Oh Shit

Dear Followers of www.donnaeverhart.com


I did mention that website change, didn’t I?  Are you finding me?  No?  This is what happens when they let me have hold of the power tools.

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Juuust kidding.  I haven’t been doing the work, but, here’s what has been going on – without getting too far into the weeds.  The website is now redesigned.  As part of that redesign, it is also being supported by a new web-hosting entity.  These back end changes to enable that have resulted in two sites.

Old.  New.

You are likely not getting to the old site if you have it bookmarked.  Even though the old site could have been found under http://www.donnaeverhart.com, it was really www.donnaeverhart.wordpress.com.

That’s how you would find it today.

Meanwhile, the new site is here.  But, then I noticed my stats showed zero visitors to the new site.  And that I had zero (!!!) followers.  Which made me…

crying-woman

Hmmm.  What could be the problem?

Ah.  All of you are over there on – I mean here – on the old site – and maybe not even here because of “broken” links. (bookmark).  Yikes.  What I didn’t know was creating the new site would leave you behind.  I thought it would be a seamless transfer.

The question is, have you missed me?  If so, I would love it if you would follow me over at the new place.  Check it out.  See what you think.  At the bottom of each page, you’ll see how to follow my blog – again.

I hope to see you, HERE!

monarch-favorite

 

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White Noise – Redux


I posted this on my blog in November of 2014.  Considering all that I’m seeing, watching and hearing, I thought it might be worthwhile to dredge it up and post again.  I’ve become sort of…what’s the word, disenchanted? Dismayed? Disillusioned? 

Assume what you will after reading.  You won’t hear a peep about it from me.  🙂

ORIGINAL POST, 2016 updates in italics:

On this blog,when it comes to certain topics, this is what you’ll get:

WHITE NOISE

WHITE NOISE

When I started http://www.donnaeverhart.com back in early 2011, my intention was to focus on what was happening with my writing, with occasional family stuff thrown in, a book review here and there, photographs I’ve taken (strictly amateur), and whatever else I could dredge up I thought interesting.  I knew there would be certain topics I would steer clear of, and to this day, I’ve held true to that conviction.  (2016 update – yep, still the same!)

Topics I am determined not to post about are my religious, political, or ripped from the headlines viewpoints.  And that’s because everywhere I turn, from the TV, to radio, to Facebook, to other blogs, and who knows where else, that’s what I already get.  What do I have to add to the fray?  Nothing that hasn’t already been said.

Anyone can do what they want with their social media.  I don’t care.  It’s their space, their time, just as this space is mine.  Sure, I’ve waded into debates on other sites here and there a few times.  With the last one, I decided never again.  (2016 update – I’ve forgotten about this. Must’ve been real important.)   To the best of my ability, I’ve chosen to ignore being drawn into what can only become an inflammatory conversation.  The few comments  I did make on other blogs never made me feel better, and I knew I wasn’t going to sway any opinions no matter how many facts I lobbed over the internet fence.  It is/was, in my opinion, time wasted.  Besides, too much can be lost in this sort of online dialogue.  Sometimes the hot button topics are just too sensitive and difficult to parse into words that will go out to be consumed without that personal touch of voice modulation (are they yelling?), gestures, (slamming a hand down?) and eye contact, (or not) and a myriad of other human interactions. 

There are some who are very good at sharing their opinions with the right sense of diplomacy, yet no matter how eloquent they may be, somebody’s gonna get pissed.  Somebody’s gonna disagree.  It’s a no win situation.  Call me chicken.  Call me weak.  Hey, maybe call me…smart?  I have viewpoints on all of it, but, do you honestly care what I think about religion, politics or the latest news event?  I doubt it – especially if my opinion differs.

My other point is, what does any of that have to do with my writing goals and journey?  Not a thing.  In my opinion, it would be a turn off if you came  to read about the usual stuff I’m blathering on about, and got blasted with my personal opinions.  It’s not relevant to this writerly space which I consider almost sacred.

In that regard, here will always be like white noise, because there are already more than enough sideline analysts and commentators out there.

Aren’t you glad? 

Here.  Here’s some cloud pictures to look at.  I do a lot of sky gazing.  Every time I look at clouds, that Joni Mitchell song comes to mind, but this stanza where she replaces “clouds” with “life” seems appropriate.

“I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all.”

~Joni Mitchell~

 

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Great Expectations


This wasn’t an easy post to write.  I’ve sat on it for days, thinking about it, and wondering if I should write about this topic at all.  It’s likely (probably) premature for me to even think the way I am, but I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, I’m what I call an “advance worrier.”  Meaning, I worry about sh*t in advance, and likely when I shouldn’t.  Can’t.  Help.  It.  Blame Mom.  Hey, I blame her. Dad never got overly concerned about much, while Mom worries about EVERYTHING.  Here’s a snippet of our conversation recently:

Me:  Hey, what’re you doing?

