I just found this latest, wonderful review for my book, More than Coffee: Memories in Verse and Prose, and of course, I have to share! I’ve heard that book reviews are like hugs for indie authors, sohug away!!Trish’s review may be short, but it’s very sweet, packed with all good things to say!
MacTrish gives More than Coffee 5 stars:
Touching, funny, and reflective:
This volume is a delightful collection of observations about life and of the small, ordinary things viewed through fresh eyes. Some of the stories and poems made me chuckle, others were reflective and some were poignant and moving. This is one of those selections that is perfect for dipping into when the mood takes you. (If you’re an arachnophobe, you’ll enjoy Laughing Spiders!)
I am thrilled that another reader enjoyed my memories and the messages they conveyed. So, again, a Big Thanks to all of you who have bought a copy and indulged in a cup of coffee (or your favorite beverage) while dipping into my memories, some funny, and others reflective and moving like Trish mentioned). And if you haven’t written a review, there is always time (but please, no pressure from me.) 🥰
One of the poems from my book:
With childlike fascination, I leaned against the door frame watching her apply a little powder to her nose, a touch of red to her lips. No more, no less. She was flawless. Then our eyes locked – an unspoken connection. Questions never-ending, I gently tucked her wisdom in a safe space where I could draw from it easily. I’d love to share tales of life she’s missing. Perhaps, again someday.
Extract from Laughing Spiders:
Mornings began to fuel unfamiliar anxiety as spider social calls manifested soon after the crack of dawn. The sun brightened the sky and another high school day was on the horizon. I grabbed a towel to dry off after showering when I felt something unnatural. Looking down, I watched in horror as a brown spider scuttled across my chest. I jumped, avoiding a nasty fall in the tub, and brushed the spider off not caring where it landed. I just wanted it off my skin.
These creepy-crawlies seemingly watched for me so they could plan their next prank. During another shower with my head full of shampoo suds, I spotted a black spider near my feet. The dance I did wasn’t a happy one. With a swish here and there, my foot managed to nudge the scary intruder down the drain with ripples of water, as I imagined it whirling into the dark depth of the water system. I quickly rinsed the suds out. Just as I felt calm run through my body, I looked down and saw that damn spider climbing out of the drain. This could only happen to me.
Extract from Ascent:
When we reached the top and I looked down that sleek granite dome, I was amazed at what I had achieved. Never underestimate our abilities. On the other side of the dome, Shealor Lake was in full view. We gave our legs a short rest, drank some water, then headed downhill with the enticing pull of the lake’s beauty. As we neared the bottom, my emotions ran wild. I was relieved that we finally made it, but a sudden wave of grief washed over me. We removed our packs and sat on a log for a time-out. I was so overwhelmed that the tears found freedom. I didn’t fight them. I cried for the loss of Dad. I cried for having completed this hike that I didn’t think I was capable of. I would’ve backed out graciously had I known the details.
After a few minutes, I composed myself and looked to the lake. The water, a jeweled phenomenon. It sparkled, inviting us for a swim. While we set up our back-country camp, the orange-hot sun blazed down on us as if we had drastically turned up the thermostat, so the cool lake water soothed our sun-kissed skin. The fact that we were all alone in this canyon full of forest and smooth granite was beyond welcoming. The tranquility offered me the chance to reminisce about Dad and my parents together. The solitude afforded a perfect destination to grieve, think, remember, and cry. Mourning the loss of one parent was difficult enough but losing both felt surreal – a new stage of life had begun.
If you’d like to purchase a copy, just click on “Buy on Amazon” below, and by the way, the holidays just happen to be around the corner in case you know of someone who may just want or need a gentle read.💜
The earsplitting howling, an eerie high-pitched note whirls around in Stephanie’s mind as she sleeps. The awful noise wails just outside her window, so she is bound to hear the sound that could echo a music score in a horror movie. Not that she would know because she isn’t old enough to watch scary movies. But her imagination tells her so. The trees fall into a trance like a magic spell cast upon them. They rock back and forth, their branches bending in unnatural ways, the tips like long, pointed fingernails scratching her bedroom window. The sound grates on her brain like a fork scraping a plate and tires screeching on asphalt. Stephanie tosses and turns. She fights to stay asleep, to ignore the menacing noise. Subconsciously, she remembers Beauty and the Beast on the wall above her headboard, her favorite musical, how she adores Belle. They take her to a happy place so she can fall back into that deep slumber. But only for a few minutes…
The scratching escalates, growing more intense, faster, and wilder on her windowpane. The wailing blares louder than fire sirens. Her eyes scrunched closed, she covers her ears with both hands, hoping to mute the horrific sound while lying still, no longer tossing and turning. Fear has paralyzed her body. She feels trapped, so afraid to move even an inch. But she has to get out of bed! It’s coming for her! It will shatter her window and climb inside! Her legs may as well be blocks of cement, but somehow, with all her six-year-old might, she swings her left leg over the side of her twin bed, then her right leg. She is sitting up now but has to run! No time to waste! No time for shoes! Her bare feet must carry her down the hallway to save her parents! Suddenly, Stephanie hears glass shatter, shards land on her comforter! She flies off her mattress so fast, her legs sprinting out of the room!
