Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lonely Letters From Camp


Recently, when my oldest and dearest friend's twelve-year-old son went off to overnight camp she anxiously awaited his first letter. He couldn't wait to go home to his "comfy bed," and didn't want to spend another minute "singing silly camp songs." Though he wasn't exactly having a first-rate experience, he came up with a very creative escape plan involving "tactical units, Navy SEALs, and a Hummer." Afterward, his mother didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or contact Mensa.

This reminded me of my oldest son's overnight camp adventure when he was around the same age. Because the lake was too cold for swimming at the beginning of the summer, most of the activities centered around snapping wet towels at each other in the shower. Some boys even snuck in portable TVs, and preferred watching baseball games to actually playing in them.  In one of his letters, he even offered to take his little brother to Toys "R" Us as soon as he got home.  Since the camp assured us that he was doing fine, we painfully decided to make him stick it out for the full four weeks. I'll never forget how thin he looked when he came off of the bus, so we quickly began serving up his favorite foods.  He was so happy to be home that he made his bed everyday, and didn't renege on his promise to take his brother toy shopping.

My older brother also was homesick when he was away at baseball camp. I remember that we even drove up with close family friends to see him and his buddy during visitor's weekend.  He was so grateful for the visit, and was even more appreciative when he came home. Not only did he offer to do extra chores around the house, but  he didn't make me cry for at least a week. I still think that he missed my mom's cooking the most.

It's not too late for the men in our lives to partake in the camp experience. There are adult camps offering everything from cooking to cattle driving. They could partner up with you for co-ed soccer, and ballroom dancing, or they could take the dog instead to Camp Unleashed. There are many camps to choose from that offer three to five day stays at different times of the year.

Since young boys return home anxious to please, the possibilities are endless for what older men are willing to do. To insure the best results, I would recommend issuing an iron-clad agreement with an increased life insurance policy. Even an unsuspecting cooking camp could lead to imminent danger, so no camp is completely safe. For example, if he chooses to risk unnecessary knee, or hip replacement at a baseball camp, make sure you have a sparkling diamond before he slides home.

Who am I kidding? A couple of  romantic dinners, a weekend getaway, or even a few chick flicks would be nice. Throw in a day of shopping without sighing, whining, or excessive eye rolling, and you're in business. However, if your partner wants to go away to ballroom dancing camp without you, proceed with caution. Book a trip to Las Vegas with your girlfriends, and waltz him right out the door for good.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Monday PhotoPrompt: A New Path

Thanks to Delores at  mybabyjohn
Pia closed her eyes to picture a calm, and peaceful place. Instead she kept going down a long, narrow wooded path. She felt lost and alone though she heard a man's voice off into the distance.

His voice was getting louder, as she was breathing heavier attempting to pick up speed. The harder she tried, the faster he was gaining up on her. The crunching noises were getting louder and louder. At first she thought he was walking through leaves until she realized he was munching on junk food. Predators don't usually consume large quantities of pretzels and potato chips before they pounce on their victims. Besides, he was yelling out to her as if he knew her. Pia was anxious to get home, and didn't want to wait around to find out who this loud mouthed chomper was.

Just when she thought she had lost him, she heard another man and woman talking.

Man: This shouldn't take much longer, so we might make it home in time for the family barbecue. My wife is firing off the spit as we speak.

Woman: Won't she be surprised when you bring home the main course!

Man: Let's get the instruments ready, so we can move in for the push.

Horrific thoughts began racing through Pia's head. What if this cannibal couple ate "Cap'n Crunch" for an appetizer, and were after her for the main course?  She had to get away from them fast. Suddenly, she was standing in front of a cast iron gate at the end of the path.

Then she heard that annoying voice yelling in between bites,"Push!" Was he giving her instructions from beyond? She felt sharp pains piercing through her body. Did they already start filleting her with their instruments? Maybe she was having a panic attack as they were gaining up on her. Her only hope was to push the gate open, but what was waiting for her on the other side? She pushed with all of her might, but she couldn't open it. Pia took another deep breath and tried again, but it wouldn't budge. Then without warning she heard her parents. As if the crazy cannibals weren't enough, now she had to deal with her parents. Once again she pushed the gate, and it miraculously opened.

She heard crying, but was relieved that it wasn't her own. Pia held out her arms, and opened her eyes as the nurse gave her their beautiful baby boy. Her husband hugged his lovely family, as he continued to chomp on his gum. A moment later her parents walked in carrying a large bag of barbecue beef ribs. Pia was so grateful that she signed up for the hypnosis class to ease in her delivery. As proud papa Beldar toasted with cleaning fluid, the Conehead's couldn't wait to start their new life with the newest member of their family unit. 

Thanks to Susan for sharing this adorable picture of her grandson at  thecontemplativecat

Tuesday, July 10, 2012



"No Home. No Family. No Place to Hide.
For Summer Newcombe, that's only the beginning."

Today begins the book launch for Carol Kilgore's novel  IN NAME ONLY.  This MYSTERY* SUSPENSE* DRAMA is what Carol affectionately calls, "Crime Fiction with a kiss."

Carol has also published many short stories, most notably, Blues In The Night. This piece was " short-listed for the Derringer Award for Best Flash Story of 2010." She has also written in mystery anthologies including Map of Murder, and the private eye anthology Hardbroiled.

