Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - TL Hines - Waking Lazarus

I had the opportunity to read Waking Lazarus in May. What a read! See below for links to my CBD review, Tony's Amazon page and his blog.

Since you'll have to wait a couple of days to get your hands on the book - I thought you might like to know a little bit more about the author and the inside story of Waking Lazarus.

I read somewhere, a long time ago, that one of the quirky cartoonists spent some serious formative time in his basement. Apparently he had an older brother who had a lot of fun at his expense. Do you have any strange life-shaping quirks that show up in your writing style?

That's interesting. I grew up in the country, away from other kids my age, so I spent a lot of time by myself. Oddly enough, I spent a lot of that time in the basement of our family's home, listening to music,reading, writing and drawing. So I think that obviously shaped me as a writer: any writer has to be comfortable spending chunks of time alone.I do have some mild obsessive compulsive tendencies--very minor forms of the kind of thing Jude Allman struggles with in the novel. For instance, I tend to count letter groupings in words, over and over,when I'm not actively thinking about something. I'll find myself looking at a sentence, or repeating what someone has said, and grouping what they've said into letter clusters of two, then three, then four letters. Does that shape me as a writer? I don't know. But my mind tends to chew on words and patterns, and I love repetition and patterns in my storytelling. I don't think that's a coincidence.

How many times did you second-guess your subject matter? Waking Lazarus' sub-plot includes child endangerment and is intense in some spots. Did you rewrite, hesitate, cut or pray?

You know, I didn't really ever second-guess my subject matter. I was always comfortable that I was writing the story I was meant to write.I've had reservations about it being in the CBA market; but then, I had reservations about it being in the ABA market, as well. It seemed to me to be in the gap between the two. When it came time to write some of the hardest scenes, I chose, very consciously, to let the worst stuff happen off stage. First, because I didn't see any need to concentrate on that--it's not what the story is about--and two, because the reader can do a much better job envisioning it than I can explaining it. I think some of those parts are very creepy for readers precisely becauseI don't describe them. One scene was cut in the final edit that, now that I think about it, I'm glad stayed on the cutting room floor. Dave,my editor, wanted to cut it because it was extraneous; I was fine with it because I think it might have pushed a few people over the edge,creepiness-wise.

Your writing is tight and compelling and I found myself pulled into the story immediately. My husband even got sucked in because I left it on the kitchen table. He rarely picks up a book for pleasure. Where does your story weaving skill come from?

I don't know, to tell you the truth. I'm a voracious reader--a couple books a week, when I'm on track--and I think anything you read can impact you as a writer. I don't consciously try to emulate anyone,although I do have to say I read a lot of Stephen King when I was ayoung teen. That formed me as a writer, in many ways.

My husband struggled with and was a bit angry with the choice in subject matter and almost set the book down a couple of times, but couldn't. He's now glad he chose to finish the book. What would you like to say to people who might get angry or hostile over the content of Waking Lazarus? What difference would it make if those people had not actually read the book?

Interesting, and I'm glad he finished it. I've taken to telling people it's a book that deals with dark subject matter, but it's not a dark book. Seems like an oxymoron, I know, but I really think that's true:the ultimate message of the book is positive. I'm not out to glorify the darkness in the book at all; it is what it is. And I don't have any problem with the dark subject matter. After all, the Old Testament itself deals with some rather grim subjects. But I will say this: in the darkest places, a ray of light shines all the brighter. I hope folks can read the story, and see that I was concentrating more on that ray of light than on the darkness surrounding it.

What's next for you?

I'm working on my second book for Bethany House, which will release Summer of 2007. It's tentatively titled VALLEY OF SHADOW, and it's about a woman who hears her dead father speaking to her from the shadows. He tells her the spirits of the dead occupy the shadows of our world, and recruits her into a secret government network that communicates with the shadow operatives. But all is not as it seems.Soon, she discovers the true nature of what the shadows are--and the true nature of what they want.

See my review and more comments from Tony here:
or earlier comments on Scrambled Dregs......

Waking Lazarus Amazon page is -

TL Hines blog is -

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Scary and Sensational - Til Death Do Us Part

My husband, Rob, and I have been married almost twenty-five years. This is a miracle.
I’m not kidding. Someday, I’ll have to share bits and pieces of how God intervened when we selfishly set out to destroy each other.

