Archive for the ‘What’s Happenin’ Category

September 2, 2011

I’m BAAAACK and Guess What I’ve Been Doing!

My gosh, peeps! Here it is Labor Day Weekend already, and it seems like forever since I’ve posted here, but I have a good excuse…I think. I moved from Chicago to Washington state. Yes, I did. Close to Yakima, if that’s any help.

Anybody who thinks this kind of a move is easy is just plain crazy.  All kinds of things you didn’t think about pop up after you decide to do this, all of them extremely time-consuming and frustrating.

For instance, try, just TRY switching your insurance from Illinois Blue Cross to Washington Blue Cross. That in itself is almost a full time job, because for one thing, you have to cancel your insurance in Illinois before they’ll give you a new policy in Washington. You can fax some things in Washington, Illinois won’t hear of it.  They insist they have to send you documents by US mail, the slowest possible way, and they take their own sweet time doing it too.  I’m still waiting for one piece of paper I requested from them three weeks ago.  I suppose the excitement of a holiday coming up was too much for them.

The new driver’s license and voting registration was a snap…once you got your number called. My daughter told me she never could understand how so many people could want so many drivers licenses in one day’s time and I believe her because the place was jammed. Eventually they got to me, but it took a big hunk out of that day.

Every day it’s something else, but oh, it’s so beautiful out here. Everywhere you look there’s gorgeous scenery. Miles and miles of grapevines bearing this fall’s wine crop, apple orchards, peaches, pears, you name it and it’s growing everywhere here. This truly is God’s country and I’m living in it, on a mountain, in a place cut out of that mountain so a house could be built ere. Trees everywhere, tall pines mostly.  A two foot built in rock wall in the back, behind lush, deep wine colored bushes with red berries, green bushes almost as tall as the pines behind them, leading upwards to the top of the mountain. On windy days, the wind roars down the mountain and into the valley below. You see farms below being irrigated every day because this is the sunny side of Washington, and believe me, on hot days it really IS the sunny side, but I’m told it’s only that hot in August. Hmmm…

 

Above is Sarge, my little girl cat, who traveled with me in a folding cat holder. Trust me, you have not begun to live until you go through Chicago airport security with a cat, which you have to take out of the holder and try to hold her still and walk through the X-ray contraption with her.  And then put her back into the folding cat holder which is, by then, lying flat on the moving belt. When you figure that she didn’t want to get into it in the first place, and then she had panicked and clawed my entire back while I tried to keep her from running lose through the entire airport, all in all, it was not the favorite part of my trip. Actually, I’m not sure I had a favorite part, unless you count putting alcohol on my back when I got here.  That was fun too. (NOT!)

By now I’ve already had time to begin to start my new book, which means I haven’t done anything rational about it except research, but I hit pay dirt last week reading a book about Alaska and I have a crucial scene all mapped out in my mind. I know, I know, that doesn’t really count. But at least I’m ready to start. Sort of.

Some good news is, I’ll be volunteering some weekends for Special Olympic kids, which my daughter and her husband have been doing for some time, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do myself. My daughter heads up a Special Education class in one of the middle schools around here and I’ll be going in one day a week to do fun things with her class. I absolutely do believe they need the same chance at education as other kids.

In this class, because of the extent of their basic needs, they very much need to learn basic living skills. Things they’ll need to know later on in life as well as right now in some cases. These kids don’t need Calculus, they need to learn to print their own names and they need to learn how to take care of themselves as much as they can, and with some of them, that’s a lot to learn. But I met some of them one day last year and I’ve thought about them every day since then.  We’ll be going on shopping trips, making Christmas decorations, painting pumpkins for Halloween, all kinds of things like that. So I’m going to be One Busy Person, and happily so.

Along with this, I’ve joined up with a new author’s blog tour, which we’ve already started preparing because it’s going to be a two-week marathon of one blog every day the last week of November and the first week of December. But the real work, writing the blogs, will be done ahead of time, and HURRAH, I just learned how to upload and schedule them on my blog so that each of the 13 blogs by 13 other authors will automatically open up here on my blog for those 14 days, during which my own written blogs will be at 13 other blogs, one each day. I hope.

