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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.

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A major decision has been made

Greetings, readers. I have thought about my writing career long and hard, and have asked myself what are my options. Money to continue paying Rebecca is dwindling, though she earns every penny of what she gets, and the blog itself is not set up to make money for me. The book, Greetings, Readers, sold a hand-full of copies since 2013, so a book 2 of blog entries is not even an option. Between low funds, battling depression, and years upon years of seizure medication (and seizures) I’m coming to the conclusion that I don’t have the right stuff to be a writer any more. Maybe I never did and getting those first two camp books out were just because of my passion for Bear Spring Camps and all my friends who go there.

I’m seriously considering shutting down writing operations at the end of the year. Unfortunately, this would also include the blog. I am leaning towards keeping it open for everyone to enjoy with the occasional new entry. I might reconsider my plan, but that is how it looks now.

Rebecca and I were discussing earlier this morning an idea I had for a GoFundMe page. I need $$$ to find and pay a publicist who can push Four’s a Crowd. I worked too hard on Kimberly, the play on which it is based, and Darren Taylor worked too hard on the novel for it to just wither and die. Rebecca also put in extensive hours on both projects, and it would be a crime for her work to be for naught. If we could find a publicist and get Four’s a Crowd off the ground, that would re-energize my desire to be a writer.

***

Well, here it is a half hour later and we’ve had our weekly meeting with my accountant. I don’t like being interrupted when we are writing the blog, because it gets me out of rhythm, but sometimes it can’t be helped. The meeting went extremely well and the idea I had to help promote Four’s a Crowd has been approved. The next step is for Rebecca and I to research publicists and take notes. That will be done next Wednesday. I will probably dictate a blog entry and have it ready for us to edit and post early so we have extra time to do our research.

Continued prayers go out to the flood victims and their families in the Carolinas and wherever flooding hit. I’ve heard that Wilmington, North Carolina is now an island. There is not one road that is passable by car as of late yesterday.

Like last Thursday, I have something to do tomorrow, so I’ll dictate a blog in the morning and Rebecca will edit and put it up no later than tomorrow evening.

Please do take care, have a wonderful day, take care of one another, and as always, happy reading.

I’ve been keeping to a Bear Spring Camps schedule

Greetings, readers. As I tend to do every late August, I desire to still be at Bear Spring Camps, my favorite place in the whole world. Although we got no relief from the heat this year, seeing all my family and friends made the temperature a moot point. Camp is centered around the three meals served in the dining room at specific times. When I come home, I like to keep that routine going as long as I can.

I’ll have my morning coffee and muffin either at home or at Panera at 7:30. During the lunch meal I am usually busy but if I can I’ll grab a quick something at 12:30. Camp’s evening meal has always been at 6:00 and at the very least I’ll grab a cup of coffee or a soda at that time. That might sound silly to some of you, but I love to reminisce about the wonderful times I have at camp and the wonderful food they serve.

Last year I got up at 3:45 in the morning … every morning. This year so far I have been averaging 5:00 or 6:00. Why the change you might ask? The truthful answer is I don’t know. Before, I would go to bed very early, get up early and play video games or write, until Rebecca would come at 9:30. Now I am a little bit more squeezed for time, but it is not bad.

I am getting into one very bad habit that I used to have, which is watching re-runs on TV in the evening. Last night, before I knew it, it was ten minutes until 11:00. I quickly stopped the episode of The X-Files I was watching (that show can be addicting) and hurried off to sleep. No 3:35am for me this morning. By wintertime I will have thrown away all the desires to keep a camp schedule and do what my Aunt Marilyn does; she eats her meals when she is hungry, and she told me that could be any time of day. One time I visited her in California and she mentioned that I was too tied down to a clock.

This morning I am feeling sorry for myself as I dictate this blog and here’s the reason why: If I was to put all my energy that I use in creating these fantasy worlds that I sometimes use to escape my real life and put them towards creative writing, imagine the stories I could come up with. I have a writing project idea for a man and woman to be the main characters set in a camp-like atmosphere, but every time I try to start it, I hit a brick wall with concrete behind it. It is extremely frustrating.

