Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

This year with Hubby's work schedule, we didn't get the fake tree down from the attic, or the decorations. I could give you the long explanation but I am not going to do that.

Plus we were afraid the cats would wreck the ornaments.

So the other day we cut down this little pine tree - since we live in a forest it's not a big deal. This was not a tree farm tree. It is tall and spindle-y and looks like a gawky teenage version of Charlie Browns tree.

The ornaments were all handmade out of construction paper by my children the day we put up the tree - except for the small stuffed animals.

It is one of the ugliest Christmas trees in my life.

But it is also one of the most beautiful trees in my life.

My husband and I did not have any part in decorating the tree other than putting it in a stand and putting a string of lights up it.

Our children made the decorations and put them on the tree.

One of the "ornaments" is a paper mache bowl made by Junior and is turned upside-down representing the stone in front of the tomb.

There is a cross made of construction paper that represents the cross and another that represents the star.

There is a paper chain that represents nothing but there are paper rings that represent Jesus and Mary and Joseph and the girl raised from the dead and the blind man and the man with leprosy.

I heard my children discussing that a birthday is wonderful but Jesus would have been just another baby if it wasn't for what he did on the cross for us.

That is what makes this tree my favorite.

Wishing you and all of your family a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I am so furious

Ok, I am going to be honest - being gluten-free is an absolute pain. Life was so much easier when we didn't have to be careful of ingredients. Our culture almost revolves around food, especially in the holiday season.

So I was so excited that the 4-H Food Challenge entry form had a spot where they asked about allergies. Finally something that my daughter could participate in without fear.

The food challenge is inspired (I think) by Iron Chef - or very loosely at least. Teams of 3-5 kids are given a recipe card with ingredients but no directions and they are supposed to figure out what to make with it. For a practice challenge the ingredients were 1 can chicken, 2 hard boiled eggs, 1/4 cup grapes, 1/2 cup mayo, 12 crackers (I am guessing on the amounts, I didn't see the cards). The kids figured out that it was chicken salad and so they made it and then were supposed to tell the nutritional benefits (the chicken has protein and that helps build muscles) and a cost per serving analysis. I am not sure quite what the response would have been if the kids guessed it was chicken soup and tried to make it soupy.

The dishes the kids make could be a salad, a dip, a salsa, a wrap or a (cold)soup. Mainly there are no electrical tools (the contest actually calls for a hot plate but the venue is afraid the kids will burn the building down) and blenders turned out to not be an incredible safe option.

So anyway, I was excited for Daisy that she would have a contest that she could completely participate in without fear.

Until today.

The local 4-H extension agent called to ask how severe her allergy was - could she touch it and not get sick? Well, yes. Since she didn't have a contact allergy then it wasn't going to be a problem.

So after the call ended, I felt a little stunned. No, a lot stunned. In a contest where they asked about food allergies, it didn't matter that I put something down. I pictured her once again making something and not being able to eat it.

It isn't often that my inner Mama bear wakes up but it did today.

I called back and left a voicemail saying how upset I was that after asking about allergies, they were going to ignore the information. She misses participating fully in things because of this and once again she is going to be left out.

Their response? The kids aren't "supposed" to eat their dishes so any allergy that requires ingesting isn't a big deal.

Ok, the food at the Food and Nutrition contest isn't supposed to be eaten either but everybody snacks on that - including the extension agents. And seriously do you never sneak a taste while cooking? It is a habit with me - I taste to see if I need more seasoning or if it needs something to perk it up or whatever.

Oh, and the allergy thing was only for the district level. Of course this is a district contest but so what.

And again, they aren't supposed to eat it.

Upset, I sent an email to the person in charge of the whole state food challenge asking why the question was included if the allergy would be ignored. I also called our club manager and since she is also gluten intolerant and suspects Celiac she is not happy either.

Then tonight I a reading the info that Daisy is supposed to learn for this and getting aggravated all over again.

It had information that was out of date Doctors recommend a lot fat diet for health (not anymore) or just plain wrong the only health problems strongly linked to sugar is cavities (honestly I am not even going to provide a link for this one because I don't think you live under a rock).

If you have done any gluten free baking, here are some funny ones: corn flour can substitute cup for cup with all purpose flour. Or you can use 1/2 rye flour plus 1/2 of potato flour (not potato starch) to make a cup of flour. I don't know that I have ever had anything with rye (other than a rye bread which only has some rye) but I have worked with potato flour and there is no way I would use that much potato flour with anything else. This is for a "wheat allergy" in all fairness, not a gluten intolerance.

Sadly, this was revised in 2008.

Ironically enough, the article is supposed to teach kids how to do substitutions for better health yet very little is said about allergies. In fact the only mention of allergies was a chart showing non-wheat flour substitutions for a wheat allergy. I guess that explains the reluctance on our extension agents part to allow for a food allergy.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are we truly more advanced?

Something the I have been pondering: are we truly more advanced than our great-grandparents generation? We have all these gadgets and tools and can know instantly what is going on across the world but we have lost the ability to find out for ourselves.

Instead of reading the Bible to find out what God says, we pick up the latest how-to-be-a-better-christian book. Or go to the ladies bible study at church. Or wait for the pastor to impart a bit of the Bible so that I have a little to get me through the week.

Our great-grandparents used to be able look at the sky and tell if rain was coming in the next few days or look at nature and tell it was going to be a harder winter. We look up today's weather on the tv or our phone but since we have heating and air conditioning we don't really care too much.

The biggest tragedy is that we don't listen to our bodies. We don't know when we are hungry or when we are full - eating and overeating by the clock. We depend on scientists and doctors to tell us what to eat - low fat, low carb, no carb etc. - and we are getting more and more overweight.

We need to start listening to our bodies, and truthfully what my body tells me may not be what your body tells you. I am learning to listen to my body when I decide what to eat and how much and I am feeling much better for it.

What has my body been telling me? I will share that in the coming ups posts. Sometimes new ideas, like food, need to be in small amounts so that they can be fully digested.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why cats do not make good road trip companions

In May my children asked if we could adopt 2 tiny, cute kittens. The answer that came out of my mouth sounded like "yes" although surely it wasn't. Surely I said no.

Junior chose a beautiful calico who he named Madam Moonshine. That is a result of the Hank the Cowdog books, Madam Moonshine is an owl in the series.

I know, I don't understand either why he named his cat after an owl other than he likes the name better than "Mary D Cat".

Madam Moonshine is the more adventurous and playful of the two. She rarely wants to be held and loves to look out the car window.

Daisy wanted this beautiful grey tiger that she named Socks and he turned out to be the sweetest and laziest cat ever. He is also the most laidback cat I have ever seen, we have held him upside down and he just looks around as if he were thinking "this is a different view."

But if you put him in the car, he hates it. HATES it. To go to my family it is about a 5 or 6 hour drive (that does include stops but it is at least 4 1/2 without stops). His first trip he cried the entire way there. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. and then he cried all the way back except for the last hour because he was so exhausted.

So for Thanksgiving, I thought I would make the trip easier on him (and us) and give him a benedryl. It worked beautifully until it started wearing off and he began to throw up.

Riding in the car with a vomiting cat is not my idea of fun.

While we were at my family's we took Madam Moonshine to get her fixed and mentioned the whining brother. So the vet was nice enough to give us a sedative to give him to make the trip easier.

He was to take 1/2 a pill 30 minutes before the trip. Since the last time he had gotten a pill, he had gotten sick, he was less than thrilled at the idea of another pill. In fact the lazy cat who normally doesn't fight anything because it is too much effort, fought me about that pill.

So we get in the car and he starts up. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.




Thirty minutes later: Meow.



An hour later: Meow.



So we discuss whether or not he had actually gotten the medicine. Meow. And we discuss whether he needs more. Meow. And it is decided that another 1/4 wouldn't be a bad idea. Meow. Meow.

Except now he really doesn't want the drugs but he swallows it at we wait for quiet. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow.



Again it is discussed whether or not he actually swallowed the stupid pill. Meow. And we don't feel comfortable giving him anything else. Meow. So we just listen to hours more whining. Meow.