Our pastor ended Sunday’s sermon by announcing the name of a couple and requesting that they join him. This isn’t a common event.

The couple left their chairs and headed forward. She leaned on him because she normally uses a cane. It was a slow journey.

I’ve shared a few laughs with them, and a few paragraphs of dialogue. I know she suffers from arthritis and that he’s a hard worker. One of their sons and his family attend church with us, and I’ve noticed that the females seem to have a good relationship.

As they climbed the stage steps, the pastor shared his reason for calling them. This couple has been married forty-three years and the husband requested the opportunity to publicly renew their wedding vows.

They stood, facing each other, and recommitted their lives to the other. Her eyes didn’t leave his face, nor did his leave hers. Overhead light revealed all the wrinkles, bald spots, and pounds that had crept up on them during their time together.

Then he sang to her. A song he has sung for forty-three anniversaries, whether in the midst of sickness or health, want or plenty, joy or sorrow, he sings the same song. I’ve never heard it before, it’s all about longing and patience and desire.

No flowers, one song sung a cappella, no attendants, reality etched on the faces of the bride and groom – I’ve never seen a more beautiful ceremony.

And Hollywood thinks it understands reality.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Keep Me Away From Scissors

If I had a few missing front teeth I’d pass for a first grader. Okay, I’m short, but that’s not why I look like a seven-year-old.

It’s the bangs, as defined – hair chunk(s) commonly used as forehead covering. Except my forehead isn’t so covered.

I should know better.

Artistic license comes with curly hair which I, for the most part, possess. With straight hair, one has to be extremely careful because every scissor stroke shows. With curly hair, you can slice and dice and still show your head in public. And maybe that’s why God gave me a mop, because I don’t look so good in hats.

My bangs aren’t curly just a touch wavy, which is sometimes nice, but not when it comes to cutting them. I have to be very, very careful when I take scissors to those precious few inches of self-image.

When I was a wee lass my mom acted as my beautician. My bangs were always a bit on the short side because she’d get concerned about the left and right side of the bangs being similarly located on my forehead.

At sixteen I ventured into trimming my own bangs. I didn’t realize that hair shrinks when it dries. I ended up with something that resembled the fuzzy, sticky-outy corner brush on some vacuum cleaners.

That wasn’t so cute at sixteen.

Of course, I’m not so thrilled with myself at forty-three either.

My eldest daughter had a stab at my bangs. Once. And I have a picture to immortalize the event. Yeah. Everyone in my family, near and extended, got a big kick out of the grand idea of letting a twelve-year-old cut my hair. In hindsight I would’ve at least waited a day or two after my grandma’s big eightieth birthday celebration.

Yesterday, I’d had enough of seeing the world through dark fringe, and enough of my hubby’s cute comments, “Hey, I wondered where you went.” and, “It has eyes!” from his repertoire of clever quips.

I ducked into the bathroom and chopped. I cut below my eyebrows and didn’t try to even up or get creative or anything deviating from my hard and fast rules for bang shearing.

And this morning I woke up needing a plaid jumper, shiny Mary Janes, and a lollipop to complete my school-girl ensemble.

Hmmm. I guess at forty-three I should be thrilled to look young. Think this could catch on in Hollywood?

I could design a bang cutting ruler that would guarantee instant youth. A face lift is worth what, twenty years max? I could get you thirty-five – easy.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Mud Wrestling with Polly and Mel

I’m sure this title will mislead many.

Before you go any further – I’m talking about Pollyanna vs. Melancholy. So do what you must.

Do you ever get tired of the way you act? I do – often -- actually.

When I find myself getting sucked into melancholia, I get crabby. I hate being blue and negative and wading through the reasons why I do the things I do, and even worse, using those things as excuses to remain stuck.

I’ve felt the slide into self-absorption over the past few weeks. It always starts out with little choices. I can choose to pray and read my Bible, or not, and then believe that God has stopped communicating with me. Or I can choose to be kind and respectful and generous with my husband, or I can find a hidden insult in anything he says or does and then lament about the sad state of our relationship.

Instead of stopping the slide from melancholy to maudlin by regrouping, I often wade in further.

