Archive for November, 2007

The Collective Short Story

The members of the Shameless Lions Writing Circle are in the middle of a group short story.  Click on the picture to read the whole rollicking tale filled with intrigue.  For now here’s my little bit:

     Nanny Julia stopped in mid-sentence and grabbed her friend Erica’s arm.  The threat of kidnapping was ever present for children like those of her powerful employer and a dark, slow moving car wasn’t normal for midday.  “Giovanni!  Anna!  Come to me now.”

     “Shit, Julia, you scared me to death!  I was just getting to the best part…”

     “Shhh.  Look up there, and watch your mouth in front of the kids.”  She watched Erica follow her gaze to the car and then opened her arms to catch the two children racing back to her. 

     Even at just four and six, Giovanni and Anna were and tall and slim with the same mahogany colored eyes and rich black hair of their father.  But that is where the similarity ended.  Grace’s children were sweet tempered and affectionate like their mother. 

     “Nanny my friend wants me!”  Giovanni fidgeted impatiently as he waited to hear why he’d been summoned away from his game.

     “There’s a cold breeze picking up, you need to have your jackets on.”  Julia dawdled at helping each of the children into their wind breakers intending to keep them close to her just until the mysterious car had passed.  Before she could finish zipping up Anna’s jacket she heard Erica gasp and looked up in time to see a face and two hands pressed against the car’s side window.

     “That’s Mommy!”  Giovanni yelled. 

     Julia grabbed his arm before he could race across the field to the slow moving car.  “No, Gio, remember?  Your momma is away visiting her sick mother.  Your Daddy told you that just this morning.”  She couldn’t tear her eyes away from the car and when it started swerving on the road and then sped off at break neck speed she could no longer ignore the niggling fear that Mr. Carrebreu’s story had been a lie. 

     “Could you see the license plate?  I couldn’t tell who was in the back of that car, but I don’t think the lady was happy to be there.”  Erica said before whistling for her own two charges to return to her side.  “Too freakin’ creepy out here for me today, I think I’ll take my munchkins home for an afternoon in front of the TV.”

     As loath as she was to return to the cold, rambling Carrebreu home, Julia agreed with her friend. She led the children back toward the house her mind racing with images of her time as their nanny and the odd things she’d observed.  Julia watched the children sadly climb the steps to the front door, disappointment at losing their park time evident even from behind them.  For the sake of her young charges, she cleared her mind of gloomy thoughts.

     “Who wants to make popcorn balls and watch Dumbo?”  She called over her shoulder as she took the stairs two at a time to reach the door before the two children now squealing with laughter. 

     It wasn’t until bedtime that Julia again remembered the odd car at the park.  Anna and Giovanni were both weepy and missing their mother as they said their prayers and she tucked them into their little beds.  She found it odd that Mrs. Carrebreu hadn’t even called the children to wish them goodnight.  Once both kids were breathing with the steady cadence of deep sleep, Julia slipped from the room and made her way through the silent house to the kitchen.  In the center drawer of the cook’s desk kept beside the wall hung phone, she knew there was a list of important numbers.  Doctors, Dentists and family.  She’d used the list to contact Grace’s mother just months before when her employers were away on a business trip. Julia fidgeted on the cold marble floors as she dialed the number and listened to the phone ringing. 

    “Answering service.” 

    “I’m sorry; I must have dialed the wrong number…” Julia stammered.

    “Who is the party you are trying to reach?”

    “Elinore, Elinore Branigan?”

    “And your name?”

    “Julia, I’m Mrs. Branigan’s daughter’s nanny.”  Julia felt her stomach turn with anxiety at this unexpected interrogation.

     “Yes, Julia, you are on the authorized list.  Mrs. Branigan has left for her annual pilgrimage to the holy lands; she’s expected to return in time for the Christmas Holidays.  You may leave her a message or call back at that time.”

     Julia slammed the phone receiver back on its base, fear gnawing at her conscious like a starving rat.  Mr. Carrebreu had lied.  Grace’s mother was out of the country.  So where was Grace?  And what would she tell the children?  Before she could fully wrap her mind around these two questions she was startled by the sound of a slamming door and Cook ambled into the kitchen, hair in old fashioned curlers, her ample body swathed in a tent sized flannel nightgown.

     “What has you up Miss Julia?  Do you need a snack?  Some warm milk maybe?” 


     Julia looked into the kindly face of the ancient old cook and told her everything that happened that day from the park up to the phone call to Grace’s mother.  “I just don’t know what to do.”  She said.

