing that eventually. I have not had a chance to work on the fifth book in weeks. I've simply been too busy. I don't know how people find time to tweet and do facebook for hours every day. I just can't. I have to do other things--cleaning the house is one thing I never have time for, and yet I do it in increments on certain days (bathroom, one day, dusting another, vacuuming another), and I do my yoga in the morning and try and get in a walk as well, if I have the time. Other things may include the afghan I'm making for a lady friend who's cancer has come back, and I wanted to make this for a Christmas give for her before we are down for 2 freaking weeks in December (without pay, by the way). I've had other ideas for crafts this winter and want to work on them. In fact, I've worked on some wood carving, too. Interesting art, I must say. My creative side has emerged again, over this past year, and it would seem my desire to do these things doesn't give me time to work on writing, or blogging or anything else. So, if you are reading this, you know what I'm doing, and why I'm not around much. I hope you understand.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!



Yes, my time of year. I'm putting up a short post today. Right now we are playing our videos of horror movies. They'll play all day long. Later on we'll have root beer floats, and pizza for dinner. Just a way of celebrating. 

Didn't get any creepy cookies for Halloween, but here are a few to make you drool on my facebook page

And here's a link to some yummy cookies over on flicker

And if you want to take the test to see what literary monster you most resemble, go to Grammarly. It might be a shocking revelation!

Here are some photos to enjoy from my collection of Halloween, plus comics.

A great place to take a nap, if you're a cat
Decorating is easy if you have a... coffin just lying around.

YUMMY


What a sweetie pie... just don't get close to her. She bites!


You definitely need one of these on Halloween.

Well, my husband needs to be gluten-free, so, why not witches?

Svengoolie was the host of all those old horror flicks I watched as a teen. 
He still hosts on a local station every Saturday.


Man, I didn't think it would take the yard man that long to dig up the septic tank... hmm, must have been pretty toxic, huh?

Whatever you serve this Halloween, eat well, and whatever you do, have fun!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's Halloween... It's Halloween...

When I was a kid, Halloween was the big day/night I got excited for. Aside from Christmas and my birthday, of course, where there were presents. But Halloween was filled with mystery, scary things. Black and orange and white; fluttering bats wings, and the loud rustle of dried leaves underfoot.

At some point, in my teens Halloween had to become something more. I became too old to trick-or-treat, so, I began dressing up and giving out treats. But I went to extremes with the decorations. I recall buying that scary sounds tape, and running that through an open window. I had a "hanged man" up in a bedroom with a light on him. There was one Halloween--when I was much older--I got my brother and nephews to help out. One of them got to be the "dummy" who sat by the door. With a mask, hooded sweatshirt and gloves on, he draped his hand over the railing right by the door. I instructed him to stay still until they knocked on the door, and then just slowly turn his hand. Ohhh, the screams from the little tykes! I loved it! I made hand-dipped caramel apples or some home made thing. They had to earn their treat. Many loved that I could scare them, and then there were those too frightened to approach.

That's how I liked Halloween. Just a little scary. Not over-done horror with the chainsaw thing, and severed limbs in the yard. Although I did do some headstones and buried my other nephews in the leaves and make noises whenever the tricker-treaters came by.

Back then, you couldn't buy a goblin or ghoul from your local store. Now they have Halloween stores with maniacal butlers and witches spouting all sorts of gruesome stuff. I had also made my own bat that appeared to fly.

What do you like about Halloween, or what do you do to haunt it up for the day's festivities? Go ahead and tell me in the comments area. Love to hear from you!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lorelei UnPlugged

And boy, was I!

Yep. I'm back and it wasn't easy.

What happened was this. Way back in September (it was the 12th) I realized I didn't have the Internet. So, the inner dialogue went something like this.
Well, shit. I'll have to call up Peoplepc--the guys from over there in India or Pakistan... But not today. Maybe tomorrow.

See, it is never a nice experience because they have an accent. I don't understand them, and you have to explain what you see on your screen--the whole thing--to them.

Well, the next day I call. I get someone on there who must be a pup (in training). I could tell he got exasperated with me for asking him to repeat everything. Just because you speak my language doesn't mean I'm going to get it the first time around. When these people get on my bus and ask me if I go to some place I always have to have them repeat it 3 times before I can understand them!