Crazy -- since I hate it so much.

There are things I’ve learned about myself that help me regroup – when I choose to use them.

Being with people energizes me – sometimes -- I also need times of quiet and peace.

My life is like an off balance washing machine right now, and I’m not working on getting my equilibrium back. I’m reading the Bible and praying, but as a habit, rather than a desire to be close to God. I’m focused on the negatives -- the little things that wouldn’t even tweak me on a good day are burrowing into my thoughts and attitudes.

Creativity is not happening and that frustrates me further. I’m snarky and edgy, and even though everyone who loves me thinks my sarcastic sense of humor is funny, I’m pretty sure snarky and edgy aren’t cute.

I’m stopping now and putting melancholy on notice! I am going to get a good night’s sleep, spend some time with God, focus on the things that build my relationships and not the junk that will tear at them. I’ll keep plugging away at what I know I’m supposed to do, and choose to think happy thoughts while I do it.

And maybe, just maybe, Pollyanna’ll get melancholy wrestled down and pinned for the count.

Oh, look, the sun is shining after all. And no, I am not going to complain about the heat.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Bears and Rats and Hamsters – Oh My - Part 4

Sweet, little Pepe joined our family a few months after we began accepting rodents as pets. Pepe, the Siberian hamster, was actually not so sweet. He bit his owner every time she wanted to cuddle. He even went out of his way to make sure his tiny, needle-like teeth connected with the tender web of flesh between her index finger and thumb when she reached into his cage.

But poor Pepe was excused for the excessive biting.

After all, he’d undergone serious trauma and a near death experience shortly after joining our family.

If humans had brains the size of raisin runts, we’d probably become biters, too. Pepe didn’t even receive counseling. You gotta admire his constitution. Freud would find a strong connection with the oral response to the incident.

My family does learn from mistakes contrary to what you might have assumed from previous posts. When Pepe joined us, we were smart enough to avoid introducing him to Bear.

We didn’t count on Bear introducing himself.

Pepe, like most Siberian Hamsters was a teeny-tiny fellow, a little bigger than a roll of stamps, when he joined our family. Young Pepe, like all hamsters had a lot of energy, so we put him in the hamster ball.

In case you are uninitiated, a hamster ball is a transparent plastic ball that opens for insertion of a hamster so that the stupid hamster wheel inside the cage gets a rest. I suppose the change of scenery as the hamster runs all around the house is good for hamster psyches.

Great fun, unless the hamster is Siberian.

Featherweight Pepe didn’t do much sight-seeing.

Bear walked into the room, zeroed in on the epic struggle of hamster versus Plexiglas, and shot me a glance.

Hmmm. Pepe’s safely encased in a large plastic object, right? I glanced at my daughter who wore the same nervous expression.

Bear sniffed the ball, and turned back toward me.

The ball, now in two halves, was empty. Two females screamed. I copied my husband’s heroic life-saving actions of earlier. Thrusting my hand in Bear’s face, I yelled, “Bear! Give!”

A soggy hairball rolled into my hand. It squirmed. It was alive. A little crazy-eyed, but alive.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Bears and Rats and Hamsters - Oh My - Part 3

I hope PETA wasn't overwhelmed with phone calls because of the unfortunate rat/dog situation that was left unresolved over the weekend. Does PETA handle complaints where one animal takes a fancy to another? I suppose it was in bad taste for me to blog about it. But I believe I warned you about my penchant for strange situations and milking them for all they're worth.

If you will recall Friday's post wherein our big Black Lab had just inhaled a baby pet rat.

Yes. The hand that had held the rat was empty. Four people stared with round eyes and open mouths. One big, black dog stared back at us with a mixture of triumph and dread lining his face.

All of this took place within the mere tick of the second hand.

My level headed husband flew into action. He trust his hand toward the clamped lips of the dog and yelled, "Bear! Give!"

Mute onlookers shifted eyes and worried frowns back and forth. A collective whimper rose.

The dog opened his mouth. A sodden rat tumbled, alive and well, into my husband's hand.

A murmur rushed through the group. A few "good boys" and sighs punctuated the charged stillness. Bear thumped his tail against the cabinet a few times and wandered into the kitchen to see if anyone had dropped any food during the drama.

