Friday, December 22, 2006

Not Home for the Holidays

My daughter and I will be in the mountains of North Carolina for the Holidays.

To my faithful readers near and far (all three of you), Happy Holidays and a Blessed New Year!


Monday, December 18, 2006

For Life

The geese of winter
land on the lake.
Silver wings stretched
they break the glassy
surface of the water
and float together
in the morning mist.
Bound for life
they wait for spring
through frost and
winter’s pale moon.
Black necks curved
in grey-feathered sleep.
Rest now, for soon
the journey home.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


On the edge
looking down,
it seems so far to fall
take a deep breath
close your eyes
spread your wings and fly
fly to hope,
tomorrow’s child
waiting on the sun to rise
waiting on a future moon
life will not wait for you

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sand Castle

The sea
has finally washed
my carefully constructed
the form of
leaving only infinite
grains of sand
a scattered beach.
-unknown author

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I had a dream last night. I was on a dark beach with you. But you were much younger than you are now, you seemed to be around 6 years old. Your hand felt very small in mine.

There were storm clouds and lightening rolling over head. The wind was warm and fierce. But we stood there and faced the wind blowing our hair back, our jackets flapping. At the edge of the surf, our toes met the lip of foam, growing ever closer to covering our feet, sucking the sand out from under as it retreated.

Overhead, the storm charged the air and lightening descending in crooked arcs aross the black sky, bouncing through menacing clouds, briefly lighting them with bursts of purest white.

We were facing it - head on - knowing that sometimes things are so much more beautiful after the storm has passed, we waited together.

Walt Whitman's poem is about a father and daughter, but it sounds like we had the same dream.
We will make it through. I love you!

On The Beach At Night, by Walt Whitman

On the beach, at night,
Stands a child,
with her father,
Watching the east,
the autumn sky.

Up through the darkness,
While ravening clouds,
the burial clouds,
in black masses spreading,
Lower, sullen and fast, athwart and down the sky,
Amid a transparent clear belt of ether yet left in the east,
Ascends, large and calm, the lord-star Jupiter;
And nigh at hand, only a very little above,
Swim the delicate brothers,
the Pleiades.

From the beach, the child,
holding the hand of her father,
Those burial-clouds that lower, victorious,
soon to devour all,
Watching, silently weeps.
Weep not, child,
Weep not, my darling,
With these kisses let me remove your tears;

The ravening clouds shall not long be victorious,
They shall not long possess the sky--shall devour the stars only inapparition:
Jupiter shall emerge--be patient--watch again another night--
the Pleiades shall emerge,
They are immortal--all those stars, both silvery and golden, shall shine out again,
The great stars and the little ones shall shine out again--they endure;
The vast immortal suns, and the long-enduring pensive moons, shall again shine.
Then, dearest child, mournest thou only for Jupiter?
Considerest thou alone the burial of the stars?

Something there is,
Something there is more immortal even than the stars,
(Many the burials, many the days and nights, passing away,)
Something that shall endure longer even than lustrous Jupiter,
Longer than sun, or any revolving satellite,
Or the radiant brothers, the Pleiades

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Long and Winding Road

I'm traveling for a few days. I'll be back with new content, sometime next week.

Aller avec Dieu.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

For Mary Ann & Clifford, Married 55 Years

"Be the captive of Love
in order that you may be truly free-
free from coldness and the worship of self.

Thousands have passed who were wise and learned
but who were strangers to Love.

No name is left to them,
nothing to proclaim their fame and
dignity or to relate their history in the march of time.

Although you may attempt to do
a hundred things in this world,
only Love will give you release
from the bondage of yourself."

-Hakim Jami, Sufi Master, 1492

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wish Upon a Star (or Two)

This weekend brings the return of the famous Leonid meteor shower, which has a storied history of producing some of the most sensational meteor displays ever recorded.

The year's encounter is predicted for 11:45 p.m. ET Saturday.

A lounge chair or blanket, warm clothes, and a snuggle-buddy are all you need. Find a dark location away from city lights, with a clear view of the eastern horizon. Lie back, face east, and scan as much of the sky as you can.

Scientists are expecting between 100-150 meteors per hour during this cosmic event.

That’s a huge opportunity for wish-making, if you’re in need of a few. I know I am.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Some of My Favorite "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey

"When I found the skull in the woods, the first thing I did was call the police. But then I got curious about it. I picked it up, and started wondering who this person was, and why he had deer horns."
"We like to praise birds for flying. But how much of it is actually flying, and how much of it is just sort of coasting from the previous flap?"
"How come the dove gets to be the peace symbol? How about the pillow? It has more feathers than the dove, and it doesn't have that dangerous beak."
"It makes me mad when people say I turned and ran like a scared rabbit. Maybe it was like an angry rabbit, who was going to fight in another fight, away from the first fight."
"When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, mmmmmmm, boy."
"When I was a kid my favorite relative was Uncle Caveman. After school we'd all go play in his cave, and every once in a while he would eat one of us. It wasn't until later that I found out that Uncle Caveman was a bear."
"I hope if dogs ever take over the world and they choose a king, they don't just go by size, because I bet there are some Chihuahuas with some good ideas."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Travel Day

I'm getting ready to leave for the airport. It's going to take me all day to get home, if you count the two-hour time difference and the layover in Houston.

I will be so tired by the time I finally land, get my luggage, try to remember where I parked my car, get out of the parking deck, pay the toll, fight the rush-hour traffic, unpack the car, read the mail, walk the dogs, take a bath, and go to bed....

I think I better have a Starbucks Grande or two before I take to the skies.

See you on the other side of the country.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

I stood in the rain this morning, in a long line that snaked around the corner of the Prince of Peace Catholic Church (my polling place).

Under the circumstances, I was surprised that the turnout was as good as it was. Everyone seemed determined to vote come Hell, or in this case, high water. My feet got soaked. My shoes are probably ruined (how many black pumps does a girl need anyway?).

Besides, it's a small sacrifice to pay for the privledge of living in a democracy that so many have died defending. In spite of some really stupid politicians, America is still a great country.

Please don't forget to vote.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Missing You

Something reached inside my chest today
and squeezed my heart.
It happened when the breeze
went dancing through the trees
and turned their leaves
upside down.
I tilted my face to the sun
and felt the place you used to fill,
now quiet and empty.
Missing you in falling leaves
and the slanted light of Autumn.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Wanna Go Home

I travel often for work. Some people think it's glamorous, but it gets old. Here's a song dedicated to my fellow Road Warriors.

by Michael Buble

Another summer day
Has come and gone away
In Paris or Rome
But I wanna go home
I wanna go home

May be surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel all alone
Just wanna go home
Oh I miss you, you know

And I've been keeping all the letters that I wrote to you
Each one a line or two "I'm fine baby, how are you?"
Well I would send them but I know that it's just not enough
My words were cold and flat
And you deserve more than that

Another aeroplane
Another sunny place
I'm lucky I know
But I wanna go home
I wanna go home

I gotta go home
Let me go home
I'm just too far from where you are
I wanna come home
And I feel just like I'm living someone else's life
It's like I just stepped outside
When everything was going right
And I know just why you could not come along with me
This was not your dream
But you always believed in me

Another winter day has come
And gone away
In Paris and Rome
And I wanna go home
Let me come home

P.S. I'll be in Vegas next week for work. Don't hate me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lost Girl

Today is not a good day
Today is a day of dark thoughts
And dangerous moods
Circling fury
Black sand in her veins
Today her heart is a hollow stone
No longer human
She disappears
Without your love
She becomes the darkness

Monday, October 30, 2006

Nature Boy

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy and sad of eye
But very wise was he.
And then one day
A magic day
He passed my way
And while we spoke of many things
Fools and kings
This he said to me:
"The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return"
-Eden Ahbez

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Purple Iris

The steam rises in a


from the cup of coffee you sip

as you sit lost

in the Sunday paper.

The golden light

of the morning sun

paints you

in stripes through the window blinds.

The kitchen clock


the simple rhythm of passing time.

Another second,

becomes a minute

and then you are

just a memory.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Cardboard City

I moved to a new house. It doesn't feel like home yet, probably because all of my furniture is still in my old house, which is still on the market. I'm living out of boxes and sleeping on an air mattress. I use a tv-tray as a bedside table.

In a way, it's been nice to discover that I can survive without all my material possessions. It's a simplified existence. Without the distractions of these things, I have found more time to read and more time to be creative.