For a second, Stephanie closes her eyes while her legs move at marathon speed, the hallway never seemed so long. And just when she reaches her parent’s doorway, arms bind around her tightly in boa fashion, squeezing the air from her lungs.
“Let me go! Let me go!” She screams loud enough to shake the roof. Her arms and legs fling sporadically. Fighting off the huge monster with pointy fingernails.
“Stephanie, it’s Mom, wake up!” Lauren gently shakes her daughter, sitting on the edge of her bed. Belle and the Beast watch from the wall.
“Mom! It’s coming for us. We have to get Dad. We have to leave, now!”
“Oh, sweetheart, I think the wind howling caused a nightmare. It’s storming outside, but the three of us are safe in the house. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
“I was so scared, Mom. I hate the wind!” Stephanie says, hugging her mother, never wanting to let go.
“I don’t like it either,” Lauren hugs her daughter back, loving the feel of her little girl safe in her arms. “But just close your eyes and know that everything is okay.”
And just like that, consoled by her mom, Stephanie lets go and rolls over onto her right side. Exhaustion from the excitement finally kicking in. Her eyelids close slowly. Lauren sits for a few minutes, watching her beautiful daughter fall into a peaceful sleep. Then she quietly walks out of the room, but the earsplitting howling perpetuates. The storm isn’t due to pass for another ten hours.
I remember our conversation, effort to calm emotions, phone glued to ear like a natural extension. Her voice, exhausted… “When will this be over?” She asked Dad days later, more like a plea. He could be gentle or travel the path of honesty. I don’t know the words he pulled from his language of a sixty-seven-year love…how he tiptoed through the reply,though tenderly,I imagine, since his heart was shattering into millions of minute fragments. Her time was close. Our awareness vigilant. Each day, another breath held until the hands of timewould pause. Then as quickly as the sun fades behind rolling hills, raindrops splash upon us. She had ascended. Moments of memories to follow. But not one day passes without celebratingher life. Not one day slips by without her knowing how much she is loved and missed.
Lauren Scott (c) Mom would be 101 today, and since she loved her roses, we dedicate this beauty for her. ❤️
During the visit, there’s something about the clothes strewn on the floor soon to be dumped in the washer, wallet lying on the dresser, cell plugged in, bed comforter in shambles
because the messiness means he’s home.
Now with air miles accumulated back in the familiar time zone, his room shines, neatness grating on my nerves, silence like receiving the cold shoulder.
My hand pulls back the comforter, tousling, creating wrinkles and lumps in the navy fabric as though rumpled from a restful night’s sleep, then I pull some old shirts from the closet, tossing them on the floor just so I can pretend the good-byes hadn’t found freedom.
The calendar showed October 4th, 2012. She and I sat in the sterile office surrounded by semi-gloss light blue walls, our hearts thumping, hands like ice. We waited for the man who wore a white coat to join us, hoping he would provide gentle answers to appease our questions.
The matter was serious, but when I first saw his face, I thought of Santa, stark white hair and fluffy beard, red, rosy cheeks good for pinching. The only thing missing was the apple red hat, and though he would bear dreadful news, his smile was welcoming, as if the three of us were meeting for a stroll in the park on a lovely spring afternoon.
It was amazing how a tiny scope could be guided through the mouth and throat then down the esophagus. CT scans, lab work, MRIs, and a needle too long to discuss occupied her hours for over 1,000 days. Still, we craved clarity. Our world was hazy like thick fog a driver would endure crossing the Golden Gate Bridge during summer in the wee hours of the morning. And we waited – a necessary evil that all people grapple with too often to count the times on their hands.
