Saturday, December 31, 2011

HAPPY 2012

I'm just sitting here--waiting for 2012 to arrive, listening for the neighbors' fireworks. And the shotguns. In recent years, the county seems to have revived its old German custom of shooting the New Year. It was really noisy last year. Maybe all that shooting is what made 2011 run by so fast. I don't know where the time went, do you?

I've remembered too late that I don't have the makings of the customary New Year's Good Luck Meal in the cupboard, and there won't be any real restaurants open on Sunday that will serve it. Can't get ham, black-eyed peas, and collard greens at Mickey D's or Burger King.

Even so, let me wish all of you a very Happy and Healthy 2012, and may all your dreams come true. (I should have one--possibly two--books out in 2012. That would definitely work for me in the "dream come true department." Having a book released never gets old.)

Take care. And if you happen to have a New Year's Good Luck Meal at your house tomorrow, take a couple of extra bites for me.

'Til next time...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Re-Remembering A Christmas Past...

What is this? It's a photo of one of the neighbor's Christmas lights, taken very early in the morning in a foggy rain. The "fog" part makes me "hark back," as the late Johnny Carson used to say, something I would do anyway because it's that time of year. Yes, once again, I'm thinking of our family's Almost Christmas Stranger.

It was damp and foggy the night she showed up--December 23rd, hence the "almost" Christmas Stranger tag. How many years ago now? Half a century? No, more than that, actually. I've posted about her before. This is the link if you'd like to read it (or reread it, as the case may be). My late sister-in-law's recipe for a wonderful Lemon Fruit Cake is also included in that post. She made one every Christmas, and I miss her and them. (Let's just say I am not a baker.)

I'm looking forward to Christmas with the family--or most of the family. My nephew, the world traveler, has made it home from Cairo for the holiday, but I don't think I'll be able to see him, at least not close enough to hug the stuffing out of him as I am wont to do. I've managed to catch a cold, one of the messy kinds with lots of coughing, hacking and sneezing, and the last thing I need to do is give it to him just in time for his long flight back. I may have already given it to two of the Grands. (The boys refused my precautionary "air hugs" in lieu of the real thing.)

Now I'm going to get busy with the presents-wrapping. I'm going to put the Christmas music on and go to town with the colorful paper and the ribbon. Might even drink some russian tea in the process (very good for colds, don't you know). Oh, and I'm probably going to "mind write" on the new book while I'm at it. Busy hands, in my case, will almost always lead to story plotting. It's just part of my creative process--or it's a survival technique. Like "Maynard G. Krebs" (who?), I never want to think about "Work!"

All of you take care. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful Holiday Season.

'Til next time...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting Christmas-y

The DH and Grand #3 decorated the Christmas tree one afternoon last week. I think they did a spectacular job. You can't tell it on this picture, but they outdid themselves with the "icicles." (Long, narrow, dangle-y silver strands.) I was beta reading with Grand #1 on a Big Important Grade Thesis Paper and didn't really look up when the DH asked, "How much of this do you want us to use?" In retrospect, "All of it" might not have been the best response.

In any event, they had a good time, and I love the generously icicle-ed tree. I need lots of color and shine, and I got it.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Learning Something New...

Until a few days ago, I had no idea what "murmuration" was. I don't think I'd ever heard/seen the word before. If you don't know either or if do know and you'd like to see an amazing video example, click HERE.

Friday, November 18, 2011

On Not Being Tolstoy...

The last of my "Cinda Richards" backlist is finally up on is actually my first published romance novel. I've been thinking a lot about what an experience that was all those years ago, finally seeing something I'd written in print.

No, that's not quite right. I'd had other things in print prior to this--literary short stories published in "little magazines," an anthology, chapbooks, etc., sometimes to good reviews. Sometimes, even the rejection slips were glowing.

Oh, yes. I was known to hang out with the literary crowd. I won short story contests, gave readings here and there, went to teas as an honored guest in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Norfolk. I remember one such tea where the tea service was taller than most of the people attending. It was nice. And not the least bit lucrative.

