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We gather together

It occurs to me that I haven't mentioned much about Corb's slightly insane family lately, so let me say for the record: THEY STILL EXIST. AND, THEY ARE STILL INSANE.

Take, for example this past weekend. Annie had organized a party at Green Victoria to celebrate Kaeden's third birthday, and of course, we had invited Corb's mom. Which meant that, at the height of Superstar madness, we were subjected to a endless stream of questions about what to get him for a birthday present. Calls to Corb. Then text messages to Corb and me (she is afraid to call me directly).

I know, it sounds like a simple request, but since his birthday is so close to Christmas, it's also wrapped up in that holiday, which in my mind consists of:

--Securing lists of presents from the three kids
--Taking that material and then compiling a master list
--Taking then master list and then figuring out what Josie has already gotten, etc.

So, in other words, it's more than just a simple ask, which is why it is hard to do in the midst of Hell Week and why I had to beg her for patience. But I finally did get it to her and she did she seem pleased. "Perfect!" she wrote back. "I can get his gift this afternoon!"

Then the day of the birthday rolls around. And an hour before the actual party, Corb gets a call from his mom. "She says that today is insane and she has a ton of things she has to get done. And she's hoping to be here, but she thinks she is going to be a little late." He paused. "Which is her way of saying she's not coming."

Sure enough, an hour later she texted Corb to say she decided to go out shopping with one of her other son's, Greg.

See what I mean? This is why, while I probably should have set aside some time to get her the list for Kaeden's birthday earlier than I did, in the end, I knew it wouldn't really matter. Which is why I didn't stress to much about it. I got to it when I could.

Or today, for example. Out of the middle, this morning, Corb sends me a text: Apparently mom is having a get together Saturday afternoon that we were invited to, and she swears we were told.

PS: We weren't.

What is it for, I asked? Response: Christmas Yankee swap. My family. It's a Christmas party...with my family. I guess in addition to Christmas dinner.

Right. In addition to Christmas dinner. Meaning that in addition to scrambling to get presents later than I would have liked because of the play, we've now lost another week-end day, because there is no way it's not going to be an all day affair. Oh, and we have to scramble to get some presents for it in advance.

And the reason it's being held? Here's why: Corb's mother wants to make sure that her sister and her right-wing, gun-toting, NRA worshipping crazy family from New Hampshire doesn't feel excluded. Because they certainly wouldn't be caught dead going to Christmas dinner, because that involves going to Corb's OTHER brother's house, and they can't stand his wife.

It's not just that they are right-wing, gun-toting, and NRA worshipping. Honestly. Well, maybe just a little bit. But it's really because they are crazy and exhausting. Auntie Carol sucks all the oxygen out of whatever room she is in. It all becomes about her, her, her. How she feels about things. What she thinks about things. How people have been treating her. How funny it is that she constantly bickers with her husband. And, she does have a son that frankly scares me, because he just lives at their house and does nothing with his life, other than to join gun clubs and exercise his free rights as a citizen to enforce the second amendment. That is SO much fun to talk about all afternoon!

So, I really don't want to go to this gathering.

And I completely know I will be going to this gathering.    

Ugh. Can I go back to rehearsing for the play?

It is finished.

The play is over. Stories to follow.

Spent the day getting my life back to normal. Hello, normal life! I've been away for three months, did you miss me? 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Live Journal friends in the States!

I know, I've been bad about posting to LJ. In fact, I have one story about the show I started about a week ago that I just haven't been able to finish. It's been there in draft form, just staring at me every time I head to my computer. It's about the show. It's kind of juicy. I've got to finish it up!

Today Corb and I go to my parents. Make note of this, future Ted: Ashes and Theo went with ME this Thanksgiving, not to Josie's. This is one argument that Josie and I have every year: who had the kids, her mother or mine? Maybe if I actually write it down this time around, I will have something to look back at. Right?

Anyway, Corb is baking a pie right now, watching the parade. I just woke up. The kids are asleep, Theo in his room, Ashes in the den. Ashes came home from college yesterday and we spent the night watching Saturday Night Live and have almost wrapped up watching The Office, after all these years. Only one episode left.

I have so much to be thankful for. It's been a great year. I have a good job, a great family, I love Green Victoria, and I've accomplished so much this year: publishing my book, directing a play. In contrast, I think of my brother, who hasn't had a job for a year and is being forced to sell his house. It's important to appreciate what you have, and the blessings you've been given. And I do, every day.

Have a great day, y'all!


Soft serve.

Now that the play seems to be headed in the right direction, I can turn my attention to more important problems. And by that, I am of course talking about:

The dog's unnatural obsession with our kitten's crap.

