This Memorial Day, my mountain bike finally tasted the dirt it so missed since Massachusetts likes to keep paving my paths! I stuffed the bike into the Beetle and drove to the absolutely beautiful Maudslay State Park in Newburyport, MA. It only costs $2.00 to park, and the area is open from dawn until dusk. This gorgeous land has open fields for picnics, kite flying, or relaxing. Hiking, horse back riding, and biking trails meander along the Merrimack River. Flowers are blooming everywhere and old houses, vineyards, and gardens loom quietly in secret corners of the grounds. Next time, I’m hiking because I kept getting off my bike to take pictures and explore!
But, alas, most of my adventures are not lacking a bit of frustration. After cycling around for quite some time and asking for directions to the main river bike trail, I was informed that
I WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ON THESE TRAILS WITH A BIKE.
Oops. So after going in circles for a while, I finally received the best directions of the day. Head back out to the main road towards the I-95 intersection, and the bike trails would be on my left.
The cycling trails are far better marked, meaning they actually have the names posted with clear directions back to the parking or to other trails. It was an incredibly peaceful ride, yet I was quite tired by the time I reached them. Oh, well. Next time I take the bike, I know exactly where to go.
When I was about seven years old, I spent Easter weekend at the home of my newly married sister. On that wonderful Sunday, my pre-school aged nephew and I excitedly entered the living area, hoping to find baskets stuffed with Peeps, chocolate and other goodies laying in plastic shredded green grass. But instead, we found a wrecked living room with disarrayed couch cushions, blankets, and decorate pillows laying around.
The story the young adults told us curious children was that my brother-in-law spotted the Easter Bunny in the home and chased him around the room.
This was not met with excitement from us kiddos.
In fact, my first thought was something more like this:
My little nephew and I stood silent for a bit, staring with wide eyes at the damage done by a rabbit large enough to carry around presents for our baskets.
“What color was he?” my nephew asked.
“Oh, multi-colored. He kept changing colors as he ran around.”
A color changing rabbit meant only one thing to this Cold War, Generation X child: Mutated. You mean to tell me that a giant, mutated bunny was in this house?!
Suddenly, this notion was not that scary:
Yep, to me, the Easter Bunny was scarier that a beaten Son of God being brutally crucified and then rising from the grave like some zombie. Okay. Yeah. It sounds silly, but I’ve always been an imaginative child.
I was too young at that time to appreciate that this prank meant to boost our belief in the Easter Bunny actually strengthened my faith. So the cutesy, capitalistic symbol of Easter and I really haven’t experienced a solid relationship. And truthfully, who wants to think of the Lord bloody and broken on a Roman cross when flowers are budding, birds are singing, and baby duckies and bunnies are prancing around? But, hey, the Resurrection is my basis for this Spring Time holiday. Therefore, I never encouraged the belief of a gift giving bunny to my own son. And I only died Easter eggs with him once because it was just such a stinky mess. By the way, Peeps candies are plain gross.
But then this guy came along:
Hecks, yeah!! A six foot tall, speedy, boomerang slinging, Australian accented bad-ass that protects me from evil! Voiced by Hugh Jackman, this Easter Bunny explained that Easter is also about “hope” and “new beginnings.” Therefore, lining up with the Christian belief that one can be “born again.”
So once again, I say thank you to the Easter Bunny for helping to keep my faith strong. 🙂
Woo-Hoo! It is a happy day despite the rain and fighting traffic after grocery shopping just before Turkey Day. Why, you ask?
After dreaming of being a writer for decades, I got over my neurotic fears and submitted a short horror story of a modernized Southern folklore. The people I’ve read the story to have never heard of such an antagonist. So, I’m celebrating Sirens Call Publications anthology
Featuring “Skin, Skin, Let Me In”
written under my pen name
Synopsis from Sirens Call:
“Voices from the Gloom is an eclectic collection of tales that echo in your mind, making you question what is real and what isn’t.
