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We looked at the clock, then turned our gazes toward our son’s bedroom. Unbelievable. He was still asleep. He had slept between fifteen and forty-five minutes longer than usual. And when I say “usual”, I mean, “almost always.”

“Well, Emily, why don’t you just say what you mean in the first place?”

Number one, some people who say “usual” mean “half the time” or “a slight majority of the time.” I wanted to be clear that I meant something over 97% of the time.

Number two, I need to have enough words in this blog post so that when a person first glances at it, they will think I am saying something Big And Important because it’s longer.

Now, can I get on with the story? Thank you.

B slept another ten minutes…another ten…another ten…and then finally, he woke up.

At the late hour of 6:45.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, his typical wake-up time is between five-thirty and six-o’clock in the morning. Since his preschool-age years, this has been so. As a baby and toddler, he would wake up for the day between seven and seven-thirty, but that was after waking up between five-thirty and six o’clock to nurse.

He’s never gotten all the sleep that child experts claim children need.

And until recently (“recently” meaning the day we let him start playing video games or watching YouTube as soon as he got up, thus ensuring our sanity and desire to live), he would start driving us crazy the minute he got out of bed. Demanding our attention. Employing all sorts of mischief to get it.

We needed some quiet time to ourselves in the morning before we could face his never-ending energy. So we got into the habit of getting up at four-thirty.

Yep. You heard me right.

And that, without any livestock to milk or feed.

Once in a while we indulge ourselves and lie in bed for an extra fifteen minutes. And that’s only for one of two reasons: one, I’m experiencing perimenopausal fatigue and don’t want to get out of bed; or two, I need to talk through a problem with J, and when we’re snuggling together in the morning he is my captive audience.

Things are different with B now, and we could probably go to bed a little later and get up a little later and still maintain our sanity. But, like I said, it’s become a habit.

And we hardly ever oversleep.

The other day, though, our trip to the health food store two-and-a-half hours away, combined with the 100-degree heat, must have really done a number on us. I woke up from a dream the next morning, and upon opening my eyes, noticed that it was much lighter outside than it usually is when we get out of bed. I reached for the watch between our pillows, looked at the time, and gasped.

Keeping my voice low so as not to awaken our son, I shouted to J the time. He had actually been sleeping, but at my words jolted awake and was out of bed in the next five seconds.

We had overslept. Big time.

It was ten minutes after five.





The Story Of An Orchard Fence

Once upon a time, a middle-aged couple departed from their suburban home and moved out to the middle of nowhere so they could grow more of their own food.

“Dear husband,” said the wife, “thou must put a fence around yon orchard, lest the creatures of the forest eat all the crop.”

And so the husband put up cedar posts and wrapped it all in bird netting.

“Dear husband,” said the wife, “the rats and mice will strive to chew through the netting. Thou must put metal flashing all around the bottom of the fence.”

The sweet husband, desiring to please his wife, completed the task with a whistle on his lips and a song in his heart. And the strawberry plants and apple trees and goumi bushes therein began to produce much fruit.

But lo, one day the wife discovered that many nibbles were being taken off the strawberries. She walked around the fence and discovered several holes in the bird netting above the flashing.

“Woe is me!” she cried to her husband.

And so he set about mending the holes with fifty-pound fishing line. “Wouldest thou have me to put a roof over the orchard, as we discussedeth earlier?”

The wife felt the burn of the Southern late spring sun and the oppressive humidity and lo, felt sorry for her dear husband. “Oh, no,” she said. “I thinkest not that any creature is climbing all the way up and coming down into the orchard.”

The next day, all of the goumis had disappeared off of the bushes.

“Dear husband,” said the wife with a sigh, “Methinks that putting a roof over the orchard would be a lovely idea lest the birds steal everything away at night. But wait, pray thee, until the fall when the weather doth cool off a bit.”

Then the wife noticed that the strawberries continued being eaten.

“Dear husband,” said the wife, “Thou must put hardware cloth all around above the flashing so that nothing can get through the bird netting.”