Don’t worry if it sounds complicated, I’ll keep y’all posted as to where we’ll all be. This is the 2011 Winter Mystery We Write Blog Tour and we have our own logo, designed by our leader, Anne K. Albert. Watch for us, we’re coming to get you and tell you about many things: us, our lives and our blogs, how we scope out the books we write, and then write them. You won’t want to miss them, so stay tuned!  When it’s time, I’ll put the logo and author list up here on my blog so you can pick your favorites, and some of them will be on the list. But we hope you’ll visit all of our blogs. You can never have too many favorite writers, right?

I love you all, you KNOW I do, even though I’ve been MIA this past few weeks. Life moves fast, you have to move fast with it, it seems. Stop back by next week and have a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend. I hope you all are having a three-day vacation from an actual job. My heart goes out to anyone who needs one and doesn’t have one. Better days are coming, folks. They have to. This is the United States of America, and there’s nothing we can’t do.

XOXO, Beth

What's Happenin | 3 Comments  

May 11, 2011

90 Degrees in Chicago and My Ice Cube Trays are Empty!

Time for an update, right?

Plumbing is all fixed.  Waiting for new carpet installation Monday the 16th.  After that, put everything that’s piled in my family room back.  End of story, I hope.  I got ashamed of myself for whining about the floors being wet when I saw how many people down south don’t even have their floors anymore, and no way to pay for any of it. I don’t put a lot of faith in our government helping them out to any extent because our government doesn’t appear to have the money to pay for it, unless you’re a U.S. Senator who wants to go on a trip somewhere. I wouldn’t mind having that job, I can tell you. Some of them, all they do is preen in front of the camera crews and lie. On second thought, not for me.

I’m making headway with my book promo.  Starting in a couple weeks, I’ll be having blogs by a lot of very good authors who will each have their week on my website.  12 in fact, for 12 weeks straight.  In case you’re thinking I’m getting all generous and altruistic, I’ll be on their different blogs for 12 weeks too.  I’ll let you know every week where I am, in case you miss me. This is called the 2011 Murder We Write Blog Tour.  I finished all mine and sent them to the various authors already, and tried to make all of them different and interesting.  I’ll post on here and Facebook each week who I’m hosting and where I’ll be.  The person who visits the most blogs of mine and leaves a comment will win a print copy of Raven Talks Back.  You do remember the heroine is an Alaska Native, lower 48 educated, and the hero is a great cop named Jack O’Banion, don’t you?

Book news:  Raven Talks Back is now available for only $2.99, folks, at both Amazon.com and B&N.com.  Here are the actual links.

Amazon’s Kindle edition: http://www.amazon.com/Beth-Anderson/e/B000APMRR4

B&N’s Nook edition: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Raven-Talks-Back/Beth-Anderson/e/2940012515407/?itm=1&USRI=beth+anderson

They take you to my own pages on each site where you can see all of my books. I hope you’ll go there and take a chance if you haven’t read any of my books.  Raven Talks Back is my best book yet, and all my others have generated mostly five star reviews and not from family or close friends. I’d love for you to read them, especially this new one and leave a review at Amazon and B&N.  In a week or so, Raven Talks Back will be up there also in print, I know a lot of people are waiting for that. But if you have a Kindle or a Nook, you can get the book much cheaper.  Just sayin’.

Also, I’ll be at Sloane Taylor’s blog on May 13, then Ellis Vidler’s blog on May 24th, Jenny Milchman’s Suspense Your Disbelief blog on July 20, and Leila Taylor’s Creatures & Crooks on July 24.  June will pretty much be taken up by the Murder We Write blogs. I will post the blog addresses every week.

Same offer for all blogs.  At the end of them, in a couple months, I’m keeping track of who comments on these blogs and one person will win a print book, one person will win a chance to have a character named after them in the next Raven book.  So come on out and comment, I’ll leave links every week for a while so you’ll know where to go each week.  Can’t make it any easier for you without sending a police escort, right?  😉

I’ll be having family at my house early in June, can’t wait to see all of them!  Yay!

That’s probably most of the news so far.  I did get one review up on Amazon, five stars.  Hope some of you will add to them, that little one review looks mighty lonely up there.

Back to moving more stuff into this back room.  Can’t wait for the new carpeting to be down.  After this past month I’m really looking forward to that.  I’m trying to get everybody to levitate when they come in so they won’t get the floors dirty.  I’ll let you know how I make out with that.

Oh. I did, on my last blog, give you the opening page, didn’t I.  How about the whole first chapter, right here, right now?  Okay, you talked me into it.  Here goes:

ONE
The thought had never entered my mind that I might find myself standing in my back yard shuddering with nausea and disbelief, staring down at a nude female body with no head or hands, and equally horrifying, a painted rock close to where her head would have been. The only other thing missing was blood.

