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While I was down for the count with COVID, I watched a bunch of movies. Some romcoms, a short British series called Slow Horses (loved it BTW!), and some Hallmark Mysteries. Those Hallmarks have long been my guilty pleasure. I love the Crossword Mysteries and the Aurora Teagarden series, in particular. Not high art, but they aren’t meant to be. Some light sexual tension between the leads, and a mystery to solve. I hate it when I figure it out too quickly!
On Sunday night, with everyone feeling better and a little housebound, we decided to have some fun outside! Nothing too strenuous, because we’re still feeling the effects of the disease.
We set up a projector attached to a laptop and shined the image at the side of a shed in our yard. It was the perfect outside theater! Of course, we scouted the location ahead of time for fire ants! We burned a large citronella candle and lit tiki torches around our perimeter to discourage mosquitoes. We brought out drinks and snacks and laid on blankets with pillows (or they did—I lazed in an Adirondack chair). We tried streaming My Girl, at first, but the buffering got annoying, so we decided to pull out a DVD and ended up watching episodes of Jimmy Neutron! It was so much fun and reminded me of my childhood when my parents would load up the station wagon with all four kids and head to the drive-in theater, sleeping bags laid out for the kids in back, and a pillowcase of popcorn.
Everyone loved it, even the 8-year-old who is scared to death of bugs. We’ll be doing it again this summer.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, share some fun childhood memory of your family or an idea for some unique activity families can enjoy!
It’s Memorial Day, and the kids are happy to be out of school. They’ll likely spend some time in the pool, and we’ll no doubt have something special for dinner. I like spending the morning watching snippets of news as older veterans head to places where they lost friends to honor them. There’s a price for freedom. This is the day we celebrate those who gave everything for ours.
And if you haven’t read a story that shows you the importance of Memorial Day, I have one.
If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I collect things. My daughter calls it hoarding, but she can’t be too harsh with me because all I have to do is mention the word “Pyrex” and she shuts right up. (She is obsessed! She even bought an entire display cabinet to hold her overflowing collection of vintage bowls!)
Anyways, I have a collection of tarot/divination/meditation cards, plus bags of Norse rune stones, etc. Sometimes, at night, when I’m winding down and need to get my mind to quiet, I pull out a deck and read my cards.
Well, I have this very pretty, modern box of “Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards.” Each goddess has a sentiment written on it. This morning when I looked at the long To Do list I wrote for myself last night, I thought, I need “goddess” help, so I pulled a random card…
Nice! Sekmet is very cool! She was a lion-headed goddess, daughter of Ra, and she was the goddess Pharoah wanted with him when he went to war. She breathed fire, and the hot desert winds were her breath… I could use some of Sekmet’s fire and lion’s strength today. I’ll be ferocious like her! My To Do list doesn’t stand a chance against my fiery purpose!!!
Okay. So, anyway…
Lots to do. I’m behind on so many things, and June snuck up on me! May was COVID month, but June will be DIG MYSELF OUT OF THE CRATER month!
So, a question! Answer for a chance to win a download of your choice of a book from my vast backlist. Do you own any tarot or meditation cards? Does some other object serve the same purpose for you (Bible, bones, rosary beads, etc.)?
It’s Saturday! Everyone in the house is feeling so much better that they’re getting cranky about having to stay cooped up. I can escape the drama by being right here, sitting at my desk. Or watching a movie. Lord, I’ve watched so many the past few days. And I’ve puttered around, organizing things—not that my method of organization looks “organized.” 🙂
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, solve the puzzle, then tell me a story about the person in the puzzle. Have fun with the challenge! Your story doesn’t have to be long or even good!
This month on May 26th, my mother turned 92. As I thought about an African-American woman I wanted to honor in my post this month, Catherine Louise Williams Taylor Phillips came to my mind.
Lately, I’ve been asking her questions from a book/journal called My Mother’s Life: Mom I Want To Know Everything About You. I speak to her every morning and after our check-in ritual, I ask her if she’s ready for the question of the day. She says yes, answers what she can recall then shares anecdotes that have nothing to do with the question. That’s my momma.