So for now, I am enjoying the minimalistic decor of my new home and relaxing in the chaos of boxes. Because one day soon my cardboard city will be gone.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Eight)

And that’s the end of the story, at least as far as most people know.

Five years later, Evangeline and Tucker have not been found. After a year-long nationwide manhunt and no legitimate leads, the FBI deemed the file a “cold case.” Michael Kent left the FBI, got married, and travels with his wife around the world doing charity work.

Rumors still circulate about what might have happened to Tucker and Evangeline. Some people think that Sal Vanelli finally caught up with Tucker, and that both Tucker and Evangeline are sitting on the bottom of Powhatan Lake strapped to a 200 pound sack of gravel (the Vanelli’s are in the gravel business).

Some people believe that Tucker escaped to Mexico with Evangeline, and that he probably killed her and buried her in the desert. Rumor has it that Tucker is working as a waiter at one of the big resorts in Cancun.

The best stories involve alien abductions or satanic rituals. After all, how could two people just disappear off of the face of the earth without leaving one shred of evidence?

Like Elvis, there have been Tucker “sightings” on the beach in Miami, at a liquor store in Austin, and at the Emmy Awards in Hollywood. But the FBI has never been able to validate any of the claims.

You may be disappointed that this story doesn’t have a happier ending, or at least an ending that makes sense, which takes me back to the beginning and the reason I’ve been telling you this. Before I go to meet my Maker, I want someone to know what I saw on Christmas Eve five years ago. Call me a crazy old lady, but I know what I saw. You can make up your own mind about whether or not it’s true.

It had snowed that night and the moon was full. My daughter who is a nurse at the hospital called to tell me that Pastor and Mrs. Goodman had just given birth to a 7 lb. 6 oz. healthy baby boy. Not a thing in the world was wrong with him - no Down’s Syndrome, not even an extra finger or toe. He was perfect and it was a miracle. All those doctors had been wrong. Mrs. Goodman cried and said it was Evangeline’s singing that had made the baby well. Maybe having their healthy new son would begin to heal their broken hearts.

Anyway, I was so happy to hear the news about the new baby that I wrapped up in my old wool coat and went out on to the front porch to say a prayer of gratitude. The air was pure and crisp and the sky was jet black and full of stars.

I often look up at the sky when I pray. I feel like God can hear me better that way. I lifted my face and was just about to close my eyes when I felt something gently brush against my cheek like a feather. It was a butterfly, in the dead of winter, a beautiful, rare Panacea Prola butterfly indigenous to the Amazon River Basin. It landed on the back of my hand and slowly opened and closed its silver-blue wings.

I was in shock. What in the world was an Amazonian butterfly doing in Virginia in December? Then I realized that there were more butterflies, hundreds and hundreds of them. They began to swirl around me in a kaleidoscope of color, the light of the moon reflecting in their iridescent wings. It was like being inside a rainbow. My heart overflowed with joy.

Then the butterflies flew like a whispering river towards someone walking down the middle of the street.

That’s when I saw Evangeline, bare-footed, her hair a shining mass of perfect curls. There was a light about her, like the glow of a firefly, and the butterflies were drawn to it.

She stopped right beneath the first street light and turned to look at me. She smiled and raised her hand as if to wave hello, then reached right through the air and parted it like a curtain.

Then she stepped through and was gone. I stood motionless, not believing my very own eyes. The butterflies turned a glistening white, became snow flakes, and softly fell from the sky, covering Evangeline’s footprints.

I walked out on to the street and looked up in to the heavens and realized Evangeline was home at last.

The End

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews, Chapter 13:2

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Seven)

Michael Kent looked at his watch and prayed that they had found the place in time. Using the clues Stacy had given him, Michael had been able to find the bunker on an old county survey dated 1949. Someone had been expecting Russia to drop a bomb.

Now, surrounded by a full S.W.A.T. team and a few dozen state police, ATF agents, and FBI, it was easy to see why it had been difficult to spot from the air. Sheltered by a thick grove of pine trees, the tiny shed that covered the bunker would not have stood out as an anomaly, especially with a thick blanket of snow on the roof.

The S.W.A.T. team slowly tightened the circle around the shed. Michael motioned for the captain in charge to move in. Suddenly, the quiet forest exploded with the shouts of the men on the S.W.A.T. team, “FBI! Put your hands in the air!” as they descended the wooden steps of the bunker in a rush of body armor and assault rifles.

For a long moment, Michael’s heart was gripped with fear. What would they find? He thought about Stacy and how if it hadn’t been for her –

“Agent Kent,” someone shouted over the radio, “Get down here right away. The area has been secured.” Then another voice crackled through the state police two-way urging someone to, “Call an ambulance” and his heart sank.

He made his way down the wooden steps. There, lying on her back on the floor was Prissy Montgomery. Her neck was badly bruised, and she was unconscious, but she was alive. One of the S.W.A.T. team members had taken off his goose down jacket and covered her as the room was like a walk-in refrigerator.

Michael began to look around. It appeared as though someone had recently pressure-washed the walls. They were perfectly white like freshly poured concrete. There was nothing else in the room. No furniture. No food. No Evangeline. No Tucker. Nothing. Not a speck of dust or a bit of debris or a strand of hair. The room had been sterilized.

Michael reached for his cell phone and hit the re-dial button. He had promised Stacy he would call when they had breached the bunker.

Stacy answered without saying hello. “She’s gone Michael. It’s over.” Michael felt the stress of the last few days suddenly overpower him. His knees grew weak and he sat down on the floor to keep from falling. He had failed. One girl alive. One girl dead. That’s the way it would end after all. Stacy was never wrong. If she said she was gone, then Evangeline Goodman was most certainly gone. And when Stacy said “gone,” she meant “dead.”

“Michael,” said Stacy gently. “I’m coming down there. I will be there tomorrow. I will help you find the body. I will help you.”

Michael closed his eyes and remembered her face and suddenly all he wanted was her arms around him.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Six)

Tucker felt the vibration before he heard it. He could feel it in his chest and in his teeth. He tightened his grip on Prissy’s delicate neck. Her eyes grew wide with confusion, then with anger, and then fear as she began to realize that Tucker was indeed trying to kill her.

Prissy grabbed Tucker’s hands and frantically buried her fingernails in to his skin, scratching and clawing at his cold grip. This only made him angry and he squeezed harder. Prissy’s face was a deep, purple-red. Her eyelashes fluttered as she gasped for air. Tears spilled out of the corners of her eyes and rolled down her cheeks in tiny rivers of pain.

The vibration grew stronger. Tucker could hear it now. Like a faraway swarm of hornets, a low buzz that tickled his ears. He glanced over at Evangeline and realized the sound was coming from her. She was humming, her eyes closed as in prayer, the long piece of duct tape still covering her mouth.

The room began to grow darker. The buzzing grew louder. Tucker felt dizzy and nauseated all at once. He could feel Prissy’s knees buckling under her. She was almost dead, if he could just stop that buzzing.

“Shut up!” he screamed at Evangeline. “Stop that noise right now, or you will be next!” he threatened.

Tucker’s mind began to reel. He saw tiny flecks of light and heard the sound of a choir humming long slow notes, “O Come, O Come Emanuel.”

Evangeline slowly opened her eyes and the room filled with butterflies. Only to Tucker Shaw they were razor blades, with wings.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Five)

Stacy Garcia was halfway between Chesterton, Indiana and Chicago when her cell phone startled her back from distant thoughts. She glanced at the number and her heart began to race.

It had been five years since she had heard from Michael, but in spite of everything, she still thought about him every single day and wondered what his life was like without her in it.

Michael was a man who believed in facts, science, and evidence. Stacy believed in things that couldn’t be proven. She had a gift that Michael couldn’t understand and eventually, it had become a wedge between them. He was determined to climb the ladder in the FBI, and there was no way he would succeed with a wife who could see the past, and sometimes the future.

Like her grandmother, Stacy had the “gift”. And even though law enforcement was always skeptical whenever her services were enlisted by some desperate detective, she had been extremely successful in helping to solve difficult cases. Now, she rarely aided the police. The more she opened her mind to “seeing” the crime, the more it affected her health. It was as if the gift came with a price.

Before she answered the phone, images began to appear before her mind’s eye. Two girls…concrete walls….and death….it was near. She was solving Michael’s mystery before she even heard his voice. Her connection to him had always been strangely powerful.

She answered without saying hello.

“Two girls. They’re in a small, dark, room. One of them is bound to a chair. The walls are concrete. They’re in grave danger Michael.”

