Thursday, February 27, 2014


A repairman came over the other day and the first thing I noticed when I opened the door was how green he looked.

“You have any Dramamine?” he asked. “Your road up here is so bad, I nearly lost my lunch!”

The problem was, he wasn’t joking. The main road to my house, Deerfield Road, probably could make the Guinness Book of World Records for having bred the largest number of frost heaves in a single month. An aerial view of the road looks like a topographical map of the Himalayas. Without exaggeration, if you drove your car on the roller coaster’s track at Canobie Lake Park, it would be a smoother ride than on Deerfield Road.

When I went to the store the other night, I decided to take the dogs for a ride with me. Big mistake. A few hundred frost heaves later, they were giving a different meaning to the word “heave”…all over the back seat.

I guess the term “frost heaves” isn’t as widely known in the rest of the country as it is in New England. I remember when we had company from Maryland one winter and they asked us, “What the heck are frost heaves? We saw signs everywhere on our drive up here!”

My husband jokingly told them the signs referred to a large family named Frost who often took out their rage on passing cars and “heaved” things at them.

I think our guests believed him.

And if the frost heaves on Deerfield Road weren’t bad enough, they are interspersed with potholes the size of dinner plates. The road looks as if it’s been blasted with giant shotgun shells.

Because of the condition of the road, I have been avoiding going out this winter. When I do venture out to the supermarket, I buy so many groceries, you’d think I was preparing for the Apocalypse. But that’s so I won’t have travel on the road again for at least a couple more weeks. Having the fillings in my teeth jarred loose really doesn’t appeal to me.

Naturally, I drive very slowly on the road – mainly because I don’t want to leave my car’s exhaust system in a pothole. This inevitably results in some vehicle zooming up behind me and riding my bumper. The last one came so close to my car, when I looked in the rearview mirror, I thought the driver was sitting in my back seat.

In an effort to lose him, I stepped on the gas…just as I came to the Queen Mother of all frost heaves. I think some of my hair is still stuck in my car’s dome light.

Yesterday I received a call to schedule maintenance on my house’s generator system. After I made the appointment, I warned the guy who called, “You’d better take some motion-sickness pills first. The road up here is so bumpy, it’s like being in a rowboat out in the middle of the ocean during a storm.”

 “Really?” he asked.

 “Believe me, I’m not exaggerating.”

 “Thanks for the warning,” he said. He paused before adding, “Hmmm…now which of my employees don’t I like?  I’ll send him over.”

I was watching the Olympics the other night and they were showing some of the athletes training for a skiing event called the moguls, where they ski downhill over an endless assortment of huge bumps. This results in the skiers having to ski in a position where their knees practically are touching their chins. All I could think about as I watched them was how much the moguls course looked like Deerfield Road. I figured the skiers should come here to train. If they can conquer these bumps, they’ll be certain to win the gold.

When I had my car inspected a few weeks ago, the mechanic said I should think about getting it aligned. I laughed and told him I’ll wait until spring.

By then, I expect to have hit enough bumps to throw the car back into alignment on its own.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I’m beginning to think I have the world’s weirdest sleeping hours. The problem is, lately I haven’t been sleeping, no matter what the hour.

I’ve always been a night owl. When most people are on their way home from work, I’m just waking up. I eat breakfast at four in the afternoon. I eat supper at eleven at night. I just can’t seem to adjust to a normal schedule.

Lately, however, it’s become even worse. The other morning, for example, I went to bed at eleven and then woke up at six in the evening. I have room-darkening shades in my bedroom that make it look the same in there (dark) no matter what time of day it is, so I never have any trouble falling asleep, even when it’s broad daylight outside.

But a little over a week ago, all of that changed.

For some reason, I began to suffer from insomnia. I’d always prided myself on the fact I could fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow. But lately, I go to bed and just lie there. An hour goes by and I’m still awake. Two hours later, the same. I have no idea why. I don’t drink coffee, my bed is comfortable, I don’t feel stressed out about anything and I don’t have any aches or pains.

