Good Neighbors or Not

11554035_sMany years ago, I lived in this wonderful neighborhood in Queens, New York. I went to school from there, visited with my friends who lived across the street, or up the block, there. All of us teenagers grew, and the parents aged, but no one left home. What I mean is, we were all one big family – the two or three block vicinity bonded. When the people across the street forgot sugar or flour at the market, they had only to cross the street and knock on my door, or go to the house next to them. I may have mentioned this before, but when summer arrived the entire area threw a block party, put on by everyone. I grew up having dinner with my friend’s folk, or at the house of my parent’s friends. Then, at any given time, we would switch houses. At New Year’s Eve one household, or the other would throw the party, but we all attended. Then, as we teenagers became adults and left home, the parents, and grandparents were left, still carrying on that “good neighbor” spirit. Yes, I remember a home, or two that may not have been included in the camaraderie, but for the most part we all looked out for each other.

When, I got married and moved to New Jersey, I found it to be a hemisphere away from what I knew in New York. The person next door may have said hello in passing, but if I forgot anything at the market, I’d just have to make another trip back. And, as far as the holidays; thank goodness for my relatives traveling out from New York, because if I waited for someone from across the street, I’d kind of still be waiting. Yes, life proved the total opposite end of the spectrum. In 1998 we moved from Morris County, New Jersey to East Brunswick, which is south of Morris County. Here, I had a “middle of the road” impression. In this area, attitudes were  halfway between denizens of New York and those of Morris County. I don’t know why they are friendlier in East Brunswick, but they are; as different as night and day. In fact, we supped at one or two houses, and shared Fourth of July festivities. In any event, everyone in both counties, although not as welcoming as New York, remained civil.

Why did I bring up this specific topic? Friday night’s episode of ABC’s 20/20 and Blogger Bob Borzatta’s “Neighbor From Hell.” As different as the three examples I mentioned above, I would seriously hate being in one of these subdivisions. In one particular locale – two homes across from an Alderwoman – the residents couldn’t have made a worse mistake in moving there. The Alderwoman called the police whenever they played loud music, or for working on cars in their driveway, and she had been seen measuring their grass with a ruler. In another state, someone went so far as to get a restraining order on a person. Why you ask? Because the supposedly good individuals made some kind of derogatory comment about the restrained mother’s daughter. From that moment forward, she became out of control. The restricted woman is a single mother, and not to take sides, but from what the network aired she appeared as one of those on the edge characters – someone ready to go off at any given moment. She actually had a “meltdown” when being interviewed by the reporter; filming literally came to a halt until she regained her composure. She draped obscene and insulting banners from her garage; pulled her dress up and shook her bottom at them – anything wild, or outrageous to so call, retaliate. The network, and the police knew of these happenings because the one being attacked, installed a surveillance camera in order to catch-all of her antics.

I must say, at an early age I learned from my grandmother to mind my business. I discovered this mostly by way of the best teacher ever – observation. I am well aware that part of my demeanor came directly from that bloodline. Her motto simply stated – if you stay out of everyone’s business then, they should stay out of your affairs. I have found through the years, however, that sometimes one cannot help him/her self. They don’t like the fact that you’re not causing any confusion, so they will, in the least, talk about you anyway. Somewhere along the way, I read of a website – Next Door dot com – where a person can log on and keep up with their neighborhood. It’s sort of like Facebook, only for subdivisions. I haven’t had the desire, or need to do so – motto remember? Although, I did take a look-see in writing this piece. But, it all makes me wonder, what’s happening to our world? All of it simply makes me miss those early days. I guess I could envision it as one of the five places I’ll meet in heaven, huh? How is the family across the street from you? Do you have a relationship with them?

Image courtesy of


ABC’s 20/20

Bob Borzatta Neighbor From Hell

Next Door dot com


Where Were You

7573995_sHere we are at another September 11th, and do you realize it’s been twelve years. At first thought, I didn’t want to write about this, again. Then, after some pondering I said to myself, I need to write about it. I need to write about it, and talk about it until I can’t any longer. Then, when I realized the official day fell on blog day that cinched it for me. This time, however, I’d like to come at the topic from another point of view. Like many other important dates in our lives, they seem to linger, am I right? They hang on, and fill our minds with the events of the day – be it good, or bad. This specific day, I believe, will go down in notoriety like Pearl Harbor, or the day President John F. Kennedy met his fate. Each one of us will remember it the same as a wedding day, a milestone birthday, or when your first child came in the world. I have often thought about September 11, 2001, and it makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because I didn’t have to endure the hardship of trying to make it home to one of the boroughs, or New Jersey from Manhattan; happy, because my loved ones were not in, or around the devastated area. But, sad because I am a New Yorker, and living and working in New Jersey caused me, at times, to perceive myself as a conformer. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like conformity.