Mom:  Oh, I just got this disclaimer in the mail from Medicare.

Me:  What does it say?

Mom:  That my MRI might not be covered.

Me:  Mom, we talked about this before, that’s just a standard form letter they send out.

Mom:  But they say they might not cover it.

Me:  They will.

Mom:  I don’t know.  I’m going to call them.

Me:  Do whatever you need to do for peace of mind.  So, what else is going on?

Mom:  I think I saw a snake in the yard yesterday.  I better not work outside today.

Me:  That was yesterday, it’s long gone by now.  Go get some fresh air.

Mom:  I don’t know.  The damn thing could be hiding under a bush somewhere.  Waiting.

I think I’m about a 50/50 mix of Mom’s worry and Dad’s non-ruffly nature.  Then I get something like what I’m about to say here in my head, and I even worry about my level of…worry.  Yeah, worry about worrying.  How’s that?  Then I feel that I start to sound like Mom.

Anyway.  Here’s where my head’s at.  There was a slow build up via social media comments and emails which ultimately led to my understanding my debut book is an in-house favorite with my publisher, Kensington.  (heart, be still.)  This is, in the words of a few, a really good thing and hopefully means the book will also do well once it lands in stores.  Like I told my husband, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving.

Meanwhile, for the last several months, I’ve been working on my next project.  It’s a good story – if I can do it justice. (worry!)  Set in 1940, and told from the perspective of the fourteen year old daughter,  Wallis Ann Stamper, it’s about a singing family living in Appalachia who lose their home and all their possessions after a flood.  (the flood is based on historic fact)  Hunger and cold force them to leave, and try to make a living singing.  They eventually join a traveling show, where family bonds are further tested by certain events.

THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE, and this current book, working title THE ROAD TO BITTERSWEET, are very different, yet I can’t help but worry about comparisons.  Stuck in my head is the idea DIXIE DUPREE is of a different caliber because I had years to work on it, tweak it, massage it, fluff it.  PERFECT it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the story of BITTERSWEET, but I won’t have the same sort of time to work, tweak, massage, fluff, and so I wonder – is it as good as it can be?  I don’t know.

I’ve still got some time here, and my intentions, of course, are to only send my best work – yet, (again) what if?  What if it’s not perceived in the same way as DIXIE?  No matter the stories being different, it’s about the writing.  Right?  There are expectations here – from myself, my agent, my editor, the publisher.  What if there’s head scratching?  Perplexity?  DISMAY?  Even a bunch of WTF’s?  The thought, “how did she write DIXIE DUPREE, then write…this?  I don’t even know what…this…is.”

You know what?  I hate to disappoint people, that’s what it boils down to.  I don’t like folks receiving something from me with a certain level of expectation, only to serve them up a good dose of disappointment.  What I want is for there to be the same level of enthusiasm, and excitement, and all that other great stuff – which came rather unexpectedly with DIXIE DUPREE – to happen with this story.  All the good things said about my debut have me worrying about the possible expectations with this new work.

Maybe I’m crazy to think this way – you know, before I’m even out of the gate, so to speak.  And thus, I begin worry about my worrying.  If only my worry quotient was a little more swayed, leaning more to Dad’s way versus Mom’s.  More like 80/20.

Pink room?  Softy cushy walls?  Is that what you’re thinking? 

creative-writing

 

 

There Is Nothing There


Summer evening, late. The road traveled lies within city limits, moonlight over a pastured landscape, blackened shadows of barns line a ridge while cattle bed down within a barbed wire fence.  Along the road moves a car, sporty red, fairly new, the driver, a young woman.  She’s tired, her fatigue earned by a previous late night and then an all day job, followed by another late night.

She drives with windows down, a sultry breeze skims in and out, occasionally scented with mowed grass and wild lavender.  A pop station plays a top forty list, barely audible.  The road is as familiar as the rest of her routines.  It is the route home.

Her mind wanders over the day, and the evening.  She’s just left the home of a friend.  She should have been in bed hours before.  An internal thought floats, I’m too tired to be out driving, followed by a vague movement in her peripheral vision.  She automatically turns her head to see-only it’s not possible anything could be there, just outside a car going forty-five m.p.h.  She’s right.

There is nothing there.

Another thought blooms, I’m so tired I’m seeing things.  Seconds later, a row of mailboxes snagged by the car’s high beams also captures the surprising view of an old man.  He is bent over, as if to pick up something on the ground, while glancing back at her over his shoulder.  She swerves to avoid him, and looks at her rear view mirror.

There is nothing there.