Michael paused for a moment. He had forgotten how much he loved Stacy’s voice. It gave him a rush and he felt his heart pounding in his chest. He took a deep breath and summoned the most professional response he could muster.

“Hello Stacy. I hope you are well. The FBI would truly appreciate your assistance. Can you give me any other details of the scene?”

Stacy pulled the car over on to the emergency lane. The images were coming fast now. She could feel the cold dampness of the bunker. The room had an underground musty smell. Then she was looking in to a pair of cold green eyes and her throat began to tighten.

Friday, September 08, 2006

On the Road Again

I'll be traveling on business the next few weeks. Keep checking back for the final few chapters of Evangeline. She's almost home.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Four)

Tucker retrieved the message off of the internet voice mail box. The Feds were unwilling to commit to making the deposit until they talked to the girls to ensure they were still alive. They were insisting that Tucker speak with their negotiator. Guess he would have to kill Prissy today.

He turned off the cell phone and headed back to the fallout shelter through the fresh blanket of snow. Time to show the Feds he meant business.

He climbed down the steps into the shelter and winked at Prissy. “Everything’s going as planned,” he said with a smile. Prissy hopped up and threw her arms around his neck. “That’s wonderful Tucker! I am sooooo ready to get out of this dungeon!” she whined.

You mean your tomb. He thought to himself.

Evangeline was bound to a folding chair. Her ankles and wrists secured with duct tape. Tucker had also made sure to put an extra long piece over her mouth. The last thing he wanted was to hear her singing. He shuttered at the thought.

With her arms still around his neck, Tucker began to ponder how to kill Prissy. He could always shoot her. But maybe strangulation would be more fun? He could just imagine the look on her face when it dawned on her that he had tricked her, lied to her, and used her.

He slid his hands up to cup her face and gave her a long kiss on the mouth. “Ewww, Tucker,” Prissy groaned, “You need to brush your teeth.”

He smiled and slowly moved his hands down around her delicate neck, his thumbs making little affectionate circles so as not to alarm her.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Three)

Special Agent Michael Kent sat alone in his office in the mobile command center listening to classical music radio. He needed some time to figure out who Tucker Shaw was. As a profiler for the FBI, it was his job to create a personality framework of the kidnapper in order to assess his determination, motivation, and proclivity for violence. This would help them to understand what kind of person they were dealing with.

It had been a long day waiting for Tucker to reply with the go-ahead. The state police had combed the county, but a midnight snow had covered all the tracks and they had been unable to find a trail. Winter had finally come to Virginia.

Agent Kent put his feet up on the desk and took a deep breath. He knew the more time that passed, the less likely the two kidnapped girls would be released alive. It was just a statistical fact. He closed his eyes and tried to piece together the last few sections of the profile in his mind – prior crimes – family background – incarceration – drug abuse. It did not bode well for Prissy and Evangeline.

Suddenly a familiar melody filled the quiet space in the office. It was Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The music reminded him of a time and a place long ago, before he had chosen duty over love. A deep sadness squeezed his heart and memories poured over the wall that separated work from his personal life. He turned the volume up, put his head in his hands, and let himself travel back through time to a beautiful day with the love of his life.

By letting her go, he had done the right thing, hadn’t he?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Two)

The Tabernacle church was surrounded by flashing blue lights. There were county sheriff’s cars, state police cars, and a couple of black SUVs with dark tinted windows and small blue lights on the dashboard. The FBI had made it to Sommerville from Richmond in record time. After all, kidnapping is a serious crime that requires highly-skilled law enforcement, not hick town sheriffs and their deputies.

Inside the envelope that Tucker had left with the pastor’s wife was a simple note written with a dull pencil.

To the town of Sommerville:

Wire $1,000,000 in to account # 00098970653 at The Swiss Credit Bank in Zurich by 5:00 p.m. on December 21 or Evangeline Goodman and Prissy Montgomery will both be killed.

Call the following voice mail box and leave a message to let me know you have received this message by 5:00 pm tomorrow night, or I will kill Prissy Montgomery just to show you I mean business. The number is 999-708-7675.

Once I know you have received this message, I will call with further instructions.

Don’t piss me off.

Tucker was a good listener and had learned a few things about new identities from his cellmate in prison. He’d also learned a great deal about Swiss bank accounts from Prissy Montgomery. He could disappear in to a big city in the u.s.a. for a while, laying low and living simply for a year before sliding over the border.

He had a new California driver’s license, social security card, veteran’s i.d, and a Swiss Credit Bank ATM card. Soon, Tucker would become just another California beach bum. All he had to do was get to the Standard Iron train depot and hitch a ride in an empty box car.

According to his internet research, the train ran straight across the country to the port in San Diego. On foot, he could be at the depot in twelve minutes if he cut through Saunder’s Dairy, climbed the fence behind the loading dock, and zig zagged through the stacks of iron pipes to the waiting train.

Tucker had timed himself three times before the kidnapping, always making the journey in the darkest hours of the night to avoid being seen. Two of the three times he made it in twelve minutes. Once he made it in 20, only because he twisted his ankle and had to hop the remaining 100 yards, so that time didn’t count.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty One)

Tucker and Prissy discovered the hideout completely by accident. Hiding their relationship from Prissy’s father had forced them to look for secret meeting places. On one such adventure, they stumbled across an abandoned fallout shelter.

At first they thought it was just an old garage, but once inside, they found a door in the floor that opened to a 10 x 10 concrete room, complete with musty old cots and a few rusted tin cans.

The hideout was deep in the woods behind Grandma Shaw’s farm. At one time, there had been a house on the property. But now, only the crumbled outline of the foundation remained.

Tucker pulled Prissy’s car in to the garage, making sure to leave room to open the door in the floor. The garage was so overgrown and surrounded by thick pine trees that it would be almost impossible to see it from the air. Tucker’s only worry was that someone may have seen him turn on to the old logging road. His tracks would be fresh.

Prissy and Tucker had stocked the fallout shelter with enough food, water, beer, and toilet paper for about two weeks. Prissy had also insisted on new blankets, oil lamps, bug spray, folding chairs, and a large mirror to hang on the wall (to make the room look larger). She couldn’t imagine being down in that hole for two weeks without a shower, so Tucker had rigged up a small camp shower behind the garage, on the promise that she would only shower at night, in the dark, and no more than every three days. Prissy reluctantly agreed.

Tucker had also been thoughtful enough to hang a blanket across one corner of the room and had designated it as the unisex bathroom, complete with a portable potty (he couldn't wait to tell Prissy it was her job to empty it).

The wind began to howl through the old garage as the three descended the creeky wooden steps in to the darkness. Tucker’s flashlight threw a halogen beam into the black velvet of the fallout shelter, highlighting newly spun cobwebs and their own reflections in the cracked mirror on the wall.

The plan was in motion. Too late to turn back now.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty)

Piece of cake, that’s what it was.

Evangeline and her mother had been so startled to see Tucker and Prissy and the gun that they’d stumbled in shock to Prissy’s car without resisting. Tucker made Evangeline get in the back seat, all the while pointing the gun at her mother’s head.

Prissy quickly tied Evangeline’s hands, stuffed a rag in her mouth and placed a flour sack over her head, tightening the cotton draw strings just enough to be uncomfortable. Then Tucker shouted at Evangeline to lie down.

Mrs. Goodman was handed a large envelope with the words “Instructions for Ransom” scrawled across the front in black magic marker.

“Take this to Prissy’s father,” Tucker hissed, “if you ever want to see your daughter alive again, make sure they give me what I want.” With that, Tucker and Prissy jumped in the car and left Mrs. Goodman, still shaking in a cloud of dust.

"I am a genius!" Tucker shouted. Prissy nervously looked over her shoulder at Evangeline's flour-sack covered head. Evangeline glared at her through the loosely woven fabric, and although Prissy could not see her eyes, she felt them. A feeling of dread settled in to her stomach causing the acid to rise in her throat. Prissy closed her eyes and prayed to whoever would listen for a speedy and harmless resolution to the kidnapping.

All she wanted was Tucker and an engagement ring. Was that too much to ask?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Evangeline (Part Nineteen)

Tucker was on his sixth beer.

Prissy held her hand up to the sky. She parted her fingers so that the golden fire of the setting sun was between her middle finger and ring finger. If she squinted just right, it looked like she was wearing a huge diamond ring, the kind she expected to receive from Tucker. It would be so romantic to be married on the beach in Mexico. She smiled and let out a happy sigh.

