Monthly Archives: October 2018

Tis a strange day, it is

Greetings, readers. It seems as though, recently, when Rebecca and I start our work day, it is taking longer for us to get down to brass tacks. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I have a feeling. With my low motivation factor for work right now, I think I am just putting it off as long as possible. We’ll talk about politics, the weather, or last week’s blog numbers, but both of us have come to the conclusion that it is taking longer to get down to something called work.

Last Thursday, near the end of the work session, Rebecca and I tried a dictation test on a possible work project to see if Rebecca could keep up with me as I acted out my script. To my delight, she could. Yay, Rebecca. 🙂 There is some talk on the grapevine that we will have to close down operations at the end of the year or thereabouts, but if I can get this new work project going, working together will still be a viable option. The pressure is still on me to work on something that will quickly sell. Therein lies the problem. Any TV script or play that I write will require several drafts, an agent or a publisher, and will probably take years. I’m not sure if we have the finances for years worth of paying Rebecca.

Ta da! It is now after Bill’s meeting and we have to reinitialize our thought processes. Princess Josie has been sprung from her time-out box and is proudly prancing about the apartment. It is true; this is really her place and she allows me to live here. Haha. Princess Josie has calmed herself down over the last couple of months, and is beginning to learn right from wrong. Her only big issue left is not jumping up on my computer table when I am working. That is a big no-no. I’m sure in another year or so she’ll have all the ins and out of a being “good kitty cat” under her belt.

On a very serious final note, prayers go out to the victims and their families of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue massacre. Why can’t we have more love shown in this world of ours? It seems to me that we are surrounded by more death and destruction than joy and unity.

Well, there is today’s blog entry. I’m planning some major changes in the apartment and those plans will be revealed to you tomorrow as part of the blog. So until then, have a great day, say a kind word to someone, take care, and as always, happy reading.

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A little taste of Four’s a Crowd

Greetings, readers. For today’s blog entry, I decided to give my regular readers, and the folks who read me when I link the blog entry to the Bear Spring Camps Facebook page, a one chapter taste of the novel Four’s a Crowd. Darren Taylor did a remarkable job on this novel, adapting it from my play Kimberly. We collaborated on this work, touching base on his progress and plot points as he wrote it. I think you will be pleased by this sample of the first chapter. There is a small chance that it is not quite the final version that was published, but if it isn’t, it is extremely close to the final. If you would like to read the entire book, it is available for sale at Amazon.com for $14.99, a decent price for a 300 page novel. We do not yet have it as an ebook, so for now it is in print form only. It is also available locally at Webster’s Bookstore Café in downtown State College, PA.

 

Four’s a Crowd

CHAPTER ONE

            “Well, that was a waste of my time,” Alice thought to herself as she got dressed.

After going through the embarrassment of disrobing and donning the paper-thin gown that allowed nothing in the way of modesty, she waited for a solid twenty minutes for the doctor to grace her with his presence.  And when Doctor Keeting finally did breeze in, he spent a total of fifteen minutes with her, if even that.  He did a rudimentary physical examination, asked her a few asinine questions, and was gone again before she could say, “uncaring, incompetent moron.”

She never would have agreed to come here in the first place if it hadn’t been for the fire.  It wasn’t a big fire, but it was her fault.  She’d simply gotten distracted and left a pan of bacon unattended on top of the stove when she went to answer the phone.  It had been Mrs. Donohue, from next door, calling with wonderful news regarding the total profits from last week’s church pie sale.

If it hadn’t been for Henry, and his quick thinking with the flour jar, the whole place might have gone up.

Taking one last look in the mirror to see that her blouse was straight, she pulled her jacket on and buttoned it up, making sure the collar lay properly.  Next, she produced a small comb from out of her bag and smoothed over any visible imperfections in her steel-grey curls.  Satisfied with the results of her efforts, she shouldered her purse, opened the door, and stepped into the chilly hallway.

The stench of industrial strength carpet shampoo and antibacterial cleansers made her want to sneeze and the clamor of voices and ringing telephones, emanating from the nurse’s station, assaulted her ears.  A toddler being pulled down the hall by one tiny hand as she screamed at the top of her lungs, only added to the din.

Turning to the right, she walked to the first junction, took a left, walked to the next, and paused.  Suddenly, all the hallways and doors looked the same, becoming a never-ending labyrinth of hideous grey carpeting, taupe walls, and severe fluorescent lighting.  The posted signs, meant to act as a guide, only succeeded in confusing her further.  To her horror, it was then that she realized, she had no idea where she was.

“Mrs. Detmore?” a soft, feminine voice asked from behind her.  Alice turned toward it.

