Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My daddy died

What a bummer of a night. I just found out my dad died and I don't even know when it happened.

I don't know if you all remember me talking about finding my father about four years ago. I had a cousin on my father's side of the family contact me after doing a family tree sort of thing. He had found me online and wanted to let me know he knew where my father was.

Yes, it was quite a shock, but this was something I've always wanted to know. As the story went, he left me when I was just born and according to my mother's side of the family, he was no good and I was brainwashed into thinking he was the scum of the earth.

All my life, I grew up without a daddy. I don't know if you know how that feels but it hurts.

So this cousin finds me and starts telling me about family members I didn't know I had - aunts, uncles, cousins. Then, his wife's mother (who ended up being my Aunt Carmen) finds out they've located me and calls me on the telephone, wanting to meet me.

So I drive to Wachapreague (where she lived) and find out all I could ever know about my father and the family I was deprived of seeing simply because the two families couldn't stand one another.

It's been a long time it seems since that day I sat and chatted with Aunt Carmen. Then, tonight, I get an email from yet another cousin (by marriage) who tells me he has died. She didn't email me really to tell me that, but it was something that she remembered in her childhood that might be of some importance to me now.

She told me that when my dad and she and the other kids I suppose were sitting there watching The Wizard of Oz, he got visibly upset. When they asked him what was wrong, he said he couldn't talk about it. And she was thinking he was thinking...of me.

I have been boohooing on the deck all night long. See, the thing is, I found my father, Carmen sent me a couple of pictures of him so at least I could see what he looked like, but...I never got to meet him. I tried, well Carmen tried in my behalf, and his wife wouldn't let him see me. She said he was in too bad health for that to happen and I suppose she thought he couldn't take the stress from it.

But...I can imagine it happening. I can imagine sitting by the side of his bed and looking at the eyes that looks like my own and saying, "Hi Daddy."

Okay, so I live in a dream world.

It didn't happen and that's the way it goes.

But I do want to say something. A child, no matter what feelings the parents or the parents' families have for one another, has the right to know both their mother and their father and to deny that child that right is child abuse in the highest form.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Beach Reading Giveaway!

summer beach reading giveaway

Heading to the beach with nothing to read? Now you can head out in style with a book from one (or more!) of your favorite authors!

Pump Up Your Book Promotion is hosting our very first Summer Beach Reading Giveaway. Four great authors with 4 chances to win!

All you have to do is head on out to one of the blogs listed below and follow directions to win. It's that easy!

As the Pages Turn is giving away a copy of Dorothea Hover-Kramer's Second Chance at Your Dream!

This is the first book to apply the breakthrough insights of Energy Psychology to healthy aging. Energy Psychology is an exciting new healing method that changes the vibrational patterns in the energy fields to produce rapid emotional healing and a sense of well-being. With the help of the over fifty exercises for rebalancing yourself offered in this book, you can face the challenges and opportunities of later life to create a time of energy, abundance and joy. You can visit Dorothea online at www.secondchancedream.com.

Click here to enter!


Fiction Scribe is giving away a copy of DCS' Synarchy!

Thirteen bloodlines, The Brotherhood, fanatically loyal to their gods, the Anunnaki, have controlled the planet since his-story was written. In 1925 Stefano Vasco Terenzio, head of the Terenzio crime family makes a deal with the Anunnaki to solidify his control over the American Mafia. Clever and manipulative, Stefano’s true goal was to put his family in a position so one day they would be able to turn on their masters. Two generations later, the shockwave he ignited was still being felt. Now, as the world inches closer to 2012, time is running out. The only thing in the Brotherhoods way is Terenzio, a family now divided as a truly epic battle begins that will determine whether mankind continues existing in a world of lies, or shatters the chains that have held it prisoner since his-story was written. Shocking yet hopeful, Synarchy slowly unravels the tightly laced reality we have created for ourselves. Blending the metaphysical with conspiracy, fact with fiction, debut author DCS has opened up a world that will force you to rethink everything you believe about your own. The knowledge within provokes the question; do you really want to know? You can visit DCS on the web at www.synarchynovel.com.

Click here to enter!


The Book Stacks is giving away a copy of Dr. Ronald J. Frederick's Living Like You Mean It!

So many of us long to feel more alive, connected, and secure in our lives, particularly now, in these challenging and difficult times. Why is it so hard? Part of the problem, says Dr. Ronald J. Frederick, has to do with a fear of our feelings—a feelings‐phobia—and the consequences of expressing our feelings to others. It’s this fear that keeps us stuck, detached from the wisdom inside us and distanced from the people around us. And yet positive emotional experiences can actually “rewire” our brain and free us up to experience ourselves and our lives more fully. LIVING LIKE YOU MEAN IT: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want by Ronald J. Frederick, shows how we can overcome our feelings phobia in order to enjoy more satisfying lives.