Now if you know anything about the romance genre at all, you know that it is the consummate redheaded stepchild of publishing. The literati don't read romances, or if they do, they don't admit it. EVER. And what's more, they don't want you to waste your time reading "those books" either. It just won't do.

So I'm safe in saying that many of my literary acquaintances were surprised to learn that I'd written an about-to-be-published romance novel. Some were genuinely congratulatory (I think). Some assumed it was a vanity press project and were astounded to learn that a large New York publishing house had paid me to write it. And some wanted to kindly--and not so kindly--"save" me from whatever mental aberration was responsible for this particular craziness.

It was a bit of a...burden.

Here is my most favorite "helpful" remark: "Well, it's nice you got paid, but you know, Cheryl, it's hardly the Great American Novel."

Now here's the thing. I worked on it as if it was. I didn't "write down." I didn't condescend. I didn't wear a paper bag over my head. I didn't use a pen name for any reason other than the publisher required it. Instead, I learned the perimeters of the genre and I did the very best job I knew how to do.

Which brings us to the other thing. The title. Can you imagine the response in this rarified literary environment to a romance novel titled THIS SIDE OF PARADISE? And no it wasn't my idea. It was just one of those many things TPTB decide and the writer has to live with. I like to think, though, that F. Scott just might have cut me a little slack. We do, after all, have the same birthday.

Till next time...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 11-11-11

This is a photograph of my mother, my aunt, and my two cousins, once removed. It was taken during the early days of World War II.

The young man (my cousin) was home on leave. He was in the navy, and I believe it was his last chance to see everyone before he "shipped out."

This was "before my time," but I'm still struck by the emotions I sense whenever I look at the photograph. Part of it has to do with the way my mother and her sister and cousin are standing, as if they are trying to shield him from things to come, and part of it has to do with my mother's sad face.

He returned from the War safely. His brother, who was also there that day but not in this photograph, did not. People in the family have told me that his mother believed he was incapable of taking the life of another human being, no matter the circumstances, and that he knew, in the way soldiers sometimes do, that he would not return.

This is my own personal connection to Veterans Day and Memorial Day. And it's a big part of the reason why I always, always vote.

I wanted to share it with you...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This Makes Me Happy...

DA/SBTB Bestseller List



Saturday, November 5, 2011

Vintage Kindle-Version Books Update

SUCH ROUGH SPLENDOR, another of my vintage "Cinda Richards" romances, is now available on amazon. My first "Cinda Richards" romance, THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, should be added soon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Most Vintage of the Vintage...


a re-release of my very first novel writing as "Cinda Richards":


in Kindle format

(This is kind of exciting. Déja vu all over again.)

To Be Followed By...

another vintage "Cinda Richards" novel


also in Kindle format

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Poets

I like poetry. I would say I love poetry, but I'm trying not to gush. Part of my admiration has to do with a rampant envy of the poet's way with words and their ability to convey the human condition with such emotion. Not just the poem itself, but the titles as well. I have a hard time titling. I just don't seem to have the kind of mind it takes to "allude" in such a profound way. My thought processes are too literal. I think it must be a "nurse thing," the years of having to observe and chart exactly what's happening or suffer dire consequences.

I am selective about the poetry I read, though. I prefer the imagery and response of "observer poets" to the ones who fall on the thorns of life and bleed.

In any event, here are some of the intriguing titles I have admired:


COME, THIEF: Poems by Jane Hirshfield

EUROPEAN BLUES by Louis Jenkins

FIRST WORDS by Joyce Sutphen. And from this body of work, a poem called "On the Way to the Farm I Think of My Sister." Click HERE if you'd like to hear it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vintage Cheryl Reavis Update

These are the three "Cinda Richards" books now available on in the Kindle format. There are two more coming: THIS SIDE OF PARADISE (my first romance novel) and SUCH ROUGH SPLENDOR.

And let me say thank you to those of you who have bought the first three. Bless your hearts. I am thrilled.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Rose Is A Rose...

This is just to show you that I actually do other things besides obsessing about paying the bills. (Read: shamelessly trying to entice everyone on the planet into buying "Cheryl Reavis" and "Cinda Richards" books).