A petite red-head, an obvious bottle-job to Alice’s experienced eye, smiled at her with way too many teeth.  The bright pink scrubs the girl wore, adorned with dancing teddy bears, offended Alice’s every sense of good taste.

The girl’s mouth moved but her words were lost in the ambient noise that filled the hallway.

“Excuse me?” Alice replied indignantly.

“I asked if you were alright,” the girl said.  “You look a little lost.”

“One is never lost if one maintains her sense of self,” Alice pronounced with false confidence.  She turned back around and took several steps, not wanting to make her fear and confusion readily apparent.

“Mrs. Detmore?” the nurse said.

“Yes?  What is it, child?” Alice asked, her back still to the girl.

“Your husband is in waiting room three and…”

“I know where he is.  I don’t need some little miss know-it-all to tell me where I left my own husband.”

The young woman closed the distance between them and put a gentle hand on Alice’s shoulder, “But Mrs. Detmore,” she said with soft patience, “waiting room three is back this way.”

*          *          *

With her escort leading the way, Alice found her husband of almost fifty years asleep in one of the poorly padded wooden chairs.  His legs were stretched out in front of him with his feet crossed at the ankles and his nose was buried in the lapels of his heavy brown jacket.  His chest rose and fell with each deep breath and a low, growly snore rumbled through his hairy nostrils.  A copy of last year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue lay open, face-down, on his considerable belly.

The girl bid her a good day and departed.  Alice just shook her head and rolled her eyes in exasperation before she approached the sleeping man and loudly cleared her throat.

He snorted, blinked awake, and looked up at her with a sleepy smile.

“Good old Henry Detmore, always on point,” Alice grumbled.  “I’m ready to go.”

“I was just resting my eyes,” Henry proclaimed.

“And dreaming of swimsuit models I see.”

Henry sat the rest of the way up.  The magazine took a dive for the floor, but he caught it and tossed it onto the jumbled pile of other periodicals; the newest of which was an issue of Time from May of that year.

“No, I was reading an article in there about Ben Roethlisburger’s car collection,” Henry retorted but Alice had already turned away and made for the elevators.  She was practically half-way there by the time he was on his feet and out the door.  Leaning heavily on his cane, he picked up the pace and caught up to her.  Ignoring the mild case of pins and needles in his left foot, he took her by the arm.

“You move pretty fast for an old gal,” he said, nestling against her.  “What say I buy you breakfast?  But only if you’re willing to fool around on the first date.”

“Who are you calling old?” Alice asked.  “And don’t be vulgar, Henry.”  She frowned at her watch.  “It’s half past ten.  Breakfast is over.”

“Lunch then,” Henry countered and pushed the button for the elevator.

“It’s too early for…look, can we just go home?” Alice barked, her blue eyes flashing angrily.

“Sure thing, babe,” Henry admonished, looking a little down-trodden.

The elevator arrived, the doors opened, they stepped in, and Alice pushed the button for the ground floor.

*          *          *

On an oddly warm Friday in mid-September, Alice and Henry Detmore pulled out of the labyrinthine parking structure that serviced St. Claire Memorial Hospital, a large medical facility that served the residents of Mount Lebanon, a medium-sized suburb about thirty minutes south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Detmore’s home town.

They turned off Bower Hill Road and onto Route 19, heading south.  Henry, growing weary of the mind-numbing silence, reached over, and clicked on the car radio.  He ran through the pre-sets until he came across W.Z.O.O. and the morning sports talk show; The Morning Zoo with Hal and Al.  The two throaty hosts, Hal Nelson and Al Kelly, were ranting about the up and coming Sunday afternoon match-up between the Steelers and the Bengals.  This decision earned him a look of disapproval from his wife, so he turned it back off.  Alice simply turned back toward the window and they continued the trip in silence.

About ten minutes of angry quiet later, Shari’s Dairy, a small ice cream stand, came into view as they topped a small hill.  A red, white, and blue OPEN flag rippled in the warmish autumn breeze.

Henry’s face lit up.

“Hey!  Shari’s is still open.  She usually closes after Labor Day.  It’s been forever since we’ve been in there.”  He snickered and smiled to himself.  “You remember the time we accidentally left Lyle there?  We were so busy arguing, that we got about halfway home before we realized that he wasn’t in the car.”

Alice didn’t respond.

“And when we finally made it back, we found him where we’d left him, sitting at our usual table just as calm as could be.  We expected to find a hysterical, crying child, but he was so engrossed in his electronic football gadget, he never even realized we were gone.  You want to stop for a cone?” Henry asked, letting up on the gas in anticipation of pulling into the small, gravel parking lot.  “They might still have your favorite; butter crunch.  I think I’ll get black raspberry.”  Secretly, Henry wasn’t in that much of a mood for ice cream.  He would just be glad to see his wife smile again and ice cream always used to cheer her up.  He activated the turn signal.

