Sunday, December 29, 2013

Do Not Place Your Trust Blindly in the Chocolate Index

Finally, it's that time of year.
The one weekend in which I have NOTHING to do. No shopping, no decorating, no cleaning, no laundry.
Okay, there may be some laundry.
The weekend between Christmas and New Years. The one weekend every year when I can kick back, eat chocolate Santas while watching the Complete DVD box set of whatever 1980's hit television show I didn't watch during it's original prime time run but still somehow managed to incorporate all the tag lines into my everyday conversation. (This year it is Twin Peaks. Which, from the two episodes I have watched so far may be more fairly described as not so much of a 'hit' as a 'constant state of schizophrenia'. Which is probably why I can completely relate.)
No concerns about working out or eating right or doing taxes – the New Year is still days away.
It is also the time of year when everyone from the lady at the grocery store to the dude in the bow-tie who hosts CBS Sunday Morning looks back over the previous year.
I catch myself reminiscing as well. It is probably all that hot chocolate, free time and enormous 1980's eye-wear. (Have I ever mentioned that during most of the 1980's I dressed exactly like Maggie O'connell from Northern Exposure? And a little like the Log Lady from Twin Peaks.) Okay. Enough with the reminiscing.

This is the weekend to play with the new Christmas goodies – like my Mini-Bonsai tree: 
This is really more of an exercise in faith rather than tiny tree gardening.
I know. Not much of a tree yet. But after 7 days of 'cold stratifying' they are suppose to burst forth in a zen display of tiny, well manicured branches.

And my new bird feeder:
Behold the rare MidWestern Squirreltle Dove The Squirreltle Dove is flightless yet still manages to take shelter in the smallest of feeding alcoves.
It is also the weekend to play with the writing journal my daughter gave me. It is full of inspirational quotes and writing prompts such as:
What does regret taste like?

And I have an answer:
Regret tastes like that piece of chocolate you really, really wanted. The one shaped in the international symbol for caramel. No need to consult the chocolate index on the bottom of the box. No one would dare to make another, lesser chocolate in the legal, copyrighted, trademarked caramel square...but instead, you bite in and the chocolate is waxy and the filling, while initially chewy turns more and more into jelly with weird crunchy bits. In your brain, you can taste the rich creamy caramel but in your mouth the only thing sticking to your teeth are those unidentifiable, slightly raspberry tasting bits. You want to throw the remainder of the offending candy away but that would be wasteful. Wrong. So you own the lesson chocolate. Not so much savoring as reliving the impulse which brought you to this place. Even after brushing your teeth, the taste of the imposter lingers, as do the calories, now wasted.

The question got me to thinking about regret. I actually have very few. The biggest one – which involved a poorly canceled engagement – was, with the help of time, maturity and the amazing stalker-ing abilities afforded by Facebook – rectified. The others really fall more under the category of 'things I wish I had done'. Such as 'I wish I had gone to Jamaica for my co-worker's wedding ' and 'I wish I hadn't let these extra pounds creep up on me' and 'if only we had snuck into that stranger's wedding photo'....
Because honestly, if I were to change the more major decisions I have and haven't made – such as a different career path or a different house choice or even better financial decisions – I would not be where I am today. And what's the point of wasting a bunch of energy on regretting things that may or may not have brought me to such a wonderful place?

So, as this glorious weekend of nothingness draws to a close. As we prepare to celebrate the ending of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I leave you with this:
Live your lives with conviction and determination. Find happiness in the day-to-day. Even if, once in a while, it means getting stuck with a weird jelly candy instead of an amazing caramel.
And if you're a little afraid, just do what I do and stick your finger in the bottom of that decision. If it turns out to be a lesser nougat or maple weirdness just stick it back in the box and move on.
Because life doesn't come with a chocolate index printed on the bottom and face it, life is too short to waste those calories.

