Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Man'S Jogging Shoes | Stock photo        Being a writer has not only given me a shelf to put my books on, but also a "shelf" to rest my arms on. This new career is not only changing my life, but my body as well. I do try to exercise (see blog on treadmill vs. yoga mat – a near death experience), but when the thermometer is inching over the 100 degree mark, I have a tendency to stay inside and watch exercise videos…usually with a bowl of popcorn.

But a dear friend of mine recently suffered a heart attack at an early age. This got all of us in our social group thinking and re-evaluating. So, I'm making an earnest effort to try and shed the fifteen pounds between my boobs and waistline. Hopefully the rest of the fat cells will get the same idea and start melting away.

First up, exercise gear, aka "the lycra outfit." Of course in my delusional mind, I honestly believe I can still wear this "suit of surprise." The pants slide on, with much effort, rounding my "cheeks" and settling tightly around my torso. *Note to self:  Start tanning. "White fat" looks too much like whale blubber. Certainly cellulite covered in a golden sheen appears thinner than the Michelin Tire image staring back at me from the mirror.

Next up, the sports bra. Yep, the closest thing to an "iron death grip" I'm about to lasso Thelma and Louise into. It's an ugly battle. Neither of the "sisters" want to be trapped and fight for freedom. I get one tucked away and the other literally zips under my arm and around the back to hide. Drenched in sweat, I finally corral my "endowments" and step in front of the mirror to take inventory.

I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or just scream. The "twins" are now quadruplets! Luckily, the "panic buttons" are covered, but Thelma A is bulging out the side, while Thelma B is nestled under my chin, pushing my mouth into a wiggly corkscrew. Louise A won't be upstaged and is doing her best to keep my left arm from falling to my side while Louise B is taking "swollen glands" to whole new perspective, cutting off my air supply. I can barely see my feet to put on my shoes. When I step down, the rubber soles literally crack under pressure. 

I head for the treadmill. When I step on the track, I swear "Mr. Nordic" groans. Kindle is set at a font size large enough for me to see through the one eye not squeezed shut by a pound of flesh, giving me approximately 5 words per page. I push the headphones deep into the ear canal to insure early hearing loss, and set my iPod to the exercise playlist – which consists of heavy drumbeats and explicit language. I hit START.

Did I fail to mention that after 'birthin' four babies Miss Scarlet', "bladder control" is ancient history? Add a couple chocolate layered pounds and a knock-kneed attempt to run the "track of death," and my scheduled one hour workout is cut drastically short. My jogging routine takes on a sense of urgency as I race to the smallest room of the house while deciding "now" is good time to resurrect those long forgotten kegel muscles.

Here's a fact worth considering. Men are supposed to drink four liters of water a day, and women three liters. Yep, that's a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke with a nipple, and a 1-liter bottle of Fuji water – all consumed "pre-workout." We're talking possible tsunami conditions and the ultimate test of "moisture wick" fabric.

Luckily, I arrive at my destination without a nano-second to spare, but the dog will probably walk with a permanent limp. He's now learned the command "move!" and answers to different, slightly off-colored, name. As for my extra "baggage?" There may be a permanent bond, at least until I can afford new exercise attire. Wonder what the "Tent & Awning" store has in stock?

Have a great Wednesday, and try not to get too wacky. Thanks for stopping by and keeping me company. I'm kind of lonely without the gang hanging out here any more. Just Joelene

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Happy Father's Day Type | Stock photo     What defines a father beyond the biological definition? To me, it's the way the "cape" falls over their shoulders, the holes in the bottom of the shoes from constantly trying to keep up, the worn folds of their wallets, premature graying at the temples, deep laugh lines at the corners of their eyes, and the permanent worry crease between their brows....all symbols they've shared a child's life.

I was blessed to grow up with two grandfathers who were both upstanding men. One, Grandpa Jo, I didn't see as much, but he spent every Christmas Eve with us. His trademark? A cane. One he square-danced with. I remember sitting on the hearth and giggling while he'd demonstrate. His hair was white as snow, his eyes chocolate brown, a WWI veteran who died at the age of 92 with a piece of shrapnel still lodged in his hip. Thus...the cane.

Grandpa Swain, feisty, stubborn, and almost as wide as he was tall, cursed worst than an old salty sailor. "Son-of-a-bitch" flowed eloquently off my toddler tongue by the age 3. When his father died, Grandpa was only 13 years old and the eldest child. He dropped out of school and went to work in the silver mines of Park City, Utah, to provide for his mother and siblings. He taught himself how to build houses from the sketches, to blueprints, to framing, plastering (no sheetrock then) until the last stroke of paint coated the walls. He owned a successful construction company wherein he taught his sons the trade that carried on long after he was buried. He owned the "pink cadillac" I blogged about months ago, always had a 6-pack of beer hidden in the fridge in the basement for "grandma's hair" and I imagine still swearing a blue streak beyond the pearly gates.