No, seriously. We have to keep the bathroom door where the kitty does her business guarded like Fort Knox. Otherwise, the damn bitch will scamper in there and start sticking her nose in where it's definitely not wanted, hunting around for a turd treasure and then guzzling down each and every one as if she were sucking down shrimp at an all-you-can-eat buffet. choc ice cream

It's. Kind of. Gross.

Oh, and as a result, we have kitty litter droplets covering our mud room, which means we have to vacuum the damn area at least twice a week.

I actually asked one of the ladies at Kyra's doggie day care about this. It's not the most pleasant topic in the world, but this is the lady who never stops delighting in telling me that Kyra and her dog Wilson are best friends, and she can tell because they love to spend the day humping each other. I swear to God, every time I see her, she mentions the word "hump." Hump hump hump.

The other day I asked her, "Aren't you glad people aren't like dogs?"

And she said, "I know! Otherwise, I'd be sniffing your butt and humping you right now!"

I can't lie. Even for me, that response made me a little mortified. I changed the subject, really quickly.

Oh wait. Where was I? Oh, right. The all-you-can-eat buffet. So I asked her about it, and she didn't bat an eyelash. "Oh yeah, there are a bunch of dogs here who love doing that! We have to make sure that the poop is taken care of right away, or it will get gobbled up before you know it."

Then she paused. Oh, God. A pause. She lowered her voice and moved in for the kill. "In fact, this is kind of gross, but--""

Inwardly, I steeled myself. Because I just knew, I just knew, it truly was REALLY going to be gross...

"--there's this one dog here that must have really sweet-tasting poo, because the other dogs don't even wait for it to hit the ground! The minute her butt puckers, they are racing over to taste what comes out! I tell you, her butt is like a soft serve ice cream dispenser!"

Without the cone, evidently. You just stick your mouth under the dispenser, pull down on the handle and out it comes...

Anyway, we're moving the kitten's litter box downstairs into the cellar REAL soon.

Friendzy! Thank God It's Friendzy!

Listen: this is my first ever Friendzy, so please be nice and participate. You all like me by now, right? Wait, don't answer that...

No, seriously! My bud firesign10 suggested this might be a fun distraction for a Friday afternoon, and you know what? The Sign of Fire is right! Besides, don't we all need a few more friends on Live Journal every now and then?

So, here goes. For those who haven't Zeed before, all you need do is to fill out some basic information about a few of your favorite things, like this:

NAME: tedwords
AGE: Fourty-cough cough cough cough cough
LOCATION: This really old green house in Attleboro, Massachusetts that has at least seven ghosts in it. Six female and one male. Well, that's what we were told.
THE OTHER CHARACTERS IN THE STORY OF MY LIFE: Partnered for ten years. Three kids. One grandkid. Two relatively sane cats. A very sane puppy. One insane two month old kitten who only likes to maim and destroy.
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Doctor Who, but is really there anything else on TV?
FAVORITE MOVIE: The Bandwagon. Yeah, I know.
FAVORITE BAD EIGHTIES SONG: "Naughty Girls Need Love Too" by Samantha Fox
FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: Cape Cod. Especially Provincetown. Maybe Disneyworld, if I'm in that mood.
SOMETHING I'M NOT VERY GOOD AT: Ritual circumcision
SOMEONE I HOPE RESPONDS TO THIS POST: tatjna Because she is funny.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW?: The medication hasn't kicked in today.

See? That's all there is to it. Fill this out, post your response, share a link to this page if you want to (and you know you want to), and voila! Instant friends! Sit back and see who responds.

A CLEAN VERSION OF THE QUESTIONS FOR YOU (because I am nice like that):

Happy friending!

(This post paid for by the "Committee to Get Ted Sent to a Happy Home" committee)


Friends count

ted kiss
Just checked my friend's list and realized I need 5 more friends to reach 400. Anyone have any suggeestions? :)

The dark at the bottom of the stairs

ted kiss
Last night at around three in the morning I woke up with a start.

The kitten wiggled a little next to my feet. Carefully, I lifted myself up out of the bed and headed for the bathroom. It sucks getting older. Then, once relieved of my burden, I headed to my study, which is located down the hall, right next to the stairway that leads to the dark spot.stairs 3

I don't know why I think of it that way. Corb once said that he was sitting in the living room one time with the lights off and he saw what looked like a dark cloud hanging around that area. It's the one part of the house that neither one of us like hanging around.

Both the kitten and Oliver were standing outside of the den as I padded my way down the hall. Both were staring intently down the stairs, as if there was something fascinating that was absorbing their attention.

