Making The Best Of It

Well, this morning I woke to a sore throat and cough; a rapid test confirmed that I am the “gracious” host of COVID. Whoo-whoo, it’s like winning the lottery when every ticket has the same number. No worries, it feels just like a cold. Any how, I’m currently confined to our home office/guest room.

I must say that I’ve accomplished quite a bit of writing, and have devised a clever means by which I hope to obtain sustenance and comforts.

Check it out! I haven’t officially tested this baby, as no one is currently home, but I’m sure everyone will be more than excited to answer the bell. Mwwwhahaha! The sky’s the limit! I can’t wait! 🙂

Cassie’s Wishes

This was originally posted back in April of 2021. As I sit here today, thinking about what’s going on in my nation’s capitol (Ottawa, Canada), just a few hours drive from here, I thought it could use a reposting.

Cassie took a deep breath and blew her wishes into the wind. It was getting dark and Mommy wanted her home for dinner, so she got up and watched them drift into the sunset. Satisfied, Cassie went home, washed up, and sat down at the table.

“So, Miss, what did you get up to today?” Mother smiled.

“I blew some wishes out into the world.”

Mother handed Cassie a plate of spaghetti, her favorite, and winked at her. “I’d ask you what those were, but I know that takes away their magic.”

Later, as Cassie laid her head against the soft pillow, listening to the crickets and the hoot of Chester, the barn owl, she prayed that her wishes would find the right people.

As Cassie, slept, a great wind picked up and blew those wishes around the globe, over miles of ocean and into every country of the world.

One landed the shoulder of a grieving father, as he stood at the graveside of his ten year old daughter who’d died from leukemia. An inexplicable peace began to fill his heart.

Another drifted past an ICU nurse, as she left the hospital, exhausted and discouraged from a never ending battle against COVID. Hope renewed some of her energy and lifted her spirits.

One landed in the lap of a little girl, as she sat in threadbare clothes, eating the last meal she’d have for awhile. Her rumbling belly ceased and her heart was filled with the promise of a better tomorrow.

One landed on the uniform of a police man. The years of service for his community, had lately seemed to be overshadowed by the horrific actions of a few, and the media relentlessly pelted them with negative stereotypes. He felt his discouragement fade.

The last wish will land on you, wherever you are, and whatever you are going through. It will give you strength and resilience.

Cassie woke the next day, to a better world.

Review of When Can I Stop Running? by John Podlaski

As I write this another steady blast of snow is landing on my roof and around the house. I’m surrounded by a cocoon of white fluffy water, but pecking away at this review, I’m warm and dry.

Today, I’m reviewing a book written by Vietnam War Veteran, John Podlaski.

The deets:

John Podlaski’s encore Vietnam War novel brings back John (‘Polack’) Kowalski, the central character in ‘Cherries’, and introduces us to Louis (‘LG’) Gladwell, his irrepressible black friend. Polack and LG are a ‘Salt and Pepper’ team, best buddies and brothers in a way that only those who have fought side-by-side in a war can ever truly understand.The year is 1970, and the story follows the two soldiers – impressionable Detroit teenagers – during their long night in a Listening Post (‘LP’), some 500 meters beyond the bunker line of the new firebase. Their assignment as a “human early warning system”, is to listen for enemy activity and forewarn the base of any potential dangers. As they were new to the “Iron Triangle” and its reputation, little did they know that units before them lost dozens of soldiers in this nightly high-risk task and referred to those assigned as “bait for the enemy” and “sacrificial lambs”. Sitting in the pitch black tropical jungle – with visibility at less than two feet – John’s imagination takes hold throughout the agonizing night, and at times, transports him back to some of his most vivid childhood memories – innocent, but equally terrifying at the time.As kids, we instinctively run as fast as we can to escape imaginary or perceived danger, but as soldiers, men are trained to conquer their fears and develop the confidence to stand their ground and fight. Running is not an option.

My Thoughts:

My Thoughts:

I admit to not having read the first in this series, “Cherries.” I cannot speak for the plot line in that book. The plot line in, “When Can I Stop Running?” was not what I expected, but in a good way.  The story is written from the perspective of John ‘Polack’ Kowalski and delves more into the internal battle with fear, rather than the physical war John and so many others were dragged into.

The emotions are raw and reveal a perspective that only one, ‘who’s been there,’ can accurately depict. In spite of the nightmare in which John and his partner, Louis Gladwell, are currently enduring, John frequently slips into memories of his life before the war. They start from a childhood fear of the old basement and evolve into fears of a house “haunted” by “witches.” I had a chuckle over most of these childhood flashbacks, as John presents them in a humorous light. The flashbacks were expertly choreographed with the present scenes.  