(Please note, I wrote that little exercise after a HUGE Christmas dinner which had followed a HUGE Christmas breakfast which had followed a HUGE Christmas Eve dinner. I had no business breaking into a box of chocolates and in the less stuffed light of day, the chocolates – which were a gift from my sister-in-law – are quite delicious. In no way did I mean to step on Forest Gump's toes with that little box of chocolates analogy. I mean, you can see the flaw in his logic. No one ever eats a chocolate out of the box without first consulting the chocolate directory that finer candy companies place on the bottom of the box or at the very least, poking the bottom of the candy to test it out.)

So from the Coast of Illinois:

Happy Poking!
Happy 2014!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Happy Holidays! I'm Not Ready Yet!

As I write this I am trying very hard to NOT grab all the cookies off the cookie plate, crawl under the Christmas tree and chug the gallon of eggnog in the fridge in a massive rogue Holiday Panic Attack. But I can't. Because I have yet to purchase any eggnog. And there are no cookies.

I had my traditional Holiday Panic Attack the first week of December when I realized that my work schedule did not allow for my annual Holiday Prep Weekend. The annual HPW consists of me taking a couple extra days off around a weekend to allow for decorating, shopping, card writing and cookie baking.

Traditionally I succeed in getting some decorations up and a few gifts purchased. Oh, and I have a nice lunch by myself at a fancy mall restaurant, usually The Cheesecake Factory although California Pizza Kitchen lured me in last year with it's stuffed pablano pepper. I come away feeling well rested, a little pampered and slightly smug even though I have only checked off two or three things from my list of things to do.

I talked myself down by telling myself that decorating is really a family event and my daughter loves to bake. But then I counter with 'you haven't sent out a single Christmas Card.' And then the voice in my head laughs. I haven't sent out a Christmas card since 2001. Well, that's not entirely true. I send out reciprocal cards to those who send first. This causes me great guilt so I end up writing out cards to anyone over sixty years old or more than one hundred miles away. Naturally, these never arrive in time for December 25. But really, the season extends through New Years so the term Christmas Card is really too confining. I live to push the boundaries of social convention.

And there are cookies. My Mom made her famous French Cookies:
Theses are fried two at a time on a tiny waffle iron. Thanks Mom!
And I baked two batches myself, because the weekend I experienced my first Holiday Panic Attack rolled into my Holiday Exhilaration Festival. This would be the period in which I feel anything is possible. Make two wine cork wreaths? Pour me another glass and get the glue gun! Hand embroider tiny dancing elves on sweaters for everyone to wear Christmas Eve? Sure! Do you want them waltzing or doing the macarena? It helps that we had a beautiful snow fall which lasted most of the day. I baked a batch of Spritz cookies and then, as they only use the egg yolks...I baked a batch of Meringues.

I wrapped packages that day as Love Actually played on the television.
Please note, the cat is not a gift. He is a threat.
  Including the package which needed to be sent to my neice and nephew in Germany. Which usually doesn't get mailed until December 20th , causing the lady at the post office to reprimand my tardiness and my niece and nephew to call me "die Tante, der nicht Eigentümer einen Kalender oder zu verstehen, wie lange es dauert, um die Dinge nach Deutschland versenden“. I am pretty sure that translates into 'the Aunt who is beautiful and our favorite'.

I love wrapping packages. I crease the paper so no raw edges showed. I use ribbon that coordinates with the paper. I hand make my bows. My packages have pretty paper and shiny ribbon strung horizontally and vertically with a lovely bow adorning the intersection. Yup. Packages one through five look beautiful. The remaining gifts slowly devolve until the last few look as if I wrapped them with my toes. While drunk. And with my eyes closed.

I managed to get my kitchen tree up.

My Dad gave me this tree 30 years ago when I was away at school. It is the first decoration to go up and the last to come down.
 And our family tree was decorated in shifts, and while it doesn't look like something off the HGNetwork, it looks beautiful. (I am ignoring the pile of storage boxes which remain in the family room downstairs. At this point it would be crazy to put them back in the store room.)