We understand this situation as a bizarre phenomenon we now call the "Two Second Warning." We accidentally trained Bear to pause before scarfing objects. I think this all started with the socks. Bear would visit the laundry hamper and pick out a choice smelly sock. He usually brought it into the room that contained most of the humans. The humans, especially the parental units, learned that if Bear was asked to give up the sock within a few seconds of entering the room, the sock was saved. If not, the sock was shredded, spindled and mutilated.

Either the rat smelled like a sock or the proximity of all the humans saved it's little rat neck, we were unsure but grateful. And the theory was left untested for about eight months. Until Pepe moved in.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Bears and Rats and Hamsters – Oh My Part 2

Bear loved rodents. One of his favorite things to do was go to work with my husband. Nose to the ground he’d snort through building materials until he smelled a mouse. The dog could haul 4’ x 8’ sheets of plywood and 2’ x 4’s, and he did, rearranging the jobsite into sort of a post-tornado look. Every once in awhile he found a mouse that hadn’t run for its life during the reconstruction of the construction site. Bear yelped in victory, let loose an excited bark, and broke into his traditional found-a-mouse-dance. If that didn’t take care of the mouse problem, Bear raised a huge paw and stomped the poor creature.

It never occurred to us that the mice would whet Bear’s appetite for furry critters.

Our son, Jordan, decided he needed some rats after being inspired by Flowers for Algernon. We went to the pet store and purchased some feeder rats for a reasonable cost and cage paraphernalia for an amount that probably would’ve provided a month of lodging for a small third world country.

Bear met us at the door. He must’ve smelled a rat. Jordan stood still as Bear circled him and did a quick nose vacuum.

Jordan leaned down and scratched behind Bear’s big, floppy ear. “Hey, Bear, you want to meet your new friend?”

Bear wagged his black plume-tail. The rest of the family gathered around.

Jordan reached into the little rat box and displayed the pink-toed, blinking creature. The rat hunkered down into Jordan’s palm. Jordan extended his hand toward Bear. We all waited for the bark. None came.

But I noticed that Bear’s tail stopped wagging, and a strange look danced across his doggie features. He almost looked guilty. I opened my mouth to mention it. And Bear opened his.

Silence followed. And we all stared at Jordan’s empty hand.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Bears and Rats and Hamsters – Oh My Part 1

I’m going to confess that I am not a dog person. I lean toward cats. However, an occasional dog has caught my fancy and affection. Probably not Max, the Chihuahua, who was so excited to see me that he tinkled down my leg. Not the growling, barking dogs I’ve encountered. Stinky dogs are low on my list. I had a memorable encounter with Princess the poodle, fresh from the groomers with ice blue ribbons tied around her pewter, poofy ears. With her matching blue metallic painted claws grasping the car door and her hind end draped casually on my left arm, we bonded during a trip to my friend’s home. Princess left an indelible mark on my psyche along with the small brown spot on my arm.

Bear was an adorable puppy. This might be the key to dog gaga-hood. He grumbled when picked up and fit in my arms like a wriggly, five pound bag of potatoes.

Then he grew to the size of a Mini. Seriously, the dog hovered around 130 pounds. People would stop by the house and recoil at his size.

The biggest threat he posed was excessive licking and head butting for attention.

Except one unfortunate time.

A sweet elderly lady walked her little puff of a dog every day. One day Bear was outside at an inopportune time. They strolled by and he wanted to play so he bounded toward them. He tended toward clumsy, and this may have been his crowning moment of clumsiness.

He overshot and bowled the dog down. Fortunately my husband was the one observing all this and he had to go calm them. After that I noticed the duo walked a different trail.

Bear, the big lovable lug – emphasis lug -- also loved rodents – come back tomorrow and I’ll share just how much.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Snail Saga - Yes, it's Gotten Worse....Conclusion - I Hope

I guess I’m officially back.

I suppose the super snails didn’t want me to reveal their evil plot to take over the world and since I posted their diabolical plan in cyberspace they’ve decided to quietly disappear. Secreting a glowing slime trail behind them, they’re headed west.

