Woe! It’s Wednesday

We recently celebrated 33 years of wedded bliss. It’s a joke in the family, usually said during a disagreement, “Yep, (#) years of wedded bliss.”

We really do have a good marriage. I know I’m blessed to have a wonderful husband who loves me enough to lay down his life for me, who would do anything I asked of him, and who is a loving father and grandfather.

Some of our friends have not experienced happy marriages. More and more are either divorcing or resigning themselves to the fact that this is as good as it gets.

After 33 years, I’ve noticed some common denominators in less-than-blissful marriages.

I’d like to share some of them, but with a huge caveat.

I’m not a psychologist, counselor, or anything. I’m just a wife with a great husband and friends who share their journey with me.

If you and your spouse have any of these indicators, it does not mean your marriage is in trouble. But if you feel it’s an issue, I urge you to talk to your spouse and get some professional guidance from a counselor or pastor.

1) Money.  If a husband controls the purse strings and doles out an allowance for running the house, it’s a big red flag. A friend once told me, “My husband can’t give me enough money for groceries, so I’m starting a craft business to help him make ends meet.” This man wore expensive suits. I would have suggested he shop at Target instead of Nordstrom and put some food on the table.

2) Control. Money and control are closely related, but when I hear a woman say, “My husband said he doesn’t mind if I meet you for coffee next week,” another warning buzzer sounds. For big commitments, sure, we need to run them past our spouses. But if s/he wants to know what you’re doing every second of every day, and then give consent – that’s not a good thing.

3) Friends. If you don’t have any couple friends in common, I think that’s a biggie. A girlfriend whose husband recently left her mentioned a few months ago that they had lost touch with all their couple friends and there was no one in her husband’s life to keep him accountable and to point out that maybe he was spending too much time away from home.

Which segues into …

4) Common interests. If you spend your weekends and vacations doing your own thing apart and don’t spend any time together, it fosters a sense of ‘you’ and ‘me’ and diminishes the ‘us.’ The same husband in #3 above developed hobbies and interests outside of his marriage. Another husband I know works out of town 3 weeks of the month. Every weekend, he travels to a sporting event without his family. He sees his kids maybe one weekend a month. And he’s not single. Yet. I won’t be surprised when he leaves for good since he’s a member of that family in name only. He’s already checked out emotionally. It’s only a matter of time until he’s completely gone physically, too.

Okay, enough meddling for today! Back to our regularly scheduled rants.


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Book Talk Tuesday

I’m in Hawaii and through the magic of pre-scheduling this post will appear on its destined day.

And in honor of my getaway, here are a few books set in Hawaii.


Hawaii by James Michener.  I haven’t read it. My husband did and he said it made the islands more real to him and he enjoyed our visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center even more.

Distant Echoes

Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble is the first of the four book Aloha Reef series. I’ve only read this first one and Coble does a great job of making the setting come alive for the reader. Highly recommended.


Murder In Hawaii

Murder in Hawaii by Steve Allen. I haven’t read this one, but I did read a couple of other Steve Allen mysteries and they were quite good, so I would read this one with no hesitation.

K.O.'d in the Volcano: A K.O.'d in Hawai'I Mystery (K.O.'d in Hawai'i Mystery series)

K.O’d in the Volcano is by Victoria Heckman, a casual acquaintance and friend of friends. She lives on California’s central coast and writes Hawaiian-set mysteries. I’ve heard good things about her books.



Fiction Friday: Curve Ball

Robin’s Place  in this chapter is based on a restaurant in Pasadena called Robin’s. It’s still there, but very changed in decor and menu. Still good. Just different.


Chapter Fifteen

Sunday afternoon, Cami uncurled her legs from under her on the couch and stretched. She pulled out the elastic scrunchy holding her hair back and tossed it on the coffee table. She shook her head and ran cramped fingers through her hair. After draining her tea, she crumpled the napkin she used as a coaster and dropped it into the bottom of the mug. She gathered the rest of her lunch dishes to carry into the kitchen.

Thankfully, it had been a quiet weekend and she’d taken advantage of it to get caught up on her backlogged design magazines. Now she had a stack of articles pulled out of Paint Décor and an even taller pile to discard.

Grant had arrived yesterday morning, bearing bagels as promised. After telling him about the running shadow she’d seen, Grant crossed the street to examine the trees directly across from her front door. The jogger or stalker or whoever it was hadn’t left any identification or notes behind. By then, she’d decided she had imagined any intimidation and that she’d been frightened by an innocent late-night runner.

Afterwards, they spent an easy morning together and walked Petey around her block twice. Grant also joined her at church again that morning. He attracted a few stares, but most of the people remembered him from his years as a local kid and greeted him casually. He dropped their discussion of the last few days and regained his customary good humor. He was scheduled for shoulder surgery tomorrow.

The doorbell rang, startling her.

“Who is it?”

“Us, Miss Henderson. Kyle and Anthony.”

She unlocked the door and opened it. “Hi, guys. How are you?”

“We’re good,” Kyle said. “We stopped by ‘cause the baseball team is selling cookie dough, and we wondered if you’d like to help us out.” His hopeful eyes met hers.

“We’re trying to buy some more lights for the field,” Anthony added, handing her a brochure.

“What kinds are you selling?” And what kind does Grant like? She looked at the flyer to hide the amusement that thought provoked.

“There’s chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and sugar cookie.” Kyle’s expression turned puzzled.

She leaned against the doorframe, pretending to read about the finest California raisins used in the oatmeal recipe. “How are the SAT studying and vocabulary words going?” she asked, to change the subject.

“Okay, I guess. It’s hard to remember some of the Latin combinations,” Anthony said, his face in a permanent scowl of concentration.

“Like what?”

“Well, a means without, ab is away from, and abduc is lead from. So is abduction without something, away from something or leading from something?”

“What do you think?”

“I know abduction means kidnap, so… away from something?”

“Very good.” She handed the flyer back to Kyle. “I’ll take a tub each of the chocolate chip and the sugar cookies. Just a sec, I’ll get my purse.” She left them at the door and went to find her purse in the kitchen. Petey got up from his bed and walked to the living room. He made a low sound in his throat that in another dog would be a growl. “Hush, it’s a couple of the kids,” she said to the dog. “What’s bio mean?” she called as she pulled out her checkbook.