If you’re looking for a book with realistic, relatable, and likeable characters, I’d highly recommend this book.

Five Stars!

Please note that I only post reviews on books I deem four or five stars. Life is short and if I don’t like a book, I simply won’t finish it.

Meet John:

John Podlaski (1951 – ) was raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended St. Charles and St. Thomas Apostle Catholic schools, graduating in 1969. Immediately afterward, John started working for one of the automotive parts suppliers in the area and then attended junior college full-time in the fall. After four months of overwhelming pressure, John dropped out of college – choosing income over education. This turned out to be a huge error in judgement as a school deferment protected him from the military draft. Uncle Sam wasted no time and Mr. Podlaski soon found himself inducted into the Army in February 1970. Then after six months of training, John was sent to Vietnam as an infantry soldier; serving with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the Geronimo of the 101st Airborne Division. During his tour of duty, John was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and several other campaign medals. Back in the states, Mr. Podlaski spent the next four months in Fort Hood, Texas before receiving an early military discharge in December 1971.

The War Veteran returned to his former position with the automotive supplier and because of his military experience, he was promoted to shift supervisor. He met Janice Jo a few months later and married in 1973. The G.I. Bill helped them to purchase a home in Sterling Heights, MI, they continue living there to this day. A daughter, Nicole Ann was born in 1979. Using additional benefits from the G.I. Bill, Mr. Podlaski returned to college part time; graduating four years later with an Associate Degree in Applied Science.

In 1980, John began working on his memoir about his Vietnam experiences. He had carried a diary during his year in Vietnam, and his mother had saved all the letters he had written from the war zone – both were used to create the outline. He toiled on a manual typewriter for four years before finally completing his work. About the same time, a new national veteran group, akin to the V.F.W. was formed in Washington, DC. They called themselves “Vietnam Veterans of America” and chapters quickly sprung up around the country. John joined Chapter 154 in Mt. Clemens, MI, and as an active member, helped to launch their

inaugural Color Guard – marching in parades and posting colors for local events. The members of this chapter were a closely knit group, but wives often felt left out during the many discussions about Vietnam. When learning that John had authored a book about his tour of duty, the wives asked to share a copy of the manuscript, hoping it would help them better understand what their husbands might have endured during their time in Vietnam. The memoir was well received, and wives were now joining their men during these discussions. All were increasingly supportive and urged him to locate a publisher. After hundreds of rejections, a publisher from Atlanta, GA finally came forward and offered to consider the manuscript if it were re-written to a third-person format.

Atari had just come out with a new computer console and a word processor – making re-writes and editing much easier; his work now saved on floppy diskettes. The re-write continued until 1989, consuming all his spare time. John had finished half of the manuscript, then suddenly lost interest – discouraged, and not wanting to work on it any longer – it was ten years already and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. So everything was boxed up and moved to the garage for storage.

Mr. Podlaski continued working for various companies within the automotive sector; primarily in Management roles tasked in either plant start-ups, financial turnaround, or plant closures. John returned to college in 2000 and received a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration two years later. He and his wife retired in mid-2013.

At John’s 40th high school reunion, many of his former classmates who read his original manuscript twenty years earlier had questioned its lack of publication. It was a great story and all were relentless in their efforts to get him motivated and finish the rewrite – offering help wherever needed.

After learning that the conversion of Atari diskettes to the Microsoft Word format was extremely cost prohibitive, John’s daughter offered to retype both the completed manuscript and the rewrite, saving both on a USB memory stick. Nine months later, “Cherries” was completed and published. It took almost thirty years, but seeing it in print made it all worthwhile.

During his retirement, John published a second book about his Vietnam experience called, “When Can I Stop Running?” in 2016. Additionally, he’s published two short stories: Unhinged and Unwelcomed; all are available on Amazon.

The author and his wife own a 1997 Harley Davidson Heritage motorcycle and enjoy riding when possible; both are members of the Harley Owner Group.

Connect with John and purchase his works:

Website Twitter Amazon.com Amazon.ca

Flip A Story: Lovely’s Surprise

Welcome to the second episode of ‘Flip-A-Story’. For those who are scratching your heads right about now, please let me explain. Back in September, I let my fingers do the walking by taking a cook book and, drumroll . . . flipping to a random page and concocting a story from whatever my index finger landed on. You can check it out here if you’d like: Flip A Story, Episode One .

Well, this time I chose remedies over risotto. Here’s the cover and the page:

Lovely’s Surprise

Sawyer wiped the sweat from his eyes and kept focus on the whirling sewing machine, as he fed the fiftieth shoelace through the plunging needle. This was a special day and he had to finish before sunrise, or the surprise would be ruined.