"What's going on, guys?" I said, probably too loudly, given the time of night. Trying to chase away the goblins, I guess. I moved to the edge of the stairs, looked down. Nothing to see. The room downstairs was dark, save for the night lamp that I neglected to turn off when we went to bed.

I turned around to sit down in the den. And as I turned my back, I distinctly heard the snapping of fingers on the floor below.

What the--?

I didn't have the nerve to go downstairs to find out what was going on. Instead, I turned the lights off and headed back to bed.

Fast forward to this morning. Corb had already showered and left for work, and I was alone in the house. I woke up, fed the zoo, and put Kyra on her leash to do her morning constitutional. I brought her to the edge of the house, waited for her to go pee. Then I moved to the other side of the lawn and started walking her through the sweet clover that smells like blueberries (I have no idea what it really is).

Just as she was about to do her doody, she looked up. She barked, focused on the house.

"What's up?" I asked. "Come on, let's get this--"

But she was no longer interested in going to the bathroom. She strained at her leash, looking to move back to the house. She kept staring at the picture window that offered a view of the dark spot, barking away. I followed her back into the house. She made her way directly to that dark spot and stopped barking the minute she reached it.

No more barking. She stopped immediately, as if nothing had happened.

Conclusion: the dark spot doesn't like us going to the bathroom.

I guess I should be freaked out by this, right? Not really, though. My house doesn't really scare me at all. I'm still convinced there's nothing evil or too scary about the place. But what is it about animals and their ability to see beyond the things that our eyes are blind to?

I'm kind of grateful I'm not a dog. But on the plus side, we are going to have one hell of a Halloween party here.

PS: My book, Pictures of You, is available as a free Kindle download today and tomorrow! Check it out if you haven't already.

Sep. 26th, 2014

ted kiss
I don't often do this, but just had to share the following thoughtul review about Pictures of You from Star Book Reviews. If you haven't read mah book, give it a try! It's going to be free on Kindle as of Monday for five days...

8 out of 10's the top ranked book on the site!

[This review contains some spoilers.]CellarStairs_v4d

Read the blurb and Pictures of You appears to be a typical supernatural young adult suspense, but you don’t have to dig for long to discover a real heart and soul that helps carry this work high above many of its contemporaries. This novel – presented in diary format – is written with a kind of brevity and care that you’ll go a long way to find again.

Despite its dark overtones – and at times I was genuinely surprised at the themes this book explored – every time I returned to reading, I felt as though I was receiving a nice warm hug, in spite of the wrath the story threw at me.

Author T.J. Alexian says that the novel is about learning to accept the ghosts of our past, and for Ashes, our 16-year-old main character, she’ll be forced to face an onslaught before this story is through. Her older brother Daniel passed away some years before this story begins, and both Ashes and her mother are going through the motions of life. How can you ever recover from the loss of a young life?

But her world is rocked when videos filmed on Daniel’s camcorder some years before suddenly begin surfacing on YouTube. The footage is filmed by her brother, but Ashes has never seen these videos before. As the videos increase in number, the mystery deepens. Who is behind this? And, more importantly, why?

In any suspense novel, there is that dreaded line between entertaining your reader, and allowing them room to uncover the mystery for themselves. Pictures of You perfectly balances supernatural and suspense elements, never letting the reader become too passive. While the well paced plot serves to bolster the mystery, the absence of any conceited romance story or typical teenage tropes linked to this genre, are a credit to the novel, providing room to further explore what should be paramount to Ashes: answers.

Ashes is an instantly likeable character, with quick wit and a real charm. She’s suffered immeasurable loss, and at such a young age too. But the way that she composes herself scores empathy points with the reader. She’s a fighter, and she won’t stop for anyone. Sure she has insecurities, who doesn’t? Especially at that age. But her cracks only serve to round out her character. I was never against her. Always beside her. I never felt smarter than her, nor alienated from her world.

The author has spent time painting the various shades of supporting characters, and this helps serve in establishing possible red herrings and dead ends in our growing mystery. However, this reviewer did feel as though some of the hints regarding the outcome could have been handled a little more delicately. Such hints did register alarm bells when they passed my eyes, but having said that, there were other alarm bell moments that elicited similar reactions, and, as it turned out, were simply designed to keep you guessing. I suppose, for authors of suspense, that’s the burden they carry. You can’t do right for doing wrong. The reader will always like to believe they are one step ahead of the author.

Yet, the ‘what’ was not as nearly important as the ‘why’, and it was the ‘why’ that was kept hidden for so long. The revelation was a surprise, but I still had questions. I know why, but I’m still asking why. And the method to the madness is almost brushed away in a few short paragraphs. A shrug and that’s life. While the mystery’s resolution did feel a little rushed, the way in which the narrative’s main theme was tied up, and our main character’s world set on course again was well managed.