“I know ‘ology’ is ‘study of,’ and biology is life science, so I’m guessing life?” Kyle answered this time.

Cami smiled as she returned to the living room. “Oh.” The boys had come into the living room while she was in the kitchen. She’d figured them for the kind who would wait to be invited. She shrugged. “That’s right, bio means life. You’re going to do fine.” She handed Kyle a check.

Kyle tucked the order form and payment into his backpack. “Thanks, Miss Henderson. I’m not so sure. I’m might ask a teacher or someone for tutoring.”

“I don’t think you need it.”

“Maybe. I want all the help I can get.” He looked around the room. “Tara said you were going to ask Mr. Andrews about the ‘Where Are They Now?’ article.”

“He said he’d be honored.”

“How’s his shoulder?”

“He’s having surgery tomorrow and will start rehab after that. He’s planning to be back with the team in record time.”

Music came from Anthony’s pocket. Cami recognized the tinny notes of Unchained Melody­.

“Sorry. It’s Tara.” Turning pink, Anthony pulled his phone out, flipped it open, and stepped onto the porch.

“Can I ask you something?” Kyle fidgeted with the strap of his backpack.

“You may ask. I might not answer,” she said.

“Are you engaged to Grant Andrews?”

“No.” She blew out a breath and her shoulders sagged. “I understand that’s a rumor around school. I don’t know how it got started.”

“Okay. See you.” And he was out the front door, pulling Anthony down the steps behind him.

“Bye,” she said to the door slamming shut. She moved back to the table to take her dishes into the kitchen when she froze. That was odd. She was sure she’d left her hair band on the table with the magazines, but it wasn’t there. She started to shuffle through the articles thinking it must be mixed into the stack.

The phone rang, pulling her away from the search. This time, she remembered to check the caller ID before answering. Grant’s cell number. Her heart echoed the song on Anthony’s phone.


“Hi, yourself. Did you get that paperwork finished?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Good. Come outside onto your front porch.”

Cami moved to the door and looked through the window before stepping out. Grant leaned against the Corvette at the curb. He held a mobile phone to his ear. She caught her breath at the sight of his long legs crossed in front of him, his lean waist, and powerful shoulders.

“I thought you were going to stay home and rest this afternoon,” she said.

“I did. But then I decided to come see you. I’m going under the knife tomorrow. Who knows what the future holds? I want to spend my last evening with you.”

“You make it sound like a life-threatening operation – a heart transplant or something, instead of a simple arthroscopic procedure. You won’t even stay overnight in the hospital.”

“What does a guy have to do to get a little sympathy from you?” He pushed off from the car and began the walk to her porch.

She smiled. “He has to have driven here using only one arm. I have lots of sympathy for those guys.”

He climbed the steps, but still spoke into his phone. “How ‘bout if I drove here using my knees, no hands at all?”

“Really? Knees only? I’m impressed.”

“You should be.” He stood in front of her. “Cornering is murder. I think my legs are gonna need rehab as well as my shoulder.”

She laughed and turned her phone off. “Come on in.” He followed her into the house while holstering his phone.

“What are you doing for dinner?” he asked.

“Nothing. What do you have in mind?”

“A drive to Huntington Beach, a bite at Robin’s Place, then maybe a stroll on the sand. We’ll revisit the parking lot where you left me in the metaphorical dust for the second time.”

“Why do you want to do that?” That was sweet of him, to plan an evening, especially his last night out before surgery. But did she feel pampered or trapped?

“I’m trying to be romantic and charming. I thought women liked that kind of thing.”

“We do.”

“Well?” he asked.

“Well, what?”

“‘Grant, what a wonderful idea. I’d love to spend your last evening before going under the knife at a romantic beachfront restaurant.’ That’s ‘well, what.’” Something crept into his voice. Injured pride? Irritation?

“I’m sorry. Of course, I’d love to go to dinner.” She explained her seeming reluctance, hoping to ease the hurt in his eyes. “I can’t get used to the idea that you want to spend time with me.”

“Why wouldn’t I?”

She worried her lip, trying to decide how to say this. “I still see myself as a mousy spinster, afraid of life beyond her front door. I said I’m not a victim anymore, but sometimes I still revert to that scared girl who almost gave up on life. And I wonder what you see in her.”

“I see a strong woman who’s been very hurt by some men in her life. And that makes me want to never disappoint her.”

She smiled. “Thank you.”


“Grant, I would love to spend your last evening before going under the knife at a romantic beachfront restaurant. But don’t you have to fast before surgery?”

“Nothing to eat or drink after ten P.M., so I’ve got plenty of time. How soon can you be ready?”

“Fifteen minutes. If I can find the hair scrunchy I left with these magazines. I was looking for it when you got here.” She moved to the table and started looking under dishes and papers again. “It must have fallen into the cushions or under the couch or something. Oh, well. It’ll turn up. I’ll be right back.” She started up the stairs as Grant sat down.

Twelve minutes later Cami descended to find Petey stretched out on the couch with his nose on Grant’s knee.

“What’s this?” She put her hands on her hips.

“We’re waiting patiently. We’ve been talking about him keeping a better watch on things around here. He’s let too much get by him and he’s got to be more vigilant. I explained that and I think he understands what’s expected.”

She walked over and ruffled Petey’s fur behind his ears. “I’m glad to hear it. He growled a little at Kyle and Anthony earlier, but he didn’t bark or do anything to tell me someone was here. The door bell ringing was the first clue I had.”

“Why did they come by?”

“They were selling cookie dough to raise money for new lights at the ball field.”

“And you let them in?” His eyes bored into hers, his brow furrowed.

“Well, not really. They just came in.”

“And Petey growled? This dog, your big chicken, actually snarled?”

“It was more of a gravelly kind of rumble than a real growl. He didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Cami, you have to be careful. You shouldn’t let anyone in.”

“Then I guess you better leave.” How dare he tell her what to do or not do.

“You know what I mean.” His voice was quiet but intense.

“I’ve been living alone here for several years.” She could hear the shrill tone so she took a deep breath. “I have a highly developed sense of my own vulnerability. I’m not about to let just anyone in. But this was Kyle. And Anthony. Two of my students.”