We finally get home, unload the car and the cats and about a hour later sit down to relax. Socks jumps up onto the back of the chair glad to be at home and goes to sleep. And then he falls off. And doesn't get up. Daisy asked if he was breathing and was relieved to find out that yes he is breathing but he does seem to be . . . drugged.

He slept for an hour, then went to his water bowl for a drink and either fell in or laid in the water bowl. He was soaked. He went back to sleep, woke up again and again got soaked drinking some water. The next day, he still looked groggy.

We did find out that the drug only works before there is an adrenalin surge so if he had gotten the meds before he got worked up, it would have done it's job. Probably.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


In general I am fairly laid back. It takes a lot to get me upset but this Amazon thing is disturbing.

There is currently a how to book on amazon on what "rules" should be followed when indulging in pedophilia. These rules may help you to get a lighter sentence if you are caught and prosecuted for "practicing pedophilia."

Personally I don't care how much you limit yourself when raping a child. There isn't a whole lot you can do to make it any better.

And amazon seems to feel that it is appropriate to leave it up for sale.

They aren't completely ignoring the situation because the reviews for this book went from well over 100 (with 2 positive reviews) to only having 15 and one of those being positive.

Twitter is exploding with tweets complaining about this book.

You can do a search on twitter using #amazonfail

Ironically this book violates Amazon's own guidelines for publishing because they claim to not publish books promoting illegal activity. Last time I checked pedophilia was illegal - at least in the United States.

Ultimately Amazon either decides to do the right thing or we can force them to do the right thing by not spending our money there. I did have some items I wanted to purchase but those are going on hold until I can find another supplier.

Amazon isn't going to be supported by me until they remove this book.

For more information you can look here Mile High Mama has written an excellent post.

Somewhat Crunchy Mama is calling for a boycott complete with a list of other bloggers who are boycotting Amazon Right here

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What they don't tell you

They don't tell you that it takes months to heal - to not cry at every mention of fathers or mothers.

They don't tell you that you feel emotionally raw.

They don't say that there will be constant reminders - others having similar diseases or surgeries and you don't want to say a word about it because the outcome wasn't good.

They don't say that you will finally begin to feel normal again and then a birthday brings it all back.

But then, do we really want to know?

Friday, October 15, 2010


There is something that really bothers me on facebook. Have you seen it? The "my celebrity lover for the day" where the celebrity is pictured with his shirt off.

I noticed it because I have a cousin who is just barely 13 who plays it almost every day.

I also noticed it because one of Daisy's friends plays it. And she is 11. Which is not even old enough for a facebook account according to their rules.

What is the hurry? Why are they wanting to grow up so very fast?

At their age I had celebrity crushes, I had plans to marry Kurt Cameron but I didn't plan on him being my lover for the night and then on to the next one. I just fear that it will erode some of their value of purity. And these are both good girls.

It just really bothers me. Am I alone on this?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Sometimes the things that some people do make you question their sanity (slip-n-slides are not good for the 25 and over crowd.)

Other times people inspire you to do things that you would rather not, things that are hard and can hurt.

My baby sister has got an iron will, when she sets her mind to something . . . well, it is best to just get out of her way. She decided a few months ago to take up walking and since she is one who doesn't do things halfway, she now walks 10 miles a day.

I wish I had a 1/4 of her willpower.

She doesn't know this, but she inspired me to start walking again. It is so hard starting exercising when you are overweight - ok, I am actually obese. Overweight would be easier. I think. There is a temptation to do too much in an effort to lose a bunch quickly. In the past, I would find some impractical workout program ("go from couch potato to running a 5 K in 4 weeks") and then give up after I injured myself. Following her lead, I started slow (we do have very different ideas on what "starting slow means" - and am working my way up but not to 10 miles a day. Maybe 5.

Right now I am up to 3 miles. Well, as of yesterday I did 3 miles and I don't know about today. It depends on how loud I hear my sister yelling at me to keep moving - she is like my own private Jillian. Except the real Jillian wouldn't actually kick my butt, my sister might.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

When is forgiveness not forgivness

There is someone who has recently started going back to our church that I . . . I just really don't like her.

Or maybe I haven't forgiven her for how my daughter was treated. She led a small division of a kids group (I am trying to vague so I don't gossip - or at least limit the gossip). It was her duty to come up with learning activities for the kids - you know crafts and things like that. During the instruction she spent a fair amount of time discussing her ex-husband, her current boy-friend then ex-boyfriend, new boyfriend then suddenly new husband. She would cancel meetings and we wouldn't find out until no one showed up. But the final straw was the results of the fund-raiser. The kids would sell items for the fund-raiser and then with the proceeds do something fun like a trip to 6 Flags and The Aquarium during the summer. Well, Daisy worked hard and asked everyone she knew, she was also at the booths where the kids would sell to people going in the store. In addition, her dad took the sales sheet to work and sold a bunch. When the totals came in, Daisy had sold close to half of the groups total. Then there was a planning meeting to discuss when this trip would be made, we all said when we could not make it and a weekend was planned for. Then they had another unannounced meeting and planned the trip for one of the two weekends out of the summer that we were unable to attend.

Daisy was extremely upset but she really wanted to go on the major family vacation that was planned a year prior so she didn't fuss too much.

They gave a consolation prize from the group for not being able to go - a $25 gift card to build-a-bear that she would have also gotten if she had gone.

The next year we joined 4-H instead.

I thought I had forgiven in the passing years but I am not sure now that I am seeing her 2-3 times a week. I just have no use for her, she may have changed but I don't care to find out. Luckily our church is big enough that I probably won't have to talk to her.

It still leaves me wondering, can you forgive someone and then not like the person anymore or is that still unforgiveness?

Friday, September 10, 2010

book review: Medical Error by Richard L. Mabry,MD

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Abingdon Press (July 12, 2010)

***Special thanks to Maegan Roper, Marketing/PR Manager, Christian Fiction, Abingdon Press for sending me a review copy.***


Dr. Richard Mabry built a worldwide reputation as a clinician, researcher, author, and teacher before retiring from medicine. He entered the field of non-medical writing after the death of his first wife, with the publication of his book, The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse.

Richard describes his work as "medical suspense with heart." Medical Error is his second novel. His first novel, Code Blue, was published by Abingdon Press in April of 2010, and will be followed next spring by the third book in the Prescription For Trouble series, Diagnosis Death.

He and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas.

Visit the author's website.

Visit the author's blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Abingdon Press (July 12, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1426710003

ISBN-13: 978-1426710001


Eric Hatley’s last day alive began routinely enough.

He paused beside his brown delivery truck, shifted the bulky package, and turned in a tight circle to search for the right apartment.

Shouts filled the air. Firecrackers exploded all around him. A dozen red-hot pokers bored holes through his gut.

The package flew from his arms. He crumpled into a privet hedge at the edge of the sidewalk, clutching his midsection and recoiling when his fingers encountered something wet and slimy.

A wave of nausea swept over him. Cold sweat engulfed him.

Eric managed one strangled cry before everything faded to black.

* * *

Dr. Anna McIntyre bumped the swinging door with her hip and backed into Parkland Hospital’s Operating Room Six, her dripping hands held in front of her, palms inward. “Luc, tell me what you’ve got.”

Chief surgical resident, Dr. Luc Nguyn, didn’t look up from the rectangle of abdomen outlined by green draping sheets and illuminated by strong surgical lights. “UPS driver, making a delivery in the Projects. Got caught in the crossfire of a gang rumble. Took four bullets in the belly. Pretty shocky by the time he got here.”

“Find the bleeding source?”

“Most of it was from the gastric artery. Just finished tying it off.”

Anna took a sterile towel from the scrub nurse and began the ritual of gowning and gloving made automatic by countless repetitions. “How about fluids and blood replacement?”

Luc held out his hand, and the nurse slapped a clamp into it. “Lactated Ringer’s, of course—still running wide open. We’ve already pushed one unit of unmatched O negative. He’s finishing his first unit of cross-matched blood. We’ve got another one ready and four more holding in the blood bank.”

“How’s he responding?”