Tucker glanced at her before he opened the car door. “I gotta piss,” he snarled. He slammed the car door and staggered behind a big blue dumpster. Prissy rolled her eyes and wondered how she would ever teach the boy manners. “If he doesn’t stop drinking beer, he will be peeing all night” she thought.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Pastor Goodman’s white station wagon coming up the alley. Her heart began to race in her chest. Tucker peered out from behind the dumpster and held his finger up to his puckered lips to indicate that she needed to be quiet. Prissy sat motionless while sweat began to trickle down between her cleavage. “How can it be so hot in December?” she wondered.

From her vantage point, she could see that Pastor Goodman was alone. Where were Mrs. Goodman and Evangeline? The Pastor seemed preoccupied and hurriedly unlocked the back door to the church without glancing Prissy’s way. After the Pastor was inside, Tucker bolted back to the car and slid in behind the steering wheel.

“Where in the hell is his wife and daughter?” Tucker shouted at Prissy.

“I don’t know,” Prissy whined. “They must have decided to drive separate cars for some reason. And don’t you dare yell at me Tucker Shaw!”

Just about that time, Prissy spotted Evangeline and Mrs. Goodman walking around the corner of the back of Higgin’s Pharmacy. They were smiling and enjoying what appeared to be a chocolate milk shake. Higgin’s Pharmacy makes the best chocolate milk shakes in the entire world. Prissy’s mouth watered at the thought.

“This is perfect,” Tucker muttered. “It will be easier to grab her without Pastor Goodman around. I might not even have to use my gun.” Tucker caressed the cool steel of the pistol and winked at Prissy. “Let’s go,” he ordered.

Prissy and Tucker stepped out of the car and headed down the alley towards Evangeline and her very pregnant mother.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Evangeline (Part Eighteen)

The back door to the Tabernacle Church opened up on to a narrow alley. Across the alley was a very small grassy lot where the pastor parked his car. Tucker Shaw had driven up and down the alley several times, figuring out the best way in and the best way out. It was the final preparation for his ticket out of town. He was ready to get the show on the road.

Prissy picked Tucker up at 5:00 pm and they headed to the spot he had chosen to hide the car, one block from the back door of the Tabernacle Church. They sat and waited as the sun went down for Pastor Goodman and family, to arrive at the church for the Christmas Pageant rehearsals.

Prissy was very unhappy. Tucker had only allowed her to bring one small bag. Did he realize how difficult it was to choose only two pairs of shoes? And what about all her expensive clothes, and makeup, and accessories? She sat and fumed, unable to look at Tucker. How could he be so cruel?

Tucker was oblivious to Prissy’s mood. His mind wandered to long stretches of beach, warm ocean breezes, and a caramel-skinned Mexican cutie bringing him frosty beverages. He couldn’t wait to get there – especially knowing that any day now, Sal Vannelli & Company would be showing up looking for blood. He felt the cold fingers of fear clutch his heart and he tightened his grip on Sal Vannelli’s Colt .38 Special.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Evangeline (Part Seventeen)

As Mrs. Goodman approached her seventh month of pregnancy, her doctor put her on bed rest. Evangeline began to do even more around the house to help out, including cooking the entire Thanksgiving Dinner.

The closer she got to her due date, the more anxious Mrs. Goodman became about the baby. Evangeline could sense her mother’s anxiety and began to sing to her as often as possible. Mrs. Goodman said that when Evangeline sang, she could feel the baby turn, as if to position its head closer to the sound of Evangeline’s voice.

The baby was due December 28th, right between Christmas and New Year’s, so Pastor Goodman and Evangeline planned to do all the decorating and cooking for the holidays. They were also very involved with the Christmas Pageant, so things were a little crazy around the Goodman household.

It was about a month before Christmas, when Evangeline noticed that Prissy Montgomery had suddenly become very interested in her. Prissy actually spoke to Evangeline when she passed her in the hall at school, and she made it a point to personally invite Evangeline to her private Christmas party at the country club. All this seemed a little odd to Evangeline, but being the kind of person she was, she assumed that Prissy had matured, buried the hatchet, and realized that life was too short to harbor old feuds.

Evangeline could not have been more wrong.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Evangeline (Part Sixteen)

The plan was simple. Kidnap the creepy girl with the cash-generating vocal cords and demand a million dollar ransom. Tucker believed that there were just enough “Jesus Freaks” around Sommerville who would be more than willing to pony-up the money. He got the idea from Prissy, who claimed that Evangeline’s voice had brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars in offerings to the Tabernacle Church.

With the holidays approaching, Evangeline would be performing in the Christmas Pageant. The whole town would suffer if she wasn’t around to add her angelic voice to the traditional production. After all, people drove from neighboring states just to hear her sing “O Holy Night.” This brought in a great deal of extra revenue to Sommerville. The gas stations did better. The restaurants did better. The shops along Market Street did better. Sommerville’s Christmas Pageant had become a tourist attraction.

Tucker knew he had to act fast and grab the girl in time to paralyze the town’s holiday plans. He believed it would be motivation enough to force them to pay quickly. The sooner they paid, the sooner they got their song bird back, and Christmas could go on as usual.

Meanwhile, he would be soaking up the sun in Cabo with some sexy senorita. Tucker needed Prissy’s help to implement the plan, but he had no intention of taking that spoiled Daddy’s Girl to Mexico. It would be “adios” Miss Montgomery as soon as he had his hands on the cash.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Evangeline (Part Fifteen)

The phone call came the same day we had our first snow of the winter. Grandma Shaw hung up the phone with a puzzled look on her face. She then informed Tucker that someone named Sal Vannelli had called from Chicago asking if Tucker lived there. The minute she said “Sal Vannelli,” all of the blood drained from Tucker’s face and he dropped his spoon into the gigantic bowl of Captain Crunch he was devouring.

Yes, the father of Tucker’s former (pregnant) girlfriend Sandy back in Chicago, had tracked him down. Tucker knew this could only mean one thing. He did not have long to get out of town. If Sal Vannelli knew where he was, that meant the whole Vannelli clan did too, and if the Vannelli clan knew, Tucker was as good as dead.

Tucker needed money, lots of it, and he needed it fast. He called Prissy and asked her to meet him at their rendezvous spot. Two hours later, they had devised the scheme. With enough cash, they could head for Mexico and disappear. Tucker always wanted to go south of the border, and he certainly was a big fan of tequila.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Evangeline (Part Fourteen)

Speaking of love, from the moment she saw him, Prissy Montgomery was “in love” with Tucker Shaw, much to her father’s chagrin.

Prissy never intended to annoy her father, but for some reason, she seemed to find ever more creative ways to displease and exasperate him. Tucker was 21 years old and Prissy was sixteen. The age difference was unacceptable to Garrison Montgomery and he forbade Prissy to have anything to do with Tucker Shaw. But of course, that only made Tucker much more mysterious and interesting to Prissy. So she ignored her father’s instructions and continued to rendezvous secretly with Tucker.

It was about the same time as Prissy’s infatuation with Tucker began, that very bad things started to happen around here. There were robberies. Lots of guns were stolen. Drugs began to show up in the high school – something that had never been a problem before. There was vandalism. Windows were broken. Mailboxes were crushed. Empty beer bottles littered the road sides. Yes, something dark was happening in Sommerville.

Evangeline (Part Thirteen)

I believe true love comes along once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky. I had such a love a long, long time ago. There is no way to explain that kind of love. I could write for the next 20 years about him, but never come close to understanding or illuminating the profound depth of our connection. They say true love is the heart’s recognition of its counterpart in another. To this day, my heart beats faster at the very thought of his name.

Branden was a soldier. His duty was to his country. So when his country called him to Korea, he went. Six months later he was reported Missing in Action. His body has never been recovered. Sometimes duty requires us to do the opposite of what our heart wants us to do.

When I sit on the porch late in the afternoon, I like to imagine him walking down the street, coming home to me, arms open wide. Branden always looked so handsome in his uniform. I saved all of his letters to me, every one. It is all I have left of him.

When the person you love the most in the world is gone, there is nothing that can fill that space in your heart. And neither time, nor distance, nor other love can lessen the pain of losing it. It is an abyss, an immeasurable void in my life. The older I get, the deeper it becomes.

I eventually married a good man and moved on with my life. But the love I have for Branden was, and is, the only absolute I’ve ever known.