“That’s not the point.”

“What is?”

“Some psycho is following and watching you every day and every moment. Ever thought about a roommate?”

“I used to have one and I hated it. When someone else lives in your home, they have a right to invite friends and family over. I couldn’t handle having strangers and other people in my house. I almost clobbered my last roommate’s brother with a frying pan in the middle of the night. We decided that I was better off living alone and she moved out. I’ve been happy and safe ever since.”

“Will you at least promise not to let anyone else in? Humor me.”

“All I can guarantee right now is that I’ll think about it.”

“Please do.” He patted Petey’s head and nudged the dog’s nose off his knee. “Get up buddy, we’ve got to go.” Petey lumbered off the couch and into the kitchen. A grunt came from that direction as he settled on his bed. “Ready?” Grant asked.

“Yes.” She hesitated as she picked up her purse. She looked inside it instead of at him. “Grant, I enjoy being with you and I think we have something. But…” her voice trailed off.

“Is this another chorus of ‘We’re too different’?”

“I’m wondering if the timing is wrong. Some nut is following me and you’re hurt and dealing with a stalled career and rehab. Are we crazy to do this?” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she wanted to pull them back. What if he agreed?

“We’re crazy all right. But not for wanting a relationship. There will always be a reason to delay. If we weren’t dealing with a stalker and an injury, it would be something else. Maybe something worse.”

“But what could be worse?”

“Are you serious?” He paused before continuing. “Instead of a treatable injury, I might have a life threatening illness. And this whacko could have kidnapped you instead of sending flowers. Things can always be worse.”

“Are you the same guy who was angry at God a few days ago, sure you’d never play ball again?”

He shrugged. “I guess some of your optimism and trust in the Big Guy has gotten through to me.”

“I hope so.” She closed her purse and moved to the entryway. “I promise I won’t let anyone in. Unless I know them and feel safe with them in my home.”

He leaned past her to open the door with his good arm. “Thank you. And I promise not to question your decisions. Now, let’s go eat.”


Woe! It’s Wednesday

It’s been said that Christians are the only group that shoots its wounded.

I have to add, we’re also the ones who believe that if we fake it, eventually we’ll believe our own hype.

I’m talking about Christians who believe if they are vulnerable and real, it somehow gives God bad press. So they work double time on being perfect, to show the world how wonderful their life is and how God solved all their problems and all they have to do is sing praise songs all day.

What a bunch of hooey.

I get angry when someone cuts in front of me in traffic.

I cry and feel hurt when someone says something thoughtless.

I’ve been struggling with memories of past grievances. Snubs, gossip, and apathy have been shown to me. Even by members of my own church. I let go of the hurts a long time ago. Truly I did. Or I thought I did.

Recently I noticed that when I bump into one of those clueless persons, the first thought I have is of how they hurt either me or a member of my family.

I guess I thought I had forgiven and moved on, thought I could fake it. Apparently not.

So, years after the slight, which the person probably has no recollection of, how do I let go? I remind myself that God knows, and He cares.

And a little piece of me really hopes it’s true, that what goes around comes around. Of course, if it does, its likely the person who hurt me or someone close to me won’t even equate their hurt to what they did.

I wish that were okay, but a part of me really wants them to get it, to know that what they did or said was hurtful and it’s not all right, even years later.


Today I’m praying for Evelyn, Linda, Abbie, and Amber.

Current book: I’m reading several for review, so stay tuned.

Last movie: 17 Again. Cute!


Book Talk Tuesday

I missed last week. Tuesday snuck up on me (sneaked? snacked? no…). Anyway, I got to thinking about stealth books.

Not mystery books in particular, but books that catch you by surprise. Unawares. You sit and open a book, expecting a pleasant few hours and POW, you’re hit in the gut with either beautiful writing, unforgettable characters, or a story so compelling you can’t put it down.

For me, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of those.

I recently read a young adult novel, Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer that I found unputdownable. I’ll be reviewing it soon on Author’s Choice reviews.

Saint Training book cover 



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Fiction Friday: Curve Ball

I love the two verses Cami and Grant talk about in this chapter.

Psalm 19:7 ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…making wise the simple.’

Proverbs 14:15 ‘A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.’

I should have those above my computer when I’m about to dash off an email response. Or a Woe! It’s Wednesday blog post.


Chapter Fourteen

The ringing phone jerked Cami awake and she sat up. What…?

“It’s okay, let your answering machine get it.”

She whirled around, heart pounding, ready to kick and scratch. Grant sat beside her, a quizzical look on his face. Oh, yeah. The flowers.

Her shoulders sagged. “What time is it? How long have I been asleep? Was I hurting your shoulder?”

“It’s midnight. No, you were on my good side. You slept an hour or so.”

“You should have kept me awake. It’s too late for you to be here. And who’s calling me at midnight?” The machine finished its outgoing message and she waited for the caller to talk.

“Cami, are you there? It’s Kennie.” Cami leaned over to the phone at the end of the couch and picked up the receiver.

“Hi, Kennie. I’m here.” She watched Grant carry the tea mugs into the kitchen and rinse them out. “How are you?”

“Good. Busy. You know, the usual.”

“Why are you calling so late? What’s up?”

“You’re a night owl and I figured you would still be up so I called while I was thinking about it. I need some painting done in my office.”

“How soon?” Foreboding tickled the hair on her arms. She didn’t need new work right now but it would be tricky telling Kennie no.

“I know you’re busy, so I’m calling early for once. I don’t need the work done until the fall.”

The goose bumps subsided. “No problem. In a month or so I’ll come by and look at the space.”

“Wonderful. I’d be elevated and arid without you.”

“ ‘Elevated and arid’?”

“High and dry. I’m trying to increase my vocabulary and decrease my cliché’s.”

Cami laughed. “Thanks, I needed that. Oops, sorry. I required some levity at this moment in time.”


“Oh, Kennie, you don’t have the time and I don’t have the emotional resources left to tell you about it.”

“You’re scaring me.”

Cami sighed. “Okay, long story short: remember at our dinner, I told you about running into Grant Andrews and you all gave me a hard time about declining his invitation. So I said I’d think about dating.”

“Of course. And by the way, I know you only gave in so easily because you were sure you wouldn’t be asked.”