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the turn of the 20th-centuryth century song “M-O-T-H- E- R (M Is For The Million Things She Gave Me).” Here’s a vintage recording if you want to give a listen. It’s a schmaltzy ditty that touches my heart because of the mother I was fortunate to have. So today, I want to celebrate a few of the million things my mother gave me.
My mom was born on May 26, 1930 and was sent to live down South with her grandmother when she was a few months old. She shared with me that she didn’t even know there was a depression and regales me with stories of being the spoiled red-haired fox her uncles chided and chastised.
When Alex Haley’s Roots was televised, she wondered what the big deal was then proceeded to tell me about the Pitt family that owned her grandparents. When I let her know I’d decided to pursue a Masters degree two years after graduating from college and having worked in the big bad world of advertising, it was only then she shared that she had been hoping I would go back to school. She even declared, “Why who knows? You may want to go on and get a PhD.” That was the first time I realized my mother wished things for me, but by her restraint showed she respected that what I wanted when and if I wanted it was what was important.
In things small and large, she made it plain—not only to me but to my sister as well—that we were to be who we wanted to be. We weren’t put on this earth to live up to anyone’s expectations. She recalled a time my sister came to her with a picture she had drawn and said, “I couldn’t do it as good as Anna.” To which my mother assured her she wasn’t supposed to do it as good as Anna. She was supposed to do it as good as Muriel. When I felt unconfident or about to settle for less than what I was worth, I recalled her telling me with great vehemence, “You can scrub toilets before you kiss anybody’s ass.” She doesn’t remember saying this but I do, and I will always be grateful for the confidence those words instilled.
As a minister, I’ve helped families in which the relationship between mothers, daughters and sons was strained and far from loving. They can’t sing without reservation as I can the last line of the song I shared above but thanks to the love I have from my mom, I’ve found ways to help honor their struggles and woes.
The last line of M-O-T-H-E-R goes, “Put them all together they spell MOTHER. A word that means the world to me.” I will forever be grateful to my mother who means the world to me. For a chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, share in the comments about someone who was a mother to you or perhaps you have mothered.
HauntedSerenade – by Anna M. Taylor
All the women in Anora Madison’s family have lived haunted by the curse of Poor Butterfly: women still longing for but deserted by the men they loved. Determined to be the first to escape a life of abandonment, Anora fled Harlem for Brooklyn, not only severing her ties with her mother Angela, but also ending her relationship with Winston Emerson, her lover and the father of her child.
Six years later, Anora comes home to make peace, but an unseen evil manifests itself during the homecoming and targets not only Anora, but her little girl Cammie.
With nowhere to run, Anora must confront the evil now trying to destroy her life. She vows to protect her daughter at all costs, but if that protection can only be found with Winston back in her life, how will Anora protect her heart?
Excerpt from Haunted Serenade…
In September 15, 1963, the one year anniversary of my aunt Diana’s death, four young girls in Birmingham, Alabama died when their church was bombed for its involvement in the Civil Rights movement.
My mother called that evening and inquired after my health and the health of my daughter Cammie – the granddaughter she vowed never to acknowledge.
Fear, anger and sorrow sounded in her voice. Mine too. We mourned those girls, their families and the sister/aunt we both loved. In that spoken grief, I silently mourned what had died between my mother and me.
The following month she called again, this time inviting me to bring Cammie to dinner. Like some sulky child, I felt tempted to ask what took her so long. Instead, I swallowed my hurt and came home.
Okay, so it hasn’t been horrible. So far, anyway. We’ve had our shots, which I’m sure is why we’re doing so well.
My dd and I were feeling very superior yesterday A.M. Everyone in the house has had their symptoms to varying degrees. The 8-year-old had congestion and was tired (lazy, in my eyes—I mean, everyone else was being waited on hand and foot, so why not her?). The 13-year-old had congestion, fever, headaches, and didn’t want to get out of bed (not lazy, in my eyes—she was genuinely miserable). The 18-year-old was on the mend after extreme fatigue and a terrible cough. He actually took his yoga mat out to the driveway with some hand weights to work out yesterday afternoon. Now, he’s just staying in bed, I’m sure, because he was texting with some girl into the wee hours. His mom has a list of chores to stick him with today—it’s character-building. My SIL had a terrible cough and fatigue but is on the mend. The 17-year-old had congestion, ran a fever until yesterday, but is feeling much better today. She’s working on completing her finals online because she can’t go back to school just yet.