Apparently I was still drunk from wrapping packages when I took this one.

Wow, I could so start freaking out again.

But that annoying voice in my head, who sounds a little like Mary Tyler Moore unless she is singing in which case she sounds like Roseanne Barr, reminds me: It's not about the gifts or the tree or the cards. This season is about remembering to believe in something you can not see. It's about holding tight to the people and memories that are most dear, remembering the ones who have slipped away and planting that seed of wonder, amazement and hope for those who may be having trouble finding it.

It is also about letting this scary-ass Santa head see the light of day for another year.

You better believe he sees you!  

Happy Holidays to All from the Coast of Illinois!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blatant Friend Promotion! or Look out, there's some new authors in town!

(12/19/13 Just a quick update - new cover! new cover! new cover!...oh my!)

What's the point of doing a blog if you can't on occasion use it to promote someone?

Actually, this particular blog is promoting two someones. These two women, Nazarea Andrews and AJ Elmore, are two writer chick friends of mine. Today we are celebrating the publication of their joint novel:

Prince of Blood and Steel

Seth Morgan has returned home after two years spent building an alliance that will take his family's crime syndicate to a new level in New York City's black collar society. He expects a warm welcome as heir of the Morgan empire. He hopes to finally marry Nicolette, the woman he's loved his whole life.

What he finds is a different world, one where his family's legacy is in ruins. His big brother, Caleb, has changed into someone cold and bitter, plotting to overthrow their patriarch. And Nicolette, daughter of the criminal banking industry, has left the family entirely.

When a vicious misunderstanding leaves Caleb dead, Seth is left reeling. Desperate for truth, Seth is forced to turn to his only remaining cousin, Emma, for support. As he tries to mend his relationship with Nicolette, he begins a search for answers that will take him from the dirty streets to the highest reaches of their illicit empire.

Torn between the desire to protect those who mean the most to him, and a need to learn more about Caleb's death, he grows distant to protect them. As each secret surfaces, he realizes that the only way to restore his family is to take his place at its head, and fully embrace the brutal way they live.

Interested in a copy?

Want to enter to win a copy?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now a little about the authors:

Nazarea Andrews is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. She loves chocolate and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, and overgrown dog.

You can find Nazarea at:

Aj Elmore has a BA in Journalism from the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University, and lives and works in Huntington. She writes across an array of fiction genres, and even dallies in poetry at times. She strongly believes in experience as inspiration and research, and whole-heartedly supports the idea of artistic community and cross-genre, cross-media collaboration.

And one more little tidbit – the cover of this book is courtesy of the Illustrated Author, aka Melissa Stevens. Melissa is a talented artist and writer in her own right. You can see more of her work and contact her at:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Les Hungré Birds

She sits outside, looking into the window at the warm glow of a kitchen. A biting winter wind whips around her. She holds her small body tighter, puffing against the frigid assault as a splash of water caught in the wind washes over her. She sets her sight on that warm bountiful kitchen opens her tiny toothless mouth and begins to sing: "I Dream a Dream...a Dream of Seeds..."

No, this is not Anne 'Fantine' Hathaway but the tiny chickadee who is staring into my kitchen window. I don't like her accusatory stare but it is my own fault.

I have let the bird feeder go empty.

I fear the large speckled starling Jean Valjean will incite the handful of titmice and finches. Their tiny beaks will peck into me as they whistle and caw 'Let Us Eat Soot Cakes!'

That evil mourning dove Madame Thénardier has already caused a disturbance, complaining that her tiny feet freeze when perching on the metal bird feeder. And those filthy squirrel convicts running around the yard waving French flags and bathing in the fountain...

And a tiny Cardinal Cosette sings: 'Freedom...Freedom...'
Oops, that's George Micheal...


Dear Lord, I hope they don't start launching pigs...

Give me Sunflower Seeds or I Poop on your Deck!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

This Post Brought to You by the National Brussel Sprout Institute

Happy Thanksgiving from the Coast of Illinois!

