The Kitten and the Writer

IMG_20160117_091914256_HDREvery great writer has a dog to bounce the words off of. I have a cat. She thinks she is the writer. That’s when she isn’t running around the house like her tail is on fire, playing with the house fairies, or knocking everything off the table.

“Once there was a kitten….” She’s attempting her autobiography, but she hasn’t been in this world very long, so it mostly contains stories about what kind of food she likes. Every day, I return from my day job at 5:30. She associates this with dinner time. Wet food, instead of dry cereal. If I leave the house and return an hour later, evern though it’s early AM, it must be dinner time. After all, she has not, yet, learned how to read a clock.

From compost we grow gardens. From random words, we grow poetry and prose. This was the idea when Natalie Goldberg wrote her book Writing Down the Bones. It is a process to learn to write for me and what I want, instead of what someone else wants.  One that takes practice. This is what Thursdays will be devoted to. Even though today is Friday.

Welcome to the Journey! If you are a writer, you are especially welcome to add your own.



Poetry of Auschwitz

“Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. The reality is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith.”  ~W.H. Auden



Garlic Shrimp Delight

When you are single it’s hard to keep up on cooking. There is always the image of the busy single person eating over a kitchen sink. Now, I do not personally know anyone who eats over a sink (least, not so that they have shared the knowledge of this practice), but I do know people who would prefer take-away or just opening a can of pork n beans.

Last week, I picked up some shrimp, thinking while my children were visiting for the weekend, I would make some scampi.

Here it is, two days after they went back home and I still had shrimp. Scampi required white wine, while I only have red wine. Avocado and shrimp looked delish. Only it is January, not June, so it wasn’t the taste I wanted.

Enter the Garlic Shrimp. Shrimp is something that is made a bigger deal of than it should be. I say this only because it is so easy to make.

It is a matter of minutes. Cook shrimp and let it think about what terrible sin it has committed (1 minute), jostle it around, until it turns pink (1 minute), throw in 6 minced garlic cloves, or the more the merrier (1 minute), add 3 tablespoons of lemon and half a handful of Italian Parsley (note:I have small hands), 1- 1/2 Tablespoons of cold butter, then realize it was supposed to be 1/2 teaspoon. So, add 1/2 teaspoon of butter to the 1 -1/2 Tablespoons (1 minute). Add more butter, because it’s butter. Turn to low (2-3 minutes). Realize low isn’t doing anything. Turn knob to medium-lo. Add leftover mozzarella. Let cook another minute or two. Take out shrimp, then pour everything in the pan on top of shrimp.

Take photos and post to Instagram, so you can brag to everyone about your dinner, because that is what Instagram is for

Bon Apetit.





5 Classic Movies

When people ask me, “Have you seen xyz”, the answer is generally a look of consideration, then no.

This summer, I decided to watch as many Classic Hollywood movies, as I can. That is, when I’m not watching episodes of House on Netflix.

My first stop was at the friendly and wonderful Facebook group
Hollywood Babylon.  Their movies list is five pages long. Granted, I haven’t, yet purged all of the duplicates. It’s still going to take about a year.

Thanks to Netflix and my local library, I was able to find a few of the titles.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

James Stewart is my favorite all time actor. I may mention this a few thousand more times.
The reviews I saw stated this was sappy and unrealistic.
That being the case, isn’t it frightening to think of how corrupt politics REALLY is?
If only there was a real life Geoffrey Smith in Washington. Or, maybe a handful. We’d be a better country for it.


 All About Eve


cast pub still - all about eve 1950

I was excited about watching Vertigo. Then, I found out, I couldn’t find it on Netflix or Youtube.
So, I settled for All About Eve. Settled shows I had a bad attitude about Bette Davis. My daddy used to say my grandma watched Bette Davis films and how dull they were.  I had only seen stills of her in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. A fabulous movie, but a disagreeable first impression.
Photo stills don’t fully show the beauty and amazing WOW of who Bette Davis was.
I loved this movie! I also loved how things do come full circle.
Watching this did make me wonder if My Little Pony‘s Rarity was at all based on Bette Davis. 20110730233653!Rarity

Same big eyes, mane (hair) style, accent, and diva personality.
What’s not to love?




