Wednesday, February 15, 2017


And now, let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been - Rainer Maria Rilke

Each day, each season, each year, is a gift. 

Live it, enjoy it, share it.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Go Ahead, Smile!

Longwood Gardens

If you're reading this...
Congratulations, you're alive.
If that's not something to smile about,
then I don't know what is.
― Chad Sugg

If that's not enough, consider this. It is the last day of January, and we are one day closer to Spring.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Crush Or Be Crushed

This is Day 20 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is Sydney, Australia. The Saga of Charlie and Alex continues. Please visit the other participants for more adventures.

After a brief reunion, Charlie enlists Adam and Josh to help as FBI consultants on the case. He discusses what they have learned and listens to Adam's ideas. "So are you in?" Both men nod.

"Great, meet me at the field office at noon, and I'll introduce you to my team and we can get started. My guys are champing at the bit. I think Alex just wants to wrap this up so he can go out with the young lady he met on the flight. She is here visiting her cousin."

"That's interesting," said Josh. "My cousin, Nadja, is visiting for a couple weeks."

"Really," said Charlie grinning. "Alex is my partner and he and she were seat mates on the flight. I took a nap and when we landed they were like two peas in a pod." 

Later that day, Alex, Adam, Josh and the other agents met with Charlie to go over the plans. "Based on our intel, there is a major deal going down in two days in the Slasher's territory in Monterey. The cartel has an arrangement with the Slashers for security for a small cut in the profits. They will be meeting with their buyer at the Slasher's warehouse. We believe that Crusher wants a bigger piece of the pie, so to say we anticipate trouble is an understatement."

"Adam, we will need you on surveillance watching the monitors and watching our backs. We will all be on comms so you can communicate with us. Josh, you're on surveillance as well." Charlie caught Josh's frown..."understood?" Josh nodded. "Okay let's go, we're getting an early start tomorrow."

The next morning they rolled into Monterey at breakfast time. "I sure love me some diner food," said Alex. After filling up on eggs, bacon and pancakes, they settle into their temporary command center and begin their final preparations. 

"Okay guys," said Charlie, "It's time. Teams 1 and 2 take the south side. Teams 3 and 4, move up to the rear and hold. Alex you and I will take the East side, Kyle you and Bobby are on the West. Adam can you hear us?"

"Roger, loud and clear."

"SWAT team, ready?" asked Charlie.

"Roger," called the team commander.

As the teams move silently, nearly invisibly, toward positions, Charlie spots an old truck parked half on the sidewalk near the entrance to the dilapidated building used by the Slashers for their business transactions. "Guys, hold up."

Just then a van belonging to the cartel pulls up, stopping just behind the truck. Four guys with AR-15s  get out. "Hector," one man shouted at the door, hanging loosely on it's hinges.

Just as he yells again, the truck explodes sending glass and metal shards flying. Charlie's team was across the street and immediately fell to the ground, more from instinct than the blast. When the debris stopped raining down, they got up guns drawn, only to instantly become targets of gunfire.

"Adam, what can you see," asked Charlie from his precarious position. There was little in the way of real cover, it was modest concealment at best.

"Charlie," responded Adam, "It appears that the blast took out the guys from the van. I can't see the shooters, but I would guess they are Slashers double-crossing the cartel. They probably have either killed Hector or have him tied up in the back."

"SWAT team commander," called Charlie, "move to the front of the building on the north side. Teams 1 and 2 with me. Alex, we're going in behind SWAT. Teams 3 and 4, stay at the back of the building. Kyle you and Bobby find a vantage point. Don't be afraid to take the shot if necessary.

It had only been a few moments since the explosion but it felt like hours and that everything was moving in slow motion.

More shots rang out as the agents descended upon the building. The sagging door splintered as it was breached. 

"Okay," yelled Charlie, "FBI, drop your weapons and come out with your hands up." He always felt foolish saying that. It sounded so scripted, like something off of TV.

"Nah, I don't think so," bellowed a deep voice from inside.

"That you Crusher," shouted Charlie. "Where's Hector?"

"Hector's dead, just like you're gonna be. Just like that guy on the bike. Yeah, I know you been snooping around, setting up camp. You figured you'd just waltz in here and take me down easy. Well easy ain't the way I do things. Boys..."

