Saturday, April 16, 2011

Little Shop of Horrors: "Suddenly Seymour"

It's been a couple of years since we attended a play. The last was a production of "Sleeping Beauty" at the Tacoma Little Theatre in Tacoma, Washington. If you're in Washington, it's a great little theater with a lot of history.

The kids were entranced by their first live play. It was especially a new experience for our son with Autism. The size and noise of a crowd are always difficult for him to adjust to. But I think the excitement of live stage performers won him over.

He was determined to see the Grafton High School production of "Little Shop of Horrors". He was overwhelmed with having to choose seats and purchase his tickets, so I had to help him. But he was excited to go. He's impressed by the school he'll be attending this fall.

Our daughter was very happy with the play. She thought the music was great and the huge Audrey II was awesome. She was amazed by the size of the man-eating plant from space. Once again, both kids are asking when we can see another play.

***Part of the "A to Z Blogging Challenge: L"

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kiss You, Kill You

Half an hour of staring at a blank page and she was still no closer to knowing what to write to him. Notes hadn’t worked for them in the past, either. They’d struggled through a year of changes in their volatile relationship before she could admit to him how she truly felt. A letter was the limit of her courage. A letter she’d placed a lot of hope into and he had later crumpled and tossed to the floor.

She now saw that as a turning point. The opportunity to leave that she didn’t take. What if she had?

He was no different from her in so many ways. Too-similar personalities and constant miscommunication were destroying their marriage. She loved him, craved him more than any man she’d ever met. The intensity of their passion kept them coming back to each other for more.

Why didn’t she kill him when she had the chance?

After six months of following, she knew him very well. Where he went during the day, where he lived, the bars he frequented, the women he dated and on what nights; she knew it all.

She had mixed feelings about the way he charmed women. He enjoyed them and respected them, but they were always temporary. He had a definite style and the women played right into his hands every time. She admired his confidence.

That was how it began.

She’d started to focus on him as a man as much as the arms-dealing target she was paid to execute. The confidence in him was only the beginning. His feral charm called to the darker, more sexual side of her nature. Dangerous and persuasive, he was a man who could bend others to his will. The first time she’d seen him gun down arms traders who’d tried to overtake him, every sense in her body ached to posses him.

She’d crept into the warehouse to watch the trade. The last, she had decided, that he would make. By that night, she’d convinced herself that she was too personally involved. She needed to focus and do her job. He had to die.

Poised behind a stack of crates, her weapon was expertly aimed at his head. Her patience lasted through the entire conversation between the two men. The receiving dealer played down the value of the weapons and declared the smaller amount he was willing to pay. Negotiations went downhill fast. Hands twitched around weapons.

By the slight twitch in his eye, she knew he was about to make his move. In a matter of moments he had gunned down every opposing man. All that remained were his men and the glance he was casting towards the catwalk where she was hidden.

One of his men was quickly and quietly closing in on her hiding place. She didn’t believe it possible that she’d been seen. But she wouldn’t take the chance. She slipped a blade from its sheath and waited for him to come within reach.

She stilled her movements and watched as he moved close enough for her to see the worn leather of his steel-toed boots step within reach…and then turn.

She held her sigh of relief until she heard her target and all of his men clearing out of the building. She’d shifted enough to watch him glance once more before leaving. It was then that she realized she hadn’t executed him. A year after their marriage and she still couldn’t explain why.

She reached over to pick up his sketchbook from the desk. Flipping through it, she saw drawings that told the story of their life together. Their marriage in the old chapel, the trip to Provence, her holding the puppy he had given her as an engagement gift.

She stopped on the first sketch he did of her. Dressed in dark clothes, her hair tied back, she was in position at a window and moments away from squeezing the trigger on one of her targets.

Their time together was nothing near normal. Two killers determined to have power, passion, and their own separate lives without ever admitting to true feelings. Dating and romance were for conventional couples.

Marriage was changing all of that. They were both trying to fight it and adapt to it at the same time. Despite all of the arguing, they wanted to be together, they needed it.

Her thumb traced over her wedding band. She missed their first nights together in her apartment; walking in and finding his hat and coat tossed onto a chair, seeing him relaxed in her place as though she and it belonged to him. She liked the feeling. It was the same delicious feeling of passion and possession when his hands were on her body. Even in the middle of a fight, she craved him. Without him, she couldn't think, eat, or sleep. She was physically weakened without his presence. That was a reason she hadn’t killed him.