I root roses. Sometimes successfully. This one was rooted from a cutting from a neighbor's rose bush. I started the process last year. (I use the ziplock bag method.) The cutting looked viable by early spring, so it was potted, fed and put outside after the threat of frost. And now it is blooming. Three whole roses. I love the color, and it actually has a whiff of the rose scent. I don't know what kind of rose it is, but I like it.

Now if I could just root a camelia. So far it's Cheryl, 0. The article I read about camelia-rooting said they will root in 3 to 6 months -- or never. I can definitely vouch for the "never" part. I used to work with a nurse who rooted them by placing the cuttings in a sandbox with a Mason jar over them. Alas, no. She rooted them, I rot them. I should probably go read about camelias some more. In the meantime...

That's it for this time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Coming Sooner...

Vintage Cheryl Reavis (writing as "Cinda Richards") NOW AVAILABLE on, Kindle format...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Coming Soon... entire "Cinda Richards" backlist.

All five books written as "Cinda Richards" for the lost and gone forever SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE line are going to be released in the Kindle format: THIS SIDE OF PARADISE, DILLON'S PROMISE, FIRE UNDER HEAVEN, ONE FROM THE HEART, and SUCH ROUGH SPLENDOR.

I'm not sure when--I haven't approved the covers yet--but they're coming.

Nostalgia rules! (I hope)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Medicine Man

The digital version of MEDICINE MAN is NOW AVAILABLE...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Writer and His or Her Cat...

I used to try to write around TWO of these persistent creatures. Sometimes they hit me in tandem. Sometimes one after the other. Always, they eventually got whatever it was they wanted: food--not THIS food, THAT food; food bowl's not empty but it's close enough to worry us; water in a cup not the water bowl; closed door opened; open door closed; "Help! You've misplaced the other cat!" or "There's a cricket in the bathtub!!!" or "Get up! I want to sit where you're sitting!"

And so on...

Anyway, I do love the "Simon's Cat" videos on YouTube. Click on the TWO above to see them.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene, Good Night...

So far, so good regarding the hurricane. I thought for a time this afternoon we were going to get rain from the feeder bands, but we didn't, even though the sky grew quite dark.

So it looks like the Weather People are correct. We're going to be "breezy" here, and that's all. Having been through Hugo, this is more than fine with me.

So take care, everyone -- especially those of you in Irene's path -- and stay safe. An earthquake and a hurricane in the same week is a bit much, don't you think?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Another Backlist Book Available

Another backlist book will be released in digital format (Kindle, Nook, and others).

THE MEDICINE MAN can be pre-ordered now from and Barnes & Noble. It will be available September 15, 2011.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Once Upon A Time...

...there was teacher named Mrs. Isenhour. She taught the 1st Grade at Rockwell School in Rockwell NC. This was a long, long time ago, and I have the picture to prove it.

Now I ask you, were we not adorable? (Click on the photo to see it full size.) Little did I know, when I stood between Victor and Tommy on the first row--in what was easily the ugliest dress I owned, with the one pocket stuffed full of who-knows-what--that I would one day be the school nurse at that same school. Needless to say, I never thought I'd be a romance writer. (A WHAT?)

And what a quirky thing one's memory can be. Some of these children, I remember well. Some, I remember their faces, but not their names. Some--even though I know who they are--I have no memory of their having been in my same class that year, when clearly they were because they're right there in the photograph. I remember a lot of personality traits, whom I liked and whom I didn't, who was a bully, who cried all the time, who colored beautifully, who ate paste, who couldn't read no matter what, who got smacked on the legs for talking in the reading circle (a-hem).

Some of them are dead now. Some became teachers like Mrs. Isenhour, some became nurses, secretaries, business men, a banker, farmers, textile workers, housewives. Some went to Vietnam.

Anyway, I found this yesterday--I'd been looking for it for YEARS--and I thought I'd share it with you. Truth be told, I miss The Good Old Days...
even with the ugly dress.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another book added to those now available in digital format, a Civil War historical, THE BARTERED BRIDE, set in Rowan County, North Carolina. It is available in Kindle and Nook formats.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Five Backlist Digital Releases

Google Alert and Facebook Friend, Lynn Mershon Calvin, tell me I will have five backlist books in the Barnes & Noble Nook eBook format released on July 15, 2011 -- available for pre-ordering now.

