Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s not your call

Dear Trump supporters,

We get it. You won the election when every poll and every news outlet said it was impossible. Trump is our next president. You’re breathing a sigh of relief. Horray for you. But you know what? You don’t get to tell the rest of us it’s time to get over it and move on. You just don’t.

For eight years you despised our President. Eight. Years. You obstructed, you spewed derision, you cheered every time anything he tried to do failed and booed whenever he succeeded. Some of you have been absolutely disrespectful of his race, of his wife, of his status as an American citizen.

Eight years of, “He is not my president.”

Eight years of crying for Impeachment.

Eight years you carried on.

Eight years you didn’t get over it and move on.

So you don’t get to tell more than half the country (of those who voted) it’s time to make peace and accept our fate. My last blog post made it clear I am willing to see the other perspective and at least try to understand things from your eyes. I strive not to fall for click bait or believe everything I read on Facebook. I’ve listened, and I’ve absorbed, and I’ve even agreed on a few things. But that doesn’t mean I’m “over it.” No. I’m not. I won’t be, either, unless some Dickens-like miracle happens and Donald Trump changes the tune he sang throughout not only this election process, but at least the last decade. If he proves to be a damn good president, I won’t despise him simply because of how you despised Barak Obama (and Hillary Clinton.) I won’t hold my breath, either.




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A Truly Bizarre Dream

I dream in story. I always have. For me, it’s not only a matter of my brain sorting through the day’s events, storing memories and sifting them to the right places. (Pixar’s Inside Out does an amazing job of illustrating this process. So cool.) My dreams tell me stories, and sometimes those stories get written down into a book. Last night, however, was one of those bizarre dreams that stayed with me in sharp detail. That alone says something, but the components are a mystery to me…so I’m memorializing it here.

The dream:

Frank and I were on our way to a wedding. I was wearing the dress I wore when he and I got married nearly 28 years ago. We were on Lincoln Ave, in Hawthorn, NJ. I was driving. Frank told me to get on Route 208 via the entrance ahead, but when I turned onto the road he indicated, we were in the woods. And on foot. And it was pitch black.

I had no idea where we were, but Frank noticed a Costco shopping cart off to the side in the bramble. He led me (and some other people I have no idea the identity of, but were also going to this wedding) to the back of a Costco parking lot. I went into the store, but it wasn’t a Costco. It was a movie theater. And Frank was no longer with me.

Instead, I was with a cyclops. Yup. A cyclops. For some reason, even in the dream, I had the sensation of Brian and William, (earlier that day, I noted how incredibly like his grandfather he looks.) The cyclops’ one, beautiful eye was very blue with the hint of green. He was young, and sweet, and he had this coupon that said all cyclopes got into the movies for free. I was referred to as “12-pack mom” because, apparently, I frequented that movie theater once a week with a dozen second graders, and thus qualified for a dollar discount on my movie ticket.

While cyclops was trying to use his coupon, I was singing at the top of my lungs with a very large, very talented black man. We were singing, “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough.” I knew all the words. A woman with very long hair was dancing beside us, breaking into the chorus whenever we got to it.

And then I woke up. I remember seeing it was just before dawn and thinking I wanted to go right back to sleep so I could continue the dream, but I, of course, had to pee, so I got up. I went back to sleep, but not to the dream. And still, it was clear as it remains right now when I finally did get up about an hour later.

If anyone has any interpretation to offer, I’m game!



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Feeling Culinarily Accomplished

What did I do Sunday? Here, let me show you.

Fifty pounds of plum tomatoes made twenty-two jars of sauce, plus enough for the really outstanding clam sauce I made that evening. It took four hours, including the clam sauce. It was fun! And I feel accomplished, culinarily speaking.


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InD’tale Reviews

Seeking Carolina

4 1/2 stars

WOMEN’S FICTION:  Johanna Coco has returned to Bitterly, Connecticut to attend her grandmother’s funeral but misses it. Charlie McCallan finds her in the cemetery and brings her home. For Johanna, Charlie is everything in her past that she has tried to forget. For Charlie, Johanna is everything he wants in his future.

One would have thought that this was a straight love story, but the underlying sub-plot of finding Johanna’s mother, plus the mental illness that affects Johanna and her sister’s life choices, makes the story multifaceted and interesting. It is a love story revolving around the Coco daughters and their missing mother and the secret that their grandmother kept. To juggle more than one subplot to bring the love story, between a man and a woman, and among the women of the Coco family, forward is a feat in itself which Ms. Defino does very well. She has also allowed one to see the internal conflict of each of the characters in varying degrees (including that of the secondary characters) leading to a rich tapestry of the lives and loves of the people in Bitterly, Connecticut.