In a way, Pictures of You gave me flashbacks to the Goosebumps books that were at their height of popularity in the 90s. That’s not to say that Pictures of You is as simply woven as one of R.L. Stine’s works – It’s not; it has far more weight, subtext and emotional punch, but it is as instantly accessible by young and old alike thanks to the fluid and friendly writing style employed by the author.

Characters are well drawn and welcoming, but the antagonist suffers in the final act, becoming almost one dimensional in its actions, and then quickly an afterthought. I had questions, especially as to what societal motivations led the antagonist to behave as it did, and what in turn that spoke about other characters who may have been aware, or closely tied at one point in time.

In addition, one of the supporting characters is conveniently sidelined while the plot rampages to its conclusion, and yet there I felt that there was more to explore with this character in the conclusion. However, taking the whole work into consideration, these are minor inconveniences in an otherwise solid and inviting tale.

I’ll recommend Pictures of You to you. An enjoyable and moving read. Furthermore, I was pleased to find zero errors or typos in my read through.



ted kiss

The Perfume Collector was a terrific read.

I love books that takes place over the course of decades, and this particular one was deliciously plotted out and superbly told. The "forward" plot takes place in 1955. Sheltered socialite Grace Monroe is trying to keep her head above water in her social set and also, keep her sagging marriage afloat, but both come to a head when she attends a party and discovers during a game of Mister Memory that she's not been seeing the whole picture. And then...that evening, she receives an "inheritance from a mysterious benefactor," a women named Eva d'Orsey, whom Grace has never met. It's a moment that could have the power to change her life.

Enter the "back" story, set in the decades before. Alternating between chapters, we learn who Grace is and eventually, what her connection to the forward story is...and, all of this, scented in a backdrop involving the three distinctive perfumes that Eva d'Orsey herself inspired. Want to know more about the world of perfume and Paris? This book is soaking in it.

I enjoyed every minute of it. Although some of it slightly bordered on the slightly unbelievable (could so many coincidences actually occur in one lifetime?), hey! This is escapist fare! Just go with it! And plus, it doesn't hurt that the book is written by someone who is as graceful and vivid a storyteller as Kathleen Tessaro. I've never read anything by her, but I want to read more now.

Also, she had a thing about describing pubic hair on women. I didn't quite get that, but it really didn't detract from the reading. It was just a furry bonus.

If you're looking for a classy, well written, gripping read, I highly recommend this book. It's not a novel that will bring tears to your eyes, but it is one you won't be able to put down. This is not sentimental writing so much as it is sophisticated writing. Kathleen Tessaro is an author that writes in vivid phrases and provides subtle touches in her writing that bring the story to life and that one has a tendency to marvel over. Well worth the time spent.


Enter...Ping the Merciless

ted kiss

This was not my idea, I swear.

I blame Corb's mom. She was at home one day and saw a man sneaking behind her house. When she went to see what he was up to, she discovered a two-week old kitten underneath a bush. She immediately thought of us.

Corb immediately named her Ping.

My brother Tommy added "The Merciless." And that kind of is what she is like. She is a terror! Part of that is because Corb's mom had her for a few weeks before we picked her up (had to make sure she weighed enough and didn't have feline AIDS) and her live-in significant other liked to "roughhouse" with the kitten. "Maybe I played with her a little rough," the old coot chuckled as dropped her off. "I had to start wearing gloves!"

Groan. Oh great. Now the entire zoo is scared of her. Our dog Kyra has a nasty scratch on her snout from Ping. Hayley is constantly being tormented by her. I think Ping thinks of Hayley as a mother figure. Only, a mother whose tail you like to pounce upon and bite. That's love, there.

And as for the humans? Well, Theo loves her, although even he can find her a little distracting when he is trying to play video games. And as for me and Corb? Last night I was in bed trying to map out the rehearsal schedule for Superstar. Do you think I was able to get even a line written down on paper? Nope! Every time I tried she would jump onto the bed and wrap her mouth around my fingers. Start nibbling, ferociously. Then she'd get more aggressive. Corb was trying to sleep during this and she scampered across his face at least three times.

She just entered my study. After using my chair as a scratching post, she climbed up the side of it and is sitting her, perched like a buzzard, waiting to pounce. Hope she doesn't claw at my jugular or something.

She is awfully cute, though. I like her perpetually outraged look and her tuxedo bib. Hmm, let me just hold up from the typing a little bit to give her a little pat. Here you, go, Ping. Yes, that's a good, stop clawing...NO, NOT THE NECK! NOT THE JUGULAR! SHI--

(End transmission.)


Snapshots from Green Victoria

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