HARRIGAN'S BRIDE is a Civil War historical set in Virginia and North Carolina. One of my very nice readers named her little girl after the heroine in this book. Both the heroine and I were truly honored -- we got pictures and everything. (THE BRIDE FAIR, which has a Salisbury NC setting, is part of the Blogger Bundle Volume V collection -- see the column on the right. THE PRISONER, also with a Salisbury NC setting, hasn't been released in digital format.)

MEGGIE'S BABY and MOTHER TO BE are from the Navajo "Family Blessing" series.

THE LONG WAY HOME and LITTLE DARLING are from the Fort Bragg series. Another very nice reader once wrote to advise me that she was going out with a Fort Bragg paratrooper -- something she would NEVER have done if she hadn't read these books -- the 82nd Airborne owes me more than it knows. Besides that, influencing somebody's dating choices, even inadvertently, is a HUGE responsibility. Read LITTLE DARLING first. And be careful who you go out with, paratrooper or not.

I haven't heard yet whether the books be available in digital formats elsewhere--but then I didn't hear about the Nook thing either. Google Alert and real live person, Lynn, very helpfully found it for me. (Thanks, Lynn.)

If you haven't read them, I hope you'll consider doing so. If you have, I hope you'll consider doing so again.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interesting Find--A Maid's Memories of Biltmore House

My late sister-in-law once knew a woman who had worked as a maid in the Biltmore House in Asheville. I believe she was in her 90s at the time my sister-in-law knew her.

I recently happened upon a piece of notebook paper where my sister-in-law had written down what the woman had told her. There's no mention of the ocean blue walls but it looks as if the rest of what she said about the furniture was accurate:

"...Servant's Bedrooms--At any one time 80 servants might be employed at Biltmore, where they lived near their work stations in separate halls according to sex and "rank." The bedrooms along the corridor represented the private quarters for female members of the staff--cooks, house maids, and scullery maids. The rooms were airy and comfortable with split-seat chairs, chestnut dressers and wardrobes, and iron beds and washstands holding monogrammed chamber sets (pitcher, washbowl, chamber pot, slop bucket).

Service dress depended on the job and the time of day. The maids wore pink uniforms with white collars and cuffs in the AM and black with white trim in the PM. A cook's helper wore a red-checked pinafore and a dust cap..."

I've read that George Vanderbilt didn't like to actually see the staff, regardless of what they were wearing--hence the narrow passageway between the walls in the family's part of the house--sort of like a hall within a hall. I've also read this about one of our first ladies, only staff had to scurry to the nearest room and close the door when she came and went. (One can only assume that good servants will know their place, so of course they wouldn't mind.) (Yes, I'm rolling my eyes.)

It's been quite a few years since I've been on the Biltmore House tour -- and that was a Christmastime bus tour with my BFF, Jo. I never saw so many Christmas trees in my life. The time before that, my son was five. I distinctly remember him reaching across a velvet robe and giving a rare and, I expect, priceless world globe a big spin. The guard standing there probably does, too. I also expect that the globe was subsequently set farther back or removed altogether, once they understood what a temptation such things are to little boys, velvet rope or no velvet rope.

Maybe I should go to Biltmore again. To tell you the truth, though, while stunningly beautiful and worthy of being the backdrop for a number of movies, the experience always makes me feel sad. The place isn't in ruins, and yet it is--if that makes sense.

Might be a book in it, though....

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bulletin From The Antique Pickers

You may remember when I told you about the DH and our antiques restorer neighbor being at Cline's Antiques on Hwy. 49 the same time as members of a film crew buying props for a new movie about to be filmed somewhere in the state. Which was quite enough information for him and not NEARLY enough for me.

So he has returned from his latest trip to Cline's with this intelligence: The name of the movie starts with the letter "A".

This is good to know, I guess. Not particularly helpful, but still.

If any of you happen to hear about a movie being made here with a title that begins with an "A," do let me know. Or maybe not. The only other tidbit the DH had to report was that they plan to burn all the props they bought in a big pile--with a baby crib in the middle of it. Doesn't really sound like my kind of movie.

