Monday, June 20, 2016

Orlando


We were in Orlando this weekend. I wish this had happened to my characters, not to my husband and I:

Saturday afternoon we shopped at the Orlando Premium Outlet Mall. It’s an open air mall with lots of courtyards and corridors lined with high-end stores. We always go to the Disney outlet and find something fun to bring our daughter. It’s a large L shaped store, crowded and we always get separated. I was in the front of the store for awhile, looked around and didn’t see my husband so I figured he was around the corner in the back. I rounded the corner to look for him when there was a rush of shoppers pushing through and yelling “Go to the back!”

We seemed to be evacuating, so my first thought was there must be a small fire. I didn’t see my husband. People were steadily pushing through to the back of the store when I heard rapid fire gunshots. It sounded like the shooter was at the entrance to the store. I didn’t see my husband so I ran to the back of the store with the hysterical crowd disappearing around a corner. I wondered how everyone could fit in a dressing room. We pushed through a door into a labyrinth of tunnels and ran like Hell until we reached exterior doors. A few people started out the doors until someone yelled for them to come back. We didn’t know where we were or where the shooter was. The tunnel was filled with hundreds of people.

I was terrified because I didn’t see my husband anywhere.  I texted him, which was very difficult because my fingers were trembling. Three texts, no response. I knew he had turned the sound up on his phone so I was scared to call him in case he was hiding or a hostage. But I tried to call him anyway, it wouldn’t go through. I prayed for him.

I felt like we were sitting ducks for the gunman. He could have taken us all out so easily. I didn't know when he would burst through the exit doors I was near or rush down from the other end of the tunnel in a blaze of horror. Maybe there was more than one shooter and they could execute us from both directions.

One lady with some sort of mall uniform on was with us and of no use. A young man was taking charge, trying to get us to be quiet and keep us from exiting. I had no idea who he was, and really didn’t trust him as a leader, because of his youth and obviously he didn’t work there.

I texted our daughter in Virginia. She couldn’t find anything online about a shooter and asked if the sounds could have been a car backfiring. No, there was no way a car could have been that far into the pedestrian courtyard.

I kept waiting for the police or mall security to give us instructions, rescue us, but nobody came. The crowd started moving again, some went outside some the other way through the tunnels. I found my husband in another tunnel, thank God! He was trying to call me but it wouldn’t go through. He thought he had texted me but he never sent it. So he knew I was out of the store, but I didn’t know he was. He had stayed in the store looking for me. An old lady cashier had made everyone evacuate. They were trampling a pile of clothing so he started to pick it up and she smacked his arm and yelled “Leave it!”

More people were leaving so we did too. It was a long way through the open air mall, people were running. I wanted to run but he insisted all was fine. I was really shocked that I was just hearing the first sirens; it was such a slow response. Maybe nobody could call 911. My husband had tried calling and texting but they didn’t go through, 911 doesn’t have text capability.

We made it to the parking garage and into a big traffic jam exodus. The cops were locking down the entrances but seemed unimpressed.

Our daughter finally found a news report online saying there was a fight in front of the food court (next to the Disney store) and people already on edge from the nightclub massacre panicked. There were no weapons.

But I heard gunshots. So did several people on Twitter who were in my vicinity. They are convinced there were gunshots. Someone posted it was an electrical problem. My husband said when electrical breakers blow they make a rapid fire popping sound.

No one saw a shooter or victims so I’m accepting it was an unfortunate series of events. But wow, was that terrifying! And I feel bad because I ran out without him while he was trying to save me.

My takeaway from it is don’t think you’ll never be in a place with an active shooter. Realize it is a probability and be prepared. I won’t be wandering off on my own anymore; I’ll stay with my companions. And I’m bringing pepper spray with me everywhere, not just in case of a dog fight when I walk Frank.

The only situation I know of where a civilian disarmed an active shooter was at a college and a student rushed the gunman as he was reloading, sprayed him in the eyes with pepper spray, took the rifle and ran and threw it in another room then came back and wrestled the shooter to the ground until the police arrived.

So when you enter a public building, look around for exits. Most places have a back door for deliveries. If there is an active shooter: First RUN. If you can’t run, HIDE. If you can’t hide, FIGHT back.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Wheat-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wheat-Free Toll House Cookies

2 1/4 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp water
2 eggs
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°

Stir together almond flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Combine 1 cup butter with both sugars, vanilla and water. Beat until creamy. Beat in the eggs. Add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in chocolate morsels and walnuts. 