“BP is still low but stable, pulse is slower. I think we’re catching up with the blood loss.”

Anna plunged her hands into thin surgical gloves. “Lab work?”

“Hematocrit was a little over ten on admission, but I don’t think he’d had time to fully hemodilute. My guess is he was nine or less.”

Anna turned slightly to allow the circulating nurse to tie her surgical gown. “Bowel perforations?”

“So far I see four holes in the small intestine, two in the colon.”

“Okay, he’ll need antibiotic coverage. Got that started?”

Luc shrugged. “Not yet. We don’t know about drug allergies. His wallet had ID, but we’re still working on contacting next of kin. Meanwhile, I have Medical Records checking his name in the hospital computer for previous visits.”

“And if he’s allergic—“

The nursing supervisor pushed through the swinging doors, already reading from the slip of paper in her hand. “They found one prior visit for an Eric Hatley, same address and date of birth as on this man’s driver’s license. Seen in the ER two weeks ago for a venereal disease. No history of drug allergy. They gave him IM Omnilex. No problems.”

The medical student who’d been assisting moved two steps to his left. Anna took his place across the operating table from Luc.

Luc glanced toward the anesthesiologist. “Two grams of Omnilex IV please.”

Anna followed Luc’s gaze to the head of the operating table. “I don’t believe I know you. I’m Dr. McIntyre.”

The doctor kept his eyes on the syringe he was filling. “Yes, ma’am. I’m Jeff Murray, first year anesthesia resident.”

A first year resident on his own? Where was the staff man? “Keep a close eye on the blood and fluids. Let us know if there’s a problem.” Anna picked up a surgical sponge and blotted a bit of blood from the edge of the operative area. “Okay, Luc. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

In the operating room, Anna was in her element. The green tile walls, the bright lights, the soft beep of the monitors and whoosh of the respirator, the squeak of rubber soles as the circulating nurse moved about the room—all these were as natural to her as water to a fish or air to a bird. Under Anna’s direction, the team worked smoothly together. Conversation was at a minimum, something she appreciated. Do the job in the OR, talk in the surgeons’ lounge.

“I think that’s got it,” Luc said.

“Let’s check.” Anna’s fingertips explored the depths of the patient’s belly with the delicate touch of a concert violinist. Her eyes roamed the operative field, missing nothing. Luc had done an excellent job. He’d do well in practice when he finished his training in three months.

Anna stepped away from the table. “I think you’re through. Routine closure, leave a couple of drains in. Keep him on antibiotic coverage for the next few days.”

Luc didn’t need to hear that, but she figured the medical student did. She might as well earn her Assistant Professor’s salary with a little low-key teaching.

She stripped off her gloves and tossed them in the waste bucket at the end of the operating table. “If you need me—“

“Luc, we’ve got a problem. Blood pressure’s dropping, pulse is rapid.” A hint of panic rose in the anesthesiologist’s voice.

The scrub nurse held out fresh gloves, and Anna plunged her hands into them. “He must be bleeding again. Maybe one of the ligatures slipped off.”

“No way,” Luc said. "Everything was double-tied, with a stick-tie on the major vessels. You saw yourself, the wound was dry when we finished.”

“Well, we’ve got to go back in and look.” Anna turned to the anesthesiologist. “Run the IV wide open. Hang another unit of blood and send for at least two more. Keep him oxygenated. And get your staff man in here. Now!”

He snapped out a couple of requests to the circulating nurse before turning back to Anna. “He’s getting hard to ventilate. Do you think we might have overloaded him with fluid and blood? Could he be in pulmonary edema?”

“I want your staff doctor in here now! Let him evaluate all that. We’ve got our hands full.” Anna snatched a scalpel from the instrument tray and sliced through the half-dozen sutures Luc had just placed. “Deavor retractor.” She shoved the curved arm of the instrument into the edge of the open wound and tapped the medical student’s hand. “Hold this.”

Anna grabbed a handful of gauze sponges, expecting a gusher of blood from the abdomen. There was none. No bleeding at all within the wound. So why was the blood pressure dropping?

“Pressure’s down to almost nothing.” The anesthesia resident’s voice was strained. “And I’m really having trouble ventilating him.”

Dr. Buddy Jenkins, one of the senior anesthesiologists, pushed through the swinging doors. “What’s going on?”

Anna gave him the short version. “Blood pressure’s dropping, pulse is climbing. We’ve gone back into the belly, but there’s no bleeding. And there’s a problem ventilating him.”

Jenkins moved his resident aside, then slipped a stethoscope under the drapes and listened for a moment. “Wheezes. And no wonder. Look at his face.”

Anna peeked over the screen that separated the patient’s head and upper body from the operative field. Her heart seemed to skip a beat when she saw the swelling of the lips and the red blotches on the man’s face.

“It’s not blood loss,” Jenkins said. “He’s having an anaphylactic reaction. Most likely the blood. Did you give him an antibiotic? Any other meds?”

Anna’s mind was already churning, flipping through mental index cards. Anaphylaxis—a massive allergic reaction, when airways closed off and the heart struggled to pump blood. Death could come quickly. Treatment had to be immediate and aggressive.

“He had two grams of Omnilex,” Luc said. “But his old chart showed—“

Jenkins was in action before Luc stopped speaking. “I’ll give him a cc. of diluted epinephrine by IV push now, then more in a drip.” He turned to the anesthesia resident. “Get that ready— one milligram of epinephrine in a hundred milliliters of saline.”

“Luc, you two close the abdominal wound,” Anna said. “I’m going to break scrub and help Dr. Jenkins.”

Jenkins handed her a syringe. “Give him this Decadron, IV push. I need to adjust the ventilator.”

Anna injected the contents into the patient’s intravenous line. She said a quick prayer that the epinephrine and steroid would turn the tide, that they hadn’t been too late in starting treatment.

The team battled for almost half an hour, at first gaining ground, then losing it steadily. Finally, Jenkins caught Anna’s eye. They exchanged glances. There was no need for words.

She sighed and stepped away from the table. “I’m calling it.” Her voice cracked. “Time of death is eleven oh seven.”

Luc let the instrument he’d been holding drop back onto the tray. Jenkins picked up the anesthesia record and began to scribble. Murray, the anesthesia resident, turned back to his supply table and started straightening the mess. The medical student looked at Anna. She nodded toward the door, and he slipped out of the room. She didn’t blame him. This was probably the first patient he’d seen die.

Anna tossed her gloves and mask into the waste container. She shrugged, but the tension in her shoulders didn’t go away. “Any idea why this happened? The blood was supposed to be compatible. He’d tolerated Omnilex before. What else could have caused it?”

No one offered an answer. And she certainly had none. But she intended to find out.

The OR charge nurse directed Anna to the family room, where she found Hatley’s mother huddled in a corner, twisting a handkerchief and occasionally dabbing at her eyes. The room was small and quiet, the lighting was soft, the chairs as comfortable as possible. A box of tissues sat on the table, along with a Bible and several inspirational magazines. Soft music playing in the background almost covered the hospital sounds drifting in from the nearby surgical suite.

Anna whispered a silent prayer. She’d done this dozens of times, but it never got any easier. She knelt in front of the woman. “Mrs. Hatley, I have bad news for you.”

Anna stumbled through the next several minutes, trying to explain, doing her best to make sense of a situation that she herself couldn’t fully understand. When it came to the matter of permission for an autopsy, Anna wasn’t sure of the medico-legal situation here. Hatley had died after being shot, but his injuries weren’t the cause of death. Would she have to call the County Medical Examiner and get him to order one? The weeping mother solved the problem by agreeing to allow a post-mortem exam.

There was a light tap at the door, and the chaplain slipped into the room. “I’m sorry. I was delayed.” He took the chair next to Mrs. Hatley and began speaking to her in a low voice.

Anna was happy to slip out of the room with a last “I’m so sorry.” Outside, she paused and took several deep breaths.

It took another half-hour for Anna to write a chart note, dictate an operative report and final case summary, and change into clean scrubs. She was leaving the dressing room when her pager sounded. The display showed her office number followed by the suffix “911.” A “stat” page—respond immediately.