Click here to enter!


Zensanity is giving away a copy of Richard Aaron's Gauntlet!

Six hundre d six ty tons of Semtex is detonated in a massive explosion in Libya – the last of a deadly st ockpile. The operation seems to have gone smoothly, but within minutes of the explosion, CIA agent Richard Lawrence discovers that one shipment of the explosive was hijacked en route to the destruction point. Days later, a glory-seeking “Emir” broadcasts to the world that he is planning a massive terrorist strike against a major U.S. landmark. And he gives a timeline of one month. You can visit Richard online at www.richardaaron.com.

Click here to enter!

Four great authors, four chances to win! Hurry before contests end!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guest Blogger: Dorothea Hover-Kramer gives us five ways to practice presence in critical times

I have a special treat for you today! We have a guest blogger. Her name is Dorothea Hover-Kramer and she's been on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion all this month with book reviews, interviews, guest posts, radio appearances and even a book giveaway!

And...still had time to drop by with a wonderful guest post titled It's Boomer Energy Time! - Five Ways to Practice Presence in Critical Times. This is only an example of her talent with words. If you'd like to pick up a copy of her latest book online, Second Chance at Your Dreams, visit here!

It’s Boomer Energy Time!—Five Ways to Practice Presence in Critical Times

by Dorothea Hover-Kramer, Ed.D., RN, RC, DCEP

These critical times can actually be the Baby Boomers’ finest hour. We are survivors of many life challenges such as career changes, job loss, personal or loved one’s illnesses and shattering events such as death of parents and relatives. More than that, we are learning to thrive in difficult times and discovering ways to share our inner wisdom with others.

Staying centered and present in critical times is one of the Boomer’s greatest gifts. It brings us to the spiritual wisdom that allows our energy to flow from within to help others. We can be the caring presence for others in the center of the storm.

Energy psychology offers numerous easily learned tools to experience our very own center which is really as close as the next breath. Here are five steps you can use one at a time or all together as your time permits:

1) Take a deep breath and let go of the tension you feel after hearing an upsetting news item, diagnosis, report or trauma.

2) Note your emotion and acknowledge it directly by stating “Even though I feel___(state the feeling), I still deeply and profoundly accept myself.”

3) Touch or gently rub the heart area in the mid-chest while repeating the statement above. Repeat it as often as needed until you feel less caught up in the traumatic event and more connected to yourself.

4) Acknowledge your gifts and strengths by listing who you know you are and what you might offer to help the person who is in need or affected by trauma.

5) Choose to be present with your center intact when you approach yourself or a person in need. Listen to your inner voice of calm. Trust that you can attract the resources, including your patience and persistence, necessary to resolve the situation and assist with healing.

As you go through the steps, you may notice a shift in your perceptions. There may be room for more clear thinking and knowing what to do.

I recently taught a class to a group of Baby Boomers that included several who had recently laid-off adult children. The centering steps helped them to move quickly from fear for their loved ones to affirming their own and their children’s strengths. One participant observed with tears in her eyes, ‘“My daughter has already survived cancer, I know she can find hope and another job. I know I can actively support her in affirming her gifts and talents and in being present for her.”

Dorothea Hover-Kramer Ed.D., RN, RC, is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of six books about energy therapies and her most recent is Second Chance at Your Dream (energy psychology press, 2009). You can visit her website at www.secondchancedream.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Win a copy of Dorothea Hover-Kramer's A Second Chance at Your Dream!

I've got a book review by moi and a book giveaway by author Dorothea Hover-Kramer up today at As the Pages Turn! Here are the details:


We’re offering a book giveaway! If you would like to win a copy of Dorothea Hover-Kramer’s A Second Chance to Your Dreams, here are the details:

Dorothea says, “No one should wait until a terminal diagnosis to start living more fully. Make a list now of the things you want to do, the people you want to see, the actions you can contribute to make the world around you better.”

Give us ONE thing on your own list of things you want to do, people you want to see, the actions you want to contribute to make the world around you better and leave it in the comment section. Be sure to include your email address or your entry will be void. Contests ends on August 1, 2009 and the winner will be hand selected by Dorothea herself. Your entry should not run over one or two sentences, so please be brief. Good luck!

Hop over and tell us what's on your list and you could win a free copy! You are welcome to comment but leave your "one thing" at As the Pages Turn, please, so you will get an entry into the contest! Have fun and good luck!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gimme Back My Damn Grasscutter!

You know who you are. You slimy sleazy grasscutter stealer you.

Okay, so I'm stupid to think this is a crime-free zone. Is there such a thing? I mean, crime is practically nonexistant here on the island. This is the only place in the world where I actually feel safe enough that if I made it up 3 flights of stairs and I remember once I get up on the 3rd floor that I forgot to lock the door on the 1st floor, I'm okay. If I die in the middle of the night, I die in the middle of the night.