Because I can’t fall asleep, things that never bothered me before are bothering me now. For one, there’s my clock on the nightstand. It ticks. So as I’m lying there, all I hear now is, “tick…tick...tick.”  And it seems to get louder with every tick.  I like the clock and don’t want to get rid of it because it has a loud alarm, which I need, and great big numbers on the face, which I also need.

So I bought earplugs. They successfully tuned out the ticking, but because they also blocked all other exterior sounds, they seemed to amplify the interior ones – mainly the ones inside my body.

There was my heartbeat, which suddenly sounded like a bass drum, “tha-thump, tha-thump, thumpa-thumpa” (I probably should have a doctor check out that last one) and drove me crazy. Then there was my stomach, “grrrrowwwl, grrrrowwwl,” in stereo. I finally couldn’t stand the torture any more and took out the earplugs, figuring the clock’s ticking was the lesser of two evils.

My answering machine also happens to be in my bedroom. Even though I always shut off the ringer and turn off the volume when I go to bed, the machine still makes a single “beep” sound whenever someone leaves a message. Five days in a row last week at exactly the same time, 9:15 a.m., the answering machine beeped once. And every day, the message left was nothing but a hang-up call. The machine identified the caller as a satellite-TV company. Lack of sleep caused me to become irritated, mainly because that one beep every day jolted me wide awake when I was trying to doze off.

So on the sixth day, I was ready. I stayed up and waited for the annoying satellite-TV call.

“Hello?” I practically growled into the receiver when the phone rang.

“Hi there! How are you today?” the cheerful male voice responded. “I have a gift for you!  Free HBO for a month! How does that sound to you?”

Let’s just say that my response pretty much guaranteed he’ll never be calling me and making my machine beep again when I’m trying to sleep.

A couple days ago, it wasn’t until noon when I finally managed to nod off. Up until that point, I’d pounded my pillow into submission, added a blanket to the bed because I was cold, then removed it because I was too hot; adjusted my pajamas a dozen times because they were either bunching up, sliding down, twisting or giving me a wedgie, and I also got up to go to the bathroom twice. After that, I finally fell asleep, probably due to exhaustion.

“Aroooh!  Aroooh!” came from outside my bedroom door. It was my dog, Raven.

“Go to sleep!” I muttered and pulled the blankets over my head.

“Aroooh!  Aroooh!” she continued.

I ignored her. I wasn’t about to get out of bed and risk becoming wide awake, then be forced to struggle for another two hours to fall asleep again. So I ignored Raven and managed to go back to sleep fairly quickly.

When I got out of bed four hours later, I discovered that Raven had left me a surprise on the rug, as if to say, “That’ll teach you to ignore me when I cry to go out, you old hag! Take that!”

The other morning, as I once again was lying in bed and dealing with insomnia, I decided to try the age-old remedy of counting sheep jumping one by one over a fence. By the time I counted sheep number 53, I was picturing it surrounded by tomato chunks, onions and green peppers, all grilling on a shish-kabob skewer.

“Grrrrowwwl,” said my stomach.

I’ve decided I probably just should stay up 24 hours a day and not bother going to bed at all. So if you happen to see me out in public, I’ll be the one with such dark circles around my eyes, people will be calling me “Raccoon Woman.”





Thursday, February 6, 2014


To me, January has always seemed like the longest and most boring month of the year. After all the excitement of the Christmas holidays, January comes in with a bang and then falls as flat as a tire running over a spike-strip. So I have been passing my time this January by doing something new to keep myself occupied.

I’m writing a thriller – a novel I’m hoping will scare people right out of their thermal underwear.

The idea for the book came to me when I was walking the dogs one day. I thought of a great beginning and a real shocker of an ending – the kind of ending I just knew would leave people’s mouths hanging open – the kind of ending that would rival the one in the movie, “Planet of the Apes,” where Charlton Heston thinks he’s on some strange, freaky planet run by apes, then winds up on a deserted beach where he sees the Statue of Liberty’s crown, torch and arm sticking up out of the sand… and realizes he’s been on Earth the entire time.