Mark Taylor’s men had graded and leveled our yard the previous week, ready to set the foundation for the attached greenhouse my husband, Red, had been promising for years. Alaska winter days are so short and dark that nothing grows without a heated greenhouse and ultraviolet light. Of all the things I longed for in the wintertime, I missed fresh flowers most.

As was often the case in Valdez, things got done whenever they got done no matter which day it was. I hadn’t known they were coming on Saturday. Mark and his men had simply pulled into the driveway and started working.

My eight-year-old son Timmy stood under the tall pine in the northeast corner of the yard with his thumb in his mouth. I froze when I turned and saw him because he hadn’t done that for three years, ever since he’d started school. I hurried over to him, pulling him close. He shivered when my fingers brushed over his arm and his skin felt cold, although it was quite warm that morning and the fog was already beginning to dissipate over the Sound.

“Timmy, are you hurt?” I forced my voice to stay calm because his black eyes were ringed with white and his lips were a bluish tint.

He pointed toward Jack O’Banion, our chief of police, without making a sound.

I frowned, puzzled by his silence. Timmy had never had a problem speaking; he’d been talking nonstop since he was eleven months old. Now he just shook his head and looked back down at the ground.

Alice, my daughter, was still at the door, where we’d brushed past her in our rush to get outside after she’d awakened us from a sound sleep a few minutes before. I beckoned for her to come.

A surrealistic film seemed to float over the yard as she headed my way. Although she was only twelve, she was constantly swiping her long black hair away from her eyes the way girls did on TV, and lately she had taken to walking in slow motion, her hips moving in a deliberate way that made me nervous. Her voice, shrill with fear before, was now flat and emotionless. “I don’t think he can talk. He saw it first.”

I glanced down at Timmy again. One of the straps on his overalls had come unbuttoned. His black hair hung down over his eyebrows, reminding me as it always did of my father and his father before him when they returned, sweaty and exhausted, from their caribou hunting trips.

His feet were bare, as usual. They were never cold until after termination dust, first snow, appeared on the surrounding mountains early in September, when the temperature would dip below twenty degrees at night. Other than that he went barefoot everywhere, but today his feet were blue and mottled. I tried to pick him up to carry him into the house where I could warm him, but he seemed to have gained twenty pounds overnight. I could not lift him and he could not move.

“Red,” I called, “I need help here. Come carry Timmy into the house for me, will you?”

Red turned to face me. “Why can’t he walk?”

“I think he’s in shock, Red. He’s ice-cold.”

At that, Jack strode over to us and knelt, lifting Timmy’s chin with his finger.

“You okay, son?”

I’d never before heard such a compassionate tone of voice coming from Jack. I’d always thought him distant and unreadable, but this time even the look in his eyes had softened somewhat, a real departure from his usual all-business behavior, and for the first time I found myself drawn to him, whereas before there had been nothing to like or not like.

Timmy turned away from him, still silent.

Jack felt Timmy’s forehead then glanced up at me. “He feels clammy. You’re probably right, I’m pretty sure he’s in shock. Mark told me he was watching while they were loosening up the dirt a little more and he saw it first.”

My heart almost stopped. “What did he do?”

“They told me he ran over to the tree where you found him and hid his eyes with his hands. He hasn’t made a sound. Let’s get him inside so you can call Doc Martin. Tell him I said to get on over here, he can check Timmy first and then I’ll need him out here.”

Timmy shuddered. Jack picked him up without effort and slung him over his shoulder. What a picture they made, Jack in his silver-tipped snakeskin boots and cowboy hat, long legs striding across the lawn toward the house, worn leather holster moving as he walked, and my sad, silent little boy lying limp on Jack’s shoulder with his eyes closed.

I followed them into the house but found myself glancing up into the nearby mountains as if someone were crouched, hidden from sight with binoculars trained on us, watching our every move.

Someone had to be watching. I could feel the certainty of it snaking along under my skin. Otherwise, why had the body been left in our yard?
==========================

Okay, Chapter Two next week, then Chapter Three.  Maybe four. After that, it’s up to you whether you want to read the rest of it.

Bye for now, please come back soon.  I’ll leave the porch light on for you. Love you all, you know I do!

Cheers, Beth, Denali, BooBoo and Sarge.

