Category Archives: family

Remembering: OKC Memorial


My mistake on the flubbed post this morning. Ruth Casie will be on the ranch at a later time. In the meantime, I’d like to share with you what the day means to Oklahoma (and I’m sure many Americans around the country). Today is a somber day of Remembrance and Memorializing.

Seventeen years ago today I was living in a mobile home park in Modesto, California enjoying my three young daughters, 5, 8, 10, and basically loving life-even though I was perpetually homesick for my home state of Oklahoma. More specifically, I was walking across the street to our house from my best friend’s but she called me back. We had been in California for six years and I wanted to ‘go home’ since the day we left to move west with just two kids in ’88. It was not to be. Not for 18 1/2 years was I able to come back to the tornado-ridden state I love. So why, in eighteen years, did April 19th, 1995 stand out? 9:01 am that morning was the last moment of serene peace in my home state. 9:03 am began the moment of recovery. It’s that minute between I’m talking about.

“At 9:02, on April 19, 1995, Gulf War vet, Timothy McVeigh detonated 4,800 lbs of fertilizer and fuel oil. The resulting blast destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal government Building and killed 168 people. The bombing, largest act of domestic terrorism, in America, shattered pre-911 America’s innocence.” ~

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At 9:02 am, April 19, 1995 168 lives were snuffed out, including 3 unborn babies and 19 small children. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, sisters, cousins… Dead because of a man (I use the term very loosely) named Timothy McVeigh. I give that person no credit for anything other than death and destruction; of this mayhem, pain, suffering, loss and subsequent confusion. He was anti-government to put it simply. He’d considered many other targets, one here or there- but I guess he decided to kill 168 innocent rather than just one. It made a bigger statement…I suppose he figured. He drove a Ryder moving van up to the back of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and walked away, leaving the bomb to do its damage. Why? Because he was a sick cowardly bastard. He never completely revealed his reasons for murdering so many innocent people. Oh, he gave ‘reasons’, excuses, in the six years following- before dying unceremoniously by lethal injection June 11, 2001  (which was too good for the … words fail…if you ask me!).

You think I’m being harsh? What, judgmental? No. I’m being honest in my opinion after sadly holding onto a bumper sticker that every American should own proudly with this image on it.

I’m angry and I, like so many, feel invaded!

We writers are famous for glorifying various types of heroes. Cowboys, Military, Law enforcement, First Responders, even unhuman heroes.

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But this particular picture is why I write about Firemen. Really and seriously. If you wonder why I write what I do, well for these specific heroes, this is my answer… That’s not to say the police aren’t as much the heroes. It was two police officers who found Baylee and one rushed her to the man in this photo. And in the OKC bombing it was all manner of first responders- the firemen- who braved the fire and damage, the chaos, to search for even a spark of life. One even lost his life during the days following this atrocity. And, yes, this image really was made into a bumper sticker to represent courage and survival, but mostly the innocent, in times of adversity. Yes, I really do still have my sticker tucked away so I will never forget (not that any Oklahoman is ever likely to forget) what that day did, or more aptly- what it DIDN’T do to us.

OKC Fire Capt. Chris Fields’s image is my reason. (in 2005 Chris was a Major and acting battalion chief for OKC fire dept) It seems to always be in the back of my mind. My inspiration to write about the good guys. The baby? She ded just after this picture was taken. Her name was Miss Baylee Almon.  She’d turned one year old the day before this picture was taken. Yesterday Baylee would have turned 18. But seventeen years later none of this is diminished or forgotten. I sat watching the Memorial this morning and crying for what might have been for those 168 who didn’t go home at the end of that very long day. That is what is real.

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How old would those other 18, under-six-yr-old, babies be today? What of the other 145 loved ones taken, robbed from their families too soon…and for what?  They are all missed and mourned today. Not one more or less than another. If you are in or near OKC the museum is offering free admission today only (this does not include the Memorial which is always free). Maybe you want to take a seedling of the Survivor Tree elm to plant in your little corner of the world. Click the link to read the tree’s incredible story. Yes, it too is a survivor of that fateful day. The Oklahoma City National Memorial, located on NW. Fifth Street between Harvey and Robinson, is open 24 hours daily. Admission is free.