I have been rather stumped when it came to writing this update. I could fall in and give a list of things I am thankful for but frankly, I have lived a very charmed life and there just isn't the space.
At present I am sitting here in the kitchen surrounded by three pounds of cranberry sauce, five pounds of candied sweet potatoes and no less than one hundred Brussel Sprouts, watching Gone With the Wind and trying to explain to Bart why I have spent the entire day cooking when we aren't even hosting dinner this year. (There is also a twelve pound turkey unthawing in my Tupperware cake cozy. But he doesn't need to know.)

Actually, the answer to his question is easy. Even though we are going to my sister's for dinner, this house MUST smell and feel like Thanksgiving on Thursday morning by 8am. This means a turkey in the oven and Al Roker hanging with the Snoopy balloon at Harold Square.

It also means Brussel Sprouts sauteed with bacon and watching every single Thanksgiving episode of Friends. This cabbage and sitcom frenzy culminates in the ultimate Thanksgiving episode of all time: WKRP in Cincinnati. You know the one I mean – where Arthur Carlson and Herb Tarlick throw LIVE turkeys out of an airplane. And they fall from the sky like bags of wet cement as Les Nesman reports, "Oh! The Humanity!" And then The Big Guy says, "As God is my witness, I thought Turkeys could fly." 

I do not think Scarlet would approve.

But honestly, one single day of giving thanks really just isn't enough.

So I will leave it at this:
May you have a Fridge so full that it takes two arms and a foot to close it, a Home which is warm in winter and cool in summer and the knowledge that you are Loved, by someone, somewhere.
And I will also leave you with this:

Two pictures of Brussel Sprouts. Because...THANKSGIVING!

Sprouts in the Hot Tub!

Brussel Sprouts in their Natural Habitat - sauteed with bacon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I had to go underwear shopping the other day. I didn't 'get' to. I was 'asked' to. And by 'asked' I mean handed a handful of cash and ordered to go because people were tired of hearing me complain that the elastic in my current undergarments refused to keep up its end of the bargain. There was a day when this would have been fun. Now it is just traumatic.

Too practical and my husband is traumatized.

Too sexy and my daughter (who helps with the laundry) and the sales clerk, who is inevitably younger than my daughter are traumatized.

Too expensive and...have you seen Agent Provocateur?

Too thong-y and well...There is a time and a place for thongs. And I am here to tell you that the place is not between my butt and cotton scrub pants and the time is not a ten hour work day.

So, I headed to the mall with my Macy's coupons, my Fredericks of Hollywood reward card and very low expectations. It should be noted that I have had the Fredericks reward card for nearly five years and have yet to receive anything more than a depressing reminder that 'tonga' panties are really just fancy thongs.

I searched the racks for something between high-waisted and flossing.

There was the barely there collection which defies all the laws of sewing by not having a single seam.

The bikini cut hasn't changed in forty years. This is unfortunate. I have changed quite a lot.

High-cut shows more thigh. No one needs to see that.

The boy-short is cute and hides the upper thigh. By emphasizing the thickest part of the middle thigh.

A new style at Victoria's Secret's is sweetly named the 'cheeky'. Need I say more?

I even found one brand which promised NO MORE MUFFIN TOP. Wear their underwear and no more belly overhang. "How can they do this?" you might ask. And I would respond, "By making the waistband five inches wide and manufacturing the elastic out of inner tube rubber. Once those babies are on they are staying on. I pity the fool who attempts to grab the waistband and wedgie the wearer. Their fingers will be cut off by the shearing force of the industrial restraining power required to keep middle-aged stomachs from overhanging their jeans.

Not that many middle-agers I know are giving or getting wedgies.

In the end, I went with the 'hipster'. It hits that delicate balance between nursing home and strip club and most companies offer it in a variety of colors and patterns. Plus I like the name:
'Hipster'. It says hip right there in the name. Victoria's Secret even had a pair covered with sequins. However, they were not part of the super secret $5 a pair sale so I sadly left them on the counter.

