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My Mother’s Day Tribute

You are intelligent, patient, funny, witty, compassionate, humble, understanding, eclectic, strong and classy…only to name a few…

You taught me to be a free-thinker, to enjoy a wander through the woods, to be independent, to choose my words with care, to use my common sense and to know that I can never have too many books.

I’ve inherited your never-ceasing imagination, the “eye” to take an interesting photograph, a thirst to learn new things, a fascination with history and the ability to look good in almost any hat.

You were a dedicated, hard-working teacher for over 30 years; leaving the house by six and more times than not, arriving home closer to five…but then you’d have a home-made dinner on the table by six. I still don’t know how you did it.

This year marks 50 years of being married to your college sweetheart – another amazing feat especially considering the sweetheart… (Love you, Dad, but you know you can be…difficult sometimes).

You are your father’s daughter – a storyteller through and through…which is why you are an award-winning children’s book author.

You are forgiving – I’m sorry I took all your Metallica CDs when I left for college so many years ago.

You never expect anything; so your eyes light up with every gift and thoughtful gesture and we can see how precious it is to you.

Mum author photoYou inspire me because you are always full of energy, love and life.

You are my mother and I wish I could be there today to tell you all this in person. I am extremely proud of you and can only hope to be half the woman you raised me to be.

I love you, Mum.

To my own and all the mothers of the world: thank you for all that you have done/continue to do/will ever do for us.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Opening Line Challenge (Literature Edition)

Grab a scrap piece of paper and a pen; number 1 to 10. Read the opening sentence of these novels (pulled directly from the shelves of McKay’s). Write down what novel it comes from and once you reach the end, check your answers!   Simple enough, right?

Enjoy! I hope you find something that might spark your interest!

1.“A surging, seething, murmuring crowd, of beings that are human only in name, for the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.”

2. “Lee Chong’s grocery, while not a model of neatness, was a miracle of supply.”

3. “I call our world Flatland, not because we call it so, but to make its nature clearer to you, my happy readers, who are privileged to live in Space.”

4. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

5. “Mr. Phileas Fog lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814.”

6. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

7. “When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

8. “On January 6, 1482, the people of Paris were awakened by the tumultuous clanging of all the bells in the city.”

9. “The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon.”

10. “Marley was dead, to begin with.”



  1. “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orczy
  2. “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck
  3. “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbott
  4. “1984” by George Orwell
  5. “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne
  6. “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  7. “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka
  8. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” by Victor Hugo
  9. “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  10. “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens


New Year’s Resolution

Hi.  My name is Eliza and I am an addict.

I am addicted to making lists…Grocery lists. To-do lists. Shopping lists. Lists of TV shows I need to watch. Lists of quotes I one day want to put on T-shirts. Lists of lists I should make.

As part of my 12-step recovery plan for the New Year, I’m gathering together all my scraps of paper and post-it notes in an attempt to step more solidly onto the road of organization. I would like to share with you now the first result of this de-cluttering process…

Objects owned by fictional characters that I wish were mine

1. Special Agent Aloysius X. L. Pendergast’s 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith

Riding around in style, Pendergast is the hero of 15 Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child novels. Don’t let his albino undertaker appearance and smooth southern New Orleans’ accent fool you…his genius is on par with Sherlock Holmes and you do NOT mess with the people he cares about.

writer vest



2. Richard Castle’s “WRITER” Bulletproof Vest

Seriously, is there really any explanation necessary here?





3. Kitty Katt’s Ipod

Heroine of Gini Koch’s Alien series, Katherine “Kitty” Katt has been saving and protecting the Earth for a dozen novels now. She never goes anywhere without her ipod because you never know when a battle with bad-aliens-who-intend-to-take-over-the-world will ensue, and you need to have your best butt-kicking playlist on hand. (And yes, for each book I’ve made a list of the songs mentioned…she has awesome taste!)

4. Mississippi’s Hat (from the film El Dorado)

One of my favorite characters from an John Wayne movie (who isn’t the Duke himself), Mississippi (born Alan Bourdillion Trahern) avenges the death of Johnny Diamond, the man who raised him, all while being mocked for his (I think) awesome top hat.

5. Alexia Tarabotti’s Parasol

Soulless heroine of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, Alexia’s parasol inspired me to buy my own…all I need now is to find someone who can modify it to shoot sleeping darts, silver bullets and add the retractable blade. Hey, when you’re defending yourself against werewolves, vampires and ghosts…you gotta have all your bases covered.