The husband smiled through clenched teeth. “Doth thou desire that I cover the entirety of the bird netting, all the way to the top, with hardware cloth?”

The wife patted his shoulder. “Nay, ’tis sufficient to affix but one layer of three-foot-high hardware cloth.”

With some relief, the dear husband obeyed with much sweating and wiping of the brow. But he completed the job, and the couple believed the orchard to be protected.

Until the week that the apples began to ripen. Some developed mouse-sized nibbles. Others disappeared altogether.

The wife began to pull out her hair. “Dear husband,” she said, “I cannot see how a bird can carry the apples away in its beak. Nevertheless, thou must cover the front of the orchard with hardware cloth, for yonder mice can fit in through the holes of the chicken wire.”

For the sweet husband, wishing to follow his wife’s desire to save money by reusing what materials he had for the door to the orchard and the wall surrounding it, had used old chicken wire to close in the area around the door.

Finally, the entire orchard was completely covered in beetle netting, and the front wall of the orchard had been mouse-proofed. And the husband wished to flee to an uninhabited tropical island where fruit grew in abundance and required no maintenance and no fence.

Upon seeing the completed fence and roof around the precious crops, the wife clapped her hands with glee. “Yea, dear husband, now nothing will be able to get into the orchard and stealeth away our harvest.”

The winter passed, and spring came. And lo, there came signs that something was digging up the mulch in the orchard. Then, entire strawberries began to disappear.

Both husband and wife were confused and confounded. What manner of creature could be getting into this critter-tight area, and how was he getting in?

One evening, the wife entered the orchard after dark with a flashlight and a rat trap. She shone the light toward the northeast corner of the orchard, and behold! There sat the culprit.

“A raccoon!” she cried in dismay. It was gone before she knew it, and could not see where it had exited.

Several days of fretting and arguing commenced. The wife began to search online for uninhabited tropical islands.

“No!” she cried, slamming down the lid of her laptop, “I shall not deign to run away from this problem! I shall find a solution!”

And so she lifted the lid of her laptop once again, and within fifteen minutes had discovered a nuisance wildlife removal expert who lived ten minutes away.

Nay, the man was not the nuisance, but he removed animals that were. He came and, looking with new eyes at the orchard fence, found several holes in the bird netting above the hardware cloth. Indeed, there had been a mischievous creature climbing up the cedar poles to gain entrance to the orchard. The wife quickly surmised that the previous year, it was a family of raccoons which had cleaned up the goumis in one night, and stolen away the few apples that had grown that year.

And so, the husband covered the newly-discovered holes with hardware cloth, the expert set up live traps, and lo, within a week four raccoons had been captured and taken to a land far, far away.

Not really. The expert lived on 150 acres where he released the animals. But they were far enough away that they would not return.

The husband believed his work was done. Until his wife said, “Dear husband, but what if a raccoon decides to climb all the way up a post and tear apart the beetle netting roof to get inside?”

With much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the sweet husband returned to the Internet. With much reluctance, he closed the tab with islands for sale and searched for ideas on how to keep raccoons from climbing fence posts.

And lo, soon all the posts were covered with four feet of metal flashing, for the claws of woodland creatures cannot get hold of such a slippery surface. And the creature troubles were over, and the couple stayed on the property and forgot about buying an island. They could not afford one, anyway.

So they decided they might as well live happily ever after with their orchard that now produceth ten-dollar-apiece apples and three-dollar-apiece strawberries.


But probably not really. That would make life too easy.


I have just published yet another surprise-ending short story. The title is “Lost”. Click here to check it out.

Once again, if you read the free short story “Revenge” (click here) and find you enjoyed the twist at the end, you will probably enjoy the collection of all six short stories that I have written to date (I still have two more in that collection to publish individually). That collection is entitled Surprise Shorts. Click here to check it out.

After reading, please remember to leave a quick review. Thank you with all my heart! 🙂



Cheekaches, Anyone?

On my Kindle, I have a list of sixty-four symptoms of perimenopause.