The only problem with my great idea for my thriller was I needed something to fill the 200 or so pages in between the enticing beginning and the shocking ending. But I felt pretty certain that as I wrote, the words would come to me – that they’d just magically flow from my fingertips and onto the keyboard.

So at the end of the first week of January, I sat down with my trusty old laptop computer and started to write. Too soon I discovered that after writing humor for over 20 years, I knew about as much about writing a thriller as I did about writing a training manual for astronauts.

Surprisingly, the writing actually went pretty well, and plot ideas began popping into my head as quickly as I could type them (which actually wasn’t all that fast, if you ever saw me type). My best ideas, however, always seemed to come to me in the dead of night, for some reason – and they soon began to wreak havoc on my already overworked imagination.

It was close to midnight one night when I was writing about a woman who woke up because she’d heard a noise in her bedroom that sounded like heavy, raspy breathing. In the darkness, she reached to turn on the lamp on her nightstand and ended up touching a man’s icy hand.

I succeeded in scaring myself so much, I turned on every light in the house and left them on until daylight.

Then the other night while I was writing, I kept hearing creaking noises in the basement. I thought it was my imagination working overtime again, but one of my dogs walked over to the furnace grate and growled down into it.  That did it. I was convinced some prison escapee or alien creature was hiding in my basement. And even though the basement door that opens into the house has a lock on it, I propped a chair under the doorknob, just to be doubly safe. I haven’t gone downstairs since, for fear that something with tentacles and four eyeballs is lurking under the staircase, just waiting to pounce on me. And if I need something from the basement, like mailing-boxes or bubble wrap, I figure I’ll just go out and buy it instead.

The weird thing about me when I’m writing is I have to be watching TV at the same time. When I try to write in a completely quiet environment with nothing but my book to think about, I fall asleep.

So a couple Saturday nights ago during a snowstorm, I was writing on my thriller while simultaneously watching a movie called, “Flowers in the Attic,” where a mother intentionally was feeding her children donuts dusted with rat poison in place of powdered sugar. That in itself was creepy enough, but I was writing about a woman being murdered in her bathroom. So I was feeling twice as spooked.

That’s when the power, probably cackling with fiendish glee, decided to go out. I froze, my heart racing. Was it the storm, I wondered, or had something human – or, heaven forbid, inhuman – deliberately caused the blackout?

Even when my automatic generator kicked in (thank goodness) and all of the lights popped back on, I still wondered if that brief period of total darkness had allowed someone to gain access to the house.

After that, I couldn’t enter a room without checking behind the doors.  I even got down on the floor and looked under the beds, expecting to find something with yellow glowing eyes lying there staring back at me. I didn’t find anything scary under the beds – unless you count the dust bunnies, blanket lint and clumps of dog fur. I made a mental note to dig out my dust mop.

To date, I’ve written 36,000 words on my book. Last night, as I was writing, I noticed that a steak knife from the kitchen was lying next to me on the sofa cushion. I jumped up, certain it was a sadistic clue from a killer, who probably was hiding right behind the sofa.

Then I remembered the knife had been on my plate while I was eating dinner on the sofa earlier. It must have fallen off when I took the plate out to the kitchen.

The main character in my book is a woman who has haunting, evil-looking green eyes, so I decided I’d like to feature those eyes on the cover of my book. Out of curiosity, I checked all over the Internet for the perfect eyes, but nothing really struck me. Finally, it dawned on me that I have green eyes.

I got out my makeup kit and made up my eyes to look “evil.”  Then I shoved my camera in my face and snapped a photo (a flash photo, mind you) of them. When I could see again, I thought the eyes in the photo definitely looked evil.  In fact, I can’t even look in the mirror now without scaring myself.

You know, I’m seriously thinking about sticking only with humor writing from now on.