Til next time...

UPDATE: I think I've found out the name of the movie. It's ARTEMIS.

(It does start with the letter "A," doesn't it? Now to find out what it's about...

Monday, May 30, 2011


The flag is out in remembrance of those in my family and in yours who died for this country. Rest In Peace. You are not forgotten.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The 2011 Cheryl Reavis Backyard Flower Tour

I'm going to show you how Mammaw Rose's roses and irises are doing this year.

This one is a surprise. It must have gotten left behind when my legacy iris bulbs were moved from the shade to full sun a few years ago. And this year it was big enough to bloom. Nice color, don't you think?

And these are Mammaw Rose's antique roses. The tall ones in the back were transplanted -- a volunteer sprout that was growing around the original bush. The ones in the forefront I rooted from a cutting. (I've told you before how surprised I was --I didn't know I could "root.")

This iris reminds me of pineapple sherbet. The one that reminds me of peach ice cream hasn't bloomed yet. (I don't know. Maybe I do have a cold dessert fixation.)

Here is an assortment of her irises:

And isn't this one something:

One of the rooted roses:

And a mixed bouquet of cuttings from around the yard. That's a white peony, the only one blooming at the moment. It's a surprise, too, one that missed the big Peony Relocation from shade to sunlight. It had a flower anyway, shady place or not. Heard about that "Bloom where you're planted" thing, I guess.

I hope you're blooming where you're planted.

Till next time...

Friday, April 15, 2011


I forgot to tell you that the DH went "antique picking" earlier this week. Why is this of note? Well, there were several people at his favorite haunt (Cline's on US Hwy. 49), who were buying. AND, according to the Cline Helpers, they had a very large budget. Which they apparently needed because they were buying props for a movie.

The DH didn't ask what movie, of course -- or anything else for that matter. I don't think anybody on the premises did. (It's really true. Men are not as curious as we are.) In any event, this is at least as interesting to me as when a crew came to O. O. Rufty's in Salisbury to buy props for The Color Purple.

(I wonder what movie?)

(The DH is sure he didn't see any movie stars.)

So What's New?

I'm pretty sure you've noticed, as I have, that one is constantly either having to get something in a row:


Something in gear:

Sometimes one has to do both. That would be the case here at the moment. Why, you may wonder? Because I've been offered a contract for two books, historicals this time around.

So how am I doing? Okay, I think. The ducks are behaving as well as ducks are able and the gears are on the high side of rusty but turning. I think we're getting there. I'm at least in the "emotional zones" of the characters, which means they've gotten the cobwebs out of their hair, the dust beaten out of their costumes, and they are up and around and breathing. Now comes the hard part: What am I going to do to them? HOW am I going to run them up a tree and then throw rocks at them? (To quote a writer whose face and kind mentoring I remember well but whose name, regretfully, I do not.) It's very helpful advice if you want to be a genre writer. The problem, of course, is that it's hard. I know this comes as a surprise to many, but it is, especially if you want to use the writing style I use: Logical, Linear, Lean -- and still put the reader firmly into a "And then what happened?" mindset . No, really. It's hard. Hard, hard, HARD. I know this because I wouldn't stagger around the house looking like Munch's "The Scream" if it wasn't.

So. I'll give you progress reports, and here's the first:

I'm a couple of pages into Chapter Two of Not Yet Titled Book Number One.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pending Spring

The violets are blooming. See? These particular ones are my favorites because they're like the cloisonne enamel violet on my mother's lost locket. It looked as real as these do and had an amethyst in the center. A truly striking piece of jewelry. (But what HAPPENED to it?)

Anyway, violets are a true harbinger of Spring. And hyacinths, daffodils, forsythia, redbuds, Bartlett pear trees -- all of which are blooming. (My perpetual sneezing can attest to that.) The azaleas are on the verge. (Of blooming, not sneezing.) It's cold and rainy here today (Blackberry Winter-ish), but hopefully that won't slow them down too much. My daffodils didn't bloom at all this year. The foliage looks great, but no flowers. I think maybe they don't get enough sun. Of course, the hyacinths all around them are doing fine, so maybe that's not it.