Whether it’s a mail delivery system with terrifying consequences, a sucker bet with an indelible foe, or a cellar full of family secrets – each of twelve stories contained within will leave you breathless and begging for more.
Let yourself get lost in the different voices. Let their horrific nature speak to you from the shadows. Let them pull you in and wring the morrow from your soul…
Brent Abell, Shaun Avery, Kevin Bannigan Jr., Donna Cuttress, Trevor Firetog, Kameryn James, Katie Jones, Jon Olson, Elaine Pascale, Katerina Russell, Justin M. Ryan, and Tim Wellman
Or if you’re like me, and prefer to curl up in bed with an actual book, visit the link on Createspace!
Thanks so much to the Chelmsford Writers Group who greatly helped me edit this story by removing unnecessary characters and cutting out a lot of words. And thank you very much to Sirens Call Publications!
We’ve watched the July 4th fireworks in Boston. We have peeped at the leaves on the Kancamangus. We’ve even spent a couple of Thanksgivings at the Macy’s Parade in NYC. This year, the Mister and I decided to try something new, resulting in the wickedly cook urban adventure of visiting the Halloween capital Salem, Massachusetts one Saturday night.
Festivities such as parades, celebrity guest appearances, and haunted attractions begin at the start of the month. So if you’re like me, and really not interested in shows and tours about women being judged and hung for witchcraft, there is still plenty of adventure. Downtown Salem is very walkable, with restaurants, pubs, and attractions all within walking distance from each other. Parking can be an issue, but I am blessed with a friend/co-worker that lives there and offered us a spot. I was not prepared for people asking to take pictures with us. But then again, I was wearing a pretty cool costume.
Passerbys commented “Edward Scissorhands!” or called me “Edwina Scissorhands” with big smiles. One little boy in quite the menacing skull mask asked if he could have one of my “swords.” That’s when I stepped into character, explaining that they are my hands and that “I’m not finished.” So cute. People also enjoyed the Mister’s Pumpkin Head costume, which will make an appearance later. Here are a few more costume photos before we danced for a bit Oneill’s. (where I encountered the scary adventure of a flooded bathroom, and an unfortunate woman dropped her cell phone in the muck. Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!)
With the night growing frigid cold, we decided to partake in an indoor haunted attraction close to Pickering Wharf. Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery is a reasonably priced trek through parts of an open wax museum. During the day, it displays amazing wax figures of our favorite horror movie monsters and characters. But at night in October, it morphs into a haunted house with screams. I was chosen as our group’s leader and given a token (penny). I was to pay a ghoul inside the museum in exchange for our group’s safe return to the outside world. I was begged not to lose the token, but I assured our group that I had another one in my back pack. While waiting in line, we met the Cat in the Hat, a freakish clown that I did not want a picture of, and these guys….
We ended the spooky fun night with a moonlit stroll through Salem’s oldest graveyard. I think we’ll visit here again one Halloween and will definitely visit the wax museum during the day.
WARNING: THIS BLOG CONTAINS SPOILERS.
SO IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED A SINGLE EPISODE OF
BREAKING BAD AND PLAN TO,
DON’T READ ANY FURTHER.
I did not watch AMC’s spellbinding show, Breaking Bad, from the year it first aired. I must admit, I was a bit nervous about viewing a show depicting drug manufacturing and use. After seeing advertisements for it while watching The Walking Dead, the Mister and I had heard enough kudos for the show that we watched the DVD’s about two or three seasons in. And tomorrow night, the season wraps up, and all of us Bad-heads are anticipating the end.
The brilliance of this show is depicted from the memorable first scene, in which Walter White’s khakis float onto a New Mexico dirt road. What happened here? How did someone’s trousers end up flying around a perfectly blue sky? We gotta watch this.