But that's the way it is around here. You could walk the streets at night and nothing would happen to you. It's mostly tourists who usually are family-oriented and don't think killing someone on a family vacation would be good enough to make it on their fun things to do list. Which I'm really grateful for.

And you want to know what's the craziest thing? I never even noticed it was missing. If you could picture this carport...there's 2 cars and the grasscutter against the wall. And that is it. I did notice the other day how clean the carport looked. Like someone had cleaned it or something and all along, someone had stole the damn grasscutter without me even realizing it.

And to this day I still wouldn't have noticed it missing if BF hadn't come over today to cut the grass. I want you to visualize this grass "that needs cutting." It's a square no bigger than a child's playhouse. That small. It's in the back and is the only place we have to cut because the front yard is full of marsh grass that floods when the tide is high like it's doing right now. So I really don't notice the grass in the back needing cutting like I don't notice a bright as day grasscutter that isn't there anymore.

So, he goes, "Where's the grasscutter?"

And I'm busy, right. Anybody messing with me when I've got ten tours to put together has lost their everloving mind. So I scream silently and go downstairs to see what in the hell he's talking about. "Where's the grass cutter?" he asks again. "I come over to cut the grass and I don't see the grasscutter."

Well, I looked. I looked in the back, I looked in the little room outside where we keep the bikes and the scooters and everything one would keep in an attic sort of thing, and there's no grass cutter.

I'm like in shock. I don't scream, I don't cry, I just like stand there and go, "What the hell do you want me to do about it?" I'm not very good with expressing myself without a few hells to prove my point, but I'm improving.

So I get to thinking. There are about 12 units here. One old couple lives a few condos down to my left and another old couple lives a few condos down to my right and they not only both own grasscutters, but riding mowers, also. For what, God knows because they all have the same amount of grass I do.

I really really didn't think it would be the tourists staying next door and a few units down, more tourists...I really didn't think they'd think to swipe a grasscutter on the way back home.

And then it dawned on me. Next door has these maintenance people. Actually it translates into people who come in and clean the condos in their spare time. And they have a truck.

Okay, I know I'm grasping at straws, but using common sense, well, you know.

So whoever has it, I hope they're having a lovely time trying to start it after it's been under the carport all year long with the water from the ocean lapping over the engine ever so often. I hope they really really enjoy it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Did Bullies Keep You Out of School?

Interesting article up at Sunday Express. It's an online paper I think from the UK, but someone tweeted the link and I thought I'd check it out because if it's anything I hate more, it's the school system. Granted, bullying comes from home but school is where a child is forced to go, thus has to face the bully five days a week.

For some kids, bullying is very traumatic, yet we as parents feel we can deal with the problem, but the kid still must go to school. Must be in the "facing your fears" manual in your life's plan manual. I certainly must have aced that part as school was where I faced my only fears. On a day to day basis.

I think in that manual somewhere it says kids must go to school to become social. Balderdash. I can think of a million other ways to teach my kids to become social. I told my kids (who incidentally are grown) that if I ever had the chance to do it again, I would home school them. No ifs ands or buts. And if it was a subject I didn't know too much about? I'd hire a tutor. Or something.

About a year ago, a kid from my son's school asked how Ryan was doing. I said fine. Didn't even want to bother getting into the Marfans thing. The other guy who was with him said, "They really treated him bad." I said, "What are you talking about?" And they went on to tell me how one kid stuffed my son in a trash can at school.

I know we can't protect our kids from unpleasant situations 24/7, but can you imagine what went through my head when he told me that? And I daresay anything was done to the kid.

I don't know, maybe your school system is better than the one my son went through and it's not just this, but there were so many instances (guns on buses for one) that I knew if I ever had to do it again, I would home school them.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Win a Copy of Irene Watson's The Sitting Swing!

Irene Watson, as part of her virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion, is giving away a FREE copy of her newest book, The Sitting Swing! You heard it right, folks. Absolutely free! Ahhh...but there's a catch. You must be the first person who can tell us where she was born. And no high tailing it down to the court house!

Whoever is able to guess where Irene Watson was born wins a free copy of her wonderful new memoir, The Sitting Swing. Contest ends at midnight on August 1 and good luck!

Click here to guess where she was born and win a free copy of The Sitting Swing!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Choose Love II

Beautiful, beautiful...

How is everyone's morning? It's rainy and blowy and crappy here on the island. We've got a new set of "neighbors" who've been here all week but I overheard them telling someone they are leaving Friday (which is tomorrow...yaaaay!).

Like I've said before, I really don't mind tourists, but when they are NEXT door and that next door is only a few yards away, it feels a bit nauseating cramped.

This set was a little different from last week. Last week it was a bunch of overstuffed men with fishing poles joined at the hip who liked to party in the carport until wee hours of the morning. Actually I'm over exaggerating to make my point but when you leave your beer boxes in my yard, it's time they left.

