Back to the bigCity – again. Yikes.

If you recall, two summers ago I went with my husband to the bigCity for a work-related event that involved bigWigs from his company. I even shaved my legs, wore a red lacy shirt, and a black, somewhat shiny skirt — albeit, I wore the schmooze-worthy outfit with cowboy boots. Cowboy boots that my husband polished, because really, I am not a car-washer, boot-polisher sorta gal. I drive it and I wear it and if it gets dirty, I don’t give a rip, toot, snot, or snort. I don’t have time for buffing and scrubbing – apparently I’m too busy whittling words out here in BlogLand.

Well, buckaroos, those two years have whiz-banged right on by, and today, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, I’m going to the bigCity again. For two nights. Not just the one.

SuperYikes x2.

And again, all manner of nervous, freaking out, fright-filled emotions have clamped their claws and jaws smack-dab onto places between my buttocks, back, and brain. Yeah, that’s right. I can feel razor-sharp pangs of pain.

Who: Some (so-called) friends of mine chewed my ear, harangued, and harassed me until I relented. They’re gonna have hell to pay if I have one of my hissy-fits, err, panic attacks. Hell. To. Pay.

What: A writer’s conference. One and a half daZe of being in a facility with more than a handful of people. Most of them strangers. Beware!

When: Soon, very soon, Grasshopper.

Where: Uh, the bigCity. Near a big freeway. No doubt, there will be lots of cars and people who lurk and speed and press into my personal bubble space. I’ve seen movies, I know.

And get this – by the time I succumbed to the peer pressure to attend the conference, there was not a single hotel-motel-bed & breakfast room to be had within a 40-minute drive of the venue. I live 90 minutes from it and I’m sure as shooting not gonna pay to stay closer to my house than to he blasted conference. (If you read along, you shall see a variation to this statement.) I was ready to email the gals to tell them it was a no-go for me when I thought about campgrounds. Uh, yep, as it turned out, there’s one 10 minutes from the conference with cabins available for rent.

So now, I’ve booked a “deluxe” cabin and I’ve paid the deposit. And yes, I paid extra for four walls with an indoor toilet. Apparently the toilet is what hoists it up a notch to the “deluxe” model. The cabin is a shell, the camp host said… a very bare-bones, minimalistic place with plastic-covered mattresses. FunTimes. I’m brining my homemade anti-viral-fungal-bacterial-germ spray.

Just this morning, my husband laughed and snickered that the pot probably is in the corner of the one-room cabin. “Ha ha ha. I bet there aren’t any walls around the toilet. All the girls will have to leave the cabin every single time someone has to uh, you know, go.” Oh ha ha ha yourself, tallGuy.

Some other womenfolk, from up here in the wildWood boondocks, couldn’t find sleeping arrangement either, so five of us will share the cabin. Five women. One toilet. One shower. I’m pretty low-maintenance so I’ll huddle in my sleeping bag and wrap my husband’s scratchy wool blanket about my wet-haired head — because I’ll do my personal hygiene prep work the night before. (I’m sure you needed to know that.)

Why: I have no idea.

Last night, to no avail, I searched for a comfortable, cozy, furniture-laden, linens provided, well-stocked pantry sort of cabin nearby – as in just a few miles from home – so’s that I could feign illness, avoid the city, get most of my conference money refunded, and sneak off to a cabin in the woods. Heck, my husband arranged his schedule to be off tomorrow so he can be with the boyChild and the critters. I might as well not let him down. I could pretend to go to the bigCity, and instead, I could go off by my introverted self and sleep-in, read books, write books, watch movies, pace the floor, and eat meals without having to fetch anyone ketchup or water or meat.

driveHomeSDHow: By the grace of God and a handful of horse tranquilizers. Kidding. Well, partly. Prayer, I need prayer, people. This agoraphobic country gal doesn’t fancy the bigCity. It’s like clowns on steroids carrying dolls laden with door handle germs. Gah! There are a lot of reasons why I live in the woods at the end of a dirt road in the woods in solitude in the woods. The woods!