     Cook stared at the counter top and sighed.  “The missus gave me instructions several years ago for just this kind of instance.”  She heaved herself off the stool she’d sat on to hear Julia’s story and waddled to the desk.  Cook lifted out the center drawer and pulled up a discreetly hinged flap of wood revealing a shallow drawer beneath.  Inside this cavity, a single piece of paper inscribed with the name “Mike” and a phone number. 

November 8, 2007 at 4:24 pm 28 comments

Dust to Dust

My father-in-law passed away Thursday after a long illness.  He was not a nice man to many people (usually female) and a pillar of kindness and concern to others.  He leaves behind a widow, five kids, fourteen grandkids, five great grandkids and scores of nieces, nephews and cousins.  He and I were not friends.  While he occasionally treated me with the same kindness and respect I showed him throughout the twentysix years I’ve been married to his son, more often he didn’t.  I’m sad only to the extent that people who loved him are feeling his loss.  The old guy spent the last few years of his life languishing in a recliner or having bits of him amputated due to complications from diabetes.  I wouldn’t wish his last  days on earth on my worst enemy.  

 Pap, on the other hand, was very close to his father.  He is devastated.  His job this week was to  take care of his mother, provide all the people between two towns (3 hours apart) who wished to pay their last respects an opportunity to do so and get his father into the ground in such a way that his descendants could begin their grieving process with the proper closure.  Pap was amazing at his job.  So while I couldn’t cry for the loss of a father-in-law I spent more time with than my own father but knew no better than a distant uncle…after the twenty-one gun salute, and ceremony by the Masons, just as the piper playing Amazing Grace walked out of sight over the lonely hill above the grave, I cried for my Pappa Bear. 

November 6, 2007 at 3:18 am 21 comments

The Oogie Factor

This is my middle daughter, Sheena. sheena.jpg She’s a social worker, employed at a facility that houses teenaged boys with severe behavorial problems.  She has a big, strapping boyfriend and was an athlete in high school and college.  Sheena has been fiercely independant since she was about three.  While she’s an excellent daughter, generous and loving, she hasn’t needed anything from me, financial or emotional, for years.  Until last night.  What, you may ask, could turn this strong, powerful young woman into a quivering pile of mommy needing jello? 

Well it was this:chicken.jpg

an uncooked chicken.  She and strapping boyfriend could not wash or stuff this chicken because “it looks too much like a chicken.”  City kids, sheesh. 

November 2, 2007 at 4:50 pm 17 comments

Trick or Treat

Another Halloween for the record books.  Wouldn’t you know that the one year I caved in and agreed to make not one, but two furry costumes (a nightmare to sew on, totally screws up my machine), it was the hottest Halloween in Ohio, I think, ever.  69 degrees.  They could have trick or treated in their blog-halloween-ayla.jpgswimsuits. 


In order of appearance:  Ayla the Pink Poodle with her mother dressed as a cat, Briauna the vampire with Jazzmin a Rockin 50’s girl, Brendolynn as herself (an organ grinders MONKEY) and Juliette, our fiersome pirate. 

Just sixty days until I unofficially leave my day job.  I’ll work, sorta, for another sixty wrapping up my year end reporting and on March lst, I’ll officially be done.  Already things are weird at the office.  My assistant is taking over my job and  entered full panic zone as of yesterday.  Everyone thinks they want to be the big dog until they look at the “to-do” list…suddenly it isn’t fun and games any more.  Next week we move into our new building.  More weirdness.  It didn’t make any sense to me to take residence of my positions office for three months, so my assistant will take the office intended for me, the new girl will move into what was supposed to be the assistant’s office and I’ll be the ghost in the basement archives.  Don’t feel too sorry for me though, the archives of this new building is beautiful.  Lushly carpeted, bright and filled with beautiful shelving and the 100 years plus of old records filled with the names of people, like me, who kept this little government running all these years.  But it will still be weird down there all alone.  I’m very social. 

I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Halloween.  My daughter has assumed the role of Thanksgiving Hostess, so that leaves me free to plan the social engagements for Christmas.  Woo-Hoo! 

November 1, 2007 at 2:02 pm 12 comments

The free-lance writer is the person who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps. (Robert Benchley)

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Shortly after I learned to use a spoon, I learned to use a pencil. Crippled by shyness as a child, I found that the things I couldn't say out loud, I could say with a pen, and then a typewriter. The shyness was overcome with education and age...but the need to write has never left me.

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November 2007