Inexplicably, she is filled with a sense of dread.  As she passes an old abandoned house, she senses something, a presence, a nightmare quality awareness entering the car.  The passenger seat, she feels she shouldn’t look there.  She can’t explain why.  Heart rate elevates, hands get sticky on the wheel as she tells herself, act normal.  Act like nothing is wrong.  Turn up the radio.  Sing, if you can.  At the old grist mill, even if the light is red, go through it, DON’T STOP.  You can’t stop.

She can’t explain why she’s having these thoughts, yet, her hand goes to the radio and music fills the car.  She hums because she can’t form words.  She thinks of the word evilUninvited evil.  The stop light is at the bottom of a long hill.  It’s RED.  She swallows and her heart bumps erratically.  Foot on the gas, her driving is somehow steady.  She keeps humming.  The grist mill is to her right. The old wheel is turning, and frothy water spills in a cascade.  She hasn’t slowed down.  The light is still red.

Twenty feet from the light.  She is going too fast.  She plans to run it.

It flips to green.

Ascending the hill beyond the light, she is suddenly at peace.  The past minute or so dissolves into night air.  There is no explanation for what she just experienced, only relief she no longer feels that strange sense of foreboding.

If I wrote horror stories, I’d use this material in some way, as a beginning for someone’s world falling apart, where they can’t tell what’s real, what’s not, are they crazy, or are they really experiencing events which get more bizarre and scary.  But I don’t write horror, and in some ways I’m glad, I almost scared myself writing this.  🙂

And here’s the thing,  this is a true story.  This happened to me about twenty-five years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it.  So why make a blog post about it now?  Because…about a month ago, I watched Abigail for the day.  I took her to my Mom’s for a visit, and the drive to take Abigail back home took me down this road for the first time in many years.  I thought about it for the first time in a long while.  My question has always been, what the heck happened?  What WAS that?

What do you think it was?

Dark Hwy

 

 

 

Sweet, Blissful Sleep


An update.

Remember this post?

It got worse before it got better.  Obviously we’d been hearing “noises” for a while.  After the last rant about this issue, we went right out and bought one of those Hav-A-Hart traps – only, we didn’t use it right away.  Maybe it was the holiday crush, or maybe the thought that because it was warm outside – it would stay outside.  Ha.

And then?  Worse arrived.  Not only did the activity pick up, it moved about, migrating from the upstairs doorways and the hardwood floors directly below our feet to…the kitchen area and the ceiling over our very heads.  It also began to act as if it had an alarm clock.  Promptly at 6:00 p.m. every night it would get started.  There it was!  In the wall by the buffet.  The wall behind the cabinets.  The cabinet with the double oven.  We’d be listening to the news, enjoying our end of the day wind down, and here would come the interloper, the unwanted guest.

We went from non-action to all out war.  I called a pest control company.  Great guys.  They gave us advice.  Squirrels, they said.

“But…(said I) squirrels are diurnal, not nocturnal.  We are hearing this thing starting at 6:00 every night – the squirrels are in bed.”

“Not if they have an attic to play in.”

“Oh.  Great.  So, it’s true, we have squirrel squatters.”

Smile.  “Yes ma’am.”

So, they sprayed for bugs.  Set off some bombs.  For bugs.  And threw out some rodent plugs (for mice, not squirrels).  Once that was done (yay, at least there would be no more creepy pine beetles as big as a surfboard) a suggestion was made by one of the guys.

“I saw you have one of those traps?”

“Yeah.  We haven’t used it yet.”

“Maybe put it in the attic and see what you get.”

Hm.  Our plans exactly except we hadn’t done it.  It was like we wanted it to disappear by…magic?

So, late afternoon that same day we got out the trap, loaded it up with peanut butter, and put it in the smaller section of attic that is directly over the kitchen.

We shut the little attic door, went downstairs and waited for the antics to commence.  Promptly at 6:05 p.m. scritch scratch, scurry, scurry.  It was hard not to get out the broom and bang on the ceiling like I’d been doing.  I tuned it out – sort of.

Next day, I checked the trap.  Doors still up, nothing.  Second night, 6:02 p.m., (I swear this thing had a wrist watch) the noises began again.  I ignored what sounded like a full blown race being conducted above my head best as I could.  Later on, around 8:30 or so, I realized there was no noise.  I figured it’s moved to another wall – it’s done this before, this little, wily “whatever.”

Next day.  I was cleaning house, and remembered, oh, I need to check the trap.  Might as well do it now.   I opened the little crawl space door, (screeeee) stuck the flashlight in, and felt a little ba-bump of my heart when I saw the trap doors were DOWN!  I’ll admit, I was a little scared – for some reason.  WHAT IS IT?  What’s in THERE?  WHAT IF IT’S A SNAKE! It was soooo quiet.  Too quiet.  Even when I had opened up that noisy door and panned the light over the cage.  Silence.

What was it, you ask?  Well, let me show you.

THIS.  And, it had been quiet because it had pulled in all the insulation it could grab with it’s ever so cute little paws, made a nest and was SLEEPING.