As I recall the day, I worked in Princeton, New Jersey for a Manhattan based law firm. My attorney had actually just moved from the Upper East Side of Manhattan to across the river in to Pennsylvania. I had finished setting up one of the conference rooms for a deposition she had scheduled, and surprisingly the defense lawyer had traveled to our office from Washington, D.C. I returned to my desk and went to work on my next project. My cube-mate had her tiny transistor radio at her desk playing on low when the word came about the first plane. She mentioned it, and I popped over to listen. When I made it back to my desk to go on-line, a picture of the north tower adorned my computer screen with plumes of black smoke billowing in every direction. Before I could finish reading the article the second plane hit. By this time most of the office had become a buzz. If you know anything about legal, you know that under no condition do you intrude on a deposition. Well, you do, of course, if the circumstances involve life and death, or a landmark building collapsing due to some act of terrorism.

After the failing of the first tower, and rumors began spreading of a terror attack, I had a conversation with my co-worker about interrupting that deposition. I think what happened next will stay in my mind the rest of my life. I knocked on the conference room door, opening it at the same time – all eyes turned directly to me, obviously. My attorney beckoned for me to come in to the room. I began:

“They think there’s been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center,” I said, my entire body shaking. “One of the towers just collapsed to the ground.”

Everyone in the room began frowning.

“Do you mean, there is some sort of structural damage to one of the buildings?” my attorney asked.

“No, one of the towers has fallen to the ground.”

“Wa…wait…wait a minute,” the gentlemen being deposed said, broadening his eyebrows. He lifted his right hand, placed it at the table’s edge and pushed himself backward. “Are you saying one of the towers has literally fallen…it fell to the ground?”

“Yes,” I answered, continuing to shake. Only now, the tears had begun to fall.

The balance of the room went completely still. My attorney took me by the waist and led me in to the hallway, and back to my desk. Needless to say by the time the Pentagon had been hit, the Washington, D.C. attorney had decided she had better try to make her way back home.

As if it were yesterday, I recollect riding in the car with hubby two weeks prior as we traveled in the Jersey City, New Jersey area on our way to a function. This part of New Jersey sits right across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan. Like the images of the leaning Tower of Pisa, you actually got the sense you were touching the structure. So, playfully, I reached out of the window:

“Honey, look. See, I’m touching the buildings.”

Just like that they were gone, and two weeks after that, I began classes at Gotham Writers’ Workshop in the Village. Did I have any trepidation about going in? Uh…yeah. But, as I sat on the train, on my way to Pennsylvania Station, we came upon a spot where the towers would normally have been in full view. The entire car went completely still, not a sound came from anyone. We all stared at the surrounding buildings, and then, the large void where the towers had been. For me I had the impression of finding that favorite old photo of my grandmother – only to realize someone had cut her out of the picture. At that moment, I grasped all that had actually taken place. If it were that way for me, then it had to have affected every other first timer on that train the very same. Tell me what you were doing?

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Oh, For The Memories

11474012_sLike a high school reunion, over the past nine years I have had encounters with three people who I haven’t see or heard from in way longer than that. Just the other day the third old friend found me on LinkedIn.  I’m certain I don’t have to tell you what emotions and memories are stirred up in such an instance. Whenever I watch one of my favorite movies, Die Hard With A Vengeance, my mind goes to this particular friend, and you know who you are. Why? Because there is a scene outside the 72nd Street and Broadway subway station – right where they lived – oh so many years ago; especially when the camera pans toward Gray’s Papaya. This setting shakes me, and I’m instantly transported to that location, and if at that moment, you placed your hand on the spot where I sat, it would be cold to the touch, because my spirit had already taken flight there.