* As a noteworthy side note, this will be the first time in over a decade (deca – as in 10, yep, 10 years) that I have slept away from home without my husband and/or my son. I like my home. I like being home. I like the woods. Oh, sure, my son and husband have galavanted about the state without me, but not I, without them. (insert buttock to brain shivers)

* * Also, my mom (gee, thanks) pointed out that she’s nevah, evah heard of anyone staying in that particular campground in the wintertime (because ya know, it’s still winter here with temps in the 20′s at night). “Does the cabin even have heat?” she asked last night on the phone.

I reckon if it doesn’t, my mason jars filled with homemade, turbo coffee drinks will be popsicles in glass, my head will sport frozen strands of matted, braided brown hair, and that darn-blasted scratchy wool blanket will be appreciated, even if it’s still despised for its itchy qualities.

 My son just walked in and asked if I was really gonna go to the city.

“I think so, buddy,” I said.

“Oh ga-reat. What am I supposed to do with daddy for two days?”

“Let him out to pee after he eats, drinks, and plays.”

“No, I mean daddy, not your puppy.”

“Son, I meant daddy and my puppy.”

In case you’re wondering, I’m not wearing a skirt or even my cowboy boots this time. I’m gonna sport my Carharrt jeans and my big, black Danner boots. A country girl’s gotta be ready to flee the scene in case the bigCity tries to swallow her. Run, run, run, as fast as you can – back home to your wooded wonderland.

A Light Shining (finally!)

My review of sir Glynn Young’s second novel, A Light Shining, (sequel to Dancing Priest) is long overdue, past due; in fact, this detestable delay has caused all sorts of fines and notices to fill my in-box. Actually, that last bit doesn’t hold the least bit o’ truth, but it should! Sir Glynn is much too nice (and probably too busy) to remind me that several months ago (alright, one year ago; one YEAR ago!) I agreed to both read and review his newest novel during its November 2012 release. I reckon since he participated in my Pickin’ An Author’s Knows series without delay or hesitation, he can spank my bumm-diddly and send me to the corner. Or to the porch empty-plated whilst everyone else eats dinner and dessert. Oh, and if it’s chocolate caramel coconut ice-cream, that really would be some kinda hurt.

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To tell ya the truth, I had good intentions on posting a review as soon as I read it, but parts of the tale gave me the wild-eyed willies. The storyline and the author’s writerly skills take into account and sometimes mirror our world’s current state of affairs, so much so that after I finished A Light Shining, it was super duper late and I fell into a sleep that was tattered with crazy dreams. And when I woke up the next morning, I ran to the computer (actually, after only a few ragged hours sleep, I stumbled, tripped, and tried to will a cup o’ coffee into suddenly pouring itself down my parched throat); anyway, I flicked the bad boy computer on and checked the news. Why all the urgency? Well, because I could scarcely believe what had happened the day before. I wanted to see what was going on across the pond! And in America!

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I also wanted to know what had become of some of my friends, Michael and Sarah, and the rest of the rest of the posse too.

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Much to my dismay, it was not there. The story was not there! Weird. I checked Fox and CNN. I even looked at FB. Nothing. Not. A. Blasted. Thing. What’s the matter with these people? Are all of the journalists and reporters still in bed? As I scooped coffee grounds and rubbed the fatigue from my eyes, I had a ding-dong, duh-doofus realization:

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Simply Darlene, it was the novel that you read into the wee hours of the night; you dreamt about characters from a blasted book. None of it was actual-factual news. It was a fictitious story that rambled about in your mind all the livelong night.

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So, my bad (insert wide-eyed wonder and a teeny shake of the ole noggin) – that there is the main reason I didn’t post this review sooner. Forgive me, sir Glynn? Yikes. Who wants a write-up by a gal who’s suffered a recent bout of Fact/Fiction Confusion? I mean really. Pffft.