She loved him.

She slipped the ring back onto her finger then went to find him.

***Part of the "A to Z Blogging Challenge 2011: K"

***Find the companion piece to Kiss You, Kill You at Elise VanCise's blog: Gladiator's Pen and read Kiss Me, Kill Me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Diary of an assassin: Justifiable

12 April. Tuesday

I’m surprised my therapist was so interested in talking about my husbands. I wasn’t ready for that yet. I thought he’d want me to start out like David Copperfield:  “To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born…”

I was still fresh from an argument with Bud this morning. I was in no mood to talk about husbands and why I have so many. Why do I?

Work in one of my hotels is usually a good distraction. Seattle is under great management. I barely have to check up on them. Renovations at Tahoe are going well though I’m sick of looking at paint samples.

It’s my other work that I needed to rant about. I’ve never felt the need to explain why I kill. Now that I have a family, my view of execution is changing. I’m not sure I’m okay with that. I hate change.

My recent target was a politician. Nice family, acceptable platform, most of what I agree with. That was just the surface. Public persona is just a spit –polished act. It’s assumed with politicians, but nothing like this. I wish I could tell the boo-hooing public what their dear departed community leader was really like. Those tears would dry up fast.

But, it’s not my job to expose, only to execute. The explanations would be too complicated, too public.

There was a segment about his daughter on the news. Cancer.

That man deserved his end. The family is better off without him in their lives…

Aren’t they?


Diary of an assassin: Inconsolable

11 April. Monday.

Therapy. I can’t believe I agreed to it. Even more, I can’t believe I agreed to keep a journal. My therapist thinks it’ll help to write out my thoughts while I’m angry so I won’t turn on one of my husbands. Apparently I lash out easily but I’m not easily consoled; not even by the sweetest-natured of the guys.

Okay, so I feel bad when one of them brings me flowers and I end up kicking them out of the room five minutes later. I love them and I know they mean well, but they should know by now not to pet me when I’m pissed off.

*Note to self: Don't clean the blades in the kitchen sink. It makes Andy nervous.

Monday, April 11, 2011



     “I’m telling you I saw a light!” She tugged her hand free from his grip then pointed up at the decrepit mansion. “Look! There it is again! Upstairs! Don’t you see it?”
     The light continued to flicker; it’s ominous glow apparent only to the young girl.
     Her gaze remained on the arched window. Everything in her body had been claimed by the haunting pulse of the light. The touch of her boyfriend’s lips to her neck, his teasing voice whispering in her ear did nothing to break the hold the house had placed on her.
     Unable to resist the pull of the house any longer, the young girl pulled from her boyfriend’s grip once more then raced up to the house and disappeared inside.
     “Kelly!“ The boy shouted and ran after her but his efforts to reach her were stopped by the knotted root of the nearby tree that easily fell him to the cold ground. He cursed as he scrambled to his feet and wiped at the bloodied cut on his cheek.
     The house echoed with the sounds of every shuttered window slamming closed and the boy’s fists knocking relentlessly on the door. Frustrated, the boy descending the steps and frantically searched for another way to enter.
     There was none.
     The light in the window slowly faded into darkness and the house stood quiet to await the next young girl.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ghost Story

     She approached the bed and slowly sat as she stared at him. Her case rested on the floor beside the chair. Inside, two polished Brownings and a serrated blade that had quickly become her weapon of choice.
     To be just, the manner of death was designed to be an equal reflection of the severity of the crimes and the pain they had caused. Justice was important and personal. Poised atop a building and firing expertly aimed shots from a distance was effective, efficient and most often the necessary manner of executing a target. It also lacked the personal connection she found only when puncturing the lung from behind or sawing through the throat.
     Her career was in its early stages. She didn’t know how long she would feel the need to see the eyes blacken as life drained to nothing. She needed immediate proof that their crimes had come to an end.
     This time she’d known to expect an aged man but his level of frailty surprised her. For several long minutes she watched his chest slowly rise and fall. The room was silent except for the sounds of his shallow, wheezing breaths.
     Time had aged his body, weakened his vision, and made him vulnerable. Old, sickly, and guilty, this man was not long for the world.
     She finally rose from the chair then opened her case on the bedside table. The torturous silence could be ended quickly with one of the weapons. Instead, she removed the vial and prepared the injection.
     His head turned slightly to look at her as the needle pierced his skin. He glanced up at her with eyes fogged by partial blindness. Would he recognize her as his nurse, or the third wife who cared for him in his final years and falsely believed she knew all of the truths of his past? Or would he see her for who she really was?
     As he groaned quietly and turned his gaze to stare at the ceiling, she sat down again to wait.
     She blinked. A single tear fell over the curve of her cheek; evidence of her humanity as she watched him suffer through physical pains and the knowledge of his own inevitable death. She could only hope that somewhere in his final thoughts were feelings of true regret.
     In her there was no regret. Only the leniency in the method she felt compelled to use would haunt her. His power to influence her actions angered and saddened her.
She’d been prepared to execute him viciously. In the end, he met his death, but far less painfully than what she felt he deserved. She’d offered him one final act of compassion.
     She had to. He was her father.