Evangeline (Part Twelve)

Grandma Shaw was indeed surprised by Tucker’s sudden appearance in her driveway. But Tucker was her only grandchild, so she did what any grandmother would do, she took him in. He seemed to her to be a little lost and down-in-the-dumps, so Grandma Shaw was exceptionally patient. Yet after three months of sitting on the sofa watching television all day while eating her out of house and home, Tucker’s grace period ran out.

Grandma Shaw inquired around town about work and discovered that Garrison Montgomery (Prissy’s father) was looking for a handy man/gardener/errand boy. She went straight over to the bank and struck a deal with Garrison. Tucker would work five days a week from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm and would basically do whatever it was that Garrison Montgomery needed done. Tucker would earn $10 an hour. His lunch would be provided. A pretty good deal for a recently-released ex-convict (although Grandma Shaw forgot to mention that minor detail to Mr. Montgomery).

Tucker was not happy when Grandma Shaw told him the news, but the more he argued, the deeper she dug in her heals, and eventually she wore him down. After all, he had learned a few skills in prison such as painting, basic carpentry, and ceramics, although that last one might not be very helpful.

So began Tucker’s first real job on the first Monday of summer vacation. Prissy slept in until noon that day then lazily made her way down to the kitchen for something to eat. Through the big windows of the kitchen that looked out onto the back lawn, Prissy saw him. He was on a ladder with a bucket of paint in one hand and a paint brush in the other. He had taken his shirt off and was precariously perched as he strained to reach the top of one of the round columns on the back veranda. The muscles in his chest and arms caught her attention, but it was the tattoo that gave her a sudden rush of excitement and danger and adventure. It was a dragon. The tail formed a circle around his belly button, and the dragon’s body rippled vertically up the middle of Tucker’s chest, the flames from its mouth forming a circle around a small black heart.

Prissy Montgomery smiled. This was not going to be another boring summer.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Evangeline (Part Eleven)

Grandma Shaw had one of those fancy gates at the entrance to her drive way, the kind where you have to push a button and get permission before the gate will open. Tucker was not expecting that. He was hoping to surprise his ol' granny. (This was the first of many miscalculations by Tucker Shaw.)

He pushed the button and waited.

He pushed it again and waited, still no answer. Then he noticed a small strip of paper taped to the mailbox. It read, "Gone to the bank. Leave packages at gate" signed, "M. Shaw." Tucker put the truck in park and turned the motor off. Seemed like a good time for a nap.

He was just about to doze off when he heard someone singing. He sat up and looked around. There was a girl with a head of massive brown curls riding a bicycle and singing as she pedaled along. The closer she came, the clearer her voice became. It was a voice that made his skin want to bubble up and slide right off his body. He covered his ears with his hands and watched her pedal slowly by in the rear view mirror, glancing his way as she rode along.

After she disappeared around the curve, he cautiously lowered his hands. Her voice faded in the distance. Then suddenly, his truck was surrounded and the interior of the old Ford grew dark. Butterflies, thousands of them were flying into the windows their wings beating against the glass. Tucker sat motionless and terrified. Then just as quickly, they were gone.

He laughed uneasily to himself. Then, he thought about the girl on the bicycle and an ice cold fear ran down his spine.

Evangeline (Part Ten)

Tucker’s Grandma Shaw lived on the southern outskirts of town in a fine old Victorian home. Up until her husband died in 1985, the Shaw’s lived a relatively simple life. Grandma Shaw never worked outside the home and her husband Bill worked at the lumber yard until he surrendered to lung cancer, leaving his wife, two adult children and one grandchild.

After his death, Grandma Shaw bought the old Miller place and spent a fortune returning it to its former opulence. There was no doubt that Grandma Shaw had come in to some money. People argued over how she got the money. Most thought her husband must’ve had a big life insurance policy, others insisted that he had been one of the men who robbed the bank in 1965 (the money had never been found – almost $100,000). I myself never gave it much thought, although I did admire what she did with the place. Not only had she restored the home completely, but the beautiful gardens around the home as well. It was a show-stopper.

Both of the Shaw’s children moved away from Sommerville after Bill’s death. Their son Matthew died in the Persian Gulf War from “friendly fire.” Their daughter Leslie and her husband John died in a terrible car accident about five years ago, leaving behind their teenage son Tucker and the proceeds of a $20,000 life insurance policy.

Tucker was 16 years old with $20,000. He had no living relatives except for his Grandma Shaw. He was not about to move to some hick town and live with an old lady. So he immediately dropped out of high school, and disappeared into the under belly of Chicago, only to resurface in Sommerville five years later.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Evangeline (Part Nine)

Tucker served his time and was released on a Friday. His girlfriend Sandy picked him up in an old Toyota she borrowed from her neighbor. She had been waiting 18 months for this day and in honor of the occasion, had purchased a new dress from the Kathie Lee Gifford Clothing Collection at WalMart.

She was all smiles and teary-eyes when he walked out of the prison gate. Sandy threw her arms around his neck and squeezed as tight as she could. Tucker patted her on the back and told her to turn loose before she strangled him. He kissed her pretty mouth and gave her his signature wink, and off they went to Sandy’s humble apartment in Chicago’s south side.

Four months later, Tucker was still unemployed and Sandy was beginning to turn on him. She worked two jobs as a waitress, one at the coffee shop on the corner, and one at an Irish pub a few blocks down the street. She bought all the groceries, cooked all the meals, kept the apartment clean, and did the laundry. Sandy was hoping that Tucker would find a job so that they could get married. She was certain he would propose to her once he found work. But Tucker always had good excuses, the work never came, and Sandy’s patience was transparently thin.

On the four month anniversary of his release, Sandy tearfully broke the news to Tucker. She was pregnant. No doubt about it. He needed to get a job, and she meant NOW. Tucker assured her that he would find a job immediately, not to worry, everything would be ok, and he loved her.

So Sandy headed out to the coffee shop and Tucker headed out to the used car lot. He took the money his Grandma Shaw had sent him and bought a 1979 Ford F150 for $500. Then he drove to the Army surplus store and bought several pairs of desert camouflage pants, four black t-shirts, five pair of socks and one pair of black boots. He drove from the Army surplus store to the liquor store and purchased four bottles of tequila (long drive to Virginia) and from there, he headed to the grocery store where he stocked up on peanut butter crackers, barbeque potato chips, beef jerky, Little Debbie Swiss Rolls and a twelve pack of Coca-Cola.

He drove back to Sandy’s apartment and quickly stuffed his meager belongings in a brown paper grocery sack. He sat down at the kitchen table and wrote her a note on the back of the water bill.

Dear Sandy,
I need to find a job before I can be a good daddy or husband. I’ll be in touch. Here’s $200 to help with the back-rent.

He laid the note on the table with the two 100-dollar bills on top. He stood up, took one last look around, picked up his bag, and headed for the door. Just as his hand began to reach the door knob, he remembered something. He turned and went to the bedroom. There in the top drawer of Sandy’s dresser was her Daddy’s Colt .38 Special, brand-spanking new, still in the box, along with a plastic zip-lock bag full of bullets.

Tucker took the gun and the bullets, gave his handsome reflection a wink in the mirror, and kissed Chicago goodbye.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Evangeline (Part Eight)

Tucker Shaw weighed the facts. His girlfriend was pregnant, he didn’t have a job, and there was nothing at all worth watching on daytime television. So, he did what any man of his character would do, he left town.

Tucker never finished high school, but while he was incarcerated at the Federal Prison in Pekin, Illinois, he managed to earn his G.E.D. He also decided to try to establish contact with his only living relative, his Grandma Shaw who lived way down in Sommerville, Virginia.

The first few letters Tucker sent went unanswered. Then one day, he received a pink envelope that smelled like roses and he knew before he looked at the postmark, that it was his Grandma.

And so, Tucker and Grandma Shaw became pen pals. Once a week he would get a letter from her and once a week he would write her a letter in return.

He didn’t get much interesting information out of Grandma Shaw. She seemed to ramble a lot. But there were two things she mentioned frequently – spending money and a girl who sang like a angel. It was the “spending money” part of the letters that got Tucker’s attention.

A month before he was released, Tucker asked his Grandma for a loan so that he could get back on his feet. She was generous enough to send him $2,000 which he hid in an old mint tin under his mattress. He had big plans for that money.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Evangeline (Part Seven)

After the initial shock of the diagnosis, the Goodman family accepted the Lord’s will and began to prepare for the baby’s arrival. Every day that passed they grew more and more happy and anxious to meet the new member of the family.

