Friday, July 11, 2014

Interview with Leon Bibb...the Movie!

I finally received a video clip to post.  This is my July 2nd interview with Leon Bibb on Channel 5 News at Noon.  I only babbled like an idiot a little bit of the time!  As predicted, Leon did a terrific job!  Enjoy.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Southern Comfort...Part Two

Four hours after leaving Perry GA, I was pulling into the parking lot of the ChattanoogaChoo-Choo.  Joe, Elizabeth and Beth Ann were waiting, as I squeezed into a parking space, and we grabbed all my things and made a hasty retreat into Hotel 1.  About 40 seconds after we walked in the door, the rain came down in torrent.  After catching up for a while and discussing our options, we headed to the Libertycon convention headquarters where I went through the registration process.  We decided on a new restaurant for within walking distance of the hotel, Alleia.  It was quite good, with wood fired baking and terrific Italian food choices.  

Everyone was pretty tired from the commute to Chattanooga, so we all turned in early with a plan to head off base to breakfast at yet another untried restaurant called the Bluegrass Grill.  Everything was homemade, even the bread.  Breakfast was delightful and much more reasonable than the breakfast buffet offered at the Choo-Choo.  We were so impressed that we made reservations for Sunday brunch. 

Of course, we attended the annual Baen Slide Show on Saturday and made our pilgrimage to the Dealer’s Room to see if there were any items for sale that we just couldn’t live without.  Saturday’s dinner choice was Ichibana, a Japanese Steak House.  The food was excellent, and the entertainment was great.  I took a doggie bag of filet mignon, veggies and fried rice, and threw Elizabeth’s filet in for good measure.  

Everyone slept in on Sunday, then we repacked our vehicles, checked out of the Choo-Choo, and headed back to the Bluegrass Grill for our brunch reservation. As usual, a long weekend with Joe, Elizabeth, Beth Ann and Pete seemed inadequate.  We made the most of brunch:  ate, talked, laughed, and wished we could do it again before another year passed.  Then we once again parted ways, knowing e-mail and facebook chat would have to suffice for the months to come.

The drive North, then East, then North again through Tennessee was arduous.  Before I had gone three exits up I75, the rain began to come down in sheets.  Determined to make Ohio before dark, I kept driving.  I only had to actually pull off the road twice, but lost precious driving time to those stops.  The rain let up as I neared the Kentucky state line.  After that, I only had to deal with two accidents and road construction.  I managed to stop for the night just before the evening twilight.  

I was too tired to head out for dinner, but I had a huge doggie back of filet mignon, veggies and fried rice.  I also had a bottle pomegranate zinfandel.  I nuked my prize, filled a plastic cup with ice and wine and savored a tasty dinner compliments of Ichiban and Elizabeth.  I ate what was left the next morning for breakfast and once again headed North on 75/71.  

Four hours later I pulled into the parking lot of Bahama Breeze in Beachwood for a pre-arranged lunch with my friend Monica.  We hadn’t seen each other since before Christmas, so we spent two hours eating coconut shrimp and swapping stories of the previous 6 months.  We parted with hugs, and I avoided rush hour up 271 and 90 by taking Chagrin East to Som Center and skirting the freeway all the way to Chardon.  I was home by dinner time.  But my week’s excitement didn’t end with the trip. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Southern Comfort...Part One

The sojourn South went well.  The weather was warm and dry for the most part.  I snaked my way southward through Ohio and into Kentucky on Tuesday, landing in Richmond for the night.  I arrived at the dinner hour, dragged my luggage into the room and went searching for a place to eat.  I had several choices, and eventually paired it down to Olive Garden or Logan’s Roadhouse.  Deciding on adventure, I picked Logan’s, where I had a very tender steak and a skewer of grilled mushrooms.  The wine choices were not to my liking (not a Riesling in sight), so I had iced tea.  The waitress was cute and perky and asked where I lived.  Of course, when I told her I lived up in Ohio near the lake, I heard all about Sandusky and CedarPoint and how much she loved it there.

I slept a full 8 hours, having not had much slumber success the previous night.  I drove another 7 hours South, through Tennessee and into Georgia on Wednesday.  Atlanta traffic was a mess, even at 2:30 in the afternoon, but I decided that the longer I sat in traffic, the more I would hear of the book I was listening to, so the delay didn’t sully my mood.  I arrived in Perry, Georgia around 4:30, and exited I-75 almost directly into the driveway of the brand new Holiday InnExpress.  It was a very nicely appointed hotel, extremely clean and modern.  Once more I dragged my stuff to a room, called my friends Jim and David to let them know I had arrived, and then called home to let my Jim (who is home manning the fort) that I had arrived at my Southern-most destination of the itinerary in one piece.