“No,” Alice finally said.  “We really don’t have time to stop for memories.  There’s just too much to do.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” Henry agreed, and his heart sank.  “We still have a lot of packing to get done before the movers get here.”  He disengaged the turn signal, put his foot back on the gas, and they hummed past the small ice cream parlor, headed for home.  He looked over at his wife, who had gone back to staring quietly out the window.

Maybe it was the fire.  Maybe it was something the doctor had told her.  She would talk about that in her own good time.  Maybe it was the move.  And maybe it was the realization of everything that awaited them over the next few days and weeks.  Either way, something had caused her to go quiet in a way he’d never seen before.  And he couldn’t say that he blamed her one bit.  Neither one of them responded well to change and neither one of them was looking forward to leaving the home they had both grown to know and love.

*     *     *

At about half past eleven Henry turned the Buick into the narrow gravel driveway and pulled in under the car port; nothing more than a simple tin roof nailed onto a wooden frame, just something to keep the worst of the rain and snow at bay.   A large, dark stain and deep tire grooves in the gravel marked the place where they’d parked many vehicles, in the same spot, over many years.

He put the car in park and shut it off.

We’re home, Mother,” he said.  When she didn’t respond to being called mother, something he hadn’t done in the years since their son, Lyle, still lived at home, he reached over and touched his wife’s arm.

She jumped a little, as if being jolted out of sleep.

“What?” she asked grumpily

“We’re home,” Henry repeated.  “You know, that place where we keep our stuff while we go out and get more stuff.”

“I can see that,” she huffed.  Collecting her purse from its place on the floor between her feet, she opened the car door and started to get out before she realized that she was still belted in.  With a grunt of frustration, she hit the release button for the seatbelt, and climbed out, slamming the door shut hard enough to rattle it in its frame.  Henry couldn’t hear what she was saying.  He could only see her lips move as she muttered to herself and walked around the front of the car, digging into her purse for the house key.

Henry didn’t get out right away.  After his wife disappeared inside, he sat for a moment, staring up at the 19th Century Colonial that he, Alice, and Lyle had called home for the better part of four decades.  The two coats of sunlight yellow paint he’d paid Greg Farmer a small fortune to put on the old place, not one year ago, were already beginning to show signs of sun-fade and cracking along the foundation and around the windows.  And that really toasted Henry’s ass.  People say it over and over because it’s an undeniable truth, “You just can’t find good help these days,” and, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

And before his health had begun to fail him, he had lived by that very policy.  He had done the painting and all the other maintenance himself.  Sure, most of the time, he would get Lyle to assist on things like cutting and maintaining a yard that spanned almost an entire acre around all sides of the house.  And maybe he would even hire one of the neighbor-kids to pitch in on the bigger jobs; like painting the house or changing out the storm windows in preparation for another hard Pennsylvania winter.  But, for the most part, he had done it all himself.  And, like any other man, he took a lot of pride in that fact.

However, as he got on into his later years, and Lyle grew into his late teens, he found that his legs would no longer take him up a steep ladder or that he couldn’t chop fire wood without becoming winded.  More and more Lyle had to take over.

After Lyle graduated high school and went off to college at The University of Pittsburgh, he took to hiring local kids to do things like raking the leaves.  Eventually, even that pool of employees dried up as some of those kids followed his son’s path and went off in search of higher education.

Like Lyle, they left Mount Lebanon for the excitement of dorm life; parties, girls, booze, and all the other things that the college experience had to offer.  Others joined the military and went off to serve their country.  And others simply threw caution to the wind, packed up, hit the road, and lit out for parts unknown.  A few made some very bad decisions and went nowhere.  Like little Eddie Gilbert, who ended up in Pittsburgh’s Correctional Institute for armed robbery.

With no cheaper labor to bring in, Henry was forced to hire professionals and contractors to do the difficult work.  People like Greg Farmer who possessed the unreasonable expectation that, just because they owned a business and a truck with their name decaled on the door, they had the God-given right to charge the moon and stars to perform simple tasks; such as putting a coat of paint on a house, changing out storm windows, or drying out a flooded basement.

Again, this brought him back to the paint job on the house.  The five-hundred dollars he’d given Mr. Farmer should have bought him a much longer lasting result.  A good quality outdoor paint should not fade or crack in the span of ten months.