Sometimes my brain works overtime when I am trying to get to sleep at night. Perhaps I should invest in a digital recorder. I would have it by my bed and if my creative brain starts working overtime, I would begin dictating notes, character names, etc. I wonder if anyone knows how much a good digital recorder costs? Hint, hint.

There’s today’s blog. I know I rambled a little bit but I tend to do that from time to time. Next Wednesday I plan on dictating the blog via the soon-to-be-out-of-date voice recognition program, and Thursday is still up in the air. I think we will be here in the office but I’m not certain. Until then, have a wonderful weekend, please stay cool if you are in the heat wave, take care and happy reading.

Princess Josie was very happy to see Daddy

Greetings, readers. When I arrived home this past Sunday afternoon, I could hear her royal highness, Princess Josie, meowing even before I got to my door. Somehow she knew Daddy was home. When I got all my stuff inside and sat down on my recliner, I was greeted most affectionately. It is wonderful how pets give unconditional love. I missed her terribly and was just as glad to see her.

First thing I did was give her moist food, a few treats, and later, a nice long ball toss session up and down the hallway. She loves to chase her little rubber ball and try to stop it like a hockey goalie.

After that, I put my stuff away and began laundry detail. Josie did not want to leave my side, so I allowed her to come out into the hallway with me and walk down to the laundry room. She was sniffing my shoes quite heavily, probably because she smelled the camp cat, who came up to my cabin door a few times and hung out with me while I was at Bear Spring Camps. As a matter of fact, Kimba woke me up one morning at 4:00 am with a loud chorus of meows at my front door. Normally I wouldn’t have minded or even heard her, but it was so hot up there this year that I slept with camp windows and the inside wooden door open, locking just the screen door. Oh, yes, I heard every insect, loon, wave, and happy group of people at every campfire. But I would much rather have that than try to sleep in a sweltering hot cabin without any air flow at all.

On the topic of camp, the Canada Geese family has grown to over thirty. They are beautiful birds, but all they do is eat, poop and breed. Next year I expect to see at least forty of them up there. Something has to be done. I am not trying to be cruel, but Dave the bird expert says that they will come back to the same spot to lay their eggs, so unless they are deterred, the gaggle will certainly have an increase in population. And then the lake front attendants will have more waste to pick up off the grass.

Back to Josie, this blog entry’s original topic, she did not do what Keekee used to do, which was ignore me for a day when I got home. She would actually be glad to see me for 10 or 15 minutes then show her displeasure of being abandoned by Daddy by giving me the cold shoulder. I fully expected to have this happen with Josie, and I am extremely happy that it didn’t. BTW, many thanks to Rebecca for stopping in, checking on her, and keeping her company. Thumbs up.

Well, there’s today’s blog entry. We’ll be back on Wednesday with another exciting topic to blog about. Until then, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

What a great trip I had and boy was it hot

Greetings, readers. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I go to Maine to cool off from the midsummer’s scorching heat. This year the average daytime temperature was in the upper 80s with one sunny day reaching 92. Yes, readers, I went into the lake for the first time in four years.

The rented pontoon boat, which the Trosts and I shared the cost of, was moored down at David’s dock this year because of my Goddaughter Ashley’s advanced pregnancy. The boat ran well … once we got it started. Getting the engine to turn over was another matter. Both David and I agreed it either had a clogged fuel filter or the fuel pump was starting to go bad. I made mention of this to Spencer, the owners’ son, who is now running the camp for his Mom and Dad. Spencer is the fourth generation of the Mosher family, on his mother’s side, to run the camp.

Our server in the dining room this year was a delightful young lady by the name of Eleonora, and as you can guess by her name, she is Italian. One of the family members, Joan, spoke Italian, and she and Eleonora, I’m sure, had delightful conversations. I overheard one of them, but of course I was unable to understand what they were saying. I hope Eleonora returns next year. I would very much like for her to be our server again.

Last year’s big upgrade to the dining room was new chairs. This year’s improvement was track lighting instead of the big flourescent bulbs. Once you got used to it, it was very nice. The only problem is from the front porch it was hard to tell when they flicked on the lights. In years past, there was no doubt, the entire dining room became bright, and it was time to eat.