The guys swung by the hotel and picked me up on their way home.  Their rustic cabin was nicely decorated, complete with many beautiful quilts, made by Jim’s mother, hanging artfully on display.  Zeus and Xena were happy to see me (I’m still showing strange bruising on my arm where Xena tried to crawl up it), and I met Jim’s mother Charlotte, a beautiful, spunky, 87-year-old.  She reminded me very much of my mother before her downward slide.
Charlotte declined our dinner invitation, so the three of us headed out to Rusty’s Downtown Grill and Bar, a terrific local hangout with good food and decent wine.  I think we spent about 3 hours there, eating some very tasty Italian food and catching up on the last year’s worth of news.  On Thursday, I grabbed breakfast at the hotel, then headed into town to drop postcards at the post office and to tour the shop “B & B Antiques and Interiors” located in Perry.  The shop was lovely.  The antiques were amazing. 
I got the full tour, and even some of the backroom workshop area.  Jim was fixing and retying springs on a set of antique chairs, and I watched and listened as he showed me what he was doing.  I might try my own upholstery project now that I’m inspired.  We lunched at a local BBQ place.  The pulled pork was incredibly tender.  In the afternoon, David sold a gorgeous urn complete with a huge floral arrangement to a woman who had just arrived from Alabama.  Then he sold her a copy of A Mystery in the Mailbox!
Charlotte stopped by after running her errands (yes, 87 and fully capable of driving) and I talked her into joining us for dinner at a really sweet Mexican restaurant (I think it was this one) that I was told she liked.   She tried to beg off, but once I told her that my mother would go to dinner with me and the guys when they lived in Ohio, she relented and came along.  We swapped quilting stories, had some delicious Mexican food and killer Sangria.  It was a wonderful evening with a lot of laughter…the kind you remember for a long time.

I was sad to say goodbye on Friday morning.  I stopped by the shop for an hour or two before heading North to Chattanooga for Part 2 of the great vacation.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Shameless Self Promotion

For any and all of those who have not yet heard, I will be appearing on Channel 5 noon news hour tomorrow, Wednesday July 2, in a 3-4 minute spot with Leon Bibb.  I'm pretty excited about talking with such a TV legend about the new book, A Mystery in the Mailbox.  Set your DVRs for noon to 1 p.m.  I'm going to sit here and figure out how to use mine!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

3:31 a.m.

Yes I am tired.  Yes I am sleepy.  Yes I need to be up at 6:30 a.m. to get a start on a very full day.  So why am I sitting here typing away?  Sometimes I think the stress of the week just piles up until I hit a breaking point, and I haven’t reached it quite yet.  So, I will proceed to fill you all in on what’s been happening since my last post.
The juicing is still ongoing, though I am limiting it to three containers a day sandwiched between a decent breakfast and a light dinner.  My weight remains the same, but my inch loss is just over 30 inches.  I admit, I feel better when I drink all that concentrated nutrition.  I miss it if I run out juice before the end of the week.

Marketing efforts for “A Mystery in theMailbox” are ongoing.  I am scheduled to do a 3-4 minute spot on Channel 5 with Leon Bibb the first week in July.  Hopefully the interview will cause a spike in Amazon and Kindle sales.  Several people who have purchased the book and taken on the project or a slight variation of the project have reported great success for their recipients!
In one case, a teacher got her students involved in doing the project for a classmate who is ill.  She said the change in the ill student has been nothing short of miraculous.  The interesting thing, at least from my perspective, is that not only is the ill student being helped by the effort, but the entire class is learning how to deal positively with something normally sad and depressing, and they are practicing empathy.  Considering the nastiness and cruelty of many 15 year olds, how much better of a life lesson could this be?  And they will carry the experience with them into the future, and possibly repeat it for another person in need of such help.

My May trip to Middle Bass Island for SteveFitzgerald’s weekend writers retreat was yet another success.  Of course is was cold and raining from Friday arrival through Saturday night, but Sunday brought sun and relative warmth.  I met a great group of fellow writers, and the dynamic was very good.  There was quite a bit of sharing of information and experiences, and I even managed to get a couple thousand words put down before the ferry left for the mainland Sunday evening.

One of the bits of information I picked up was a suggestion to do a week-long individual retreat at one of several facilities in Ohio or PA.  It seems the cost is low, and everyone leaves you to your work, so you can really get a lot of writing accomplished.  When I told Jim I might be going to a monastery for a week, I got the “you’ve got to be kidding me” look.  I’m still checking into several places and comparing costs.  One thing is for certain.  If I do this in August, I have to find a place with either air conditioning or powerful fans.  I’ll get nothing written if I’m dripping with sweat!