Evangeline sang to her mother often. Sometimes, Mrs. Goodman would fall asleep in the recliner to the multi-toned notes of her daughter’s voice, wrapping herself in the sound as she fell in to the deepest sleep and most beautiful dreams.

Now, don’t think just because I haven’t mentioned it, that Evangeline and Prissy’s relationship got any better after the library incident. On the contrary, it cemented Prissy’s determination to ruin Evangeline. Since Evangeline and Megan were good friends, Prissy took out her rage on both of them, everything from hiding a dead cockroach in Evangeline’s tuna salad, to telling lies in an effort to get them suspended from school. Yet, even with all her power, Prissy was unable to seriously hurt, discredit, or shame Evangeline or Megan – not for lack of trying mind you.

Sooner or later, our debts come due and Prissy's were on the way in the shape of an old Ford pickup truck.

Evangeline (Part Six)

Evangeline had just turned 16 when Pastor and Mrs. Goodman discovered they were going to have a baby. The couple was in their mid-forties by then, so I believe it was something of a shock, to say the least.

By this time, Evangeline was getting requests from churches as far away as Texas to come and sing. Everywhere she went, her incredible voice continued to fill hearts with joy and bring people to the Lord.

Once she heard the happy news that her parents were expecting a baby, Evangeline decided to stay close to home. She doted, worried, and fussed over her mother. She began to cook the meals herself and do all of the housework. Being 45 years old, Evangeline knew her mother needed to be especially cautious.

Pastor and Mrs. Goodman, and Evangeline, went to the doctor’s office to see the baby on the sonogram for the first time. Everything appeared normal, but there were lots of blood tests that needed to be done due to Mrs. Goodman’s “advanced” age.

One week later, they were back at the doctor’s office to find out about the tests. As soon as Evangeline saw Dr. Pratt’s face, she knew something was wrong.

“I’m very sorry to have to tell you that…. your baby has Down Syndrome” he said quietly. Then, he went on. “Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder caused by an additional third chromosome 21,” he paused to take a breath. “Researchers have established that the likelihood that a reproductive cell will contain an extra copy of chromosome 21 increases dramatically as a woman ages. Therefore, an older mother is more likely than a younger mother to have a baby with Down syndrome.”

Pastor and Mrs. Goodman sat motionless and for the first time in her entire life, Evangeline’s eyes filled up and spilled over with tears.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Evangeline (Part Five)

Evangeline’s troubles began when she started the second grade. Miss Baker, the second grade teacher, made labels for all the students’ little cubby holes (the place where they keep their jackets, lunch boxes, etc.) There were two girls in the class that had the initials E.G., Evangeline Goodman and Ellie Garrett. So Miss Baker decided to use the middle initials as well, which of course meant that E.G.G. was printed over Evangeline’s cubby.

Naturally, this became a source of ridicule from the bullies and the mean kids in the class. She was called Egg Head, Rotten Egg, Deviled Egg, and Egg Salad, to name a few. One child in particular loved to needle Evangeline. Her name was Margaret Allison Davis (initials M.A.D.- another parental oversight) but she went by the name “Prissy” as she was just exactly that – prissy. Prissy’s father was the president of the largest bank in Harris County and they lived in a fine house with about 400 acres of prime real estate.

Prissy was accustomed to being the center of attention and the prettiest and most popular girl in Sommerville Elementary. But by the time the second grade started, Evangeline and her miraculous voice began to steal Prissy’s thunder. The newspapers had printed several stories about Evangeline, and the t.v. station out of Portsmith taped a human interest piece complete with video of the crowds gathering outside the Tabernacle Church on Sunday morning.

Yes, Evangeline was a thorn in the side of Prissy Montgomery.

But Evangeline was oblivious to Prissy’s simmering hatred. Not because it was subtle, mind you, but because Evangeline had a loving, innocent way about her. She seemed to always see the good (no matter how miniscule) in a person. Prissy did everything in her power to torment and bully Evangeline – but nothing seemed to provoke her.

It was about this same time that my granddaughter Megan and Evangeline became fast friends. Megan was born with a hole in her heart, and at the tender age of 3 months, she had open heart surgery. The scar ran the length of her torso, and Megan did everything she could to keep it covered up, including wearing turtle neck shirts in the summer.

Megan was a library helper at the school. (She’s a bookworm, just like me.) One Friday, Miss Mollie Jo, the school librarian, told Megan that there was going to be a Book Fair and Open House on Monday, and that she should wear a white buttoned-down shirt and black skirt to school. Miss Mollie Jo wanted her helpers to serve the punch and cake to the visitors.

So, when Monday morning came around, Megan showed up in her white buttoned-down shirt and black skirt. Her buttoned-down shirt was buttoned down all right, from the top button to the bottom button, so that she could keep her secret hidden.

When it was time for the second-graders to come to the Book Fair, Evangeline made a bee line for Megan. “Megan,” she whispered, “Can you come and look at the books with me?” Megan looked up at Miss Mollie Jo who nodded approval.

The books were in stacks on tables. Stacks and stacks of books. Books on history, science, art, music, and literature. Books on crafts – beadwork, cross stitch, calligraphy, and candle making. Fantasy books on fairies, elves and magic forests. Books on birds, flowers, and butterflies. The girls were in book heaven. The smell of new books was all around them and they were lost in their book joy bubble when suddenly Prissy Montgomery tapped Megan on the shoulder.

I think you should know that everyone thinks you look like a geek with you shirt buttoned all the way to the top button,” Prissy said with a smirk.

Evangeline could see Megan’s jaw tighten and her eyes begin to fill with tears. “Well…I….get cold sometimes,” Megan whispered. Her face was now a deepening scarlet.

Prissy reached over and quickly unbuttoned the top button of Megan’s shirt and before Megan’s hand had time to reach up and cover the opening, Prissy discovered Megan’s secret.

Ewwww, gross. What happened to you?” she said as she reached up in an attempt to pry Megan’s hand away from the spot below her neck where the scar began. “I want to see it freak, show it to me!” Prissy whispered through clenched teeth as she began to push Megan between the tall rows of bookshelves.

Suddenly Evangeline was between Megan and Prissy. She wrapped her hand around Prissy’s wrist holding it firmly. “Leave her alone Prissy,” Evangeline whispered. “Get out of my way Egg Head,” Prissy hissed back. “I will not,” Evangeline replied.

Then Prissy slapped Evangeline on the face. The sound was like a crack of thunder in the quiet murmurings of the library. Evangeline slowly turned her face to look Prissy in the eye and calmly turned her head to offer her other cheek. Prissy accepted the offer and right about the time her hand was at its highest point before soaring down to smack Evangeline on the cheek, Miss Mollie Jo grabbed it.

Prissy! What on earth do you think you’re doing?” she scolded. “Come with me right now to the Principal’s office.”

Prissy turned to look back at Evangeline, intending to send her a message that “this is not over,” but Evangeline’s crystal blue eyes had turned a dark, deep blue and there was something there that told Prissy that this was indeed, over.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Evangeline (Part Four)

For a small town, Sommerville has had its share of strange happenings. There’s been UFOs, Big Foot sightings, and the time the clock on city hall started running backwards.

I’ve noticed that whenever something inexplicable occurs, people polarize in to three groups. The first group believes that the event in question is God’s doing, the second group believes that it’s the devil’s doing, and the third group believes that there must be a scientific explanation for it, no matter what.

There was no shortage of inexplicable events while Evangeline was with us. Many of the stories can’t be confirmed because there was only one witness. But I can tell you first-hand what I saw one summer when Evangeline was about 8 years old.

The girl wasn’t like other girls her age. She didn’t care about Barbie Dolls, or television, or make-up, or the right way to wear her hair. She loved singing and being outdoors. Her parents would find her lying in the tall grass watching the wind move through the tops of the trees, or picking wildflowers, or wading in a creek. Evangeline loved the rolling hills, green pastures, and blue skies of Virginia.

There are a lot of dairy farms here in Sommerville. One of the largest is about a half a mile from my house. When I go for walks, I walk that way. The pasture is full of cows grazing lazily and not paying attention to much else. I was walking along the fence that summer when I realized the cows were missing. I thought maybe the dairy had moved them to another pasture, so I kept walking. Up ahead, I noticed a blur of insects hovering over the tall grass. As I got closer, I realized it was butterflies. Hundreds and hundreds of butterflies of every color, shape and size you can imagine.

