Saturday, June 8, 2013
Hey y’all! Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence Country. Been a while since I’ve invited y’all over, busy press of day-to-day life and all that. And besides, nothing much has happened lately I thought might hold your interest enough to sit in my cyberspace country kitchen and chat with me awhile over coffee.
But this is the country, I’m a country girl living a country life, and there’s no way life’s goin’ to run smoothly for any extended period of time. We were due for some country drama, haven’t had any since putting in the new hot water heater put too much pressure on the old pipe connections and rendered me without hot water for a night. Okay, two nights. Because obviously nobody puts in a new hot water heater unless the old one’s dead, right? But hey, no problem. I’m an ol’ pro. Heat some water on the stove, run some cold water in the bathtub, pour in the heated water, instant bath. Okay, you’re not goin’ to soak in luxurious bubbles or sigh under a stream of steaming shower water but it gets you clean. Anybody can do without hot water for one night. Who knew the next night while fixing the problem of no hot water, another pipe connection would break and we’d have to shut off power to the well and thus have no water at all? A fun three days, but just a minor inconvenience in the course of country living.
Now our household’s always been non-conventional in lots of respects. One of our non-conventional features is that hubby, being already retired while I still brave the interstate into the big city every week day, is Grandadddy Day Care. Resident Caretaker and School Transport in Charge of our two young grandchildren for our daughter and son-in-law. Their jobs have some non-conventional hours sometimes. Certainly not the hours that fit commercial day care’s time schedule. (My daughter says she knows how lucky she is to have him, and I know she thinks she does, but never having not had “in-home on-demand” day care and thus no basis of comparison, I don’t think she truly does.) Austin’s two months shy of 7 and Kinsley’s just hit six months.
And then came last Friday night. One last downpour with winds and thunder and lightning from the Tropical Storm that moved from the Gulf up the east coast this week. It was around 7:00 p.m. Austin and I lounged on my bed in front of my bedroom tv/DVD watching “The Bee Movie” while he ate his supper, seein’ as how Kinsley was asleep on her blanket on the floor in the living room. Kinsley, according to Granddaddy, been a bit of a prima donna that day and a little hard to please. In other words, “Do. Not. Wake. Her. Up.”
Suddenly the lights went out and the television screen went blank. Well, that happens when it rains sometimes. Power goes out. In the country or the city. Usually it doesn’t stay out for very long. “Grandmama! What’s happened?!” It’s disastrous for the modern American adult when power goes out. For an almost seven year old, it’s catastrophic. No DVD player, no lights, no computer?! “It won’t be out long, baby. We’re fine.”
So Grandmama and Austin grabbed my “Book” (Austinese for Nook) and retired to the back porch for more light. And more cool. It’s amazing how quickly a house gets hot when the power goes out. Even with all windows open. Especially on a humid Georgia twilight. A six-month-old, on the other hand, doesn’t really care about power per se one way or the other. What she cares about is – it’s hot!! This is unacceptable and any baby lets you know it. Kinsley is no exception.
After about thirty, forty-five minutes, hubby decides to check out the rest of our fair little crossroads town to see if power’s out all over, or whether we’re the only poor souls so affected. Which can happen easily because as I’ve explained before and explain again for any newcomer—we live in the woods. As in the middle of. Our house is smack dab in the middle of fifty acres of woods, and our driveway is a half to three-quarter-mile long downward slope of curves.
It’s rained a lot lately here in middle Georgia. Like I said, that tropical storm in the Gulf. Saturated ground means tree roots loosen up. Saturated pine needles mean the trees are top heavy. One final late evening downpour with wind and thunder and lightning? Well, that frequently means a tree will just yell, “Enough! I surrender!” And crash over a power line. And when a tree falls on the driveway it sorta has to be moved before anybody’s going anyplace.
This time? Yep. You know it. There’s a tree down at the top of the driveway. Sure we can move it. It’s happened before. A little elbow grease never hurt anybody. But a live power wire? Well, that’s a little different. And this tree was rude enough to take the power line with it and then lay on top of it. Except for the parts of the power line draped across the metal farm gate fence at the top of the drive. The one we almost never close, but the one that’s there, nonetheless. The one that’s metal. Live power wires and metal are not a good combination.