The bare incandescent bulb began to flicker above, threatening to throw the dingy cellar into darkness. Sawyer raced to the ancient work bench and tugged at the stubborn bottom drawer. It always took a great deal of force to get that sucker open, being that it was almost as old as the farmhouse itself. He loved the place, in spite of the century plumbing that rattled like skeletons, and the groans of the old girl, as she settled further into degradation. He’d bought the place six years ago. The listing had promised a ‘handyman’s dream,’ and that it was! Sawyer giggled as he plucked a fresh light bulb from the drawer.

Scratching came from behind the heavy slab that opened to the cold storage room. It increased in strength, making the latch clank.

“That’s quite enough, Lovely! You’ll just have to wait!”

The scratching stopped and he could hear the soft pacing as she circled the room. Sawyer snatched his green work gloves and frowned at the red that covered their palms. “You’re getting sloppy, Sawyer.” He might as well burn these and get a new pair. The third ones in a month. Folks might get to talking about what he was up to. Nosey bunch, nothing to do but wag their tongues down at the corner store. As long as they kept their distance, he’d just have to put up with them.        

He slipped on the gloves and changed the light, pleased that his work wouldn’t be interrupted by blown bulbs, at least. Sawyer glanced at the clock on the wall, five-thirty! He ripped off the gloves, tossed them on the stone floor, and went to work on the sixtieth shoelace. Thank the Lord for Amazon, otherwise the townies would really have something to gab about. Who orders two hundred shoelaces?

He worked furiously for a while, reaching one hundred laces, when the scratching resumed. At first Sawyer tried to ignore it, because sunrise was coming soon. However, his jaw began to ache from being clenched, and he lost it. Marching to the door, he gave it a hard kick and shouted for her to be quiet. What did she want from him? Didn’t she know he was doing this for her? He looked over at the bag sitting on the workbench and considered grabbing it. But she’d grown quiet again, so why waste a good thing?

He returned to his work and managed to stitch up another twenty laces before a knock at the front door caught his attention. His heart pounded as he raced to the top of the basement stairs and listened. Maybe the intruder would just leave. The knocking continued, this time it was followed by the raspy voice of Mrs. Thompson, his only neighbor. “Sawyer, I know you’re home! Your truck is in the driveway! I just want to let you know that they dropped your mail off at my house again.”

Mail? Really? Old bat! You had to come this early for such a trivial thing? Sawyer’s fists clenched and he eyed the old scythe that hung on the wall next to the stairs. No time for that, not today. He’d better go answer the door and get rid of her ASAP.   

Five minutes later, he thumped down the basement stairs, having tossed the Bed, Bath, & Beyond flyer into the trash. That old hooked nosed hen had wasted his time for junk mail! Just another excuse to not mind her business. Well, he’d deal with her another time.

For the next half hour, he worked the machine and managed to reach one hundred and eighty-six laces. “Sawyer, you’re magnificent! She’ll love you for it!” But his elation spoiled like roadkill, as he noticed the ray of sunshine penetrating the only spot on the window where the black paint had chipped. “I’m too late!”

The scratching started again. Sawyer covered his ears, raced upstairs and slammed the basement door shut. A rumbling sound came from the driveway, and he pulled the curtain back for a peek. A UPS truck crunched across the gravel as it circled the cul-de-sac and parked by the front door. The driver hopped out.

Sawyer’s breath came in gasps, for he was both exhilarated and nervous. He reached for the doorknob, but he stopped himself from bursting onto the porch. Mustn’t seem too eager, that could arouse suspicion. No doubt that Thompson woman was spying from the bushes. Sawyer waited until the driver knocked, before counting to five and opening the door. He signed for the package and waited for the truck to leave before tearing it open.

“She’s going to love it! This will look lovely on her!” He held up the black T shirt with the golden prancing unicorn. The light from the stove was reflected by the sequined unicorn’s mane. Better hide this for now.  

Sawyer neatly folded the shirt and placed it in the box. He slid the box under his couch and returned to the basement.

He was pleased that Lovely was no longer scratching and went to work again.  “Sorry, honey, I didn’t finish in time, but I’m still going to get it done. I have another surprise for you. Just fourteen more laces and some tying up to do.”  

   A strange peace filled Sawyer, something he hadn’t felt in a long time. The pressure was off, and he knew his gift would hold her weight. He began to sing a nursery rhyme that his Momma used to sung, before she died in that fire. It was Lovely’s favorite.

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,

Kitty Fisher found it;

Not a penny was there in it,

Only ribbon round it.”