Then again, ultimately, it didn’t matter anymore.  Because, as of a week ago, the place had gone on the market.  A reflective aluminum sign from Franklin Reality Inc. stood planted in the grass on the edge of the front lawn with a FOR SALE plate hanging from the bottom.  He and Alice finally had to face a hard truth and admit to themselves that they were no longer able to take care of the house or the property.  It was just too much work.  And too much worry.

Especially after the fire.  While it had only charred part of the wall behind the stove, melted two of the control knobs, and ruined the curtains above the sink, the damage had not been that extensive.  The insurance had paid for all repairs, a replacement stove, and new curtains, but the one thing insurance could not bring back was their piece of mind.  Alice would never admit it, but Henry knew that the fire had put the fear of God into her.  For at least two weeks afterwards, she didn’t want to go into the kitchen to make so much as toast.  What other mistakes was she going to make?  Maybe next time no one would be there and something worse would happen.

Finally, despite all her initial objections, the call to Dr. Keating’s office was made and an appointment was set up.

Their realtor, Janet Franklin, called the day after the papers were signed and the house was posted on the company’s website thing.  She informed him that she already had not one, but three, potential buyers on the hook.  That was the good news.  The bad news was that he and Alice were going to have to take a bit of a beating on the price to facilitate a quick sale.  Also, the kitchen fire would have to be disclosed even though it had caused no structural damage.  She’d list it as a fixer-upper with a ton of potential and a starting price of eighty-thousand.  After some debate, he and Alice decided to vacate the property and leave the sale and other final doings in Mrs. Franklin’s capable hands.

Regardless, he sure was going to miss the old place.

*          *          *

No sooner had Alice stepped back into the house, surrounded by their lives packed into dozens of cardboard boxes, six suitcases, and four trunks, when she decided that now was not the time to dawdle.  After a brief restroom stop and a glass of water to wash down her medication, she set to work in the small parlor where dozens of small, ceramic figurines stood, row upon row, within the confines of a locked, glass and wood curio cabinet.

She had been very clear about the fact that she was to be the only one to take them down, wrap them, or box them up.  No one else, including her husband, was to touch them.  She unlocked the cabinet, gathered her supplies, and set to work, taking them out one by one, brushing each with a yellow feather duster, rolling it into a layer of plastic bubble-wrap, and placing it, ever so carefully, into its own compartment within the moving box; a box that would come with her in the car and would not be loaded into the moving truck or the tow trailer.

Each figurine contained its own memories:

The grinning clown, holding a colorful swarm of balloons in one white-gloved fist, purchased on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, where she and Henry had taken their honeymoon.

The whistling boy with a fishing rod on one shoulder and a bundle of school books over the other, a 25th birthday present from Henry’s mother, Grace.

The slobbering, diaper-clad baby, holding a rattle and grinning a one-toothed grin, a gift from The Connors to commemorate Lyle’s birth.

The winged angel with a golden halo, a house-warming present from her Cousin Martha to celebrate the acquisition of this very house.

As she dusted the angel, wrapped it, and placed it in the box with the others, she found herself struggling to hold back tears.  The thought of leaving this place and leaving everything and everyone she knew behind suddenly became too much.  She looked around to make sure Henry wasn’t lurking anywhere about and then she let the tears come, allowing herself to weep for a good minute before she drew out a clean, white handkerchief and expertly removed her tears without so much as smearing her make-up. No sooner had she started back on task, when she heard the front door open and close.  Followed by Henry’s familiar footsteps on the hard-wood floor.

“Alice?” he called, his voice echoing eerily through the mostly empty house.

“In here, Henry,” she called back.

*     *     *

The next day, Saturday, Teddy Sheldon and his Merry Movers pulled into the Detmore’s driveway at 8 A.M. on the dot.  One solid business policy that Teddy stood by was, “If we’re late, we’ll move you for free.”  And Teddy made sure his Merry Movers were never, ever late.

Henry and Alice were already up, packed, and ready well before the truck ever pulled in.  As a matter of fact, neither one had slept much at all that night as the laundry list of things that needed done, and details that needed to be remembered, seemed to grow longer and more daunting with each passing hour.

The throaty whisper of the box truck’s diesel engine and the steady pulse of the backup alarm cut through the chilly, early morning, autumn air.  Henry watched from inside as the large vehicle drifted to a stop with a hiss of air brakes, not ten feet from the bottom of the porch steps.  The cab doors swung open and six burly men bubbled out, their breath forming clouds of white mist in the air around their heads.

Teddy Sheldon, at an impressive six feet, four inches, climbed down from behind the steering wheel and came to the front door with a clipboard in his hand.  Henry opened the door just as he was reaching for the doorbell.

“Hey, Ted,” Henry greeted.  “Come on in.”