I try to put a positive turn on everything and I think seeing the loved ones of those lost participating in the Memorial today is that this time. As the children’s names were read two mallard drakes flew in to walk the length of the reflecting pool and frolic in the shallow water. I know those 18 babies would have loved to see them. It seemed fitting.


First born visitor


This week in my spirit stories I’m sharing the miraculous birth of my first born.

I’ll start at her very beginning. In October 1983 I got pregnant. Hubby and I lived with my mother at the time in Washington state. Right off I had severe morning sickness. I still have no clue why they call it ‘morning’ sick because I was sick from early afternoon past bedtime every freaking day for three months!

When I was three months pregnant I had what my OB doctor called a partial separation of the placenta. “Thank goodness. I thought I was having a miscarriage!” was my response to his diagnoses of the bleeding. He informed me that that was the beginning of a miscarriage. Meaning that the placenta was trying to separate from my uterine wall. GULP. I was put on bed rest and told to take it easy the remainder of the pregnancy. All six more months. Not bed rest for the whole time, but careful.

My mother’s boyfriend was bouncer at a bar and when I was four months along he had called one night and asked us to come over with Mom to play pool. Shortly after we arrived a regular customer pulled a gun and shot Don, the bullet narrowly missing my mother. I’d seen a shiny ‘something-I-thought-was-a-knife’ and she’d slid from her booth seat across from me to stand. The bullet was in the wall behind where her chest had been, not two feet from me. Hubby had leaned back to get a better view and the same bullet missed his neck because he had. Don lived, with no organ damage (he had a healthy beer belly!).

Then that same month my gramma had to have by-pass surgery across the country from us, in N Carolina. Mom went. That was the last time I saw Mom alive. Before she returned hubby and I decided to return to Oklahoma. At five months along we made the trip by Greyhound. Things went fairly well once we got settled in. Until my sixth month when my mother, a fairly healthy woman we thought, (having returned home by then) passed away unexpectedly one night at 46 years old.

Now you see the pattern? Every month from the time I got pregnant something dramatic happened. Oddly- after her death not one solitary incident happened again. The remaining three months went by smoothly. Until the night I went into labor and the car broke down half way to the hospital, that is, but that’s another blog post.

It was a party atmosphere in the delivery room. I was munching ice and listening to the anesthesiologist tell jokes while the doctor did things I wasn’t aware of *down there* and hubby looked on. It occurred to me suddenly that I was having a baby! Maybe I should push like those prenatal classes taught? The doctor welcomed me ‘to the birthing party’ when I did and told me to keep it up. DUH! That girl did not want to be born. The nurse asked if we had names chosen. Now that in itself was odd to me. I knew without a doubt (and without an ultrasound to prove it) that I was having a girl. I can’t explain it- I just knew. As if someone had told me.

After twelve hours of labor the doctor armed with forceps delivered my leggy bundle of joy. We gave her the chosen names for each sex and the instant my daughter was born the nurse yelled- loud!- not that it was a girl, but that “It’s Calais!”

27 years later

The nurses did their stuff and, along with hubby, ran from the room to show off my baby. I didn’t get so much as a glimpse of a toe before they took her out to show the family! Not a hair. I was put in recovery, the baby in the nursery. Five hours later I woke up and asked to see my baby for the first time.

When the nurse brought Calais to me I realized I had already seen her, studied her face, knew every detail of her tiny face. Yet, I’d never laid eyes on her. How? Before I woke I had a ‘dream’. A visit- from my mother. She hadn’t spoken, simply smiled and showed pride in her face. She held my baby in her arms and showed her to me. Lots of thick black hair, tan complexion (from birth her Cherokee blood was evident, as you can see in this pic above, more than any of my three girls), long fingers… I knew she was mine by her appearance alone the instant I looked at her, without reading the name bands on her arm and foot.

I believe that’s why nothing else happened during my pregnancy after my mom died. She protected her first grandbaby from the other side in a way no one else could have. That was also the only time I saw my mother after her death. I’ve dreamed about my gramma, my dad- never of Mom. Not one dream. Just that ethereal hospital visit.

