Start A Neighborhood Watch.

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com
Photo courtesy of morguefile.com

What are your neighbors like? Not to brag, but I have wonderful neighbors. That doesn’t always happen and we’ve been lucky enough to experience it twice. The first house the Coffee King and I bought, many years ago, we had fantastic neighbors. We moved out of that house ten years ago and we still keep in touch with many of them. The second house we bought, well, let’s just say during the six years we lived there we never said two words to the people who lived next door to us. And believe me, it wasn’t because we didn’t try. In fact, the more they ignored us, the more fun it was to say hello.

But out here in the country, we struck gold again. Let me tell you a story….

It was a warm, June morning. The kids had made it to their destinations without a hitch. The morning was looking good and I needed exercise. Who better to go with me than my furry monster? Munson and I headed into the neighborhood.

Now, I don’t know what it is with this dog, but three minutes into every walk he has business to do. I’m always prepared. But on this particular walk, Munson had more business and I was out of bags. We were almost home and I tried to make him run the rest of the way. Poor dog. He must’ve been thinking, “Lady, I’ve got to go! Are you crazy???”

I couldn’t let my dog make a mess all over the street. Well guess what? Dogs and toddlers can’t hold it.

I was faced with a dilemma: Did I leave the mess and come back with bags?  Or just leave the mess? In all honesty, bags weren’t going to work here, more like a fire hose. Maybe I could wait for a good rain to come along?

Instead, I called my neighbor Bobbie. She lives across the street from the crime scene. Frantically, I searched for Bobbie’s number. “Are you home? I need help,” I said to the voice mail. I figured a similar text might get me an answer.

But when Bobbie didn’t respond to my overwrought request for help I decided to wait for a good rain and went home. (Don’t judge me.) That’s when I decided to pull my phone from my pocket. And there were four texts from Bobbie. She’d sent the neighborhood watch to my house.

Charlie, who lives across the street, was searching in my windows. You see, he saw the garage door closing and assumed someone was in the truck holding me at gunpoint. He watches the same television shows I do.  I would’ve assumed the exact same thing was happening had I received the desperate message I’d left Bobbie. Plus, my overactive imagination and the fact I write thriller type novels, always has me assuming there’s a dead body in need of hiding in every scenario.

While Charlie and I were having a good laugh over the mishap, another neighbor pulled up. He was coming to see if I needed an ambulance. Bobbie had called him too.

And that’s when I read the rest of the four texts. Bobbie was coming back from wherever she was! I didn’t get to her in time. She too pulled into my driveway ready to rescue me.

The lesson here? Be more specific on your voice mail messages. Unless kidnapping is involved, “I need help” might not be the way to go.

But I know I have great neighbors. Who Watch. And you can’t beat that.

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Sunday Afternoon – Not in the Park

I was at the Flemington Jewish Community Center waiting to give a workshop on developing character. No one showed. No one except Husband and my friend. (She had to unlock the FJCC to let me in, so she was kind of wrangled into it, but I appreciate her just the same.) I’ve read and heard the stories a thousand times about an author who sat through a book signing and no one came except the homeless lady who wanted out of the cold and the chocolate. It’s funny, really. Well, funny for me, maybe not the author whose only visit was the homeless.

I thought I’d be totally bummed. But I’m not. So what no one came. My name ended up in the paper. Very cool. I was listed on MSN.com. Super cool. My mother has started a scrapbook for me. It can’t get much better than that.

And yet it does. Daughter goes to school and peddles my book! (She takes after her father the salesman.) My friends repost my links about my events. Love them for that. They “like” my posts and cheer me on. I’ve even sold a couple of books. Not too shabby.

Sunday afternoon was a total success. Can’t wait to do it again.

 

Book Launch – Giving Thanks

I didn't even have to pay her to stand there!
I didn’t even have to pay her to stand there!

Thanksgiving is around the corner, but I have plenty to say thanks for right now. Sunday, I officially launched my new middle grade book Welcome To Kata-Tartaroo. Once again, I have been humbled by the support bestowed upon me like holiday gifts.