While the characterization was rich, the setting was limited only to the places where the characters went. Sometimes it came across like sets inside a studio. Nevertheless, the poetry that precedes every chapter more than makes up for this. Ms. Defino is one author to watch out for because of the beautiful stories she writes.

MP Ceja

Dreaming August

5 stars

WOMEN’S FICTION:  Benedetta “Benny” Grady is a widow who continues to pine for her dead husband. She religiously visits the cemetery and plants flowers around his grave, speaking to him and also to Mrs. Fargus and to August, each of whom died centuries ago. Benny has a secret, something that she only tells her dead husband and ghostly friends and would like to hide from one person she has fallen in love with – her husband’s best friend, Dan Greene. Dan has fallen for Benny and plans to woo her but she keeps on avoiding him until she finally gives in. But then Dan unearths her secret and it’s now his turn to move away.

Ms. DeFino is a remarkable storyteller. Her writing style is as beautiful as it is original. One wishes that they lived in Bitterly, Connecticut in order to know Benny and Dan, as well as a host of other secondary characters that give meat to the story. These characters have their own stories to tell and are not just included in the story as props. Readers will come to love August and Mrs. Fargus and get a glimpse of what life after death must be like. Their dialogue about the great beyond is as humorous as it is bittersweet. Ms. DeFino is definitely an author to watch!

MP Ceja

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Filed under Romance, Uncategorized

Scott Dream

I dreamed of Scott last week, and have been replaying it in my head ever since. It was so good to see him. Gads, I miss my son. I’ve never been to Portland (Oregon,) but that’s where we were. It looked like the city I’ve seen so many times on Unique Eats, on the Cooking Channel. We were chatting in what I assume was the foodtruck pod where he works. He was so happy. It radiated out of him. But the bandmates he went out there to be with were ready to come back home. He wasn’t. Plain and simple.

Chris was there in the dream, but I was the only one who could see him. Why is his hair always long and curly in my dreams*? And he’s always wearing a blue plaid flannel shirt he had years ago, one he rarely wore but looked so good in. As Scott and I talked Chris stood behind him, silently shaking his head. As if to say Scott was right to stay out west, and that he was staying with him.

They’d plans, pipe dreams, to go out west together. To have an adventure, see a new world, make a place that wasn’t here for themselves. When Scottie went out to Portland solo, I imagined Chris in the passenger seat beside him, silent and watchful, taking it all in along with the brother he adored. I wanted that for them so badly. Maybe they got it after all.

(*Because that’s how he wore it when he was at his best, his happiest, his most whole.)


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Where does your story come from?

I read every day. Though no one can actually go through a day without reading at least a traffic sign, thanks to smartphones, most people do read more than that on a daily basis. The kind of reading I’m referring to, however, is story. Fiction of whatever kind. Something from someone’s imagination turned into a small reality and shared. Setting my book down this morning–reluctantly–I thought to myself, How does anyone live without stories?

About 1/4 of American adults don’t read books. That 3/4 of the population does read isn’t really heartening. Most of those will admit to reading a book or two a year, and a large percentage of those read non-fiction. Few have read a book a month, and even fewer, more. Statistics vary according to the year, but they don’t travel too far. Readers are a rare breed.

Reading isn’t for everyone. I get that, but I don’t get it. I’ve been a constant reader since I could do so on my own. How does anyone live without novels? Sure there’s television, movies, plays etc. They’re stories we see with our eyes, leaving our brains to simply enjoy. But reading–it takes effort. It’s an act of creation on top of an act of creation, because though writers provide the words, and good ones do a fair job of providing cues and clues, the readers have to finish creating that world, those characters in their own minds. No matter what’s going on in the world, the separate reality within remains constant, and yet, depending upon what’s going on outside those pages, we’ll see different things within the text. It’s the same with any art, of course, your internal dictates its external. I’ve read The Giver (Lois Lowry) every five years since my twenties and I come away with something different every time.

I suppose, story intake is different for everyone. A conversation is full of story. Sit in a cafe, and there are stories all around you. Study a painting, a piece of music, a garden–stories, stories, stories. I know this as well as I know everyone is different, there is no right and wrong but only perspective, that people get what they need in the manner they need it. And sometimes they don’t. But for me? There is no living without story by the written word. There just isn’t.

