Sunday, May 31, 2020

Surprising Benefits of the 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic

It was 5 Weeks into the Pandemic before we could find Toilet Paper
You know sometimes you need to be careful what you wish for...
Because it might just happen. 

I never in the darkest, wildest parts of my imagination wished for a global pandemic that wipes out hundreds of thousands of lives. And infects countless others with a horrifying painful disease attacking multiple body systems forcing many on respirators because their oxygen saturation fell way below 90, being put into medically induced comas and when they did survive and kick the enemy, they had a very long recovery regaining their strength and stamina. The gut wrenching ban on loved ones at the bedsides, terrified patients had only strangers, scared, overworked medical professionals to comfort them through this illness. I can't imagine what it was like to die alone. Or know your loved one died alone. 

I never wished for our economy to be shut down. People suddenly without income. Bills to pay, no money. Planes grounded. Restaurants shuttered. Schools scrambling to shift to internet based learning. Parents forced to become teachers. People who could work at home had to do so while caring for their children. People who couldn't work at home were unemployed. People working in essential front line occupations had to suit up and trudge in to work, scared they would contract the virus and bring it home to their loved ones. 

I stopped working outside the home about 10 years ago. I was an EMT in a satellite hospital emergency room. We were understaffed and the professional environment was toxic. I had just settled my father's estate when my mother suddenly passed away. I missed them so much. I didn't want to be away from my husband and children, driving in ice storms in the middle of the night when financially, I didn't need to be.

I'm a writer, so the mandatory quarantine didn't affect my day to day work. My husband is a retired firefighter who has been working for a railroad for the past 11 years. He'd been talking about retiring last year after our children both got married, but he hadn't quite decided to give it up yet. When the pandemic hit, and everyone was scrambling to figure out how to safely work and social distance, he finished his shift, got off the train and told his supervisor he was retiring immediately.

So suddenly after more than three decades of marriage, we're both at home. No more shift work. No more long nights alone. No more long days alone. We're together. Forever. I don't have to be scared  when I hear the monkeys in the attic. I don't have to be scared in the middle of the night when the smoke detector awakens me in a pouring rainstorm. I don't have to figure out how to keep the dogs away from repairmen. I don't have to supervise repairmen, wondering if they are up-charging the little lady. 

I don't have to worry about stray dogs and bears and snakes when I'm outside. My hero is protecting me.

Incredibly, some things I never thought to wish for are popping up. He's taken over cleaning out the robot vacuums and running them; folding the towels; and cooking and doing the dishes. 

He is a chef and a foodie and loves eating out and watching cooking shows. I'm pretty burnt out on food because of whatever is wrong with my body that it refuses to lose weight no matter what exercise and diet regime I plow into. Keto, intermittent fasting, running, every Les Mills class, spin cycling, yoga. I'm 5' and was 97 pounds when I married him at age 18. I've spent 20 years trying to get back below 120. I consistently stayed in the 140's, dipping into the 130's from time to time. I asked for help from two doctors who both told me to stop trying to lose weight. Well, since the pandemic hit and I'm completely sedentary and have a chef feeding me, I'm now not only in the 150's, I'm stuck in them.

So anyhow, I don't like eating out several times a week like he does. The food is okay, but not delicious and worth all the money we pay, in my opinion. But he loves it. And I love him so I go. But now we can't eat in restaurants so I'm secretly overjoyed. We get curbside to go once a week and eat in the car, because it's never good congealed or cold after we drive home.

We love traveling but he used to book too many trips. I wanted a break at home. Well, I got my wish. Shame on me. Now we can't go anywhere. Disney World is closed! We can't drive up to see our son in Pennsylvania. I miss him so much.

We did see him in the beginning of March, then took a train from Virginia to Colorado, with a layover in Chicago. We had no idea how contagious the virus was then. I don't see how we weren't exposed to it, riding in coach and wandering around Chicago and Denver and the Winter Park Ski Resort
Sherry & Mike at the Winter Park Ski Resort, Colorado

I had shortness of breath in Denver and a few days after our return, which I assumed was oxygen sickness due to the mile high elevation but who knows, I might have contracted the virus on the westbound train or in Chicago. I also had one day of severe aches, pain so bad I contemplated cracking open the bottle of happy pills my urologist prescribed in case a kidney stone passes again. I sucked it up and manged with Excedrin and the next day I was fine.