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Tell me that’s not the sweetest, most adorable face?!?!  Look….at it.  I just wanted to hold it and pet it.

All of my aggravation?  Pffft.  This was not what I expected.  A Southern Flying Squirrel.

I’ll admit, I had no idea we had them here because I’ve never seen one.  Ever.  I used to when we lived in Michigan, back when I was in 3rd and 4th grade.

Here?  Nope.

So, I got the cage out carefully.  Put it in the back of my vehicle and took him (her?) off to the Rail Trail, where I opened the hatch and out it flew – well not literally, I mean it ran fast.  Because they ARE very fast.

Freedom!  S/he’s a little hard to see, but there’s the backside with the tail draped over a branch.  It was the flat tail that gave it away to Blaine.  Soon as I described it and showed him these pics, he said, “look up flying squirrel.”

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So far, so good.  No new noises.  Yay!  No more worries about the house burning down due to chewed wires.  Yippeee!

Instead, now I’m worried about the cold snap and how this little one will fare.

I got “the look” from hubby on that one.

He knows I’m tenderhearted through and through, a real pushover – until something keeps me awake.  Grrrr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep


Early to bed, early to rise, that’s how I operate best.  If I lose any sleep, even a couple hours, I can feel it.  I spend the day yawning, out of sorts, and though I might get everything done I’d planned on, my typical energy levels lag behind having a hard time catching up.

And I’ve lost sleep the last few nights.

Because of this:

Squirrel

Yeah.  Him.  Or her.  Well, not exactly him/her, but one in my yard.  I mean look at that.  That casual position of ownership.  The smirky look as if to say, “What?  You think you own that house?  The one right there which I’m sure was built as part of my pathway to the other side where I can launch myself into a tree, going branch to branch thereby escaping all your silly shots at me with the water hose?  Pfft.  What were you thinking?”

I don’t mind squirrels.  I swear.  I’ve fed them all through the spring and summer.  I’ve let them gobble up the seed I’d bought for the birds, without one bit of resentment.  The only time I get irked with the little suckers is when they TEAR SH** UP.  Or INVADE my home.  (am I yelling?  Sorry)

The other night I go upstairs to shower and, by George, what’s that noise?  I pause, hold my breath, cock my head and listen.  Scritch, scritch, crunch, crunch, scratch, scratch.  I could actually feel myself go hot.  Squirrels in the attic is one thing – how about squirrels IN THE WALLS?  (there I go again)

When I report this latest finding to my husband, he says “I counted five dining on your birdseed the other day.”

Me, “Hmph.”

He continues, “The pecan trees attract them, and you feeding them doesn’t help.”

I’ve lost sleep.  I’m feeling like a cranky two year old.

I say, “I’m not feeding them.”

He replies, “Okay, but, they need thinning out.”

Thinning out?  You mean kill them?  Isn’t that against the law?

He was right.

There we are.  Harnett County.  Geez, eight a day???

Last night, here we go again.  Same noises, louder, waking us up as usual at 3:00 a.m.  We get up and do what we’ve been doing.  Go across the hall to “The Room The Squirrels Own,” and hammer fists on the walls, the door frame, jump up and down in the middle of the room.  Imagine how conducive that is to falling back asleep.

Maybe we could try to trap them.  Some neighbors down the road said they’d trapped the ones getting into their tomatoes.  Hauled them little ba****ds right on down the road and let them out in the country.

Funny how you can forget.  I reminded my husband they were in the house last year.  I woke up one night in early Spring to the sound of a pecan rolling across the bedroom floor.  We got up, flipped on the light and he/she froze in place – a youngster, but IN THE HOUSE.  WE made like the squirrel ourselves and froze.  I want you to know, it did that funny head bob thing, checking us out, then it took the time to pick up the pecan before it ran back the way it had come, *poof* down through the hole for plumbing in the bathroom we’re renovating – like a rabbit disappearing down a hole.  We blocked the area, the weather turned warm – problem solved.

Not.

Now they have come back, and are finding it oh so much fun to be in the walls.  All I can think is what if they chew through wiring creating an expensive repair – or worse?

Our electrician said, “You don’t want to come home one day and find your house burnt up.”

Gee.  Thanks for that visual.  But, no we don’t, and he’s right.

So, I don’t know what we’re going to do, and none of the answers seem simple.  Trapping means pulling furniture out of the way in the upstairs hall, pulling down the ladder from the attic, climbing up, setting a trap, closing it all back up, and then re-doing all of that to check it every day.  My husband’s solution makes me feel like I’ve set them up for slaughter.

Meanwhile, I’m t.i.r.e.d. and with the new WIP needing my full attention, and the holidays coming, I really don’t need tired.  I’ll be weary enough from all that.

Have you ever had this problem, and if so, what in the world did you do?

