Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Hair Solution

Heh. I think this hat might be the solution for me! Just think, I'd never have to wax my chin again. And I could make sure my "beard" coordinated with my outfit of the day...

The more I consider it, the more I like the idea. I'm not to crazy about the hat, but hats are easy to crochet. It could be a whole new "look" for winter!

Between that and wearing long pants, I could pretty much eliminate any unsightly hair. Hey! I wouldn't even have to color the hair on my head as the hat would cover it up. I knew there was something good about winter.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Almost Christmas Child

Christmas 2003. It was a busy, busy year. In June we moved from New York to Maryland because the house hunk was transferred. Moving is always stressful, but this time it was particularly so because we lived in our last home for nineteen years. So much stuff. So much stuff to sort and get rid of or throw out! Then in mid-September Hurricane Isabel roared into Maryland. Fortunately, we were not near the flooding, though one of the trees behind our building ended up on our balcony.
Our youngest daughter was pregnant, due in late December. We made arrangements to stay with our oldest son. Our daughter and her boyfriend were staying in a small room so Christmas was celebrated at our son's apartment. No baby. It appeared that the baby was in no hurry to arrive. We made arrangements to wait the baby out, but by December 29th, we were running out of our medications and reluctantly made the decision to go home the next day. That afternoon our daughter called, "Don't go yet! I've started labor!"
In a little while, her boyfriend called. "She wants you to be here when the baby's born." So we hopped in the car and made the forty-five minute drive across the Hudson River to the hospital. When we arrived, he was waiting for us and ushered us up to the maternity floor.
She didn’t quite make it for Christmas, but on December 29th close to midnight, the househunk and I were with my daughter and her boyfriend, present when Daisha Monet made her entrance. Witnessing the miracle of a new baby never gets old. The precious gift of a new life—especially at Christmas—is a reminder of the real reason we celebrate Christmas.

She's seven this year. Happy Birthday, Daisha!


Monday, December 27, 2010

The day after...

While other parts of the east coast are snowed in, we have a dusting... what little bit we received has been blown away. Matter of fact, the wind is still howling. But. No. Snow. It appears this is a good place to be.

The sun is shining. The wind chimes are blinging. And all is well in my little universe for the moment. Seems like this should be a good day to write so I'm off to my cave to do that!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Eye of the Storm

First of all... Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law, Mary! May you have many, many, many, many more! Have a good day!

Well. The day after Christmas. Across the land, women are taking a collective sigh of... relief? Maybe. Most know this is just a breather before we all plunge into the real cleanup of tree, decorations, and putting our homes back in order. But for this one day, most of us will loll around, enjoying the presents we received or simply sipping a cup of something warm to drink while we watch the kids or the TV.

Here at Chez Anny all is quiet. We're waiting for a snowstorm today. How much snow will depend on how fierce the nor'easter is and exactly what track is takes as it churns toward New England. In the meantime, we're hunkered down in our warm burrow, ready for whatever comes along.

Every year I learn something new at Christmas. This year there were only two of us here. The first thing I learned is that I've forgotten how to cook for two. We'll be munching on leftovers for a while.

The second thing is quick cleanup during preparation is much easier when you have a dog underfoot. That bit of dough that dropped to the floor--gone instantly. The scrap of meat you dropped--gone instantly. This year I had to clean up after myself.

Another think I thought about is how little the act of cooking has changed over the centuries. In spite of all our modern pots and pans and preparation equipment, it still boils down to putting food in a pot and heating it. The ingredients have changed very little. Maybe we add a few more herbs or spices.

I'm preparing pea soup with the last of our ham. In a centuries old recipe, it still has potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, peas--and in times of plenty--some type of meat. Actually, the peas alone were nutritious enough to totally change human history after the Black Plague in Europe. On a snowy winter day in America, it still does the job.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Tacos

We have tacos every Christmas Eve. Why? As a remembrance of friendship above and beyond the usual. In this vignette, I tell the story.

Christmas 1981. We lived in Houston, Texas, far from our families. My dad called to tell my husband that he needed to come home. My husband's father was very ill. We could not afford for everyone to go and our daughters were both in bed with the flu. We decided that he would take our sons with him (mostly because I knew that he would have to make frequent stops if they were along). When they arrived in Chicago, my parents planned to take the boys to Indiana to stay with them.

I was fine until Christmas Eve. Then the loneliness engulfed my. My friends were all busy with their extended family gatherings. My extended family lived far away. My daughters were sleeping the holidays away, too sick to care if they had gifts or not. I was feeling underprivileged and deprived as I stood at my kitchen counter eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The telephone rang. My friend, Linda, inquired about my plans for the evening. I admitted that I did not have much planned except a shower and bed. She told me to get my purse and coat ready. Lester, her husband, was already on the way over to pick up my girls and me. We were invited to her home for the evening. I protested that the girls were sick. She pointed out that they could sleep at her house as well as mine.