 

Current Events,What's Happenin | 2 Comments  

April 8, 2011

Hey, Did You Happen to See the Most Beautiful Book in the World?

Raven Talks Back Cover

 

Remember the song, “Hey, if you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world”? I bet you don’t if you’re under thirty, but I’ve been humming it all day long in my head because my newest book, coming out at Krill Press in Kindle, Nook and print sometime in May, is so beautiful. Just look at it!

I thought maybe y’all would like to read the back book blurb so you’ll get a general idea what this book is about, so here it is:

Raven Talks Back Blurb:
Raven Morressey is living the good life. Nice home, husband, three healthy children, and it’s finally summertime, when life is again lovely in Valdez, Alaska. All this explodes one morning when builders, digging up her back yard, uncover a recently murdered headless, handless female body covered with scarification—hundreds of colored designs cut into the skin to resemble tattoos. As if this isn’t enough, where the corpse’s head should have been is a large rock with a face painted on that resembles an Alaska Native mask.

Raven’s eight year old son, Timmy, is the first one to see the body and is suddenly unable to walk or respond in any way. On that same day, Raven hears the voice of her long dead Athabascan father coming from Timmy, who is unaware of the ancient hunting chants he sings in his sleep and the words he suddenly speaks in Raven’s native tongue—a language he does not know.

Jack O’Banion, Valdez’s Chief of Police for the past few years, faced with his first murder case in Valdez, begins his official investigation. Everywhere he goes he finds nothing but deception. The town seems to have closed into itself and nobody will tell him anything that might help him solve this case. Then one murder quickly morphs into two, then three, and the Alaska State Troopers are hot on his back to find the killer now.

Between Raven’s voices and the visions she develops after the first murder, and Jack, whose career as well as his contented life in Valdez are on the line, they both feel they have to find the killer and restore some sanity to the town—not to mention their own lives, which are quickly unraveling out of control.

Are you fascinated yet? Yes? Well, first, I want to tell you that this is a mainstream mystery. There is a little sex, although that is not the focus of this book. There is some violence, but most of it is off-scene. And there is some language your Aunt Millie probably wouldn’t use, but hey, the lead guy in this book is a law enforcement officer. If you think for one minute they say things like, “Oh, shuckie darn!” or “Goodness gracious me!” when something bad happens that somebody else did but they have to go straighten out, often at great danger to themselves, you’d be sorely mistaken. But I assure you, there is no really awful gutter language, and not a hint of an F-bomb.  I was tempted once, but I discarded the idea pretty fast. So I’m just letting you know ahead of time, it’s not a cozy.

We have real people who are just buzzing along day by day, living their quiet lives in a small town when the murders start happening, and suddenly everyone involved who has a something to hide–which would be all of them–becomes evasive, afraid the investigation might reveal what they definitely don’t want revealed.

The sad fact of the matter is though, this is exactly what does happen in any murder investigation, even if you’re just an innocent person who is baffled by whatever just happened. Suddenly your entire life is opened up, good and bad, and at that point, everyone in any way connected to the crime is looking at a very large spotlight beamed straight into their private lives.

Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it, about what you maybe really ought not to be doing. What would you do if what happened to this family suddenly happened in your back yard and you found your family being closely looked at? Everything is exposed in a murder investigation no matter who it hurts. The police still have to catch anyone who kills another human being.

In a very few weeks, I’ll have the first three chapters to post here at my website on my Books page so that you can read at least that far and decide if this is something you’ll like to read. I hope you will.  You have no idea how much I hope you will, because I feel it’s my best novel yet, thanks to an excellent editor.

That’s it for this week. Please stop back by next week to hear some about Raven, my heroine, the person behind the raven you see perched quietly on one of the crosses on my beautiful book cover, looking around…seeing things nobody else sees…hearing things nobody else hears…

I love y’all, and I’ll leave the porch light on for you.
/Beth
P.S. Denali, BooBoo and Sarge all say “Hey!”

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July 19, 2008

Widowhood 101

I know y’all have been wondering where Hotclue and I have been for the past six months. I’m finally ready now to talk, because we’ve missed you too, and I, more than anyone, have missed Hotclue. For a long time now, she hasn’t been around, and in truth, neither have I.

To start with, my husband, Stan, had been in end stage COPD for quite a while. He also had been diagnosed with advanced dementia last fall, not that I didn’t know he had it, but to be faced with it in an actual written diagnosis sort of puts a different light on it. You can’t deny it any longer, not even to yourself.