I was "daddy's little girl" and knew how to manipulate the title to my advantage whenever possible. The eldest child, only daughter, and commander of three little brothers left in my guard after school until parental supervision arrived home from work I got a taste of parenthood at an early age. I watched my parents struggle to keep us in a nice house in a respectable neighborhood. My dad taught me the meaning of work and a paycheck during the summer where I worked in his print shop and earned enough to buy my own school clothes from ninth grade on. Today, he's in the throes of Dementia, and my title of "daddy's little girl" has changed to warden, caretaker, and a couple of unsavory names yelled when his mind triggers a bad episode. I'm now the "parent," a role I got by default being the only daughter and closest relative. Watching your pillar of strength throughout childhood crumble, is difficult to describe and some days unbearable.

That's why I'm thankful for the strong arms of the superhero I married a century ago (some days feel that way). He drags me to my feet when I collapse and pushes me when I don't want to go on. He fits the description in the first paragraph above. Raising 4 children (2 surprise twins) and stepping in to juggle the balls I have in midair when I need to escape life for a moment, I'm sure was not in the travel brochure when he signed up for marriage. No, I'm pretty sure at age 23 there was only one thing on his mind when he took the matrimonial leap, however, life is in constant motion, and three years later, the game plan had changed drastically. Still in shock from when I announced we were going to be parents several years and a few grandkids ago, he's never once faltered since "dad" became his new name. He's changed dirty diapers, walked sick babies, rushed kids who thought they were invincible to the hospital, hunted down boyfriends who had his daughter out past midnight, towed cars teenagers pushed beyond mechanical limits, and even bailed one out of jail when he discovered the hard way that laws were in in place for a reason.

But he also taught them all how to drive a car, ride a motorcycle (a prerequisite of being a member of our family), camp, hunt, fish, work and save money for the things they wanted, and most importantly, to respect others. They are all now adults, applying the lessons their father taught them in their own lives, and when life turns sideways, they know Dad will don his tattered and patched "cape" to swoop in and save the day if he can, or stand beside them when he can't.

Happy Father's Day to all the men in my life, past and present, and to those who have shadowed a child along life's path by kicking a stone away, or holding a hand when one wandered too close to the edge.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


  Sometimes I feel like the cartoon character comedienne Carol Burnett always started and ended her weekly television show with. I get up around 5:30 every morning, snuggle into a pink fuzzy robe and head for the coffeemaker. If I'm totally honest, I probably scratch my butt on the way to my office, too.

This morning when I walk through the door, still blurry-eyed and relishing the first swirl of hot java coating my throat, I find Jesse twirling in my chair and Jordan perched on the arm of the small sofa in the corner, with Marli seated to his side and tucked protectively under his arm. I rub my eyes, about to ask what's going on, when Riley barrels into the room, towing Taylor, and Jaxson following behind in a lazy swagger—dressed in his new camouflage fatigues.

Jordan rises to his feet, taking a precautionary stance in front of Marli. Always her protector. Always jealous when another male steps in her airspace.

"Why are you here?" he demands.

"What's it to you, pretty boy?" Jaxson answers.

Riley knocks his brother's arm. "Dial down the 'macho-machine' would ya? And honestly, do you wear anything else? I mean if you're permanently GI Joe, I'm raiding your closet."

"Touch my stuff and you're dead."

"Whoa, boys. No bloodshed before I've had my second cup of coffee, got that?" I motion to Jesse, "The 'throne' is mine. Plant your sweet butt in the chair."

"So you have been checking me out."

I thump my head on the desk, twice. It's way too early to exchange quips.

"I created, you," I choke out after a large gulp of my liquid morning vitamin. "But aside from your shameless peacocking, can I ask why you're all here?"

"I thought you asked us to come?" Marli answers plaintively.

I did? Maybe subconsciously, but I don't remember. Before I can retrieve a thought in my scrambled brain, a light breeze blows through the French doors. Leaning against the frame is Alex, looking completely out of place in his dark jeans, black T-shirt…and brilliant white wings. The gold centers actually glow when the first brave rays of dawn bend through the slats and stretch across the room.

"What's with the Bird Man," Jaxson asks, his eyes checking off my guarded angel. Jesse, however, stands and brushes his T-shirt tight, flexing a couple of defined muscles when two girls flank Alex's sides.