To showcase her humorous side, Carol contributed to Staying Sane When Your Family Comes To Visit.  The author compares it to, "The Chicken Soup books, except with more humor and solid tips on getting through family visits from those of us who have been there and survived!"

To celebrate her debut novel IN NAME ONLY, Carol is offering prizes at  Under The Tiki Hut.  Be sure to visit her delightful blog equipped with a Friday Top Ten List. 

IN NAME ONLY promises to be an entertaining read that has something for everyone. Did I mention that there's even a handsome firefighter potential love interest, and that Summer Newcombe is no slouch?  Someone with that name must certainly have an interesting background, and what exactly is she trying to hide? To find out the answers to these questions and more, buy your copy today.
* is featuring the Kindle Edition for $3.99, or the paperback for $11.99.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

PhotoPrompt: Controlling Pests

Raccoon picture
Thanks to Arleen at Starting Over, Accepting Changes-Maybe

When we first moved into our home, we were greeted by short, bandit wearing neighborhood scavengers. These uninvited guests quickly turned into permanent residents who took refuge under our deck. We called animal control to relocate the raccoons, but every time they trapped one in a cage, another one came to take his place.

Next a handyman installed chicken wire under the deck, but the raccoons managed to tear through it. Soon a family of four had moved in, and were often seen walking outside our patio door. Things only got worse when I would hear them playing on our roof late at night. Before I could figure out what
was causing the noise, the mama raccoon peered at me through the skylight. She smiled as if to say, "What are you gonna do about it?"

The animal warden came out again, and told us that even when they release them into the wild, they usually come back anyway. This was reassuring, but like everything else we decided to take a wait and see approach. As our kids, and raccoon's grandchildren went through puberty relatively unscathed, we continued to coexist together. I was waiting for one of them to come down the chimney, but my husband didn't seem to mind until a recent chance encounter.

While he was watering our flowers in the backyard, he noticed an unusually large rock. When it awoke, he almost came face to face with one of our house guests. The raccoon didn't like being disturbed, and quickly stormed off. Fortunately, it rained the next day, so there wasn't another bully confrontation on the playground.

A few days later, I noticed something moving while we were watching TV. We were in the same room off of the deck, where the raccoons usually went on their evening stroll. I stood up when I realized it was a mouse. My husband chased it around the room, as I jumped around pointing, while clinging on to my trusty Swiffer Sweeper. Eventually, my younger son came home to help us evict the mouse. When my husband trapped him in a plastic container, I reminded him how mice often come back. He and my son had a good laugh, as they guided him out the kitchen door. A second later, as he ran back into the kitchen, I tossed my boy the Swiffer, and he blocked it like a hockey goal.

The next day, his sibling was found in the same location behind the TV. My brave son chased him out the door, and this one didn't look back. The pest control service came out within half an hour, and apologized for being late. He found an opening in the basement, and sealed the area to prevent more mice from coming in. When he was surveying the deck, he noticed our raccoons. The exterminator warned me that raccoons carried ticks which could possibly get into our home. This was all my husband needed to hear.

He immediately started researching humane wildlife removal services, when he came across one that offered a ten year guarantee. Traps were set, and two men started digging under our deck. They surrounded it with steel that was "guaranteed to last." We had mouse traps in the house, and raccoon traps on the deck. The house was still. No more bowling matches on the roof, or indoor hide and seek games.

When the man came to remove the empty cages, he noticed that the bait was gone. The raccoons had the last laugh, by pulling out all but one marshmallow from the trap. I still don't think we've seen the last of them. They probably just went for a long, summer camping trip, or else they've just moved the party into our attic. After living with the raccoons for all of these years, a pair of mice might have finally driven them out. In the meantime, we still have to be on the lookout for moving rocks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

IWSG: Upon Further Examination


Just as the nurse asked me to step up on the scale, a panic swept over me. She saw me turning green and said, "But I haven't even told you how much you weigh yet." I told her that I had something very important to do, and would have to reschedule my appointment. Then the doctor walked in.

Doctor: Where do you think you're going?

Me: I just remembered that I have to write my Insecure Writer's Support Group post today.

Doctor: Well, given your medical history it seems you have much to be insecure about. Why don't you let me help you write it while I examine you?

Me: I suppose it's worth a shot.

Doctor: Oh, there will be plenty of those too (snort).

After careful examination of my chart, the doctor asked where I would like to start.

Me:  The nurse never did tell me my height and weight.

Doctor: The good news is you lost a half of an inch, but you gained it in your waistline (knee slap).

Me: So I'm shrinking?

Doctor: That comes with age, but your weight is okay.

Me: So I guess I don't have to be insecure about that.

Doctor: Have you seen yourself naked lately?

Me: Oh, I forgot about that.

Doctor: That's another thing, your memory is starting to fade.

Me: Are you going to examine me or not?

Doctor: See what I mean? I've been examining you this whole time and you already forgot about it.

Me: Then why am I completely dressed, and you're wearing a gown?

(The nurse raced into the room, and quickly ushered the good doctor out.)

Nurse: Sorry, he's been trying to help people for so long, that he doesn't even realize he's not a doctor. He's such a dear man, that Mr. Cavanaugh.

Alex J. Cavanaugh is popping up everywhere. Be sure to visit the other talented writers who share their insecurities.