I always thought it would be nice if we could find something we both enjoyed to watch on TV. Found it! The Good Witch on the Hallmark Channel. I wrote a whole blog post about how it has made me want to be a better person
Catherine Bell in The Good Witch

I always wanted him to eat fruit. He's now buying and serving and eating it.

I always wanted him to grow a beard. He did. And it grew and grew and I told him to shave.

I always wanted him to use my vibration plate for his circulation and do a yoga DVD with me. Bingo! 
Angie

I always wanted to figure out how to thread and insert a bobbin and learn to sew again. My daughter figured it out with a quick web search and taught me so we could make masks.
Homemade Face Masks
I always wanted to walk my dogs daily, but Lady, my yellow Husky/Beagle mix is a puller and Angie, my Black Lab/Great Pyrenees/Border Collie barks at other dogs and we keep our grand dog a Beagle/Husky/Rottweiler/Terrier a few days each week when our daughter and husband both work nights. Two or three dogs is no problem now that my husband is with me. Hooray!
Lady is our Husky/Beagle (1 Beagle Ear 1 Husky Ear)
Angie is our Labrador Retriever/Great Pyrenees/Border Collie
Our Grand Dog Franklin is a Beagle/Husky/Rottweiler/Terrier

I always wanted to get back into gardening. I drifted away from it in 2005 when I was diagnosed with Melanoma and the past few years since the kids were big enough to stay home alone and now our nest is empty, we've just traveled too often to have flowers and vegetables left without someone watering them. My husband bought me roses, hibiscus, daisies, dahlias, marigolds and tomato plants for Mother's Day!
Dahlias, Daisies, Hibiscus, Roses & Tomato Plants

My daughter and husband both lost a friend during this pandemic. I pray the scientists find a cure and a vaccine and isolate how this thing is transmitted so we can all get back to a great big beautiful world

Stay Well Stay Pawsitive We Love You Sign at Elementary School

Mike pulling Lady from under the bed, her favorite getaway

Angie and Mike

Lady & Angie

Sherry doing her nails on the deck

Mike trying on my homemade mask prototype

Angie, Lady & Frank Tug of War

Lady

Angie

Franklin

Angie

Saturday, May 30, 2020

I Conquered Blogger

That symbol above on the right which I circled in green is the Remove Formatting button!

I have been trying so hard for over a decade to make my blog posts look readable when I paste book excerpts into them. Never could. I always was stuck with a long page of text with no paragraph spacing whatsoever. Who would read it? Nobody.

Today I saw that symbol, clicked it and was gobsmacked this easy little fix had alluded me my whole writing career.

Not only was I able to quickly clean up my pages, I also discovered in the Layout page that I could fit an image into the blog header! So it's really looking great now! Maybe I'll change my header picture frequently. Maybe I'll create something lovely branding my books and never change it.

My blog has never looked this clean! I was about to search Fivrr for someone to fix my blog. I'm so happy I found my own skills.

Thanks for listening. I hope you had a wonderful day too.

All Aboard for a Writers Conference on a Train

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Excerpt from INAPPROPRIATE
by Sherry Morris

At exactly 1:47 P.M. I checked-in at the Orlando North American Passenger Railway station and dragged my huge cerulean blue rolling duffle bag outside. Missing one wheel, it fought me the whole way. I set my chambray blue hard plastic cooler on top of it and looked around the platform.

The crusaders sported primary and pastel colored leisure suits and church appropriate dresses. The African, Asian and Cuban-Americans carried the style off well enough. However, the European-Americans who had baked thousands of hours in the Florida sun, resembled shriveled dates.

Rosemary Donaldson waved me down to the rear of the train. My tummy jittered with excitement. And hunger. I couldn’t wait to gobble the fancy food. I took a deep breath and plodded through the throng of elderly passengers.

“Hi, Rosemary.”

We fake kissed the humidity near both cheeks. I tried not to cough in the perfume haze engulfing the raven haired, liposuctioned, botoxed pastor’s wife dressed in white patent leather boots, striped over-the-knee socks, a ruffled plaid fuchsia miniskirt and an orange low-cut sweater. She had the body for the outfit but at her age and considering her husband’s holy profession…jail bait tart was not a good look.

