Friday, November 24, 2017

Dumbkin

You know what I found out recently? 

My mom won't pay for a can of pumpkin because it costs more than the price of tea in China. 
I know, I don't get it, either. The statement's kinda nonsensical, and I'm pretty sure racist because that's the way Mom rolls.

This doesn't matter.

What matters is I take my mom grocery shopping every week. God love her, Mom has macular degeneration, so she can't see and can't drive. Since it's Thanksgiving, we should all be thankful she's off the streets. Last time she drove, she nearly clipped a crossing guard.

"Well, he shouldn't have been standing in the streets," she said, applying a true Perry Mason defense.

I digress!

So, the holiday season's upon us, and Mom and I go shopping. Fun!

Mom demands pumpkin. That's all she says.

"Mom, I don't even know what that means. You want a pumpkin?"

"Yes!" She vacantly stares at me like I'm the crazy one. "Pumpkin in a can!" Very irritable, she can't believe how pumpkin dumb ("dumbkin?") I am.

"Okay," I say. "Where do I find pumpkin in a can?" Between Mom's outrage at my pumpkin stupidity and my exasperation, people are drawn to the building dust-up in aisle three.

"In the pumpkin aisle," she answers, just short of adding a "duh."

I set off on the great pumpkin quest. I find a can of pumpkin pie filling, bring it back to her.

"No! I need pumpkin!"

Off I go again--too prideful and dumb male to ask for assistance--and finally stumble upon a can of pumpkin. (Until now, I never knew pumpkin came in a can. Some things just shouldn't. Besides you can't carve a can.) 

"Here, Mom. Here's your blood pumpkin." I thrust the can toward her like a badge of honor.

"Huh," she says, her "tell" when things are about to get worse. "How much is it?"

"$2.55," I answer.

She sways her head, disgusted. "Forget it. I'm not gonna pay that for pumpkin. It's more than the price of tea in China."

We've been playing out the pumpkin game for three weeks now, leading up to the holidays.

"Mom! A can of pumpkin's not gonna get any cheaper," I rant.

"Huh. Well, maybe it's cheaper at Price Chopper."

I bite my tongue. Wonder how much gas I'm gonna burn driving twenty-three miles away to the Price Chopper to save Mom three cents on a can of pumpkin. But rest assured, it'll be cheaper than the price of tea in China.

But, lo, on Thanksgiving day, a miracle happened! (Actually, there were two Thanksgiving miracles; instead of pardoning two turkeys, I was absolutely certain President Trump was going to slaughter them on live TV.) Mom's pumpkin pie magically materialized and it was good.

This book's cheaper than the price of tea in China, for sure:
Click here and help sponsor Mom's pumpkin in a can quest!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Physical Therapy Has Gone to the Dogs!



For those of you who've been reading my blog, you know of our travails with our beloved, recently three-legged dog, Zak. 

Four weeks ago, the worst scenario happened. Zak had blown out the ligaments on his remaining back leg, completely unable to walk. Until our appointment with Zak's surgeon to verify what we knew to be the truth, I spent a long, torturous five days saying goodbye to our pet. We didn't--couldn't--put him (or us) through another "iffy" operation. But...sigh...things change and Zak's now going through the long, hard, nerve-wracking road to recovery and rehabilitation again after yet another operation.

Which is why we took him to a doggy physical therapist. I know, right? Physical therapy for dogs, who'd 'a thunk it? But, hey, why not? We've already taken Zak to a doggy dentist and a doggy ophthalmologist. I imagine it's just a matter of time before he finds himself on the doggy psychiatrist couch (if he doesn't chew it up first).

Anyway...in the therapist's waiting room, an assistant drags Zak away. We wait. Finally, the head therapist comes out, grills us, and leads us to our dog. 

We walk around the offices and through this frightening room full of cages. Busy people in all manner of blue and green and white lab coats are toying with the most sinister looking scientific equipment to be found anywhere this side of a Frankenstein film.

I thought, What kinda fresh Hell is this?

As if to answer my question, the therapist invites us into a utilitarian elevator, a grey box, something out of Hellraiser. Old-fashioned and cranky, the elevator drops us down into the bowels of a torturous Hell. I imagine I hear Zak's cries as he's subjected to needles and torches.