I saw copies of THE MUSIC BOX on the shelf at Walmart yesterday -- always a thrill. And an added obsession. Now I have to go look every day to see if anyone's bought a copy. (It's how we writers roll.)

So. That's it for this time. It's back to the cookstove for me -- I'm making my rainy day special chicken and rice soup for lunch...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Slogging Around In The Past

I've been hunting through some things -- legacies from my late sister-in-law. I was looking for odds and ends for my son to use to "stage" his house for prospective buyers. Pictures and pitchers. Two Bob Timberlakes and some ceramics that would reflect both the content of the Timberlake prints and the color scheme of the room as a whole.

While I was at it, I also uncovered a very bad, mildewed painting I'd done decades ago, one I'd completely forgotten about. Looking at it now, this truth is painfully clear. I needed lessons. I knew nothing about perspective. Or color values. Or how not to make the ground look like a yellowish, greenish brown ocean. I didn't know how to paint.

But, as you can see, I didn't let that stope me. I remember quite well that had a good time anyway.

I still don't know how to paint, but I found all my painting supplies the other day and at some point I may give it another whirl. Even if the ground looks like an ocean.

I'll even let you see it.

'Til next time...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

THE MUSIC BOX (An Excerpt)

Navajo policeman Ben Toomey was out of his element and knee-deep in something worse than Window Rock's usual chaos. Wealthy Eden Trevoy, the little visitor he'd once adored, was back on the reservation, all grown-up—and tangled in secrets about her lost heritage. She needed Ben's help, and somehow he just couldn't turn her away.

But Ben's People said the outsider would never fit into his world, and Eden had her own doubts about her newfound heritage. Yet as Eden learned more about where she came from, she discovered where she truly belonged…with Ben.

Excerpt: © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

IT took him the better part of a day to find the way into the arroyo. He had only been there once, when he was a boy, and while the terrain hadn't changed all that much, he had. All those years ago, he had navigated the narrow slit between the great rocks easily, but now he could barely fit himself into the small crevice that led to the place where he thought Edna Trevoy would be. He was reasonably certain that he had finally found the actual entrance, but the daylight was rapidly fading, and he decided that the path was too treacherous to attempt alone in the dark. He tried calling out to her, knowing that if she had indeed gone to the ledge and the wall where the spiral petroglyphs were, the sound of his voice would likely never penetrate the rocky overhang.

In spite of his sense of urgency, there was nothing to do but wait for somebody to catch up with him. As it was, he would have a lot of explaining to do. The entire time he'd been looking for this place, he had gone over and over in his mind how he would justify his being out here to the lieutenant. He had decided that he would say first that he'd gone on alone because he hadn't wanted to waste any more time. He would say that the whole situation was crazy, that he hadn't seen Professor Trevoy in years. He would say that there had to be some serious reason why she would tell people she was going to this almost inaccessible place in the big canyon and that the only other person who knew the way in was Navajo tribal police officer, Ben Toomey. She'd apparently been very specific about that part, leaving her colleagues to think that he had gone with her.

They'd been so certain that, when she didn't return after two days, they'd called the tribal police to find out if said officer had given anyone a specific itinerary.

He had been happily minding his own business when the call came in—no, actually, he'd been minding the business of a beautiful clerk-typist named Angelina, who had just been assigned to the station to help catch up on a records backlog. At first, he had been amused by the obvious mistake concerning his whereabouts. Here he was standing around drinking coffee and being relentlessly witty and cute for the new personnel, and these people thought he was off on some kind of expedition with an archaeo-astronomy professor his father had worked for when Toomey was a boy. Very funny.

Except that the professor wasn't a practical joke kind of woman, and after a moment or two, he remembered that. She was precise, exacting and no-nonsense. Her long interest in the Anasazi ruins had been in the Old Ones' use of astronomy and their possible observatories, rather than their trash heaps and potsherds. She had wanted to know how they marked time and the summer and winter solstices. He'd once seen her uncover the mathematical precision of a ruined building by the positions of its seemingly random tiny windows. He'd seen her locate nearly the exact center of a ruin simply by snapping her fingers and listening to the echoes. She had that kind of mind, the kind that wouldn't do anything so out of character as to pointedly mention a certain Navajo police officer and then disappear.