So then you have to watch the rest of the firs episode to find out how chemistry teacher Walter White end up cooking methamphetamine in the desert with one of his previous students. That’s what cancer and an inadequate American health care system do to a middle class man. Well, then you’re strapped in for a wild ride that passes by Bryan Cranston in whitie-tighties, a gun-toting 12-year old, tarantulas, and an exploding tortoise and wheelchair. The truth is, Breaking Bad holds the most memorable and some of the most shocking moments every captured on television.
As I say good-bye to Walter, Skylar, Walt Jr., Jesse and pretty blue meth, here are some of the moments burned into my memory.
The melting bath tub. Well, Walter and Jesse are faced with the problem of needing to kill their first enemy and dispose of the body. Walter puts his chemistry knowledge to more excellent use and concocts acid to melt away the body. Except Jesse does not wait until Walter get plastic barrels for the body parts. He puts the body and acid in his bath tub. The chemicals eat through the floor and, well….
The ATM machine incident. A couple of whacked out addicts rob Skinny Pete, and Jesse has to get the money back and also prove he’s not to be messed with. So he tracks them down to this horrid house that’s completely trashed and in disarray, but has an ATM machine that the nasty couple stole. The man keeps calling the woman a ‘skank’ while he’s trying to open the safe. She gets sick of it and….
Jesse earns himself quite the reputation as a man who squashes people with ATM’s.
There was an episode in this current season where I fell asleep, and the Mister watched all of it. He was very forthcoming about how I may not want to see the turd face, Todd, shoot an innocent kid. To this day, I haven’t watched it.
Skylar goes off people. There have been a couple of times Mrs. White has needed to put people in their place. The first being when her brother-in-law claims that family needs to support Skylar’s kleptomaniac sister during her time of need. Skylar reminds him that she is 40 years old and pregnant, her husband has cancer and is rarely home, and the hot water heater is on the fritz, yet “Yes, let’s support my spoiled bitch sister.” My other favorite Skylar explosion is when she repeatedly squeals at her chatterbox sister, Marie, to “Shut up! Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” several times. This has supposedly been turned into a ringtone.
You tell ’em, Mrs. White.
Gus’ last scene. What did all this damage at a nursing home?
Mr. White saves Jesse’s butt by running a couple of guys over.
Two airplanes collide in the sky, dumping debris into the White’s swimming pool and scattering body parts all over the neighborhood.
Walter is often in his underwear or completely naked.
Eighty million dollar empire.
Many other Bad images and moments graced the television screen over the past few years. And I know you have your own also that can be added to this list. But one thing is for certain, we will remember Walter White.
The Mister and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on the French and Dutch governed island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean. The first full day was Saturday, where we simply lounged on the Kakoa Beach. The adventures began on Sunday:
The Butterfly Farm is very close to the Hotel La Plantation where we stayed. The Mister surprised me with this activity in the early afternoon. The enclosed sanctuary for these lovely creatures provides a safe refuge from birds, lizards, and other predators as butterflies are at the bottom of the food chain in nature. Strange fact: the Atlas Moth shown above only lives for 5 days, as it lacks all organs that allow it to eat.
On Monday, the Mister really yearned to go hiking in the low mountains of the island. There are supposedly 17 trails on the island, but the well maintained ones were closed to the public on Mondays, as they are located on a farm that is closed on Mondays. Doh! But we did drive the treacherous, windy roads to the top of a hill and found a couple of single track trails. This hike did not last very long, as our skin is not accustomed to the vegetation here and soon began to itch like crazy.
It was time to hit the beach again after this adventure….
Tuesday went much smoother, as we booked a snorkeling trip through Eco Snorkeling off Pinel Island. Here, I got over myself and faced one of my major fears: open waters and what swims in them. No sharks, but plenty of brain coral and sergeant major fish.
Doh! During my first draft of this blog, I completely omitted a perhaps once in a lifetime adventure: Maho Beach. It’s a small strip of white sand at one end of the Princess Julianna International Airport runway. So visitors can watch and feel planes landing and departing. We hung out there just before returning the rental car and boarding the plane ourselves.