So, at one point he says he would have to have someone call me back. Mainly because I think he didn't know what the hell was the problem. I get a call back in a few minutes. We go through the whole thing. I've now spent an excess of an hour and a half, when I get a brand new error message up after everything we've gone through, and he says "Oh. Ma'am. You have an outstanding bill."

"A what?" He repeats it. I owe them $25.10. I said, I didn't get your last bill. Which, by the way, I had to pay them an extra $3.00 for a paper bill because I will NOT pay for things on line. So, I tell him I'll send them the payment. He said in 7-10 business days I'll have service again.

I check about midweek. Nothing. I check at end of week. I also, at this point check my phone connection, just in case, because we get mice chewing on lines outside... There is no dial tone. Nothing. Silence.

Well, shit! Now I have to call up the phone people--who by the way gets $44. in addition to my bill for Internet from Peoplepc. You do the math. I've wanted to get wireless, but my phone jack is in another room from the computer. I can't move my computer into the bedroom. It can't be more than 10 feet from the jack. I wasn't going to have someone come in and do the work, as they'd charge me.

So, on Sunday I call the phone people. I get someone who's first language is Spanish and I have trouble understanding her. I thought that maybe I'd reached Donald Trump's house and got the maid. Anyway, after the difficult give and take she locates the problem, and tells me it's inside the house. Which means if a tech person comes into the house to do the work, they will charge me.

I was livid by this time. So was my husband, as he overheard the whole exchange.

Over that weekend we decide to get rid of both Peoplepc and the phone company. It was much easier to deal with the phone people (by this time it was Monday, the 21st of September), than the Peoplepc people. The guy tried to keep me. Asked if I still wanted my email, or "free" Internet for a month. NO to both things. I just wanted these jerks out of my hair forever!!!!

That was the end of my Internet, and phone. We discussed getting a couple of cell phones, but we didn't really need them right now, as we had the park phone that we used--very rarely do we need to call anyone. We are not phone people. We don't have kids (who would probably not call us but expect us to text them--bullshit on that).

So, I wrote a letter of Shelly Arkon, to let her know what was going on with me, so that people in my network didn't wonder. I want to thank her here for getting the word out that I was okay and when I could, I would be back on-line.

Believe me, if I wasn't a writer, and making some money with it, I wouldn't even have the Internet. I wouldn't even have a computer.

So, my husband and I discuss my options. I tell him if I get a laptop I could go anywhere there's free WiFi. However, living 8 to 10 miles out in the country sort of has its limitations. I'd have to go to town plop down in a coffee house and spend hours there doing this. Not exactly fun. Free, yes. Not convenient.

In the mean time while we are lobbing ideas around, I get a bill from Peoplepc. It's still on the refrigerator, by the way, and the amonunt is wrong, as I don't owe them no effing $25.10. I didn't have Internet. I told the guy I spoke to that unless they send me a corrected bill, I'm not paying it. Screw 'em. When I called them, I'll bet I wasn't even on-line as yet! So, I figure I don't owe them anything.

In the meantime of all this going on, we had a new furnace and duct work put in. That was 2 days of noise and we had to get out of the house. Also, new windows upstairs, and a brand new front door went in--which seemed to take forever, and a new ceiling fan in my office. I've had to clean and re-clean areas of the house, so I was busy. I was busy outside as well, just being me.

On October 5th, we went to Frontier (our former phone people), to look into Internet w/o having a phone connection. You can, they said. It would cost us $28/mo. Just a little bit more than Peoplepc were charging me, and no phone connection. And he said all the work inside and out would be FREE. Great! The guy said he'd get someone to our house by end of the week.

We waited for a phone call. He called and left message that he was "trying to get in touch" with his tech guy.

We waited. Had no further message about when this would happen. Then, the next week we had a message we'd have someone in on a Thursday of next week. We'd asked for a Monday or Friday--I had to be here in order for the guy who did the connection to speak with me. Dennis doesn't do computers.

Dennis called the office and talked to Brittany. He told her the problem, we had to be home when this guy came, and what we wanted. He spent all day trying to find out when/if we'd ever see anyone at the house. By this time two weeks had gone by. Brittany said we should have been connected within 10 business days. Uh, right.

So, after Dennis' 4 hours of dealing with this. He gave up. Then, on Monday, October 19, we get a call that the tech guy would be there on Tuesday (tomorrow) between 8am and 4pm. It was an automated message.

