Runnymede – … a night of Funny-mede

fireflies-and-rubies The Middleton High School Class of 1976 cried for a ’40th reunion…’ in January, 2016. Not much time due to Charleston, SC becoming the hot event destination with brides flocking in their bridal gowns like our local egrets. But, as the heirs of the Reunion Committees resigned, we went into War Room mode, rolled up our sleeves, pulled out my weary duct taped folder of years of searching for classmates and met to discuss logistics at Bobby Bernstein’s office.

Strategically, Bobby strolled to the kitchen fridge and brought a cold bottle of Chardonnay and one glass. He sat it in front of me at the head of the table and gave me a healthy pour. What came next befuddled me as we had to choose the date to back into for location, catering, rentals and of course, hunting classmates. We knew it would be sometime near hurricane season. A non-negotiable for a Charleston Fall event.  Continue reading

Spotlight…. please!

My family has always joked that of the four girls in the family, the spotlight was always on Kerry, Kerry, Kerry. (Yes, she is the topless one in the picture) However, while researching dated photos for my next writing project, I ran into this photo taken by my father as he finished his degree at Purdue University. My sister, Kerry, had even tried to trump me by being born exactly one month before from my FIRST year oldest daughter birthday!  Obviously, I hadn’t got the memo that my time in the spotlight was over!spotlight with Kerry

As I struggled to get a story within the cover of Ameera Unveiled based on my own childhood angst without the instruction of formal dance training, I assumed I had always been shy and fearful. Officially be advised… the posing diva is Mu-ah. Continue reading

Dear Pen Pal

The Iconic Mailbox

I grew up in the days of pen pals. Looking back, the closest I got to social media were ads in the back of my comic books or Mad magazine. There were little postage stamp size ads with addresses to find a pen pal in another part of the country. I’d use loose leaf paper and start with “Dear Pen Pal… How are you? I am fine.” I probably asked what was their favorite television show, cartoon or share what book I was reading. I’d give them to my mother and she would show me how to address the envelope. I’d lick my stamp before depositing in the classic blue tin mailboxes. I can still hear the clunk of the door when I released it from tip toes. Ahhhh… the days of snail mail have been left behind by the internet energizer bunny! Continue reading

Green Apple Bookstore appearance

Another serendipity moment. I’m cutting my teeth for a book appearance revealing Ameera Unveiled at an iconic bookstore in San Francisco, CA —– Green Apple Bookstore. I hope when it the clock strikes midnight, I lose my glass slipper and my coach turns back into a pumpkin!

I feel like Cinderella

I feel like Cinderella

“It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands”

Recently, I was honored to be on Southern Writers Magazine’s must reads list. Gary Fearon graciously alerted me and I hit his link. Penning and marketing a book is still an unexplored territory for me. Seeing my cover beside a blog by Patricia Sands regarding her message in The Bridge Club, put a lump in my throat.

It was never just about the cards... Patricia Sands

It was never just about the cards… Patricia Sands

Three years ago, when I approached my writing coach/editor, Shari Stauch, with my story idea— without hesitation she pushed me to my laptop to learn my character’s voice. Continue reading

Introducing my own Queen…. Ameera

Although this is a work of fiction, I admit it was driven by my own desire to dance—but was told I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or was forbidden. As I pull my main character into facing a long neglected dance zone, I’d ask the reader to be patient with her. hedo 054Her story focuses on the impact of chasing a glittery dance dream and lack of experience in a spotlight. In spite of many off the page life experiences, she’s suffered and victoriously overcome many obstacles—especially as a woman. But, Ameera’s pioneer spirit blazes a trail through the unknown land of Dance.

Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe is real. I was given permission to use many of the actual troupe members’ names. They’ve been patient and supportive as I labored to unveil Ameera. I’ve embraced their generosity to take creative license with the unbelievable glittery story. I hope to show the bonding power of resilience, humor, and passion among friends and strangers. The therapy of dance is real—not fiction.

I would not have accomplished this tale if I hadn’t been introduced to Shari Stauch. Her publishing experience and . . . let’s say it like is . . . puts your balls to the walls honesty required me to get mad and tell how unfair life can be. BQB Publishing enthusiastically polished the project with many talented artists. Terri Leidich, Heidi Grauel, and Julie Breedlove offered prompt answers and resources. My editor, Sharon Hecht, untangled my grammar and cut story interruptions without ripping off the band-aid. Even the book cover embodies many of the messages in the story. Kendra Haskins did an amazing job with my website—capturing the ‘pretty’ that makes women and little girls say “wow!” And, thanks to Leroy Mazyck (Pixel Studios) for always easing the stage fright in front of his camera. He did a fabulous job with my author’s headshot. When I doubted my ability to finish the project, it was my family, friends, and community that urged me on.

If you are reading this, I want to thank the readers! I hope you enjoy Ameera’s glittery release from her forbidden zone. From my own experience, once you’ve been bitten by the dance bug, it infects all the senses and perceptions. It reveals old tapes and fears and rewards you with unique memories and bonds.

But, most of all, I thank my soul mate, Steve. He made me his queen and supported my search for the little ballerina that got left behind in my childhood. It takes a special man to stand with his belly dancing wife. They can’t be afraid of a little glitter!

 

How many of you have never been to a pig race….?

hog trailerWell, my hand went up to the emcee’s question… at Boone Hall Plantation’s Strawberry Festival. Little did I know when my feet hit the floor this morning that I would not only witness a pig race but could possibly be awarded the title, Pig Queen for a Day! Unknowingly, I’d claimed my video spot near the starting line of the circular race track and had an excellent view. There was a gator board roster with piggish NASCAR names— Rooter Martin, Hoggy Stewart, Piggy Gordon and Squilling Earnhardt, Jr.