The Thursday highlight was lobster night with live entertainment. This year, a man played an acoustic guitar while a woman (not certain if it was his wife or not) had a tambourine. They were quite good, but if the truth be told, both Dave and I agreed that they weren’t quite as good as the performer that Peg hired the previous two years; Dave suggested to me that he was probably all booked. One of the stand-by songs, which the campers requested and sang along with, was Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” That song has special meaning to me, for I performed it during one of my shows at Addison Court.

What will next year hold? Well, I did very well with my spending, so I already have enough money for next year’s camp. I’m going to get a part-time job around town, to get a little extra pocket change which will help. Mostly though, I am going to concentrate, at least through Christmas, on two writing projects. A story about a young man and his girlfriend in a Bear Spring Camps type setting, and also I am going to try to develop and write the pilot for my own original sit-com or drama. Wish me luck.

Okay, there’s the news from this year’s camp adventure. As I say almost every year, it is great to go on vacation, but once it is over, it is good to come home. I am taking a personal day off tomorrow, and Rebecca will take one next Thursday. But fear not, a new blog will be posted both days.

So until next time around, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: I AM writing this blog entry from Joe’s old laptop

Hello, Joe’s readers. Joe’s old laptop is slower than I am used to writing on anymore, but it seems to be working just fine now that the security update is finished. It started last Thursday, and finished today when I turned the computer on again. I didn’t use the laptop in between because I wasn’t writing a blog entry until today.

Joe is having a good time in Maine and even did some swimming in the lake as it is hotter than usual up there this year. I have talked to him a couple of times while he has been gone.

Princess Josie, his cat, has been a handful today. I have been checking up on her since last Thursday, but haven’t stayed very long on those visits. Today and tomorrow I have hours to spend with her, and she is using that time. She is demanding many head rubs and a lot of attention. It made it difficult for me to do some of the file sorting I am doing with the extra hours without Joe here. I have half a trash bag of paper and envelopes to throw out and a huge envelope of paper to be shredded. Quite an achievement with Josie needing attention in the middle of the sorting.

Those of you who are regular readers know that in the past I have taken care of Joe’s late cat Keekee on this long vacation week. I will say this about Josie, she doesn’t shed as much as Keekee did. Keekee was a lot calmer and less exasperating, but I would take handfuls of fur off when petting her. (I really miss Keekee right now.) Josie is a one-year-old ball of energy who keeps jumping on the table and trying to get into my papers. She is sweet though, when she is playing hockey with a bottle lid or when she takes a rest. I’m glad I have the chance to know her.

On another topic, it stopped raining around here for a couple of days, but we got hot muggy weather instead. I felt like I was going to melt by the time I got to work today. It is forecast to rain today and tonight. I don’t know if the humidity will get better or not. On the plus side, humid and hot is normal for August in Pennsylvania. When was the last time we had a normal weather month? Maybe I should be celebrating as I slog through the seasonal heavy air.

I will have another blog entry tomorrow. Until then, as Joe writes, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

T minus one day to vacation and oh, my God, am I not ready

Greetings, readers. I am so not my mother. My mom would have had everything ready to go and sitting by the front door of the house days ago. Me, I’m still doing laundry less than a day before pull out time. Do I have my lists? Yes. And I know where everything is. I just need to gather it, pack it and put it off to one side. Ready for the bad news, readers? It looks as though I will be traveling both days in the rain. Not fun. Oh, sure, I’m going on vacation, heading to Maine, my favorite place, but traveling in good weather is always nicer and safer.

The Hertz rental car I’m going to get is a ‘Chrysler 200 or similar’. I’m praying for the Chrysler 200. I’ve driven one before and loved it. I will have my handy-dandy GPS unit with me to help the way. I also want to have the Hertz agent, if the car is equipped with it, set up my cell phone so I can make calls hands-free.

As I look around the room at all the things I’m going to take, I’m calm and content that I know where everything is. I won’t be rummaging through closets looking for a piece of equipment, such as a radio or a box of CDs.