“Well, you should have known better. Paige did some maneuvering and we ran into him. She kind of chaperoned me through a dinner and a couple of meetings and we’ve been hanging out a little. That’s been…. Well, that’s another story. In the meantime, I seem to have picked up a stalker.”

“What?” Kennie’s voice tightened.

“I know, it’s like a bad episode of Full House – ‘Danny’s being stalked by a fan of Wake Up, San Francisco. Jesse and DJ work together to discover who’s sending gifts.’” Yes, a light and fun tone would cover the fear.

“Oh, Cami.”

“Except if it was television, it would turn out to be a misunderstanding and it was really Stephanie and Joey playing a practical joke.”

“How are you doing?”

“Not well. But tonight I decided I’m through being a victim. I’m not scared anymore, I’m mad. I think I’m alarming Grant though.” She looked up and saw him standing in the doorway. “Oops.” She forgot he was still there.


“I gotta go. Everything’s fine. Love you, bye.” Cami hung up on Kennie’s cries to wait.

“How long were you listening?”

“Your kitchen is not at the other end of the house. I heard the whole conversation.”

“Uh oh.”

“You didn’t say anything wrong.”

“I didn’t?”

“No.” He chuckled and looked at her. “But I did wonder why you agreed to stay for dinner the same day you’d shot me down. Now I know it was because your friends nagged you into it.”

“Are you angry?”

“Of course not.” His mouth didn’t curve but his eyes danced. “I owe them chocolate and flowers. Speaking of which-” He picked up the vase of flowers and disappeared into the kitchen. She heard the waste can under the sink rattling, then the back door opening. A faint sound of trash being dumped into the garbage can reached her.

A minute later he returned and put his good hand on her shoulder. “Getting back to our conversation on the beach, no amount of wailing about our differing beliefs or trying to deny it will change anything. I’m crazy about you and I’m not going away.”

She put a hand on his arm, not sure if she should back away. “I wish I could believe everything is as simple as you say.”

“It’s a gift.”


“You’ve heard of spiritual gifts, right?”

“Like teaching, service, and mercy?”

“There’s another, little known spiritual gift: simplicity. I’ve been given it in abundance.”

Cami laughed. “I don’t remember that one being mentioned anywhere in the Bible.”

“You never heard Psalm 19:7? ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…making wise the simple.’ That’s me, the simple wise.”

“How about Proverbs 14:15 then? ‘A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.’ Sounds to me like the simple are easily influenced.”

“Guilty. I’m influenced by beautiful women. Well, one particular woman.”

“Didn’t you say it was after midnight?”

“Are you changing the subject?”


Grant leaned down and placed his lips on hers. A rush of confusion and gratitude surged through her. In spite of her crazy life, this man saw something worth pursuing. She finally relaxed into his kiss.

He released her after a long moment and opened the door.

“I’ll be back in the morning. Do you want bagels or donuts?”

“Bagels, please.”

Cami moved to the entryway and locked the door. She stood at the window and watched Grant drive away. She lingered in the window even after the Corvette’s tail lights disappeared.

What was she doing? She was supposed to be Miss Sure-of-Herself-and-of-Her-Faith. And somehow she’d ended up dating a famous athlete, who said he was crazy about her. And here she was whining about a problem women around the country would love to have. Women like Delia. Cami tucked a stray hair behind her ear and stared into the darkness.

But the dating-a-celebrity thing paled next to the real issue. Grant wasn’t a believer. She rested her forehead against the glass and closed her eyes. She never wanted to fall for him; it was supposed to be a casual thing to get her friends to back off. If she pretended she still believed they were just friends, maybe she could convince him. And he’d never know that he’d almost gotten to her. Maybe.

She turned out the light and was about to go upstairs when she decided to let Petey out for a pit stop. Her hand froze on the doorknob when a movement across the street caught her attention. A shadow peeled itself away and began to move behind the trees, fading into the dark. More as a reflex than a thought-out response, she jerked the door open and ran onto her front porch.

“Who’s there?” She yelled as the figure broke into a run. “Who are you? Show me your face!” She screamed in frustration as shadows merged and she lost sight of the running form. She stood on the porch, shaking with anger and fear, and shock at what she had just done. She hurried back inside and locked the door. Petey peeked out from the kitchen behind her and gave a tentative woof.

“Oh, now you bark, when he’s gone. Thanks so much for your protection. Why didn’t you stop me from rushing out there? That was so stupid, I can’t believe I did that. It has to be our secret.” The dog looked at her as his rear half waggled. Sighing, she headed to the kitchen and pushed Petey out the back door. She watched as he made a brisk run around the edge of her yard, pausing twice.

As the dog wandered around, she tapped her foot and reined in her thoughts. Nothing really happened. She lived across the street from a park. It was probably a jogger, stretching on a tree. And anyone would start running if they heard a shout in the middle of the night. Right?

Petey returned to the house. She locked up and set the alarm before going upstairs.


Woe! It’s Wednesday


I made a random observation on Facebook and it generated so many comments it appears I may have hit on something.

I said, “If you have to tell me you’re not being presumptuous, trust me, you are.”

Friends added their own observations.

“If you start with, ‘I don’t mean to offend…’ then trust me, you do.”

“To tell the truth…” means either 1) they don’t usually speak the truth or 2) what they’re about to say is not truth. It could also mean both 1 & 2.

So, I’d like to add to my Trust Me lexicon:

If you have to tell me you’re not being rude, trust me, you are.

If you have to tell me you’re not being selfish, trust me, you are.

If you have to tell me you’re not being arrogant, trust me, you are.

If you have to tell me you’re actually very sorry, trust me, you’re not.

In other words, if you have to tell me anything with words, I’m probably going to have reservations.

Instead, show me. With actions.

Do something thoughtful.

Say something edifying.

Be an encourager.

Live like you mean it.

Then, if you have to preface something you say, I’m more likely to listen and believe you.


Today I’m praying for my cousin Linda. Her husband passed away yesterday.

Last book: Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer – a delightful YA novel that I’ll be reviewing on Author’s Choice reviews.

Last movie: Eat, Pray, Love – I have to give it that dreaded “Not as good as the book” rating.


