July 4 Memories

Not the real Ginger of this story, but as close as I could get!

Looking back, July 4th was always a fun family day with an evening cookout, homemade ice cream, watermelon, and fireworks!

Before the sun set, Dad would dole out the snakes, smoke bombs and parachutes, since none of these were any fun in the dark. It kept us busy for a while while he set up the bigger fireworks display. They were illegal where we lived, so he would drive to a neighboring state to buy them. His job was to light them while we kept an eye out for the cops! Bottle rockets, roman candles, fountains, pinwheels, firecrackers – he always bought a variety of cool stuff for our private show.

After the main event, he handed out the sparklers and we enjoyed trying to write our names in the air with them (you have to move really fast!). I recall some years we also created floating lanterns made out of newspaper and straight pins. We had a lot of fun every year, and I don’t recall anyone ever getting hurt. Except for Ginger….

Ginger was the mutt my Dad adopted as the house dog – as opposed to Sam, the yard dog. About to be put down at the animal shelter, my father came along to rescue her, and after being treated for distemper and spayed, came home to live with us. From the beginning she showed signs of a nervous condition, most obvious during thunder storms and – you guessed it – fireworks displays.

At the first spark of noise she would start shaking and lose control of her bladder. Often, she would creep upstairs (a big no-no) and shiver in the hallway outside our bedrooms until someone noticed her. More than once I stepped in cold puddles of dog pee on my way to bathroom, or spot her glowing eyes in the dark and almost peed my own pants!

Dad’s solution on the 4th of July was to tranquilize the poor dog and lock her in the laundry room for the duration. We couldn’t trust her anywhere else in the house or let her outside. Ginger had other virtues we valued such as running away to raid the neighborhood garbage cans, farts that could clear a room, shedding 365 days a year, eating ONLY buttered pieces of popcorn, and chasing squirrels. She actually caught one once and seemed so surprised by success that it got away!

July 4th always brings back good memories for me, including those of a weird little canine companion who deserves to be remembered.

##################

So, what have I been doing during my blogging absence? Writing my next book, of course. I removed as many non-essentials as possible in order to get the MS done faster, and am happy to report it’s working! I have only a couple chapters left to write, then edit, send to my beta readers, re-edit, and launch! The book cover is in hand and is beautiful! Check out the Abundant Moon tab above. I expect to release it later this month or early August.

On a more personal level I am working and healthy, as are my kids and extended family. So very much to be thankful for as the country winds up for another blast of the virus. Like everyone else, I am weary of the restrictions and wish we could get through this and out the other side. Meanwhile, my writing keeps me busy and grounded. My hope is that all of you are faring well these days and taking all the necessary precautions. Be safe, my friends!

PHOTO PROMPT – Bleeding Heart

14-170A

I was going to be late for the service if I didn’t hurry. My last-minute project, beautiful yet sad, was gently carried to the car. The freshly filled antique pot took up most of the passenger seat, and I was careful going around corners on the way to the funeral home. The staff didn’t bat an eyelash as I lugged the awkward burden through the halls to the salon reserved for my mother’s farewell. Sherrie, my older sister, spotted me first and approached with a smile on her face.

“Patrick! I was afraid we’d have to start without you! We already have a room full of flowers – why in the world did you bring more?”

It took a moment, but when she realized what I was carrying her eyes misted over.

“Oh…mom would have approved. I can’t believe we didn’t think of this earlier.”

I simply nodded and together we moved several of the colorful arrangements at the front to make room. There was no coffin, only an oval table with a squat bronze-colored container of my mother’s ashes and a flattering photograph taken before the ravages of Alzheimer’s claimed her. We set the heavy blue and white ceramic pot in the center of the table, ashes on one side, photo on the other. While not traditional, the blossom-laden stems meant something to us as a family. Sherrie nodded in approval, hugged me fiercely, and invited me to sit with her for the service.

Instead of listening to the officiant, my mind was lost in memories. The ceramic container belonged to my mother. Every year of my childhood and beyond, it stood watch on the front porch, filled with red geraniums. She loved flowers, especially roses, and somehow found the time to keep something blooming all year round. My older brother, Chris, dead for many years already, used to bring her samples of flora he found in the woods behind our house. She would find a place to plant them under trees or in flower beds, unconcerned whether they were in vogue.

One spring, Chris brought her a wild bleeding heart bush. Mom placed it proudly by the sidewalk leading to our front door. Every occupant and visitor passed it, enjoying the strange but beautiful blossoms year after year. Before the house was sold to strangers, I transplanted part of the bush to my own yard in memory of both of them. Today, it was my heart which was bleeding, but the beautiful blooms eased the pain with pleasant memories and helped me say goodbye.

(Author’s note – parts of this story are based on actual events.)

WEEKLY ROUNDUP – Mom Stories for Mother’s Day

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

My mom passed away in 2000, so Mother’s Day is always bittersweet. The best gift she gave me was sense of humor and I miss her knee-slapping, foot stomping laughter more than anything else. A few years after her death, my siblings and I exchanged a series of emails with memories of our mother. Eventually, I collected them all and they became The Mom Stories. The incident below is one of them and happened when I was 15.

 

AVIANCE AND A BRICK

I was in the laundry room filling the washing machine, and Mom was in the kitchen or family room. The TV was on, and I could hear the commercial for Aviance perfume in the background. If you don’t remember that one, it went like this:

I’ve been sweet and I’ve been good, I’ve had a whole full day of motherhood, but I’m gonna have an Aviance night.

Evidently, Mom was in one of her playful moods, because all of a sudden she opened the laundry room door singing “I’m gonna have an Aviance night!”, and then tried to snap me with a rolled up towel. The first couple of tries missed, and she was giggling like a little girl while I tried to jump out of the way. Finally, she landed a vicious snap on my rear end. I hollered, and at first she got a shocked look on her face, covering her mouth with her hand (still smiling of course). I think it surprised her that she actually nailed me, along with some concern that I might be hurt.

Thinking fast, I grabbed a towel from the floor and snapped it in her direction. She took off toward the family room squealing and shouting my name and laughing to beat the band. I was right on her heels snapping away – around the corner, past the little bathroom and down the long hall toward the front door; the same door that was being held open by a needlepoint-covered brick.

Unfortunately for Mom, she either wasn’t watching or simply got too close and rammed her foot, full tilt, into that stupid brick. She yelped in pain and started crying, hobbling far enough to sit down on the bottom step near the door. Well of course I thought she was just messing around, trying to keep me from exacting my revenge. I was laughing at her, and she was yelling at me that it wasn’t funny…until I finally figured out she wasn’t kidding and really did hurt herself. It wasn’t until later on we discovered she had broken her big toe. I think it’s safe to say that when Dad got home, they were not going to have an Aviance night!

Postscript – The offending brick now resides by my front door.

The Brick

###

Current project – I am just about finished with the sequel to Dragon Child, entitled Dragon Valley. After a beta reading and final edit, it may appear on my website. I’m still having fun with it, so plan to continue the series for now. I received some great feedback from one of my beta readers who read Dragon Child to her grandkids – they loved it and wanted more!

What about my Gladstone Shifters series? I haven’t forgotten about Forbidden Moon, but it’s on the back burner. Still hoping to get started on it this fall.

Publishing? Well, I need money for that and don’t have it, so I have to focus on writing only instead. Maybe next year’s tax refund will enable me to publish the Dragon stories in one volume. Of course, it’s always possible I will win the lottery or marry a millionaire, so you could see something much sooner!