Austin, already disrupted by the power outrage, is now in panic mode.
“Grandmama, my heart’s scared! I’m never goin’ home!!”
“Baby, you’re fine. Granddaddy’s calling the power company and they have to come shut off the power before we can get the tree out of the way. They’ll be here as soon as they can.”
“I hope so, but you’re fine. What’s the matter, you’ve never spent the night with Grandmama and Granddaddy before?”
All this to the background of loud protest from Kinsley, who is edging towards getting hungry and is now obviously both hot and bothered. Too hot and bothered to eat, in fact. Certainly not inside, and certainly not in the heat of anybody’s arms. Granddaddy strapped her in her bouncy seat and sat it on the front porch, leaning over to hold her bottle for her as she ate. (Forget Grandmama here. She won’t eat for me. Or burp for me. Only thing I’m good for is changing diapers, as far as she’s concerned.) So I made myself useful by reporting the situation to the parents.
“I wanta talk to Mimi!” (Austinese for Mama. To him, my daughter is Mimi. She’s not Mama or Mommy, she’s Mimi. Don’t know why, she just always has been.)
“Mimi, my love? (My daughter’s called Austin “my love” or “my heart” since birth. Consequently, it’s a bit unnerving to hear their phone conversations sometimes. You never expect to hear the phrase “my love” come out of a six year old’s mouth.) The power’s out and my heart’s scared!! And it’s getting’ scareder by the minute!!”
Reassuring hug from Grandmama. Soothing murmers from Mimi over the other end of the phone.
“So can you tell Daddy to get his friends and come move the tree and come and get me?!”
Okay, kid, twist the knife a little more. This is the child that goes anywhere with us for any length of time without protest. With enthusiasm, in fact. This is the kid that spent four days with us just last month when we drove to the Great Lakes Naval Base for our youngest son’s graduation from Naval Basic. The kid who went through Chicago rush hour traffic on a Thursday afternoon as I cringed scared to death in the passenger seat shouting, “This is awesome! I love this city!” The kid who charmed every stranger he met with “We came to see my Uncle Lee. We’re living in a hotel now.” The kid who proclaimed said hotel “Awesome!” and wished we could live there “forever”. The indoor pool might have had something to do with that.
More soothing mutters from Mimi. At least Kinsley was happy. Until those pesky mosquitos drove them off the front porch. Granddaddy and Kinsley retired to the bedroom. Not quietly. She was tired and it wasn’t as hot as it was but it’s wasn’t as cool as she’d like it to be. Austin and I played the apps on my “Book” until he tired of them and then sat at the kitchen table with the flashlight building Lincoln Log houses. Well, he did, anyway. He’d gotten me hooked on one of those damned apps. And finally, blessed quiet from the bedroom. Kinsley’s asleep. This was interspersed with the occasional “Are you sure we’re gonna be all right?” “Yes, baby.” “I’m never going home again!” “Yes, you are, baby, it’s fine.”
By this point you understand, I didn’t even care if the power came back on during the night. Just get the damn tree out of the way and the kids home and I’d be happy as a clam. I could do without electricity for the night. But Austin’s heart was “gettin’ scareder by the minute!” And what was I gonna do when the “Book” lost its battery charge, for heaven’s sake? Desperate, I texted Mimi and asked if the Sheriff’s Office could exert some influence with Georgia Power and move us up on the list of priorities. (My son-in-law’s a K-9 Deputy Sheriff.) She sent back, “Okay, but what can the Sheriff do? Georgia Power’s gotta handle the live wire!” I sent back, “I know but maybe they can give us emergency status—deputy’s children stranded with mean uncaring grandparents and so scared their hearts hurt!”
I don’t know if she actually complied with that request or not, but at 9:30 p.m., she called.
“We’re at the gate with Georgia Power. They’ve been here about half an hour. The wire’s draped all over the gate. They’re hooking it up and pulling it back up in the air now. Shouldn’t be but another few minutes.”
“Mimi? I wanta talk to Mimi!!”