Naturally, being new to pig racing, I had questions for the little swine. How were they trained for the event? I’d hate if one of the cute piglets would pull a hamstring. What if it came down to crossing the finish line by a snout? God forbid serious injury because I wasn’t sure if Charleston had a pig racing hambulance.

Suddenly, my attention returned to the hoof track as Hogway Speedway’s announcer entered the inside field, wearing a hands-free mic opening the competition with the racetrack bugle call from the loudspeakers.

The announcer educated us on the possibility of pig pile-ups that could delay them from pigging out on the coveted cheese doodle at the checkered finish line. He assigned a sponsor from the audience to root for the anxious pigs that had willingly loaded in the starting gate.

After the bell and gate opened, he gave a broadcaster’s view of the pig pack’s arrival for cheese doodle trophies. For the next fifteen minutes, he presented laps by goats, rookie piglets and ducks. The final race was to be run by pot belly pigs and he announced he was picking five women to be given the proud title of Pig Queen. I don’t think I’d put that on my slop-bucket list.

As he looked our way, my niece encouraged him to pick her Aunt Kat. Note to self: I need to dig deeper into her belief that I’d make a good candidate—or I needed to be sure I didn’t have hog breath from the cheap corndog. Yep, I was given #5, Rooter Martin. To top the hammy privileged title, we were advised the winner would kiss her pig. (For some reason I heard the words to a Katy Perry song: I kissed a pig and I liked it…)

After three more contestants were chosen, Squilling Earnhardt, Jr. hogged the spotlight. I’d lost my chance of the title and kiss by a snout.

Sadly, I realized I wanted to be a media hog! I turned to my husband and we settled for a local pulled pork sandwich.hogway

Let’s name it, Hollywood!

Melkey

On April Fool’s day, 1991, a teenage tuxedo cat invited himself into my home at 10:00 p.m. I was still mourning the loss of my bottle fed tuxedo cat, Daniel. For exactly three years, I’d resisted the pleas of my young daughter’s request to rescue another animal. How could I turn it away?

For several days I kept my house guest safe. I posted on local bulletin boards to make sure a frantic owner wasn’t looking for the lost big personality cat. Meanwhile, it bonded with my children. There was no way to say ‘no’ to the new family member. His formal name? Melchize-cat…. Melkey. He was the feline version of Melchizedek, the mysterious Hebrew high priest. No one knew where he came from or when he would leave…

For eighteen years, he weathered relocations, my children’s growth, a divorce, my re-entry into dating and the remarriage and blending of households. He greeted my house guests and could’ve cared less when we integrated my son’s dog, Chaz, into the family.

But in 2009, as his kidneys began to fail, I had to let him go in spite of his tenacity to hang on—for me. After his euthanasia, my husband and I agreed there would be no new furbbies due to the age of our surviving pets.

Six months after Melkey’s passing, my rescue school horse went three legged lame. No one knew why but she was showing symptoms of white line disease in one foot. I was chasing the fast erosion of her hoof. On Sunday morning, my husband and I drove to Hollywood, SC where she was boarded. I asked him to stop at the convenience store to grab a diet Coke.

We pulled up in my S-350 Mercedes convertible. As we parked, a tiny, yellow mixed-tabby kitten headed straight towards us, and then ran under my hot motor. Spied by a loiterer, we were advised this little scruffy kitten had been quite the annoyance of customers and employees. And, in harm’s way.

“Don’t you want to take it home?” he asked.

I’d at least three adoptees in mind so I scooped it up, added milk at the checkout, and continued on our way to the farm. Cradled on my shoulder that kitten mewed the entire ride to the barn. I dumped it safely in the farm’s bathroom, trying to lure it to drink the milk and maybe (please!) stop the incessant meowing.

As we pulled off the farm, I re-cradled the little one against me and my husband broke the unspoken stray kitty code… “I know– we’ll name it Hollywood!”

My head shot up like a fired gun to cry, “WTFudge are you saying… you don’t name it!” I had adoptive families and was prepared to pitch after I cleared it with my vet the next day.

All I could think of was our furbbie pact after Melkey’s demise. Hubbie must’ve read my mind. “But he matches Chaz!” he added.

Twenty-four hours later, my vet instructed me to hold the worm and parasite laden female kitten in quarantine for ten days. Before the end of the week, my hubbie bought new toys, food and kitten size litter box.

Five months later I scheduled and dropped off my crazy-ass “female” kitten to be spayed and declawed. Thirty minutes later, I was called. “Mrs. Varn, we just want to let you know that we’re not going to spay Hollywood… she’s a he.”

Well, Hollywood has developed a huge personality, like his predecessor. He’s a cat but thinks he’s a dog. He follows me around like a toddler. When the doorbell rings, he fluffs his tail and growls as he and Chaz assess the stranger on the other side of the door. And they match, chase, play and share the dog bed. Luckily, his name was gender-free.

But my favorite belly dance troupe member’s comment when little “Hollywood” ran under the Mercedes at that Johns Island convenience store?

Sucker!”Hollywood

 

 

 

 

A Serendipity Lifestyle . . .

cdab9d14887aa33682bac9317c3bc2e5[1]I’d been divorced for about three years. Between running a single parent household and keeping a full time job, I loved my newfound adult social life. And, in spite of the freedom to enlarge my social horizons, I silently grieved the loss of my white picket fence dream. I didn’t have my sites on finding a new partner or breadwinner to allow me to stay home and catch up on the Soaps eating bonbons. Instead, I opened myself to meeting new friends, female or male, through line dancing at Desperado, scuba diving and traveling.

Each morning, I cleared my head and asked my heart to embrace a moment presented by… dare I call it, Destiny? Fate? My faith supported my belief that even hardship identified the dross in my life that could be used for self-improvement and reveal silver linings. Continue reading