Well, Dennis said he'd stick around Tuesday. He can, since his work is near the house. He waited. He did laundry, I think he moved furniture...

It was around noon and I was driving route # 6 through the parking lot of one of our grocery stores, and there I see him walking across the lot, waiting for me. I stop the bus, put it in park and get off. He isn't smiling. Tells me the guy hasn't shown up. We needed a few things from the store, so he was going to get something for dinner, and go home.

I'm devastated. Will I never get Internet? Why is it so difficult. Are these guys even on the same planet as us?

I drive home, feeling like the world is going to end soon. I'm sitting down to eat a sandwich I couldn't eat because I was too upset. Dennis is taking off his boots and says "He's here!"

Okay, hang on, this isn't the end, gentle readers.

Tall guy, easily 6'+ some inches, name is John, comes in and while I eat he goes and reconnects an older phone jack that is in my office. Then he goes outside and puts in a brand new box on the outside, because the other one was outdated. After that, he brings in a router box. He was asking my husband why we went to the frontier store. Dennis and I got the picture that that guy we spoke to that day was a salesman. The Tech guys hate them. They put too much work on them (over heard him on phone telling his guy--who must be a go-between--that he'd do 4 jobs a day, five at the most and work through lunch, but that was it).

He is at my computer getting the router up and working. Everything is green, but my Internet won't work. He tries this and that, going into areas of the computer that I wouldn't know how he found. After forty minutes he stands there telling me my firewall or something is blocking my computer from recieving the signal. When everything looked bleak and he was telling me that their tech guys (the ones you call and they talk you through stuff), are pretty good, I'm like this isn't happening. I'll never get the Internet again.

But John stays past 4:00, until 4:30. For some reason he feels sorry for us, I don't know. Probably saw our 20 year old furniture and ancient TV set, and figures we need this free help today.

He kept getting the error message that the "proxi server" wasn't connected. Something like that. By this time Dennis has gone and taken his shower, because he could be of no help. But before he left the room he said "Those Peoplepc people are messing with you."

True enough.
John says "I don't know what that means, "proxi server".
I say to him, "Proxi means main, or primary."
Something about what I said had him go somewhere into what he'd been looking at before. Somehow he found it, pulled up this window and right there it said "Peoplepc" on my proxi server.

Oh, he did it! Suddenly I had Internet!!!

I nearly cried I was so over joyed. We did a hi-five, and I couldn't have been more happy. I said I'd hug him, but not in front of my husband. We all laughed. I shook his hand. He was happy, I could tell, that he'd found the problem. "It was something that you said," he told me. But really, he did it. I couldn't have done it.

Aside from one glitch, and another phone call I had to make to a tech guy today, I've got Internet going.

So, I'm happy to say I'm back. But I never trust this crazy technology. Eventually, I think it will be the end of us all. I really do. That was Dennis' prediction way back in the '70's to the teacher who boasted about computers and how great they were going to make our lives. Well, I don't think my life is any better, really, if anything things are more complicated. I'll have more to say on that some time later.

For now. I'm BAAAACK!








Saturday, September 5, 2015

PARAPROSDOKIANS

You're probably wondering what that is. Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous. You'll see what I mean when we get started here. These were funny when I found them in a local little magazine while waiting for my dentist appointment.
Enjoy!

Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

The last thing I want to do is hurt you... but it's still on my list.

Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

We never really grow up - we only learn how to act in public.

War does not determine who is right, only who is left.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

In filling out an application, where it says, "In case of emergency, notify..." I answered "a doctor".

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they're sexy.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute if you skydive twice.

I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.

The only thing missing was the drum doing one of those padum-pum at the end of each one.

Hope you have a good holiday weekend. Me? We've got fix-it guys in here putting in windows above my head (on second floor), but I needed to post this.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The UN-BIRTHDAY

You've heard of the "un-cola", certainly. Well, I've decided to have an UN-birthday!

Sorry, this one is a shortie, but I've got very little time in my day to do a post during the week, or get around to everyone, as I'm now 8 hours at work or driving to and from. Anyway, hope you all are well, and hope to see your comments below.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Crazy Horse Memorial--more than just a carving in rock

Doing something different today. This is one of my vacation posts. Hope you enjoy the history of an excellent place to visit if you ever get to the south-west section of South Dakota, in the area of Custer.