As she punched in the number, Anna wondered what else could possibly go wrong today. “Lisa, what’s up?”

“Dr. McIntyre, there are two policemen here. They want to talk with you. And they say it’s urgent.”

* * *

Nick Valentine looked up from the computer and grimaced when he heard the morgue attendant’s rubber clogs clomping down the hall. The summons he knew was coming wasn’t totally unexpected. After all, he was the pathologist on autopsy call this week, which was why he was sitting in this room adjacent to the morgue of Parkland Hospital instead of in his academic office at the medical school. But he’d hoped for some undisturbed time to get this project done.

The attendant stuck his head through the open door. “Dr. Valentine, you’ve got an autopsy coming up. Unexpected death in the OR. Dr. McIntyre’s case. She asked if you could do it as soon as possible. And please page her before you start. She’d like to come down for the post.” The man’s head disappeared like that of a frightened turtle. More clomps down the hall signaled his departure.

There was nothing new about an attending wanting a post-mortem done ASAP. You’d think they’d realize there was no hurry any more, but that didn’t seem to stop them from asking. At least she was willing to come down and watch instead of just reading his report. Nick turned to the shelf behind his desk and pulled out a dog-eared list headed “Frequently Needed Pager Numbers.” He ran his finger down the page. Here it was: Department of General Surgery. Anna E. McIntyre, Assistant Professor. He picked up the phone and punched in her number. After he heard the answering beeps, he entered his extension and hung up.

While he waited, Nick looked first at the pile of papers that covered half his desk, then at the words on his computer screen. He’d put this off far too long. Now he had to get it done. To his way of thinking, putting together this CV, the curriculum vitae that was so important in academics, was wasted effort. Nick had no interest in a promotion, didn’t think he’d get one even if his chairman requested it from the dean. But his chairman wanted the CV. And what the chairman wanted, the chairman got.

The phone rang. Probably Dr. McIntyre calling back.

“Dr. Valentine.”

“Nick, this is Dr. Wetherington. Do you have that CV finished yet?”

“I’m working on it.”

“Well, I need it soon. I want you to get that promotion to Associate Professor, and I have to be able to show the committee why I’ve nominated you. Don’t let me down.”

Nick hung up and riffled through the pile on his desk. Reprints of papers published, programs showing lectures delivered at medical meetings, textbooks with chapters he’d written, certificates from awards received. His professional résumé was pitifully small, but to Nick it represented the least important part of his job. What mattered most to him was what he was about to do: try to find out why the best efforts of a top-notch medical staff failed to save the life of some poor soul. If he did his job well, then maybe those doctors would be able to snatch some other patient from the jaws of the grim reaper.

His phone rang. “Dr. Valentine, are you about ready?” the morgue attendant said.

Nick looked at his watch. Almost half an hour, and Dr. McIntyre hadn’t responded to the page. He hated to start without her, but he might have to. “Give me another ten minutes.”

While he waited, Nick figured he might as well try to make Dr. Wetherington happy. Now when did he deliver that paper before the American Society of Clinical Pathology? And who cared, anyway?

* * *

Her administrative assistant met Anna at the doorway to the outer office. “Dr. McIntyre, I didn’t know what to do.”

“That’s all right, Lisa. I’ll talk with them.” Anna straightened her white coat and walked into her private office, where two people stood conversing in low tones. Lisa had said, “Two policemen,” but Anna was surprised to see that one of them was a woman.

The man stepped forward to meet Anna. “Doctor McIntyre?”

Anna nodded.

He pulled a leather folder from his pocket and held it open for her inspection. Anna could see the gold and blue badge pinned to the lower part of the wallet, but couldn’t read the words on it. The card in the top portion told her, though. It carried a picture beside the words, US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Lisa had been wrong. These people were from the DEA, not the police. Still, an unannounced visit from that agency made most doctors sweat. You never knew when some innocent slip might get you into trouble.

The man flipped the credential wallet closed. “This won’t take long.”

“Good. I’ve just finished an emergency case, and I still have a lot to do.” Anna moved behind her desk and sat.

“Your chairman said you’d give us as much time as we need.”

Anna glanced pointedly at her watch. “Well, have a seat and let’s get to it. What do you need from me?”

The man lowered himself into the chair, his expression slightly disapproving. His partner followed suit. “We have some things we need for you to clear up.”

“Could I see those credentials again?” Anna said. “Both of you.”

They obliged, laying the open wallets on the desk. Anna pulled a slip of notepaper toward her and began copying the information, occasionally glancing up from her writing to match the names and faces on the ID’s with the people sitting across from her. The spokesman was Special Agent John Hale, a chunky, middle-aged man wearing an off-the rack suit that did nothing to disguise his ample middle. Anna thought he looked more like a seedy private eye than an officer of the law.

The woman, the silent half of the pair so far, was Special Agent Carolyn Kramer, a woman who reminded Anna of a California surfer bunny, complete with perfect tan and faultlessly styled short blonde hair. The resemblance stopped there, though. Kramer’s eyes gleamed with a combination of intelligence and determination that told Anna she’d better not underestimate the woman. Kramer wore a stylish pants suit that had probably cost more than Anna made in a week, How could a DEA agent have money for an outfit like that?

Anna handed the badge wallets back to Hale and Kramer. “All right, how can I help you?”

Hale pulled a small notebook from his inside coat pocket and flipped through the pages. “Doctor, recently you’ve been writing a large number of Vicodin prescriptions, all of them for an excessive amount of the drug. Can you explain that?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Anna said. “I’m pretty sure I haven’t written any more Vicodin ‘scripts than usual, and I certainly haven’t changed my prescribing practices.”

Hale nodded, stone-faced. “What are those practices?”

“I prescribe Vicodin for post-operative pain in many of my patients, but always in carefully controlled amounts, usually thirty pills at a time. By the time they’ve exhausted that first prescription I can generally put them on a non-narcotic pain reliever. It’s rare that I refill a Vicodin ‘script.”

Apparently it was Kramer’s turn in the tag-team match. She picked up a thick leather folder from the floor beside her chair, unzipped it, and extracted a sheaf of papers held together by a wide rubber band. “Would you care to comment on these?” Her soft alto was a marked contrast to Hale’s gruff baritone,

Anna’s eyes went to the clock on her desk. “Will this take much longer? I really have things I need to do.”

Kramer seemed not to hear. She held out the bundle of papers.

“Okay, let me have a look.” Anna recognized the top one in the stack as a prescription written on a form from the faculty clinic. She pulled it free and studied it. The patient’s name didn’t stir any memory, but that wasn’t unusual. She might see twenty or thirty people in a day. The prescription read:


Disp. [#100]

Sig: 1 tab q 4 h PRN pain

At the bottom of the page, three refills were authorized. The DEA number had been written into the appropriate blank on the lower right-hand corner.

Anna squinted, closed her eyes, then looked again. There was no doubt about it. The DEA number was hers. And the name scrawled across the bottom read: Anna McIntyre, MD.

“Can you explain this?” Kramer asked.

A familiar vibration against her hip stopped Anna before she could reply. She pulled her pager free and looked at the display. The call was from the medical center, but she didn’t recognize the number. Not the operating room. Not the clinic. She relaxed a bit when she saw there was no “911” entry after the number. If this was about the autopsy, she’d have to miss it.

Hale picked up the questioning as though there had been no interruption. “What can you tell us about all these prescriptions for Vicodin?”

“I suppose the most important thing I can tell you is that I didn’t write them.” She riffled through the stack, paying attention only to the signature at the bottom of each sheet. “None of these are mine.”

“That’s your number and name. Right?” Kramer said.

“Right. But that’s not my signature. It’s not even close.”

“Can you explain how someone else could be writing prescriptions on your pads using your DEA number?” Hale asked.

“I have no idea.” Anna made no attempt to keep the bitterness out of her words. “Sorry, I’ve just lost a patient, and I’m not in the best of moods. Can’t we wind this up? I didn’t write those ‘scripts, and I don’t know who did.”

Obviously, Hale didn’t want to let the matter go. “You’re sure there’s nothing you want to tell us?”