There’s something that anyone who has lived with a person with dementia knows. You don’t notice it so much because you grow into it with them, day by day. Who notices someone’s hair getting longer day by day? Nobody, really. Just all of a sudden, you notice it’s too long and it’s time to do something about it. And so it was with Stan. I’d go on day by day, then something would happen to jar me, something new, and that little voice inside would say, he’s getting worse. A lot worse.

Still, he wasn’t that hard to manage, since he’d done a complete lifestyle turnaround and become a very compliant and agreeable little boy. “Whatever you want” or “whatever you say” became his standard answer to everything. That’s not much help when you have a question you can’t answer yourself, but still, that was our day-to-day life.

In addition, he had a weak heart, and for about six months had had a terrible reaction to, I think, his last flu shot. I say the flu shot because he was very allergic to MSG, and the flu shots last year, according to my sources rooting around on the Internet, had MSG in it, probably to preserve it. He gradually became pretty much covered with an unbelievable rash that looked more like lizard skin than human skin. I can’t tell you how much medicine and cream I bought over those months, until his doctor finally said the only thing left to try would be high-tech staph antibiotic pills and cream. We got that and finally something worked. He was having itch-free nights and days for the first time in months.

Just as background, he was allergic to a lot of things. For such a big, strong-looking man, he actually was one of the most fragile people I ever met.

All those things take their toll, but still, you do what you have to do and day-to-day life goes on. However, I had become completely unable to write anything. People kept telling me I was stressed, but I didn’t see that since I was in the middle of it. I stopped writing emails on my groups, and eventually found myself deleting all of them. I was in that state where “none of this matters so why bother”. You get like that. You can’t help it, and you can’t see it. All you see is that suddenly the full life you did have is somewhere else, you know it is, you see life going on without you, but you can’t quite grab it back.

That’s called depression. My doctor put me on an antidepressant, lightest dose, when I burst out in tears for no reason at her office and then told her what was going on at home. When I started taking it, that’s when I stopped writing my blog. There was just nothing there, nothing in my life that I thought would interest anyone, and certainly not enough fun or humor inside me that gives Hotclue her steam and wackiness. I couldn’t find her anywhere.

On June 3, Stan was having one of his bad days where he could barely function, but he had an appointment with his retina specialist. (Did I mention he also had wet macular degeneration and had to have periodic shots in his eyeball to prevent him going blind?)

It was pouring down rain, coming at us in huge sluices as we hobbled toward the car. We couldn’t hurry because I had to say, “Right foot now”, then “left foot now”. We were soaked going into the doctors office, soaked getting back in the car, soaked getting from the car and back inside the house.

Once inside, I sat him down at our dining room table and said, “Stay right here, I’m going to go change my shirt and bring you a dry one.” Two minutes later I came back into the dining room and not only was his chair on the other side of the room, Stan was hurtling toward the wall. Before I could reach him, he had splintered his hip into three pieces and the last twenty-five days of his life had begun.

There’s something not generally known, although I was told this both by his doctor and the Hospice people (God bless them!). When a person with advanced dementia breaks his hip, they never live past a year. Most die much sooner. That’s because they cannot re-learn how to walk. In his case, he wouldn’t have remembered anything taught him in any kind of therapy longer than five minutes, if that long, and you have to be able to walk to recover from a broken hip.

So, two hospitals and one short three-day stay in a rehab center later, we brought him home to die, probably one of the most excruciating times any family ever has to face. His kidneys had ceased to function, his body was shutting down, and there was no hope he could recover because the death process had already begun.

I have to say, my daughters, including his daughter, were wonderful, as was Hospice. All four daughters came to stay and help, and they did. Hospice provided everything we needed to keep him comfortable, and somehow, we got through that week. Stan died in his sleep late the following Saturday afternoon, June 28th, 2008.

I can’t blame Hotclue for not being here. I had completely buried her, but little by little, I can see she’s still with me and I’m letting her out to play from time to time, testing both of our wings.

So now, I’m learning how to be a widow. Widow 101, I call this class. No homework needed, pay as you go.

How do you begin? How do you suddenly realize, when someone asks you to go somewhere, that you can go, without worrying about the other person at home who needs you? How do you start learning how to cook for one? I haven’t gotten there yet, and considering how long it took me to learn to cook for just two after my kids were grown and gone, I may still be eating TV dinners a year from now. So far I’m not sick of them yet, and in fact, I’m eating a lot better because I’m not the one who was allergic to (you name it). I’m eating fish and chicken and green vegetables and fruit, and as a side effect, I’m losing weight, a bonus, if there is such a thing.