Fiction Friday: Curve Ball

Mejia’s is a real Mexican restaurant in Madera, California. The food is delish even if the size of the joint is miniscule, the neighborhood iffy, and the ambience … 

The proper reply to that is, “What ambience?”


Chapter Thirteen

Cami whistled shrilly and Petey reluctantly stopped. He glanced behind and seemed surprised to find no one on the other end of his leash. Cami picked it up and scolded the dog.

“You know better than that. If you can’t behave, we can’t come here anymore.”

“He doesn’t look like he cares,” Grant said.

“He’ll care when he’s limited to walks around the block at home.”

“I really don’t think he has that kind of reasoning capacity.”

“I know, but ….” Her voice trailed off as she turned around and began to walk back to the parking lot. “I have to go home and start on those samples and you need to get to the stadium.”

“How ‘bout I come over after the game tonight?”

She pushed her hair out of her eyes. “I don’t think so. You’ve given me a lot to think about, and frankly, your presence confuses me.”

He smiled as he stopped and used his good hand to guide Cami around so she faced him. “I’m confusing?”

She sighed and closed her eyes. “Yes. I’m confused and I think it may mean trouble. For both of us.” She opened her eyes to find him staring at her.

“I’m finally thinking very straight.” His eyes were so intense, she took an involuntary step back. “I’ve fallen for you, Camille Henderson.”

“For years, I’ve been telling the teenagers not to even date someone who doesn’t share their spiritual beliefs. It’s bad news for the future, and now I’ve gone and done the exact same thing. We’re supposed to just be friends.”

“That’s what’s bothering you? That’s not a problem, it’s a hiccup, something to discuss, agree, and move on.” They started walking toward the parking lot. Petey trailed, still watching for the gull over his shoulder.

“But how can we ever agree about the major issues of life when we’re viewing them in two such different ways?” Cami pulled on the leash.

“Can’t we agree to disagree?”

“Not about this.”

“Can we table it for now and talk more later?”

She nodded. “When do you see the doctor again?”

“Tomorrow. We’ll probably schedule surgery for early next week.” His voice grew bleak. “The team leaves after tonight’s game, but not me.”

“That has to be hard.”

He shrugged. “I’ll survive. I’ll call you tonight.”

“I almost forgot.” Maybe she could help take his mind off his problems. “Tara, one of my students at the rec center, wants to know if she can interview you for the Woody High newspaper. Part of a ‘Famous Alumni: Where Are They Now?’ article.”

“Sure. Any time.”

They reached the parking lot where Cami gave Petey an abbreviated rub down and loaded him into her car. She said goodbye to Grant and drove off.

It wasn’t long before she turned the corner onto her street. A red car was pulling away from the curb in front of her house. It had disappeared by the time she reached her driveway. There sure seemed to be a lot of red cars on the road these days. She ignored the unease nibbling at the edge of her consciousness as she let Petey out.

He ran along the inside of the picket fence, nose to the ground as he followed a scent. She found his ratty tennis ball and tossed it across the yard, getting his attention. He brought it back and she continued to throw, making up for the lack of exercise on the beach. After a few minutes watching his happiness chasing the ball, she forgot the red car and enjoyed the spring day with her dog.

Petey finally laid the soggy green blob at her feet and dropped to the ground. He squirmed onto his back, giving her an adoring look. She rubbed his tummy as his tail thumped in ecstasy.

“Okay, let’s go in,” she said, when her arm grew tired. He stood and shook himself and bounded up the steps to the porch and froze. She followed his gaze. A vase of carnations sat in front of the door.

“It’s okay, Petey,” she said. “They must be from Grant.” She tried to hide her smile as she picked them up before entering the house. She moved the stack of mail off the round antique oak table in her bay window and placed the flowers on it. The bright pinks reflected in the shine of the lemon-oiled wood. She inhaled their thick sweetness. Maybe she and Grant could work things out.

The flowers smiled back at her as she ate a bowl of her favorite tortilla soup from Mejia’s. It would be several hours before Grant could call, so after dinner, she headed down to her studio to play with her paints and brushes.

After pulling out an assortment of colors and containers, she set aside four sheets of the thin foam sheets she used for samples. First she laid on a layer of amber dawn, not too thick, not too thin. The paint spread over the board and filled in the brush marks, leaving a smooth coat of the pinky brown color.

While it dried a bit, she called Tara to tell her Grant agreed to the interview. There was no answer, so she left a message. Yes, an interview might take Grant’s mind off his shoulder for a little while, but what about after that? She could hardly set up interviews for him with every high school newspaper in the state. She shrugged and returned her attention to the boards. One thing at a time so back to her paints.

She unwrapped the new stipple brush and fluffed out its bristles. She dipped it into warm blush and tamped it on the edge of her palette, taking off excess paint. The brush needed to be almost dry. She pounded it across the board of amber dawn, adding the second shade in clumps. She stopped to look for holidays, empty spots with no lighter shade on top. Again, she loaded the short brush with paint, and pounded more warm blush into the amber dawn.

Satisfied with the paint coverage, she grabbed her badger brush and began to sweep it across the board. This dry brush technique gave her a soft, mottled effect. She set that board to dry and began a second, this one with shades reversed. Warm blush became the first coat with amber dawn on top. Pounding the lighter color into a darker one could make the result chalky, but sometimes that was the effect the customer wanted.

Finally, the phone rang. She snatched it up without looking at the caller ID.

“They’re beautiful!”

“I’m glad you like them.” It was an electronically altered voice.

She couldn’t breathe. “Who is this?”

“You know me.”

She slammed down the phone and it immediately rang again.

“What do you want?” she yelled into the receiver as she snatched it up.

“Cami? What’s wrong?” It was Grant this time.

Horrified thoughts tumbled over each other but wouldn’t stop long enough for her to speak one.

“Cami. Are you okay?” His raised voice shook her tongue loose.

“No.” She squeezed out the word.

“I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

Grant still had his sling and jacket on, so he grabbed his keys and was out of his house in seconds. He broke a few speed limits but made it to Agua Vida in record time. Parking in front, he was out of the ‘Vette and knocking on her door seventeen minutes after leaving his.

“Cami? It’s me, open up.”

He heard fumbling before the door opened.

“What happened?” he asked.