“What would I have to tell you? I said I don’t know anything about this.”

Kramer spoke, apparently filling the role of good cop. “Take a guess. Help us out here.”

Anna felt her jaw muscles clench. These people were relentless. She had to give them something, or this would never end. “I really don’t know. I mean, we’ve got an established routine, and all the doctors here are pretty careful.”

Kramer pulled a silver ballpoint from the leather folder and began twirling it between her fingers. “Why don’t you walk us through that routine?”

Anna wanted to follow up on Hatley’s autopsy, talk with her department chair about today’s events, eventually sit down and try to relax. She was drained. The agents, on the other hand, seemed to have unlimited time and energy.

“Doctor?” Kramer’s voice held no hint of irritation. Patient, understanding, all the time in the world. Just two women chatting.

“Sorry.” Anna tried to organize her thoughts. “The prescription pads in the faculty clinic are kept in a drawer in each treatment room. That way they’re out of sight, although I guess if someone knew where they were he could latch onto one when no one was in the room.” She looked at the agents. Kramer simply nodded. Hale scowled. “Hey, we know it’s not perfect, but that’s the way we have to do it. Otherwise, we’d waste all our time hunting for a pad.”

“And do you ever forget and leave the pads sitting out when you’ve finished writing a prescription?” Kramer asked.

“Sure. Especially when we’re in a hurry.” Anna’s cheeks burned.

Hale turned a page in his notebook and frowned. “How about your DEA number?”

“You’ll notice those aren’t printed on the forms. Each of us has to fill in our number.”

“Maybe someone else had access to your number. Do nurses ever write the prescriptions for you?” This came from Kramer. Anna felt as though she was watching a tennis match, going back and forth between the two agents.

“When we have a nurse in the room with us, yes, she’ll write the prescription. I don’t know what the other doctors do, but I sign the prescriptions after she writes them. And I add the DEA number to the narcotic ‘scripts myself.”

The questioning went on for another half hour. Anna’s throat was dry, her eyes burned, she felt rivulets of sweat coursing between her shoulder blades. Finally, she’d had enough. “Look, am I being charged with something? Because if I am, I’m not saying another word without a lawyer.”

Hale replaced his notebook in his pocket. Kramer picked up her folder and purse. They let the silence hang for a moment more before exchanging glances, then standing.

“Right now, we’re simply investigating, Doctor,” Hale said. “You may be hearing from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Dallas Police as well. Also, since your DEA number and identity have been compromised, I’d advise you not to prescribe any controlled substances for now. You’ll receive formal notification in writing tomorrow about applying for a new permit.”

The agents walked out, leaving Anna with her hands pressed to her throbbing temples.

* * *

Nick stepped back from the autopsy table, pressed the pedal under his right foot, and spoke into the microphone hanging near his head. “No other abnormalities noted. The balance of findings will be dictated after review of the histopathology specimens and the results of the toxicology tests. Usual signature. Thanks.” He turned away from the body and gestured to the morgue assistant to close the incisions. “I’ll be in the office if you need me. Thanks for your help.”

Nick removed his goggles and stripped off his mask, gown, and gloves. He was standing at the sink outside the autopsy room, drying his hands, when he heard footsteps hurrying down the corridor toward him. He turned to see a woman approaching. The attractive redhead wore surgical scrubs, covered by a white coat. As she neared him, he could make out the embroidered name above the breast pocket: Anna McIntyre, MD. She stopped in front of him, and the set of her jaw and the flash of her green eyes told Nick she was in no mood for light banter.

“Dr. McIntyre?”

She nodded.

“Nick Valentine. I paged you, but when you didn’t answer I had to go ahead and get started. Sorry.”

She waved away his apology. “No, it’s my fault. I couldn’t break free to answer your page. What can you tell me?”

“Why don’t I buy you a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you what I’ve found so far? If we go to the food court, we can get away from the smell down here. I hardly notice it anymore, but I’ve learned that my visitors aren’t too fond of the odor of chemicals.”

She hesitated for a few seconds. “Okay. Lead the way.”

It seemed to Nick there was a Starbucks on every corner of every major city in the US. Most important to him, however, was the one here in the basement of the Clinical Sciences Building at Southwestern Medical Center. As he waited to order, he sniffed the rich aromas that filled the air. The smell of coffee never failed to lift his spirits. Maybe it would do the same for the woman who stood stoop-shouldered beside him. For most doctors, caffeine was the engine that helped propel them through long days and longer nights. Maybe all she needed was a booster shot.

When they were seated at a corner table with their venti lattes Nick filled her in on his findings at the autopsy he’d just completed. “That’s about it,” he concluded. “I’ll sign the death certificate with the preliminary cause of death as anaphylaxis due to an unknown cause.”

“But you won’t have a final diagnosis until—“

“Right. I’ll review the tissue samples and the results of the toxicology screen, but I doubt that we’ll find anything there. I’m going to have some tests run on the blood samples I took, and maybe that will help us. I’ll need to research whether there’s a good blood test for a drug reaction or latex allergy. The long and short of it is that we may never know the real reason he developed anaphylaxis and died.”

“I hadn’t even thought of latex allergy,” she said. “But that’s pretty rare, isn’t it?”

“Less than one percent of the population. Seen in people chronically exposed to latex: surgeons and nurses, industrial workers, patients with lifelong indwelling catheters.” He felt himself slipping into his lecture mode and made an effort to pull back. “I mean, we could talk about all these uncommon things, but I’ll bet you learned the same thing in medical school that I did. When you hear hoof beats—“

“Think horses, not zebras.” She managed a tiny smile. “Yes, I know. So we should concentrate on the blood or the antibiotic. If it was the blood, there’s a problem in the blood bank because he got one unit of unmatched O negative, which should have been okay, and one unit that was supposedly compatible by cross-match.”

“The residuals in both bags of blood are being re-typed and cross-matched against your patient’s blood as we speak. We’ll know the answer by the time we finish our coffee.” He drank deeply from his cup. “Don’t you think an antibiotic reaction is the most likely cause?”

She took a sip of coffee. “Probably, although I hope not. Choosing an antibiotic wasn’t a routine matter, because we didn’t know if Hatley had any drug allergies. The resident—one of our sharpest ones, by the way—thought he’d see if we could get the information another way. He had medical records check for a previous visit for the patient. They found a recent emergency room visit by the patient where he tolerated Omnilex. Since that antibiotic’s the best choice to cover spillage from a perforated bowel, I agreed with Luc when he ordered it.”


“I know. If you give that drug to a patient who’s allergic to it or to penicillin, their reaction is likely to be severe—like this one. But I thought, since we had that history of tolerance, it was okay.” She blinked hard. “I should have known better. Should have made him use a different drug.”

Nick sensed he was treading on thin ice here. Maybe he should change the subject. Besides, he wanted to know more about this woman. “You know, I’ve seen you in the halls, but we’ve never actually met. Did you train here?”

She hesitated before reeling off what had apparently become a stock answer. “Raised in Oklahoma. Graduated from med school in North Carolina. Duke, actually. Lucky enough to get a surgery residency here at Parkland, and when I finished I was offered a faculty position in the Surgery Department. I’ve been here a little less than a year now.”

Nick held up a hand, palm out. “I know better. You don’t get a surgery residency here because you’re ‘lucky.’ You get one because you’re good. Let me guess. AOA at Duke?” If Anna was Alpha Omega Alpha, she must have been in the top ten percent of her class.

“Right. But I don’t guess it’s enough to be bright if you foul up and cost a patient his life.” She drank from her cup, and Nick noticed that she kept swallowing several more times after that.

Nick was barely aware of the activity around him, the ebb and flow of people, the sounds of pagers punctuating dozens of conversations. All he saw was Anna. She was one of the prettiest women he’d encountered in quite a while. But he was certain there was more to this trim, green-eyed redhead than striking good looks. Right now she was focused on medicine—it was obvious she cared a great deal about her patients, and this loss hit her hard—but Nick had a sense that in a different setting she’d be fun to know. And he intended to see if he couldn’t arrange that. Anna shifted in her chair. He couldn’t let her leave yet.