Because this friendship holds such a special place in my heart I had an absolute compelling tug to write about it. When I think of this friend, I recall the Steve Miller Band, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, the Promenade Cafe at Rockefeller Center, and Joe Allen Restaurant, to name a few. All great souvenirs that will stay with me a lifetime, and way, way, way ago became a part of my make-up like breathing, eating, or getting up in the morning. Some friendships are just that way, aren’t they? Even though you lose each other over time, each one has left a ripple, if you will, on the other life – something where a simple facial expression, a name from the past, or a smell will suddenly create a jerk to the brain, and plummet you back in time.

Do you have such a friend? These special people were, I believe, placed in our lives for a reason; if only to fill our later years with thoughts of happiness from a time you thought you could hold onto forever. Recollections that will sustain you while rocking on the front porch of the respite home. And, although Father Time has visited both lives, as well as life itself with the highs and lows, there remains this unbreakable connection. You see, we didn’t know it then, but this bond formed all those years ago for a time such as this, or maybe, just because we both needed each other. If you have one of these friends that turns up again after so many years, believe me it’s for a reason.

So, yesterday I walked around with this goofy smile the entire day – remembering a time when life spelled: simple, easy and unhurried.  And, not that I want to promote Facebook, or LinkedIn, but what wonderful tools that helped reconnect two buddies lost over time. So, hello again, old friend, and remember this line from author Richard Bach – Don’t be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.

Photo courtesy of

Info courtesy of

Joe Allen Restaurant

Gray’s Papaya

Loveland’s Andrea Downing

©nathandehartphotography-andreadowningAndrea Downing has spent most of her life in the UK where she received an M.A. from the University of Keele in Staffordshire.  She married and raised a beautiful daughter and  stayed on in England to teach and write, living in the Derbyshire Peak District, the English Lake District and the Chiltern Hills before finally moving into London. During this time, family vacations were often on guest ranches in the American West, where she and her daughter have clocked up some 17 ranches to date. In addition, she has traveled widely throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, living briefly in Nigeria. In 2008 she returned to the city of her birth, NYC, but frequently exchanges the canyons of city streets for the wide open spaces of the West.  Her love of horses, ranches, rodeo and just about anything else western is reflected in her writing.  Loveland, a western historical romance published by The Wild Rose Press, is her first book.  She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Women Writing the West.



We’ve all been there:  the large hotel in Anywheresville that just happens to have a conference going on at the same time you’re trying to give your sorry uh-soul some rest.  You get into the elevator and it’s packed with people wearing name tags, clip boards in hand, women trying to be comfortable in high heels they’ve already been wearing for eight hours, and men…ugh!  That smug look.  Does it have anything to do with the sounds that later come barging through the wall at one o’clock in the morning? When someone says “conference” to me, I cringe.  Thank goodness The Wild Rose Press, my publisher, called theirs a “retreat.”

So, what’s the difference?  Were we in monk’s cells, sworn to quiet and bread and water for a week?  Saying prayers that our next chef d’oeuvre get the contract of our dreams followed swiftly by rave reviews and a spot on the NYT Best Sellers List?  Were we even forced into self-flagellation for not having written the next Fifty Shades?  Uh, no.  Authors get enough of that at home.  This retreat was at a ranch in Bandera, Texas.  And let me tell you, pard, when you say “ranch” and “Texas” to me in the same breath, my horse is saddled and ready.

The Silver Spur Guest Ranch is nestled in the peaceful, undulating landscape of Texas Hill Country.  No elevators here, and certainly no high heels.  The rooms were hardly cell-like; named after western heroes such as Wyatt Earp, Annie Oakley and Doc Holiday, they are comfortably furnished in an old western style.  And as for the food, we certainly weren’t starving on bread and water; there were hearty meals with fabulous deserts to follow.  But what actually happened there?  That word “retreat” still hangs in the air…

The main idea was to have time away from family commitments, household chores, ringing phones and other distractions and just work.  The huge, inviting living area of the main lodge was where we all settled, computers at the ready, for a day of either getting on with our own WIPs or taking part in workshops run by the editors on hand.  Some workshops were aimed at having our work critiqued to improve our writing, while others, simply to get our creative juices flowing.  And if I tell you there were bowls of candy and drinks in the fridge available for our consumption, that hopefully shows you how relaxed and pleasant the atmosphere was.