The elevator doors crunch open. Again, we weave through a maze of hallways, and finally enter a swinging door depositing us unto the final ring of doggy Hell.

And there lay Zak. Spread out on a mattress as four young women hugged, patted, and cooed at him like concubines attending to their three-legged harem king. The only thing missing were peeled grapes being hand-fed him.
Zak thumped his tail in approval. Stopped when he finally noticed us.

What the...?

This is physical therapy? Sign me up!

After the "Love-In" portion of therapy was completed, the women lowered Zak into an underwater treadmill.  We watched as they enclosed Zak inside a plastic tomb and water started to slowly fill up. Immediately, I thought of Harry Houdini or one of Batman's villain's traps. Then the treadmill started. Aquadog!
Zak's harem of therapists kept reassuring us that our dog would be so tired from his workout, he'd sleep for 24 hours. Hardly. Even with only two good legs, he had more energy than ever that night, ready to chase those damn rabbits outta our yard.

Our dog year continues...

Hey! For the best kind of therapy--laughter!--check out the newest book in my Zach and Zora comic mystery series, Nightmare of Nannies. (See what I did there?)
Clickie to purchase!

Friday, November 10, 2017

"If the cabdriver kills me, goodbye and I love you!"

My wife's final words that fateful day, delivered via an ominous email.
Here...let me run the message by you again...

"If the cabdriver kills me, goodbye and I love you!"

Exclamation point was all hers, too.

What was I to make of this? Had Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver picked her up on a one-way ride to oblivion? 

Immediately I fired back a phone call. Zip. Zilch. Dead zone.

So my wife was dead, slaughtered by a Kamikaze cabdriver on her way home from a medicinal marijuana ("Do they give out samples?" I'd asked her) summit in Denver, Colorado. 

I don't know if my wife is (was?) kidding, if she's alive, if I need to go unpeel her outta a cab in Denver or what.

I mean, what else could I assume?
I really, really hate electronic messaging.
 
It's nearly as bad as my daughter's text to me earlier this year: My mom just had a heart attack, can you watch my dog?


Wait...what? In a panic, I tried calling her back. I texted (and I loathe texting as I'm still on the ol' flip phone, tap, tap, tapping each button painstakingly three times just to get one letter and that's if I don't screw it up). No reply. Once again, I'm abandoned to the dead zone of drama with no recourse but to FREAK OUT.

Phone calls are good, people. Remember them? There's no mistaking a person's tone whether it's screamed in blood-curdling shrieks or spoken with mild amusement. Either way I'd get the message.

Which is just one of the many reasons I still haven't gone Smart Phonesque. I like hearing peoples' voices. I like the lost art of phone calling. And I don't want to end up like those restaurant people who don't communicate with the person they're eating with but instead teppity-tap away on their phones while slurping soup.


Ain't no smart phones in Peculiar County. Lots of other weird stuff, though. Click here to discover.







Friday, November 3, 2017

Let's hold up on the senior discount a bit longer...

Just like Winter on Game of Thrones, old age is coming.
Writing's on the wall and, man, I'd sure like to scrub it off.

The other day I took my mom to get her hair cut. In front of Great Clips, I kicked her out of my car, parked the vehicle, then ran inside to make sure she hadn't started some sorta race riot or something. Everything seemed relatively peaceful, so I took off to run an errand.

When I came back, one of the hair stylists (are they "stylists" if they work at Great Clips?), mumbled, "Welcome to Great Clips, can I help you?"

Well. One look at my shaved pate clearly supplied the answer. But things got worse. MUCH worse.

One of the other "stylists" said, "He's here to pick up his wife."

A great big A-OOH-GA horn blasted my skull to bits. A firing squad unleashed a torrent of bullets into my heart. My chest clenched up like a mean, coiled fist.

"Um...she's my mother," I squeaked, very much a cartoon mouse voice.

The offending stylist took a long, gawping look at me, then my mother, highly amused with herself. Doubtful looking even.

Good Gawd a'mighty! Do I really look like a doddering old man? Have I turned into my mother's peer overnight? Will I ever be able to scrape the horrific ramifications of what the anti-stylist said from my brain?