Crazy, he thought again.

He walked back to the police utility vehicle to call in to the dispatcher. He had made a point of giving his position as exactly as he could all along the way. It was the only thing he could think of that might temper Lieutenant Singer's anticipated aggravation with him. Regardless of the fact that he was the logical person to come out here, Toomey hadn't waited to be officially assigned. He had taken matters into his own hands, because Lucas Singer had been out of the building and unavailable when the call came in. It was not a wise decision for anyone as far down in the pecking order as Toomey was. And the lieutenant wouldn't cut him any slack, because Toomey had been entirely too helpful in getting Captain Johnny Becenti—whose job it was to tell both of them what to do—married to Lucas's sister, Lillian. It was Toomey's understanding—now—that Becenti and Lucas Singer had barely tolerated each other for years—which explained why Lucas was still somewhat less than thrilled with the marriage and the junior officer who had done his part to bring it about.

Toomey sighed. Well, perhaps he hadn't done all that much. Mostly, he'd just kept his mouth shut about what he knew and when he knew it. It was almost impossible not to tell anyone—a couple as unlikely and mismatched as Becenti and Lucas's too-good-for-the-rez lawyer sister was big news. In fact, the People were still talking about it. But Toomey had managed to stay silent, even under the onslaught of questions from longtime tribal police dispatcher and resident busybody, Mary Skeets. And he had learned a thing or two in the process. How to stand up under Mary Skeets's intense interrogation, for one thing, and how totally unpredictable male-female relationships could be, for another. It didn't seem to matter how indifferent and unreceptive a man thought he was to becoming involved with a particular woman. If she was the right woman, she could still turn him completely around. The problem was whether or not the man could survive the turning.

Toomey sighed again. He had decided all the things he would tell the lieutenant about his one-man quest to locate Edna Trevoy, but there was one thing he wouldn't tell him. He wouldn't say how uneasy all this business with Dr. Trevoy had made him. He was still uneasy, out of harmony, caught knee-deep in something that was not in keeping with the usual chaos of his life and something that he didn't begin to understand. He didn't like surprises, and he was increasingly certain he was about to get one.

He waited what seemed a long time for the dispatcher to respond. He kept hoping that he hadn't gotten into one of those ever-changing pockets of interference that wreaked havoc with radio communications on the rez.

The dispatcher—Mary Skeets—finally answered him. The professor was still lost, she said—unless he had found her. Her tone of voice suggested that his current situation would be much improved if he had.

"No, Mary," he said. "I think I've located the entrance into the arroyo, but I can't be absolutely sure in the dark. I'm going to wait until the others get here before I go in. Does the lieutenant want to talk to me?"

"Oh, yeah," she assured him, and it was clear to him that he might as well accept the fact that he was always going to be in trouble with Lucas Singer. And it wasn't that Toomey did it deliberately—well, today he had done it deliberately, but there were mitigating circumstances.

"Okay," he said. "Put him on."

"My information is that the lieutenant is on his way out to where you are," Mary advised him, and he closed his eyes and cringed. Being lectured via the radio and having half the tribal police force hear it was one thing. Facing Lucas Singer in person was something else again.

"Okay," he said again, because there was a chance Lucas was hearing the transmission even now—but he didn't mean it. He signed off and got out of the utility vehicle, looking back down the dirt track in the direction he had come for headlights. He didn't see anything yet.

What if this isn't the way in?

The thought presented itself with great authority and led to a host of other notions that were equally unsettling. What if the lieutenant couldn't find him. What if the lieutenant did find him? He had no idea which would be worse. What if he'd gone off by himself like this, dragged Lucas Singer all the way out here, and it wasn't the right place? If so, he was pretty sure he could kiss town life goodbye. The lieutenant would have him shipped off to some tribal police outpost so fast he wouldn't know what hit him. It would be months before he'd be able to have any kind of social life again. No flirting with Angelina around the coffeepot, no hope of taking her out dancing, no nothing.