What about you? Do you get visits you can’t explain? Care to share?


Do you believe in Guardian Angels?

My youngest granddaughter-July, 2012


Everyone seems to be blogging about spooks and goblins for Halloween so I thought, why not share a few of my own life experiences, too? So in true form, and I mean true ghost stories, I am starting (late, my usual style) with my mother’s Guardian Angel.

I had never heard Mom mention him before the day I had to put my beloved Chihuahua, Tiny, to sleep. I had given her a chicken bone not knowing it was deadly for her. I was seven, maybe eight, and we lived in Washington state. Mom let me stay home to take Tiny to the vet to have her suffering put to an end. Actually, I had insisted on going, tears and all. I don’t remember going to the vet, what happened while we were there, or the trip back home, oddly enough. But I attribute the forgetfulness to what happened the moment I walked back inside our house when we got home.

Mom went ahead of me, unlocked, entered, and went across the living room to the kitchen. I followed slowly, tearfully. I remember not wanting to go in without my Tiny there to greet me with her little ball of enthusiasm so I lagged behind a few feet. I pushed the front door open and crossed the three foot foyer and was about to step onto the carpet when I saw ‘him’ for the first time. On each side of the door was a coat closet. From the one on the left I saw, as plain as the sunny day outside, a shadow cross in front of me. I remember looking around, expecting someone to be at the door. Nothing. I stood scared out of my wits as ‘he’ crossed the living room and I noticed that even out of the sunlight, I could still see his shadowy dark form. He was tall, wore a trench coat and a Fedora (hat). I couldn’t move. He went right into the kitchen with my mom and I just stood there, terrified. A minute later she came to the doorway and told me to come in and close the door. I was so afraid I ran to her and held on, shaking.

I want to stop here for a moment and say that ghostly apparitions are not new to me, to the women in my family. But I had never been so close to one, or in broad daylight before this day.

Mom asked what was wrong and I leaned around her to peer into the kitchen. He was gone! I get chills just writing this. I told my mom what I’d seen and… she laughed! Laughed. Gently. Not at me, but at what had me so shook up.

She sat down and told me about ‘him’. She said that early in her life he had come to her and she was used to his presence by this time. WHO? “He’s my guardian angel. Whenever something upsetting happens, he comes to comfort me.” Well, Tiny was my dog, I was the one who needed comfort. So why was he there? She told me he was looking out for me because he felt my pain! Really? He was looking out for me? That in itself disturbed me. I didn’t want a ghost haunting me! That was not comforting!

Mom explained that he wouldn’t hurt me. He just wanted me to know I was not alone. She also told me I was the only other person he’d ever revealed himself to. Wow.

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It was the first and last time I saw him until I turned eighteen. One day I was upset about something…probably boy trouble. I sat sulking in Mom’s living room (she and my dad had divorced in the years between) and I looked up and there he was, crossing the living room from the direction of my bed room to the front door. Then he was gone again. I don’t remember seeing him since that time. But I know he’s still out there watching.

How can I be sure? My middle daughter was twelve when she told me about a man outside her friend’s bedroom window one night where she was spending the night. I’m an over protective mother but when she described him to me, I relaxed.

That was the first time I repeated my mother’s guardian angel story.

Ever heard of a Puberty ghost? Ever been attacked by a white dog-like creature on a dark back road? Have you…? I have. Tune in next week for another true spook story from my real life.


Heroic Inspiration


Wasn’t the Carina Press free reads last week just awesome? I hope you got all five! A great big ‘THANK, YOU CARINA PRESS!!!’ shout out for their generosity.