Then on that autumn day came words we would have liked to have hurled back to Santa. We had hoped for gentle. Instead… “All tests point to this auto immune disease, and there is no cause or cure,” he told us with a touch of remorse. The future would necessitate a transplant. It was not cancer, but this finding should not be shunned. She was twenty years old, like a sunflower of friendliness and optimism. He added, “Just live your life.”
I felt her physical pain rip through each atrium and ventricle – my most excruciating moments of being a parent. But her strength embraced and consoled me, her mother, of all things. Life pulled us through each season.
The calendar now presents the year 2021: She is a lovely, young woman – a wedding band adorns her left ring finger, and geography has changed along with a new insurance card. She meets with another man who wears a similar white coat. X-rays and jabs repeat. “All of your tests are normal,” he affirms. All is normal. Words we had hoped to hear from this new expert. “I don’t see a reason to keep you in the same box,” he confirms.
This is amazing news! But abdominal stabs and pruritus from the past were as tangible as a twisted knife to the gut. How can we negate that agony? What is the deeper meaning? Should we get the champagne flutes out, give them a quick wash? Has this nightmare finally ended? She chooses to live in the here and now. Life continues to draw us forward to witness each sunrise and sunset, although we are still waiting to exhale.
I opened the oven door with my young children peeking around me and we all laughed! Instead of the meringue cascading in still perfection, cracks engulfed every inch as though an earthquake rumbled over the top. Through giggles, we yelled, “The Earthquake cake!” A Blitz Torte. It was my dad’s favorite, stemming from past generations of his German heritage.
The memories! There was Mom, standing in the kitchen of dark wood cabinets, hand mixer purring as she blended the magical ingredients for dad’s birthday each year. Mixing up this feather-light textured cake was no simple culinary experience; separating egg yolks from their counterparts, the egg whites, was a step mastered with practice over time. The meringue topping had to be whipped to precision like an image of still cascading waves in the ocean. Having only attempted this recipe once with the result resembling the earth riddled in quakes, Mom and Dad cracked up when they saw the cracked-up cake! Hilarious to the eyes, but the slight almond crunch of the meringue and creamy texture of the custard filling decadently pleased our palates.
And then one day I tasted carrot cake – the mixture of spicy cinnamon, tangy crushed pineapple, shredded carrots, and crunchy walnuts immediately deemed this cake my utmost favorite. Add the smooth, delectable cream cheese frosting (that I could eat by the spoonful) and you have life’s essentials on a plate! And it’s advantageous that carrot cake counts as a vegetable in my kitchen.
It was the day of my bridal shower. I walked into my maid of honor’s home, instantly inhaling the spicy scent. Carrot cake! She knew me too well, and her mother created the best recipe. Our moms and all the girls were in dessert heaven with each bite of that delicious piece of art. And so, the top of my 5-layer wedding cake was carrot – it had to be that way for my special day. Fortunately, my husband was a fan, too!
My two teenagers on a spring March day pulled on their carrot-shredding gloves and presented to me their creation while belting out, “Happy birthday to you...” With its two uneven layers, it wasn’t pretty, but it brought on the biggest smile. Their efforts earned them an A+, and when I treated myself to that first bite, I tasted spicy, creamy excellence. With their love and thoughtfulness stirred into the process, satisfaction was redefined!
I often delve into the carrot shredding and cream cheese whisking myself, watching my family revel in each forkful of the sinfully delicious dessert. This recipe has become a treasure in my collection evoking these precious memories. Whether it’s a Blitz Torte bringing to life images of my parents who have since left our physical world or a Carrot Cake from wedding and birthday celebrations, the stroll down memory lane becomes more poignant with each new bite.
Lauren Scott (c) 2021
Header: My birthday carrot cake this year that a wonderful friend made for me. 🧡🧡
Guess what? Your baby girl turned 60! Can you believe it? 60 doesn’t feel different, but it sure has a more profound ring to it than 40 and 50 did. I suppose then it does feel different. It’s Thursday, and Matthew, Michael, and I took the day off. They surprised me with an adventure – a relaxing drive surrounded by lush rolling green hills, cows grazing, majestic redwoods, and the crashing waves and beauty of the Pacific. I loved sitting in the back of the Pilot, chauffeured, enjoying the gorgeous scenery. The weather couldn’t have been better – sun shining in all its glory and the sky blue as ever.
Lunch was enjoyed outdoors encircled by those redwoods. I splurged on a patty melt and thought of you, Dad. How you loved your patty melts and chocolate malts! Well, I skipped the malt and indulged in Chardonnay!