When Lester arrived, we wrapped the girls in blankets and carried them out to the car. The trip to their home was short so the girls slept through the journey and were soon cozily asleep in bed. We spent the evening quietly, playing board games, eating tacos, and singing along with Handel’s Messiah. It was a lovely peaceful evening. Just after midnight, Lester drove us home.

On Christmas Eve our family has tacos as a remembrance of that Christmas Eve spent with loving, compassionate friends. Of all of my friends, they were the ones who saw my need and acted. It was an action made more remarkable because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not believe in observance of holidays… not even Christmas.

A miracle.


As a footnote... since last Christmas I found Linda on Facebook and we've reconnected. Isn't life grand?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hospital Christmas

Christmas 2004. The house hunk and I planned to go to New York for Christmas. Then came the call from his doctor. A surgery planned for January had to be moved up. After January 1st, our insurance would no longer cover it.

We spent the last few days of Christmas week rushing around, trying to fit in all the pre-surgery tests so he would be ready. Three days before Christmas, he went in the hospital. The surgery went well, but his projected release date wasn't until December 26th.

I went up to visit him on Christmas Eve. I remember my pleased surprise when I saw the small poinsettia plant on his table. The splash of red stood out in the blah-colored room. It seems a volunteer group made it their business to give every patient a plant.

Then the doctor came in with an even better surprise. The hunk could go home! It was dark and cold, but at seven in the evening we arrived home. He went to bed. I put on some Christmas Carols and determined I would not feel sorry for myself. Instead, I called each of my children and my parents to let them know he was home and doing well.

The next day I made a small dinner for myself. He had a fabulous liquid lunch. His surgery? Bariatric surgery. So dinner was not the most important thing on his horizon. I admit it was an odd Christmas. But we were together and that's what counted, ultimately.

Christmas, after all, isn't made up of presents, a fancy dinner, or even the decorations. I've relearned that this year with the limits my diabetes have placed on the Christmas goodies. But Christmas can be about loneliness, past heartaches, financial hardships if we let it be. Or we can choose to focus on that small bit of peace around us. Light a candle. Put some music on low. Notice things like the Father Christmas at my grocery store who took the time to greet every shopper--yes even the grumpy ones. Find the things that make us smile.

Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Journey

Christmas 1989. “Please come if you can. Uncle Charles has terminal cancer and probably won’t be with us next Christmas.” For many years in my family, holidays (Christmas and Thanksgiving) have been alternated with the in-laws. This year was not a family Christmas, but the family was trying to get together anyway. It wasn’t a great year for us. The house hunk was on disability because of an accident at work. I was on unemployment because my company, Waldenbooks, had moved their warehouse operation from New York to Tennessee. The boys, recently graduated from high school, were out of work, since they had also been employed there. Jobs were scarce with 700 unemployed warehouse workers suddenly in the job market. I was attending school as a dislocated worker, hoping to obtain the skills for a new job.

“Please come.” Our car was shot. There was barely enough for a gift for each of the kids. Friends had provided Christmas dinner components for us. The trip from New York to Indiana was out of the question. Reluctantly, I called my parents with the news.

The kids asked us if we could talk for a few minutes. “Suppose we give up our present money…would we have enough gas money to get there?” one of them asked.

My younger son offered to change the oil and do a quick check up on the car. Our oldest pointed out that we could take turns driving. The car had very little heat…but our older daughter suggested that we could take extra blankets. Slowly, one objection at a time, they showed us that we could make the trip. I called my parents in LaPorte, Indiana and suggested that they make up some extra beds.

We traveled to LaPorte, stopping only for restrooms and coffee. Our car was a tight squeeze for five small people. We had six large people. The kids said that was a good thing as we all stayed warmer that way. Meals were sandwiches eaten in the car. In Ohio, we ran into snow. The car heater didn’t work well enough to defrost the windows so they began to freeze over. There were frequent stops to clear them, but we made it. After eighteen hours on the road we arrived in LaPorte. There was close to a foot of snow on the ground.

It was a great Christmas, rendered more poignant because of Uncle Charles’ illness. There were more family members there than at anytime before or since. Close to 70 people sat down for Christmas dinner. Afterwards, there were games, carols, and visiting.

The trip home was longer as there was more snow to contend with. In Pennsylvania, the snow was so heavy that it melted on the headlights, creating a sheet of ice that coated them. We stopped frequently to clear them just so we had light. Cars were sliding off the road. It was night. Plows couldn’t keep up with the storm. The rest areas were closed. We had no money to stay anywhere so we kept moving. Twenty-six hours later, we arrived safely home.

Anyone who has traveled with teenagers knows that it’s impossible to travel far without petty squabbles and picking. However, our entire trip, bad weather, extremely uncomfortable conditions, with limited money, there wasn’t a cross word from anyone.

A miracle. Several, in fact.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Pretty Package

Christmas 1960. A bleak, un-Christmasy year. My mother died at the end of May in an automobile accident in the midst of our move to Gary, Indiana where we were strangers. We had family there but I felt disconnected and lonely. It wasn’t Christmas without my mother and our own family rituals. I did not like snow and cold weather when it wasn’t a novelty. I didn’t like the schools. I didn’t like the teachers or neighbors. Most of all I didn’t like the kids that made fun of my soft, gentle Arizona accent.