But, as they say, that’s not all!  There was, of course, horse riding available and we were also treated, in the spirit of the Halloween season, to tarot readings and angel card readings.  Oh, and ghost stories…  Silver Spur is haunted, a hanging having taken place on the property some time in the 19th Century.  As you ride through the wooded area of the pasture, you come upon a noose where the hanging supposedly took place.  And there’s a lady in white as well as a cowboy roaming the lodge and flashing the lights. I was more interested, however, in present-day cowboys and moseyed on in to Bandera, a few miles away, with its honky-tonks and bars.  But the best bit was meeting and sharing time with fellow writers I had only known via the listserv, putting names to faces, and having a good laugh at the foibles of writing.

Yup, retreating to the ‘cowboy capitol of the world’ sure was tough work.  Do I really have to wait two years for the next one?

Find Andrea and Loveland at these sites




Loveland on Amazon

Loveland at Wild Rose Press

Loveland at Barnes and Noble

Loveland Overview

When Lady Alexandra Calthorpe returns to the Loveland, Colorado, ranch owned by her father, the Duke, she has little idea of how the experience will alter her future. loveland_w6692_300[1]Headstrong and willful, Alex tries to overcome a disastrous marriage in England and be free of the strictures of Victorian society –and become independent of men. That is, until Jesse Makepeace saunters back into her life…

Hot-tempered and hot-blooded cowpuncher Jesse Makepeace can’t seem to accept that the child he once knew is now the ravishing yet determined woman before him. Fighting rustlers proves a whole lot easier than fighting Alex when he’s got to keep more than his temper under control.

Arguments abound as Alex pursues her career as an artist and Jesse faces the prejudice of the English social order. The question is, will Loveland live up to its name?


The two men looked over at Jesse who was leading his own horse into the stable, anger etched in every muscle of his face. Joe nodded toward the chuck house and they followed the others in to leave Alex alone when Jesse came out.

She was starting back to the main house when Jesse grabbed her arm and turned her around. “You ever do that again,” he said in a voice she had never heard, intense in its anger, rage just below its surface, “I swear to God, Alex, I’ll…I’ll take you over my knee and give you a lickin’ once and for all.”

“How dare you!” She shook him off. “How dare you talk to me like that! How dare you! Who the hell do you think you are?”

Jesse jabbed his finger at her to emphasize he meant what he was saying. “Who do I think I am?”he snarled back. “Who do I think I am? You ever, ever take a gun off me again and point it at someone, you’ll find out who the hell I think I am. You know that coulda gone off? You know you coulda killed someone? I told you—out there yonder—I told you, you never point that thing at anyone less’n you mean bus’ness.”

“I did bloody well mean business! They were destroying that horse. Furthermore, I knew, and you knew, and they both knew, there wasn’t a shot under the hammer. You taught me that, didn’t you? So there was no chance of an accident!”

“That don’t matter none. You coulda pulled the hammer back twice. Way you was, you were nothin’ better’n a loose cannon, Alex. You ever do a thing like that again—”

“You’ll what?” She shook with her rage as tears pooled against her will. “I apologized to them both and they accepted my apologies. It’s none of your concern—”

“None of my concern! You pulled my gun! You ever do that again— Don’t you walk away when I’m talkin’ to you!”

She turned back to him after a few steps. “You’ll what? You’ll what, Jesse? What will you do? I want to hear it! Say it again. What will you do?” And she stood there in the evening darkness, facing him down, wearing him out like she’d faced down the stallion.

New York On My Mind

Uptown to Queens, please

Yesterday morning a few of my twitter peeps and myself were going on about living, working, and missing New York City. Well…okay, I may have been the one who mentioned missing. When it comes to that locale, it doesn’t take much to flip my yearning switch. I need to preface what I’m about to say by explaining – having choices. What do I mean by this? If your family is from some other place, but you live in Manhattan or any of the other four boroughs – more than likely you will get the chance to visit the place from where your relatives originated. I believe this gives you a different outlook versus strictly growing up in the city; never knowing anything else.