 

 

What Could Have Happened


Last week I was at Mom’s house, where I’ve been going once a week now since Dad died.  Of course I take Little Dog with me.

I mean, what person in their right mind would/could leave this little guy behind?

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He loves to visit her.  He loves her backyard.  I’ve not worried one bit about him while there.  And then?  Last week something happened and I’m still not over it.  It shook me up to the point I just wish I could erase the memory because all I can seem to do is replay over and over what could have happened.

Avent Ferry Road is where my father, his father, and his father’s father lived, all of their lives.  My dad told me when he was growing up, it was a dirt road, and at some point, it was paved and became two lanes.  When I was about twelve, the City of Raleigh came through with a widening project, and under that rule of “eminent domain,” they took over half of the front yard.   The road went from two lanes to five.  During the project they piled up truck load after truck load of dirt, to the point that by the end, the driveway was at a ridiculous angle, and had become this short steep hill alongside the house.  If you aren’t familiar with pulling in, you’d just as soon pass it by rather than drop in for a visit.

Back to last week.  Mom and I were in the front yard.  Little Dog, who’s been there many times, was with us.  He’s been taught not to go up the three small steps which lead to the steep driveway and to the five lanes of cars whizzing by on their way to NC State Centennial Campus, or whereever it is they go.  I was trying to dig a hole to plant a small bush.

The dirt was like cement due to lack of rain and Mom said, “Let me go get you the pick axe.”

I kept chipping away at the soil, realizing it was pretty useless with the shovel, and thinking I doubt I’m getting this bush planted. Mom came back and I started swinging the pick axe (determined you could say) and finally, after a few minutes of useless chopping at red CLAY, I gave up.

Then, I spotted some poison ivy growing on that ridiculously slanted embankment, and Mom said, “Let me get a plastic bag to put it in and some gloves you can wear before you pull it up.”

She came back, snapped the bag open and I pulled on the gloves and began cramming the poison ivy into the bag.  I realize now when I think back on the work, I’d not thought of Mister. I realize I didn’t keep an eye on him.  I know now, that something spooked him in the time she went to get the bag and came back.

I was bent over pulling at weeds, and she said, “Uh oh.  Donna.  Mister’s in the driveway.”

I looked up and sure enough.  He was standing halfway up it, staring at me.  Do you know how hard it is to control emotions, to keep panic out of your voice, to think clearly when the potential for disaster is so, so close.  TOO close.

I did the wrong thing in that split second.

Alarmed, I raised my voice, “Mister!  No!”

I went up the three steps in split seconds, but Mister, sensing some other “thing” in my voice, bolted.  Up the rest of the drive.  Right to the edge of the highway.  My focus became warped as I saw the backdrop of speeding cars, his hair blowing from their passing, and all I felt was absolute gut wrenching panic.

Frantic, my voice high pitched, I yelled at him again – another mistake, “Mister!  Mister!  No!  Come here!”

Cars didn’t bother slowing down.  He’s less than 4 lbs.  Who would see him?  He cut left and ran down the sidewalk.  Parallel to the road.  I waved my arms at traffic, hoping I could get them to stop, hoping they’d see the fear on my face, hoping they’d see this little dog running for dear life.

I couldn’t seem to control myself, “No!  MISTER!  MISTER!  OH GOD!”

I needed them to STOP.  Instead.  I did the hardest thing there is to do.  I stopped myself from running after him.  I realized it was his only chance.  If I kept running after him, he’d possibly dart right into an oncoming car.

I crouched down on the sidewalk.  He was still running away from his human, the one who’d lost her mind, the one who was no longer the person he knew and trusted.

I pleaded with him,  “Ohhh, that’s a good boy.  Yes, he’s a good boy.  Good boy.”

I see this moment as clearly as if it were happening now.  He immediately turned, and ran towards me, towards my outstretched arms, my fingers splayed like I have them when I want to pick him up.

And I got him.  And I cried – all the way down that stupid sidewalk, and down that ridiculously steep driveway, and into the rock hard dirt filled yard where Mom stood frozen.

I had him.  He was okay.  Still frightened, but it was like he knew I was too, because all he did was lick my tears.

I love this little dog.  And I can’t stop thinking about it.

DSCF0786

Mister, a.k.a. The Bundle, on Mom’s back porch.

What If?


Recently, I had something so unexpected happen, I was in a state of sheer panic for a couple of hours.

Last Tuesday I was in front of my laptop doing what I do.  The phone rang, and as usual, when I didn’t recognize the number, I ignored the call.  A couple hours later, I happened to look down at the small cordless handset beside me, and saw the tiny amber light blinking, meaning I had a voice mail.

I dialed in, and heard this, “This message is for Donna Everhart.  Ms. Everhart, this is Lieutenant Terrell with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department, Warrants and Records Division.  This is related to a court matter.  Please call me at your earliest convenience.” 