I handed the phone over and sank back in relief. “Mimi, they’re never coming!! My heart’s really gettin’ scared! And it’s gettin’ scareder by the minute!”
“Baby, they’re here! It’ll just be a few minutes and we’ll be down to get you! Got you a surprise!”
“Surprise?” Perked ears. “What, what, what?”
“It’s at home. You’ll be home in just a little bit. They’re working.”
Loud noise from driveway. Headlights!! A giant Georgia Power truck came down the hill, maneuvered and backed up—and started back up the hill! Noooooooooo!!!!!!!!! Don’t leave meeeee…………
“Grandmama, they left, they left!! And the lights aren’t back on!!”
Then I realized, “They’re checking the rest of the lines on the driveway, stupid.” (NO, that was not directed at Austin, I was talking to myself.)
Five minutes later—surge of light. “Let there be light.” Truly glorious words. Whirr of overhead ceiling fans. Yes, yes, yes. Sound of incoming vehicle as parents came to collect children. Oh, glorious reunion! Or not. It seemed to have lost urgency with Austin.
“Grandmama! Now we can watch t.v.!”
Yes. Priorities here, please. It only took the sight of incoming headlights to send him flying out the door, though. And so ended the night when I was Trapped!! A prisoner of electricity in my own home. Our children and grandchildren headed up the driveway. Hubby flipped on the t.v. Only three innings into the Braves game seein’ as how they were playing in L. A.
We settled onto the couch, twisted the top of two bottles of beer and pulled open a bag of pork rinds. We’re country. Gotta celebrate the same way.
And until drama unfolds again in Flowers on the Fence Country – take care and y’all come back now, hear?
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Daytona Bike Week. Biker’s paradise. The perfect place for Chad and Ariel Garrett to take a few days off and relax with Chad’s buddy Spike and Ariel’s little sister Stacy. But nothing ever goes as planned with that magical duo. Trouble just stalks them like a black cat. Oh, wait! Is that a black cat stalking them? By the name of Micah? A missing agent riding with an outlaw biker gang, a call from Chad’s past, and War-N-Wit, Inc.’s riding again. On Harleys!
A shriek sounded from the loud and raucous table next to us. A chair banged back and high-pitched feminine laughter exploded as a gyrating body danced in the floor space between tables.
“Okay, honey, you been waiting to do that all night! Get your eye-full!”
Stacy’s eyes widened as the long-haired blonde thrust out her considerable chest, now showcased by the white t-shirt dripping beer. I’d already noticed bras weren’t considered a necessary part of the wardrobe for Bikers Week. Certainly not by this blonde.
One of the guys at the blonde’s table clapped madly and shouted “Too many dry t-shirts in this place! Let’s fix that!”
A deluge of beer exploded over my chest. Stacy gasped with me and I knew she’d been baptized too.
“Aw man! No fair! These chicks wearin’ bras!”
“You gotta be kiddin’!”
“C’mon, lil’ darlin’s, you gotta get with the program here!”
“You want a program, buddy? How’s this for a program? How’s this feel?” Stacy surged out of her chair and drew the arm holding her beer mug back in a modified version of the underhand softball pitch that terrorized neighborhood soft ball games every summer of her childhood. She got two of the cat-callers with one shot. Full in the face. I wasn’t sure she’d gotten the one calling attention to our under-apparel wardrobe and besides, I didn’t want her having all the fun, so I stood up and tossed mine. I got two of them too, not as forcefully as Stacy’s toss, but I’d never been an athlete.
The tossed bikers sputtered. The blonde with the impressive chest screamed “Bitch!” She grabbed her mug and tossed the contents in our direction. She’d never played neighborhood softball. It went way wide and caught a biker sitting at a table next to ours.
“Son-of-a-bitch!” Everybody at that table picked up their mugs. Beer exploded over Chad and Spike and quite a few innocent by-standers.
Within minutes, the whole place joined the action. Clouds of beer rained down over the whole room.
Chad grabbed my hand, Spike grabbed Stacy’s, and pulled us, non-too gently, toward the door, ducking under arms and weaving through bodies. As we passed the register, Chad tossed our bill and a hundred onto the counter.