Click here to see perhaps the very incident that prompted the construction of this sign. *WARNING* “Severe physical harm” does happen in this video. You’ll recognize the fall as a “scorpion” if you watch MTV’s Ridiculousness. Notice the smart people head towards the water during take-off. By the way, we did not catch ultra-cool videos of the planes coming, as it was mostly smaller ones. We missed the massive jet taking off by about 15 minutes, as we had to return the car to Hertz, located along the runway. Even being beside the planes was a jolting experience.
I did learn a few things about traveling on Saint Martin:
-Bring U.S. dollars. It’s just easier that way instead of converting to Euros. Most restaurants and activities accepted dollars anyway. Dollars are preferred on the Dutch Side of the island.
-French or French Caribbean chefs are extremely offended if a dish is returned to them, even if the expensive dish is not up to par with the customer’s desires or not what the customer ordered. So offended was this chef that she stepped out of the kitchen to glare at us after we dined.
-The city of Phillipsburg is a ghost town on Sunday. Don’t even bother going, unless you want to dine on great food at Pineapple Pete. Seriously, these were some of the best ribs we’ve ever enjoyed, and we Americans know ribs. Our waiter explained that Phillipsburg, which is known for shopping is mostly closed on Sundays, but also mostly caters to the cruise ships.
-Speaking of cruise ships, if you want to relax quietly on the beach or during your outings, make sure you visit Saint Martin/Sint Maarten during the weekend. Otherwise, the beaches become crowded with cruise ship passengers. As did the Butterfly Farm during our second visit there. Most passengers are fine and also want to relax instead of being herded onto buses. But some overdo things, like having their hair ironed/curled and make-up perfect to venture onto an extremely humid island. I wanted to rip one woman’s fake eye lashes off her face, especially since her kid crippled a butterfly when she grabbed it incorrectly. Me, I wanted a vacation from make-up and hair ironing.
Overall, Saint Martin was amazing. A few frustrations driving around the island, but there is a lot to do. And dining out can be costly. I agree with Trip Advisor writers who say to visit a market/grocery store to buy lunch and snack items. The La Plantation is a beautiful place to stay. The beaches boast warm waters and refreshing waters and velvety sand.
Yet with all this said, I’m thankful and glad to be back home with my cat.
Zombie fans united this weekend at movie theatres to witness a depiction of the entire world at war with the undead. Based on Max Brooks brutally intriguing novel of the same title, “World War Z” is not your typical zombie film.
If you want missing body parts, blood spatters and intestines hanging out, watch AMC’s The Walking Dead, or any of the newer George Romero movies. For the WWZ movie is mostly void of the gruesomely detailed walking corpses or attacks as Brooks so masterfully writes in the novel.
But the film is packed with soldiers calling the zombies “Zekes,” shooting at them, and putting their lives on the line to save their country men. Bombs, including nuclear, fall. People panic and scream and fall prey to the infected and entire cities are lost as millions (possibly billions) of people turn. And these bad boys and girls don’t stumble around stupidly and aimlessly. These zombie biznaches run, climb stairs, leap, and even parkour throughout streets, building tops, and over obstacles. They pile on top of each other like ants, scaling buildings and walls. And these zombies are intelligent.
Viewers who have read the book will also find Patient Zero, a kick-ass female soldier, and most importantly, the horrid, radical, and seemingly irrational decisions that salvage human kind. Well, most of human kind anyway. And this last idea is what I believe is the premise of the novel.
If you are interested in seeing the movie, but have not read the book, don’t read it yet. Just go enjoy the film. Then pick up Max Brooks’ World War Z at your local library or book store. If you have read the novel and haven’t seen the film, be prepared that the film creators basically put Brooks’ idea on the big screen. Don’t compare it to the book.
And good luck surviving this version of the Zombie Apocalypse.