I hate to think what sort of trauma sequins would inflict.

*On the day I went shopping, the Frederick's of Hollywood store at my mall was closed. Supposedly there was some sort of water main issue. Personally, I feel it is some sort of Hollywood Rewards conspiracy.
**Seriously. Have you seen Agent Provocateur? Their lingerie is gorgeous. (I think it becomes lingerie when the price goes over 3 for $15.)  And stupid expensive.  I wonder if they participate in Rent the Runway...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Letter

Dear Alphabetically Titled Internet Provider,
My Internet is broken.

No matter how many times the robust computer voice tells me to, I can not log on to your site and follow the simple fourteen step instructions on how to fix it.

Because my Internet is broken.
Thank you.

*I am totally wimping out here. I wanted to use the actual name of my Internet provider but as this same company provides my home phone – which is also broken – and my cell phone I thought it best to not anger them.

No one wants the Phone Police to show up at your door.


**I am posting this on my lunch break at work. I am barely giving myself enough time to eat my slice of chocolate cake. 
You're Welcome.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Time Stands Still for No Man...Cats are another Story

I have such a headache.

I believe it is from all the math.

Let me explain.

We have been in TimeChange 2013 for four days now.

Sure, the switch from Daylight Savings Time to God's Time* gives us more daylight in the morning. It gives you party people an extra hour to party. It gives the rest of us an extra hour of sleep. (And if you work night shift it not only gives you an extra hour of work, it also – if your work is time dependent – totally screws up your record keeping.)

But around here it means Head Math. That's the math you do in your head to figure simple and totally irrelevant numbers. So, when I get up at 0445 with the cat (who only observes Cat Time) I have to stop and figure not only what time it really is but also the equivalent time in the previous less holy time zone. Here is the equation:

0445(clock already turned back) +/- 1 hour (spring forward? Fall back?) = actual time (0445) vs virtual time (0545)

This is followed by many exasperated sighs and an occasional mild curse word and will continue for at least another week.

Maybe two.

Thus the headache.

And an extra breakfast for the cat.


The cat was quite looking forward to the new time. Up until four days ago it has been too dark to go outside on his leash before I go to work. (yes, leash.) So for the entire month of October I reminded him that soon it would be light in the morning. It has rained the past four mornings.

Which means it is still dark

Just a little Karmic justice, cat.

Now go back to sleep.

*God's Time is my Mom's name for our current time zone. Personally, I think God is probably more of an observer of Cat Time, which allows the observant to sleep whenever He wants and eat the rest of the time. 

My Minions, what is this thing you call time...
 **And a NanoWrimo update -as of this posting I am around 9660 words which is a little behind and according to the calculator at will have me finishing my November novel on December 5. If I could do the math I might be able to figure out how much I need to step things up to actually finish on time. 
Get the Excedrin.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I Have a Feeling I Will be Extra Thankful when November Ends

It's November 1. Happy Día de la Muerto! Or the day I wonder what happened to this:

Just a little place I like to call Santa Monica...

And this:

Yes this is our homemade sailboat - ON THE OCEAN!

And  the day I remember that I still had houseplants outside.
Thus the Muerto.

For some reason November has become a challenging month. Not challenging as in difficult. More like challenging as in the Plank Challenge (hold the plank for ever increasing amounts of time until you hit something akin the the length of Titanic the Movie), The 24 day Ab Challenge (an ever increasing set of ab exercises focusing on crunches, leg lifts an... planks!) and the National Write a Novel in a Month...month (where you are suppose to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Are these people not aware that nearly EVERY OTHER MONTH of the year has 31 days???)

Am I going to attempt all these things?

Without a net?

Will there be pictures?

Should I be perturbed that more than one person is concerned with the shape of my abs?
I could be but really, who am I kidding.