The final lace was stitched, and Sawyer had just begun to string the laces together, when there was a pounding at the front door. He dropped his work and mounted the steps on shaky legs. Who was it, now? He was halfway up when Lovely began scratching. “Shush! Lovely! Do you want someone to find you? They’ll take you away from me! Now shut up! That’s it, good girl, keep quiet.”

He passed the scythe, too big and noticeable, better off to get close for better success. The pounding increased in volume. Pissed-off, he flung the basement door open and yelled for the intruder to keep their pants on. What he saw made his blood freeze.  The local sheriff stood out there, arms crossed.

Sawyer gulped and took a deep breath. Had the old bat called the cops? Should have taken care of her earlier. Sawyer decided to keep his pocketknife in his pocket. It was no match for a gun. He opened the door and tried to smile, but he knew how fake it must look. A stupid, lopsided grin, that everyone made fun of.

Sherriff Michael Hainsworth gave him a stern look.

“Something I can do for you, Sheriff?”

Hainsworth’s eyes narrowed, and he held out the photograph of Jessica Steinbecher. Such a lovely young woman. Sawyer felt a stirring that he knew was inappropriate.

“Jessica’s been missing since yesterday morning. Never showed up for work and her family is worried. Thought she might have gone on one of her hikes, but she never goes for more than a couple of hours. You see her at all?” He tried to look over Sawyer’s shoulders, into the house.

Sawyer shook his head and added quickly. “Sorry, can’t say I have. I hope she’s okay. She’s such a lovely person. If I see her, you’ll be the first to know.” He wondered if it was possible for the sheriff to be deafened by his pounding heart.

“Umhmmm . . . you do that.” Hainsworth eyed him suspiciously but turned around and walked back to his cruiser.

Sawyer offered a pathetic wave as the cop pulled away and as soon as the taillights disappeared, he ducked into the house, shut the door, and locked it.  He leaned against the wall and waited to catch his breath while slapping his forehead. “Focus, you’ve got a job to finish.”

He returned to the basement and finished the surprise. Lovely did a wonderful job of keeping quiet, despite the excitement she must have felt about his gifts. He took the gift and walked towards her door, gently knocking. “It’s me, Lovely. I know you’ll like this, I made it just for you. It’ll fit snugly and you can swing all you want.”  

He put an ear to the door and heard her rapid breathing. How excited she must be! This was a demonstration of his love for her, and he knew that she would show him so much affection! He hid the gift behind his back with his left arm and opened the door with his right. The fragrant earthy smell hit his nostrils and he savored it. Where was she? The room had no light, so he frantically removed his flashlight from its holster and switched it on. He swept the beam across the cobwebby corners until it caught a pair of eyes that glared back from the farthest wall.

“Oh Lovely, don’t be mad. I’m sorry I put you in here, but, well, gosh darn, I just didn’t want to ruin the surprise! Please forgive me! Oh wait, you will, here it is! Do you love it? How about some kisses? Come on now! It’s better than that old mattress and you can swing on it! Lovely! Come here now! Do you have any idea how long it took to make this hammock? Argh! Let me get the bag, that’ll do the trick.” He closed the door, snatched the bag from the work bench and went back into the room. Reaching into the bag, he took scooped a treat and held it out.

“Yes, that’s a good girl! Come and get it! Here, climb into the hammock.”

There was a knock at the door and Sawyer’s heart sputtered. The sheriff? “Stay here and enjoy your gift. I’ll be back to get you soon, promise.”

He shut the door and crept upstairs. This time he slipped out the pocketknife for he’d had quite enough of these interruptions. At the top of the stairs, he cracked the basement door and peeked towards the large window in the front door. The blood rushed to his cheeks, he tossed the knife, bolted to the door, disengaged the lock, and yanked it open.

“Uncle Sawyer!” The ten-year-old hollered and gave him a big hug. Tanya looked up at him with her big blue eyes. “Did you get it?”

Sawyer feigned ignorance. “Get what?”

“Oh, would you stop it already. It’s all she’s been talking about since we left home. I love the new paint job on the porch, you always were a fan of red.”

“Good to see you, Sis.” He winked at his niece. “It just arrived, so I didn’t have time to wrap it. Go look under the couch.”

 She hugged him again. “You’re the best uncle ever!”

“I know,” Sawyer laughed. “Happy birthday, Sweetie!”

Tanya was about to rush inside, but stopped to ask, “Did you finish it?”

“Yup. She’s trying it out now. I had to coax her with some treats, but I think she’ll get used to it.”

“Awesome! I’ll go downstairs and say ‘hi’ to Lovely as soon as I get my shirt.”

