Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Brr it’s cold….
It's cold out there...

That song is playing over and over again in my head ‘cause around the country temperatures have dipped big time. The weatherman predicted our low would be 20-degrees this morning, down from our low of 25-degrees yesterday morning. You can trust that the gym will not be seeing me but so early this morning. I have got to let it warm up a bit first although our predicted 45-degree high isn’t my idea of high.

I absolutely detest cold weather with a passion. I moved south because I hated cold weather so much. This global warming, El Nino crap that has turned the forces of nature on its tail end is truly giving me reason to rethink my move. Arizona had been my first choice. The hubby insisted he couldn’t survive the heat. He’s a snow bunny through and through. North Carolina was supposed to be a happy compromise. I ain’t happy.

When it gets cold all I want to do is crawl into my bed with a good book and a bowl of comfort food. Two bowls of comfort food actually. The meal and the dessert. I do good comfort food if I say so myself. Steaming bowls of stew, chili, chowder, and thick, veggie-filled soups. Cap those off with warm bowls of brownies and hot fudge sauce, or warm apple pie with custard sauce. I can do comfort really well!

This cold day is calling for a pot of my mother-in-law’s fish stew with coconut, followed by oven-warm coconut cake with hot fudge. I can just taste it already. Since I can’t share the meal, I will share the recipe. It’s one of my all time favorites. Reminds me of our Bermuda home and right now I’d give anything to be lost somewhere on an island paradise, where it’s sunny, hot, and there’s no hint of cold.

Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 small red pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 to 2 serrano or jalapeno chiles, according to taste, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*2 pounds fish fillets of any firm white fish cut into 2-inch pieces
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

In a 4-quart casserole, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, green and red peppers and chiles. Sauté until the vegetables become soft, but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and coconut milk. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the fish and shrimp and simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the fish and shrimp are cooked through. Add limejuice and cilantro or parsley and simmer 2 minutes longer. Adjust seasonings if needed.

Ladle into large bowls and serve with white rice.

*You can use snapper, mahi-mahi, cod or halibut for the fish. I personally prefer white codfish and I also add more shrimp. ENJOY!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I was writing a love letter, of sorts, to a friend. The letter started as a thank you to this person for the overwhelming kindness and support they have shown me over the past few months. And it was a simple thank you note that ended up expressing just how much my friend has touched my heart. It expressed how loved I feel and how much love I have for this person.

As I was writing it, I was reminded of that poem that says people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. As I thought about it I realized that I’ve been blessed to have many a lifetime friend come into my life.

My best friend in the world has been in my life since we were children. I cannot even begin to imagine my life without her. She is one of a select group of women, and a few men, who have touched and inspired me over the years. A group that I have established an incredible bond with. They are my sisters and my brothers, individuals who are more family to me than some of my blood relatives will ever be.

Friendship is an incredible gift. And as much as it is an awesome blessing, it is a huge responsibility as well. Friendship is fragile and must be handled with great care. If taken for granted, true friendship can quickly unravel and even the most earnest attempts may not be able to mend it whole again.

I thrive under the mutual respect, knowledge, esteem, and affection my friends and I have for each other. I welcome their company as much as I know they welcome mine. Their loyalty is profound and we each desire what is best for the other.

True friendship requires a degree of intimacy that a cold and shallow spirit could never understand and allow. I am grateful for the open hearts that allowed me in, held me close, and continue to support me when I least expect it.

I so value my true friends and I wouldn't trade them for all the wealth and fame in the world. They each know who they are. They know my soul as I know theirs. They are the reason that the wealth of my seasons is blessed with a lifetime of love.

Friday, January 19, 2007


The beauty salon I go to is owned by the biggest flaming heterosexual man one could ever imagine. And I say flaming because he is an entity onto himself. So pressed and pretty that he puts other guys and gals to serious shame the way he flaunts and swishes around the salon. But he is not gay. In fact, this boy believes himself to be the next coming for every woman with a pulse. Boyfriend sees himself as God’s gift to anyone with a vagina and I’m sure even with his bragging that he has lost count of the long and undistinguished list of women who have actually passed through his bed sheets. His saving grace is that he can hook up some hair. He has, however, never hooked up mine. I personally find his arrogance and swagger a complete turn-off. He spends so much time blowing smoke up everyone’s butt about his prowess and skills that I’m willing to bet he’s only packing a small square inch with no idea how to use it. But again, he can hook up some hair.