6. Dr. Johnny Fever’s Coffee Mug and/or T-shirt

Early morning radio DJ from the world of WKRP in Cincinnati, Dr. Fever is rarely seen without his mug or wearing his Black Death Malt Liquor T-shirt. Until I have either of those items, I guess I’ll just have to be content to quote him constantly. “I’m telling you, free coffee is a constitutional right! Just look it up – Juan Valdez versus the state of California!”

7. Charlie Aleph’s Under-the-Cuff Spring-Loaded Silver Ball Shooters

Golem (though he prefers the term “Mineral-American”) Charlie, is the best partner that a human who’s pulled into an alternate universe could hope to have. A featureless black bag of sand animated with the essence of a T-Rex who dresses like a Film Noir hero – seriously, what’s not to love! Check out D.D. Barant’s Bloodhound Files series to enjoy Charlie’s sarcasm. (And please write the publisher requesting they make a Golem action figure line…I want them all!)

macgyver8. MacGyver’s Bag

Because it isn’t for what he brings, but for what he finds along the way…like the bars of chocolate that really can stop a sulfuric acid leak.



9. Dave Lister’s Leather Jacket (After it is thoroughly cleaned at least twice to rid it of the Chicken Vindaloo smell)

Lister was just a lowest-ranking crewman aboard the mining ship Red Dwarf until he was marooned three million years in the future. Now, he is the only human floating around in a galaxy far, far away with the hologram of his dead bunk-mate, a humanoid creature that evolved from his pet cat, and a Series 4000 mechanoid servant robot. Lister is pretty lazy, slobbish and unmotivated… until he encounters things that wish to kill him, then hilarity ensues. Admittedly, the British sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf is an acquired taste but if you only watch one episode, I recommend “Meltdown” from Series IV…it’s my favorite.

10. Judy Garland’s Brown Dress

Summer Stock is my favorite MGM musical because it has the two greats: Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. In one of the best dance duet scenes of the movie, where a simple small-town square dance becomes the scene of an awesome “dance-off”, Judy Garland is wearing this brown dress with orange/red accents. It’s very 1950, not flashy at all and probably by today’s standards, if you were at a party, it’d be boring…IF you weren’t dancing. The flare of the skirt is perfect for spinning around a dance floor.

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Veterans: Thank you for your service

wpmVisiting my grandparents’ house growing up I was always enamored with this photograph of my grandfather. He looked so young that I almost couldn’t recognize him – almost. The kind glint in his eye and his smile were still the same decades later, but as a child, the photo was a bit of a mystery to me. It hung in a large frame surrounded by at least half a dozen similar photos of young men, and it wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized that they were Marines, just like my grandfather. Like many veterans of World War II, my grandfather rarely spoke about his service and I never recall him doing so in my presence.

Both of my grandparents have passed away, my grandfather in 2011, so in search of more information about our family veteran, I turned to my mother. Not surprisingly, she too knew little about her father’s service during the war. “He just didn’t talk about it”…but that’s not to say she knew nothing.

He’d enlisted likely around 1941, along with his cousin “Strawberry” (named for his bright red hair) out of a sense of civic duty – that it was the thing to do. He’d been stationed in San Diego, Hawaii and Samoa in the South Pacific. He was in Radio and Communications. My mother did not believe he’d seen much active, violent duty – a fact that I found comforting. Although, I doubt he would have admitted it to his loved ones even if he had.

Those were really the only specific details my mother knew, but not the only stories. In 1942, while on a 48-hour pass around Thanksgiving, my grandfather returned to Indiana and married my grandmother. Afterward, when they were living in San Diego, they stayed with an Italian couple that treated them like family; hosting fellow Marines to large meals on Sundays. The newlyweds also loved visiting the San Diego Zoo and spent many days there together.

I loved hearing those stories, but my favorite one relayed to me by my mother took place while my grandfather was in the South Pacific. Marines were given ration coupons for their cigarettes and beer, but since my grandfather didn’t smoke and rarely drank he traded those coupons with other Marines. For what? Milk and ice cream. Hearing that, it truly made me smile because it was so in line with the man I grew up with and loved…my grandfather loved his ice cream.

After his tour of duty, my grandfather finished the college education that he’d started before enlisting. He was a vocational agriculture teacher for a number of years, then an 8th grade science teacher (teaching at least one future astronaut). He loved his children and grand-childern and was one of the most entertaining and animated storytellers I’ve ever heard. And even though he did not speak about his experience during the war, he was proud to have served his country. Every now and then you could have heard him humming the the Marine Hymn because after all, once a Marine, always a Marine.

Semper Fi, Grandpa.


My gratitude and thanks to all veterans on this day of remembrance. You do us all a great honor and service.