“Wait a minute,” he said. “Aren’t you curious about me at all? There may be a prize if you can answer all the questions later.”

Did he see the ghost of a grin? “Sure. Why not? What’s your story—the Reader’s Digest version?”

Nick moved his cup aside and leaned forward with his elbows on the table. He wasn’t sure how much longer he could draw out their time together, but he was determined to give it his best shot. “My roots are Italian. Named for my grandfather. He was Nicolo Valentino when he got off the boat, changed his name when he got his citizenship. I’m Nicolo the Third.” He ticked off the points on his fingers. “Worked my way through pre-med at Texas Tech. Got into the med school there by the skin of my teeth. Managed to get a residency in pathology here at Southwestern. When I finished, they had an opening in the department.” He held out his hand, palm up, fingers spread, thumb tucked under. “So here I am—four years in the department, still an Assistant Professor. Up for promotion now, and I suspect that if I don’t make it they’ll cut me like a dead branch from a tree.”

Nick’s last sentence rang a faint alarm bell in his head. He had to finish that project or the chairman would be royally ticked off, but it only took Nick a second to put that chore out of his mind. He was sitting with the most beautiful woman he’d ever met. He wanted to get to know her better, and he intended to keep her here as long as possible, even if it meant incurring Dr. Wetherington’s wrath.

I was really excited about getting to review this book because I had so enjoyed Dr Mabry's first book Code Blue and this one I could read without added angst.

Medical Error didn't disappoint either. I was gripped at the very beginning and surprised at the end. This one really kept me guessing. Since it is a medical mystery there is some medical terminology and procedures mentioned but Dr Mabry does a good job of explaining so that even a layperson can understand it.

I would definitely recommend this book. I would also recommend the first one but you don't have to read them in order. If there are any characters in common, they are only mentioned in passing (I don't remember any).

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Friday

As I listen to the patter of the lovely rain on this quiet morning I am so grateful for so many things. We are so blessed and I have been trying to treasure each day while it is happening rather than focusing on the next day, week, etc.

I guess that is why I am so confused by the attitude of an acquaintance of mine. She has a daughter who is the same age as my Daisy and she will tell you that she can't wait until her daughter grows up. That right now she is working so hard to save money for college and to pay for everything her kids need (she also has a 4 year old) that she just looks forward to being done.

I just don't get it. I don't know if it is a cultural thing (the kids are first generation Americans while the parents are from the orient). I don't think less of them. I wonder if when the kids are grown if she will regret this attitude. I just . . . .

I just . . .

think . . .

how sad.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

book review : The Berenstain Bears and the Gift of Courage

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
***Special thanks to Krista Ocier of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***


Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Mike is married to Andrea, and they have three children. They live in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks a lot like Bear Country.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $3.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310712564
ISBN-13: 978-0310712565


Our thoughts: I read this one to my kids and we loved it. I love the way that the conflict settled and that Sister didn't have to . . . . I am not going to spoil it for you.

I also loved the Bible verse at the beginning. We highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

book review : The Berenstain Bears and A Job Well Done

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
***Special thanks to Krista Ocier of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***


Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the first Berenstain Bear books in 1962. Mike Berenstain grew up watching his parents work together to write about and draw these lovable bears. Eventually he started drawing and writing about them too. Mike is married to Andrea, and they have three children. They live in Pennsylvania, in an area that looks a lot like Bear Country.

Visit the authors' website.

Product Details:

List Price: $3.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (April 9, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310712548
ISBN-13: 978-0310712541


Our thoughts: I read this one to my kids and we loved it. I grew up on the Berenstain's and I was so excited to introduce my kids to new stories of them - and I was glad to read them myself. I always wanted a tree house like the Berenstains had, didn't you?

I also loved the Bible verse at the beginning. We highly recommend this book.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Today we went to the waterpark with a little boy in Junior's Sunday school class. The boys ran and played and ran some more - I don't know who had more fun, the kids or the adults watching them. While the kids played, the grownups talked about a variety of subjects -purple hull peas, canning, where C's sister was.

Junior enjoys playing with C because they are so much alike, 110% boy and Junior had mentioned that they hadn't been going to church as much lately. I got the idea (or God gave me the idea) that C needed a normal playdate - just for a few hours to be a normal little boy and not be a little boy who's little sister is dieing.

Honestly, I didn't realize how bad it was. I knew she has leukemia and that it has come back, I know that it means hours in doctor offices and hospitals and I know you can't give equal amounts of attention when one child needs so much.

On the way home, I mentioned to Hubby that I didn't realize how bad it was. Daisy asked later how bad it was and then sobbed for the family when I told her.

Cadence is 4 years old and has leukemia. The doctors have said that she can't have anymore chemo. All they can do is give her some of her daddy's T cells but that isn't going to cure her (or that is my understanding).

Please pray for Cadence and her family. This is so hard on all of them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have

One of the shows I grew up with, Facts of Life.

If you remember that show at all, then you remember Blair, the spoiled rich girl. What you may not know is what Lisa Welchel (the actress who played Blair) has been up to in the years since then.

Well I got to find out when an area magazine hosted a talk from Lisa Welchel as part of their five year anniversary celebration. While she has been speaking with the Women of Faith tour, this was totally different. For one thing, it was much smaller and more intimate. We made a girls night out of it with two wonderful friends.

It was such a fun night! Not only was Lisa (we are totally bff now) witty and funny, she was also very transparent about some of her heartbreaks. She talked about being Blair and being a christian in Hollywood, being a mom to young children, being a homeschool mom, and what caused her to write a book on adult friendships. She was very real.

After her talk - which was a sort of question and answer thing - she signed books and was available for picture taking.

Then we went to Aunte Pasta for dinner - one of my favorite places to eat. It was a wonderful girl's night out and one that was much needed. I had so much fun!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

For my dad

I hate cancer.

And the chemo is rough. I never had realized that the chemo can cause anemia which adds to the misery of treatment.

So that is why I am even more committed to giving blood, I remember seeing the difference it made for my dad to receive a transfusion. I remember seeing the color come back into his face, I remember how his voice would sound less tired.

Today, the day before Father's day, I gave blood while thinking of Daddy. He doesn't need it anymore but there are other dads and moms and children and grandparents that do need it.

I like to think that Daddy appreciates my Father's Day gift to him.

I miss you Daddy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I thought technology was supposed to make things easier

I used to like Windows Live Writer.

Until I realized that not every post that I published through them actually published.

If you like Live Writer, please be aware that I get random problems no one else ever does.

It seems to be my super power.

The trouble is that as a blond people think I have a lower IQ than average. So they think its my fault.


My wonderful husband decided that I needed a smart phone and I would actually use the bells and whistles on it. So after looking around I decided I wanted a Blackberry. At first I thought the Blackberry Curve but then decided with the spotty reception at my home I wanted a phone with a bit more oomph.

So then I thought the Blackberry Bold would be a great choice. Except it was out of stock so B*stB*y had to order it. So on Sunday they ordered it and said it should be there within 3 or 4 days.

Not a big deal and with the tracking stuff available now, I could obsess to my hearts content about when my phone would be in my hand.

Except it didn't seem to be shipping. It was supposed to ship within 24 hours and 2 days later, it still hadn't shipped.

And while I was waiting I was doing research and found out the Blackberry Bold 9700 seemed to be so much better than the Bold 9000. So Tuesday I thought that I could just go cancel the order - because it still hadn't shipped - and change to the 9700.


Because it was ordered in my husband's name, I couldn't cancel it. They were barely able to give me information on the order - and probably shouldn't have done that. Because in some things we are still stuck in the 1950s.

And hour later, I left with no new phone and the knowledge that my husband could call and cancel the order but it would be better to wait until the 9000 came in and return it to the store because they could do an upgrade reversal right then. If we called to cancel, we might have an extra few days before we could do the upgrade.

Except that that information was wrong.

The next day (Wednesday) the phone arrived at 5:00 and at 5:15 I was at B*stB*y wanting to swap out phones. At 9:15 I left with my old phone and with the knowledge that it takes an upgrade reversal 1-3 days and we would have been better off canceling the order and starting the upgrade reversal then. In that 4 hours, my husbands phone was shut off and then he had to have his sim card changed which meant all his contacts were messed up.