Mom, of course, was oblivious to the entire exchange. Just sitting in her Great Clips chair, with her Great Clips bib tucked beneath her Great Clips chin. When I later told her about the nightmare, she hooted. Loved it. Went on to brag about how someone couldn't believe how old she was the other day. She missed the sheer terror of it all completely.
  Several nights prior, I went to a movie with a buddy of mine. The ticket girl asked my friend if he wanted a senior ticket. He took offense, corrected her. As it didn't pertain to me (at the time), I laughed it off, chucked him in the shoulder, said, "Does that really bother you?"

He said, "Not really, but let's not rush things along."

Indeed.  

Apparently Karma decided to rush my comeuppance for teasing my pal. At Great Clips, of all places. Stupid Karma. Karma probably even gets her haircut at Great Clips, too.

Kids today think anyone over say, 30, is ancient. And they can't be bothered to try and make an accurate age assessment. Just too much darn work.

Great Caesar's ghost! I didn't realize how late in the day it's getting on. I'm gonna miss the early bird supper down at the Shady Ache's home if I don't get my electric scooter in gear!

Nothing old about my newest book, the third in the Zach and Zora comic mystery series:

Do an old man's heart some good and click to buy.


Friday, October 27, 2017

The Cursed Cat-Trail House by Catherine Cavendish



This week--and just in time for Halloween--I'm turning the blog over to excellent horror author Catherine Cavendish where she'll walk you through the haunted streets of Venice, a place about as far from Kansas as you could get. Here's Cat...
My latest novel – Wrath of the Ancients – is largely set in Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital and surely one of the most beautiful and enchanting cities in the world. Its streets teem with culture and its proud residents are almost fiercely protective of their enigmatic, sometimes quirky, and endlessly fascinating homes, where everyone from Strauss to Klimt and Freud lived and worked.

Many buildings date from hundreds of years ago and undoubtedly, a number of them guard their secrets well. Few can have such a bizarre reputation as the former looming, sinister-looking Katzensteighaus (Cat-Trail House) at the corner of Seitenstettengasse 6 and Rabensteig 3. There has been a building on that site since at least the sixteenth century and to say it nourishes a chequered past is an understatement. According to legend, a woman who had committed adultery wanted to kill the wife of her lover by poison, but accidentally took the potion herself and died in agony.
For her sins, she was cursed and condemned to prowl the night as a white cat – her territory the roofs of the houses in that neighbourhood. Anyone who caught a glimpse of her would be pursued by bad luck.

Certainly the house seems to have heaped its own share of bad luck on a succession of owners. In 1522, during the total lunar eclipse of September 6th, a fire erupted from unknown causes and the owners, Christoph and Dorothea Pempfling lost their home and all their possessions. A man called Bonifaz Wolgemut rebuilt the house but it collapsed in the earthquake of 1590.

Over the centuries, the house did, of course, change hands many times – and was rebuilt more than once - but seems to have brought grief to anyone brave or foolhardy enough to own and live in it. The present building dates from 1825 and long stood out, simply because of the grimness of its fa├žade, in stark contrast with the buildings around it. 
Its empty black windows, decayed and looming presence stretched high above the curious passer-by who may have felt suddenly cold, sad and despairing. Broken window panes, crumbling plaster… The Vienna Ghosthunters held vigils there. There is no conclusive evidence to support the legend of the White Cat ghost but clearly the place had been unoccupied for many years. Below street level, some of the cellars have been partially bricked up, although no one could understand why. Also, they discovered a winding vault, leading under the road, but why it as constructed no one knows.

It is now surrounded by a seething night life – the famous bars and restaurants of the Bermudadreieck (Bermuda Triangle) and with any luck, the house’s morose and gloomy past is behind it. It has been completely renovated and part of the building houses the Vienna-Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies.

It remains to be seen what new stories this extraordinary, ordinary-looking building will write in the future.
 