 This is the mountain in South Dakota, in private lands in the Black Hills, in Custer County. Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, approached the Polish-American sculptor,  Korczak Ziolkowski back in 1931. For those of you who aren't familiar with Ziolkowski, or this giant supture, he was one of the men who worked on Mt. Rushmore. This monument, being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, considered sacred by some Ogalala Lakota, between Custer and Hill City, and is about 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. The sculpture's final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet wide and 563 feet high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 ft high--by comparison, the heads of the four presidents at Mnt Rushmore are each 60 feet high. This work has been in progress since 1948, and is far from completion. I remember visiting this when I was very small, with my parents. When completed, it may become the world's largest non-religious statue since 1967 held by the Soviet Union's "The Motherland Calls".


This is what the completed work should look like eventually. I remember my husband and I coming out about ten years ago. We also came to see it back in the 90's and they were working on the face. I see by the picture, they've really gotten far with that.

Ziolkowski died in 1982, his widow, Ruth, took charge of the sculpture, overseeing the work on the project from the 1980's to the 2010, when she decided to focus on the completion of Crazy Horse's face first, instead of the horse, as her husband had originally planned. She believed that once the Indian's face was completed, the sculpture would be a better draw for tourism. Seven of their ten children, have carried on the work, and daughter, Monique Ziolkowski, a sculptor, modified some of her father's plans to ensure that the weight of the outstretched arm is supported.

The memorial is to be the centerpiece of an educational/cultural center when completed. As of my last visit there is a museum, a very nice restaurant, and a couple of shops to buy all Native American made crafts. I always buy a chunk of the blasted mountain whenever we go.

Oh, and one more thing to mention, this is NOT a federally funded project. Believe me, the government approached Ziolkowski a number of times, and he turned them down. The original agreement was to not have the American government get involved. You know they would have changed everything about the place. So, this is a worthwhile place to come to, should you get out on the road and are in that area. And if you go, here is a site in the area of Custer, to find places to see and stay. Always a lot to do there. The only thing I don't like about South Dakota is that they've gone with open casinos, and gambling just about everywhere you turn. I'm not a gambler. I think it's a terrible thing to get addicted on.

Hope your summer is going well. I'm going to enjoy the rest of my week off, just staying home, mostly.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Nocturne... the Other White Meat

Hello, my pretties.
That title just jumped into my head. And since I hate trying to think up something, I went with it hoping it might grab someone who normally doesn't come over to the dark side.

News is Nocturne is on sale (ebook, of course) for $0.99 from August 8-14th!

Nocturne, Sabrina Strong's third adventure in the series is, what I like to refer to as my "steampunk" novel. If you enjoy that genre, you may like this one. I enjoyed writing it, so different from the others, but it certainly creates more delemmas in Sabrina's life. And it sets her up for the 8th novel. In case anyone questions my reasons for writing it. I actually don't need to defend it. I write fantasy. 
Here is the description:

When Sabrina's cousin Lindee goes missing, it's up to Sabrina to find her. She fears that vampires are at the root of things... and soon finds out that it's not only that, but much worse. 

Beyond the Black Veil vampires outnumber humans ten to one, and people are merely blood donors and objects of the vampires' sexual desires. It's here where Sabrina encounters Drakulya, the Impaler, who has managed to not only become a vampire, but lives in this strange world and rules as king. 

With the Dagger of Delphi Sabrina will face the Dreadfuls - merciless stalkers and killers. With her is also the stone containing the spirit of Dante Badheart, and more mysteries surround this magical artifact as well. 

Nocturne is the exciting third book in the Sabrina Strong paranormal romance / urban fantasy series.


Well, thanks for stopping by, and if you have read it and enjoyed it (or are about to), be kind and write a nice review for it. Thanks! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

What's UUUUUP?

Doing a quickie today, folks! But wanted to welcome the new month in!
Picture taken from Bonnie Plant 


I've few links with various friend's posts. First off Heather McCorkle has an announcement--she has joined a press out of New York called City Owl Press. To see her announcement, go to her blog here. As a new member, Heather has a wish list of what she may want to see from prospective writers. You might be interested if you have written, say, a Sci-fi with romantic angles.