A court matter?  I couldn’t imagine what this was about.  I’d not had any speeding tickets in decades.  It had to be some sort of mistake, so, I called the number thinking I’d fix this pronto.  Ha.

“This is Lt. Terrell.”

“This is Donna Everhart, returning your call.”

“Donna Everhart?”

“Yes.”

“At…”

“Yes.”

“Ms. Everhart, I’m contacting you regarding grand jury selection.  And regarding the two warrants I have for your arrest.”

“What?  Warrants for my arrest?  For what?!?!”

“Ms. Everhart, on March 17th, a letter was sent to you from the Harnett County Superior Court in regards to grand jury selection.  It was expected that you would appear in court on April 14th.  You did not appear in court, and Judge Faircloth has cited you with failure to appear, and these warrants have been issued, and are about to be activated.”

“Wait a minute, that’s impossible!  I never received any letter!”

“Ma’am, okay, you can dispute it, but, I have right here, a copy of the letter which was sent.  And now, Judge Faircloth has approved the activation of the warrants.”

(Needless to say, hyperventilating and freaking out begins.  While I try to wrap my head around this, I demand clarification and answers – as if I have any control.)

“Wait a minute, wait a minute.  This is crazy! This is insane!  I never received any letter!  Are you telling me the courts can just send a letter, and if people don’t appear they can be arrested???”

“Yes ma’am.  If they’ve indicated they are going to show up.”

“What do you mean, ‘indicated they are going to show up?’  I never got any letter, how can I have said that?”

“I have your response here.”

“No, no, you don’t.  There’s been some sort of mistake.”

“Well, ma’am, that’s possible, but right now, I’ve got these warrants and this all needs to get resolved today.  I’m trying to give you an opportunity to complete a ‘conditional attachment’ to take care of this, to avoid, if possible your arrest.”

“Wait.  What?  A what?”

“A conditional attachment.”

“What is that?”

“If you’ll calm down, I’ll explain what you need to do.  But, Ms. Everhart, please be aware, these warrants are in the system for activation, and this may or may not prevent that from happening.”

Needless to say, more hyperventilating and freaking out, and NOW, I’m getting emotional.

Sobs, “Oh God.  I can’t believe this.  There’s a big mistake. This is all a big mistake.”

“Ma’am, I need you to calm down.  I  need to be able to tell you what you need to do.”

More sobbing, “Oh God.  Oh God.”

“Ma’am?”

“What!”

“Are you able to write this down?  The instructions for what you need to do to rectify this?”
Sobbing,  “Yes.  I’ve got a pen.  What do I do.”

“I need you to get an envelope, and address it to Harnett County Superior Court House.  Address is….  Did you get that?”

Still sobbing, “Yes.  But, what’s this for?”

“The receipt that will be issued to you, and what you will send once you pay these fines. Bring cash or check, no credit cards, to the Harnett County Sheriffs department at…ma’am, are you all right?”

“No!  I’m not.  I’m upset!

“Ma’am I need for you to calm down.  I’m just doing my job.”

Still crying, “Okay, all right, but I need to talk to my lawyer.  Something’s wrong.  This doesn’t seem right.”

“Ma’am, you can call your lawyer if you want.  That’s not a problem.  If you do that, I can’t guarantee I can stop the activations.”

“Can’t you give me five minutes?  I’ll call you back in five minutes.”

“Okay.  Five minutes.”

***********************************************

I call my next door neighbor – who just so happens to be the city attorney.  I explain to him as best as I can without having a major meltdown what’s going on.  He asks if the guy wants a credit card number.  Which is what I was on high alert for during the entire conversation.  If he had wanted my credit card, I’d have been all like, “Uh, hell no, and hell no.”

I tell City Attorney he said cash or check only.  I tell CA the address he’s given me of where I need to take it.

CA said, “Well, that IS the sheriff’s department address.  I guess you better go and see what’s going on.”

OH GOD.

***********************************************
I call Lt. Terrell back.
“This is Lt. Terrell.”
“Okay, I can be on my way to the sheriff’s department in 30 minutes.  (as usual, I’m still in my running clothes.  No shower.  I want to take a shower before I go out in public)
“Ms. Everhart, these warrants are about to be activated.  I’m afraid any more delays, and I won’t be able to prevent this.”
“Okay, okay, fine.  I’ll leave now.  Wait, what will paying the fines do?”

“That will allow Judge Faircloth to set a court date.  The matter will not be held in open court, but in chambers, where you’ll be able to dispute the matter.”

“And how much are they?”

“One if $1,498.00 and the other is $998.00 both for the failure to appear.”

I swallow hard, and tell him, “Okay.  I’m on my way.”

“Ma’am, before you come, I need your cell phone number to establish a link with GPS.”

“Uh, okay, why?”