It’s nearly the end of June and I had hoped, planned, to finish the new round of revisions on Perfect Doctor Viv by the end of the month. I realize that to meet this goal I would have had to write. Actual words on paper, or computer, not wildly misplaced thoughts. But I’ve been in turmoil, my life is in turmoil lately. My FIL fell ill last year and needs someone with him all the time. It is my husband’s turn to care for his dad, which means it’s my turn. Unlike my BIL who just moved out, we own(ed) our own home on my sister’s land. To help FIL we had to physically pack up and move thirty miles to FIL’s. This also included leaving my daughter’s dog and my cat behind. As well as my dear horse, Sonny. Thankfully, my niece, w/help from my daughter, took over our house including physical responsibility of my animals. Also, thankfully, we’re close enough to visit often. (More on this topic later…)

But because of the moving preparations in the last few weeks I’ve had little inspiration or inclination to work on revisions. To say nothing of time. Nil. My muse left a Dear Jane note telling me to call when I was settled and ready to get serious about this writing thing again. Not only that, I didn’t have internet for the first week here! It’s cruel and unusual punishment to expect any author to live without our social networks, our peeps for longer than one short time a day! But, I’ve been trying to get back into my groove (and by ‘groove’  don’t mean my cool swing, but rather the ridiculous writing rut I live dependently in) and take advantage of the silence of networking.

In an effort to stay focused on the book I realized that, though I can see my hero in my mind I can’t describe him or imagine him as a real person. How pathetic, right? I mean, I have this completed manuscript with this rockin’ gorgeous hero,  a mediflight paramedic. Tall, strong, handsome. Brown hair and golden eyes that mesmerize my heroine. Generic. So, what does Connor McKay look like? Really? Every time I try to visualize him I see tall, stringy men with glasses and thinning, or nearly gone, hair. I know. Stereotyping, or a bad imagination.

So- in desperation to get my mind back on the revisions and the story I have a Harlequin/Mills and Boon editor’s interest in (still)- I went searching for Connor one night, followed by results that sent my writing friends and critique partners in to hyperventilation mode.

I done good- as my Daddy would have said. <grins> And, with this as inspiration I actually got a few gratifying words written today. What do you say? Can you handle a paramedic like Connor McKay?

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What do you do when life interferes and you totally lose your momentum, even on a book that you love? Do you work on something else to get the flow back? Take a time out to just refill the creative well? Or do you give yourself permission to just write crap in hopes that your muse will take pity on you and pick up the slack (because I know she’s sitting over my shoulder shaking her head at my pity party antics right now)? More over- do you have a good visual of your characters to fall back on?

Happy writing,



That’s right ‘fans’! I am a published author as of 4:25 CMT May 11, 2011!!!!! (I didn’t actually open her email until 9 last night)

And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my new website grand opening than with MY OWN sale! I got ‘The Call’ in the form of a cute email from my editor, Nan Swanson at The Wild Rose Press. My contract is held hostage by a mouse. Yes, I said  mouse. lol Long story. But as soon as I have a contract and details I’ll be sure to post it all here. In the meantime, you can check out the blurb and current book info on my Bookshelf page.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Thanks t my fellow Outlaws for your input and critiques. I so appreciate you all! Thanks to my Twinkies for being there as always! You’re the best cps in the world!!!

A special thank you to my wonderful husband who has single-handedly informed most of Northern California with two phone calls. He hasn’t gotten to the computer to send out emails yet… That should sufficiently finish Northern California. lol Thank you to my beautiful daughters for their patience with my frantic late night call last night to share the news with them.

>Nothing but FUN!!!!!!!!!


As promised- I hope- here are a few pictures from my night of trick-or-treating with the kids. And yes, I totally scyped candy! My grandbabies are very good about sharing with me.

My favorite and new (temp) profile pic. Yes, I was a punkin. 🙂

                                             Me with the babies. Andee, Nikkia, Me, Kaia

I love the awesome, God-provided sunset as we were winding up the night! Too beautiful to fake. And it made for an excellent backdrop.

My oldest, and 7 months pregnant, daughter Calais with hubby Joey and baby jaguar, Kaia.

Youngest fey daughter, Stephanie with her husband, Kris and baby kitty, Nikkia

Middle daughter, Keri, couldn’t be there. Her daughter, cat woman, Andee,
went with her daddy, Mike, his girlfriend and their 8 mo son, Adrian.


                                                                           Self explanatory… 🙂

And what’s Hallowe’en without…..

            Tigger and Pooh?

 Or perhaps….                 

Something only my granddaughter and her cousin could find while bagging candy!

                                                ….yes, a live frog.

All-in-all, it was a wonderful, and successful evening!