“We can board any minute now. Here’s our itinerary,” she said in her high-pitched nasally voice and offered me a floral motif pocket folder with a thick stack of papers inside. I let go of my suitcase handle and accepted it. The suitcase plopped down onto the concrete with a resonating thud. The cooler’s lid didn’t dislodge, thank goodness. I squatted to pick them up.

“Sandra, I’m so glad you talked your mother into joining us,” said Rosemary.

I shut my eyes tight, scrunched up my face and clenched my fists, hoping I hadn’t heard correctly. Before I stood I asked, “Pardon? What did you say?”

“Your momma stopped by my house this morning with a trunk full of yarn and knitting needles. She volunteered to teach the crusaders to knit."

As I rose and repositioned my belongings the crowd of writers and crusaders parted. Mom propelled her luggage cart toward me stacked with a green steamer trunk, a three piece Pepto-Bismol pink luggage set, travel ironing board, portable DVD player and a box of groceries. She was dressed in her signature over-sixty-Floridian-chic: a knit twin set embroidered, beaded and sequined with flamingos; matching green Capri’s with bugle beading at the hem and pockets; wedge-heeled lime leather sandals; wraparound sunglasses and a lime green visor. She had pulled her blonde hair into a ponytail.

I looked just like Mom with the only exception being she carried a voluptuous extra thirty pounds. The outfit would be very cute on her, if she were over sixty. But she was only forty-six. She had married my dad when she was eighteen and they had five kids in five years. Two sets of identical twin boys then singleton me.

I couldn’t think of anything to say that wouldn’t get me sent to my room so I just smiled really big.

Mom blew me a kiss.

“All aboard!”

I turned my head to see my brother Andy dressed in a navy blue conductor’s uniform. He was a member of the Central Florida Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society. I had forgotten he had volunteered for this adventure. Out of all my brothers, Andy was the kindest to me so at least I wouldn’t have to worry about our sibling bickering drowning out the train whistle.

I was sure he wasn’t any happier than I that Mom had tagged along.

New York Times bestselling horror author, Hazel Hatchet, a.k.a. Hack ‘em Up Hazel, shoved past me, her ample hip bumping my arm as she adjusted the straw cowgirl hat over her close-cropped afro. Her long amber and sterling silver earrings swung heavily to and fro. Hazel grabbed the handrail on the green iron steps and grunted. Andy gripped onto her arm and hoisted her aboard.

I stepped back closer to the station and took my first good look at the train. The last three cars were painted or more likely wrapped in a cabbage rose print. Pink orange, yellow and white everywhere. In front of them were several cars plastered with Pastor Eugene Donaldson’s toothy face. “The Crusade of Peace” was painted in gold leaf.

Ahead of those cars were tired brown and gray North American Passenger Railway baggage and passenger cars. I couldn’t see the diesel locomotives.

I marched toward the train dragging my duffle bag.

“Hi, Sandra,” sniffled Weepy Wendy, an anorexic trauma nurse practitioner who had wallowed in the throes of woe the entire time we’d been acquainted. She wrote romantic comedy. “I had such a bad night at work. There is this really mean Dr. Fruiterman and he kept yelling at me. I knocked over a tray of sterile instruments and–”

“Hi, Wendy! I’m so sorry you had a rough night. Life is just not fair. Can’t wait to hear all about your latest work-in-progress.” Oh shoot! Why did I say that? I always found it very uncomfortable conversing with her. I never could come up with the right words to help her feel better. Some people must want to be miserable.

Staring at her hair, my brother helped Wendy up the steps. Once she had boarded he shook his head. Wendy’s frizzy locks were dyed black with thick stripes of white woven in. Think Cruella DeVille on a bad hair day. I shuddered, imagining accident and heart attack victims opening their eyes to see Nurse Wendy standing over them.

I was so excited and anxious to ride the rails again. Andy always invited me along whenever there was a special steam train excursion in the region. He invited the whole family but they all were too caught up in their own egos and imagined troubles to be transported to a gentler time. Even his twin, Matt. They were identical in looks but not personality. That’s how I told them apart. Matt was the 5’10” blond with the sneer. Andy was the 5’10” blond with the twinkle in his eye.

A North American Passenger Railway employee sashayed by with a big brown take-out bag from the Olive Garden. I wanted to mug her. I was so hungry. Maybe I could chat her up and she’d offer me a breadstick.