I’ll also be doing a writing weekend in July with my friend and fellow author Liz Petry.  We are each hopping into our cars and driving from our respective homes (me in Ohio, she in Connecticut) and meeting about half way between the two in Pennsylvania.  There will be much laughter and much writing, garnished with a little food and wine.  I hope we can make it an annual event.

4:06 a.m. Time to head back to bed and try for some ZZZZs.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's the thought that counts...

How often have we heard that platitude?  It’s a statement meant to placate someone on the receiving end of an effort gone wrong or a well-meant gift that strikes a bad chord. “Don’t worry about it, honey.  He meant well.  Just remember, it’s the thought that counts.” The funny thing is, it’s true.  It IS the thought that counts…literally.

The “gift of thought” is the secret I discovered when faced with the imminent passing of a favorite cousin, back in 1989. Plagued by the need to do something to help, but unable to find a way to do so, I gave my cousin the gift of thought. When someone is terminally ill, what exactly do they need? Certainly not clothes that will go unworn, or gadgets that will never be used, or food they are unable to swallow or digest. What does a person with a terminal illness think about when they know their time is limited?

How about a list like:
  • Why did this happen to me?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • Did I do this to myself with all that (drinking, smoking, carousing, unhealthy eating…fill in the blank)?
  • What’s going to happen to my spouse/parents/kids?
  • Who will take care of them?
  • Why didn’t I take the time to travel?
  • Why didn’t I spend more time with my family?
  • For what attributes will I be remembered?
  • Will I be remembered at all, and by whom?
  • Why didn’t I save more money to provide for my family?
  • How will my children survive with no parent providing?

You get the idea.  If you knew you had a month to live and you were in a deteriorated physical state, wouldn’t you be thinking about, asking yourself, or berating yourself for many of those things and more?

Every moment we have here is precious:  every minute with family, every minute doing what we love.  We enjoy that time because we don’t think about its limits…until we are forced to do so.

So how does the “gift of thought” weigh in on all this conjecture?

I came to the conclusion that the best “help” I could give my cousin was something else to think about:  something funny, something thought provoking, something inspirational, something other than his imminent demise or his regrets over things left unfinished.  But that help had to be continuous and anonymous to give him the maximum benefit of being on the receiving end of the gift.
For the last three months of his life, my cousin received an anonymous postcard in the mail on every mail delivery day.  On each card was printed a quotation that was intended to provoke thought, encourage laughter, or inspire him to change the direction of his thoughts outward…to thinking about others rather than his predicament.

I knew it had worked when the postcards were a heavy topic of conversation at the calling hours, the subject of a portion of the eulogy, and when one of the quotations was printed on the leaflets passed out at the funeral.  What I didn’t know was just how important those card were to my cousin, his wife and his kids.  I wouldn’t find that out for 20 years.  When I talked to my cousin’s widow a few years ago and heard about the real effect the postcards had on him and his family, I cried with both happiness and sadness.  You will too, when you read about it.
I did know enough, shortly after my cousin passed, to assume that what worked for him would work for others in similar situations.  And so began the 25-year journey of providing the “gift of thought” to those in need.
And that, my friends, is why I threw off my shield of anonymity and wrote the book.  “A Mystery in the Mailbox” is meant to inspire others to give the “gift of thought” to someone they might know who could benefit from the project.  That person could have a terminal illness, some sort of chronic condition, or just be enduring a long-term recovery.  Receiving the “gift of thought” might be just the thing they need to boost their spirits and give them something to look forward to…something to keep them going.

If you were on the receiving end, think what such a gesture might mean.

You don’t have to wonder.  The evidence of how it works and how it helps is found in the book, as well as instructions for doing it yourself.

May you be inspired.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Day 49 of the Juice Fast

My totals after six weeks are:

Stubbornly still down 12 pounds

Down 25.5 inches

Cold weather, wind, and darkness have torpedoed my good intentions to add regular exercise to the mix in an attempt to get the scale to move.  I had actual meals all weekend, so that could be the reason the scale won’t budge, but I am not about to give up yet.  The original plan was two months of juice fast.  I have decided to extend this until the end of April.  I’m hoping for enough early morning light and cooperative temps in April to make the “death march” feasible.  Can’t believe I’ve lost another 2.0 inches, while the scale refuses to move.

Stay tuned for next week’s report!