“Morning, Henry,” The big man replied.  Wiping his boots on the doormat, he stepped in, and Henry offered his right hand.  Ted removed one work glove and accepted it, shaking with a firm grip.  “Are you and Mrs. Detmore all set?”

“You bet,” Henry said, closing the door.  Ted flipped the clipboard around and handed it to Henry.  It held several sheets of paper with the Merry Movers’ letterhead printed at the top.  Each sheet contained a numbered list of Henry and Alice’s belongings,

“This is an invoice of everything we’re packing into the truck and bringing with us,” Teddy said, running one wide, calloused finger down the edge of the first page.  “If you could look it over, make sure everything’s on there, and sign at the bottom of the last page, I’ll put the guys to work.”

Henry quickly skimmed each page.

“I saw a tow trailer parked out front,” Ted added.  “You need help loading anything into that?”

“If you could,” Henry replied.  “We have four trunks and some luggage.  Alice travels like the Queen of Sheba.”

“I heard you there,” Teddy agreed, and the two men shared a laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Alice asked briskly from the top of the stairs.  She was dressed in her gray pantsuit, cut so that it hugged her figure quite nicely and the blouse buttoned all the way to the collar.  A stylish lavender hat, pinned in place no doubt, sat askew atop her head.

“Nothing, dear,” Henry replied sheepishly.

“Mrs. Detmore,” Teddy greeted with a slight nod.

“Mr. Sheldon, see that nothing gets a scratch.  There’s still a curio cabinet that needs prepared for the move in the small parlor.” Alice ordered.

Satisfied with what he read, Henry took the attached pen, noted the items to be loaded onto the tow trailer, and signed the bottom of the last page with a flourish.

“Not a scratch.  Yes, ma’am.  I guarantee it.  We’ll crate and wrap the curio before it goes on the truck.” Teddy assured before he reclaimed the clipboard, signed his own name under the customer’s, tore off the pink copy and handed it to Henry.  Then, stepping back outside, Ted signaled his guys with a piercing whistle.  And the men of the Merry Movers went to work like a well-oiled machine, making the trunks and luggage a priority.

No sooner had Henry backed the Buick onto the trailer hitch, then the men had the items in and set to go.  They even double-checked the trailer’s connection to make sure it was secure. By the time the box containing Alice’s ceramic figurines was secured onto the Buick’s back seat under her specific supervision and she was in the car with her seatbelt fastened, Henry was already behind the wheel with the engine warmed up, the heater on full, the interior nice and toasty, and the windows clear of autumn frost.

Ted knocked gently on the driver’s side window and Henry hit the button to lower it.

“Okay, Henry,” the man said, leaning down to the open window.  “Just to confirm, we are taking these items to 2141 Revere Lane in Danbury, Connecticut.”

“Right,” Henry agreed.  “The best way to get there is to take…”

“I already have it programmed into the GPS.  We’ll find you easily enough.”

“GPS,” Alice scoffed quietly from the passenger seat.

“Alright,” Henry said.  “We’ll see you this afternoon then.”

“Count on it,” Teddy replied confidently.

Henry closed the window and took one last, long look at the old homestead.  He looked over at Alice, who was busy pretending to adjust the knot on her scarf.  He reached over and touched her shoulder.

Let’s go, Henry,” She growled without looking at him.  “Let’s go before I change my mind.”

Henry drove to the end of the driveway, pulled out into the street, and pointed the car toward Connecticut.

end of chapter one

 

Well, there it is. We all hope you enjoy it thoroughly and it entices you to want to read more.

I bid everyone a wonderful weekend, prayers to all who need it, and happy reading.

The numbers game

Greetings, readers. This morning Rebecca and I were going over the blog numbers for the last week. They were quite good, so we dug a little deeper, by going to search engines and typing in certain search terms. My entry on modern conveniences published in 2013 is sixth from the top on a search for modern conveniences on Bing, and the blog entry Remembering my father Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans, was number 1 on the Yahoo! search engine when I put in his name. Yoozers. I’ve never been number 1 on anything before. 😉

Entries that come up almost every day are Top ten list of Air Crash Investigations stories parts 1 and 2, a few of the technology grrrs, and the aforementioned ones about my father and modern conveniences. Rebecca believes, and I agree, that the blog entry about modern conveniences might be used in classes to teach computer skills or in poorer countries that are learning about modern technology.

As I’ve said before when I started this blog in 2011, I figured I’d go a few months, get bored, and be done with it. But I’ve kept going and it is amazing how many topics I’ve come up with to talk about. I have really learned how to express myself in writing. I can dictate to Rebecca about almost anything … just not politics.