A loud whistle and thunderous roar sped by on the other track. Must’ve been a freight train though I couldn’t see it because our train was blocking the view.

It was my turn to climb onboard but I backed up and beckoned the next writer to go on before me. I didn’t want to be caught in the aisle behind Weepy Wendy and have to hear about her latest bad luck. She’d make a perfect mate for Matt. What was I thinking? No, please no. I didn’t want to have her sniffling around at every family gathering.

I rolled my eyes as Andy turned on the charm for exotic Matilda Irwin, a.k.a. Tabloid Tilly, an Aussie photo journalist here on some kind of youth working visa. Matilda was of Chinese, Aborigine and probably English prison camp origin. Men seemed to find Matilda irresistible. I couldn’t stand her. I’ll think up a reason later.

I enjoyed an evil grin while she flirted and finally wiggled aboard.

Andy shuffled luggage around, shoving it further away from the door. I was fascinated by the stacks of crap people brought with them. Suitcases and snacks I could understand. But the step ladder, potted Norfolk Island pine tree, fireplace tools, bird cage, litter box, cushioned toilet seat, laundry detergent and chlorine bleach were a bit quirky.

“Sis, why didn’t you tell me Mom was coming?”

“I didn’t know! Honest! She just showed up. This is going to be a miserable trip.” I whined.

“Why? I mean other than the obvious.”

“She doesn’t know I’m a writer,” I whispered. I left my luggage with him and climbed the three steps.

Everyone made a right so I followed them and took a seat midway down a highly polished cherry conference table. I counted sixteen leather chairs.

As the remaining passengers flitted in, no one sat next to me on either side.

Elderly body builder Bicep Betty, of yellow polka dot bikini fame, reposed directly across from me snapping her black bubble gum. Every book she wrote was full of kink and husband homicide. No wonder she was an old maid…and had a cult following.

Most of the faces were familiar to me and I looked forward to becoming acquainted with the newbies.

My best bud, Dina Devers, a moderately successful eBook author, stumbled in last. She wrote steamy romance. I found her books to be hilarious but didn’t dare let on.

The gossip around the beach was that Dina didn’t get enough oxygen at birth and as a result, while her intellect was normal, she was freakishly happy and strangely giddy at inappropriate times.

Dina tripped over the hem of her long leaf-green broomstick skirt and grabbed the back of a chair to catch herself. It rolled out and spun to one side. She plopped down in it and giggled, finger fluffing her cute strawberry blonde curls.

I thought it was so weird to find free rolling chairs on a moving train. Somebody might be seriously injured.

“Welcome to the GOOS Express,” Rosemary announced. “I’m so delighted we all could take this little working vacation along the rails.”

The ladies applauded and thanked her profusely. Very excited about the chance to interact with other writers, learn from the speakers and pitch my books to agents and editors, I smiled and clapped.

The whistle tooted twice and the train lurched forward. The chairs jerked sideways. Some of the ladies gasped. I stuck my arms over my head and enjoyed the ride.


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Mom Thinks Everything I Do is INAPPROPRIATE

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Excerpt from INAPPROPRIATE
by Sherry Morris

I went on about my job, puttering down the beach, stopping to pick up a piece of petrified palm trunk, a glass grape juice bottle and a deflated football. I plucked them with a mechanical snatcher device. I don’t know if it has an official name but I called mine Monkey. After two years at this job I was pretty efficient. I could do it all from the driver’s seat. Snatch it and drop it into the trash bag and go along my jolly way.

The theme to “The Pink Panther” jazzed from my shorts. I stopped and dug my phone out. My mother’s picture smiled on the caller I.D. I inhaled and answered. “Hi, Mom.”

“Sandra, are you still intending to climb aboard that train of fools?”

“They aren’t fools, Mom. They’re very nice people.”

She sobbed, “You’re being kidnapped by that cult and I’ll never see my baby again.” She launched into one of her motherly speeches about how everything I do is inappropriate.

Mom was so disappointed in me. My four brothers were cops working under my dad, the police commissioner. But I toiled as a sanitation engineer and public relations specialist for the Department of Public Works. Translation: I picked up the trash left on the beach and told the tourists where the public restrooms were located. At least the uniform was cute.