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All of my oddball mental acuity issues aside, sir Glynn does a rootin’ tootin’ good job with the follow-up saga to Dancing Priest. However, (please note that this word denotes a shift, a change, a contrast – remember that!) I must warn you that author Glynn adds a new dimension to this second novel.

A Light Shining

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SuspenseMystery. <– That’s one word, right? 

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Buckaroos, even though some authors use this writerly technique, I’m generally not keen on it. (Please see previous paragraphs to understand why my wild imagination should only be let out for short walks and small snacks; otherwise it goes on crazy sprees that necessitate the poking out of my mind’s eye upon waking. Yeah, it’s as serious as it sounds. You can bet your woolen underwear on it.)

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Anyway, back to the review…

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From the first page he has the reader yelling:

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No way! Don’t you do it, mister writer man!

What?

Whew.

Are you nuts? I don’t like this!

Whew.

That was close. Stop it!

Whew.

Good night, Irene!

Whew.

Whoa Nelly. Yay!

Why, oh why?

Whew.

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Not only will you be mentally and emotionally roused, but also your family will suffer; no, not from the book itself, well, unless you throw it at ‘em. Generally speaking, they’re gonna writhe under varying degrees of neglect. You’ll serve cold cereal for lunch and then you’ll slop milk and sugar wafers into their bowls again for dinner – all so’s that you can get back to the book. You’ll sleep less and be way more cranky because you’ve spent too many consecutive hours with said book. You’ll skip bathing; or you’ll take the book to the bathroom and lock yourself in and your family will skip bathing.

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Either way, the neighbors are gonna talk as hunger pains and extra deodorant become your new bestest friends.

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So, whatcha waiting for? Buy and read A Light Shining. Trust me! Take it from me! No, on second thought, don’t take the book from me, but take the advice from me because as you can tell, I ooze with book review expertise.

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Oops-y-daisy, I forgot one thing! Fill a thermos full o’ strong-brewed coffee, place it next to your bed, and drink copious amounts before you skedattle into the living room to check the morning’s news. You’ll feel better about yourself.

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And so will I.

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* A Light Shining, by sir Glynn Young; published by Dunrobin Publishing.

http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-story-of-light-shining.html

http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-light-shining-tears-and-heroic.html

http://faithfictionfriends.blogspot.com/2012/12/a-light-shining-tears-and-heroic.html

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* Michael and Sarah and the Dancing Priest posse.

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And a Side O’ Fries

I have a thing about germs and door handles so I try to push open the brown glass door with my rump, but it won’t budge. I swing hard and heave-ho my hip into the door time and again before I notice a flash of red-checkered flannel on the other side. My son tugs on my sleeve and says, “Mom, those men want out and you keep pushing the door in.”

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Ga-reat. I shove my sunglasses to the top of my head, gallantly step aside, and flip my outstretched hand in a motion for them to pass through. They don’t. The old-timer among them opens the door, touches his hat rim, and says, “Mornin’ ma’am.” He stands there, his arms wide and body outstretched at an odd angle whilst he holds the door open from the inside. I feel as if I am stepping into a hug as I pass close enough to smell his aftershave.

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Two men, several years my junior, also were trapped with him in the foyer and they grin-nod at me as I push my son ahead, right into their midst. One of the fellas stuffs his lip pocket with a wad of chew and the other tries real hard not to laugh. His snickers finally give way and laughter trails us all the way to the counter.

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Grandma Jo, according to her name tag, wears a hairnet and false fingernails. She stands with a slouch and fiddles with a glittery pink heart necklace. It looks like candy against her wrinkled neck. “Whaddaya want honey?”

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“We’ll take a glass of orange juice, one of apple juice, and an order of thick-cut, waffle fries. And hold the sauce, please.” My son nods in happy agreement.