Yes, I’m pulling out of it. Once in a while I email someone I haven’t emailed in a long time. I’m catching up with a lot of favorite group emails. DorothyL, I haven’t read them in months. Now I am, and any day now I’ll start responding again. I have a new hairdo and I’ll put up a photo soon so y’all can vote on it. Shoulder length, ends curl under naturally, no hairspray needed, 1940’s pageboy cut with a 2008 twist. Still blonde, of course; I’m not giving THAT up no matter how many bottles of Clairol #27G it takes. Am I lonely? I can’t honestly say I am. I got over loneliness a long time ago, when I realized Stan didn’t recognize my youngest daughter, whom he had helped raise from the time she was about 8.

So, I’m back, and soon Hotclue will burst through in all of her weird, goofy glory, and all will be right with my world again. I hope you’ll join me here. There’s a lot of life to be lived for all of us, and my feeling is, we should try to enjoy every second we have on this earth, because you only get one time around.

…Although, if you do get more than one life, next time around I’m coming back as a Broadway Star like Liza Minelli. That’ll be a start. I always wanted to sing off-key and dance with half a tux and a top hat.

Love y’all, and I have missed you very much. I hope you’ve forgiven my absence.
Beth Anderson
(And Hotclue says “Hey!”)

What's Happenin | 8 Comments  

May 12, 2007

HOTCLUE’S B-A-A-CK FROM ST. MORITZ!

Hey, y’all, IT’S ME, Hotclue! YEAH! Did you miss me? I have to apologize for leaving all the blogwork to Beth for a while, although I see she semi-replaced me with her pesky cat Sarge, who is probably at this moment sneaking one more bite from Beth’s Mother’s Day flowers. (Oh, before I forget, Happy Mother’s Day, y’all!)

I keep thinking Sarge is going to start upchucking on the dining room table, where the flowers are sitting, any minute now but so far no go. The little devil has toughened her stomach to an unbelievable degree over the past couple of years by garbaging down copious amounts of sofa stuffing, curtain threads, paint flakes from the dining room wall, Beemer’s food, and God knows what all else.

I wish she had eaten my skis, but more about that in a minute.

Sorry about my absence, but I had to get away. Beth has this terrible habit of every morning reading the NY Times and the Washington Post. I wish she’d quit that. She reads all that stuff, including letters to the editors and all the comments readers can post on WA PO (hello again to afraidofme, the literary lunatic), and the more she reads, the less I feel like writing anything even halfway fun or uplifting. In fact, the world news lately is so bad that while she sits there reading, I just want to go soak my head in a bucket of kerosene or something. I’m gonna have to find a way to make her stop that. I’m not fond of the smell of kerosene and it might dry out my hair.

I have to make one social comment though, before I tell you about my ski trip to St. Moritz, which was, I gotta tell you, a disaster of international proportions.

PARIS HILTON, GET OVER YOURSELF. Here’s the answer to your current drunk driving problems, you irresponsible, narcissistic idiot. Have your equally idiotic rich mother buy you your own country, where you can drive drunk, run over people at will, bitch about cops hitting on you, hey, whatever you want. THEN, and ONLY then, you get to make up your own laws and break them whenever you feel like it.

Meantime, you’re living in the USA, doing God knows what, and We Have Laws. One of them is, if you drive while you’re drunk you get tossed in the slammer no matter what your name is. SURPRISE! YES! That’s really, truly the way it works! Our laws don’t care how cute you are or which designer duds you’re wearing today. You do the crime, you do the time. So shut up and enjoy your time with your cellmate.

Personally, I hope she weighs at least four hundred pounds, has a Black Belt in Karate, sings Country Western as well as Rap 24/7, and has a huge halitosis and underarm odor problem. 45 days of that MIGHT wake you up.

Okay, enough of Paris. On to more important personalities’ pecadillos. Mine.

First off, I had fibbed a little and told Count Babbalallapaloozo I knew how to ski. Well, I’d read about it and seen people skiing, and after all, how hard could it be? You start off at the top of a hill, which guarantees you’re going to wind up at the bottom, due to mathematics or physics something like that. You’re standing ON two long boards which are curved at the front so you can’t stub your toe, or it looks that way in the movies. And you have a couple of sticks to hold in your hands and prop you up so you can’t fall sideways. So like I said, how hard can it be?