What Mom didn’t know was by day I collected garbage but by night I was an infamous cozy mystery author. I wrote under the pen name of Dixie London. And I didn’t have a thing published. I had written almost twelve books…well, the first three or four chapters of twelve different books. Okay, so I was more like an infamous cozy mystery author wannabee. But I had fun. I belonged to the Global Order of Scribes pronounced “goose” for short. The international convention was transpiring in Morocco this week.

Rosemary Donaldson, wife of televangelist Eugene Donaldson, was the president of our local chapter. I couldn’t stand her, the snobby fakey flake. She arranged to have a little writers conference of sorts aboard three private railcars hooked onto the back of her husband’s crusade train, which was hooked onto the back of a regular North American Passenger Railroad train.

Of course I could set my feelings for her aside and grace the authors with my presence long enough for a two week free vacation aboard the private rail cars. The Donaldsons’ were wealthy so I knew this would be a first class to-do. The Agatha Christie birthday shindigs she hosted at her mansion were always loaded with fat shrimp, alligator tar-tar and a white chocolate fountain. Maids and cabbage roses everywhere you turned in her gaudy museum. Even the ceilings were painted with rose murals. Last time I tucked two pieces of her toilet tissue into my pocket to show Mom. It was printed in full color, embossed and scented with roses. Mom wasn’t impressed. She told me it would cause bladder infections.

“Mom—Mom—Mom!” I finally got her to stop ranting. “I told you it’s not a cult. I’m not going as one of the devout followers of Pastor Donaldson. Rosemary invited our mystery readers’ book club to tag along. We’ll be segregated from the fanatics. We have our own private cars and we’ll be reading and discussing books…and knitting.”

Mom loved knitting so I just threw that in.

“Really, knitting?”

“Uh-huh. A couple of the ladies are involved in the knit-a-scarf-for-a-serviceman charity. We’ll be knitting up a storm for those brave Americans.” I was great at making things up.

“Oh, well why didn’t you tell me? What time do we leave? I’ll need to finish the laundry…”

“No!” I cleared my throat. “No, Mom. You can’t go. The train is already filled to capacity. You needed to reserve a compartment ahead of time.”

“Nonsense. I’ll bunk-in with you.”

“No can do. I have a roommate. Dina.”

“Oh…Dina. How is she? Is her Aunt Beverly recuperating as well as can be expected?”

Dina Devers was the only friend I had who Mom approved of.

“Dina and Aunt Beverly are doing just fine. I’ll let her know you asked about them. I gotta go, Mom. Got to finish up by noon today.”

“Come see me before you leave.”

Yeah, right. So you can jump in the backseat and stow away. “I’ll try. Gotta run. Bye.” I closed my phone and stuffed it back inside my pocket.

I drove along the beach. Two guys stood knee deep in the surf, fishing. An early jogger trotted by. I smacked my forehead and took my foot off the gas. If Lieutenant Hottie had any follow-up questions for me I wouldn’t be available. I should have told him I’d be leaving on the GOOS Express this afternoon. Could this be a dilemma? He didn’t tell me not to leave town or anything. And I just reported the body. I wasn’t technically a witness…or suspect. And besides, it was a routine death investigation. I was confident the autopsy would show he had drowned. Poor guy. He had looked so young and fun loving. I resolved to live like every day was my last and chase my fondest dreams.

The sailor probably was on shore leave, rented a speed boat with his buddies, got drunk and fell overboard. Yeah, that’s it. He seemed really happy by the smirk frozen on his face. I ought to open a detective agency. And I could hire my writing pals as operatives. An all woman force. Nobody would suspect us of spying on them. We’d make a killing. I giggled at my pun.

I peeked at Tinker Bell, shook up her pixie dust, looped around and did a U-turn. It was time to stop by the dumpster and then check-in with Igor.

A crowd of tourists had gathered at the crime scene as the police carted off the corpse. I sighed. Great, they were noshing donuts and drinking Starbucks. More trash for me to collect later on.

The lieutenant stood down along the shoreline running his fingers through his short dark hair. Perhaps I should stop off and let him know I’d be leaving town. I slowed down and threw my hand up. He didn’t notice me so I kept going. I decided to call him from the train.

Part of me was relieved not to have to talk to him face-to-face. If Lieutenant Hottie were to make a late night visit to my little studio apartment…to discuss the case, I wouldn’t be home to answer the door…wearing something entirely inappropriate.