***Part of the "A to Z Blogging Challenge: G"***

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fotogenic Fishies

Fotogenic Fishies

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey CA

The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California is one of our favorite places to visit. It’s a wonderful, large aquarium situated on the rocky shores of Monterey Bay. Once a cannery for catching and packaging fish, the aquarium now displays a plethora of local sea life with goals of education, exploration, and teaching conservation.

Art, Matthew, and Kayli learning about seaweed at one of the touch pools.

It may be a long time before we are able to visit California again so, I wanted to be sure to take several photographs. This was my first year with a more professional camera instead of a pocket digital or a camera phone. I was going for as many vivid and clear photographs as I could manage with my amateur photography skills.

Monterey Bay Aquarium on the shores of Monterey Bay, California

Photographing sea life is fun. The colors, habitats, and species of creatures seem endless. It’s also difficult to get a clear shot. They move…fast. Even the anchored ones can’t stay still. These submarine sea critters don’t know the meaning of sit, or stay, don’t hold a pose, and don’t vogue.

Open pool with floating magnifying lenses for looking but not touching.

Fortunately, during this trip, they were feeling cooperative. I was amazed how many animals approached the glass where I was poised, crouched with my camera. And they actually stayed still long enough for a few nice photographs. I was asked by other people how I was getting the animals to pose; as if I’d done it on purpose. No, it was just a happy accident that added some attractive sea life to my photography portfolio…



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Engaging Electronics

"Engaging Electronics"

Computer usage started for me in the late 80s when I was in the 9th grade. We were dropped down in front of a bulky, dingy white ancestor to the PC, the desktop computer. Our hands rested on keyboards covered by sheets of paper. As we learned to type without looking at the keyboard (Hey! No cheating!) the history of the computer was explained to us in the droning voice of our teacher.

Fast forward to January of this year and my own droning voice was driving my husband crazy about the CD player in my Dodge. It’s a long story; the mechanics at Firestone don’t come off well.

Our cross-country trip from Washington State to Virginia was only days away.

I needed music.

I suppose I pled my case for an iPod convincingly because I woke up the next morning to a present from my husband: the iPod Touch 4G

The iPod Touch turned out to be incredibly useful during our road trip. I had music. Yes! My favorite feature of the iPod Touch is the interactive map. Of course it only worked when we were in a free Wi-Fi area, but those are becoming easier to find. 

Due to the features and ease of use with the iPod Touch, my husband and I had both been eagerly awaiting the introduction of the iPhone 4. We were due for upgrade and ready to move on from our Blackberries.

We’ve both become attached to our iPhones. Hubby uses his primarily for downloading and studying PDF documents. I love that I can check all five of my email accounts at the same time. I can keep up with friends, family, blogging, research, charitable efforts, and our realtor. And I’m still addicted to using the interactive maps to find my way around Virginia.

The number of electronics in our house has expanded from television, boomboxes, and Atari, to AOL on a clunky desktop PC, and a Nintendo gaming system. Hubby and the kids didn’t have to twist my arm much to get the handheld Nintendo DS. Even I had one for a while. Portable entertainment is a godsend to the busy mom with easily bored children, especially if one is Autistic.

But I resisted the Wii for a long time. Though I limited their use, I thought the kids were wasting enough time on their handheld games. Why did they need another outlet for mind-numbing?

I eventually caved.

The Wii has great games. Who doesn’t love Mario & Luigi? It was games like WiiFit and Just Dance that persuaded me into thinking the Wii wouldn’t be a bad choice for entertaining the kids.

For an autistic child like my son, electronics have helped him engage our family more. He and his sister often have long, involved conversations about their favorite games. The WiiFit has kept him from being his usual sedentary self. He’s focused on his progress everyday and his desire to be fit has drawn him outside for walks and to the playground with his sister.