“Keep the change!” We barreled out onto the street and stood. We all looked at each other.
Chad shook his head.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Do you ever -- spot read? Glance through a book to see if the writing catches your fancy? I do. Sometimes I can tell right off -- now there's a book with a plot. Or some great characters, just waiting for you to meet. Some of my friends and I thought it might be fun to throw out some samples. And to start, here's
This week enjoy a few lines from Books We Love author Margaret Tanner's novel, Fiery Possession.
Jo Saunders did to him what no other woman had done in years. Set his pulses racing, exciting him to the point where he nearly lost control. Damn Jo Saunders. Damn her to hell.
Please come back on April 12 to read Roseanne Dowell's exciting snippet.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Hey, y’all! Welcome back to Flowers on the Fence country. And welcome back to one of my closest cyber-space friends, prolific writer Roseanne Dowell. She’s introducing her latest release, Deadbeat Dads. I don’t know about y’all, but the very title put me on alert this book dealt with a topic women are intimately acquainted with, either personally or through at least one and usually several of our friends. And since it’s Ro Dowell’s book, I was equally sure there’d be some moments of great humor. Since I’m fortunate enough to be one of Ro’s Alpha readers, I didn’t have to wait long to find out – I was right! So tell us about it, Ro!
First off, thank you, Gail, for allowing me to post on your blog again. Gail and I met through our mutual publishers. Although we live almost a thousand miles apart, we've become good friends and sounding boards for each other. Gail was a great help in giving legal advice, brainstorming and editing this book. I know she doesn't want everyone to know it (says it'll ruin her reputation), but she really is a sweetheart. I have a feeling most of our fellow authors already know that anyway. So I'm not revealing any big secret. I hope someday we'll actually meet.
(Note from Gail before we get to Deadbeat Dads. I am not a sweetheart. I am tart and spicy. I keep tellin’ folks that but nobody listens! Oh, and the brainstorming and sounding board thing? Definitely mutual. My current WIP would be much the poorer without Ro’s input.)
How many men leave their wives and families and ignore them? After her husband leaves her for a younger woman, Erica Morris starts a group for ex wives of deadbeat dads and was surprised to learn how many there were. In the process of rebuilding her life, someone tries to blackmail her. Can she put the past behind her or will it catch up to her?
Available from Amazon at http://amzn.to/YWDVBf
Does everyone start out married life with rose colored glasses? I'm sure no one thinks their marriage will end in divorce. I certainly didn't. Mine was the perfect love, the perfect marriage, I was going to have the perfect life, and it was an absolutely perfect day for a wedding. The sun streamed through the window as I walked down the aisle on my father’s arm. Johnny looked so handsome standing at the altar waiting for me.
Oh, I knew we'd have our ups and downs. I’ve always been a realist. I know nothing in life is perfect. But we came darn close. At least that’s what I thought. So how did I end up divorced, fifteen years later? If anyone would have told me about the turn my life would take I’d have laughed at them.
Oh, I’m Erica Morris. Well, I was Erica Morris until recently. Now I’m divorced and left to raise two kids. Johnny, my husband left me for a younger woman. Not a new story, I know, but that doesn’t make it hurt less. To top it all off, he cut himself off from our kids and left me to be the bearer of bad news. To make matters worse, he refused to pay child support. Not that he couldn’t afford it. Believe me, he could well afford it, and then some. But he left us penniless? I need to back up a bit. I remember calling the meeting of other single mothers to order.
“Okay ladies,” I looked at the women gathered around me. Lisa Daly, who encouraged me to start this group, was here and Nicole Brown. Poor thing never went out while she was married. Oh, and Louise Conners, I still couldn’t believe her husband ran off with his receptionist, and now they were going through a nasty divorce. Not sure why that surprised more than the others. It shouldn’t. There was quite a turn out. Half the women I didn’t know.
I brought my attention back to the meeting. “First order of business, a name for our group, any ideas?”
“Deadbeat Dads Anonymous,” someone called out.
“Wives of Deadbeat Dads,” someone else yelled. “Or Women Against Deadbeat Dads.”