I logged on this morning. Cake. Bingo. I exist again, no error message. Except there are lingering defects. My favorite site addys are wiped out. And some of my quick click icons are MIA. Hmmm. Maybe the snails don’t know their own power and one sneezed or something. Fortunately for me, I have been washing my hands a lot over the past two days ever since I discovered the “problem” aka conspiracy.

Another area of interest I’ve discovered is that I completely exist on someone else’s station – even my favorites are intact. So they seem to have targeted my computer specifically. Shudder.

While I was in my dark room this morning something hit me. Not literally, not snail poo dripping from the ceiling.

What dawned on me was the picture.

I left early Friday. A tech was scheduled to “clean” my film processor. A normal enough occurrence.

Arriving Monday morning, I discovered a test film resting on top of the machine. An arm. “Odd,” I thought, “the tech’s never taken a picture of his arm before.” And then I pondered how he managed to do it and forgot about the film.

This morning, electrified by the drama of the last few days, I picked it up and looked at it for the first time. Strangely, the arm appears to be alien. The type you see in movies with the fat rounded-end fingers and the thin wrist. If that wasn’t creepy enough – there were NO bones. If he took an actual x-ray – there would have been bones. Even creepier – fine arm hairs, standing at attention -- cover the appendage.

My final take on this whole thing…the electric snails arrived sometime Thursday, probably killed the poor processor guy and somehow the electric flash of the murder in the dark room took an image of his lifeless arm. Don’t know how the snails managed to get the film into the processor and get rid of his tools – but I am not going to be fooled into complacency. I’ll be calling the authorities as soon as I get this posted. Tomorrow, I anticipate that the office will be fumigated and all will be well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Something's Strange

I still don’t exist with the networking guru’s. However, I’ve officially discovered my way around and have unearthed all my necessary files. I feel like I’m exploring the dark side of the moon. Surely, a simple keystroke or magic command exists that will put me back in the good graces of the computer network. Maybe tomorrow.

Why do computers morph and change while humans sleep? Little computer elves who dance on the keys as soon as the cleaning people shut the door?

Nothing has changed for weeks, no updates or system overhauls, nobody spilled a cola on my keyboard. I just logged on Monday and found I ceased to exist.

I think there must be a weird sci-fi novel in there somewhere. Maybe I need to investigate this. I think the rogue computer taking over the world is a bit overdone, so I’ll rule that one out. And elves, shoemakers, Santa Claus and tree house bakeries are not at all hip.

What if it could be malevolent computer snails? A semi carrying keyboards could go through some wicked electrical storm during high snail season. (Does that exist – do snails have a breeding season? How do they multiply? Do I want to know? Someone from the state of Washington may need to provide me with snail facts – any volunteers?) The electrical storm somehow permeates the snail shells and electrifies the snot (sorry) out of them – and they become super snails.

Long, extremely exciting, action-packed yet sensitive story later – they end up in my office to wreak havoc and destruction, one computer frustrated employee at a time.

Wait. I can’t believe I just realized this. Our networkers are located on the Oregon/Washington border. Where snails are plentiful and…… This is big. This is a conspiracccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc….

Monday, June 12, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Abby-Normal Monday

Blogger was a bugger last week. But today it seems healed. Which is more than I can say about the rest of my computer system -- for some scary reason it chose not to acknowledge my existence today. I found a back door in, so I know I still exist, or at least did at one point.

I don’t think I’ll enjoy being a person non grata. I hope our network minions find me soon.

Otherwise, Monday morning dawned crisp and sunny in Iowa. Crisp is usually reserved for spring or autumn. But since we had a few 90 degree scorchers in April -- June mildness nicely represents the weather’s inconsistent consistency.
Hmmm, could this be a conspiracy – this leaning toward inconsistency that I’ve always labeled “abby-normal”?

Abby-normal life has been whipping past at an alarming speed.

I guess the old Iowa motto, “Hey, you don’t like the weather -- stick around a few minutes it’ll change,” pretty much sums up life – doesn’t it?

Maybe I’ll be brilliant tomorrow if the computer guys find me. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - I Packed The Food

I just had the funniest conversation.

Two of my co-workers and I were discussing the various unique stresses in our lives. One of my friends has been building a house for – forever. If you’ve ever built a house, or remodeled one, you know what I mean. If you haven’t….the life stress scale assigns values to types of stress. The number of life areas touched by building or remodeling puts it in a high category. Everything is tweaked by the process.