Valley of the Dolls



It was a Saturday night when I checked Netflix and was happy to see Roman Holiday. My plan was to watch the movie on Sunday morning.
Sunday morning, Netflix reset their movies and Roman Holiday was out.
Yes, it was a big mindset transition to go from Roman Holiday to Valley of the Dolls.
It was far more enjoyable than I thought it would be.
Sharon Tate was so fresh faced, sexy, and just plain innocently sweet. Patty Duke looked like she was playing herself.

While Dionne Warwick’s voice was a great sound to set the tone, it would have been nice to have more than one song.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

I heard about this movie so much, I just had to see it. Especially with my new found love for Bette Davis.

My daughter and I both had the same thought when this started. So, this is

what inspired Disney’s  Tower of Terror.

The characters look the same. There were other similarities that made me think, “Sorry, girls! This wasn’t meant to end well for you, either way.”


Whatever Happened to Baby Jane was both wonderful and tragic.
An example of how jealousy and miscommunication can ruin so many lives. Both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford did an amazing performance in this.
Many people say Bette’s “I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy” dance is creepy. To me, it was more sweet and sad. There’s a glimpse of the happiness Jane wished for in that clip.

Finally, I have Vertigo checked out from the library. Next, I’m watching this, then The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

What are your favorite Classic Hollywood Movies?


“I Wanted to Tell You I Love You, Because You Never Know…”

It was Sunday, 27 November, 1994. My daddy  left my house for the last time.  I didn’t know it would be the last.  I could hear him fiddling with his car to start it up, as he always did with that old Duster.  Suddenly, I was afraid I had forgotten.  Forgotten to tell him I love him. My husband reassured me I had.
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01 Yet, I was relieved when he called to tell me he had gotten home safely. “I wanted to tell you I love you,” I said. “Because you never know when it will be the last time.”

The next day he was murdered.   A Wells Fargo armored car heist.  It was one of the top local news features for a few months.  Most people don’t remember it now.  

For me, it’s something I can never forget.  I miss him every day.  A few years ago,  I wanted to write about his death in a previous blog. There the entry still sits among the Drafts. I could not get past that phone call.  Odd, since I can talk about it as casually as if I were telling you about my afternoon.  But, writing it, I couldn’t  finish it.

The first few weeks, months, maybe longer my mind raced with all kinds of thoughts. Why wasn’t it me, instead? Why did it have to be his time?

The one regret I do not have is that last conversation. It is why it’s worth the silly embarrassment of telling others how we love them. Better to say, “I love you more than anything and looking into your eyes gives me butterflies,” now than to save it for someone’s funeral and only wish you had.

Right off, it is obvious I was and am a Daddy’s Girl. To this day, I will drop into casual conversation, “My daddy says…” even though I have not had any long and meaningful conversations with him in 19 years.

 There is one lie we tell ourselves and others, right at the start. It’s a lie I wish would stop. Even though it’s meant well meaning. “It will get easier.”  When friends have lost their parents or other loved ones, I try to be of comfort, but I can’t lie.  It’s not going to get easier.  The easiest part was the first week. Not because it was a walk in the park, but because of shock and activity. The mind keeps working.  With the media at my door, a funeral plan, and people calling with their condolences, I could pretend it wasn’t real. It was a dream.  I knew I would wake up soon. All I had to do was keep busy and not give the media the satisfaction of seeing me cry.


Then, the funeral was over. I came home, picked up the phone and heard only a dial tone. The familiar stutter of a waiting message was that long buzzing.  The most final and depressing sound I ever heard. It was a sound that said, “This is all too real and you’re on your own.”

19 years.  I still keep thinking it should become easier with each passing year. Yet, it doesn’t. I might cry over a song or anything that reminds me of him. This is the time of year I try to keep myself busy. If I do not, then I remember.  One year, I worked so much at the Celebrity Theatre, that my mind didn’t have time to think.

Last year, I found a way to refocus when I started helping  APSPA  with their Security Officer Memorial Fund and started Victory Rose on Facebook, because he influenced my love for vintage, music, learning, and adventure.

There are good days. There are bad days. There are so many things I want to share with him and have him answer back. So many times I want to say, “You were right.”

Each day I live. Each accomplishment I make, I make not only for myself, but for his memory.  