My grandmother was living with us, keeping the house together, cooking and cleaning. She noticed that I felt left out. One day, she gave me a miracle. It was the miracle of belonging.

She invited me into her bedroom and shut the door. On her bed, heaps of wrapping paper, bows and boxes overflowed. Shopping bags on the floor bulged with any number of secrets and surprises.

“I need a helper,” she confided, “so that I will be ready for Christmas, but it must be a very special helper—one who can keep secrets no matter what the cost. Would you like to be my helper?”

My heart squeezed tight within my chest. Absolutely positively! She patiently taught me how to wrap presents, cut the paper, miter the corners, remove the price tags, mark the names on the gift tags… Looking back, I know she could have wrapped them in half the time it took to teach me, but oh! what a gift she gave me when she trusted me to keep her secrets. For several years, on and off, I wrapped her Christmas gifts. It was my contribution. It meant that I belonged.

Grandmother is gone now. Every Christmas as I wrap presents, I use every skill that she taught me, including her most important one: to look around and notice the person on the fringes of the family celebration and draw them into the heart of the family by allowing them a “special” responsibility.

As my children grew up, each traveled through the “lonelies”—times when they were on the outside looking in. I tried to take care to ask them to serve in a “special” capacity. Individually, they decorated the tree or house, wrapped presents, shopped for the whole family, baked cookies, assembled toys that were labeled “no assembly required.” Each year Grandmother’s legacy lingers in the memory and in the heart.

A miracle.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blue Paradise Release Today!

Yay! It's release day for Blue Paradise~~Number Five of the Mystic Valley series! This is Mali, Jonson and Poussé's story.


When ex-soldier Poussé receives an unexpected job offer from the mysterious Waterloo Group, she doesn’t question the providential timing. Twelve hours later she wishes she had when she’s captured by two sexy blue-skinned warriors—Jonson and Mali of Mystic Valley.

Mali and Jonson make her an offer she can’t refuse—become their bond mate. Positive she can use the new relationship to escape, Poussé accepts, but she doesn’t count on the physical changes the bonding creates or her constant desire for Jonson and Mali. Their tender touches, hot kisses and even hotter sex get under her skin—which is turning blue! As they pursue other escaped team members, she learns real love and desire have no color barriers and carnal games are best indulged in with two hot bond mates.


“Place your hands on the ground above your head,” a deep voice murmured in her ear. A rash of goose bumps pebbled her neck when his warm breath washed over her cold skin.

Poussé mentally shuffled through several options as she muttered, “Yeah, yeah. Give me a minute here. You’re squashing me.” The man was too heavy for her to dislodge and his position, sitting squarely on the center of her spine, left her with no leverage to work with.

He knocked her snug cap to the side. With one hand twisted in her shocking blue Mohawk and the other one still pressing the knife tip to her neck, he scooted down until he was seated on her butt.

“Move. Toss the weapon away too.”

Just for a second she considered trying to turn beneath him, but decided the risk of a slit throat was more than she was willing to bargain. Pissed off at the way he had captured her, she shoved her rifle away and stretched out her arms above her head.

With swift, blurred movements, he yanked her hands down and cuffed her wrists, winding some furry material around them and knotting it. When she lifted her head up, trying to look over her shoulder at her captor, he shoved her head back down, shifting so his body was stretched over hers from head to toe.

Her cheek was ground into the dead leaves and dirt and the scent of decaying plants tickled her nose. She clenched her teeth, desperately fighting the urge to sneeze. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Protecting you, woman.”

“Protecting me? Are you crazy? Get off me and give me back my rifle! Achoo!” The sneeze exploded with such violence her face slammed into the ground, with her nose taking the brunt.


Her eyes watered as searing pain spread across her cheeks but before she had time to complain, she was distracted by the unmistakable pressure of his hard cock pressing against her ass. “Listen, buddy. I’m not interested in that kind of action,” she protested, suddenly wriggling fiercely as she tried to throw him off.

A spicy unfamiliar scent drifted past her nose when he nipped her ear with his teeth. “Then be still or I might get the idea that you are interested. I find your ass very attractive.”

She froze, barely breathing, snuffling softly through the trickle of blood that dribbled from her nose.

He leaned forward, his cock pressing harder in the crevice between her legs as his heavy muscled chest flattened her on the ground. With a low grunt, he reached for the rifle.

Her heart stopped and stuttered before racing into a pounding gallop. The hand that touched the rifle was blue. Not tattooed. Not blue-tinged, but blue. Slowly her gaze moved up the muscular arm attached to the strange hand. Blue. Unmistakably blue. What kind of alien had captured her?

“What is this place?” She whimpered breathlessly.

A shrill whistle came from the right and he leaped to his feet, easily hauling her up by one arm to face him. “Welcome to Mystic Valley.”

Want more? Check it out at