Because my friend is frugal and trying to stay within the budget to fund said building project, and because she doesn’t want to pack, haul, and find a location for a million pounds of stuff in their new home she’s getting rid of what she can.

Months ago she started giving things away. She’d bring bags of goodies to work and hand them out.

Then she decided to stop collecting all the eye-catching, nose-candy lotions and candles that we are so apt to buy. Last month, she announced she’d dwindled so low in personal products that she might actually have to purchase some hand lotion. A little victory.

Today the two of us listened to the latest update, responding with raised eyebrows, frowns or growls, as she shared. Closing is less than two weeks away. The deck guy needs to be creatively coaxed daily to show up and finish the handrail, and he’s a master in the art of spinning excuses. Tilers and painters fight over who has rights to what room. One contractor called her and said he planned on becoming an alcoholic as soon as her house is done.

Her rapt listeners have survived remodeling, we understand her pain.

Finally, she threw her hands in the air. “And I’m going crazy. These are my fat pants and they’re getting tight! You know how I don’t want to pack anything that I don’t need to? Well, I’ve started doing that with food. ‘I don’t want to take that, I better eat it! Oops, I better eat dessert I only have two weeks to finish cleaning out the freezer.’ Am I insane?”

It took awhile to answer since we were bent over, laughing at knee level. Then we peppered her with comments.

“What about condiments?” I asked.

She had a ready answer for that one. Hubby left a jar of horseradish on the counter, and she refused to put it away and let it sit out overnight. Then the next morning she looked at it, decided it was bad since it sat out all night, and tossed it. Another victory.

“I guess its easier carrying all the kitchen contents on your rear-end than in boxes.”

“Hey honey, I did all my packing, the rest is yours.”

I love people. Especially crazy ones like me.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Paradise from the Backseat - Part 2

Scene - small back seat in sporty bargain attempting to hurtle down the highway but instead crawling. Between two bored girls ages nine and fourteen. Empathizing yet? My daughters are affection seeking and cuddly little darlings. The oldest was nicknamed heat seeking missile as a toddler. The few times she slept with us left me clinging to the edge of the bed with a sweat slicked child glued entirely to my backside. The youngest bed-locked me in a straight jacket of twisted sheets one stormy night. These girls are pros.

I don’t recall who started the first mother intensive game. It began with the standard “My Mommy”. My children sometimes lack creativity – but the do make up for it with dogged determination. This lovely game consists of a volley style tug of war with increasing intensity and passion as the competitive rivalry escalates.

Parental warnings are issued and somehow rated with a point system.

“Hey, you didn’t say ________ to me. Not fair.”

This is where I apparently turn into more hilarious than all comedians to ever grace a stage. The kids howl as my warnings turn ever creative and then mere whimpers.

Furtively I began to look for a pen and a piece of paper. Would a desperate “HELP ME” held up to passersby earn me freedom from the torture? Not likely since the traffic still limped and lurched like a newbie bronc rider.

A slight reprieve. The girls responded to the look. Minutes later and about 100 yards of highway, a little hand wormed itself into one of my limp ones as I drank deeply of the silence. A head found my shoulder. Then the sibling saw. War was declared. The jostling ramped up. I leaned forward shoved my head into the front seat and whimpered. Of course, I also managed to breathe deeply at an inopportune moment. I mentioned there were males in the front seat. I squealed and recoiled. Masculine laughter joined the chorus of “My Mommy!”

Some might argue the medical terminology I’m going to throw out. But me-thinks since it’s my story and blog, I can call this two and a half hour ordeal what I wish. I survived it – and didn’t get a T-shirt made to commemorate though maybe I should. I tried counting and went to every happy place I could think of and even borrowed a few. The girls blew past fighting into giddy. The smells from the front assaulted me. I cracked and began to laugh. I believe this moment in time is actually a mini-nervous breakdown. MNB is a rare medical condition that results in extreme emotiverrhea.

I held my breath, popped my head over the seat. “How many more miles?”