Sunday Spotlights: Nataly Colvin

37786_277272285725852_387686634_nBrihadaranyaka Upanishad once stated, You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”  This philosophy is the driving force Nataly Colvin of Fitness & Wellness lives by. The road has been a long one, with interesting twists and turns. Yet, each turn has led her down the road to the ultimate goal: balance

Originally born and raised in Kazakhstan (the country south of Russia), Nataly was a busy little girl. On top of her full time general education, she participated in gymnastics and music school. With very little time to enjoy being a child, her mother told her she needed to choose only one of her pursuits. Influenced by her musician father, she decided to follow her love of music. For the next seven years, Nataly took piano and vocal lessons. 

In high school, Nataly noticed she possessed a natural talent for counseling. Friends from school and church often came to her for advice on their problems. It was because of this, she decided to get her Masters in Educational Psychology and Counseling. She worked in the field, but found that it was not the right niche for her. Her interest was in positive self-growth and self-development, rather than the clinical side of psychology. She held the belief that someone must desire change before they can achieve it. Her goal was to work with people who wanted to transform their lives. 

Through the years, fitness was always in the back of her mind. Like many college students, her weight fluctuated a lot. She worked out, then stopped many times. After getting married and traveling the world for her husband’s job, she continued pursuing fitness here and there, but something was still missing.  Persistence. 

After giving birth to her son, she started working out, again. This time, she was excited and encouraged by the progress and drastic changes of her body. She  studied  different diets, followed many so-called fitness gurus , and absorbed any information she could find. She took classes and her body started to transform a bit more. It still wasn’t what she was looking for.     

Then, her life changed. She broke her foot and couldn’t workout for eight months. Not long after, she began to suffer serious stomach issues. She visited  different doctors, who ran tests and scans. She couldn’t eat anything without her stomach hurting. After not eating properly and  unable to workout, for nearly a year, she realized she had gained fat in all the wrong places. She wasn’t overweight. “Skinny fat”, she calls it. Her body had simply lost its form, due to lack of exercise and good nutrition. After having her gall bladder removed, working out was postponed a little longer. 249563_277274022392345_1288736495_n

At this point, Nataly was started feeling depressed about it all. Instead of giving up, she listened to the words her mother raised her with, “She would say listen to your heart and you will always find the strength and passion within, and then go for it.” Nataly began reading a lot, as she worked on transforming who she was. This included working out, again, as well as filling her mind with a lot of positive information. While meeting people, at the gym, who inspired her, she  found out others were inspired by her. Through the transformation of her body and general well being, she finally found what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.    

Through her social media pages, Nataly has been able to motivate and inspire others who are looking for a change their bodies and their whole lives. “There is nothing greater than being able to inspire someone and see their life transform. It’s the best reward for me. One has to remember, there is that body and mind connection. By changing your mind, you change your life. The impossible becomes possible! “


 Nataly is currently in the process of developing a new program, “Body Sculpting and Wellness by Nataly”.  To learn more about this program and keep updated with future projects and inspiration, visit Nataly at Alpha Fitness by Nataly.  





Sunday Spotlights: Eric Swett (Author of Apocalypse Rising)

Twenty years ago, I met Eric Swett, when we were both in college.  At that time he was a cute, charismatic 19 year old, with a smile  and cocky sense of humour that melted the hearts of many of the girls he came across.   Today,  he describes himself as ‘just a guy’, whose family means more to him than anything else in the world.  He is a husband, father of three (two boys and a girl) children, IT tech, and a writer.  564798_10152216844800082_1004247886_n

His first novel, Apocalypse Risinghas a magical what-happens-next quality, which could only come from the intense, and sometimes twisted, mind of Eric Swett. Apocalypse Rising is the story of  an angel, who gave up his memories and powers, in order to help the human race.  The story starts directly in the middle of the action and does not let the reader take much of a breath along the way.

While Apocalypse Rising  has dark elements to it, Eric’s writing has changed considerably along the way.  His early writing ventures were short stories that were much more on the dark side. As a role player, and all around geek, his original novel writing experience was in the  traditional fantasy genre.  Heis early writing ventures were  greatly  influenced by fantasy writers, such as Weis and Hickman, Robert Jordan, and Christoper Stashed, plus science fiction authors, Ben Bova, L. Ron Hubbard, and Isaac Asimov.

Eric was first inspired to take the Urban Fantasy route when his friend, Craig Sottolano, published One Right Tricky Little  Bastard.   It was different than anything he had read before and he was quickly turned onto the concept of Urban Fantasy.  It was after reading Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files that Eric found what had been missing from his own writing. From these inspirations Eric Swett’s Apocalypse Rising was born.091812-P Apocalypse Rising

Eric is currently hard at work on his sequel for Apocalypse Rising, scheduled for release at the end of this year.  He has plans to continue the story for another book or two,  then  returning his attention to a number of novels he put aside.   