We stopped in Bodega Bay to browse a little, then we resumed on Highway 1 driving along the coast heading for home. A fabulous all-day adventure that continued into the evening with champagne and more surprises. Family and friends in TN. and So. Cal. celebratedvia Facetime, phone calls, and text messages.
I’m sure you’re aware of the pandemic that has stricken the world for over a year now. Well, Matt and Michael wanted to throw a big party, but even though things have improved, a large gathering just wasn’t a good option this year. But for my second Covid birthday and this big milestone, my entire family and circle of friends made the day as special as perfection.
In the big picture, we’re all healthy and doing fine, so please don’t worry about us. I wish you had been here to join in the celebration, to enjoy some bubbly and that sinfully delicious carrot cake that a friend made for me – you know carrot cake’s my favorite and how it counts as a vegetable in my kitchen.
I just want you to know how much I miss you, how much we all miss you. And I knew you’d enjoy some snippets from my 60th. Mom, it’s okay to let those tears fall, and Dad, I can see you smiling. I know you’re happy to hear your family is ok! I’ll end this now before it becomes a novel, and before I liberate those tears, too.
Matt and I pull into the parking stall of our camp sight, and our first task is to unload the car and dump our gear onto the picnic table. A slight breeze floats through the pine trees cooling us from the sun’s burning touch and the blue lake water invites us in for a swim. The invitation is tempting, but first the labor of setting up camp. I dig into the big green tub looking for kitchen stuff and my breath catches when my eyes focus on the old set of silverware. When I was a little girl, we had a cabin in Big Bear, California, which is where Mom used the silverware. After both of my parents had passed, the set came to me. It’s black and silver, service for six, a little faded, but I couldn’t believe how sturdy it was to have lasted over fifty years. At the time, I didn’t give it much thought, so I added it to our camping paraphernalia.
As Matt and I enjoy the stir fry dinner he prepares on the first night, the old silverware evokes fond memories. An image of our cabin on the corner lot enfolded by sugar pines comes to mind. I remind Matt of the time when our little brave dog, Duffy, climbed up the snow bank, standing on the roof as if to say, “I am King!” That cozy mountain retreat also held many kitchen-table conversations full of laughter. Although Matt never had the chance to see the cabin, he remembers Mom’s delicious cooking. We especially savored her lasagna that was contest-winner-worthy. I recall the aroma swirling around, enticing Dad, my sisters, and me as we were eager to capture it and dig into the mouth-watering dish.I line up evenly in my mind each nuance of those childhood memories with my parents – days of playing badminton under a cloudless sky and a blazing sun, and then tobogganing when the ground was blanketed in snow and the temperature was bitter cold.
I am wrapped in a sentimental blanket on this trip, thinking of Mom and Dad, wishing I could feel their hugs, hear their laughter, and listen to their advice one more time. But would one more time still be enough? I don’t wallow in sadness; instead, I revel in the good times letting the memories advance like pictures on a camera roll. Before Matt and I realize, the campfires, swimming, hiking, and reminiscing have catapulted time into lightning speed. Our trip has ended and in the blink of an eye, we’re home doing clean-up. It dawns on me that I don’t want this set stashed away again, hidden beneath pots and pans and forgotten until the next trip. These forks, knives, and spoons have their own stories to tell. I combine them with our sets and I’m not bothered that they don’t match our decor. Years ago, the difference would’ve mattered. Now, life is a far cry from when mom and dad were still with us, so as we sit at our table using this shiny silverware, the family tales continue. We smile, we laugh, and now and then, tears that we thought had dried up, slowlyfind their way down our cheeks again.
Maybe I didn’t see the true value when this set was given to me. Perhaps I was blinded by tears, existing in my world of grief where a dark cloud was parked above my head. It could be that I hadn’t processed the finality of their death. I would see them again, wouldn’t I? The phone will ring and I’ll listen to Mom’s, “I just wanted to hear your voice.” Or, they’ll be over for lunch next week. When enough time had passed, reality sank in: I acknowledged their passing for what it was and accepted the truth. So, the timing and how I stumbled upon this treasure was relevant. My grieving had ended, widening the gap for remembering all the good things that keep us moving forward when we lose a loved one. Even in this set’s simplicity, its silver clean lines prove to be a nostalgic gem never to be buried again.
The painting of our cabin was done by a friend in Big Bear and my sister has it in her house – a treasure to keep forever.