“She’s right you know.”

“About what, Jen?”

“You being the best uncle. You’re also the sweetest man I know. Who else would have saved that poor kitten from a busy highway after it was struck by a car? Especially one that can’t meow, anymore? Who else spends hours making a hammock so that his kitty can sleep comfortably with her bad hip?”

“Oh, I’m sure there’s another bitter, lonely bachelor with OCD, who’s got a few spare hours. Besides, I had to lock her in the old storage room because she kept trying to steal the laces. Made it as comfortable as possible though.”

“Hey, do you know a young woman by the name of Jessica Steinbecher?”

Sawyer’s face fell. “Yes, why, did they find her?”

“Yes, thankfully. She’d been hiking the Pine Bluff Trail when she slipped from an outcrop and broke her leg. Stuck out there all night. Just heard it on the radio on the way here.”

“Thank goodness! The sheriff came around early this morning asking about her. I thought maybe she was dead. Nice kid, used to buy Girl Guide cookies from her.”

“So, are the locals still as bored and gossipy as they used to be?”

“Worse. Come on, let’s get ready to party.”

Please Welcome Authors Lisa & Tony Fisher

I’m sitting out on my back deck, finally enjoying a cool breeze as I peck away at this post. It’s quite a treat, really, considering the soupy humidity we’ve slogged through in the last three days.

Today I have the privilege of introducing Authors Lisa and Tony Fisher, who’s books delve into the systemic racism that is unfortunately still a part of today’s world. Lisa was inspired to write due to a painful personal experience. I’ll let them tell you their story.

The Manor Exposed book series is a nonfiction read about how this new age of computers social media has raised the platform of racism, specifically in the workplace and around the world. The connection between a racially charged environment and the internet. It also touches on the issue of cultural racism in a way never before seen or documented in the media.

Lisa Fisher, a Brooklyn, New York, woman is sharing her story of the unthinkable racist abuse she suffered. She’s an African American woman who was compared to an ape on Instagram.

Back in 2013 Lisa was discriminated against on her job at an assisted living facility located in Coney Island. Two coworkers took her picture without her knowledge and posted it on Instagram, along with a monkey and a nasty caption indicating that’s how she looked. These coworkers had located a picture of Ari (mistakenly referred to in the photo as Cornelius) from the 2001 movie, Planet of the Apes, and had placed her photo next to it.  Lisa did not find any sympathy or recourse when she reported the incident to her employer. Instead, she had ended up cutting back on her hours at work to try and avoid these coworkers who continued to harass her.

 From that moment on their lives were turned upside down. Eventually, Lisa went from being a victim to a victor.  She sued the job and won, making history by creating a precedent in the courts for this type of hatred.
     

Her husband encouraged her to write so that she could share the story of her pain. In 2019, Lisa and Tony became authors of, The Manor Exposed book series, a memoir that delves into the very essence of systemic racism in the workplace.

Lisa believes her book is a call to action and she wants to be an advocate or a voice for many who have remained silent through these painful acts. This is reality and she hopes that through her message hostile workplace experiences will come to an end.

We hope The Manor Exposed book series will help you find your way in seeking justice. All lives do matter, stand up and make a difference even if you stand alone.

A poem inspired by the need for solving problems of race discrimination.

My yesterdays were filled with exciting and new
Now the days are like thunder
So dark and so blue

With rainy nights as I dried my eyes and tried to sleep
I drowned in my thoughts like an ocean so deep

The sun use to shine with blue skies dancing in the wind
But now I’m reminded of how people sin

Like the gentle breeze sliding across my forehead as I float
in thin air
Is it now the new normal to treat people unfair

With no care in the world
But still I was worried
If the evilness of jealousy would ever be buried

I tried to imagine that things would get better
Then I got threatened with a termination letter

So far away
And too high to reach
It made the lessons I learned
so hard to teach

It was like for never
happening
and I became worse
This Instagram photo
was more than a curse

-Lisa and Tony Fisher

Meet Lisa and Tony

We’re Lisa and Tony Fisher, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. We met in 1995. A year later, we became the two of hearts and got married on Valentine’s Day. Living life simple took us on great adventures from enjoying long walks across the beach to becoming authors. Together we get to explore our creative expression and what it means to reach the minds of others through written words. We would like to share with you how a great tragedy can change your life. 

We never aspired to become writers, but with love and understanding it all came true. As a message, we would like to say, when two people love each other, as we do, you can conquer just about anything. But most of all, when you have loyalty and trust there’s no limit to what you can achieve. If that’s where your heart is, just do it.

Connect with them and buy your copy:

Amazon.com Website Youtube Facebook Instagram Twitter