Suddenly there was a cacophony of gunfire mixed with shouts of exhilaration and screams of pain as bullets tore into flesh. Charlie dove to the side as Crusher came barreling out the door, spraying a hail of machine gun fire at the van which exploded into flames. The gang members left standing at the end of the flurry, dropped their guns, all but Crusher, who was tearing about wildly like a crazed animal, yelling obscenities.

"It's over, Crusher, put it down," said Charlie, keeping his attention while members of SWAT approached from behind. "This will go easier if you just stop now." 

He dropped his gun and for a second his eyes glazed over and it looked like he was going to comply. Then seemingly unhinged, Crusher made a last ditch attempt to carry out his threat. He pulled out a knife and with one last bellow of rage, he charged at Charlie. Within seconds, Crusher was tackled, taken down and lay cuffed at Charlie's feet. "Looks like the Crusher's been crushed."

"Everyone all right?," Charlie asked as he looked around taking a head count. Everything had gone down in a matter of minutes. A chorus of 'yeahs' were music to Charlie's ears, but... "Alex, has anyone seen Alex?"

"I'm over here Charlie, but it looks like I zigged, when I should have zagged," said Alex holding a hand to his bleeding shoulder."

Charlie sighed in relief. There were only minor injuries on his side, plus a few fallen Slashers, along with Hector and the cartel members, and Crusher was finally in custody. They had his confession.

"Good job guys! It turned out that Crusher's plan was to kill Hector and take the money, then when the cartel arrived to make the sale, he would kill them and take the drugs. He almost succeeded, but our grunt work got thugs and drugs off the streets. Let's go get you patched up," he said to Alex. 

"We've been given a few days of R&R before we head back," Charlie told Alex the next day. "You gonna call Nadja and get her to nurse you back to health?"

"Now there's an idea," grinned Alex. "We really seemed to hit it off."

"What about Jenna?"

"Funny you should mention her," said Alex looking a bit bemused. "I got a text from her this morning. It seems she is off to Sydney, Australia to make some Indie film with a producer she met in a coffee shop. Any of that sound familiar?"

"Ha ha," laughed Charlie, "That's an easy out for you, my friend. Speaking of friends, it was good to see Adam and Josh again. I know they are glad to finally get justice for Josh's dad." 

"What do you say we go grab a couple cold ones?" 

Alex nodded gratefully, "I'd say you're reading my mind!"

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

An Odd Duck

This is Day 19 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is PopularityPlease visit the other participants for more adventures.

The first thing that comes to mind on today's topic is that it is something I never had. I was not part of the "in" crowd or the "cool kids", but I did have friends, and usually a best friend to share recess and lunch with. 

That was until the sixth grade. That was the worst school year ever, and that is not an exaggeration. My parents decided to change schools so I wouldn't be bused across town. Mom arranged for me to carpool with three other girls, one of whom I had know for years and had play dates and sleepovers.

My friend was was accepted by the popular girls and I was not. I was apparently an odd duck. Some kids (boys and girls) were actually mean to me, likely because I was an outsider, not super cute and quiet. I was just your average twelve-year old, but when many of the other kids had practically grown up together, average didn't cut it. That was a very long year. 

The next year some new girls arrived. I wasn't the new kid anymore, and I had friends.  I still was not part of the click, but that was okay. Things got better and for the next four years we hung out and had sleepovers. What a difference a year makes.

What are your experiences with popularity, from either side? Did you ever feel like an odd duck?

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Shades of White

This is Day 18 of the 2017 edition of the 20 Days of Chill writing challenge hosted by P. J. at A ‘lil HooHaa. Today's prompt is White. Please visit the other participants for more adventures.

Here we have hubby's new-to-him Odyssey, which he got last August after an unfortunate incident totaled his Accord. In the five months we've had the van, it has been to Blowing Rock, Shelby, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida and Myrtle Beach. Needless to say, we are pleased with our new travel car. He calls it his mom car, and I say it is his mid-life crisis fail.

The first snowfall of 2017. So beautiful and pristine, and so cold that day. Not a good day to drop by and discover there was no heat in the house. Fortunately it's not our primary residence (yet). Turns out there was no oil in the tank. Thankfully, we have a great oil company and they delivered within the hour. I was also thankful for an electric heater while we waited.

The last rose of summer. Such a pretty lady, so white against the green backdrop. I did tinker with it a bit to make her stand out. 

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