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I Hate Discovering Dead Bodies

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Excerpt from INAPPROPRIATE
by Sherry Morris

I hate discovering dead bodies.

I shook my head and slammed on the brakes. While leaping out of the golf cart onto the smooth Cocoa Beach sand, I wiggled my fingers into a pair of nitrile gloves. A shiver of fear convulsed up my spine as a fishy dead-human stench wafted through the dawn. I tiptoed over to a bloated young man face up in a drenched United States Navy uniform, matted with sand.

“Sir, do you need some assistance?” Please roll over and puke or something. “Hey, buddy, you okay?” Nothing. I gave him a little nudge in the ribs with my sneaker. He felt squishy. I shuddered.

The June sun rose pink on the horizon. Red sky was good luck for sailors or something like that. Not for this guy.

This is so not the way I want to begin my last shift before vacation.

I loosened his tie, unfastened a button and placed two of my fingers on his carotid artery. No pulse. He stared past me, big brown eyes with long eyelashes frozen in a peaceful expression. No, not peaceful. The curl of his lips looked as though he had been up to something mischievous. I lowered my face and put my ear to his nose to listen for breathing as I studied his chest. I didn’t see or feel respirations. Up close he smelled like chlorine bleach.

I wasn’t a coroner but it was obvious to me that this guy had been dead for quite some time.

I struggled with the gritty wet material, unbuttoning the rest of his shirt exposing his hairy chest and a gold Star of David necklace. I didn’t find the dog tags I was searching for.

“Rest in peace, sailor.”

I whispered a little prayer for him and pulled off the gloves as I hurried back to the vehicle. After slipping them into the black plastic trash bag, I exhaled, flipped open my blue cell phone and punched nine on speed dial. I glanced at my simulated diamond Tinker Bell watch and wiggled my wrist to make the pixie dust dance under the crystal.

“Cocoa Beach Department of Public Works. What is your complaint?” asked Igor the grouchy dispatcher.

“It’s Sandra Faire. I’ve found a military floater washed up in front of the Copacabana. He’s dead.”

Within ten minutes I was surrounded by three hotel security guys in gray trousers and blue blazers; Andres, the perpetually hung-over lifeguard; Eagle, the hotshot volunteer beach patrolman who always startled the sunbathers tearing around the sand in his ATV; Bicep Betty in the yellow polka dot bikini and matching support hose; six uniformed City of Cocoa Beach cops. And Lieutenant Hottie Hernandez, homicide.

Okay so his first name was William, and not that he was my type…anymore…but my temperature sure soared whenever he met my gaze. I needed to figure out how to reroute those errant hormones. I was through with hot uber good-looking alpha males. Especially this one. No man of mine answered his cell phone during a romantic interlude. Just because there was a category five hurricane looming was no excuse for him to run off to work and leave me panting on the kitchen table.

Well, yeah, we had some other issues. William and I weren’t compatible except when we were making out. His kisses sent me to nirvana. Perhaps it’s just as well the hurricane interrupted us. I had nothing to regret.

We didn’t have anything in common. I was eighteen the first time he kissed me. And the last time. Now I’m twenty-three and he would be thirty soon. I didn’t like cops. They were paranoid, manipulative drama kings. Well, most of the ones in my family tree were.

Hottie was dressed in a black tee shirt, way too tight. I could see the outline of his chiseled abs and the ripple of his deltoids. A badge on a chain hung around his neck, a service weapon and handcuffs tucked into the rear of his deliciously form fitting Levis.

The lieutenant swaggered down and looked over the deceased from a distance as the tide lapped the sailor’s mucky dress shoes. He paced off an area for the uniforms to seal the death investigation scene. Hotel security assisted, offering hot pink umbrellas to shove into the sand to wrap the yellow police tape around.

The lieutenant stopped and squatted before approaching the body, shining his flashlight on the sand with a slow sweeping motion. He led the crime scene photographer to the areas he deemed important. After the initial images were shot, forensics arrived.

The CSI team deployed different colored lights and donned goggles. The photographer changed out the filters on his camera to match the colors the forensic team used.

The lieutenant had a lengthy conversation with the lifeguard then shook his head, scribbled on a notepad, ducked under the police tape and made a beeline for me.