As always, Roland has some interesting insights on what's going on out in the entertainment world. If I didn't have his blog to find things out, I'd be stupid. I would have to depend upon the rags you can pick up at the grocery store check-out. If you don't know who Tom Cruise or Scientology is, then you may be dumber than I am. Anyway, he's got something to say about the subject of why isn't anyone asking Cruise about questionable acts at home base of his religious compound. You can check this out  at Writing in the Crosshairs. Also you might want to check out his books, as well.

My  friend, William Kendall has a movie review at his blog Speak of the Devil.

And if you want to catch up on what I've been up to, go to my other blog: Lorelei's Writing Journal.

Also, my third book, Nocturne, will be on sale from August 8th through August 14th.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Quiet Weekend

After last weekend, this weekend is a keeper.
Why? Because last weekend we caught the culprits who have been terrorizing the park. If you recall, my husband is park manager of Afton, a county park, out here in the country. It's over 300 acres of replanted wildflowers and wetlands--all of it planted by hand either by seed, or plants.

Anyway, we've had a constant attack from young people who think no one cares that they drive out into the main grassy area (there are No Off Road Vehicles signs posted, but I guess people don't read), making deep ruts there and into the wildflowers. Yes. We've planted all that just so you can take a joy ride!

Well, last Sunday morning, my husband went to do his morning park checks. He saw new damage, and noted two vehicles parked in one of the lots. Upon further inspection, he could see that there was evidence of their driving into the flowers (prairie flowers on the back of the pickup truck and mud on the tires would indicate this). My husband had them red handed. They weren't around, and so he called the Sheriff's police. Three people were arrested. One was a young lady and said she did all the driving. Which I told Dennis she'd change her tune once they locked her up at the jailhouse. I don't know what happened afterward, only that the girl called her mother (probably in tears), and the mother didn't think it was that terrible a deed she should have to be locked up. Oh? Yeah, lady, you come out here and see what they did and convert that to your own yard--if you have one--and see how you'd like that happening. Dennis can't even mow out there the ruts are so extensive and deep. He told me he thought the tire tracks went in about a 2-3 acre area. He put out flags, which may have taken 30 flags, and 30-45 min. to do so.

We so want to have these young people put to work out here to fix what they did. That's our wish. Don't know if that will happen.

Other than this, my sales have been constant all month, whether or not any book was on sale. At present, there have been 116 ebooks sold just this month, and like I said, not all were on sale. I've never had even half that many sold in a month. But in May, and June, my ebook sales were 77 in each of those months.

I have to report I've never seen this even when I had my first publisher. I'd make a sale, and then the ranks would drop. I was watching the hills and valleys--mostly valleys--back then. And at times there were no sales throughout the month. Especially when I went indie. I'd wait a year before I saw a check. It was the same when I went Indie. I didn't like being indie. Some writers prefer it, but I don't.

When I began writing my dream was to get a big-name publisher. That didn't happen. Then, learning I needed an agent, I tried getting me one of those. It's a crap shoot, folks. I've known writers--excellent writers--who had landed an agent and still didn't get a publisher. I just don't want to do that any more. Whenever I got a rejection it hit below the belt. I can't do that any more. And now I don't have to.

Well, anyway, in my case, Creativia has been working out for me. It's not dramatic, but slowly I've seen results. I've seen where my books have been advertised in certain places when on sale. I think by next year there will be good stuff happening. Right now my books are getting established, and out to actual readers. I don't do much promotions. I simply don't have time to, and haven't found that any amount of "promoting" on facebook or anywhere has netted me/my books any sales.

Oh, and here is Ascensions book page at their site. If you feel the need you can poke around there and explore who they are, all the authors, and there's a contact page, if you're so inclined.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Series: Caprice on sale this week

Caprice, by Lorelei Bell
on sale this week through July 23rd
Creating a world in which my characters can live in (and sometimes die), is something I so enjoy. I've posted before about the series, why I enjoy them--reading and writing them.

The trick of writing one, and having people come back for the next book, is to leave a few unanswered questions. I've had some readers (who have posted a review--not naming names), complain that there were many unanswered questions. Well, duh! If I don't leave you at a cliffhanger why would you want to return to read the next one?
Of course, the converse of this is other readers have bugged me asking "When's the next book coming out?"--I love that!

Take Caprice, for instance, the fourth book in the Sabrina Strong series. A lot happens in this book.
Synopsis:
The vampire Bjorn Tremayne has lost his reign and become a rogue, which doesn't sit well with him. But he's about to do something that will change all this; Dark World has set a bounty on Sabrina's head because she wouldn't mate with him, and he has come up with a way to trick her into bed with him. He needs to get her away from the only vampire who protects her - Vasyl. 

