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Posts Tagged ‘fiction’


I live at the beach. This hasn’t always been the case, however. A little over ten months ago I lived in the desert. In the Phoenix Valley in perpetually sunny Arizona to be exact. In Arizona it is always dry. Bone dry, mouth sticking dry, eye slamming shut and staying that way dry, tenderly watered and beloved grass going brown and sharp– dry.  Well, enough of that. You get the point.

After twenty two dusty years of scaly skin and blisters on my feet from running from the mailbox, my hubby and I thought it would be really, really cool (in every sense of the word) to move to a beach somewhere. The salt air, sand between your toes and of course all of that endless water..! When we discovered a tiny island off the coast of Texas where they don’t even have so much as a McDonald’s, we thought we’d found heaven!  Well, I must admit that not having anything but colorful beach cottages and a few mom and pop stores is refreshing.

But as goes with most things  in life, there is always another side to the story.  Life at the beach full time is:     

Everything metal, your car and every nail on your house rusts ten times faster than usual. [Unless you galvanize it].

The windows of your car are always dirty because the salt spray makes sure of it.

During the rainy season every closet along with  most of the stuff in it  as well as your  walls have  mildew.

The sun reflecting from the sand, bleaches everything, your couch, carpet, wallpaper, black dog (cat) etc.

Friends and relatives think it is so wonderful to live near the sea,  they want to come visit you all the time…..

And that sand between your toes thing..?  Think fungus. 

So, the next time you find yourself daydreaming of escaping to the beach, or you look at the jar of pennies you’ve been saving for the past two decades to finance that tiny cottage by the sea– think of me.  I’ll be right here–looking out my window at the foamy Gulf  rushing toward the dunes like a kid for its mom. Not much to do during the idyll days of June but count Pelicans and gather sea glass on long morning walks with Gus-the Newfoundland.   Yeah, life at the beach ain’t heaven. But it’s as close as this writer is ever likely to get….      ‘Till next time. Enjoy today–tomorrow is where it belongs…. fantastically your, LC

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The weather this year has been, in a word–bizarre! Mega earthquakes in Japan, off-the chart tornadoes in the south-land, flood so severe they defy the record books dating back more than 200 years. And then there is the drought in the southwest whose malicious offspring, the wildfire, has already destroyed hundreds of square miles of pristine forest along with many homes and ranches.  So what’s going on? Is it the result of global warming? Or is it the beginning of the next ice age?

Of late,  scientists seem to be scratching their heads and muttering about the next “Mini Ice Age.”  Here’s what’s been bandied about around the water cooler in recent days:

“The solar cycle may be going into a hiatus,” Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, said in a news briefing today (June 14).  

The studies looked at a missing jet stream in the solar interior, fading sunspots on the sun’s visible surface, and changes in the corona and near the poles.

“This is highly unusual and unexpected,” Hill said. “But the fact that three completely different views of the sun point in the same direction is a powerful indicator that the sunspot cycle may be going into hibernation.” …

“If we are right, this could be the last solar maximum we’ll see for a few decades,” Hill said. “That would affect everything from space exploration to Earth’s climate.”

Solar activity has long been thought to control weather patterns. The folks at MSNBC report:

Storms from the sun are expected to build to a peak in 2013 or so, but after that, the long-range indicators are pointing to an extended period of low activity — or even hibernation.

“This is important because the solar cycle causes space weather … and may contribute to climate change,” Frank Hill, associate director of the National Solar Observatory’s Solar Synoptic Network, told journalists today.

In the past, such periods have coincided with lower-than-expected temperatures on Earth. The most famous example is the Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period with virtually no sunspots from 1645 to 1715. Average temperatures in Europe sank so low during that period that it came to be known as “the Little Ice Age.”  

    —- So, as you head out into the world today take a moment to look up at the sky and reflect on the fact that we are only as “in control” of our destinies as the elements allow. Be it global warming, or the next ice age–humans are “naked mammals” sweating, or shivering depending on Mother Nature’s mood.   Enjoy today–tomorrow belongs where it is…  fantastically yours,   LC

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Today is the day after the longest day of the year (Summer Solstice) The kids are out of school–bored and maybe driving you crazy? Well, slow down and enjoy the 15+ hour day with some little known (and most likely cared about) tidbits. Share these and show others how nerdy you really are…

Buried Alive

The Legend:

Some poor fool is committed to his or her eternal resting place, even though they aren’t quite ready to take that final dirt nap. Scratch marks are later found on the coffin lid along with other desperate signs of escape.