“Like I’ve been saying, these warrants are about to be activated, and I’ll need to have an open line to you in case, between your house and here you’re stopped.  You don’t have to talk to me.  It’s just an open connection, where I can prevent an arrest if they see your vehicle and initiate the arrest.”

“I don’t have a cell phone.  I have OnStar.”

“That’ll work.”

“I’m on my way now.”

“I’ll see you in twenty minutes.”

In the meantime during the last five minutes, my husband has come in, seen the state I’m in.  He only understands the basics which I scribbled down on piece of paper and flipped up for him to see.  *FAILURE TO APPEAR*

He and I go to his truck in silence.

I call Lt. Terrell’s number and it goes to voice mail, which states, “This is the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department Warrants and Records Division.  Leave your name, number and message and someone will call you back.”

I give him my husband’s cell phone, and tell him my husband is bringing me.  I call the number a couple more times while on the way and get vm.

We arrive at the Sheriff’s Department, I go in and up to the glass window where a young woman is sitting.

“I need to see a Lt. Terrell.”

She shakes her head, “There is no Lt. Terrell.  It’s a scam.”

Guess what I do? Yeah.  Boo hoo.  This time in relief.  I have a lily white reputation to maintain, don’t you know.

And…, that’s when my husband starts cussing.  And that’s when we are taken into a REAL Lt.’s office where we file a report.  Turns out I was the third victim in Harnett County, while Wake County (my home county) has something like 400 cases similar to this.

After it was all said and done, I began to play the what if game.  What if he wanted to know where I was (via GPS) so buddies of his could back a truck up and clean us out?  What if he was watching the house?  Saw me leave?  What if he fell in behind me and all along I’m “linked” to his cell phone, and on some stretch of Hwy 421, a car with a blue light in the dash pulls me over?

What if I said, “Oh no, they’re pulling me over, what do I do?  Can’t you stop this?”

What if he played the part and said “Sorry.  I tried to prevent this.  Just go with them, and it will be straightened out.”

What if the call then disconnected and I’m under the impression I AM being arrested.

What if the “sheriff,” came to my window and said, “Ma’am, please step out of the car.  You’re under arrest.”

What if I did as he said, and he put me in the back of his “squad” car and took off?

What if…? 

Thinking beyond that…, well, it’s too scary, too real, it hits too close to home.

What’s the strangest thing to happen to you lately?

One Small Mourning Dove


I love watching the neighborhood kids play because they go about it like my brother and I used to, riding their bikes like the hounds of hell are on their heels, tearing up the alleys, ducking in and out of yards, or streaking down sidewalks.  Animated voices arrive well in advance of their actual bodies, and lingers in the air after they’ve disappeared.

Sometimes they jump on the trampoline, or into their pool.  Sometimes they play fetch with their dog, or tag football in their front yard. Sometimes they shoot baskets, and…, sometimes they bring out their air rifle b.b. guns and target practice.  That’s when I get a little nervous.  The other day as we sat on the porch, we could hear their voices rising in pitch, excitement boiling over.  A long dark gun was held by the eldest and it was obvious something in the trees had been spotted.

I heard someone say, “shoot it, shoot it.”

Quietly, I said, “Oh no,”  while my husband remained silent, watchful, probably hoping like me their aim hadn’t improved.

There was a sort of pop.  I saw a dove launch itself out of a pecan tree, heading straight for our yard.

Then a chorus of:   “You got it!  You got it!”  “Where did it go?”  “I don’t know!”

Me, again, more distressed:  “They’re shooting at the birds!”

I thought they’d missed.  Thank God.

You see, I feed the birds every day, and it’s as if they’ve come to recognize me.  I can hear them in the trees when I go outside in the mornings, and it’s not only the dove, it’s purple finches, goldfinches, sparrows, wrens, redheaded woodpeckers, a pair of cardinals, a couple of catbirds, and a few thrushes.  Their calls and whistles, and chirps and cheeps grow louder as I strew the seed about.  They seem to know why I’m there and as soon as I’m done, and before I can get back inside, they swoop down to eat.

The kids came out of the backyard to investigate.  They saw us, and grew quieter, but kept searching, declaring amongst themselves they’d seen feathers fly.

I spoke to them from where we sat, “It’s not dove season, right?”

The eldest, a great kid whom I’ve known since he was born, replied in a quiet voice, “No ma’am.”

They returned to their backyard and shut the gate.  It was then I looked to my right, and there, on the pine straw, below a bush was the dove.  Not even five feet from me.  And of course, it was dead.

To say I’m tenderhearted over such things is an understatement.  As I gathered it up, ignoring the blood and the lolling head, all I could focus on was the warmth still there, the plush feathers, and the soft gray and browns inherent to a mourning dove.  They are often called Carolina turtle dove, or rain dove as well, and amazingly, they are monogamous.  Funny, delicate seeming birds, with a head much smaller than their body, they can fly up to 55 m.p.h.  They are breeding now, which is why they aren’t in season.  It’s possible a nest has been compromised.  I can’t help myself, but I’m half crying, and feeling a bit silly for doing so.