Today, my daughter’s not feeling so superior. She ran a fever last night and had a splitting headache until this morning. But now, she’s lost her sense of taste and smell. She says it’s weird. Coffee tasted like cardboard (how she knows what it tastes like, I don’t know!).
So, I’m the only one left feeling superior. I had a bit of a cough for a couple of days. I took naps. That was it. So, unless I get that 5-day dip where everything goes to shit, I’m doing great. I’m even puttering around doing the dishes and trading out drinks on the TV trays we have set outside everyone’s bedrooms. I’m the only one still wearing a mask because, if I’m feeling good because my viral load was tiny, then I definitely don’t want another dose!
I’m a bit bored. Too much time in front of the screen makes my eyes teary, so I do have to get up and putter. Reading a book after editing a book—not something I want to do either. I’ve re-watched old movies I love—The Proposal and This Means War. I’ve sorted and cleaned out the junk in a couple of desk drawers. I varnished all my acrylic paintings I’ve done lately. See how bored I am?
I can’t go anywhere, and everyone in the house wants to sleep.
For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, come up with some creative things for me to do—that don’t require crispy-clear brain cells or much effort. You can have fun and make up silly things, too.
Years ago, I was in high school reading an article about John F. Kennedy Jr. and started wondering what it’d be like to deal with that level of scrutiny. As it was, I felt very judged in my hometown, so it threw me into imaging what he must have felt in his everyday life. Later in college, I wrote a short story imagining a teenage girl who was dating a guy who was basically a high school version of JFK Jr. I kept thinking about all the focus that had been on his wife, Carolyn, and I decided to turn that short story into a novel. I read (and watched) a lot of biographies on John and Carolyn and got a feel for what their lives were like behind closed doors. I read about insecurities they had, the opportunities he couldn’t take because of his family name, and what it was like living in a fishbowl with strangers watching you grow up and having an opinion on everything you did.
I really got into what it would be like to grow up where every move you made was watched, so then I imagined this teenage girl, Emme, who already has insecurity issues after being in a bad first relationship. I had Emme find a soulmate connection with this popular guy named Brendon who is also a well-known senator’s son. Brendon is trying so hard to live up to the family name and be the perfect son and student, but he is overwhelmed by the pressures on him. In my short story, I had given him a love interest that was his opposite, so I made Emme much more carefree and laidback. I pictured Brendon being on all these school committees and clubs and worried about grades and getting into his dad’s former college, while Emme is busy just being a normal high school student and trying to get on the school newspaper staff.
Then I thought about how important family ties were to JFK Jr. as I felt that connection with him as John passed shortly after I lost my grandpa. I wanted to include what my family had gone through with my grandfather’s dementia, and I thought I could have both Emme and Brendon dealing with grandparents with health issues which winds up cementing their bond even more. Brendon and Emme became more real to me as I was writing, and I almost felt bad giving this couple so many relationship obstacles on their path to true love. Notice I say, “almost.”
I re-released the updated book, Dating the It Guy, this April and since so many readers had asked if I’d do a sequel, I thought instead I would write an epilogue of what happens to Emme and Brendon couple years later after they graduate from college. In one way I was giving the readers a look into the future, but it was also a way for me to give my characters a happily ever after since it’s always been so sad that John and Carolyn’s lives were cut short. I learned a lot about John and Carolyn in my research and came to admire them both.
I write novels about friendships, crushes, hope, dealing with self-doubt, finding where you belong as well as your soulmate. My sister says my books are an airing of my grievances, but I like to think I’m just working through issues via my characters to help my readers work through theirs. Either way, the bumps along the road gave me a lot of material.
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but my mom made me show her I was serious about it my senior year when she signed me up for writing conferences to see if I’d sink or swim. Who knew I’d finally feel like I fit in somewhere…well, fit in-ish. I love reading, TV shows, watching strangers’ IG stories, and lipstick.