With all his bragging and his pomposity, this man seriously failed Beauty Salon 101. His customer service skills leave much to be desired and although he mastered the art of curling and twirling he didn’t pass the stylist-client relationship exam. For me, hooking up some hair is only one true test of a good stylist. Client interaction is the other and clients like a stylist who listens. Sometimes as you’re getting weaved and waved you need a sympathetic ear. My boy spends so much of his time talking that he can’t hear what his clients might have to say.

Case in point, Deena (not her real name) came in to cancel her regular appointment and while there bemoaned a long list of tribulations. Deena was beside herself because the IRS had levied her checking account for unpaid taxes without prior notice. The bank then assessed overdraft charges for checks that hadn’t been able to clear and she was in the red for some five hundred plus dollars. Family and friends couldn’t or wouldn’t help her and she’d spent the day running interference with the electric company and her landlord about the checks that had been bounced due to Uncle Sam laying claim to her funds. Deena was in desperate need of a good scalp scratching and a sympathetic ear to tell her everything was going to be just fine, but she couldn’t afford to get her ’do done.

The sympathetic ear should have been free, but her stylist was too busy offering her a roll across his mattress to even catch a clue that the skills he wanted to provide didn’t even come close to what Deena was in desperate need of. He dismissed her when she didn’t bat an eyelash at his flirtations, turning his attention to a woman who was actually giggling over his antics. Had I been passing out a grade he would have gotten an F-minus, ‘cause not even hooking up some hair could have helped him make the grade.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Mr. Ben grabbed my breast. Claimed it was an accident but the old geezer had a grip on my bittie like he was hanging on for dear life. It caught me off guard because I wasn’t expecting it. Mr. Ben didn’t expect the slap I gave him either. It was reflex. Not enough to hurt but enough to get his attention. He grabbed and I popped him good. Then he apologized, but not before sharing that he had nicknamed my girls – Dove and Daisy. I let him know real quick that I don’t play like that and he better not think he can. And just as quickly as it happened, the awkward moment passed and Mr. Ben was back to his usual self like nothing had happened at all.

Seems Mr. Ben and the lady friend are officially on the outs with each other. Apparently her dragon is still fired up and he can’t be bothered anymore. Unfortunately his love connection with the new gal in the church choir isn’t happening like he’d hoped. Apparently girlfriend likes her men much younger and Mr. Ben is sporting just a touch too much gray for her liking. But he’s not giving up hope. He’s got his eye on a woman at the local diner. Something about him, her, and cherry pie that was just a touch more information than I was in the mood for.

I have to wonder if men ever stop thinking about sex? Is there ever an age when sportin’ wood stops being the exercise of choice? Mr. Ben will be 93 on his next birthday and I swear the man is more consumed with what he can do now at 92 than he ever worried about at 22. I just about wet my pants when he told me about his recent search for a porno movie that would help him “get to the gusto”. He wasn’t interested in your typical hardcore triple X pornography because that left nothing to the imagination. Apparently hardcore porn gets him going much too quick for his liking and he’s not interested in “getting to the finish line too quick”. He settled on a Kama Sutra video but it seems that has its drawbacks as well. Mr. Ben says neither he nor his lady friends can bend that way anymore. Bones be creaking and cracking so loud that they’re afraid one or the other might break something. And during the course of our conversation I realized why Mr. Ben keeps seeking out my attention and advice.

I write romance. Mr. Ben has never read any of my books in full, but he believes I just have to be writing how-to manuals. According to him, I must know what I’m doing to be able to write about how other folks are doing it. I tried to explain that I write about loving relationships and couples with regular problems just trying to get through a regular day, doing regular things. Unfortunately, Mr. Ben couldn’t comprehend that romance novels are about more than sex because why would all “us women be readin’ books like that” if we weren’t reading it for the “nookie”. The conversation served to remind me that Mr. Ben is an old man no matter how young his spirit. A dirty old man at that, with many a preconceived notion about what romance is and what it isn’t.

I still don’t think he got it, even though I tried to explain until I was blue in the face. Finally, I just gave him a copy of my newest book and sent him home to read. Told his dirty mind not to come back here until he’d read it from cover to cover, then we could talk. As he walked out the door, flipping through the pages, Mr. Ben was all grin, his wide smile beaming from one ear to the other. And then I couldn’t help wondering if he was happy about the book, or if Dove and Daisy were still on his old dirty little mind.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Damn, do my feet hurt! I’ve been parading around today on the cutest pair of high-heeled shoes and now I’m paying for it. There is good reason why I don’t do this often. Although I love the look of a stiletto, ‘dem bad boys do not love me and my toes. I was fine when I first put them on, standing in front of a full-length mirror admiring the way they flattered my tight calves. Since it’s been a while, I started with baby steps on the carpet, then moved to the hardwood floors. I practiced keeping my legs straight and close together. Had my knees locked so tight you’d have needed a crowbar to pry them babies apart. I wasn’t but so shaky on those first few steps and when it got good to me, I strutted like I was walkin’ a Paris runway during Fashion Week.