This set was more family oriented. I pulled up from work and they pulled in right beside me. I know it must have been 15 of them. "We're renting this. Can we pull up in here?" Uh, no, the parking lot is 3 miles down the road.

So, I try to ignore the situation and change my clothes into something cooler and light the barbecue grill. I can feel people staring. I know the sounds. They were peering at me with their beady little eyes out the back door. I know, I have the same back door and I know the sounds.

My hamburgers and hot dogs are done but I've put my claim to the land. This is mine. Not yours. So, they're like inside most of the time that night except for an occasional jaunt to their cars for something.

The next day even they're not bad. They see the kids' father's boat docked on one side of the dock and my other neighbor's boat docked on the other side of the boat and, get this, this is funny....my ex and my neighbor both went out and bought PRIVATE signs and put them up on the dock. Now, here's the thing. The new tourists can really go out on any dock they want...there's four of them but the general rule is that we four in this set of condos use the dock out my front door. So in order to get to the dock, they must walk down the little sidewalk, through my carport and down a wooden planked walkway, across the road and then they're at the dock they're supposed to be. Well I guess all these PRIVATE signs worked as the tourists decided to use the dock at the far left which was meant for the other set of 4 condos, but I didn't say a word. In fact, we had a good laugh over it. Guess you had to be there.

Why do all families have at least one obnoxious kid? It's a little girl. A little pudgy little girl who is on vacation and thinks she can be as loud as she wants and say what she wants. Of course, the dogs hearing any unusually loud anything will go off and go off they did. Melissa yells, "Shut up, Max!" and the little girl mocks her. Don't you hate that?

Anyway, they leave tomorrow and according to the weather we've had since they've been here, I'm figuring they didn't have much luck with fishing or going to the beach and are ready to go home. We have another set coming in on Saturday I think. For a whoooooole week. Groan...

We don't get any reprieve until August. All of July is full so this ought to be for an interesting summer.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Smoky Mountain Vacation '09 - the video

I was talking to a great online friend of mine, Marta Stephens, comparing Smoky Mountain notes as she just got back from her vacation there (I'm hoping she's going to blog about her experience and hope it wasn't as death-defying as mine) but it just reminded me I haven't shown you my video I made. Makes it look like it was all sitting on the front porch drinking sweet tea type of memories, doesn't it? If it was sweet tea, it was from a McDonald's parking lot as 3/4 of our trip was spent on the road. Anyway, enjoy...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Smokey Mountain Vacation '09

Taking a breather from tour coordinating...whew, been at it since I got back home from the Smoky Mountains last Thursday night. I thought I'd go on and send a few pictures through so you can see what they look like. I did a lot of griping the last two posts, so this time I'll show you just how beautiful these mountains are. Click on either of these pictures and it'll blow up so you can see them better.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Open Letter to Chevy Chase, National Lampoon Superhero - Pt. 2

Continued from yesterday....

"Well, it was my son's birthday. Twenty-six years old. I don't even remember twenty-six years old. Oh, yes I do. Melissa was one year old and I think we were getting ready to move back to the Eastern Shore. The ex, well he wasn't the ex then of course, was stationed in the Air Force and his four years was up. We were living in Newport News, Virginia, and he gets a choice. He can either sign up for another four and move to Korea or he can get out. He chose to get the hell out and we moved into a dump of a house on the Eastern Shore. That house was haunted, too. Remind me to tell you that story.

So, anyway, it was Ryan's birthday and we really didn't have any concrete plans except I knew we were going out mountain seeing, then go to Walmart and get a birthday cake. I think if I can remember right we were going to have a little party back at the cabin (I even brought balloons from home) and watch a movie in the theater room which I hadn't been able to do since we got there.

I remember being not really happy I forgot milk coming in as there would be no traditional pancake, egg and bacon breakfast like last time we were in the Smokies a couple of years ago. That pissed me off, not to mention the fact I forgot the coffee, too.

Melissa comes in and asks me if I want her to use up all the eggs and I remember telling her to save them because when we got back to the cabin that night, I might pick up some milk when I picked up the birthday cake. So she starts cooking and I think I remember jumping on her laptop to check in with the girls at Pump Up. A few guffaws were reported by Cheryl, but other than that, it seemed to be running on its own.

I missed the girls - Cheryl, Jaime, Tracee and Becky. But I didn't miss all the work and what I did before I left was work overtime to get the first week's worth of tours done, then when I got back everything would be running on schedule.

So while I was deeply involved in deleting and answering email, Melissa asks me what we're going to be doing today and I tell her I guess we'll just ride out to the mountains, get a cake, come back here and have a party for Ryan.

That seemed to be the plan.