A loving marriage lasting over six decades is as awe-inspiring as a star-filled night sky. I never grew tired of hearing my parents talk about how they met. Each detail was infused with love that put a twinkle in their eyes as they grew older.
It was springtime in Milwaukee when the city began to thaw and patio furniture came out of hibernation. Locals, excited for warmer temperatures, bid their parkas farewell and reached for shorts and sandals. It did not matter if the weather was only in the fifties; it was still much warmer than living through winter’s aggression. World War II had already begun. The atmosphere was unsettling.
The writing of my parents’ story would not have transpired without Dad’s friend, George. Dad was in the U.S. Army Air Force at the time but home on a 3-day pass. He happened to visit George at work one day at the bank, and walking into the bank’s entry, he noticed a beautiful gal with gorgeous legs sitting behind a desk. He was captivated.
George managed to talk Mom into a blind date with Dad, but the condition was for George and his girlfriend to join in. And so, a double date was set. The beautiful young woman with the nice legs was nineteen and the handsome young gentleman was twenty-one when they met on June 29, 1941. The two couples enjoyed good conversation, laughter, dinner at Wegerman’s Resort at Pewaukee Lake, and dancing to the tunes of Tommy Dorsey and Glen Miller. This evening proved to be the spark that ignited my parent’s love for each other.
Do you believe in love at first sight? They did. Early the following year, Dad was informed that his squadron was to be dispatched to the European Theater. This news and the fact that he was in love with Mom complicated matters. He did not want to lose her, so he proposed, hoping with all his heart her answer would be yes. Her feelings matched his, but she declined Dad’s proposal because of the imminent uncertainty. Mom had never been impulsive, so had she left the decision up to her heart, she would have married him immediately. Dad was disappointed but respected her wishes. However, I should tell you that persistence turned into his new middle name.
Some time passed and while they were out for dinner one night, Dad asked Mom to marry him again. He felt a second try was worthwhile because she was the only woman who held his heart. In the restaurant, they sat on red velvet chairs and their table was dressed in a silky white tablecloth. Twinkle lights glistened above as Dad proposed in the glow of the soft-lit candle on their table. Restaurant patrons nearby witnessed this occasion, clapping when they heard her say, “Yes!” Mom offered her left hand as Dad slipped the solitaire on her ring finger. Its sparkle matched the tears of joy in her eyes. She loved him without a doubt and realized life will always be full of unknowns.
Dad was then stationed overseas for three years – a long time for them to be apart. They stayed in touch by old-fashioned letter writing, which enabled them to learn more about each other and grow closer while separated by an ocean and war. I imagine them holding the precious envelope to their cheek as though it was the cheek of their beloved. They professed their love as their letters flew back and forth among the cotton ball clouds in the sky, befitting as the glue in their long-distance relationship.
The year was 1945 and the weather was frosty in early February. Dad was fortunate to return to America on a “rotation plan,” meaning thirty days at home then returning to Italy. After taking a quick two weeks to plan their wedding, the aisle of the church sanctuary gracefully carried Mom towards her future husband on February 24th as he waited at the altar. She wore an ivory satin wedding gown that cost $39.95 and she looked as elegant and classy as Rita Hayworth. Dad looked handsome as ever in his Air Force Uniform. Following their honeymoon in Chicago at The Edgewater Beach Hotel on Lake Michigan, he returned to Europe and the ink on the stationery kept the fires burning until he was honorably discharged in September.
Over the years, their faces lit up when they told of those early memories. Their romance, love, and excitement danced in every sentence. Now that they have both passed, I miss the story-telling. I miss the animation in Dad’s voice and facial expressions, how Mom filled in the gaps where Dad left blank spaces, or how she fine-tuned his recollections. Their marriage was not devoid of struggles, but it was one of commitment and everlasting love. They were “attached at the hip.” He was her best friend and she was his.
As Dad once said, “That blind date blossomed into sixty-seven years of marriage, three lovely daughters, seven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grandchildren. So, I am very grateful to my friend, George!” To fall in love on a blind date, to hug good-bye in distressing war times, to stay in touch through handwritten letters, and to share seventy years is my parents’ story. Dad is not around to tell their tale anymore, nor is Mom to chime in when she should, but the memories stay vivid and their story is ageless. What a journey they traveled together through rainbows and rainstorms.
Mom and guess who?
I have older sisters who are almost two years apart.
Then I came ten years later. 🙂