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Except for the outer façade and the painted-over neon sign, this repurposed, rural restaurant has been turned into something more fanciful than the standard fast food chain that is depicted by the hard-to-cover yellow hues. Real plates and glasses replace styrofoam and paper, and actual-factual servers bring food and beverages to the tables. After the meal, patrons stack their own dirty dishes inside labeled plastic bins on a cart between the counter and trash can. Locals are used to the set-up and today’s big draw is the inclusion of a breakfast menu and earlier start-up hours.

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I reckon the introduction of the morning menu was timed to coincide with the opening of fishing season. Yep, I reckon so.

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Around here, lesser streams trickle down from the many mountains, the Columbia River snakes along the edge of town, and its vast waters pool into Lake Roosevelt. All in all, fishermen rule. And it’s not unlike the community where I grew-up, just over the mountain range and across the state line.

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We slide across shiny red bench seats, I sanitize my hands, and look around. In the booth behind me four men-folk eat their breakfast and I see that the shortest one wears a grin big enough to park his daddy’s truck in. Once our waffle fries arrive, we squirt globs of mustard on the platter edge, pray, and start dippin’-n-eatin’ our catch. We don’t talk. Our mouths are too full for that, but we listen.

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“Nope, no. I just don’t think we’ll see him today.”

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“See who? See who? Daddy, see who?”

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“You’re right. He never comes out this early in the season.”

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“Yeah, hardly anyone ever sees him the first week.”

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“You got that right. Well, except for old man Stevie. That dern fool swears he seen him already. And that he’s been feeding him at the dock every morning.”

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“Stevie who? Stevie who? Hey, who does Stevie feed?”

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“Oh, it’s just them spicy Rueben sandwiches and that half rack of beer that he’s seeing.”

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“I reckon you’re right about that.”

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“And what kind of fish eats corn chips anyway?”

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“We can feed corn chips to fish? Hey, daddy, got any corn chips?”

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“Nope, I don’t think we’ll see him today. It’s too early in the season and too late in the day.”

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“Hey, a guy can hope. Maybe we’ll see just his tail –  if we’re lucky.”

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“Are you girls about ready? We don’t wanna be the last boat on the lake.”

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“Hey, we’re not girls! And whose tail are we gonna see anyways? Daddy, are you listening to me?”

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Three grown men and one boy, probably about five years old, climb out of the booth. I swivel on the vinyl seat and get a better view. The boy riddles his elders with questions and the whole lot of ‘em make their way out the first set of doors. The little one hops with newbie fisherman electricity. Just before the inner doors close on the group, the white-haired man bends low and speaks into the boy’s ear.

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“No way! A real merman?! In my lake?! He squeals loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear.

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The old man nods and scratches his head. He comes back to their booth, grabs his camouflage ball cap from the bench, and winks at me as he says, “Honey, there’s always a learning curve in knowing when to push open the door.”

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I wipe salt off my lips, say “you betcha,” and let myself believe he’s talking about the doors of my imagination.

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As my son and I watch the fishing crew pile into a gray Dodge Cummins diesel, a much newer model than our own, he leans across the table and whispers, “Hey mom, what’s a merman?”

merman w.

* The above actual-factual piece of fiction first appeared on the interwebs last June when I wrote it and posted it on this here blog site of mine. I hope you at least smiled… and just maybe, for a minute or two, thought it was really real. ‘Cause it coulda be, ya know.

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Scary Hairy

Today I am hanging out with friends over at the BibleDude’s place. Come on over to read my bit o’ rambling, if’n a like.

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When we are in the muddy middle of challenges, we don’t necessarily see ‘em as chances to roll up our collective sleeves, flex our muscles, grasp the opponent’s hand, and then grunt the scary hairy arms flat to the wrestling match table.

Slam! I won! Right on, buckaroo!

No, we probably just do the next thing that needs doin’ in order to survive.

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Question: What’s at the center of an opportunity?

.opportunities

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Answer: U.

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