What I’m worried about when looking at the numbers every day is how many, if any, bots we have, which would inflate our numbers. If I have 30 total reads, but 16 of them are bots, oops – that’s not good. I want mostly readers. I wish there was a way to figure out which are readers and which are not. It would be nice to have a feature here on WordPress to see who was reading my blog, unless they are in privacy mode. I know I am read all over the world; it would be kind of cool to see if Cousin Wino [pronounced wee-no] read my blog that day in the Netherlands.

Finally, this morning I took a brisk walk at 6:30. It was still dark, and was cold and breezy. When I got back to the apartment I actually felt energized. I’m going to start walking more in an attempt to keep my upper legs and hips from stiffening up. I don’t know if arthritis is setting in or what is going on. In any event, a little exercise never hurt anybody. And for those of you who know I hate winter, no I will not be taking said walk in the ice and snow. Yay exercise! 🙂

There is today’s blog entry. Rebecca and I will be back tomorrow with a brand new one, so until then, take care, have a wonderful day, and happy reading.

Have you ever had one of those days?

Greetings, readers. I have had many of those days, and today was one of them. It started with my alarm not going off, which threw my entire morning schedule haywire. People knocking at my door, an unusual amount of crank phone calls, and me not feeling energetic. The only event that came off as planned was my appointment. Thank goodness I didn’t miss that.

I have had days where everything runs like clockwork. My alarm goes off exactly on time, I take my meds right on the second, Rebecca comes and we get a lot of work done, etc. As I said in yesterday’s blog entry, I hope to not have any need to call Rebecca off for at least the next several Thursdays. Besides, we still have some book promoting to do. 😊

Even though it was a blustery day today, I was thankful for the sunny weather. It made the highs in the low 40s F bearable. As we all know, sunshine helps people who are depressed. I am still working on battling my depression, but it’s an ongoing process. Some days I’m all smiles and laughs, and then there are days like today.

I’m going to make an appointment with my primary doctor and ask him to give me a head-to-toe check-up. I’m expecting him to say that I’m either slightly under nourished, or I’m suffering from some vitamin deficiency. I swear, all I ever want to do is sleep these days. That’s not normal. Maybe I need more potassium or iron.

Rebecca will edit this short blog entry quite soon and post it up to the page. We’ll be back next Wednesday with brand-new material. Until then, have a great weekend, take care, and as always, happy reading.

Run, don’t walk

Greetings, readers. I recently, on Facebook, changed my relationship status from single to it’s complicated. Yes, I am in a relationship right now, but its dynamics are quite bizarre. I’m going to keep her name out of it for obvious reasons because I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Here’s what is going on.

One evening a couple of months ago, a female friend of my ex-fiancé knocked on my door and hit me with some news. She told me that she had a crush on me. Then she prepared me for more. She told me that she was in love with me. While flattered, I still felt like a deer in the headlights. I didn’t know how to react. You know me, readers, I tried to be as gracious as possible and said something like, “Oh, that’s nice. Wow!” Apparently her love had been growing for several months, even while I was engaged to my fiancé.

I talked to Traci, my ex-fiancé, about our mutual friend. I asked her if she knew about the feelings of said friend. She said no. Once I learned that, I felt worse. What to do, what to do? I decided to play it very cautiously and very, very slowly.

After a couple of coffee dates, and one home cooked meal at her place, it quickly became apparent that my new love interest had more feelings for me than I did for her. This is a huge problem. I’m not going to settle just because I want to be in love, but I’m also terrible at hurting people. I already feel like I strung her along a little bit and I am afraid that when I end it, this nice woman’s feelings will be crushed. That’s not going to be pretty. Unfortunately, I believe it has to happen. If only one of the two people in a love situation is actually in love, it’s never going to work. I’ve heard that the Lord tests people, and if this is one of those tests, it is not funny.

I’ve talked to a number of friends about this, and they all agree. Run, don’t walk. A friend whom I had dinner with last night told me that exact phrase. She said the woman came on too strong and that I do not have the same feelings. It just won’t work. I’m going to take this advice, but it will still be hard for me, because again I hate hurting people. I’ve been dumped many times before and I know how painful it is. Tact, planning, and luck will be all needed here. I say luck, because I do not want this love interest to turn around and take her frustrations out on Traci.  I don’t think she will do that, but you never know.

I know dear readers I don’t usually get this personal. I tend to talk about TV, the weather, or sports. But if anybody has any suggestions on a good way to proceed, I’m all ears.

I was not going to mention this, but I’ve decided to. Several years ago, I took a very good friend of mine who I was in love with on my Christmas Eve light ride. Afterwards we stopped at McDonald’s for coffee, and I professed my love to her and she reacted the exact same way I did the other week. Now I know how she felt. Trapped, scared, and not knowing what the hell to say. After learning that I was being rejected, I kind of mentally closed the rest of the evening out. It didn’t ruin the light ride, thank goodness, because we were on our way home after coffee anyway.