By the first hour I was feeling just a little warm in my cute shoes. By the second hour that little warm had turned into some serious heat and before I could finish my lunch and get out the restaurant good, my dogs were on fire! Now, I can still remember when I use to wear high heels every day, standard corporate attire for my conservative desk job. I don’t ever remember wanting to amputate my feet so I could stand up straight and get my butt home. Today I would have severed the appendages myself for some relief.

I’ll try them again in a year or two. As soon as I forget the pain I was feeling today ‘cause there ain’t that much cute in the world to get me to put on another pair any time soon.


I am enamored with a place I have never seen. It haunts me though, the largess of it coming to me when I’ve least expected it. I first dreamed of this place years ago, images coming through the snapshots of a nightmare. I remember waking up in a cold sweat, my heart racing with something that felt like fear but wasn’t, then feeling that if I could just find my way back, all in my life would be well. These dreams continued to disturb my sleep for months after and then one day, out of the blue, I discovered that this place of spirits actually existed and had a name…Kiawah Island.

Kiawah (pronounced KEE-a-wah) is now an island resort located just miles from Charleston, South Carolina. Kiawah’s history officially begins when it was “purchased” by the British from the Kiawah Indians for a sum of “cloth, hatchets, beads, and other goods”. Not long after, Kiawah was inhabited by hundreds of African slaves on two plantations. After the Civil War it was home to black freedmen and now it’s a summer haven for the wealthy. Kiawah is also a conservationist’s dream, its natural environment carefully protected despite its developing landscape. From what little history I’ve been able to unearth about Kiawah, I know that hundreds of black men, women, and children died there, their souls billowing over the marshes and lagoons. And Kiawah haunts me.

I’m a Southern girl at heart, which is quite funny to most who know me. As a child there was nothing about the South that charmed me. I was quite prissy and to hear my cousins tell it, very full of myself. Summer visits to my grandparent’s South Carolina farm usually ended abruptly with calls to come and get me quick. Some bug, some dirt, some farm animal inciting tears and tantrums until I could get back to more civilized life. Years ago when I moved to the rural farmland of North Carolina my family was shocked, convinced I had lost my mind. At the time I was convinced that I had finally found my way back home.

I’m now feeling that I haven’t gotten there yet. Dreams of Kiawah are still haunting me, stealing into my sleep and leaving me yearning for something that I don’t quite understand. I’m anxious to visit but there is something that holds me back. As if knowing that what I yearn to find might not be what I need it to be. As if knowing the stories I will find there aren’t yet ready to be told.

Monday, January 08, 2007


For the first time, I don’t have one writer’s lament. Nary a complaint or ill word. Nothing to bemoan or whine about. And I plan to keep it this way. And not to say anything has really changed with my situation but I’ve just decided to do what I do best and let the rest just do what it plans to do.

If one peruses the many writers’ blogs out here in never-never land, we writers spend as much time lamenting about our writing and the publishing industry as we do lauding our work or the work of others. Perhaps more when you add it all up because our many complaints sometimes seem endless: can’t find an agent, agent we got ain’t doin’ her job, bad reviews, no reviews, publisher complaints, writer’s block, editor issues, Oprah won’t answer our calls, and even Gayle is ignoring us!

Unless we‘re sitting pretty on the top of the best-seller’s lists, which most of us aren't, we seem to feel that little is going well with us and ours as we maneuver to master the art of our craft and the ever elusive master marketing plan that actually puts us on top of that best-seller list. Particularly for authors of color, feeling under-valued, disenfranchised, and just plain lost as we deal with the publishing industry’s many idiosyncrasies has become consuming.

And I’ve decided enough is enough. I’m a writer. What I do best is write. Bemoaning everything that’s not going how I might like interferes with my writing. It's keeping me from attaining my dreams. It’s energy that would be better served on a sheet of blank paper with a ball point pen in my hand. I am simply sick and tired of allowing what I cannot control, or change, interfere with me doing what I do best. And so I ain’t got no more complaints! All I have is a story to tell and all I need is a blank sheet of paper to put it on.