He checked his flashlight to make sure it was still working, then walked back to the slit in the rocks. If Edna Trevoy had gone in there, then why? It was true that the two of them were likely the only people who knew that the wall with the petroglyphs existed; she'd called it her "ace in the hole" and sworn him to secrecy. He had happened upon it when his father was working as a guide and gofer for her. Young Ben Toomey had been allowed to come along on this particular trek because he was interested in the search for ruined watchtowers and faded glyphs and because he knew how to stay out of the way and not cause trouble—a trait he earnestly wished had followed him into his adulthood. Even so, he had been a boy with time on his hands that day, and he had gone into the slit between the huge rocks simply because it was there and he could. He had realized immediately that there was more to the place than first met the eye. He had kept going, following the narrow, winding path, knowing instinctively that he was perhaps the first human to do so in nearly a thousand years.

He finally came out at the big overhang with the decorated rock wall beneath it. The pictograph was clearly visible. Four spirals and a handprint. And some kind of mark above them he couldn't recognize. The professor was particularly interested in spirals, and he knew she would be interested in this. It had taken some doing to tell her about it, because she had been more than a little annoyed by his abrupt disappearance.

Eventually, she had listened long enough to understand that he had found something for her, and she had let him lead her in. Incredibly, she had wept at the sight of it. She kept moving from glyph to glyph, wiping her eyes on her shirtsleeve, so overcome with emotion that she would have actually placed her hand exactly on the ancient handprint if he hadn't stopped her. He had believed in the evil that came from the dead then, and he'd tried to protect her from it, surprising himself and her with his audacity. But she had seemed…touched, he supposed ...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blue Birds Singin' A Song, Nothin' But Blue Birds...

I have friends around the country who have rarely-to-never seen a bluebird.

Since several pairs are wintering in the yard this year, I thought I'd show you some:

Aren't they beautiful?

(I did MUCH better with the camera this time, didn't I?)

Oh, yes, before I forget. The other two birds hanging out at the feeder are house finches.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Round House in Rockwell NC

I came across this clipping of "The Round House," as it was known in the small town where I grew up. The photo isn't all that clear, but I'm going to share it with you anyway. Actually, I may be sharing it with you again. I can't remember if I've blogged about this structure before not.

The house was located on US Highway 52, and it was unusual not just because of the round architecture, but also because the kitchen was separate from the main house. My fey mother tells me it was not haunted. (The haunted house was the "Heilig House," several doors down.) The entire structure was demolished, I believe, in the 1960s.

The house was actually in the family for a number of years (which is why Mom is sure there were no ghosts), and it's the backdrop for a number of old sepia family photos. My great grandfather (Wagner) lived there for a time, and according to the family oral history, he used to sit on the porch and play his fiddle for the assorted children in the neighborhood -- when he wasn't feuding with one of his daughters. The house later belonged to a great uncle (Beaver), but he "lost" it. Details are sketchy as to how that came about, but it's said that he took the loss very hard. It so happened that the subsequent house he and my great aunt and their children moved to afterward had a clear view of "The Round House" from a certain point in the side yard. My great uncle would often sit there in the late afternoon, facing in that direction, pining for the house, the women in the family opined.

I have a very dim memory of having been inside it, but I remember well the box camera "picture-taking" that placed it so often in the background. In one I was posed with a dog I didn't want to be posed with -- because it had very bad breath. I think it may have been my dog, but I'm not sure about that detail. I am sure, however, that it needed a Tic-Tac.

So. That's all for this time...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Deena Rose Moore

Deena Rose Moore

She was "Deena the Poet" to me. She had her first poem published in 1979. "Here it is!" she wrote in the margin of my copy of the anthology. "Long time in coming but I feel I have arrived! Deena"

The poem was called "Blind Trust," and as Deena said, here it is:


Thorns of green eyes scratch
The beauty of the woman above
Perched with grace on a wire
Embraced by admiration
Entranced with the beat
Lady trimmed in red
Towering above the crowd
Banked by a canvas enclosure
Darkness is hers alone
Seeing no obstacles in her night
As the band plays on
Each step dependent
On their melodic vision
Only one man below
holds the hand of fate
He lives in a house
Built of silence--
When the music stopped,
She died