Bake 8 to 11 minutes depending on if you want chewy, soft or crispy cookies. I bake pans of all three to please my family.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Writing Prompt #36 Haircut

There is a special bond between client and hairdresser/barber. Your character has arrived at the barber shop/salon/hairdresser's home for a routine haircut/color/shave/mani-pedi/wax.

What if...
The premises are empty...
Your character's enemy is in the chair...
Your character realizes he/she forgot his/her wallet...
Your character becomes violently ill...
Your character overhears...?
There is an explosion or fire or earthquake...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Eat Fat, Get Thin


On a lazy day home alone, I was laying on the sofa, flipping through channels and stopped on PBS. Mark Hyman, M.D., a doctor from the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, was talking about carbohydrate and fat addiction and listing the symptoms of FLC syndrome. (Feel Like Crap syndrome). Fatigue, being cold all the time, depression, low sex drive, irritability, brain fog, pain and no ambition. My husband was experiencing all of it. I sat up and listened up.

Dr. Mark Hyman is a Functional Medicine M.D. Functional Medicine is kinda like Holistic or Integral medicine. Instead of treating patients symptoms, he treats the cause of the malady. Most obesitiy, Type II Diabesity, High Cholesterol and Heart Disease is caused by diet. Not just the "bad" refined carbs and sugar that we eat. The toxins in the food chain like chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, artificial sweetners and "new" lab made oils our bodies don't know how to process.

I hit the record button, of course it was too late to get the whole show, but I later watched it with my daughter then husband. They were both skeptical, calling him a quack.

It's not a crazy diet eliminating whole food groups. You eat mostly vegetables plus grass fed, free range or wild meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, berries and natural fats. A cross between the Paleo and Vegan diets he calls Pegan.

My husband was put on a low fat diet two years ago after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I've been so concerned about his nutrition because he basically was only eating salads, dry cereal, popcorn, pretzels, baked chips, pancakes, peanutbutter powder & jelly sandwiches and egg beaters. He always wanted to eat out and ordered things with sugary sauces. He has become very miserable and had gotten really sick with a lingering cold. He coughed so hard his eye bled. Several times!

I had my babies in my 20's, lost the baby fat and my weight was normal until my late 30's when it started an upward overweight climb. At one point a few years ago, I was one pound away from obesity. I did the Atkins diet and got back down--temporarily. I couldn't sustain it and was addicted to highly processed delicious carbs like pasta and cookies and ice cream.

Since my husband began his low fat diet, I've been snacking on his highly processed chips, eating cereal with skim milk for breakfast and sometimes dinner and have become a voracious cookie monster. Store bought. We gave up artificial sweetners and the pounds were packing on me from sweet tea and soda pop.

Last Monday, my athletic husband and I started the Eat Fat Get Thin diet. It took me a few days to read the book, shop for the foods and I'm still waiting on some of the supplements. I'm not taking them all, but there are some I want to try. I am overweight. I enjoy yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and I run. I've been told by my doctor I'm deficient in Vitamin D. That's no surprise because I avoid the sun and use sunscreen. I've been battling Melanoma since 2005. I'm taking Vitamin D3, a multi vitamin, Krill oil because I don't eat fish, plus a few other supplements Dr. Hyman recommends.

Today is weigh in day. I lost 6 pounds the first week. My husband lost 10. He's already at a normal weight, but he can go lower and still be at a healthy BMI. I'm now only 10 pounds away from the top range of a healthy BMI. I want to go a lot lower of course.

We're in the detoxification stage of this diet for 21 days and no it hasn't been pleasant. But detox from any substance is bad. Today is the first morning I've had noticeable ambition and energy. Heck, I'm even blogging, something I haven't really bothered much with in a long time.

My insatiable appetite is slowly being reigned in. I actually like the food on this diet, perhaps because there is such a variety. There is no calorie counting or portion measuring. I get to eat nuts and berries from day one, something I've never been allowed on other diets. I love nuts and berries.

Yes, I'm still missing bread, pasta, ice cream, cookies, cupcakes and tortilla chips. But so far, I haven't cheated. The steady weight loss is keeping my eye on the prize.

Week 1: I lost 6 pounds.