Well, first, due to my little indescretionary fib (move over, Paris), the Count said we could skip the bunny hill and try Mogul Skiing. I agreed because I have a real thing about bunnies. I love them, and the idea of skiing over one really turns me off. So I was happy. Mogul it would be.

I was all set with my new ski outfit, which I’d bought in Chicago before I left. Leopardskin pants, hot pink jacket with white fur around the hood. Sorta kinda matched one of my nightie sets, how cute is that! We checked in, got dressed, and headed for the ski slopes and the instructor the Count had hired, just in case.

Now here’s the first thing they tell you: To make a turn over a bump, start with a good traverse stance and begin skiing.

Really?

I look down at the sticks I’m holding. They don’t look like traverse rods to me. But I figure that’s what they’re telling me anyhow, so figuring I don’t need more instruction, I grab a good hold onto my traverse rods and off I go. I hear screaming in the background but hey, I’m still standing, sort of. Still moving downhill anyway. I’m doing fine, right? I ignore the Count’s shreiks. I figure he’s just jealous because I caught on so fast.

I see a bump ahead. Many bumps. Many, many, many bumps.

Everywhere.

Oh, God.

No, I’m not having an orgasm. I just don’t know where to go next.

There is no place to go next. Except straight toward many, many, many bumps.

I hit the first bump. I go straight into it. The damn curves on these skis don’t work. I go over it, sort of, but not how I think I’m supposed to. I go head first. My traverse rods go somewhere else. I don’t know where my skis are.

Two minutes later I hear the instructor, now standing over me, giving me the next part of the instructions. To wit: “Hots, when you get near the bump, you’re supposed to bend your hips and apply pressure on your outside ski. At the time when you’re passing over the top of the bump, you plant your ski pole on the bump’s edge in order to give support as you extend your legs, direct your skis in the new path and turning over the bump. At this point, you are already on the other side of the bump. You finish the turn by shifting your weight and applying pressure on your downhill ski.”

All that, while I’m lying, face still IN the snow, wondering what the hell happened. He repeats his instructions. I hear the Count laughing and saying something about having to go back to the lodge and change his pants. I pull my head out of the snow, try to get up and while I’m doing all that, not so successfully, I’m muttering under my breath. “Bend my hips which way? Which ski is my outside ski?”

More laughter. Oh, yeah, guys. I’m almost upside down in this godforsaken place and you’re laughing. Good job.

“And why are you telling me NOW that I was supposed to go OVER the bump? How the hell was I supposed to do THAT?” You can tell when I’m upset, I start speaking in capital letters.

The Count is still doubled over, giggling. “Mi amore, is anything broken? Tee hee.”

“Extend my legs WHERE, dammit? Direct my skis in WHAT new path?” I’m highly pissed now.

“Well, you see, my dear…” This is the instructor speaking now. The Count seems to be out of breath or something. His face is purple and tears are running down his cheeks.

“I heard what you said! Finish the turn by shifting WHICH way?” I scream. “Can you at least tell me THAT, since you left so much out?”

Naturally, I’ve completely forgotten I left before he could finish. Not that it would have helped much.

“And WHICH ski is my damn DOWNHILL ski? I thought they were BOTH downhill skis! How could I GO any other way than DOWN?”

At least I got that part right.

Sigh.

It didn’t take long to get back to the lodge. As if I weren’t humiliated enough, I had only gone eight feet. I crawled back up while they did some cute little X-mark things with their skis and poles, showing off like the clods they were, but to give them credit, they did it beside me, not ahead of me, as I crawled. The Count always maintains such impeccable manners.

We spent the rest of the trip watching the skiiers from the comfort and safety of the bar, which sits directly behind a huge floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace, which sits directly in front of a wall-sized picture window. At least I know for sure what a picture window is.

When I opened my suitcase back here at home this morning I found a book on skiing, with many pictures. Many, many, many pictures.

I’m not sure whether the Count slipped it in there, or the ski lodge management team, all of whom manned the doors to the ski slopes to make sure I didn’t get out the rest of the time we were there.

Hey, it’s good to be back. Come back again soon, you hear me? We all love YOU, you KNOW we do!

Hotclue Herself, with a little help occasionally from Beth Anderson and Sarge the Terrible.

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