I leaned casually against the umbrella rental stand, twisting an errant strand of pale hair around my finger, determined not to let his deep testosterone voice move me.

He looked down and rubbed his clean shaven chin. His eyes lingered on the finer parts of my anatomy as his gaze climbed to my face and he asked me, “You discover this one?”

I sucked in a deep breath trying not to remember his erotic whispers.

“Did you discover the body?” He repeated.

I nodded.

“Anyone in the area at the time?”

I looked into his smoldering brown eyes and shook my head.

“How long ago?”

I checked Tinker Bell. “About forty-five minutes now. I called in the find at six-thirteen.”

“Did you notice any footprints around the body before you approached it?” He cocked his head to one side and gave my sneakers the once over.

I kicked up one foot so he could see my treads. “Sorry, I forgot to look…”

He frowned and gave me that you’ve disappointed me again look. “Did you disturb anything?”

“I unbuttoned him with gloves on. He was all buttoned up to his chin. I felt his carotid artery. I couldn’t find his dog tags. Oh…and I kicked him in the ribs.”

“Left or right side?”

“Left.”

He scribbled in his note pad. “Have you noticed anything out of the ordinary on the beach in the last twenty-four hours?”

I shook my head. This was why I hated discovering dead bodies. It forced me to collide with the most inappropriate man for me in the whole darned universe. I didn’t want things to get stirred up again. I couldn’t get things stirred up again. On account of what I did during the hurricane.

“Do you know him from anywhere?” he asked.

I shook again, exaggeratedly slow with a wide-eyed expression.

“Thank you, ma’am. I’ll be in touch.” And with that formal tone, he strutted over to the hotel security guards kibitzing near my golf cart.

I smoothed my bright white Department of Public Works tee shirt down over my red uniform shorts as I passed them. They were discussing the evangelical Christian service held last night in the Copacabana ballroom. Pastor Eugene Donaldson was a modern thinking, feel-good preacher very popular with the locals and tourists alike. He had led prayer breakfasts at the White House during both Slick Willie’s and Dub-yah’s terms.

I chimed in, “The sailor was Jewish. There is a Star of David around his neck. He wouldn’t have attended.”

William rolled his eyes and glared at me.

I hated when he did that. Just because I wasn’t a cop didn’t mean I couldn’t solve crimes…or sort out which leads were dead ends.

I climbed back into the golf cart and waved to Andres, the lifeguard. He smiled and waved back. I guess the guy was good looking if you liked suntanned guitar playing Euro-blonds without muscles. I didn’t. I didn’t like his sing-song German accent either. And I especially didn’t like guitar players anymore…because of Hurricane Alfredo.


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Friday, May 29, 2020

The Good Witch Makes Me Want to be a Better Person

Catherine Bell as Cassie Nightingale in The Good Witch movie.

Locked down at home with my husband during the 2020 Covid 19 Pandemic, we spent March into April glued to and arguing with the current event coverage. It got really old. Days ran into each other. Whatever routine I had before was a distant memory. It seemed like all I did was walk the dogs, crossing the street whenever I saw another human, or sit on the couch and watch TV. 

I eventually lost total interest in the virus coverage, the "fake news", and my 38 year residence in fictional Port Charles, New York. Yep, the ABC Soap Opera General Hospital stopped doing it for me. Gasp! I could no longer suspend disbelief in the story lines, the dumbing down of beloved veteran characters and recasting fails. I never thought I'd find myself walking away from the Quartermaines, Spencers, Cassadines & Scorpios, my fictional friends. 

My husband discovered Downton Abbey in January, and we had really enjoyed the Crawley family shenanigans. I was hoping to discover another binge worthy show. We had lost the Hallmark Channel when PlayStation Vue stopped TV streaming. I really like their Christmas movies as well as the morning show, Home & Family. Reviews for the Hallmark Channel App weren't what I'd hoped, everything wasn't included and it wasn't live. My daughter found Frndly TV, a streaming app that includes all three Hallmark Channels live as well as some other family friendly stations. 

I subscribed, paying a year in advance, and was immediately disappointed. They were rerunning old Home & Family shows because of the shut down. However, I did see a promo for a new season of Good Witch and a marathon of  the movies to catch up. I recorded them to the DVR cloud and we started binge watching. Immediate love. 