But hey, I saved thirty bucks plus tax.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Paradise from the Backseat - Part 1

I love the word hurtle. So of course I use it often. My favorite use is in reference to cars, as in hurtling down the highway in tiny tin boxes.

This story is not for the weak of stomach. It involves hurtling and highways and children.

Frugality is a vice of mine. When given a choice between spending a bit more for comfort and gritting my teeth and saving a buck – I usually grit and save.

And here’s where these two passions, love of hurtling and saving money, merge.

We traveled to Florida five years ago with friends. We shared a condo, and got a great deal on airfare but decided each family should get their own vehicle because my family had booked a little day trip.

At the auto rental counter, I pushed for the cozy coupe at the better price. I’m short and therefore decided I could sit in the back with the two girls. Our son, who was a college freshman, could have the front seat.

My husband lifted an eyebrow – he’s ridden in the car with the family and apparently has a better memory than I do. It may be that whole childbirth/childrearing hormone. You know -- the one that actually makes females drool over cute baby clothes at Target while still recovering from seventy-two hours of hard labor and months of sleepless nights in the midst of potty-training the last baby.

I returned the eyebrow lift. Mine said. “Of course I’ve thought that through.”

He grinned. I believe it spoke, “This is going to be rich.”

The twenty minute trip from the airport was fine. The girls stared out their own windows and rode quietly. Aside from the hump upon which I sat, I was pleased with my bargain.

We enjoyed the first three days at the condo. Of course, that’s probably because we were on the beach and had nowhere we needed to go.

The hotel reservation for the quick side trip to Orlando beckoned though, and we left for our little adventure. Forty miles separated the two locations – a breeze.

Interestingly, the scenery began to wear on the children just minutes into the trip. Apparently endless miles of concrete, the blur of passing cars and an whizzing palm trees grew old.

Then traffic slowed and eventually to stop and go. Ten minutes later we’d gone maybe half a mile. Calculate that – it’s not pretty.

A girl on each side. A bored girl on each side. Did I mention my girls like to compete for my attention, and that they are very affectionate? And that my children, all three of them think I’m hysterically funny when I get frustrated?

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the tale – if you dare….

Monday, June 05, 2006

Snippets and Sound Bites - Protest

My local paper carried one of the saddest articles I’ve ever read yesterday. I can’t let it go without commenting.

Most of us remember the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, the gay college student, who was tortured and killed for his lifestyle in 1998. At the time, I recall being horrified by funeral protester’s words of hate scrawled in stark black and white and displayed proudly for the cameras.

Yesterday’s article revealed the continued work of this group of protesters. I’m not going to mention the name of the church and the pastor because I believe attention is their goal. The group is now targeting the funerals of soldiers. Their goal is, apparently, to spread God’s hatred for sinners, and somehow a fallen soldier proves this.

I have a goal, too. First, I want to offer my deepest sorrow to the family members and friends of soldiers or homosexuals or hardened criminals who may have encountered the horrific poison and hatred of this false “gospel.”

Secondly, I’d like to share a few thoughts. I follow the Jew – Jesus Christ – born in Bethlehem. He died once for all sins and rose again. The fully God, fully man Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus and again over Jerusalem who didn’t recognize Him as the promised Messiah. This Jesus asked God to forgive those who mocked, tortured and crucified Him. My Jesus, the one clearly portrayed in the Bible, told us to love and pray for our enemies and to do good, not evil.

The Jesus I read about and know is the same in all nine of the translations of the Bible that I’ve read from cover to cover. The same Jesus is found in the Message and in The King James Version. Subtle differences, a different word here and there do not detract from the person and the heart of Jesus. And nearly every religion recognizes His character as stellar.

The Jesus I know healed, loved and forgave despicable people, and He still does. He forgave me. Jesus never excuses sin, but He forgives it freely. Jesus embraced the dirty, unwashed, scum of the earth, loving them into salvation. And He had strong and terrifying words for the religious leaders who led others away from His truth.

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked according to His word. Nor does He want anyone to perish, again, according to His word. He does indeed love homosexuals, and soldiers and people just like me.

If you don’t know Jesus – please – don’t ever let one man or even a group of people define Him for you. Let Him speak for Himself.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Beautiful Friday Dregs

This morning dawned so beautiful that I feel like waxing eloquent. If I fail, I’d appreciate you not mentioning it. Thanks.