That being said, I always knew in the back of my mind, my mother would one day return to her roots; no matter how hard I worked to keep her in the north. Once I moved to New Jersey, I began hounding her to sell the house and buy something close to me. Now, I can’t speak for any other race – I know personally there have been many articles printed lately about African-Americans returning to the south. In fact, just a month or two ago, the New York Times had one on the front page. The reasons listed in those articles, however, had nothing to do with the reason we came here. Being from the south, my mother would easily become frustrated and go on a rampage, wanting to leave the “rat race” and move. I, too treasured going on vacation. This gave me the chance to get away from the concrete, crowds, and rushing around. All of that in mind, if you stop and think about the choices, and those places other than New York, it makes the everyday annoyances of urban living a little more difficult to endure.

What are those frustrations? The guy standing behind you in the subway car with his umbrella handle poking you in your back. The never-ending stream of pedestrians that won’t stop coming, and give you a chance to make a right/left turn. The way long lines at check out, the week of Christmas. The sea of bodies that smack you in the face, and threatens to send you running in the opposite direction as you enter the Division of Motor Vehicles. I could create a list, pages long on the irritations of living in a large metropolis, but, again that’s another topic.

So now, with those confessions, wouldn’t that make one think – why on earth would she then, miss New York? Have you ever been on Fifth Avenue anytime from Noon until around 2:00 p.m. when the wave of bodies renders the concrete invisible? Or at 4:00 a.m. when the only people inhabiting the island are the ones who live there, and a lone resident is walking his dog down Fifth Avenue at 62nd Street. The craving for an omelet, pancakes, Bloody Mary, a piece of fruit or a simple cup of coffee strikes at 3:00 a.m. and all that’s needed is to walk out your front door. Enjoying the Christmas windows of Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue or Lord & Taylor while wrapped in your winter garb as you hustle along – hands filled with packages, and the falling snow validates – tis the season. Or my all-time favorite, crossing the George Washington Bridge at sunset with Manhattan in the distance.

I miss New York with a vengeance. I told someone recently, I never thought I would work or live anywhere else. My husband and I are certain we are two people meant to be in a metropolitan area. But, not just any metro, because nothing – nothing – nothing compares to the Big Shiny Apple. At this point, I have the urge to quote a line from The Wizard of Oz – “…I’m not gonna leave [insert your own text] New York] ever, ever again…there’s no place like home!”

NYC Public Library

51st St. Entry to St. Patrick's

Also, I’d like to remind my visitors to make their way over to “View From The Roads.” It’s been a new month for 14 days now. I realize I got them in somewhat late.  Also, if you’re here, leave me suggestions in the comment section as to what you’d like to see more of or topics that simply interest you. Thanks in advance.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Images courtesy of Google Earth

Love For One’s Country

This is the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, and I seriously wanted to write about something else, since we have been, this entire week, inundated with hundreds of articles reminding us of the event.  However, after watching the Thursday night kick-off of America’s biggest sport – Football, I allowed myself to get pulled in, which prompted this post.  Before the start of that game, a young woman came out to sing, traditionally, the National Anthem initiating the occasion.  Following that, military jets performed their ritual flyover, pumping the seat fillers into a united frenzy. I know it’s not Independence Day or Labor Day, but 9/11 conjures up thoughts of Patriotism in the whole country.

This morning on Fox News, they aired a story about a group in Massachusetts wanting to ban the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, citing it had no educational benefit for the children.  More disturbing information has been that the families of first responders of that infamous day have not been invited to the memorial.  As if all of this has not been enough, New York’s Mayor, has stated there can be no mention of God at any of the services.

When I reach back, way back, I remember having to place my hand over my heart, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance as a child in grammar school – not only me, but the entire class, and this included the teacher.  Along with this also came…wait, let me whisper…prayer.  I don’t know about anyone else out there, but sometimes, I am a little embarrassed when I think of these ridiculous new rules.  We have come this far, and in our progress have proposed, “In God We Trust,” and “One Nation Under God” be eliminated from our society.  The very phrases adopted in the founding of this land.  But, who am I?  I’m a citizen, that’s who.  And I must ask, as a voter when did any of this become a crime?  The law makers and organizations must remember, each and every one of our ancestors came from someplace else.  Yes, our children need to know from where their ancestors heralded, but at the same time if the child lives in America, then this is now a part of that legacy.  Why must it now be a crime to place a hand over one’s heart or pray in school, the same as we did in an earlier time.