Friday I called our cell phone provider about something else - B*stB*y's maneuverings had put my husband's phone on the $30 data plan and his phone will barely text so I wanted to cancel it. I asked during the course of conversation how long the upgrade reversal would take and ended up telling the whole long convoluted story to the person I was talking to (believe it or not, I seriously simplified it here).

She asked for the number to the local B*stB*y to verify that I no longer had the phone and then her supervisor immediately put the reversal through so that I would FINALLY be able to go get a phone.

An hour later I had a new phone and two hours later we discovered that B*stB*y had somehow canceled my husbands voicemailbox - he wouldn't have known except I called to leave him a message and then told him I left a message.

Luckily our cell phone provider was able to easily fix it - but he might have missed some messages in those 2 days that he didn't have a mailbox.


My new phone, I love it. I actually get reception inside the house and don't have to tilt my head at a certain angle. I have a calendar that will actually sync with the computer and store more than 100 events. And I love the QWERTY keyboard. And don't get me started on the apps I have found.

I thought about doing an iphone but it seems almost like the Guess? jeans from high school and really, I am too old for all that. There were things that I don't like about it (I dislike the idea of a touch screen) and the only benefits I can see of an iphone over my blackberry is "words with friends" and the whole "everyone else has one". Quite frankly though, I would also feel like a lemming if I had gone with an iphone without better reasons than that.

Maybe at some point I will do an iphone but right now I <3 my blackberry.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

book review - Texas Roads

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

WordVessel Press (March 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Cathy Bryant for sending me a review copy.***


Cathy Bryant is a proud member of FIRST and a country girl at heart. Her debut novel, Texas Roads, was a 2009 finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis competition. A Texas gal by birth, Cathy lives with her husband in a century-old Texas farmhouse, complete with picket fence, flowers, butterflies, and late summer mosquitoes the size of your fist.

Visit the author's book website.
Visit the author's website.
Visit the author's blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: WordVessel Press (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984431101
ISBN-13: 978-0984431106


Chapter One ~ Longing For Home

Dani’s blue Honda Civic lurched and sputtered, drawing her attention to the neon-orange needle on the gas gauge. Empty. A frustrated growl rushed from her throat as she maneuvered onto the tufts of new spring grass at the side of the country road, turned off the ignition, and leaned her head back against the seat, berating herself for her forgetfulness. She’d love to blame this on the fight with her mother, but it wouldn’t explain the hundreds of times she’d made similar mistakes. One more to add to her collection.

She rubbed the dull ache building between her eyes, and stared at her surroundings on this Texas back road. Why did she choose today, of all days, to visit her aunt, a woman she knew only from chatty letters and a brief phone call?


She longed to escape. To disappear, to travel so far away that painful memories became yesterday’s ashes.

A stray tear wandered down her cheek and she banished it with a swipe. Today marked the one-year anniversary of Richard’s death. Death had robbed her—not only of her husband, but of her dream—and stamped her heart’s one desire with angry red letters: REQUEST DENIED. Thanks to the life insurance and the inheritance of her father’s company, a ridiculous sum of money now graced her bank account, but not enough to buy what couldn’t be purchased. A house, yes—but not a home.

Stop wallowing, Dani. She grabbed her cell phone and flipped it opened. No signal. Of course. She climbed from the car to scan the horizon. Nothing but tree-dotted pastures and a few cows. Breathing deep to quell the rush of panic, she closed her eyes and envisioned a sweet grandmother-type driving up to offer a ride. Her eyes fluttered open. Yeah, right. She wasn’t Cinderella. Godmothers didn’t exist. And Prince Charming? The biggest fairy tale of all.

Her marriage was proof.

Waiting to be rescued just squandered precious hours of daylight. She snatched her purse from the passenger seat, slammed the car door, and stamped toward Miller’s Creek. Like a scratched CD, Mother’s hurtful words from the earlier phone conversation replayed in her mind, and none of it made sense. Why did her mother oppose this visit to see Aunt Beth? And what had caused a rift the size of Texas between the two sisters?

A cramp commenced in her toes and inched into her feet. With a frown, she eyed her shoes. Heels weren’t exactly the footwear of choice for hiking country roads. Balancing her discount-store purse in the crook of her arm, she rifled through its contents, searching for the keys as she marched back to the car. A sudden realization forced her into a stilted run, and a strangled sound ripped from her throat. “Please, no!”

The keys dangled from the ignition, teasing her like chocolate candy behind a counter of glass. With a guttural groan, Dani tilted her face toward the cloud-darkened sky. “What do You have against me?”

The isolated countryside responded with silence.

On the continued trek toward Miller’s Creek, the hush enveloped her, the only sound an occasional bird’s song and the rhythmic thud of her heels against the pavement. So peaceful. So unlike the city’s unending drone. The bluebonnets and Indian Blankets of early spring painted the countryside, stretching beyond the barbed-wire fence into open fields, and the breeze tangled her hair. As she breathed in the fresh air, her shoulder muscles unknotted. Then a low rumble pulled her gaze to the clouded sky.

Heavy raindrops pelted Dani’s face and dotted her consignment shop designer jacket. Within minutes she was drenched, the metallic taste of make-up dribbling into her mouth. She kicked at a rock, self-pity seeping through her like the rain through her dry-clean-only suit.

With a shiver she hunched over and pulled the soggy jacket closer in an effort to get warm. Burning pain in her left little toe hinted at the formation of a blister, but she hobbled on, her thoughts on her aunt. Could Aunt Beth provide the sense of family she so desperately needed? She attempted to toss the question from her mind. One thing was for certain. Her drowned-rat-appearance would make a memorable first impression. Just not in a good way.

The faint roar of an engine sounded behind her and intensified. Finally. She turned to see an older model pickup top the hill, and waved her arms in an effort to make herself seen in the rain and approaching nightfall. The beat-up truck slowed to a stop and the window lowered.

Dani tried to swallow, but her throat clamped shut. This was no grandmother. With one finger, a dusty cowboy pushed up his sweat-stained hat, his other arm draped over the steering wheel. “Can I give you a ride, ma’am?”

Dani brushed the drippy hair from her eyes, resisting the urge to correct his grammar. The word was may, not can. “I…uh…r-ran out of gas.”

The cowboy smiled, his teeth white against his dirt-smudged face. “That’s not what I asked.”

With a glance in the direction of her car, Dani’s brain accelerated into high gear. “Actually, if you’d be so kind as to get me some gas—”

A soft chuckle resonated from him, and his eyes twinkled.

She hoisted her chin. How dare he laugh at her.

“Look, ma’am.” His picture-perfect smile disappeared behind the long line of his lips, his voice laced with impatience. “I know you’re concerned about accepting a ride with someone you don’t know. Can’t say I blame you. But by the time I get to town, get gas and get back out here, it’s going to be dark. Then you’ll have plenty of reason to be afraid.”

She raised a hand to her lips. What he said made sense, but could she trust him?

His mouth curled at the corners. “Coyotes are pretty bad in these parts. Sure wouldn’t want to be out here after dark. Especially alone.”

Coyotes? Dani yanked on the door handle and hoisted herself onto the grimy seat. After one breath in, she wrinkled her nose and sniffed. What was that smell? Eau de Sweat? She swiveled her head toward him and found his gaze trained on her, his face lined with suppressed laughter.

He needn’t be so amused. Dani fidgeted with the seat belt, and held it with one hand to keep it from riding across her nose. “I think someone up there must not like me.”

“What makes you say that?” He stared at her like she was mentally unbalanced and put the truck in gear.

“It’s just been a rough day. Like God has it in for me or something.”

He raised one brow. “I think God must love you a lot, or I wouldn’t have come home this way. Not many people use this road anymore.”

Dani drew in a sharp breath. Did God love her? She gave her wet head a shake, sending droplets of water to the worn seat. Yeah, right. No one could love her. Not even God.