Week 2:  It was hard. I didn't lose any weight until one pound on weigh in day. I stuck with it and am now down 7 pounds in 2 weeks.

Check back, I'll keep updating my progress here. Wish me luck!




Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Writing Prompt #35: Witness

Your character is almost home from a very long day. Blocking the entrance to the street he/she lives on is what appears to be a traffic stop. A police car and another vehicle. The officer is leaning into the vehicle when it suddenly lurches away, dragging the office with it.

What does your character do?

Snap a picture and post it on social media?
Finish eating?
Curse that the cop car is still blocking the road?
Pursue the incident on foot or driving his/her vehicle?
Call 911?
Call home to say he/she will be late?
Park the car and walk home?
Flee the scene because...?

Writing Prompt #34 Radio

Your character is listening to the radio...

Where is he or she? At home, in a vehicle, a public place, the woods?

What is being broadcast? Music, weather, news, traffic, a sports game, a dramatic reading?

This leads to an immediate need for your character to act on something. What happens?

Monday, March 14, 2016

"Best I've read in a while"


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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Peetie the Parrot Doesn't Live Here Anymore

My son, Andy, has always loved birds. I remember he used to be an eagle, "flying" home from kindergarten down the sidewalk. His first pet bird was a beautiful green budgigar named Bud. He was very sweet, he used to preen my eyebrows. It tickled. We didn't understand that you can't give birds a steady diet of seeds. It's toxic to their organs. Bud passed away after only a few years. Of course, my firefighter husband was on a 24 hour shift at the time so I had to take care of the arrangements.

Andy studied birds, reading every related book in the elementary school library. He settled on a Solomon Island Eclectus parrot, which is a medium sized parrot. They are unique in nature as the females are always red and the males are always green. We surprised him at Christmas with a male he named Claytor, after a railroad tycoon he admired. In addition to birds, he's had a lifelong interest in trains, courtesy of Thomas the Tank Engine and my model railroader husband.

Anyhow, we've enjoyed Claytor's conversation as our son has grown and left the nest. Now that he's settled in his new home, my husband and I transported Claytor to live with him last weekend.

We put him into his pet carrier, which we outfitted with a perch, watter bottle and food. Claytor was very happy and chatty the entire trip, clinging on the cage door. I kept saying he needed to drink and was worried his feet would get cramps. My husband kept telling me if his feet were bothering him or he were thirsty, then he'd go perch and drink.

Seven hours later, we arrived at Andy's new home in Pennsylvania. When we took him out of the carrier we discovered his poop was red and he was hot to the touch! As my husband reassembled his cage, I held Claytor and his food dish and water bottle, re-hydrating the poor guy.  Claytor drank readily and ate, choosing to perch on me rather than his play gym. After about 20 minutes, he cooled down. His poop returned to normal.

It's been a few days and he's fine. That was a big scare and I feel so badly that we didn't stop along the way and give him water. I had flashbacks of when he was a young bird and vomited. We had to travel 90 minutes to an avian veterinarian who held him in ICU for several days. Until the bill surged into the four digits and we brought him home. I bonded with him then, wrapping him in a towel to squirt medicine in his mouth. I'm so glad he's okay.

If you ever have to take a pet on a road trip, stop regularly to hydrate it.

Claytor was my inspiration for the character of Peetie the Parrot in my novel INAPPORPRIATE. He knew who the killer was.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

INAPPROPRIATE Revamp!

I have ordered a new book cover for INAPPROPRIATE, my hilarious murder mystery aboard a cross-country train filled with writers and evangelists. I'm rebranding it to my married name, Sherry Morris. I'm hoping I'll be able to keep my Amazon reviews because they're the tops, thank you readers!

Anyhow, the new cover is due to be delivered to me on March 4th. If it needs any revision, I'm crossing my fingers that can be done quickly because I'm so excited. I'll upload it everywhere ASAP. The print book will take a few days to be approved by the printer and distributed.

My daughter gave a copy to her boyfriend's aunt who said "It's a riot! This is the funniest book I've ever read. Does your mother talk like she writes?"

By the way, I've ridden on the above pictured train, the Nickel Plate 765. I love trains!
Paperback: Amazon  CreateSpace
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International Kindle eBooks: AU   BR  CA   DE   ES   FR  IN  IT  MX  NL   JP   UK