So I finish up with email reading and throw my dirty clothes into the washer. I had forgotten those damn white shorts I left hanging in the closet at home and had to wear the same pair of shorts throughout the trip which was really no big deal being as this was going to be a laid back trip anyway.

I threw the clothes into the washer and that's when everything fell apart...

'Where are the keys to the van, Mom?'

I froze in my tracks. Holy Jesus God, they were in the pockets of my freaking shorts in the washer!

I ran for the washer and tried to open the door but it was one of those washers that opened in the front instead of up top and it had an automatic lock on it. I couldn't get my freaking key out of my freaking shorts for the life of me!

I freaked, freaked, freaked! I ran into the other room and that's when they all piled into the washing room and tried to pry the lid off the washer.

Now, listen. It wouldn't be a big deal to leave a key in your pocket and have it washed but when it's an electronic key, it IS a big deal! And that's when Melissa lets into me. She's yelling and I'm yelling back, then crying, then yelling it was an accident!

They finally get the key out of the washer and try it. It worked. Okay so I've had a mini - heart attack but it worked. On the way out, though, I hear Melissa saying, 'Thank God Ryan left his door unlocked because the doors won't open when you lock them now.'

That's when I started crying. Again. I didn't want to let them see me cry, hell no, so I just sat in the back and wiped my eyes but uttered no sound.

So Melissa turns around and says, 'Just for the record, I'm sorry I yelled at you and have been a bitch this whole trip.'

You would think that would be the time when everyone kissed and made up but I'm still freaking pissed she yelled at me for something that was an accident!

So I said, 'Just don't talk to me.'

Isn't that what mothers say? Just don't talk to me. I was upset because I had paid all this money for this trip and it was already the trip from hell. I wasn't having fun, no one was having fun, it was one freaking thing after another and I vowed I would never ever ever do it again.

Well, we start out into the mountains after we stopped at McDonald's to get a bite to eat. After I had something in my stomach, I was feeling a little better and I really wanted to start enjoying this trip.

We pulled over to take some pictures and even found a little stream where we collected rocks to put in vases as decoration. The mood was starting to lift.

We left there and went to another spot, I can't remember the name of it but it was on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. Even had a sign saying that which we all took pictures of.

It's starting to get hot and we're thinking about going ahead back to the cabin, maybe get in the pool, maybe even walk down Gatlinburg like we planned, so we go ahead and get back in the van.

And that's when...the most horriblist of things happened. The key would not work.

INVALID KEY or something like that popped up on the dashboard. The guy who went with us tried and tried again over and over again and nothing would make that key work.

'Here give it to me,' Ryan said. 'It's probably just wet.'

Meanwhile, Melissa has gotten out of the van saying her stomach hurt and she was going to the bathroom. I followed her. She's crying and I'm praying.

On the way to the bathroom, I saw the most beautiful sight - a park ranger. 'I wonder if you could help us?' I pleaded. 'The van won't start. I washed the key and it's one of those electronic jobs and the van freaking won't start.'

He says where are you, I tell him and he follows us back.

The park ranger takes the key and tries it. Nothing. He tries it again. Nothing. I get out and pray again and Melissa gets out and starts crying again.

People were staring, but I didn't care. I guess there's nothing better to do.

The park ranger takes the key back to his car and dries it out some more. He said there was water all over the battery and that could be the reason why it wouldn't connect with the motor. Damn these electronic things...why can't they make normal keys anymore???

So he takes the key back to the van and tries it again. Nothing. 'Did you try calling the car rental people?' he asks.

'I did,' Melissa says, 'but they were rude and didn't help at all.'

I got out again and started at the cliff behind us and I said out loud, 'Please please help us.'

And that's when it started. Woohoo! I ran over to the park ranger and said, 'Can I hug you?' I didn't even wait for him to answer. I threw my arms around him and people watching were cheering me on. I owe Mr. Park Ranger the biggest Margaria I can find if he ever comes to Virginia.

So Mr. Park Ranger pulls off, the crowd goes back to looking at the mountains and we're yelling hallelajuh until...

Melissa has this idea of just going back home since we can't turn the freaking van off.

Well this time I was agreeing...I had had enough. I just wanted to go back to Virginia, but what a way to spend Ryan's birthday - on the road. No party. Nothing. And more freaking driving.

I told them I wanted to at least buy some t-shirts at Hard Rock Cafe on the way out being as we couldn't even buy souvenirs at that point. So that's what Ryan and I did - jump out real quick and buy the t-shirts while the rest stayed in the van with it running.

So we get back to the cabin and we're throwing everything back in suitcases and running out the door before the van overheats and head on back home.

What a wasted trip. What a freaking wasted trip. The whole vacation was spent going and coming and NOTHING else.

We figured we'd at least get to Virginia, get a room with a pool and have one last shot at vacation. We found a really nice hotel with a pool, then went out and had a nice dinner and that's how we spent poor Ryan's birthday. No cake, nothing. He did enjoy the pool, though.