Sabrina's agenda was to enjoy a pleasant Thanksgiving with her family, and no vampires, Nephilim, werewolves or demons to interrupt it. Unfortunately, a demon in the guise of her Grandmother Rose has decided to attack her at this family gathering. After Bill Gannon, her neighbor and a Nephilim, saves her, Sabrina is whisked off by Bjorn Tremayne and his accomplice. 

Tremayne convinces Sabrina she isn't safe and manages to talk her into running. Meanwhile, Vasyl has fought off Tremayne's minions, but has lost Sabrina and must hide from the sun. He has to chase Sabrina across the Midwest, knowing that Tremayne's ultimate goal is to mate with her—before he, himself, has had a chance to consummate his marriage to Sabrina. 

In order to complete his duty of finding the sibyl, Bill Gannon must chase after Sabrina too, and find a way to talk her into having his children in order to save the whole Nephilim race. While all of these men are vying for Sabrina's attentions, something called an Undead who feeds on souls, seeks Sabrina—the last sibyl—for his own diabolical needs. And he is very determined to find her.


At the end [spoiler alert!!] Tremayne has been poisoned by the silver of Sabrina's dagger. Is he going to live? Meanwhile, Bill, descendant of Nephilim has died in a cave in, and Sabrina has agreed to donate her eggs in order to keep his race from dying out. Bill was charged to somehow have Sabrina bring forth a baby through him. But instead she agrees to give a donation of her eggs as his last, dying request. So, the question at the end of this one is how will this one simple thing she does affect her down the road. What will happen when Vasyl, her vampire husband learns what she's done? Vasyl was hunted down by Nephilim while alive as a priest over 1,000 years ago. He became a vampire in order to out-live and out run them. We'll just say Vasyl has no warm, fuzzy feelings for any Nephilim. He would rather see them all die.

So, I've left some rather sticky situations hanging: Will Tremayne die? Will Sabrina and Bill's child be born? And what of Ilona and Nicolas' plans to take over ruling all of the North American Vampire Association?

Not to worry. There is going to be a fifth book out soon. Still tweaking it as we speak. I'm slated to have 8 titles out eventually with my current publisher. The next four books are written, and I only need to edit the next three, and do rewrites on number 8. My plan is to put one out a year.

If you're new to the Sabrina Strong series, I direct you to the beginning with the first book. Ascension


After the death of her father, Sabrina Strong is hired to solve the murder of Letitia, Bjorn Tremayne's life-time mate. She is quickly immersed in romantic trysts and danger. Megalomaniac vampires are planning to take over and rule the the North American Vampire Association for their own greedy desires. 

Sabrina is not thrilled about the aspect of working for vampires in Chicago, but she needs the money, and wants to find the gorgeous and mysterious vampire who has been turning up in her dreams. Is he the one who bit her when she was ten - marked her for his own - and turned her mother so long ago? 

A unique and mesmerizing mystery blending intricately detailed fantasy and romance, twists and turns of mystery in a contemporary setting, and new insights on a vampire's life including love, passion, heartache, hope, devastation, lust and longing. 

“A truly extraordinary vampire tale . . . something to sink your teeth into . . .”~Reader Views


Caprice is on sale for $0.99 until 7-23-15.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Lady, you've got a poltergeist in your kitchen...

Sometimes Zofia, who is a sorceress, has to let an Ugwump--that's a human in her language--into her house to fix something. Now you know that anything might happen, since the humans on Earth simply don't believe in sorceresses, or in many other supernatural beings.

In this case, when Zofia has allowed someone to fix her cupboatds, there's definitely trouble bound to strike since her invisible servant, Biddle, is about to intervene because he feels she is in danger.

This excerpt is an example of the crazy, quirky situations that fill the work,  Spell of the Black Unicorn.