Conversation lapsed as the rain continued its steady stream, thundering against the roof, yet unable to drown out the hum of the truck’s engine. What would’ve happened to her if he hadn’t driven by? The only coyote she’d seen were the ones in science videos at school. A surprising shudder scuttled down her spine, followed by a shiver that rattled her teeth.

The cowboy shifted her direction, his dark eyes focused on her ruined jacket. “You must be cold.”

Brilliant deduction, Sherlock. Were all small-town people as intelligent as him? “What clued you in? My dripping clothes or blue lips?”

He laughed out loud, a hearty sound that made her somehow feel better. “Feeling a little testy, huh?” His eyes sparkled with amusement.

She hung her head, half in shame and partly to conceal the smile that crept onto her face without permission. “Sorry.”

Dani started as he reached toward her, but relaxed when he pulled a brown suede leather jacket from behind the seat. “Here. This ought to warm you up.”

“Thanks.” She gripped the stained coat with two fingers, and examined it for signs of vermin. None she could see. “Looks…uh…nice and cozy.” She snuggled into its warmth and breathed in the light scent of men’s cologne.


Dani closed her eyes, the unwelcome memories and emotions clawing their way through her insides. The feelings still took her by surprise, crawling into her consciousness at unexpected times. Had she not been a good enough wife? Is that why he’d betrayed her?

“By the way, I’m Steve Miller.” The stranger’s silky baritone interrupted her thoughts.

She opened her eyes to find his hand extended toward her. “Dani.” She clasped his hand. Not as rough as she expected for a cowboy.

“You really shouldn’t be on the back roads without enough fuel, you know.” The look he gave her was stern, but kind.

Dani swallowed the sarcastic reply that popped into her head, and instead sent him a pasted-on smile.

His gaze rested on her wedding band. “Your husband not able to come along?”

The irony of his question made her grimace. At least the ring had served its purpose. She shook her head and focused on the passing terrain, some fields completely covered in wildflowers. How many more miles?

He leaned forward and made eye contact. “Been to Miller’s Creek before?”

“Once when I was little, but I don’t remember much about it.”

“It’s a nice place.” His voice held a hint of pride. “Any family there?”

She slid a hand over her wet hair and cleared her throat. Time to change the subject. Let him enjoy the hot seat for a while. “An aunt. What about you? Have you lived in Miller’s Creek long?”

His eyebrow cocked into a furry question mark. “All my life.”

“No surprise there,” she muttered to herself. She glanced at his filthy blue jeans and tattered shirt. It had probably been that long since he’d taken a bath. Immediate guilt rained over her. Ease up, Dani. At least he offered you a ride.

“Excuse the way I look. We had a fence to mend today at the ranch.”

Heat built up steam under her cheeks, and she averted her eyes. Okay, he wasn’t supposed to hear that.

His expression held nothing but friendliness. “I might know your aunt. What’s her name?”

She rubbed fingers against her damp pants. Was it wise to divulge that information?

“Never mind.” Steve held up a hand, a thin layer of black showing beneath his nails. “I know you city folks have to be careful about stuff like that.”

What was it with his ability to read her mind? “City folks? You make it sound like a disease or something.” She hugged her arms to her chest. “Besides, how do you know I’m from the city?”

“’Cause people from around here don’t dress up in such fancy duds.” His dark eyes glinted and her nerves unraveled more.

“True. They wear cowboy hats and drive beat-up trucks.”

His throaty laughter reverberated in the cab. “Guess I had that coming.”

Once again her cheeks fired up. Resting her elbow on the door, Dani leaned her hot face against her fist and wished for a punching bag.

“Which city?”

She stared at the tattered pickup cab ceiling and drew in a breath. “Dallas.” If they didn’t get to Miller’s Creek soon she was going to blow.

“Should-a guessed that.” Steve’s face scrunched up. “How can you stand living in the city with all that noise and traffic?”

“I suppose the same way you live with stinky old cows and a lack of civilization.” Her voice rose in frustration.

Dani wished the blurted-out words back in her mouth. Too late.

She started to apologize, but Steve spoke before she could get a word out. “You in business for yourself, or you work for a corporation?”

Where’d he get that idea? “I’m an elementary school teacher.”

“Really?” His brows notched up and he snickered.

Irritation seeped through the cracks of her frazzled nerves like floodwater penetrating a leaky dam. She twisted her head to glare at him. “Is that so difficult to believe?”

A smirky smile snaked across the cowboy’s face. “Guess not. It’s just that Miller’s Creek teachers don’t dress up like you. They get down on the floor with their kids.”

The dam burst wide open. “Well now it’s my turn to be amazed. I didn’t know small towns like Miller’s Creek had schools.” Dani huffed out the words then yanked her head around to clamp a hand over her mouth. What was wrong with her today?

Broken only by the swish of the windshield wipers and the pit-pat of rain drops, the silence hung between them, thick and sultry. Suffocating. She let out a slow breath and ducked her head to study him from beneath her lashes. Steve faced forward, the dark hair at the nape of his neck curling upward, his stubbled jaw locked. Most of her friends would classify him as handsome, but she wasn’t looking for a man. Not ever again.

He began to whistle, a shrill sound that chafed against her raw nerve endings. She pressed a hand to her temple. How much farther could it be? “Is there a convenience store in Miller’s Creek by any chance?” She tried to infuse her tone with kindness.

His cinnamon eyes turned on her—dry hot winds that withered everything in their path. “Of course. Right next to the community outhouse.”

A nervous giggle escaped before she could stifle it, but Steve’s daggered glare brought it to a quick halt. After a few minutes she peeked at his face, now chiseled from granite. Way to go, Dani. She’d already offended one member of Miller’s Creek, and hadn’t even made it to the city limits.

The rain ceased as they pulled into town, and Dani sat up straighter at the sight of country cottages lining the street. Homey. A little tired, but nothing a fresh coat of paint couldn’t fix. Tree branches arched across the road to create a living canopy. The sun, sandwiched between cloud and earth, changed the leaf-clinging raindrops to diamonds.

And children. Everywhere she looked. They splashed in puddles and chased each other across spring green lawns, their shouts and laughter a symphony of careless joy. So Mayberry RFD.

The hunger for home haunted her, and a familiar ache settled over her heart like ancient dust. “Unbelievable.” Dani whispered the word and relaxed into the seat, then glanced at Steve, his face impassive. She tried to push aside the fear of never finding a home, but it clung to her with razor-sharp talons.

In one deft movement, Steve jerked the pickup into a parking lot and came to a whiplash stop. She avoided eye contact and allowed the sign above the door to capture her interest. B & B Hardware? Dani peered to her right where two lanes of gas pumps stood, and a smile wiggled onto her face. A hardware-store-slash-gas-station. Only in a small town.

She plucked a hundred-dollar bill from her purse and offered it to him. “I appreciate—”

“Keep it.” Steve spat out the words and leaned away, his mouth a taut slash.

Surely he needed the money. His ragged jeans and this rattletrap he drove suggested as much. Dani squeezed her eyebrows together. For whatever reason, he wasn’t about to take the money, so she stuffed the bill back in her wallet, shrugged off the coat and handed it to him.

“Thanks for the ride.” With a release of the door she lowered herself to the ground.

Without looking her direction the cowboy put the truck in reverse, barely allowing her time to shut the door. As he tore out of the parking lot, his rear wheels spewed gravel.

Dani sucked in air and blew it out in a gush. Thank goodness that was over. Now to call Aunt Beth and end this nightmare. She faced the store, her heart pounding like a child on the first day of school.

My thoughts
I can't wait for the next one. 

I suppose that is a strange way to start but I loved this book. I had tears in my eyes at points and found myself laughing out loud in others. It is a beautifully written story with such realistic characters - I loved the Old Geezers and Mama Beth. I also loved that I wasn't able to guess what would happen next - there were a few twists and turns that were unexpected.

I have also had my own run-ins with making assumptions in a small Texas town  and then being grateful when I was proved wrong - like the time I locked my keys in the car over 150 miles from any family and the people who had made me nervous were the ones who helped me out.  

This is a delightful book with a wonderful message that is delivered deftly enough that it isn't preachy. I heartily recommend it.