Writing a book takes a long time, some sweat equity, and possibly some mental illness because you’d have to be a little out of your mind to undertake writing a book. Many times along the way you think, this will never happen, I’ll never see my name on the cover and then one day after all that time and pain it happens! (Like giving birth, for all you mothers out there.) And you think everything will change, but it doesn’t. You’re still the same person who cleans toilets, food shops, and chauffeurs the kids. You just have a new edition, displayed prominently on your desk.

So, to have many people excited for me is completely unreal, but very cool. I do have to ask, why me? All I did was write a book. If I can do it, they certainly can. You can do anything you put your mind to. (Albeit, a crazy one. No, no, that’s just me. I’m sure everyone else’s mind is fine and perfectly functioning.)

I give thanks to you today, my new reader. I hope you enjoy the adventure.

I'm not writing out the grocery list!
I’m not writing out the grocery list!

 

Noise Polution

The school year has ended and summer vacation has gotten under way. “Hooray,” I shout, but not before I cover my ears. With the kids in the house, all day long, the noise decibel is killing me. Holy cow. Daughter spends large blocks of time singing and playing the recorder. Do you know this instrument? It’s a plastic clarinet that sounds like a pig trying to shimmy through it. Dear God, who made that thing and gave it to elementary school children and told them it was music?!

As I’m desperately trying to put this blog post together Son is pounding away on the drums. He’s in the basement on one side of the house and I am on the second floor on the OPPOSITE side of the house. I’m too lazy or crazed, you pick, to shut the office door. And guess what? He’s a GREAT drummer. I say this, because if you’ll allow me a moment of bragging, Son played “Dance The Night Away” by VAN HALEN at his drum recital. Those of you that know me personally, know Son could have given me no greater gift. And guess what? He surprised me! I didn’t even know what he was going to play until he introduced himself. Thirteen years of yelling, “stop that, don’t touch that, go to bed, and get off the video games,” paid off. He loves his mother. Collective sigh.

And of course, because the kids are home I hear a lot of “Mom, can I, can you, when will we?” non-stop. It would be quieter if I took my lap top and tried to write on a corner in New York City. Don’t my children know an author needs quiet to create?

I remember the days when I longed for them to say, “mama,” to call to me instead of the undistinguishable screaming of a baby. Now all they do is scream at each other.

My mother tells me I’m going to miss all the noise in the house some day. Could she be right? Will I long again, but this time for the disruption, the fighting, the playing of the pig squealing recorder?

In the words of Gabriel Hunter, “As if.”

Ode to Lisa Scottoline

I’m reading one of Lisa Scottoline‘s books My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space. I love Lisa. I’ve seen her speak several times at workshops and book signings. She’s warm, generous and funny. If you haven’t read any of her books, shame on you. Stop reading this blog right now and go order one. Any one. They are all wonderful. I know I’ve read them.

I’m knee deep in My Nest which is a compilation of her articles she writes for the Philadelphia Enquirer and in one chapter she talks about her book club parties. She holds a contest every year for book clubs who read her books. Everyone who enters the contest gets to come to her house for a party and meet Lisa. It’s cool and crazy at the same time. There’s one book club grand prize winner. That winning book club receives a private dinner with Lisa. In my opinion, everyone who enters is a winner.

Seven hundred women, some men too, were scheduled to come to her house! Can you image having 700 people over for lunch? Not me. I sweat cooking for my family. But like I said, Lisa is generous so it didn’t faze her. Well, maybe a little. She prayed for rain. And got two nor’easters!

I was at that very party and reading about it brought back some great memories. Three of my book group friends and I donned our winter gear (it was October, but freezing), rain boots and hit the road. A little rain wasn’t going to stop us. We’d had this date on the calendar for months and the husbands had the kids. No brainer, really. We drove through the downpour, parked on hay, walked in mud, and wished for hot beverages. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

But Lisa was fantastic. A hug for everyone, a giant smile, and as expected she made us laugh. She taught me something that day. Friendships grow when rained on just like flowers do and I’m tougher than I knew. If a nor’easter doesn’t scare me, nothing should. Right?