The doorbell rang, interrupting her thoughts and Biddle howled like a banshee.
Zofia rushed through the dining room drying her hands on a towel.
Opening the door, she found herself staring up at a giant. Close-set, steel-blue eyes gaped back down at her from a face as round as a balloon. The closely-cropped hair on his head resembled a five o’clock shadow. In contrast, a meticulously trimmed black beard, allowed to grow just under the chin, framed the roundness of that plump face. Not only did he tower over Zofia, but he took up a good deal of the doorway. The sight of him sent shivers through Zofia. He resembled Blood’s giant—from what she could remember. The same one who had tramped into her parent's home and ripped the place apart looking for her when she was ten. She knew he wasn't, but all the same, it took her a few seconds to get hold of herself.
Then the most extraordinary thing happened. He smiled. Those arctic eyes became suddenly warm; his face nearly cherubic. His smile had turned harsh features into something less scary. When he spoke, his voice tumbled from him with great control, as though with the understanding full volume might reverberate in such a way that its sheer power could make the rafters of the house tremble.
Hi. I’m Newell Vosserman. You called the other day?”
Having lost her voice momentarily, Zofia squeaked, “Yes.”
I came out here yesterday, but the elderly lady said you were under the weather. Figured, I had time today, and so came out.” Forearms the size of full-grown swamp lizards grew out of the rolled up sleeves of his work shirt. The material stretched and strained somewhat at the shoulders and chest.
Yes—um—I was, but I’m much better now, thanks.” She spoke quickly and stepped aside. “You may as well have a look at it, since you’re here.”
The huge man lumbered in. He owed his bulk not entirely to a generous amount of body fat. In contrast, his pants were loose-fitting, a generous amount of material was needed to cover that part of his anatomy, as well.
Nice place you got, Mrs. Grandier,” he said as he side-stepped the dining room furniture with some effort, very much aware of his size. Taking Newell in visually, Zofia now understood how he, even as a boy, might have been able to choke another boy to death.
Thanks,” she said, leading him through.
I can see this house is one of the older ones,” he said, looking around. His massive hand clutched the timber of the hall entryway.
Upon entering the kitchen, they were greeted by explosive hisses. Zofia turned toward the source of sibilation and found Perth and Argyll arching their backs, spitting and growling. Their ears flat against their heads; fur standing straight out on their backs and tails.
Enemy! Run!” Argyll cried.
Change us to humans and we’ll cut him up!” Perth said with gusto.
You’ve got cats,” Newell said. “Cats don’t like me much,” he added, halting half way through the room eyeing the two hissing felines. “I think it must be a karma thing. Like maybe I was a dog in another life, or something.”
Perplexed by Perth and Argyll’s sudden dislike for the huge man, Zofia frowned. “I’m sorry. They sometimes act this way with strangers. Especially men.” She leveled a scathing look at the two.
Suddenly Argyll clawed at Newell’s legs when he came within reach. Newell jerked back, startled by this aggressive display.
Zofia snapped up the broom and jabbed at them. “Argyll! Perth! GO!”
Angry hisses, both felines scrambled away. Newell jumped back. A shower of dried leaves rained down over his head and shoulders from above. He looked up at the herbs hung to dry along the rafters from square nails, then at the mess he’d made.
Gee, I’m sorry, Mrs. Grandier. I didn’t see... I didn’t mean to—”
No, that’s all right,” Zofia said, and stepped around him like he was a large appliance and found him holding the twiggy remains of dried oregano in his huge hands. Cupping her own hands, she relieved him of the crumbling herbs and disposed of it all in the waste basket nearby.
Gee.” He sniffed at his hands. “I smell like a pizza.” He chuckled lightly. Then looking beyond Zofia, he said, “Is that what needs fixing?”
She turned to see him looking at the gaping hole in her cupboards. “Yeah.”
He shambled forward. Bits of dried oregano snowed from his head and shoulders as he bent down. She could only think of the mess she’d have to sweep up once he was done, or Biddle would have a hissy-fit.
Newell bent over, exposing a portion of his fleshy backside to her. Mortified, Zofia turned; her exit almost as swift as her cats. But movement in her periphery stopped her. Two drawers slid open, and then closed as if of their own accord. Cupboard doors, top and bottom, swung open one after another.
Zofia sprang into action and sprinted across the room, closing doors and shoving drawers shut. Although she did all this soundlessly, the slamming of the last door was her undoing.
While still on his knees, Newell straightened and gaped at her.