Then I saw Evangeline, lying on her back, eyes closed, and hands folded on her chest. In a circle around her were the missing cows. Every one of them lying on the ground as well. Above them, the butterflies. It was a strange scene to say the least. I stood there for a moment, and when she opened her eyes, the butterflies disappeared in every direction. Now I taught science for 35 years and I can tell you truthfully, some of those butterflies are not native to this part of the U.S. And when was the last time you saw cows lying in a circle? Inexplicable.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Evangeline (Part Three)

Pastor Ken and his wife Barbara began to notice things about Evangeline when she was just a toddler. Unlike most two-year olds, Evangeline was a sweet spirit. No temper tantrums or fits of hysteria. She was a happy child. In fact, she was so good, that the pastor’s wife never had to leave her in the nursery during church. She sat up front with her mom, eyes fixed on the choir. Whenever the choir would start to sing, Evangeline would begin to sing along, in a tiny voice, in perfect tune. She didn’t know the words, but she knew the melodies and was singing before she was talking.

By the time she started elementary school, Evangeline’s incredible voice was famous all over Harris Country. The Tabernacle Church was filled every Sunday with pilgrims come to hear the tiny girl with the miraculous voice. Rumors began to circulate that Evangeline’s voice had the healing powers. Cancer went in to remission. Heart disease disappeared. Tumors shrank, and arthritis dissolved after experiencing the voice of Evangeline, or so they said.

Now, I’m not a member of the Tabernacle Church. I was born and raised a Freewill Baptist and will be one ‘til the day I die, but I must admit I was curious. So, one Sunday, I decided to attend the Tabernacle Church. I know the other pastors in the area were dismayed by their shrinking attendance. I also knew that my pastor would notice my absence because I always sit on the same pew, in the same spot, like I have for over 60 years. I did feel bad about it, but I just had to hear for myself what everyone else was talking about.

I remember walking up the steps of the Tabernacle Church. There were people of all walks of life walking with me, all religions, all colors, and all classes. I worked my way through the crowd (one of the good things about being an old woman is that people make way for you) and found a narrow spot at the end of a long wooden pew.

I could see Evangeline in the front row of the choir. She wore the same robe as the adults, just a smaller version. Her delicate features were framed by a mass of golden brown curls. I have never seen a child so young with so much hair.

The choir stood up. They sang the first verse of Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow, and then Evangeline began to sing. Right here and now, telling you this, I get the same gooseflesh I got that day. My body was covered head to toe with it. My scalp tingled and my heart fluttered in my chest. “Impossible,” I thought to myself. “It’s a trick.”

You see, Evangeline was singing harmony...with herself! It’s impossible to conceive, but I tell you it’s true. Her voice was the voice of more than one – it was melody and harmony and layers of sound and tones and perfect, clear pitch. It was a voice that could only be described as...angelic.

Evangeline (Part Two)

I have a little vegetable garden in the back yard. There’s nothing like fresh vegetables in the summer time. I grow tomatoes, peppers, peas, and red potatoes. I have flowers too, mostly roses. Sometimes my arthritis in my hands bothers me real bad. But if I get out in the garden, I forget all about it. Time just stands still when I’m in the garden.

I was out there watering my tomatoes one afternoon when my granddaughter Megan came skipping around the side of the house. She had a smile on her face and a handful of purple clover. She came over to me, threw her arms around my legs, and gave me a bear cub hug. Still clinging to me, she looked up and said breathlessly, “Grandma! Evangeline made the clover bloom!”

Friday, May 19, 2006

Evangeline (Part One)

I’ve been sittin’ on this porch for over 60 years. Every evening I come out here to drink my iced tea and watch the sun set. I’ve been a witness to a lot of things from this porch. I saw the bank get robbed in ’65 and I was sittin’ here when ol’ Doc Callaway crashed his Piper Cub in to the hardware store. They didn’t find too much of him. The paint caught fire and that was that. I’ve seen funeral processions and motor cycle rallies - lots of stuff. But the strangest thing I’ve ever seen happened five years ago this Christmas. See, that’s when Evangeline stepped through.

Evangeline was not a pretty girl. But there was something about her that made people want to be near her. She was an orphan, left on the steps of the Tabernacle Church in a laundry basket. She was naked as a jay bird wrapped in old newspapers. They say she didn’t cry one bit and if it hadn’t been for Jack Tanner’s hat flying off and landing nearby, she might have been out there all night and froze to death.

The authorities searched high and low, and put notices in all the papers, on the television, and on the radio. But no one came forward to claim her. Finally, the pastor at the Tabernacle Church and his wife adopted the baby. They didn’t have children of their own and believe me, there was much speculation about that. So, they took the baby home and named her Evangeline Grace Goodman. Which means her initials were E.G.G. People need to think about things like that when they name their children.

….to be continued.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Déjà Vu

If I close my eyes, I can smell the flowers. Roses. Lavender.

Memories of Provence linger like wisps of smoke. When I reach for them, they disappear. But right before the dawn, in that place between dreams and daylight, I hear the wind in the cypress trees, and I feel the sun on my face.

In Provence, I heard the murmur of ancient generations and sensed my own insignificance in the timeline of history.

It felt like home in some deeply Daja vu kind of way. It was an uncanny feeling of familiarity.

It pulls at me, tugs at my primeval memory to remember....remember.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Provence Day Four

Today was vineyard day. We visited Le Chateau Sainte Roseline

and the Domaine Le Font du Broc

We did some wine tasting, olive oil tasting, and toured the wine-making facilities. Both vineyards were lovely and have a wonderful history.

Tomorrow I'll be in meetings most of the day, so I won't have photos. Then I leave Sunday morning to return to the U.S.

Thanks for sharing my travels with me!

Today's photos at link below, click on Provence_4

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Provence Day Three

I had a very long day today. After an early breakfast, it was off to the Provencal village of Fayence to see the market. Fayence is another picturesque French village perched on a hilltop. Three days a week there is an open market. It was wonderful. Fresh fruits, vegetables, every kind of cheese imaginable, fresh fish, bread, sausages, fresh pasta, wine, olives and olive oil, just to name a few.

After we walked the market, we went to the oldest perfume factory in the world, the Fragonard in Grasse. There I learned about the flowers and plants that are used in the production of perfume. We also got to see the manufacture of the fine soaps and bath salts made in Grasse.

From Grasse we drove to La Vignette Haute to see a French cooking school and observe a cooking class.

We then drove to another beautiful, ancient hilltop village called Mougins and visited with a couple of chefs. While in Mougins, we dined at L’Amandier on a high balcony overlooking the valley and mountains. In the 17th century, L’Amandier was a place where olive oil was made.

From Mougins, we drove to Cannes, home of the famous “Film Festival”. The festival is next week, so there were giant movie posters everywhere.

While in Cannes, we visited the Chateau la Napoule, former home of the eccentric billionaire artist Henry Clews. The Chateau is centuries old, and stands right on the coast at Cannes.

We left Cannes and drove to Esterel to see L’Auberge des Adrets.

Then it was on to Fayence for a mountain top gourmet dinner at Le Castellaras.

Click on “Provence_3” at the link to see today’s photos.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Provence Day Two

Today I visited the charming ancient hilltop village of Saint Paul de Vence. The village is filled with art galleries, boutiques and sidewalk cafes. A walk through its winding streets reveals elegant fountains, vine-covered stone walls and romantic archways. There are breathtaking views of mountains and the sea. Even the ground below is attractive, as the cobblestones are laid into the shapes of flowers.

The fortified village itself is a site, with its medieval fortress walls surrounding the city. The entrance was erected in the 1400s, and features a canon muzzle that was a trophy from the 1544 Battle of Cerisoles in Italy.

As I walked towards the south side of the village and climbed the steps, I discovered a gorgeous ancient cemetery, surrounding hills and mountains. In Saint Paul, you can see the snow-covered Alps to one side and the glistening Mediterranean Sea in the other direction.

I can’t help but wonder about the people who lived there thousands of years ago.

See today’s photos at: - select “Provence_2”

Bonne nuit!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Travel Day

Today was a travel day. We flew from London to Nice, France, arriving around 3:30 pm local time. After making it through customs, there was a 30 minute drive North/Northwest to the hotel. Once at the hotel, we were too tired to go out to dinner, so we ordered room service and ate on the patio overlooking the mountains. I didn't have a chance to take many pictures, but will take a lot tomorrow.

It's getting late, so I'm calling it a night.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Highclere Castle

Today I did a tour of the English country side - Windsor, Hampshire, Eton. I visited Windsor and Highclere Castle and met the Countess, Lady Carnarvon.