We've also opted for Wii consoles in place of satellite or cable T.V. The ability to stream Netflix through mobile devices, and WiFi ready systems like the Wii has made entertainment more accessible and affordable.

Electronics have done wonders in broadening the options in gaming, communications, entertainment, and socializing. Without the Internet, I wouldn’t have a wonderful friendship with my writing partner, Elise. And without my iPhone 4, I’d still be lost and looking for directions using one of those fold-up deals that you can never quite fold right again.

Next up on the horizon of engaging electronics…taking another crack at the iPad. Will the iPad 2 be able to hold my attention better than its numberless predecessor?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Desert Drive

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2011: D

Desert Drive
Sunset, Arizona Desert 2011

Our recent cross-country trip from Washington State to Virginia was a tedious adventure involving two cars, two kids, and two cats across ten states. I took photos as often as I could.  My family is usually patient about the shutterbug in the family. But I'm not sure they loved the idea of stopping along the highway each time I saw a sunset I wanted to capture on film.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Critique: Compassion & Cojones

Critique: Compassion and Cojones

You’re a writer. Hours have been spent thinking about, sorting, and organizing your ideas. The excitement of a new story causes the fingers to fly and the pages to fill. Common distractions and lost train-of -thought bring the story to a screeching halt and firmly implants the dreaded writer’s block.

Eventually, the complete story makes it to a word processor; limbo for fiction. This is where the story suffers the keyboard clacks of the editing process, and enjoys the utopia of anonymity before being submitted to the public and…the critique.

You’ve made the first tentative step into the black hole of the critical public eye. The initial apprehension has worn off. Only a residual of apprehension remains as your prose awaits judgment.

Think that first step was the hardest?


Solicited or not, your excuses and explanations are offered to the reader to help soften those first critiquing words that will have you seeing your story in a different light. Your hands are twitching and new thoughts are running. A few edits and revisions are inevitable; you know it’s true. You accept it, planned for it, and you’re prepared for it.

Or are you?

In the world of writing, the reading public isn’t always right, but should always be listened to. Easily defined but not easily executed, a critique is a crucial part of the writing process. It’s also where the writer can make their biggest mistake.

The writer isn’t always their own worst critic. Putting your prose into the hands of readers who are unable to offer a subjective critique is a detriment to both the writing and the writer.

Critiques come in several problematic forms: gushing with praise, focusing on grammar while ignoring storyline, harsh on an unfamiliar genre, etc.

Remember that first tentative step of offering your writing up for critique? Get over the fear. You’ll have to submit to critique several times and in several places before finding a critiquing atmosphere that is thoughtful, thorough and a benefit to your writing style.

Criticism can be as difficult to accept as it is to give. Take a step back and think about the critiques you’ve already received. Have they provided insight and a fresh point-of-view? Do they make you defensive and dig in your heels?

Stay true to your writing, but leave your ego at the door. The critics are on their way…

Dedicated to Elise VanCise, my sister-in-heart, and writing partner. I’m thankful every day to have a critic who is honest, helpful, and without hang-ups. Don't miss Elise's blog: "Gladiator's Pen"

Monday, April 4, 2011

Birthday Balladry

Belated balladry for 'A to Z Blogging Challenge 2001' due April 2nd:

Birthday Balladry
(Poem written by me and my daughter Kayli about her scooter. This is a true story...)

Birthday present, birthday present,
What’s inside?
Today I got my scooter,
My heart is filled with pride!

My scooter is sliver
And the wheels are red.
But mom says I can’t ride it,
Unless I have a helmet on my head.

I ride my scooter everywhere,
I go super fast and super slow.
I used to ride it inside,
But I ran over my mom’s toe.

I passed my mom and brother,
While riding down the hall.
But wasn’t looking where I was going
And I fell against the wall.

I’m done talking about my scooter now,
The story is getting old.
So I hope you remember all of it,
Because it’s finished being told.

(P.S. Happy Birthday to my Hubby! :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Auctor in Absentia

Excuse note for tardy 
blog post due April 1st:

 Auctor in Absentia
(absent author)

auctor in absentia
adj [ô   æbˈsɛntɪə] nonsensical phrase of excuse concocted by blogger

1. blogger is away or not present

2. blog post is lacking; missing

3. blogger is inattentive; absent-minded,  not noticing what is going on around blog because blogger is thinking deeply an absent-minded blogger.