I’m taking a personal day tomorrow for an appointment. Rebecca and I will be back with you next Wednesday. This should be the last Thursday off for me in a while. Time will tell. One of us will post a new blog entry tomorrow. Until then, take care, have a wonderful day, and happy reading.

Top ten list of TV shows I’m watching this season

Greetings, readers. We haven’t done a top ten list in a few weeks, so Rebecca and I put our heads together and came up with this idea. Here is the top ten list of shows I am watching this season either as it is broadcast or On Demand. Enjoy!

#10. The Orville. Fox network. [This Star Trek-ish TV series starring Seth MacFarlane barely made my list because it almost got cancelled. Fox is planning to bring it back for a second half season around the new year. The Orville is much better than I expected it to be, even though it has its comedic moments. I give this show a B+.]

#9 NCIS: New Orleans. CBS. [I know Scott Bakula, the head of this NCIS team, as the former captain of the Enterprise and as Dr. Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap. His work is always top-notch no matter which show he is in. This show is number nine on the list only because I’ve watched just two episodes. I’m still learning the characters but so far I am really enjoying it. From what little I’ve seen, I’m giving this show an A-. To be on the air this long it must be good.]

#8. FBI. CBS. [I’ve watched this series from the beginning and I like almost anything from executive producer Dick Wolf. This series is a combination of cop show with SWAT task force included. When they go in for the arrest they are usually dressed in bullet proof vests and one of them is wielding the battering ram to crash the door in. There really is not a dull moment in this series. So far, I am giving this series a B+. It has potential to be an A.]

#7. Manifest. NBC. [This is the series I was really worried about. The promo commercials looked awesome, but the series itself could turn out to be awful. Three episodes in, it is holding its own with me, though there are aspects of it I do not like at all, i.e. the whole government conspiracy crap. Both Rebecca and I wish it would have gone a slightly different way, with more emphasis on character development, and less on a conspiracy theory. I’m giving it a C+ … a solid passing grade.]

#6. S.W.A.T. CBS. [Even though I could not tell you any of the names of any of the characters except Hondo, I tune in every Thursday night. This show has me hooked. It made it to its second season, which is good and I wish On Demand would have kept the first season on to watch. No such luck. I am also very partial to the retro-fitted theme song. My grade is a solid A.]

#5. Hawaii Five-O. CBS.[This is the show that I’ve watched the most episodes of. It is in its ninth season and I’ve really enjoyed it. The classic Hawaii Five-O will always be better to me, for it seemed more professional. The constant bickering and comedy between McGarrett and Danno sometimes drives me up the wall. I’m also not pleased that the series failed to pay two Asian actors who played major characters what they were worth. Hence, they both walked off the series. Their replacement characters are not bad, but it is just not the same. I give this series a B+.]

#4. 9-1-1. Fox. [This emergency rescue series, starring Angela Bassett and Jennifer Love Hewitt, among others, is in its second season. I got hooked on it in the off-season watching episodes On Demand. This year I am not watching Monday Night Football, I am watching 9-1-1 followed by Manifest. I give this show an A+. It is an awesome show.]

#3. Chicago P.D. NBC. [The gritty sergeant played by Jason Beghe is my favorite character. He has a raspy voice, he takes his job very seriously with a no-nonsense attitude, but he treats every one of his detectives like family. This was evident when one of his detectives was killed and he took it so hard that he broke down in private and cried for his fallen friend. My grade for this series is a solid A.]

#2. Chicago Med. NBC. [Oliver Platt and crew work at Chicago’s hospital, Chicago Med. The thing that impresses me most about this series is how believable the characters are, especially Dr. Charles, played by Platt. You can just see him helping you with a problem you have. But don’t mess up or he will put you in line. Also, this series does not pull punches with the plethora of patients treated. For instance, ethical issues of a patient refusing an operation because she didn’t want to lose her baby. All of these Chicago series seem so real to me. Very well done. Chicago Med gets an A+.]

#1. Chicago Fire. NBC. [I would have to say that this is my favorite series of the season so far. There is not one bad character in the lot, the whole acting ensemble puts everything they have into making their characters believable, and you feel their pain as they go through their hardships. My grade for this series is A+. Great job, Chief Boden and company.]

Well, there you have it, for once in order. Hope you enjoy the read. Next week we will be back with you on Wednesday for another interesting entry. Until then, please stay safe if you are in the path of Hurricane Michael, my prayers to you, and until next week, happy reading.