I'll let you know how it goes, assuming I don't die of a super ab spasm while typing word number 34,578.
And to all who stuck with the October serial story – THANKS! I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.And now a little more Día de la Muertos:

Carlos e Isabella a gift from Bart on the occasion of our 20th anniversary.
 I should have taken it as a warning.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Final Chapter

So here it is. The day before Halloween. All Hallow's Eve...Eve? And with it comes the final installment of my contribution to the zombie craze. I hope you have enjoyed this little month long departure from the everyday life on the Coast of Illinois. Watch out for those little ghouls and goblins tomorrow night and come back on Friday November 1 when the Coast returns to normal...

Part Nine
                          Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four   Part Five 

                                             Part Six  Part Seven   Part Eight
The infant took a tiny breath, coughed and began to cry. Mary and Debra joined in. Downstairs, Jake heard the crying and gave one last look outdoors. The female zombies jumped up and down excitedly with each cry.

In the bedroom, Deb hurriedly rubbed the crying baby dry. Ordinarily a newborn’s skin begins to pink as it is rubbed dry. This baby seemed to turn grey. Debra leaned in closer. Its breathing was deep and even with no sounds of obstruction. Its cry was healthy. She felt certain the color was not due to lack of oxygen. As she handed the baby to Mary it opened its eyes. They were flat and lifeless yet seemed to look directly at her. Debra shuddered. The baby was so cold.

Mary took her baby and held it close. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she moved the blanket. Its tiny grey body shivered. “It’s a boy! Oh Jake, come quick. Our son is here!” Mary called out as she placed the infant to her breast. In a whisper she said, "It's just as Jenna said." She looked to Debra and nodded.

With a deep breath, Deb returned the nod. A wave of nausea hit her and she stepped back. It was too much to take in. Mary sat curled on the bed, the tiny grey infant with blank eyes open and staring around the room gave a final cry and began to suckle gently its grey flesh dry and peeling like the paper of an old letter. He closed his eyes and in the dim light of the bedroom Debra could see how much Mary loved her son.

Crashing outside the bedroom window brought her back to reality. Jake raced into the room as Debra moved the curtain. The two females from downstairs were peering into the bedroom window. They had climbed up the downspout. Neither touched the wired window nor did they make any attempt to push closer than necessary to see inside. Their heads dipped back and forth as Mary swayed with her nursing infant.
“They want to see him. Mary, hold the baby up. Let them see him,” Deb spoke quietly. Births had a way of changing people. The females looked concerned almost hopeful. Debra had seen that look many times …on the faces of worried grandmothers standing outside the nursery windows.

“God, no! Mary…” Jake stopped at the bedside as he saw the baby for the first time. His face went pale as horror washed over him. The baby fixed its lifeless eyes on Jake and began to scream.

Debra stepped back, away from the window. The zombies stopped swaying as Mary held the baby up for them to see. She pushed the bedroom door shut as Mary announced to the room and those beyond it, “His name is Adam.”

“Deb, help us.” Tears welled in Jake’s eyes as he reached out to stroke the crying infant’s head. It lunged towards him; tiny white teeth glimmered in the darkened room.

Debra nodded her head as she slipped her hand into her sweater pocket, her fingers closed around the handle of the small gun she carried with her ever since the sickness began. These people had been her friends for so long. They had waited for this baby for so long. Her eyes began to tear as she moved towards the terrifying family but the infants screams brought her into focus. She had to do this.
“Give me the baby Mary,” Jake said as he held out his hands. Mary looked up, smiling.

“No Jake.” Debra answered as she raised the pistol to the base of Jake’s neck and squeezed the trigger.

Jake fell to the floor. His eyes rolled up in his skull, a mass of bone, blood and brains spattered the wall and his body collapsed. The baby fell silent for a few seconds before returning to its hungry cry. Mary slid off the bed, baby held tight in her arms. She propped herself on the floor, leaning back against the bed next to her husband.