This not only happened, but back in the day it happened with alarming regularity. In the late 19th century, William Tebb tried to compile all the instances of premature burial from medical sources of the day. He managed to collect 219 cases of near-premature burial, 149 cases of actual premature burial and a dozen cases where dissection or embalming had begun on a not-yet-deceased body.

Now, this may seem ridiculous, but keep in mind this was an era before doctors such as the esteemed Dr. Gregory House gained the ability to solve any ailment within 42 minutes. If you went to the doctor with the flu in those days, he’d likely cover you in leeches and prescribe you heroin to suppress your cough. Their only method for determining if a person had died was to lean over their face and scream “WAKE UP” over and over again. If you didn’t react, they buried you.

The concern over being buried alive back then was so real that the must-have hot-ticket item for the wealthy and paranoid were “safety coffins” that allowed those inside to signal to the outside world (usually by ringing a bell or raising some type of flag) should they awake 6-feet under.

Unfortunately safety coffins aren’t in vogue anymore, so if you’re at the cemetery and hear a muffled voice calling out “OK guys, joke’s over. Let me out!” it might be a good idea to inform someone with a shovel quickly.

Of course, that last sentence was merely facetious, there’s no way something like this could still happen today. Uh, well, except for this story about a Venezuelan man waking up during his autopsy. On second thought, you might want to consider adding a line in your will that states you’re to be buried with a gas-powered auger in your casket when you go.

Nathan Birch also writes the disgustingly cute webcomic Zoology.

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Summer solstice 2011

The annual ritual is celebrated at the world heritage site of Stonehenge on England’s Salisbury plane.

Revelers surround the ancient Stonehenge monument prior to the summer solstice on Salisbury plain in southern England June 21, 2011. Stonehenge is a celebrated venue of festivities during the summer solstice – the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere – and it attracts thousands of revelers, spiritualists and tourists. Druids, a pagan religious order dating back to Celtic Britain, believe Stonehenge was a center of spiritualism more than 2,000 years ago.

KIERAN DOHERTY/REUTERS   

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This week’s “peek” into the world of NOVEMBER IN SALEM is a look at old Salem Village.  Although it’s now called Danvers, the original site of the Salem Witch Trials has not been forgotten by many in this coastal Massachusetts city.  Modern day Danvers is a bustling place, and the old Danvers State Hospital (the basis for the asylum in my novel) has been partially demolished and remodeled into a luxury condominium complex

But it was not always so scenic. The original hospital once sat on over 500 acres. It was built in the late 19th century as a place for those with “mental afflictions” to spend their days in a beautiful and peaceful setting. But as sometimes happens, over the years the asylum became a repository for the poor and indigent. Family members who no longer could care for, or who wanted nothing more to do with that member of the family who was “odd,” placed them into the state-run facility to be forgotten. In fact, there were so many “forgotten” that the patient population ceased to exit. They lost their identity and became simply an assigned number. It is easier to dismiss a number. No need to show mercy to a statistic on a spreadsheet. And the population of Danvers Hospital remained thus even after death. Behind the great buildings, far back into the wooded grounds there lay oddly shaped markers with numbers on them. Hundreds of them. They are the only reminder of those whose lives held so little meaning they were buried in graves behind the hospital like so much refuse.  The asylum  closed in 1992 and for more than two decades the moody old buildings sat grinding their bones as vandals and urban explorers crawled through their veins and underground labyrinths.  It was to this that I was drawn. The grim old buildings, the spacious grounds, once so carefully tended–now overgrown with weeds. And the lonely graves sitting on the windswept hill. The Hill of Hathorne. The hill that once witnessed the hanging of more than 17 people accused of witchcraft in 1692.  The ghosts of all of those who linger –  watching and waiting.

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