CreateSpace.com is going bye-bye

Greetings, readers. Rebecca and I were met with an interesting problem this morning when we saw that Amazon, the parent company of CreateSpace, is basically taking them over. All my books will be transferred over to Kindle Direct Publishing at some point, or I could move them over myself. This news threw us for a loop, for we really didn’t know what was going to happen. To our relief, we found out that the transfer could be done quickly and painlessly, and KDP will still publish the printed versions.

Amazon and Kindle also gives you an opportunity to advertise your books somewhere on Amazon itself. I shouted, “Yes,” gleefully. My glee was short-lived. Rebecca tried to find the price of said service, but to no avail. It was extremely difficult to find, making me think they want beaucoup bucks, which I just don’t have at the moment. Yes, it’s true, you need to spend money to make money, but funds are tight right now.

Luckily, the remainder of my business cards say Amazon on them, so I can still pass them out and use them. Thank God for small favors. Could we have done more to promote our books? Probably so, but I still have nightmares about our first and only book signing at the local Webster’s Bookstore and Café. We started with a good crowd, but by the time we were done, all the students who were studying for their tests had been driven away by our stories. By the end the only people who were left were the people who we had invited. Not good.

Enough belly aching. Finally, some cooler weather is coming tomorrow night. With my air conditioner on the fritz, you can imagine just how much I am looking forward to cooler temperatures. For those of you who know me well, no, I am not looking forward to winter, but day-time highs in the 60s F and lows in the 40s are just fine for me right now. It is supposed to be in the mid-50s and partly sunny for the Nittany Lions homecoming game against Michigan State this Saturday. I’ve been invited by my friend Nicci to go see the homecoming parade Friday evening with Traci. I hope it won’t be too cool.

We will keep you up to date, dear readers, about the progress on getting all books to Amazon/Kindle. For those of you who have Kindles, I am sure you will enjoy the reads. We will keep you abreast.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and as always, happy reading.

From Rebecca: Darren and I went on a date today

Joe said yesterday that he was taking today off for personal business and dictating the blog entry, but he is feeling under the weather and he asked me to put an entry up. Feel better soon, Joe!

My husband Darren and I decided to go on a date today and get out of the apartment together for a while. We ate at Olive Garden and it was a good experience. We had plenty of bread sticks, salad, and pasta, and it was all delicious; we ate just enough to be full without being uncomfortable. We get take out fast food a lot, but we don’t often go to a restaurant to sit and eat there together. It was nice and we had a good time.

While we were out, we did a few errands, like getting gas for the car. It rained off and on, which was irritating, but we didn’t get too wet by the end. All in all, we had about four hours out and about, and came home satisfied.

I hope you all are having a really good day. Joe will be back next Wednesday. As he would say, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

We’ve got some local help for book promotion

Greetings, readers. A major step forward was taken yesterday in the attempt to get Four’s a Crowd selling like hotcakes. I talked to my friend from the building, Joel Solkoff, who is also a blogger here on WordPress, and he has agreed to help us out by promoting it on his blog and website. Joel gets tons more hits per day than I do. I have a very good feeling about this work relationship.

Speaking of Four’s a Crowd, the two copies I ordered for local sales to people in this building should be arriving any day. Both sales will be priced for friends and family. Darren and I will each receive $5 from each sale. Also, the money from the one Amazon.com sale last month arrived in my bank account the other day. Each of us are now $2.25 richer … I’m not joking. When I say that Amazon sales won’t pay the rent, you can see what I mean. With Joel’s help, however, this is likely to change in the near future.

We had to let kitty cat Josie out of her time-out cage so she could use the litter box. Now she is exploring and saying hi to Rebecca. She can stay out as long as she doesn’t get near the computer. That is a no-no. I hear her, as we are typing, using her cat box. Rebecca’s assumption was indeed correct.

On a side note, I was very happy that a heavy rain came through last night with a lot of lightning with a little thunder. Even though I sat in the dark with lights and modem off, the hard rain and heavy wind broke the humidity this morning. I actually needed my hoodie for my walk to Panera. It was quite refreshing.

At the restaurant, I saw my friend Ron, who had been visiting home in Vermont, and is now back. Apparently, to stay. He had previously visited Massachusetts, but that visit was cut short. When I asked him how long he was staying here this time, he used the word indefinitely. I am very happy to see him. We always swap tales and jokes. He is a very kind fellow.

Okay, there is today’s blog. I’m taking tomorrow off for personal reasons, but I am going to dictate a blog entry for Rebecca to edit and post. A: Because I need practice doing that and B: Because the more I use my voice recognition program the better it gets.

So until soonest, have a great weekend, take care and happy reading.