How about you? Where do your stories come from?

magic book


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$800 Valentine’s Giveaway!

 Hey, all! Want a chance to win one of four $200 Amazon gift cards in The Kindle Book Review’s $800 Valentine’s Giveaway? Of course you do, especially when all you have to do is click click on the link and enter at the #1 site for reader giveaways–The Kindle Book Review. It’s easy & fun. If you love reading, enter now. Ends Feb. 22. Valentine’s Giveaway

Seeking Carolina is on page two, and currently only 99 cents. Not only will you get a fabulous book to read, but several chances to win a $200 gift card.



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Putting things in their places

photo 2

Seven months. Seven months. It seems impossible.Just the other day, I made him softshell crabs for dinner. And yet, it seems like he’s been gone so, so long.

We emptied his room out within the week of his death. I didn’t want to erase him from the house, (as if that were possible–he imbues every splinter, every molecule of air,) but I couldn’t bear to have it look like he’d be home any minute either. We moved his couch up from the basement–the one that was the scope of his world for months after his accident. Frank’s desk went in there. Pictures. Family Mementos. The antique table and all the games. We had it painted.

And there it stood still, a catchall for things we couldn’t deal with just yet. Not his room. Not Frank’s office. Not a game room. Just there.

The bathroom, essentially his, was the same. Stuff piled in the tub long after it was repainted. No shower curtain up. Just sinks, a toilet, and light fixtures.

I bought a new shower curtain yesterday, and put it up today. Then hung a picture, a big wooden star. It looks like a bathroom again. Frank and I also started putting his room back together. We hung pictures and rearranged the furniture so that it’s not all thrown in  haphazardly. Best of all, we hung his bows–in all states of their creation–on the wall.

photo 1

The top one is an arrow–two, in fact, from where he got a bullseye in a bullseye. If I remember correctly, it was at seventy yards. That’s where he usually shot from. Robin Hood would have been proud. That wasn’t the only time he did it, but it was the first. The rack it and the bows are lashed to? He built it as a frame to hold the bows while he varnished them. It was cathartic, putting it all together, hanging it on the wall. And not without a few tears.

This moving on thing is harder than anyone has any idea until they’re faced with doing it themselves. I’ll just leave that there now.



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The electrician came this morning; a man I’ve known for years.Well enough to be happy to see him; not well enough to know if he has a wife, kids, though I know he has a dog. He installed a new light fixture in the walkout basement workshop Chris built and we had enclosed properly just a few months ago.

“This is new,” he said.

“Our son built the frame and we had a roof put on recently.”

“Oh, so he can work on ATVs and stuff out here?”

“Yeah,” I said. He died last June, I didn’t say. There was no reason to. He knows me well enough to feel that instant moment of sorrow, to go home and tell his wife or dog how bad he felt, but not well enough for that information to be relevant to his world.


We planted trees for our kids in the old house on Country Farm Lane, trees grown too big in the ten years we were there to take with us when we left. Here along the river, we planted new trees. Apple trees for Scott and Chris, a Kwanzan cherry for Grace, and a Magnolia for Jamie.

In the Halloween blizzard of 2011, Gracie’s tree was damaged by branches weighed down with snow on leaves. Christofer’s toppled. Scott’s tree, that had never really thrived, held on with little damage. Jamie’s, despite all the heavy snow on leaves, held strong, the branches popping back to their places as the snow melted.

We trimmed Grace’s tree, and it looked pretty sad for a while, but even the split in the trunk healed. It flowers abundantly despite the scars spied among the foliage.

Scott’s tree continues to hang on, wiry branches stretching in every direction, but it always flowers, always bears a little fruit.

Jamie’s tree grows ever-outward. It blooms randomly throughout the year. April. July. September, I’ve even seen those fuchsia and white blooms–two, five–in January.

Christofer’s tree, we braced as upright as we could get it. The roots replanted themselves, but it never quite got back up again. It blooms profusely, and bears more apples than we can use, but it grows sideways out of the hill, reaching down instead of up.

Had I written all that into a novel, these melodramatic metaphors, it would have seemed heavy-handed. Cliche, perhaps. Even saccharine-sweet. And yet, there you have it. I couldn’t ignore the real-life symmetry, children and trees, if I wanted to.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since–ergo, this entry. Maybe it’ll stop floating through my mind now.


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A better day

I’m just taking a moment to thank you all. Those who commented here, on Facebook, and privately. I am loved. By family. Friends. Strangers. It’s an honor.

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