Destiny In Death
Egypt, 1908
Eminent archaeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus has unearthed the burial chamber of Cleopatra. But this tomb raider’s obsession with the Queen of the Nile has nothing to do with preserving history. Stealing sacred and priceless relics, he murders his expedition crew, and flees—escaping the quake that swallows the site beneath the desert sands . . .
Vienna, 1913
Young widow Adeline Ogilvy has accepted employment at the mansion of Dr. Quintillus, transcribing the late professor’s memoirs. Within the pages of his journals, she discovers the ravings of a madman convinced he possessed the ability to reincarnate Cleopatra. Within the walls of his home, she is assailed by unexplained phenomena: strange sounds, shadowy figures, and apparitions of hieroglyphics.
Something pursued Dr. Quintillus from Egypt. Something dark, something hungry. Something tied to the fate and future of Adeline Ogilvy . . .
Wrath Of The Ancients
Available from:
About the Author:
Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. She was the joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology Competition, with Linden Manor. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy - Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle CurseSaving Grace Devine and many more. She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshiped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here:

Friday, October 20, 2017

One Black Hair...

I'm extremely follicularly challenged. I have been since college.

Fair-haired, near a red-headed step-child, my hair loss was more the obvious for it.

My dad, a fellow member of the follicularly challenged team, used to try and coax me into applying the ol' trusty comb-over, something that fooled no one. But I just couldn't do it. No more than I could wear my pants up to my nipples, another strange peccadillo of my Dad's. But I digress.

Anyway, I said the hell with my hair loss, embraced it fully. I shaved the donut of hair off. Slick as a baby's bottom and proud of it.

I was just fine with it. Even got compliments. At Walmart of all places, some fellow baldist asked what I waxed my head with to get such a sheen. I said, "Um...sweat?"

But then Fate, the quirky, mean ex-girlfriend that she is, decided to play with the status quo. 

Recently I woke up with a single black hair poking out of my ear.

Whaaaa?...

Not only have I never had black hair, but now I had a strong, sharp wire growing out of my ear lobe! Huzzah! A miracle! Better than pizza slices that resemble Jesus.

Except...not really.

What if I turned into a human porcupine, prickly black hairs sticking out everywhere? May as well sign up for the traveling freak show now. Or I might transform into a Chia headed creature, something out of a '50's horror film! 

With my fair complexion, I'd probably look like a freaky Bond villain.

(Me: "You see, my dear Mr. Bond, it's my intention to unleash my porcu-hair bomb onto an unsuspecting world!"

Bond: "Not if I have anything to say about it, Prickly-Ear!"

Me: "Oh, shut up, Connery! Everyone knows you wear a toupee!")

Bah. Hair's overrated.

For even stranger aberrations, click here for my newest book, Peculiar County.
 

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Dumbening...

Sounds like a new, dreadful, direct to SyFy channel horror movie, yeah?

Wrong! It's me waxing not so eloquently on BWL Publishing's release of the goofiest Zach and Zora comic mystery yet (#3 if you're counting), Nightmare of Nannies!
CLICK HERE FOR DANCING THRILLS AND SKATEBOARD SPILLS! 
The thing is, the book didn't start out to be goofy. No, I had grandiose plans to take the series into a more mature level (uh-huh), have Zach, my nincompoop "male dancing entertainer" protagonist grow in surprising ways (yeah, right).

Sigh. But these books pretty much write themselves.

When I started the book, I wondered what might happen if Zach fell in love (*Gasp!*). How it'd change him, wise him up, ground him in reality outside of a Baywatch fantasy. As a result, he'd be forced to grow up.

After all, it's what his sister, Zora--the no-nonsense sleuth-- would want.

But before you think I'm gettin' all weepy up in here and turning the Zach and Zora series into a Hallmark movie or something, consider the chapter-length foot chase involving Zach, a serial killer van, a kid on a skateboard, a mob, a mariachi band, an irritated bus driver, and of course, Zach's favorite tear-away pants.

Needless to say, Zach's never been one to heed the inevitable call of fate. Murder ensues, bedlam rains down, and silliness floods.

As they say, the road to maturity is pocked with pimples. Or something

And speaking of verbose folks, here's what comical mystery writer Heather Brainerd has to say about Nightmare of Nannies:
 
"I’m a big fan of the Zach & Zora series, and this is my favorite so far! Between Zora’s hilarious brood, Zach’s mariachi-fueled chase scene, and the marvelous sibling squabbling between Z & Z, this is a super entertaining read. With a fantastic cast of supporting characters (The hippie parents! The singing detective! Crazy nannies galore!), this book is fast, fun, and full of thrills."

So if you love the book, great! If not, I'm sorry, sorry, sorry, a kazillion times sorry...

(Order the madness by clicking here!)