“Oh Jake. I knew you would always take care of us,” she cooed as she scooped a tiny bit of grey matter from the side of his skull and placed her fingers with the bits of brain into Adam’s mouth. The baby gurgled contentedly as he began to feed.

Outside, the females hummed and slowly slid back down the drainpipe to the ground below. Debra watched from the bedroom window as they joined the group. The witnesses gestured wildly towards the upstairs window and the group pulsated excitedly. As they moved away from the house, Deb pulled the curtains.

From downstairs Dave called out, “Deb? Deb, are you okay?”
Mary looked up at her friend as the baby began to doze. “Go on, we will be fine,” she said. She looked at her husband's body. “We can freeze him later.”

On shaking legs, Debra went downstairs to her husband. Dave remained on the couch, head propped up on his right arm. “Man, my head is killing me. Did I hear crying? And a gunshot?”

Deb smiled as she told Dave that mother and baby were doing fine. “His name is Adam.”

“That’s perfect,” Dave smiled and patted Debra’s rounded belly. “Maybe in another month we can introduce him to Eve. Do you think you're ready?

“Yes,” Debra answered. "Of course. A new mom knows exactly what to do the minute her child is born." She leaned forward and kissed Dave on his left temple and pressing her hand deep into her sweater pocket never releasing its grasp on the handle of the pistol hidden within.

                                                                               The End.........?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

This is exactly what would happen if I were an OB nurse...

It's almost Halloween! Have you been keeping up with poor Deb and Dave and Jake and Mary? And remember – if zombies aren't your thing check out some of the favorite posts and my favorite blogs in the column on the right. Coast of Illinois will return to normal on November 1!

Part Eight

Jake looked from Debra's back to Dave’s body, laid out on the couch and shook his head. Outside, the zombies muttered and milled around in groups of twos and threes as Mary groaned.

For the next hour, Jake split his time between the front and back of the house. He found it odd that the creatures made no attempt to enter but even odder that their groups were divided by sex. The females hovered close to the windows, kitchen and back laundry. The males grouped a little further away. In the back of the house, Dave slept the sleep of a minor head trauma. He stirred now and then, moaning in tune to those outside. An older female with long hair on half her head looked into the back living room, watched Dave’s nearly motionless figure but when Mary cried out from the upstairs bedroom, the creature moved away stopping several feet away from the house with its head tipped back, vacant eyes staring towards second story.

“Deb, things okay up there…with Mary and stuff?” he called up the stairs before moving to the front of the house.

“We’re good Jake. I’ll holler when it’s time.” Deb called back.

Mary sat propped up on the bed. Deb had covered the mattress with plastic and then padded the entire thing with old blankets. The contractions were coming fast and Mary was beginning to feel overwhelmed. She gripped the blanket with white knuckles. Through clenched teeth she said, "Are we going to be able to do...what we need to?"

Deb peeked out the window, on the ground stood two females. They held hands, swaying back and forth, never letting their gaze move from the upstairs window. With each of Mary’s moans, they swayed faster. "I guess we'll find out...when the time comes. Jenna in Denver managed and last check in she and the baby were just fine."

“God, Deb…I…think this is it…” Mary gasped as a second flood of liquid flowed onto the sheets. Mary grabbed her knees as Deb instructed her to push.

“Jake, it’s time…” Debra shouted as she moved to the end of the bed. She grabbed a dry towel and began to slip it under her friend’s hips to protect her from the wetness of the birth fluids but something was wrong. The fluid, normally clear to slightly cloudy and pink was grey. The pattern of drying liquid on the sheets looked horribly similar to the puddle the dying zombie had left on the snow. Doubt formed a tiny shadow over Deb's eyes. They had to do this. No matter what.

“Deb…I can’t do this.” Mary began to twist on the bed as the baby moved down the birth canal.
Debra had delivered hundreds of babies over her career. This was nothing new. As delivery got closer most moms began to panic. It was best to give them something to do. “Push Mary.” She said and hoped her voice was stronger than it sounded in her head.