An "enchanting woman" Cassie Nightingale, moves to the fictional town of Middleton, into Grey House, ancestral home of a mysterious "Grey Lady" whom she descended from. The stranger runs into some push back from the long time residents as she restores the mansion to open as a bed and breakfast and she sets up a mystical gift shop "Bell, Book & Candle." 

Cassie isn't a stereotypical witch practicing the dark arts. She doesn't wiggle her nose or blink or cast spells. No teleportation or turning someone into a toad. Yes, there is a black cat in the first movie. Yes there are some broom jokes from time to time but no broom riding. Cassie Nightingale's witchery is basically intuition, empathy and positivity.

Cassie's magic translates into a gift for helping people figure out for themselves what they need to fix their own lives. They come into her shop, tell her their troubles and she might give them a special tea blend or essential oil, things someone practicing naturopathy would do. No horn of toad, beak of goose kind of thing. More like Reishi mushrooms or Frankincense. She always tells the person some piece of wisdom, something not literally apparent, something they need to figure out for themselves. Then she suggests they go to a certain place, like have lunch at the Bistro, where they inevitably meet up with the person in their lives they need to have a special conversation with.

The Good Witch subtlety touches on universal issues such as foster care, death of a spouse and parent, divorce, bullying, poor decisions, rebellious teens, and the need a child feels to please his parents. It's strong on second chances, romance, friendship and following your calling. Lots of love and laughter.

I really like that the Hallmark Channel integrates all generations into their movies and shows. Actors of all ages have story lines and aren't stereotypes. In The Good Witch series, the widower police chief, Jake Russell's character has his father-in-law, George, living with him to help raise the children. As the series progresses, George remains a permanent fixture even as the children grow. He naturally takes on new responsibilities and challenges. He's still integral and busy 12 years into the series.

Middleton is a much nicer town with Cassie Nightingale in it. She just generates good will and makes others reassess their lives. My husband and I blurt out what we think might happen next. We're delighted when we're right and even happier when we don't anticipate a fabulous twist.

I realized I used to be a good, kind person as well. I avoided conflict by keeping my mouth shut. For as long as I can remember, I did this with my parents, siblings, co-workers, neighbors and everyone. I never said what I was really feeling. Then evil menopause came and I had to speak my mind. It's like rebelling in your adolescence again. Women no longer give, give, give. They wake up and roar. No wonder so many marriages fall apart in mid-life. The kids leave the nest and you're left with not much in common. That young love a far ago memory.

Okay, so that didn't happen to me. Marrying Mikie when I was 18 was the best decision I've ever made. Through the better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, we're still going strong. Yes, all six of those themes were wildly poignant at times. But we made it through. Together. I adore my husband. He tolerates and spoils me. I just don't like that I talk so much now. Neither does he. Nor the kids. My filter seems clogged and I am trying to clean it out and hope to replace it with a new, pristine, happy, optimistic and giving outlook.

Cassie Nightingale and her fictional gal pals and relations Grace, Abigail, Stephanie, Lori, Joy and most comically Martha, really refresh my vision of the golden rule and my hope for a great big beautiful tomorrow.

There are 12 movies of The Good Witch plus a Good Witch series. I was able to stream Seasons 1-5  on Netflix.  Season 6 is currently airing new episodes every Sunday night on The Hallmark Channel.

The correct order to watch The Good Witch movies and the TV series, which all flow together seamlessly:

The Good Witch 2008
The Good Witch's Garden 2009
The Good Witch's Gift 2010
The Good Witch's Family 2011
The Good Witch's Charm 2012
The Good Witch's Destiny 2013
The Good Witch's Wonder 2014
Good Witch Halloween 2015 *This is where the weekly series starts so watch Seasons 1 - 5 before the rest of the movies (the movies are actually split into the first two episodes of each season so you have a choice of how you want to watch them.)
Good Witch: Secrets of Grey's House 2016
Good Witch: Spellbound 2017
Good Witch: Tale of Two Hearts 2018
Good Witch: Curse from a Rose 2019
Season 6 is currently showing Sunday nights 9:00 PM Eastern Time.

Do a search for Good Witch and see if you can watch it on your TV from a provider you subscribe to. Amazon sells Good Witch DVDs. 

Just give it a try. Maybe The Good Witch will touch your heart for the better like mine.