What I experienced on the morning of Friday June 2, 2006. By Kelly Klepfer

Today started like most days. I flopped one leg over the bed and slapped the snooze on my alarm. Again, just a few short moments later, it squawked. The other leg hit the floor, the hand automatically smacked the alarm, and I was committed.

I slept as I scrubbed – kind of like hitting the snooze, but wetter. Then I Frankenstein-walked into my eldest daughter’s room to wake her for our standing coffee date. Boy, did I need some coffee! She began her sleepwalking ritual (we’re related that way) and I made the mistake of sitting down to put on my shoes. A few moans and groans later, we were off to the magic elixir. Yay! Frozen mocha elixir.

A bright blue sky greeted me as I opened the front door. And songs of assorted birds soothed my eardrums. A robin, perchance, sang with great gusto. I rolled down the windows of my van and let my hair whip into a mess. Sweet aromas, freshly cut grass, a bush in bloom, tickled my nose.

Coffee, six different varieties blending into nose candy, awakened us as we yanked the door. The line moved quickly.

We bowed to pray and my daughter prayed that I would be richly blessed. I was.

The sense enrichment didn’t end there. Ice water suddenly flooded the table which we sopped up with at least a hundred napkins while we giggled. The coffee hit our blood stream. We parted to begin our days.

I take X-Rays as part of my day job. One patient crabbed because she had to take some of her clothing off. I had told her that she didn’t have to take much off.
“Not much – that’s half of what I have on.”
“But I’m trying to keep the glass half full.” I told her. She laughed.

And as I finish the morning out, the sun still shines brightly, and we now have a clean refrigerator.

Two doctors are gone today, and the old fridge with the tiny freezer coated with ice begged to be taken care of -- the door wouldn’t close all the way.

Pumped full of caffeine and the promise of a quiet day, I flung open the door, turned it to defrost and let it melt.

Everyone has stopped to take a turn and removing ice chunks. A doctor even got his hammer from his office and found a screwdriver to chisel with – not only scary, but also a great picture of private practice. I suggested I query a medical journal and see if they wanted a story of the real life of private practice doctors.

And to top it off, I had procrastinated a phone call, and finally took care of it today, and it turns out that the situation was solved.

Ahhh. The little joys of life.

Hope you all have an excellent – richly blessed – glass half full – laughter peppered – situation resolved -- smell good weekend.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Scribbles and Scrambles - Pat - It's a Bird, It's a Plane - No, I'ts a Knee.

Let me remind you who Pat is. He is my sweet, big-hearted, gruff and grumbly Dad.
I visit him at work on occasion. The first question I ask his new co-workers is, “Has he made you cry yet?” This would be the gruff and grumbly part of his personality.

They usually look at me with the tilted head, confused puppy look. Then the next time I see them, they laugh and say, without me having to ask again. “Yep! Or Not yet!”

Pat has a special noise machine he and his male co-workers use to release tension. I’ll say no more about that. And he’s prone to practical joke-ism.

One of Pat’s very special tricks needs no accessories. He possesses a flying knee.

Mom and I have decided there is no purpose for the knee. It seems to be some sort of warning device like the white tail on a fleeing deer.

Here’s how it works: someone trips, or stumbles or teeters, crashes, falls or careens into something – and this somehow triggers the knee to an airborne position. Whether standing or sitting, Pat flies the knee. No one is certain if it’s a panicked warning of impending danger, or if it’s some lame attempt to protect. Even Pat is unsure.

Just like a mom will fling her arm out straight across the passenger seat at a sudden stop, is the reactive knee. And just as amusing as a mom “protecting” an empty passenger seat, or a bag of groceries, is the flying appendage.

Sometimes the knee is an outward, upward thrust, others a sideways swipe. Never backward and never have I seen Pat actually connect or protect anyone or thing from a tumble.

But sometimes the grasshopper-like hop he does is a nice diversion.

Pat maybe really does have super knees. I’ve seen him drive with them. Yep. He steers with them.
So maybe his hip-hop, jump, shimmy knee fling is some sort of directing move. Like a sheep dog guides the sheep with a growl or a nip, Pat wields a knobby hairy leg.