“Better yet, how about Mothers Against Deadbeat Dads. MADD!” Lisa Daly shouted.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. There certainly wasn’t a shortage of names. “We’re mad for sure but that sounds too much like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.”
“ADD,” someone else yelled. Against Deadbeat Dads.”
Nicole Brown’s hand went up. “Nicole, what’s your idea?”
“How about Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads. W.E.D.D.?” Nicole’s voice barely reached above a whisper.
Poor Nicole. Her ex-husband had knocked her self confidence so low. I was surprised to even see her here. I met her at a school function. Nicole’s daughter, Cindy, was in the same class as my Josh. I had heard through the grapevine that Bob, Nicole’s ex, had run off with a stripper. Talk about humiliating. I shivered at the thought.
Suddenly everyone came alive. Shouts of “Hey, that’s great, I like that,” sounded throughout the room.
“Okay then it sounds unanimous, Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads it is. All in favor raise your hands. W.E.D.D.” Kind of funny when you thought about it. None of us were wed any more.
Twelve hands went up. “Motion carried. We are officially Wives Enraged at Deadbeat Dads. Now we need to set up a schedule for our meetings and discuss our agenda. First, we need to choose a Chairperson.”
Nicole’s hand went up again. “I nominate Erica Morris for chair person.”
“I second that motion.” Lisa Daly raised her hand. “This group was your idea. I think you should chair it.”
Me as chair person? I wasn’t too crazy about the idea. “Any other nominations?” I hoped someone would raise their hand. No such luck. Heat rushed into my face. I had a feeling it turned as red as my hair, which was pretty red. I wasn’t used to being the center of attention. Never liked it and sure didn’t care for it now.
The room remained quiet.
No other nominees. “Okay then, all in favor, show of hands. Motion carried, I guess I’m the chairperson. Thank you, I’m flattered.” Flattered but a little taken aback. Hopefully, I wouldn’t let anyone down. “Let’s break for refreshments and we can continue our discussion while we snack.” I needed a moment to myself.
I never expected the group to name me chairperson. I’d never chaired anything in my life. In fact, the parents group at my children’s school was the only other group I had ever joined.
Johnny didn’t like me to go out and do things. He expected his wife to stay home, and God forbid, I even suggested going out alone while he stayed home with the kids. Anger flared in me as I recalled how often he came home late. Working, yeah right, spending time with his playmates was more like it. How could I have been so stupid? I remembered the day he told me he was leaving. Just like that out of the clear blue sky.
“It’s not working for us, Erica,” Johnny said. “I found someone else.”
Oh, he found someone else all right, his young, sexy secretary. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I should have known. All the signs were there, his late hours and lipstick on his collar. He was comforting the wife of a friend, he lied. I did a slow burn as the memories returned. And then he left, packed his clothes and just walked out without even a goodbye to the kids, left me to deal with them as usual.
Katie and Josh woke up the next morning expecting to see their father. Not that they saw much of him, but sometimes he ate breakfast with them and made polite conversation. That was nine months ago, and he hadn’t been back since, not even to visit the kids. He wanted a quick no fault divorce so he could marry his pregnant secretary.
I almost refused, but figured why fight it? The kids and I were better off without him, but how do you explain to an eight and ten year old that their father doesn’t care about them, that he had a new life with a new baby? It was one thing to forget about me, but not the kids. And I haven’t received even one of the child support payments he agreed to pay in the divorce settlement.
“Erica, hey are you okay?” Lisa’s hand on my shoulder startled me. “You look mad enough to spit nails. Thinking about Johnny, I bet.”
“Huh, oh yeah sorry, my mind was wandering. Yeah. I was thinking about Johnny. I just can’t believe he doesn’t care about the kids. He’s missed every scheduled visit. He doesn’t return my calls, and of course I can’t get past his secretary, uh wife, at the office or at home. I could have him arrested, but with his connections he’d get off Scott-free. I know it.”
“Well that’s why we started this group isn’t it? Come on if we all put our heads together we’ll come up with something to make them pay.”
The rest of the meeting involved mostly chit chat about this ex hubby or that one and how rotten they all were. It was small consolation to know others had the same problem.