Being from New York, it struck at the core of me to lose the Twin Towers.  But, to add the thousands of lives from the WTC, a lone field in Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon is too much to comprehend.  It makes one reflect, and in doing so I recall an office Christmas party at Windows On The World;  my husband going for an interview with an Engineering firm on the 85th floor of one of the towers, and lastly I recollect posters, pictures and messages of all sorts dressing the walls in Pennsylvania Station, placed there by loved ones of the missing – two weeks following the incident.  Let me ask a question: Have you ever been abroad, and come home through Customs, and have the Agent say, “Welcome home?”  If you were away for any amount of time that reception takes on a whole new meaning, which helps you realize this really is the best country in the world.  That being said, it all helps you understand why we are hated so much as a nation.

Let me say one more thing, with regard to prayer in schools, I find it amazing that Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s son William J. Murray,  is the president of the Religious Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C.  Who is Madalyn Murray O’Hair, you ask? Only, the atheist sponsoring the court cases to ban said prayer.  Yes, we are in turmoil, and hated by many.  It all makes me wish that as a land we could make it to the same page, returning to our original values – One God – One Nation.  Then, I believe God really would bless us as a united people.

Oh, and just in case you cannot read the verse in the picture:

2 Chronicles 7:14 :  If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  

Photo courtesy of iStock Photo

Through the Storm

Well, we are all breathing a sigh of relief from our week of dilemma’s; earthquakes, hurricanes – yes, our mettle has been tested, and look, whoever is reading this on the East coast has come through the storm.  Maybe a bit frazzled and worn, but thank God, we’re still here.  In this part of the world, everything is leaning or twisted, including us, because as of last night we were still clinging to the righteous stench left from our morning bird bathes – but all, I think, are none the worst for wear, and ready to continue on, renewed.  However, since we had no power for three days, I had no idea how rough things had become in the Northeast.  Now, after watching the goings on, and reading the e-mails from my Writing Loop it all makes my three-day power outage appear like a camping trip.  But for me, all of this has taught me what modern-day equipment/electronics I cannot do without: External modems, air conditioning, generators, connectors for iPods, cell phones, and undisturbed and functioning satellites.  We have come this far in time, but one natural disturbance, and we’re all catapulted back a lot of years – when 2011 quickly becomes 1960.

Here in the Southeast I dealt with three-day long (for some), and widespread power outages, missing shingles, so many downed trees, downed power lines, and downed trees on power lines.  This is sad, because some of those trees appeared to have age on them; the kind that were here in the 1600s – the ones that had stories to tell, if they could.  Also, going out to eat had been wishful thinking as not only your neighbor’s house sat dark, so did the local restaurant/watering hole.  I must say, this is my first and I hope last encounter with such a hurricane.  But, at least all the community rallied, sharing whatever resources they had that could help another.  In fact, as I wrote this yesterday, I watched the Home Owner’s Association workers walk around holding shingles and peering toward the sky as they tried to determine what went where, while the clouds began to build again as another rain shower became imminent – an evident left over rain ban from Irene (and if she’s reading this, not Peterson).

But, assuredly we’re slowly coming back in this area.  On Sunday, we stood in line for one hour to get coffee at a local Dunkin Donuts; the only place brewing a bean – go figure.  However, since this is the south, there is that hospitality that began from the time we stepped on-line until we reached the counter.  Then, I realized, half the people we’d been talking to weren’t locals at all; they were tourists from Chicago, Texas and around the corner from where I lived in New York, and New Jersey, which helps me remember that basically no matter where you are, when there is any type of disruption such as this – the good, the soul, the spirit that our Creator built really does live deep inside, and it renews my belief in humanity.

My husband is a believer – he always says basically, people are friendly, they sometimes just don’t realize it.  But, all you have to do is break the ice and begin talking – they usually open up.  I say that, and I have to chuckle, because there is this little experiment in sociology he does that makes me laugh.  He likes to catch people off guard by speaking to them.  Then, he watches and smiles as they fumble for their voice to respond.

One last thing, I’d like to send my heartfelt sympathies to all the families of those souls who were lost in this storm.  After that last rain ban moved through yesterday, we went for a drive, and right behind my house sat the most beautiful, no beginning and no end rainbow.  I know for some, it may not appear a rainbow type moment, but we all have a kind of built-in shock absorber, if you will.  Just take some deep breaths, put your head down, and plow through.  This too shall pass.