So we're on the way home and guess what. The electrical system started messing up. We had stopped at a gas station and I had my window partly open. I ran in to use the bathroom, came back out and noticed that the automatic door closer didn't work. No big deal, I thought. I'll just do it manually. We take off and I notice my window won't shut. Then we notice the blinkers don't work and the windshield wipers don't work. As a matter of fact, the only thing working was the freaking engine and God knows how long that was still going to work.

We got home, though. And I look back to this day thinking why? Why did everything have to go wrong? Was there supposed to be a learning experience or two in there somewhere?

All I know is that this was something that no one but us four could ever relate to. Oh, I can tell you this story and you might be able to feel sorry for me just a tad, but it was one of those you had to be there experiences and I'll tell you this much...I never want to ever have to go through that again. The Smokies are beautiful, but this trip I don't think was ever meant to be in the first place.

'I told you I didn't want to go,' my daughter tells me after the fact. Well, I've gotta go home now, but be sure to give Chevy my best regards and if he ever makes a movie about it, I'll be in the front row laughing instead of crying."

Well, Chevy, what do you think? Chevy? Chevy?

I think he hung up.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Open Letter to Chevy Chase, National Lampoon Superhero

Dear Chevy,

I'm writing to you today because I need you to get back to the set. We've got another National Lampoon vacation story for you to star in, but you might want to hear about it before you commit. This story was told to us by some crazed woman in Virginia who they found balancing herself on the rail of a narrow bridge overlooking the Atlantic ocean. She said she wasn't going to jump, but was just thinking about it. I have every reason to believe she had a story in her so she sat me down and told me about it after I pulled her down. Chevy, listen, you might have reservations about taking this on, but you're the only one who is right for this role. Besides, no one else wanted the part.

At first, all the woman could say was "To hell with the mountains! To hell with the mountains!" over and over again...I thought it was some kind of hillbilly chant but once I calmed her down, she kinda sorta explained to me what had happened to her.

While she was telling the story, I knew we had to do another movie. National Lampoon's Smoky Mountain Vacation. Has a really neat ring to it, don't you think?

Anyway, I taped her conversation and got my secretary to type it out. I'll copy you on it below, but listen, keep thinking of all that money you'll get from doing this and not the fact you'll have to have nerves of steel to do it. I know you can handle it, but anyway, here's what she told me...

"I don't even know where to begin. It started out we really didn't want to go. Why don't we ever listen to our gut instincts? But it was a few days before vacation, everyone had taken off, so we had to make reservations like NOW.

I found a cabin online. It was beautiful. They called it Breathtaker and when you hear the rest of my story, you'll know why.

We arrived in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, a few hours before 4, but my daughter suggested we try to see if we can get into it early. We were hot, starving (I had one hash brown from McDonald's and 2 fudge cookies to eat all day) and wanted to start our vacation after the trip from hell getting there. That's another story in itself.

The lady at the counter was nice and said, "Sure, it's ready. You can go on up there."

I don't know why I asked but looking back, it must have been for a good reason, but I asked, "How high up is it, btw?"

"I don't know," she said. "It's a new rental and I've never been there."

Well, I had been in other cabins in the Smokies before so height never really bothered me. The roads were usually safe and well we were just ready to get out of the 100 degree weather and get some real vacationing in. We deserved it, you know?

We started out kinda sorta excited. Like I said, I was hot and starving but I figured once we got to the cabin, we could throw a few hot dogs that I had brought in the cooler on the grill and we could just chill and start out tomorrow doing fun vacationy things, you know?

I think that's where it all started. On the road leading up to the cabin. Picture this. A one way paved road meant for 2 cars but could only accompany one, God forbid anyone coming the other way. Well we went down the wrong road. That's another thing. These realty places need to put better road signs out! Anyway, so we go down this road that is blocked by a truck. I have no idea where the owner of the truck was. Bear hunting? So we had to back down that freaking one lane road and hope the van wouldn't veer off to the left or right without going tumbling down the ravine on each side. My son and I got out and gave come on and stop signs with our hands to my daughter keeping in mind there were snakes all over the place (we saw them on the way in) and of course...bears and whatever other people eating species were out there.

But we did it. She got to a place she could go forward, back up, go forward, back up, go forward, back up and out on the road we were supposed to be. Now you think that road was bad? This next one we had to go up was freaking unfinished! Still a one way looking road, still with drops on each side, only this one the middle was finished and if you veered off to the right and the left, you'd hit the part that wasn't and go tumbling down. But wait, this isn't even the scary part.