Like I said, tenderhearted.  What can I say?

I took the bird to the back gate, and as I expected, the eldest when he opened it and saw what was in my hand was more than sorry.  His face expressed genuine concern and real worry, yet, I too am worried because this is one of those awkward situations where, as an adult, I have to handle it appropriately yet make my point.

I shook my head, and said, “I just can’t handle seeing anything get shot.”

He replied, “I’m sorry.  I’m really sorry.  I won’t do it again.”

I said, “Well.  Now you have it, what are you going to do with it?”

He said, “eat it.”

Which is, of course, the right answer.

I handed it to him and he took it from my hands carefully.  I came back over to our porch, up the steps and inside to wash my hands.  When I went back out, within seconds, he came out of their back gate, across the alley, up our steps to stand before us, to apologize again.  At that point, still sort of teary eyed, I began to feel like a real jerk.  His parents are stellar.  They’ve taught all their children to respect adults, mind their manners, and I would bet money, he’s the most considerate thirteen year old I know.

He said it again, “I’m really sorry, Miss Donna.  I won’t do it again.”

I said, “I know, and I know you hunt, and your dad takes you, and you know about responsibility.  For me, it’s just that…, I feed them, you know?  And, I’m such a rule follower.”

He stood there, hands folded in front of his shirt, so contrite and clearly disturbed.

I wish it hadn’t happened.  I don’t want him to think he can’t play, run or ride in that free and spirited way like before.  I want him to know I trust his word, and that even though one small mourning dove is gone, he IS a really good kid.

And that we all make mistakes.

220px-Mourning_Dove_2006

A Story Worth Telling


Blank.  Vacant.  Meaningless.

Those three words describe the current situation with my latest WIP.  This will be the fourth book I’ve written – if I ever get it done.  I felt like this with the last one too, and I did finish it, so yay, consolation there, right?  Meh, sort of.

What’s different is, I’ve run up against a new problem I’ve not encountered before; what is the story?  What am I writing about? I haven’t the faintest idea.  I still love the setting.  I still love the working title.  I just can’t seem to get my act together, and it’s starting to get a little worrisome.

Here’s what I want.  I want to be buried so deep I can’t see anything else but where the storyline is going next.  I want to drift around the house with that perpetual little wrinkle between my eyebrows, as I worry over a particular plot point.  I want my fingers to strike the keyboard fast as they can and still not be able to keep up.  I want to STOP pecking out a few words only to delete them.  I want to stop feeling like the ideas are all a waste of time.  I want to stop thinking I have nothing left.

I’ve sat on quite a few ideas, for days, weeks even.  I started to write, only to trash all within a day or two – usually as soon as I go back and re-read what I have the next day.  Two months ago, I was ten thousand words in on one lame idea, and it just didn’t feel right.  I think what I mean is, I wasn’t excited.  What actually went through my  head was, “God, this is a stupid story.”  If I’m not excited, how could anyone else feel that way?

Since then, I’ve play around with several other beginnings, only to get about two to three thousand words in, and I’m like, “nah.”  I’ve had so many false starts at this point, my folder for the new project has racked up discarded bits and pieces of this and that, just like the donated clothing bin over on Highway 421 with its overflowing trash bags of shoes, sweaters, pants,and coats.  I think I even saw someone’s red negligee fluttering in the wind.  In typical fashion, I think, ah, there’s a story there.  And the brain cells dry up.

I’ve questioned if I’ve pigeon holed myself by choosing this particular place to write about.  I don’t think so.  It’s a swampy area, and the perfect place for something suspenseful to happen.  But what?

Part of my relentless doubt about my new story’s beginning is because recently, I was blown away by a random encounter with an opening line of a story that grabbed me, and held on.  In my mind, it’s one of the best I’ve ever read.

“The boy was on fire.”

This is how THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY by Shaun Hutchinson begins.  The book is not in a genre I would typically read, (LGBT YA), but I found myself absorbed instantly in the story.  Much like the last post, the writing once again only underscored the point that if the story is good enough, if it pulls a reader in and keeps them intrigued, it’s a story worth writing, a story worth telling.  It has heart.  It has tension filled moments.  It has a MC I want to get to know better.  I want to know how he ended up where he was, and what might happen to him.

If I didn’t know it before, I know it now.  This is why I’m still searching.  It’s why I haven’t yet found what I want to write about because until I’ve got something that snags at my heart strings the way the beginning of this story did, it does no good to start and stop.  If I have any confidence at all, it’s in the fact I recognize this and know it’s all part of the process.

It will happen – eventually.

Bottom line, I really just want a story worth telling, don’t you?

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