I believe that I can accomplish my goals with the help, grace and favor of God. And I believe in myself. I have faith that my destiny will be better served as long as I'm writing and not bemoaning the crap I can't do anything about. And I firmly believe it's that faith that will take my dreams to fruition. So, I ain't got no more complaints. Whatever happens with me and my writing will be what it will be.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


I sometimes have these random thoughts that don’t quite manifest into full posts simply because by the time I’m able to post, the thought suddenly seems trivial or other stuff has just gotten in the way of my writing anything of coherent length that I think someone might actually be interested in reading. My random thoughts sometimes come out as dribble, but even dribble has some degree of value so with the New Year I’ve decided not to waste anything of any value. And so I’ll DRIBBLE…

I typically enjoy the holidays with family and this holiday in particular there was lots of that. Cousins I haven’t seen in years came to town and we had a great time. There’s something just liberating about a room full of women who can laugh at them selves and each other as they reminisce over old times. And we did a lot of laughing. My son proclaimed himself scarred for life by some of the comments that came out of our mouths. What is also typical is that inevitably the conversation will wind around to one of my books and someone will always insist that they know who I was writing about or that I was writing about them. I have one family member who is insistent that every conversation my characters have ever had came from some interaction she and I have shared. I stopped denying it after book two. I figure it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if we rarely speak and could probably count on one hand the number of conversations she and I have shared that I’m not writing about her. Too bad my relative thinks she’s a rocket scientist.

If you have an opportunity there is an incredible book that I highly recommend all women read. I discovered it yesterday in my local library. The book is called, THE OTHER SIDE OF WAR - Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope by Zainab Salbi. This book speaks succinctly on how women suffer when men wage war against each other. It’s a heart-wrenching collection of photos and stories that simply boggle the mind. And it was a gut-thumping reminder that not everyone is able to lead a privileged life and we should surely be grateful for ours. The author is the founder of Women for Women International and her humanitarian efforts have known no bounds.

An acquaintance of my son’s came to my door and asked to use the telephone. It seems her boyfriend of three years had abandoned her along the side of the road. Ours was the first house she recognized and felt comfortable enough to ring the bell at. I offered to give her a ride home, but she refused it, just wanting her mother to come and get her. I knew there was nothing I could say to make her feel better and I was thankful that she had a mother she felt comfortable calling. All I could do was give her a tissue and a seat to sit on. When Mom knocked on the door, that child could no longer hold back her tears, sobbing into her mother’s arms as they headed for home. I hurt for her because I remember that kind of angst having experienced it once or twice when I was her age. Mom and I shared a look that said what neither of us really could. Knowing that our telling her that the hurt will eventually stop, that she deserves better, that no man should ever treat her so cruelly, wasn’t going to make her pain go away any time soon.

I have a friend who’s in love with a man who’s just a pound shy of being morbidly obese. Although he clearly has a hold on every inch of her heart she refuses to take their relationship to the next level and has, in my opinion, purposely tried to sabotage their friendship. It’s amazing that they have endured. I met her older sibling recently and it became crystal clear to me why she continues to hold herself at arms length. Her brother is also obese with extremely severe health issues. He is bedridden and totally dependent on their aging mother to care for his every need. When we left the family home, she was crying and I asked her what was wrong. She answered, “I can’t do that for the rest of my life. And I will not pass that burden on to any child of mine.” I didn’t bother to ask her what she meant because I knew. She’s afraid of the future that she and her man might have together as his weight deteriorates his health and so she’s denying herself an opportunity for happiness. I think she should be honest and tell him. I know she won’t.

In the past three weeks I've checked out 23 books from my local library. My to-be read stack is a mile high and I'm not reading as fast as I need to. The first five or six had to be renewed today and I did, preferring that over returning them because I haven't read them all yet. I really have to work on my obsessive, compulsive behavior.

Until the next time, have a safe and blessed day...

Monday, January 01, 2007


Had to have some resolutions to kick the the new year off right. Thought I'd try a different path from my usual lose weight, write a book, stop a bad habit list from the previous years. So here are my 2007 New Year's Resolutions:

1. I will keep on keeping on with the exercise and let this diet thing just do what it plans to do.

2. It being better to give than to receive shall be my daily mantra.

3. There will be nothing that I cannot accomplish once I put my mind to it and I fully intend to put my mind to a whole lot of stuff.

4. I will not sweat the small stuff.

5. Come September I will welcome my empty nest with open arms and revel in every minute of my ME time. (And I swear I will not call my baby boy every hour to see if he needs anything!)

6. I will not harbor animosity and bitterness or give temptation and loathing a home in my heart.

7. I will greet each day with a smile and a prayer and give thanks each night before dropping my head on any pillow.

8. I will indulge in those things that bring me joy and not feel guilty about doing so.

9. I will own those things I want for myself and not allow the disapproval or doubt from others influence my goals.

10. I will embrace my flaws as readily as I embrace my favors because they are what they are and make me all that I am. I will love everything about me.