We got up that road and there was a cabin to the right. We were praying it was ours because no way could we ever go any higher on those damn roads and just when we thought our luck couldn't get any worse, we saw a cabin to the left...about an eighth of a mile up a 40 degree road. Now, that's the way my son says it as I know nothing about degrees except for the fact the temperature in the van said it was 100 degrees outside. Man, I'm telling you, this road was the biggest sloped road I've ever seen. NOTHING could get up it. Of course, the friend of my daughters who was elected to take over driving from that point said we could make it and my daughter and I looked at each other and said hell no! The van had one gear. Didn't have a first, didn't have a second, that we could switch over to, just the one gear. We'd tear up the transmission going up and Lord forbid what the breaks would do going down. But we were not even going to attempt it, you can bet Billy Bob's new tractor on that.

So, I grabbed my pocketbook and we all jumped out and decided we were going to walk up to see if we thought the van could make it. Hell with vans, I couldn't make hardly make it! My son had to push me from behind! I was out of breath, I thought I was going to die from heat stroke and cussed at myself for ever picking up a cigarette!

Anyway, by the time I had finally reached the cabin, I was dying. My son grabbed me a glass of water and I said, "Where's the number to the office; we're getting another cabin. No way in hell can we lug all our suitcases up here every time we have to go out and I'll be damn if I travel these damn roads risking everyone's life..where's the freaking phone???"

I called the office and they told me to come down and they'll give me another one. Oh, the cabin was lovely what I could remember it but who in their right mind wanted a view they'd have to risk their life to get to?

So we head on back down the unfinished roads and I have my eyes shut the whole time. "Get a one with a pool," my daughter instructs me. I said, "I'll ask."

I get to the office and before I can put in my request, she says, "We have a cabin for you and it's on a paved road." Now, listen very carefully, when you book these things, please please please ask if the road getting to it is "gravel" or "paved." Their definition of gravel is unfinished, paved meaning it's finished...just keep that in your mind for the future.

Also keep in mind, I still haven't eaten, I'm hot, I've been scared to death, I'll take anything that doesn't require a life support system getting there.

Well, this new cabin...hmm...how can I put this. It looked okay kinda sorta. Wasn't what I would pay $500 a night for, but I just wanted to unload, get a shower, eat SOMETHING, and just put everything behind me.

I walked in and right away I spotted it. DARK FURNITURE. Now when I say dark furniture, it simply means something your great-great-great grandmother used to have. Something with history. Something with spirits still hanging around it, you catch my drift?

You know, I just thought of something. It must be one sick ass individual to all that first cabin Breathtaker, don't you think? I bet he actually laughed out loud when he named it.

But anyway, getting back to this other cabin....I checked out the bedrooms, right? After a previous experience with a haunted cabin, I wanted to check out to see which bedroom didn't feel how do I put that...spiritually inclined?

I picked the one that had the 4 poster bed which faced the living room. I figured I'd just leave the TV on and I'd be okay.

And of course, everyone else chose bedrooms which would be on the far side of the cabin which left me alone with Casper and other entities should they appear. Cute.

So anyway, I'm not boring you to tears, am I? I'm seriously getting to the good part.

My son and I were watching Forest Gump in the living room. Everyone else had gone to bed. I knew he was sticking around with me to make sure I was going to be alright being as he knew I had a thing about dark furniture and ghosties. Forest Gump was almost over and I got up and started figuring out which lights I could turn off and which were definitely going to be left on. "You okay?" he asked. I just didn't answer. I know I had had an already death-defying experience that day and just wasn't looking forward to having ghosties finish me off.

Well the movie was over and he said he was going to head to bed. I said okay, what could you do? We went into the kitchen and he said, "What's that?" There was some kind of alarm going off. We followed it toward the bedroom - the opposite bedroom from the one I was taking, the one no one wanted. We opened the door and damn if that damn alarm clock wasn't going off by itself at EXACTLY MIDNIGHT. I said something undecipherable and headed straight to the back deck and lit up a cigarette. He came out and said, "Are you going to be alright?"

"Ryan, don't you remember the time the clock went off by itself in that last cabin???? 12:00 midnight???"

All he could do was stand there and watch me grab a blanket off the bed, slam the door, and run back out into the living room.

"You sleeping in here?"

"You have a better idea? Just help me turn these lights out."

There was a room off from the living room that had this huge ugly and DARK pool table. I thought about keeping the lights on in that room but I would never get any sleep. I tried to turn them off but they wouldn't go off. Ryan walked over and did something and they went off. We started back out of the room and the lights came back on, all by itself.

O...kay. I said to hell with sleeping by myself, so I told Ryan I was sleeping with my daughter whether she liked it or not. This is the same daughter that insisted on separate rooms at the hotel going down...she didn't mind spending the extra $50 just so she didn't have to spend it with us. To give her some credit, she had a migraine and was sick even before we came with some kind of sinus infection or something which the altitude made even worse.

So, he headed off toward his room while I banged on her door. "Melissa? Melissa? Open this freaking door!"