Her face was pinched and pale. “I thought….” She pointed into the dining room at some flowers and took a deep breath. “Those were here when I got home, I thought they were from you.” She told him about the telephone call with the warped voice. “I panicked and hung up, and then you called for real.”

“Is there a card?” he asked.

“I didn’t see one.”

Grant examined the flowers closely. Arranged in a white glass vase, it was a small bouquet of half a dozen carnations, pink on the ruffled edges, with baby’s breath filling up the spaces. And no card.

“We better call the police.”

“They won’t believe me. Just like with the car on Sunday.”

“They have to believe now.” He picked up the phone.

Since her address was flagged as having recent activity a cruiser arrived in a few minutes. Detective Bermudez had responded to her car vandalism. Now, he examined the flowers and questioned Cami about how and when she’d found them, at what time she’d left her house earlier and who might have sent them. He examined her caller ID. It showed only a blocked incoming number.

“I’m sorry we can’t offer more help,” the officer said. “But it appears you are being targeted by a stalker.”

Grant tightened his fist, feeling the stretch into his shoulder. “Ya think?” he asked.

Cami flashed him a look. Yeah, okay, sarcasm might not help, but geez, talk about stating the obvious.

“Do you have any idea who it might be?” Bermudez stayed focused on Cami.

“None at all,” she said quickly. Too quickly?

“It’s often a former boyfriend.” The officer searched her eyes. “Is there anyone you’ve broken up with recently?”

“I don’t date much. In fact, I haven’t dated at all the last couple years. It’s not an old boyfriend, I’m sure.”

“I’m the one she’s been seeing recently.” Grant said, frustration coloring his voice. “Since the car incident, I’ve been watching her back when she’s with me. And I haven’t seen anything.”

“Is there anyone who makes you uneasy?” Bermudez asked. “An employee at a business you frequent, or maybe a coworker? Anyone who shows more than a casual interest in you?”

“No. This is a small town and everyone is friendly. Maybe too much so. We all know each other’s business. But I can’t think of anyone with an abnormal interest in me. Although….” She paused.

“Yes?” The officer’s tone was reassuring.

“Well, at the rec center today….” She glanced at Grant before continuing. “One of my art students asked if I was engaged and said all the kids were talking about it. I told Tara I wasn’t and questioned her about who ‘everyone’ was, but she didn’t give any specific names.”

Grant closed his eyes, conflicting emotions slugging it out in his gut. This was his fault. His presence was making this creep bolder. Adrenaline surged until he had to fight to stay in his seat. Well, too bad. The pervert was going to have to give up. Because he wouldn’t.

“I’m afraid we’re not going to be much help until you have some possibilities.” Bermudez’s tone was kind, in spite of basically telling them there was nothing to be done.

“You mean I have to live like this, scared and feeling like a prisoner?”

“Is it possible to go away for a while? An extended vacation?”

“No.” She sounded dismayed. “My business is finally taking off. Leave now and I’ll be starting from scratch when I come back.”

“Then my best advice is to be alert. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially the people around you. Try not to go out alone, particularly at night or in parking lots. Here.” He handed her a card. “This is the number of the Victim Advocates Program. They may be able to offer some help, also.”

“Thank you.” Cami took the card and set it by the phone. “How did he make his voice so creepy?”

“You can buy a voice distortion gadget for about twenty-five dollars. It’s easy on the web.”

“Too easy.” Grant spoke up.

“Maybe. That’s a different discussion.”

After the officer left, Cami sat on the couch and dropped her head into her hands. Grant sat beside her and gingerly put his good arm around her shoulder. After a moment, she raised her head, her eyes dry and determination in her voice.

“I will not be a victim, and I will not be held hostage in my own home.”


“I mean it, Grant. I’ve been a walking wounded in the war of life. It took me a long time, some therapy, a lot of love and support and prayers from family and friends to help me start feeling like a valuable member of God’s creation. I’ve worked too hard to let some cowardly twit take that from me.”



“Sweet and demure Camille Henderson has a streak of pure titanium running through her.”

“And don’t you forget it. I almost did, but no more.” She got up. “I want some tea, would you care to join me? And I have some left over dessert that Meredith brought the other night.” Her voice was light, though a little trembly.

“I’ll have tea, but no dessert. Since I won’t be having those strenuous workouts I’m used to, I’ll have to watch my eating a little closer.”

“Then I’ll pass too. But the tea’s coming right up.” In the kitchen, she turned the burner on and he could hear mugs and tea tins rattling. “Herb, green, or black?”

“Anything decaf.”

“Herb, it is. Chamomile Calmness, Perfect Peach or Really Raspberry? ”

“Surprise me.”

She rejoined Grant a minute later, and set a mug in front of him.

“I picked two bags at random. I think you got the peach and I got the raspberry. Is that fine or do you want to trade?”

“Peach is just peachy.”

She sat beside him on the couch and sipped her tea, then leaned back and closed her eyes. He watched her closely. She was not dealing with this evening as smoothly as she said. Sure enough, a tear squeezed out from under each eyelid. He reached out and covered her hand with his good one.

“I’m fine.” She spoke with a fierceness that startled him.

“I know. But it’s okay to be scared. And angry. And a bunch of other things.”

“No, it’s only okay to be fine.” She sat up and straightened her shoulders.

“Have you ever heard of a little coping mechanism called ‘denial’?”

She smiled. “But have you ever heard of someone truly coping and being fine?”

“Hmmm.” He paused as he rolled his eyes toward the ceiling and pretended to think. “Nope.”

“Well, it’s true.”

“Come here.” He let go of her hand and put his arm around her. He wiggled until he was half reclining on the couch and he guided her head into the niche of his pain-free shoulder. She resisted the movement. “It’s okay, that’s the good one. You won’t hurt me. Let’s sit here and relax for a bit.”

After ten minutes, he felt the tension leave. Her body snuggled into his and her breathing grew slow and even. They sat there for a long while. Finally, she slept.

He didn’t.