At this moment, here comes kitty cat Josie. I am reminded about just how much I will miss her and how she will miss me. In just the first three months or so, we really have developed our daily routines. I left her for a long weekend once when I went to see my friend Dave and family, but how she will react to me being gone for more than a week, time will tell. The good news is that Rebecca will be here to feed her, give her water and treats, and to keep her company during frequent visits.

Before I know it, I will be sitting on the porch of cabin # 23 looking at the lake. According to my computer weather map, it is going to partly sunny, and 85 – 90 degrees F most days. That is a little bit hotter than usual for Maine. I’m taking my swim trunks for I do see myself going into the lake this year. I don’t like cold or cool water, so I’ve not gone in for a swim for at least three years.

Buddy Dave told me to bring the Yahtzee game because he wants to have a tournament and declare a champion and I am going to hold him to it.

Okay, I think I’ve got all the news out and into the blog. At 1:00, Rebecca will depart, I’ll meet my friend at 1:45, and pick up the car at 3:00. As you can see, this will be a hectic afternoon. I will see you in a couple of weeks. Rebecca will be in charge of the blog until I get back. So until then, take care, have a great a vacation if you are going on one at the present time, and, as always, happy reading.

All the ducks are in a row for Maine

Greetings, readers. I am extremely relieved today. Weeks ago I had procured all the hotel rooms for my trip up to Maine and back, and only needed to confirm the car rental. I also bought a baseball game ticket for the Friday evening game in Portland – Go Sea Dogs! Unless it rains, I will actually be inside Hadlock Field. I have seen it from the outside twice. This will be the first time that I hunker down Friday evening in Portland. Saturday morning, I’d better get an early start, or I will be stuck in a lot of traffic on I-95 on the way to camp. It is going to be an enjoyable vacation, I can feel it.

Until just a short time ago, I still had not nailed down the rental car. The agents and I were playing phone tag. Finally, this morning, I got a hold of the person I was trying to talk to all along, and he confirmed that there would not be a problem, and that I would definitely have a vehicle August 1st. Now all my i’s are dotted and my t’s are crossed and it should be a stress free vacation … and let’s face it, to be stress free is why you go on vacation in the first place.

On to the next topic, I’ve been getting into the X-Files lately. Boy is that a strange series, yet I’m drawn to it. All seasons will be On Demand until late September. I have no idea where they will be going after that. I don’t have enough money to cough up to buy all 11 seasons, so for now On Demand, Hulu and other such viewing choices will have to do. The first season wasn’t too bad. I’m currently watching the second season; it is much creepier. I am also as a writer learning how characters meet in episode one, and by the middle of the second season, Dana Scully, usually very strong and in control of herself at all times, lets her guard down enough to trust Fox Mulder in a vulnerable moment where she broke down in tears and needed a hug. I won’t be able to watch all the episodes before leaving on vacation, so I think I will skip around to different seasons so I can get an overview. It should be interesting.

Lastly, ouch – I whacked my small toe on a box. It’s not broken, but I think I did stove it pretty good. I have the feeling it is going to be tender for a few days. That will teach me not to clean my room.

As I sign off, I hope that those of you in any flooded areas are well. We had torrential rain here yesterday in State College, Pennsylvania. Today, so far, not so bad, though more storms are expected. Please keep your fingers crossed that I will not be sitting in the cabin in Maine during a week of rainy weather.

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment in the morning, but Rebecca will put up tomorrow’s blog entry and I am quite certain it will be a good one. Until next Wednesday for me, take care, enjoy, and happy reading.

Eight copies of the new book ordered for trip to camp

Greetings, readers. I know that eight copies of Four’s a Crowd doesn’t sound like many, but this novel is about 300 pages long and I can’t load the trunk of the car down with boxes and boxes of books. I’m going to solve that problem by bringing plenty of business cards as a backup. The cards arrived this morning and are perfect. I’ve not made up my mind yet whether I’m going to charge my Bear Spring Camps family the full price of $14.99 or the discount price of $10.00. I am leaning towards the discount price, but I will have to clear that with the co-author Darren Taylor.