When asked about his best advice for others, he stated: ”My advice to other writers would be to remember that what other people tell you about your writing is their opinion, so you can chose to ignore it.My was derailed for a couple of years because I started taking the negative opinions of other writers too seriously. If they thought my work was so bad, why should I continue. I figured out later that all writers have their own style an opinion, and they will rarely be the same as yours. Take what you like and leave the rest behind.

My advice to children would be to eat your vegetables, don’t grow up too fast and learn to memorize the lines of your favorite movies.”

To learn more about Eric Swett, follow him at Eric W Swett Author in Progress and My Writer’s Cramp.




Secret Swap

Secret Subject Swap

As I continue to catch up on writing and life, today will offer a two-fer post by the end of the day.

Welcome to Take Two of the April Swap. Each blogger in this round was assigned a question from another blogger that they have been challenged to answer.

My Secret Swap subject is “If You Had One Day to Do Over…what would it be? Why would you change it?” Submitted by Life On the Sunnyside.

One day? There are many days in life that could have led to better decisions or when words could have been said (or unsaid), or chances taken. Tomorrow, my family is attending a Chili Cookoff fundraiser to raise money for security officers killed in the line of duty. I was invited as a judge and have become a representative for families who have lost their family members. It is a way for me to help other families, who should not have experienced such a loss. I do this in honor of my father.

I give this background so it is easily understood. I would choose the last day (or any other day) that I could spend with my father just one last time. Right before he left, I heard him fiddling with his car, as he always did. I was sure I forgot to hug and kiss him and tell him I love him. My husband reassured me I already had and there would always be next time.

When my dad called after getting home, I told him I was happy he called and I was worried that I forgot to tell him I love him…”because you never know when it will be the last time.” I told him, but I never hugged and kissed him. This is what what I would change. Since then, I make sure to hug and kiss people I love and tell them I love them…just in case. I preach it to everyone I know to ad nauseum. Because, I missed that chance. Daddy knows I love him. I told him. Yet, for myself, that last hug would have made the difference. That is what I would change.

J is for Justin

One of the advantages and frustrations of being a writer is how little people in your own family actually read what you write. Today, it is an advantage.  It means I can write about my oldest child.

When Justin was 6 years old, he entered a contest at the newly opened Wal-Mart behind the apartment we lived in at the time. The contest was a Blue Bunny decorating contest.  What a surprise to get called back and asked to participate in an ice cream decorating contest.  The morning of the competition, there were about six total children. Justin had no idea what he was doing. He was just having fun. While the older children were making creations that would pass for the beauty of an ice cream cake, Justin was adding Oreos to the sides and jamming gummy worms into his creation. He won 1st place. His creation? A guy wearing earmuffs, with worms coming out of his face. What he created was the most …well, creative.

The best part was he didn’t realize he had won. His publicity photo was taken, he received a bag of goodies, coupons, and certificates.  A girl he had been talking to at the beginning of the competition was in tears, because she didn’t place.  He took one of his free Blue Bunny ice cream coupons and gave it to her. It made her smile and that was his goal.

He was excited about what he had won. He liked the football and, “Mommy, there are coupons.” He didn’t understand, until we go home, and I explained, exactly how big his prize was.  He had a year’s supply of Blue Bunny ice cream coupons and a Wal-Mart gift certificate (this was before the cards).  That evening, he bought things he wanted and made sure his baby brother got a light up toy (his brother still loves anything that lights up) and a doll for his little sister (she still loves dolls).

I remember a Christmas event in downtown Glendale, one year. A man approached him and gave him ten balloons, all for his own.  Justin walked around and found other children to give balloons to. Completely his idea. He had a great time with it. I always wished we could do it, again.

These are the thoughts that came to mind  as I waited for Justin to come out of a job interview.  He is very excited about the possibility of a new job. Especially since he has been trying to get one for the last two years. Only, electronic applications are not always aware of the person behind the application.  They don’t know about the generosity or the hard work at a museum or at a children’s theatre. They don’t know about all the times he took care of his siblings, about his love of science, or about  the times he saved the lives of animals.

It’s just a cold bit of data that says Yay or Nay, based on Job Experience.

Despite the angst and the frustrations over the years, I am very proud of him.