"Hel—lo ladies," Jesse croons. 

Maddie tucks behind behind a wing when she spies the crowded room, and I notice all my male characters lean slightly to watch her, curiosity mixed with a tinge of lust and their forever raging hormones stirring beneath the surface. Alex's arm stretches out, offering a reinforced shield, but he says nothing. He doesn't have to. We all feel the steely glare of protection. He's her guardian angel.

"Guys, meet Alex, Jude, and Madeline." Alex clears his throat. "Forgive me, Princess Madeline." Maddie takes a small curtsy, pillowing her brocade skirt. My boys, all gentlemen under their various facades, bow in respect. My girls? Cross arms over chests and take a no-nonsense stance. Neither Marli nor Taylor handle female competition entering their territory well.

Wait. My territory! Why do I let these kids take over? Before feathers fly and the language starts, I raise a hand. "Sit, stand, whatever. Just be quiet. I remember why I called you here." I let them settle on couches, chairs, or on the floor. I forget how long teenagers' legs are, and I maneuver through the tennis shoe covered feet with my second cup of coffee.

"We're moving." My hair blows every direction as they all draw a deep breath. "We need a larger space, and well, I've created a special one just for you. Also, 'Boss Lady' will now be 'Ms. Brooks' to all of you. I'm officially a 'dot.commer' and we have a new home.  I think you'll all like it there and you can flex your muscles…or wings, a bit with your fans. You'll each have your own room, so to speak, where I can share stuff about your stories, without it all being crammed onto this small space."

They murmur among themselves as if deciding what to do. "Hey. You don't have a choice, so deal. I promise once we're settled in, you'll like the new place."

Taylor pulls her legs close and rests her chin on her knees. Her big eyes hold a childlike innocence and I sense her uneasiness. She's been through a lot, and trust isn't something she's good with. "What about this place?"

"It's not going anywhere. I'll just work between the two sites. Besides, I've got some new occupants possibly moving in."

"Sorry, we're late. Still having some issues here, I hope you work out soon. I'm running thin on patience." Nate, my would-be suave detective if he didn't have cream cheese smeared on his suit, fills the doorway.

"Whatever," snarls Sydney as she fidgets with the handcuffs. "Unlock these, moron."

"And chance you running off on me again? No way."

Sydney reaches for the teal satin bra wrapped in his free hand. "Give me back my bra!"

The room stills. I can smell the pheromones and testosterone it's so strong.

Riley nudges Taylor's shoulder. "Can you get one like that?"

Jordan snickers and Marli slaps his chest. "What? I didn't say anything!"

"But you were thinking it."

"Well if he wasn't, I was," Jesse smirks.

"Great 'Detective Degenerate'. You've poisoned the minds of innocent children," Sydney scolds.

Nate scoffs. "I doubt it, but before I lose it and show them how to murder an ex-girlfriend, I'm taking you back to the cruiser. Like I said, Boss Lady. Hurry it up, or your writing a murder mystery, not a romance."

I stare into the bottom of my empty cup, wishing for something stronger. I straighten. "Okay, all of you head over to the new place. Go in through the back because the front still has wet paint, and try to not destroy the place before I get there." Alex's wings wrap Maddie and Jude. "You too. We've got work to do."

One by one my characters fade out, except for Riley. "Boss Lady, er I mean Ms. Brooks, you okay? This is what you wanted isn't it?"

I smile, wishing I could erase the crease between his brows. "Yes, I'm fine. Just scared. Now that you're out there, I can't protect you. You're no longer just mine."

"We're tough."

"Let's hope so. Riley, your story is officially out.; Barnes and Noble (;, and in print version on You ready for what comes next?"

"Can't wait! Party at the new 'frat house'," he calls over his shoulder as he disappears.

"It's not a frat house!" I yell out to the empty room "It's Drama Queens and Jock Kings…which you all are!" The faint sound of giggles echo back. I head for the coffeemaker. It's a "3 cup day."

Check out Riley's Pond, now available for $2.99 in ebook format or paperback. Also, buzz over to and take a walk through the new place, then hop onto "Drama Queens and Jock Kings" and show your support. I know she'd feel a lot better if some of her old friends stopped by. If you feel inclined to share a link or two to let the world know Riley's Pond is officially for sale and to check out the new digs, please do so!

For now, I'll juggle both places, but here, I'm just boring Joelene until another personality kicks me in the butt – one who has got to fix the mess Nate created. "Dirty Laundry," a working title, is the playful adult romantic comedy I'm playing with when the "kids" are asleep. Stay tuned.