I little something about Amazon.com. As it stands now, the book is three selections down from the top of the page. None of us knew that Four’s a Crowd was the title of an old film. That is first on the list. Scroll down until you see a yellow book with a toppled wedding cake. That’s our book. I am confused by a list of booksellers on the side of the page saying they are selling copies of the book, new and used, for many different prices. I happen to know that we have sold only one copy through Amazon, to someone we know, so they do not really have any printed copies to sell. Upon ordering, a copy will be made just for the buyer, from CreateSpace, so there is no warehouse with a lot of copies gathering dust. There is no hard copy version, since the print-on-demand version for this book only comes in soft cover. The list price is $14.99, so if you see any other price listed right now, it didn’t come from us.

The idea to make business cards just for this project was one of our better ideas. They look ultra professional and have all the information you need, including a short book blurb on the back. The blurb reads: “This is the story of an elderly couple who moves in with their son and his wife. When Alice begins to have health issues, it makes life difficult for the Detmore family. Join them in their journey through this period of trial and tribulation.”

I cannot believe that it is almost camp time once again. I’ll leave in only a couple of weeks. Good God, as Norman Thayer would say. I am going to have to update my list of things to take … which luckily I found on the computer … and check off all my items. Mom’s binoculars are going, as is the Yahtzee game, a copy of the novel for me to read, and most importantly, the computer. If I have any good ideas for writing projects, I can work on those in the evenings.

Speaking of writing, as soon as the blog is published, Rebecca and I are going to work on a list of ideas for a TV pilot script that I am thinking about writing. I’ve been watching shows On Demand lately and finding all kinds of good things. Then I get depressed, thinking, gee, why couldn’t I think of that? Maybe I’ll come up with the next blockbuster hit. Maybe I’ll call it the Y-Files. Lol.

Okay, that is what is happening today. Sorry this entry is up a little later than usual, but due to a morning’s doctor appointment our schedule was altered. There will be a new entry up tomorrow, so until then, take care, have a wonderful day, and happy reading.

My summer writing schedule so far

Greetings, readers. Although I have had a number of good ideas for writing projects, getting words on the page are like pulling teeth. I yank and yank and yank, and then say oh, look, there is one sentence. Back in my 30s, before all my petit mal seizures, my creativity was much better. Ideas just flowed. I’m not certain if I really do have brain damage because of the seizures, but I feel as though I do. My medications work fine for what they are meant for but they may dampen my creative process as well.

The other day I started the sequel to Four’s a Crowd and got about a page down on the computer. I don’t know if it was because I was using the speech recognition program, or the outside noise at the time, or if something else was in the way, but words would not come easily, even with these characters that I know so well. I must admit that depressed me for the rest of the day. Kimberly, Lyle, and the rest of the Four’s a Crowd clan should have inspired me, not dragged me into the mud. Thank goodness for therapy every three weeks.

Rebecca usually tells me to just keep plugging away at it, flex those writing muscles and eventually it will come. I hope she is correct. I have my entire day planned out already. We have work hours this morning, a brief stop for lunch and a couple of groceries, and then I am going to try to work with the speech recognition program again. One of the problems might be that it hasn’t quite learned my voice enough for me to dictate a novel effectively.

My friend Dave suggested I try writing a children’s book. He was most impressed with how I, a few years ago, told his young nephews and nieces stories around the camp fire at Bear Spring Camps. Not a bad idea. And I know someone who just might be willing to illustrate it if she has time. I have already started a story, The Secret House, and have posted the first two parts of it here. I hope to write more of it and share it with you in the near future.

I’m being a little mysterious here, because I don’t want to divulge my ideas. It seems like every time I do it is the kiss of death. One time I remember telling my Godmother a story idea and she stomped the flowers out of it until it was dead. I admit that it was after one of her strokes and some of her social filters might have been gone.

I have next to me what I call my inspiration pad. If I have a dream or a day-dream and it really hits me and I have a great idea I am prepared to jot it down long hand. For as I may have mentioned before, my short-term memory is crap.

There is today’s update. Next Wednesday Rebecca and I will be back with another blog entry and I have already chosen the topic. Unless something comes up, I’m going to blog about the legendary former New York Yankee public address announcer, the late Bob Sheppard.

Until then, I hope everyone has a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.