I'm going to spare you the obscenities (don't know where she got it from) but she let me in and I climbed in her bed. "What's going on???" she cries. "I've got to sleep!"

I think I told her I hated her. Well I know I did. I didn't really but when you've had your nerves on fire all day long and you just want to sleep, you get a bit mouthy.

"The damn alarm clock went off at midnight and the lights in the pool table room came back on by itself!"

And that's when I started crying. One of many times.

I lied there trying to get to sleep. I almost dozed up when I felt her get up.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going in another bedroom to sleep. Mom, I'm SICK, and I need to go to sleep!"

Well, I got up and followed her.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Look, the other bed is a king sized bed. I'll keep on my own side. I need sleep, too, so leave me the hell alone and let me get some sleep!"

I slept awful. She got up in the morning and went back to her bed. I got up and began to make preparations to do something fun that day being as it was my son's birthday, trying to put the previous day behind me. Little did I know, what was about to happen the next day was even worse..."

Story to be continued tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tips on finding a cabin in the Smokies

I have to make this kinda sorta short, but since I'm sitting here in the Smoky Mountains in a cabin that isn't my choice, I thought I'd check in with some pointers on what to look for in a cabin in the Smokies BEFORE you commit.

This is my 5 trip to the Smoky Mountains. You would think I would have learned a few things about choosing a cabin after 4 times, wouldn't you? Well, now I'm smart...unless...I still haven't learned a thing and decide to come back here for another shot at having the bejeebies scared right outta me.

Let me begin by saying I am a planner. A CAREFUL one at that. Before I go anywhere that's going to take my life savings, I kinda want to know what's in store for me. I googled the hell out of cabins in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, this time. Like I said, I've done this too many times so I know what I want in a cabin and that is:

  • View - an all-important feature as you want something to stare at in the morning when you're saying to yourself, "Why did I do this when I could have gone to Disney World?" Hopefully you will be saying "Oh, isn't this the most beautiful thing..." and I did the first 2 times I was here, but for some odd reason, I must be losing my knack for making the best decisions as I couldn't stop counting the minutes until I was back on in my condo on the island 10 hours away.
  • Hot tub - You'll absolutely need this because anything can happen to you in the Smokies, like finding out your cabin is on a 40 degree slope an eighth of a mile away from the place where you had to park your van because it wouldn't get up the road (more on the story when I get back home).
  • Pool table - Yes, you absolutely need this because it's basic cabin entertainment but make sure the pool table isn't dark wood, nor the furniture around it or you stand the chance of the room being haunted (more on the story when I get back home).
  • Theater Room - This isn't an absolute necessity but I thought I'd throw this in for those who don't know you can get a cabin with one of these in them, and you can also get an ingrown pool, which you need to book way ahead of time as there were no more available by the time we hiked down the 1/8 mile sloped road leading us back to the van at the bottom of the hill to go back to the rental office to get us another cabin after I told the lady I would give her my life savings, just get me the hell out of here (more on the story when I get home).
  • You'll also need plenty of bedrooms as any number of them could be haunted no matter how new your cabin is (is there an Indian burial ground underneath the Smokies, for shit's sake?) and you'll either a) not sleep, b) sleep in the living room with all the lights on and it still doesn't do any good or c) you'll wake up your grouchy daughter who hates you sleeping with her (she got separate rooms on our way down if that tells you anything). I chose c but more on the story later.
  • Oh, one more thing. If the daughter who is sick says she doesn't want to go, no matter how much you want her to go, LEAVE HER HOME. Not only will she develop the worse head cold from hell because of the attitude, you'll have to sit through the endless sobs of having to leave her dog at home (more story when I get home).
  • Oops, one more thing, DON'T FORGET COFFEE. There's NO STORE ANYWHERE.

Now, those tips on finding the right cabin in the Smokies are as follows:

  • If you're googling cabins, no matter what you read, the cabin is only showing you its best features. If it shows you a picture of a fake bear in the middle of the living room, you can count on that being the best feature of the room (I was smart enough not to choose the cabin with the fake bear).
  • Look the pictures over carefully...do not choose a cabin with dark furniture as there's a good chance you have chosen one of the fifty million cabins here that is haunted (more story when I get home).
  • If you have an aversion of being eaten by a bear, you should stay home as they ARE out there (more story when I get home).
  • When you make reservations, do it by phone and ask if the road to get to your cabin is gravel or paved. There's a very good reason why. If they say it is gravel, those are roads that aren't done and you'll run into potholes, one way roads (god forbid another vehicle come from the opposite direction and you both have to share space with no guard rails on either side and a drop on each side to boot).
  • If they say free long distance phone calls, they're lying.
  • If they say secluded, they mean it.
Okay, look, she's griping again so I have to go get a shower and head on out. I'll be blogging about this wonderful story when I get home Thursday night. Hopefully the pictures will help turn my National Lampoon vacation into something to remember. Or forget.