Zofia twirled to face his startled gaze with one of her own. Quickly, she pasted a smile on her face, fearing the poor man might have seen the phenomenon. But his expression didn’t indicate this. Believing the crises had passed, and Biddle's exhibition was over and would not be repeated for the stranger’s sake, she relaxed.
But, before she could relax fully, another drawer, the one closest to Newell, slid open a few inches. They both watched transfixed as it slid open molasses-slow, then stopped half way. Without warning, it slammed shut, jarring the cutlery inside with such violence Zofia’s mind quickly conjured a picture of her silverware drawer now in a tangle of knives, forks and spoons.
Suddenly, two cupboards nearby swung open and slammed shut several times, followed by Biddle’s detached and very deranged-sounding laugh, (the very one he’d used last Halloween to scare the heebie-jeebies out of a few teenagers who’d come to the house sans costume and argued that Zofia owed them candy).
Zofia realized she was holding her breath, offering Newell a nervous smile. Her whole face felt hot as a cauldron over a fire.
Wow, Mrs. Grandier. Looks like you got more problems than a broken cupboard,” he said, sounding too calm.
Yeah, I guess so,” she said, and heard herself chuckle sharply.
Yep. Looks to me like you’ve got a ghost.”
Oh?”
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that’s exactly how your cupboards got broken.”
She managed to turn her open-mouthed look of surprise into an open-mouthed smile. “You hit the nail on the head, Newell,” she said, well aware that her lips were quivering. She couldn’t believe she was having this conversation with an Ugwump.
In fact, I’d be willing to bet you got yourself a poltergeist. Them’s the worst kind of ghost there is,” he went on somewhat like an auto mechanic might after looking under the hood of her car. He turned back to his measuring and examination of the cupboards. When he went down on all fours, he exposed a little too much information to her, once again. All the same, his nonchalance over the fact he knew she had a ghost in the house made her a little wary. Most Ugwumps didn’t believe in ghosts, even when they said they did. They came up with plausible explanations for the weird, unexplained happenings at a moment’s notice. Or, they became unnerved by it. This kinetic astral activity should have scared the pants the rest of the way off Newell.
Newell produced a large yellow measuring tape from somewhere and began earnestly measuring the cupboard cavity as though nothing was amiss.
Yep,” he said. “I been around ghosts before. Lots of times.” He turned to gaze back at Zofia over his shoulder, giving her an overly calm and confident smile. Turning he added, “My dad’s a ghost, you know.”
Really?” she said, trying hard to carry on this conversation without glancing at his gluteus cleavage above the waist band of his pants.
He killed himself, y’know? You don’t go to heaven when you take your own life, y’know?”
While Newell began to fill in the gory details of how his father had killed himself with a .22, and how the secretary had found him, Zofia watched a chair skidding noisily across the wood floor. This bit of shenanigans was followed quickly by Biddle’s high-pitched giggle. The chair levitated off the floor at eye-level, then arrowed straight for Newell’s large, round head. With a strangled gasp of fear, Zofia lunged and caught the chair before Biddle could slam it over the poor, unsuspecting Ugwump’s head.
Newell looked up to see Zofia holding the chair in mid-air. His look of confused surprise went through an amazing metamorphoses as two large kitchen knives whizzed dangerously close to Newell’s face, and stuck into the wooden cupboards, twanging, mere inches from his ears. His eyes bugged out, sliding left and right to take in the handles of the knives next to his face. If he’d have moved just a hair, the blades might have sliced one, or both ears, clean off.
BIDDLE!” Zofia cried, shocked.
Newell’s face had gone paper-white as he drew himself up off the floor. His measuring tape snapped back. He grabbed up his tool box, the tools jangling with his motions, and backed away. The look on his face was one which she had expected at the onset of Biddle’s weird antics.
Get out while you can!” Biddle’s detached and ghostly voice said.
I’m going! I’m going! Sorry, Mrs. Grandier—” Newell moved faster than she thought capable, and chugged out the back door.
As soon as the screen door slammed behind him, Zofia withered into the chair she’d kept from crashing into Newell’s head. She didn’t even remember putting it down.
Biddle!” she said. “What’s the meaning of your outburst?”
Blood was near,” Biddle said in a calm, unstrained voice. “I felt his presence.”
Blood?” she repeated and stared at the back door. “Not Newell?”
Displaced air near the refrigerator twanged and the dressing mirror appeared, making Zofia twirl around to face it. Aazel stared out at her from the mirror.
Aazel, did you detect Blood nearby too?” she asked.
I did, Mistress Zofia,” Aazel responded.
Zofia?” Dorian called to her. “I heard voices. Is everything alright?”

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