Mary pushed and Deb could see the baby’s head. Mary cried out and immediately pushed again. The baby slipped out and onto the bed in another puddle of grey fluid. Debra rapidly assessed the infant – ten fingers, ten toes, umbilical cord intact. She tied the cord in two places and with a sharp knife left upstairs for just this task, she cut the cord.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Maybe They Just Want Tiny Candy Bars...

It's beginning to feel like Autumn here on the Coast of Illinois. Chilly wind whipping leaves into the kitchen window, entire pumpkins taunting me in the grocery store begging to be turned into poor caricatures of Frankenstein's Monster and Johnny Depp, bags of tiny candy bars begging me to eat them while hiding under an afghan where those creepy twin girls from the Overlook Hotel will never think to look...

Have you got your afghan and tiny candy bars ready???

Part Seven

Dave ran to the kitchen window to assess the damage. “What are they doing out there?” The zombies had huddled around the wounded creature. Mumbled noises could barely be heard through the glass. The wounded zombie waved its injured arm back and forth as if to keep the others away. A larger male reached around the victim from behind and wrapped its arms around the torso of the wounded one. It held the restraint as the others began to feed, at first taking bites here and there then ripping large hunks of flesh and bone. The victim continued to shriek until at last the large male leaned forward and took a deadly bite at the back of the victim’s neck. It's head tilted forward, mouth open but silent at last. Dave stood frozen as he watched the scene unfold. In all it took less than a minute for the group to devour its weakened member.

Mary moaned again, louder this time. Outside, two of the zombies stood up, sighting on the house. Nervously, they returned and peered in the kitchen window staying well clear of the grating which still held bits of sizzling flesh. With each of Mary’s moans, the creatures muttered and teetered back and forth. None made any attempt to enter the house.

"They’re responding to Mary. Deb, get her upstairs.” Jake began to flip switches on the control panel, shutting down all but a few lights at the baseboards of the kitchen. “ I think they're women." He leaned closer to the window. One of the creatures was wearing a tattered uniform dress – yellow and red – Denny's, he guessed to himself. "Dave, you keep watch in here. I’ll watch the front of the house.”

Dave hurriedly walked towards the living room. The television glowed brightly, check in was over and the light from the screen illuminated the house too well. His concentration was on the back door. He took two quick steps before his stocking foot hit the amniotic fluid which remained puddled on the kitchen floor. His feet slid forward as he teetered and fell back, smacking his head on the kitchen table before landing with a thud on the floor.

“Dave!” Debra cried as she steadied Mary at the steps and ran back to the kitchen. Her husband lay flat on his back, unconscious but breathing. “Jake, help me. Dave’s out cold.”

Mary moaned again, this time through clenched teeth. Her sounds were quieter but the zombie women continued to rustle in response. “Deb, I need to lie down.”

“I’ll be right there Mary.” Deb gasped the words as she and Jake hefted Dave onto the couch. “Hand me a flashlight.”

Jake pulled a small light from his back pocket. He crouched quietly as Deb went to work. She carefully opened each of Dave’s eyelids, shining the light into his deep brown eyes. The pupils dilated and with the light quickly contracted again. Satisfied, she felt the back of his head for swelling and bleeding. A small knot had formed in the center of his skull but there was no laceration. She listened carefully to his breathing. It was shallow but regular. Still grasping the flashlight in one hand, she formed her other hand into a fist and harshly rubbed Dave’s chest on the sternum where the bone was unprotected by even a thin layer of fat. Dave grimaced in response to the pain and Deb smiled.

“He’s going to have one heck of a headache but he’ll be okay,” Deb said as she stood. “Keep an eye on him. If he begins to breath weird call me. I’ll be upstairs greeting your child.”

Come back on Sunday for the next to last installment! And, if zombies aren't your thing please check out the favorite blog posts and my list of favorite bloggers to the right. The Coast of Illinois will return to its much less scary self on November 1!