Woe! It’s Wednesday

Where have all the manners gone? Gone with the wind, it seems.
Does it take so long to say, “Hello, how are you?”
Or, to motion to someone else to go ahead of you in line or at the stop sign.
Manners are an endangered species.
The glib response says it’s because of our technological society. So much of our interaction nowadays is online, via email or texting or Twitter or Facebook.
But I think that’s just another symptom, not the root of the problem.
The issue is we’re just in too much of a hurry.
Dinner has to ready in three minutes or less so we can move on to the sporting event, the music lesson, or the call of the television.
We’ve forgotten how to slow down and enjoy something.
Our food, cars, and internet connection has to be fast or we’re wasting time and not being productive.
Seems to me, if we smile and are courteous to others, you never know what kind of an impact it can have. The smallest act yields huge dividends.
I’m as guilty of the rush as anyone.
This summer, I’ve consciously tried to slow down. To have a day at home with the dogs and the air conditioner and a book.
I survived.
Actually, I enjoyed it. And it made it easier to smile and move on when someone cut me off to get to the nearest Starbucks 12 seconds ahead of me.


Book Talk Tuesday

I’ve talked before about Liz Curtis Higgs’ Scottish books, but I feel they deserve another mention.

Thorn in My Heart

Here Burns My Candle is her most recent. It’s a Scottish retelling of the Biblical story of Naomi and Ruth. Scotland during the Jacobite uprising is a true character in the book. We feel the tension and fear, the joy at battles won, the dread when the tide turns.

Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince comprise the trilogy that retells the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah.

I love how Liz makes the story so real. I find myself nodding and thinking, Yes, it could have happened exactly that way.

The parallels between Hebraic and Scottish laws are amazing. It just goes to show that, as Miss Marple used to say, Human nature is much the same around the world (and across time and history, as well).

You don’t have to love historicals or Biblical fiction to enjoy these. Run and get them!



Fiction Friday: Curve Ball Chapter 12

I have no personal experience, but apparently there are baseball groupies. And basketball. Chess. Badminton. Folk music. Anyone who is good at something and does it in a public forum is vulnerable to a groupie. It’s a problem when it becomes stalking.


Chapter Twelve

Two days later, Grant stayed in bed after the alarm went off. What was the rush? Just to go to the stadium like yesterday and hear the team doc say Grant’s baseball career might be over? Everything he’d worked so hard for. Gone.

The phone jarred him. Cami he hoped, checking in. He gingerly rolled over to reach for the receiver. Last night’s medication had worn off and he hadn’t taken a new pill yet. “Hello?” He made his voice deep and charming to keep the pain out.

“Hi, Grant!” A female voice. Not Cami’s.

“Can I help you?”

“This is Delia, silly. Calling to see how you’re feeling.”

“Well, thank you, but I’m fine. Never better, in fact.”

“Are you sure? Bill said you might need surgery.”

“‘Might’ is the operative word there. No pun intended.”

She laughed, the piercing tone forcing him to pull the receiver away from his ear. “Well, I wanted to let you know I was thinking of you. And to say that if you need anything, and I mean anything at all,” she paused a half beat before continuing, “feel free to call me, you hear?”


“Well.” She paused. “Cinda tells me you had a date at the team party the other night. Anyone I know?”

“Delia, thanks for the call, but I gotta get going. I’ve a doctor’s appointment and a bunch of other stuff to do.”

“Sure. Don’t forget. Call if you need anything.” Her voice again caressed the “anything.”

“Bye, Delia.” He hung up and a familiar knot formed in his gut. He hated being nice to that woman. She had the scruples of a tomcat mixed with the killer instinct of a lioness stalking her prey. He felt better after coming up with that gender-mixed, feline metaphor. He’d have to share it with Cami. If she was still speaking to him. He recalled some of their last conversation.

“Oh, God.” He said it out loud. How could he have been so stupid? She was right. Comparing his accident to what had happened to her was unconscionable.

He checked the time. He might be able to catch her before she left for work. He grabbed the phone and dialed.


“I’m glad I caught you. I was out of line, can you forgive me?” He propped himself on his good side, trying to get comfortable.

“For what?”

“For picking a fight with you, for comparing our two situations, for being a jerk. And anything else you want to add in there.”

“No, I think you covered it pretty well. Of course, I forgive you.”

“Thanks. What are you up to today?”

“The usual. A final clear coat on the mural, rec center art class, then I’m free. I’ve been neglecting Petey since spending time with a certain ball player. I should run him on the beach or something. How ‘bout you?”

“Doctor appointment first, then I guess I’ll go to the stadium to check in. See who they’re replacing me with and get a feel for whether my job is gone for good or if I can get it back when I’m healed.” He swung his legs over the side of the mattress and curled his toes on top of the hardwood floor.

“Would they really replace you so quickly?”

“In a heartbeat, if they thought it would help.” He stood and walked to the window overlooking the deck leading down to the pool.

“Help who? Surely not you.”

“No, the team or the front office or whoever. It’s all about money and winning. You can’t have one without the other.” A yellow ducky left behind by Jonathan’s kids floated on top of the pool. “How about I meet you for that run on the beach with Petey? Then we can go to the game.”

“We can run, but I need to stay home and work tonight. I’m backed up with sample boards to paint for a new client.”

“I’ll meet you the same place as that Saturday, around four?”

“Sounds good.”

He hung up and headed to the bathroom. As he shaved at the sink, the differences between his two phone conversations sparred for attention. Well, it was actually the differences between the two women. Cami was so different from the others he’d dated; she was strong, yet he sensed her vulnerability. Like one of those fancy, jeweled eggs his mom used to collect. They came in reinforced boxes and the shells were pretty hard. But the insides were delicate and fragile and could break if someone happened to miss a catch in the backyard and the ball hit the outside of the wall holding the egg on an inside shelf.

When they’d played laser tag, Cami’d been so unsure of herself at first. But once the game started, she turned out to be a worthy opponent, taking aim carefully and scoring clean hits. And chasing that kid around the course. He shook his head, trying to suppress a grin at the memory.

But she could also be darned aggravating. Pulling back every time he inched closer. Maybe he should call it off. He stared at himself in the mirror, his half smooth – half whiskered chin a perfect reflection of his indecision.

After her sparsely attended rec center class, Cami hurried home to fetch Petey and then get to the beach on time. She walked briskly to the tide line and looked around for Grant. She waved to get his attention and he jogged over to join her on the firm sand right above the water.

“Hi.” He greeted her with a hug that took her breath away. It was one-armed and gentle due to the sling he wore, but its tenderness took her breath as surely as if he’d squeezed her in a bear hug.