The Castle and estate is the family home of the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and was designed by the architect Sir Charles Barry in 1838 for the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon.
Check out my pictures of Highclere at:

and then visit the website at

it was....breathtaking.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to France!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Juste Donnez-Moi Du Fromage (Just Give Me Some Cheese)

Passport? Check. Flight pillow? Check. French phrase book? Check. Global cell phone? Check. Alka Seltzer? Check. Suit case large enough to hold a family of gypsies? Check.

I’m off to EU for a business trip. I’ll be in Hampshire, England for three nights and Provence, France for five. Having just finished reading A Year in Provence, and Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle, I admit I’m more than a little worried about the French food and the extraordinary consumption of wine.

The French, so it seems, are serious carnivores. They will eat anything that slithers, crawls, flies, hops, scurries, swims, or walks on all fours. They don’t just eat the meat either. There are a lot of parts that are made in to French delicacies – like Foie Gras and pate and sausage. I grew up in a family that was essentially vegetarian, so this will be a challenge for me (just pass me the bread and olive oil). Add to this, my deadly shellfish allergy and you get a désastre dans la fabrication.

I do look forward to sampling the French wines, although I won’t partake of the French custom of drinking wine at breakfast (yes breakfast).

I hope to do a better job of posting on my blog during the trip. If nothing else, I will have photos to share.

Until next time, Au revoir mes lecteurs fidèles!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Vegetable Days

I’m pretty good at figuring out when my body needs a break. Because of the way I travel (and work long hours when I’m not traveling) I run on a lot of adrenaline, just to keep going.

Yesterday, I realized I needed a Vegetable Day (Veg Out for short). Veg Out days for me mean that I stay in my pjs all day. I don’t do any housework, or cook, or work in the garden. I don’t do any job-related work. I read. I nap. I watch movies. I nap. I listen to music and I nap.

Sometimes, if the weather is really nice, I feel a little guilty taking a Veg Out day. But those unwelcome feelings usually don’t last very long. Curled up on the sofa with my doggies, my book and a good cup of coffee, I feel the stresses of the last few weeks slowly and peacefully melt away, recharging my batteries for the days ahead.


I was watching a news report on a soldier who just returned from the war in Iraq (yes the war that officially ended two years ago). He was describing the constant fear of being ambushed or killed by a suicide bomber. He talked about how he worried about his soldiers, his soldiers’ families, and his own family. What would happen to them if he died? His son was only a year old, “he would never remember me” he whispered, his eyes filled with tears. He’s going back to Iraq in two months. He’s going back to the place he called “pure hell on earth.”

The reporter asked him what this experience had done to him. He sat for a moment looking in to the camera, his face working to hold in the emotions that were streaming from his eyes: sadness, grief, fear, pain. “It has changed me” he said. “I know longer believe in happy endings.”

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.” – Jimmy Carter

Friday, April 28, 2006

Think More, Drive Less

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a capitalist. I believe that companies should make profits. But frankly, I think it’s time that something is done about the price of gasoline.


  • The average price for unleaded gasoline is a dollar higher than the same time last year.
  • ExxonMobil reported a $36.1 billion in profit for the first quarter of 2006, making it the largest corporation in the world and larger than the next four companies on the Forbes 500 list combined.
  • Oil prices have increased 240 percent since George Bush’s inauguration in January 2001.
  • ExxonMobil’s recently retired CEO received a $400 million (yes, I said million) “payment for services.”
  • According to the Los Angeles Times (April 13, 2006), Exxon raised Chief Executive Rex Tillerson's pay by 33% last year to $13 million. (The average U.S. salary increase last year across the country was 4%).
  • U.S.-based oil and gas companies have nearly 900 subsidiaries located in tax haven countries, such as the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
  • The industry has spent more than $500 million on lobbying activities since 1998.
  • The industry gave more than $100 million in campaign contributions in federal elections since 1998.
  • Higher gasoline prices have a “trickle down” effect on other consumer goods, making it even more difficult for working families to make ends meet.
  • The greater the profits of oil companies, the greater the risk to our national security.

You make take issue with the last fact, but the reasoning is straightforward. Higher oil company profits go hand in hand with higher oil prices (now in excess of $70/barrel).

Higher oil prices result in the massive transfer of wealth to nations who wish us ill or fund the dissemination of hate filled propaganda against this nation and the West. High oil prices are the enabler of dysfunctional governments, tyrannical to their own and in an era of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, increasingly dangerous to the world at large.

In addition to making these countries wealthier, what is it doing to the working families in America? It borders on criminal.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Vigil

In the Middle Ages, an elaborate ceremony surrounded the conferring of knighthood. After certain rites had been performed, the candidate was conducted into his lord’s chapel, where he was told to keep a vigil until sunrise. He was to pass the night by “bestowing himself in visions and prayer.”

This ritual was vividly captured by artist John Pettie in a painting he entitled The Vigil. In it, a young armor-clad knight is seen kneeling before an altar. The light of dawn illuminates the dim aisles of the chapel behind him, but the knight doesn’t seem to notice that his vigil is over.

His weary face is still turned to the altar. His eyes have the look of one who has meditated at length on divine and holy things. His helmet and armor are laid on the steps leading to the altar, but he holds his sword in front of him. Its silhouette is the shape of a cross.

I love this painting for many reasons. Mostly, it is a romantic illustration of history. We all know that the Middle Ages were no picnic. It’s a fairy tale on canvas.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Grand Cayman Day 3-8

Too busy and too tired to post. I thought I could do it (post every night) but I was wrong.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Grand Cayman Day Two

The ocean is the most incredible blue-green color here. Crystal clear and calm. The weather has been perfect.

I walked alone on the beach tonight. The light from the moon was so bright, reflecting off of the white sand. The breeze was warm and soothing. After a long day of work, it was therapeutic.

I sat for a while and watched the moon rise high and though I am far from home, I did not feel alone.

The lyrics of a song played over and over in my head..

"Swim to me through the deep blue sea
upon the scattered stars set sail
Fly to me through this love-lit night
from one thousand miles away
And come into my sleep
Come into my sleep
As midnight nears and shadows creep
Come into my sleep"

I breathe the night air deep, and call it a night.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Grand Cayman Day One

3:00 a.m. alarm....time to get up and get ready to go to the airport. :( Decide to bath my dog Taz as it appears he has gotten in to something during the night that smells very bad.

4:15 a.m. depart for local airport.

6:00 a.m. depart local airport for Atlanta (at this point I've had nothing to eat or drink and I'm thinking I'll get some coffee on the plane, right?)

7:30 a.m. arrive in Atlanta (got nothing on the plane). So I head for the international terminal and locate a Starbucks. (Halleluia!)

9:30 a.m. Depart for Grand Cayman. The flight was uneventful except for the B.P. sitting next to me (see previous blog posting). Got a itty bitty bag of pretzels and a ginger ale. I read most of the way and got really sleepy...but just as I was about to fall asleep....

11:45 a.m. Arrive in Grand Cayman.
As soon as I stepped off the plane, a blast of hot, humid air hit me like Dallas in July. Can you say HOT? The airport is teenee tiny, but quaint. After standing in long lines to get through customs, I got a lift to the hotel.

Much of the island still has the scars left by Hurricane Ivan. There was tremendous damage to the vegetation. Fortunately, it is beginning to return its former lushness. However, there are still a lot of palm trees with no palms.

I arrived at the hotel, checked in to my room, and immediately had to leave for a meeting. And that's what I've been doing all day. I got a brief glimpse of the ocean from a hallway window.

7:30 p.m. I've been awake for 17 hours. I decided not to have dinner - I'm just too tired. So, I'm back in my room. There is a steel drum band playing down by the pool. I like steel drums. Sounds like Jamaica. The breeze on the balcony is relaxing. I think it's time for a bubble bath and some serious sleep.

8:00 p.m. Now they've added real drums (base, snare, etc.) to the steel drums.

8:30 p.m. I've decided that I no longer care for steel drums.

9:00 p.m. A little steel drum goes a long way.

disclaimer: spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors may be caused by the sleep deprivation of the author and should not be used to judge her general intelligence.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Grand Cayman, B.W.I.

I'm heading to Grand Cayman for a business trip. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking..."tough business trip" right? Actually it will be, for me. The other 265 attendees will hopefully have a great time.

I'll be keeping a travel journal here and will try to post every evening about the day's adventures.

Here's a link to the Cayman's website. It really is a beautiful place.