That’s what I said. SIXTY-FOUR. I copied them from some website or other online. The reason? So that when anything strange, new and annoying started happening to my body, I could refer to the list and see if it was “just perimenopause.”

Ninety-five percent of the time, it is.

The other five percent, I freak and think I’ve developed a rare, incurable disease.

But recently, I woke up one morning with a strange sensation in my left cheek. Right in the middle. It was tender to the touch and felt like a bruise. Only J hadn’t hit me. I hadn’t whacked my face against an unexpectedly closing car door. B hadn’t whizzed a Frisbee at my head.

There was no discoloration, and my first thought was that I’d bitten the inside of my cheek at some point while I was sleeping. But a brief probe around the area with my tongue revealed no telltale bump.

If you’ve ever bitten the inside of your cheek while eating, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, well, I don’t want to talk to you. No fair.

Just kidding.

I digress.

I checked the other cheek. No pain. And I didn’t have a headache and no pain in my gums.

I had a cheekache. That’s all.

I had no choice but to add it to my ever-growing list of perimenopause symptoms. It didn’t surprise me as much as you might think, since I’ve had new symptoms crop up an average of every six months for the past eight (count ‘em, EIGHT) years.

But, really, whoever heard of a cheekache?

On the other hand, maybe it was some kind of weird autoimmune disease. “Inflammatory Cheek Disease.” Or maybe cancer of the cheek? “Compressed Cheek Syndrome”?

I couldn’t be sure.

Until the next day. When my other cheek felt exactly the same way. Two or three days passed, with the inflammation on both sides of my face decreasing every day.

And then, it was gone.

Good ol’ perimenopause. Really keeps a middle-aged woman hopping. Or, at least, guessing.


Hey, wonderful readers! See over in the sidebar that book cover image with the title “Revenge”? Well, that’s the first in a collection of six short stories that I published to the Kindle store about a month ago.

The title of the collection is Surprise Shorts, Volume 1: Six Short Stories With Eyebrow-Raising, Smile-Provoking Twists.

The cost is almost half that of purchasing each story separately (“Revenge” is free, by the way. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, click here and see if you’d like more stories like that. Or the two-novel series it is a prequel of.)

Speaking of purchasing each story separately, if you’d rather pick and choose the stories rather than buy all six in a collection, I have published two more individual short stories. The first is “Gone”.

The second is “Fate.”

Click on the images above to get to the respective product pages on Amazon. Each individual story from the collection is $0.99.

BUT WAIT! There’s more!

My latest novel-in-progress

Do you enjoy contemporary women’s fiction? If so, you’d probably like to know that I have begun a series in that genre entitled “Pine Mountain Estates.” It will contain three or four volumes and I have completed the first one in the series.

Oops. Or…not.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I had. Even went through the first proofreading. Then, after taking about a three-week break from novel writing, I started in on the second book in the series.

No, that shouldn’t be the first chapter. I should start the story with this other character’s point of view, earlier in the day.

No, that’s not working, either.

Frustrated, I just stopped. My muse obviously needed some more time on this one.

Or…not. The next day, I started wondering if a particular character in the first novel should have his own point of view and show up earlier in the story. In the original manuscript, he doesn’t show up until quite late and has no point of view. But he turns out to be quite pivotal, and it started to feel wrong not to give him more prominence in the novel.

I thought about a while. No, the novel is fine the way it is. But the idea that the novel needed to be longer via adding a few more chapters from this character’s point of view persisted.

After a few days of this back-and-forth in my head about it, I realized that this is why my muse wouldn’t let me start the second book. Because I wasn’t finished with the first one.

As soon as I started writing a chapter with said character’s point of view, all conflict vanished. It felt right. So, ladies and gentlemen, I am currently revising Pine Mountain Secrets. I believe once I do, getting the second book in the series will be much easier.

Interested in reading it? Have patience. It will probably be at least the end of the year before I publish it. I want to have at least the second, if not the third, novel in the series completed before I publish the first one.

At any rate, there you go. You have officially been updated.

Now you are free to check out my short story collection. Thanks!