“How was your day?” she asked while she fussed with Petey’s leash to avoid letting Grant see how he flustered her.

“Not so good. I had an MRI and it shows a partial tear of the rotator cuff, like we thought.”

“I’m so sorry.”


“Are you still in pain? Should you be running or working out?”

“I figured I could walk while you and Petey run circles around me.” He started off down the beach at a brisk pace and Cami had to hurry to make the first circuit around him. She stopped after two.

“This is ridiculous. We look like some bizarre performance art of a gyroscope or a perpetual motion machine.” She fell into step beside him, pulling Petey into a heel position on her left side.

“How about I’m a planet and you and Petey are moons orbiting me?”

“I don’t think so.” In spite of herself, a smile teased the corner of her lips.

“Darn. I always wanted to be the center of someone’s universe. Besides my mom’s.”

“I like your mom.”

“So do I. I wish she’d learn when to back off and quit being a mom.”

Cami adjusted the leash to give Petey a bit more room. He was unsteady on the shifting sands and kept nudging her knee with his cold nose. “What are your options?”

“Declare myself sovereign of the universe?”

“No, Your Majesty. About your shoulder.”

“Ah. Well, I can leave it alone, but I’d have to quit playing ball. So, I’m gonna have an operation. It looks like a clean tear, according to the MRI.” He kicked a sand clump and walked through the scattering grains. “It’ll be arthroscopic surgery, a pretty simple procedure. Hopefully just a few months of rehab. But my season’s over.”

“I’m so sorry.” She glanced at him, but he was staring straight ahead. “It’s not a death sentence, so to speak.”

“You’re right.” He still didn’t meet her gaze.

“Are you angry?”

“Are we back to our discussion?” They split apart and walked on either side of some half-buried rocks.

“Are we?”

“Cami, I don’t want to argue with you. You have your beliefs, and that’s fine for you, I think differently.”

“That’s what I don’t understand though. God gave you a wonderful gift, this athletic ability, and….”

“And I’m not grateful?”

“I guess that’s part of it.” She walked in silence for a few seconds. If Grant not only didn’t share her faith, but also couldn’t even comprehend how important it was to her, maybe this relationship should end, before her heart got in too deep. She opened her mouth to voice the thought, but before she could form the words she heard a call from behind her.

“Grant!” They both turned to see who had called his name.

“Delia, the lioness on the prowl.”

Cami had to strain to hear the words. She almost missed the exasperation in his voice.

“What a surprise! I was having coffee with Cinda up at the café and I looked out the window at all the joggers and I thought I recognized you. I had to come down here and be sure. And here you are. Have we met?” The last comment was directed to Cami.

“Delia, this is Camille Henderson, an old friend of mine.” Grant made the introduction. Cami tried to extend her hand for a greeting, but Petey chose that moment to lunge after a gull that wheeled in the air above them.

“My sister Cinda mentioned she met you at the team party.” Delia watched Cami’s struggle with the tangled leash. “Do you need some help? You seem a little twisted.”

“No, thanks. Petey, heel!” Cami yanked on the leash and Petey finally sat with a sigh. She patted him on the head as thanks, then brushed some hair out of her eyes in time to see Delia stumble in the loose sand. She shifted her weight forward so she could clutch Grant’s good arm for support.

The vision of Delia in her shorts and high-heeled sandals, red fingernails wrapped around Grant’s good arm itched at Cami’s irritation. She gave into it and gave it a good scratch. “Delia, you caught us at a bad time,” she said. “Grant and I were discussing some private matters. Would you mind finding your own way back to the boardwalk?”

“Oh. Grant?” Delia looked at him, as if for confirmation that he wanted her to leave.

Grant grinned. Uh oh. Cami opened her mouth to take back the words of dismissal, but he was already speaking.

“That would be great, Delia. It was good to see you. Tell Bill and Cinda hello for me.” He shook her off his arm and proffered his hand for Petey’s leash as he and Cami continued down the shore, leaving a torpedoed Delia in their wake.

“Oh, no. What have I done? I have to go back and apologize.” Manners tapped a rhythm of second-guesses on her conscience.

“Don’t you dare.” He stared straight ahead as they walked. “She’ll only take that as encouragement to come back and keep hanging around. She doesn’t get hints. You have to spell everything out for her. Thank you!”

“But that was rude, and I’m never rude.”

“You were honest and assertive and refused to let a pushy person force her will on you. I’ve never seen you like that.” He glanced at her, finally meeting her eyes. “I like it.”

“You do?” The butterflies in her stomach did back flips, then settled down.

“Yes. But I don’t want to talk about Delia any more. I want to spend some time with you before I have to get to the game.” He continued to hold the leash in his good hand, and started to put his other arm around her. He flinched and wiggled his fingers to get a tighter grip as Petey lunged after that same taunting gull. The lead snapped out of Grant’s hand and the dog charged down the beach.


Woe! It’s Wednesday

Lesson learned: When you write a blog post in Live Writer to be published later, you can’t use the same header and title, delete the body, and write a new post.

The new post publishes, but not the first one.

So. Where was I?

Oh yes. This was about the Emmy awards show Sunday night.

I watched bits and pieces and had mixed feelings.

Some of the bits were great, others… not so much. I came to the conclusion that when humor is crafted to fit a 20-30 second window, it just feels forced and unfunny.

The best humor grows organically from its foundation.

The opening song and dance number was great because it started with a tried and true premise (Hey, Kids! Let’s put on a Show!), grew with familiar and likeable characters (the Glee cast), and finished with an over the top conclusion.

The banter between Matthew Perry and Lauren Graham bombed because it was scripted repartee and it felt uncomfortable to the viewer.

The George Clooney and Modern Family bit worked because it was set up well. You don’t have to watch the show (I don’t, but I might in the fall) to get it. They set up the characters and situation. The payoff grew naturally.

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”
       Said by Peter O’Toole, playing the washed-up actor Alan Swann in the 1982 movie My Favorite Year

So true and illustrated so well by the finest television performers of the year.


Today, I’m praying for Ellen, Amber, Dee

Currently reading: The Spoils of Eden by Linda Lee Chaikin

Last movie: I’m finally finishing up Lost. I have three episodes to go.