Droughtlander…Seriously…is it April 4th yet?


imageI was dreaming last night that I was crossing the desert.  I had a blue Caitroit shirt made in to a hat on my head and my face was red from my efforts to keep walking.  I was so tired.  And thirsty.  I needed a deep long drink of Outlander, but there just wasn’t any in sight.  Once or twice, I thought I caught sight of episode 9, but it was just a sneek peak. This mirage only increased my thirst and quite frankly, made the trek seem even longer.  I think Starz meant well, but a woman can handle only so much teasing.  They just keep dangling the canteen in front of me and l keep taking one more step. I’m trying to stay on this side on the fan sanity line, but  REALLY it’s been tough. I feel like I’ve been out here forever.

This drought is almost as bad as waiting for one of Diana’s books (Yes, I know she just started writing and she doesn’t have a date and I would never dare ask her such a stupid question because I’ve seen people get Gabaldoned and it isn’t pretty).

I’m constantly mumbling my drought induced mantra of “April 4th, April 4th” while I ponder the cliffhanging final scene of episode 8.  Claire’s laying face down on a table with her skirts up and the perverted psycho that is Black Jack Randall standing between her legs as he’s holding a sharp knife to her nipple.  Her nipple.  Jamie is in the windowsill (how the hell did he get up there? Have you seen the outside of that building?) demanding that BJR take his nasty hands off his wife. Quickly getting over his surprise, BJR grins like he just saw the Easter Bunny and he thinks he’s getting a basketful of chocolate. I’ve read the books, but I  really NEED to see what happens next.  But, …noooooo….Starz needed more time to get things just right. And, it’s not that I’m not grateful for their artistic diligence, but may I just say… Bullshite.  I’ve been out here for almost six months!  That’s a muckle amount of time to  wait and I just don’t …think I can…hold out…much longer…I .. WAIT what’s that you say? The UK fans have been waiting longer and for the first episode?  JHRC!  Poor buggers. I GUESS I can wait a bit longer.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.  If that’s true, then I fully expect the Outlander folks will need a restraining order cuz my heart was already fond of the whole bunch before this Droughtlander thing. I’m the one with the blue Caitriot shirt on her head.

Book: Checking the animals


As we walked away from the gray weathered boards of the barn door, Bo turned his face up to the sky and batted his eyelashes against the white falling flakes. I saw him shiver and reach for the collar of his coat. As he flipped the lambs wool and battered leather up to protect his neck, he glanced in my direction.

“Is that the only winter coat you have?”, he asked.

I could tell by his lifted eyebrow and tone of concern that my only coat must have issues.

“Yes” I said, “and why are you looking at me like that?”

The lifted brow remained quizzically cocked as he asked, “Can’t you button it?”

I looked down to see what I knew I’d see.  The two top buttons of my hand-me-down coat were fastened as they should be, but the bulge of my rapidly expanding pregnancy remained outside the protection of the plain gray wool’s warmth.  I had a yellow covered beach ball of a belly left exposed to the elements.

“I don’t have another”, I frowned and added, “It’s ok”.  He didn’t look convinced, but there wasn’t much either of us could do about it at that moment and we needed to check on the horses.  So, I gathered my coat around me as best I could and moved toward the paddock fence.

We had just finished feeding grain to the Finnish sheep in the barn.  Sheep. Thinking of the serious lack of intelligence those animals possessed, I sort of felt insulted that Jesus described us as sheep and he the Good Shepard.  It certainly didn’t seem a compliment.  They never seemed to catch the clue that you were trying to help them.  Go to the barn to feed them…they run to the field. Get in your car to leave and they’d run to the barn.  Exasperating.  Then again, I mused, thinking of my last failed attempt to help my sister, maybe Jesus was right after all!

Religious significance left aside, today was another example of sheep not having a clue you were trying to help them.  Bo had gotten into the pen to fix some loose boards.  Mr. Wiggles, the ram, decided this was not acceptable and needed to let his displeasure be known.  He backed himself into a corner of the pen and then charged, head lowered and snorting, straight into my resourceful husband as he bent to use his hammer.  He then backed up…and repeated his attack…and again…and again. Finally fed up with Mr. Wiggles’ persistence, Bo back-handed the ram catching him in the nose.

” He’s bleeding!”, I gasped.

Bo turned and looked at the snorting ram and like the farm-raised boy that he was, shrugged and said, ” It serves him right”. *

I bit my lip to keep my considerably less callous thoughts to myself.  I knew the ram really wasn’t hurt and I never won these kinds of arguments anyway.

Now it was the horses turn to be grained. Bo moved to stand along the paddock fence and started making clicking noises trying to coax the sorrel horse to come close.

“Here girl,… com’ on”, he wheedled. The horse, always a bit standoffish, began to whinny and shake her head with its lengthy mane, as if to say, ” no way”.

” I don’t think you’ll catch her this time”, I smiled.  It was kind of fun to see someone resisting his charm. He heard the tiny bit of amusement in my voice and set out to prove he was not to be laughed at.

With a dimpled smirk he said, “You think?”

His calls to the horse became more insistent and more seductive.  My faith in the filly’s stubborn nature was crushed when she slowly worked her way to the fence and nuzzled his hand.

Bo was standing on the rail patting the horse’s neck and telling her what a “good girl” she was when suddenly he grabbed her mane and swung himself over the fence and on to her back.  Without saddle or bridle, his grip on her mane the only means of control, he began to gallop her across the paddock to jump the far fence. Over the fence, he leaned his body forward using his legs to urge her to move faster across the open field.  Stunned, I watched them racing through the thick, but gently falling snow until they faded into white.   Soon, my anxious eyes saw them return. Racing toward me they jumped the fence again and came abruptly to a halt beside my perch on the fence railing.  I looked at man and horse, both winded, but with the sparkle of shared excitement in their eyes. Staring at this man I had married, I thought, “who _are_you?”  Awed, I was feeling a bit frightened to know that God had entrusted this spirited soul to my keeping.  At that moment, gazing at Bo astride the horse with his wind blown hair and flushed cheeks, I recognized my calling as his wife.  My job was to keep his hopes and dreams always attainable. I could never let that inner confidence and desire for adventure die.

“You are beautiful”, I breathed as he bent to kiss me.

Claire makes me proud I’m a woman…a reflection.



Sometimes when I write, the ideas come quick and demand to be written immediately. Sometimes ideas need to simmer like good soup. I’ve already written quite a bit about Claire and I wondered if there was anything more I could say. The question, “Why is Claire important to me?” kept simmering in my mind. Soon, as it often happens, the answer to my writer’s question began to form through the colliding of seemingly insignificant events and knowledge.

The world very recently celebrated International Woman’s Day. Busy with my grandchildren, I sort of missed it. Two days later, I was given a picture of myself hugging my oldest granddaughter and it kick started my thinking about women and my role in womanhood. Of course, I blogged about it.


My granddaughter laughingly said,” I feel like I’m reading a history lesson about civil rights!” In a way she was. I wrote about how each generation of women has helped to create the wonder that is my granddaughter.

Writing that article helped me answer part of my question. Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a wonderful example of the women who have gone before and paved the way. She is a wonderful example of women who had the courage to break out of gender-based roles and show the world women could be strong. She shows us that women can be all things; strong, kind, tough, gentle, smart, and intuitive.

The second half of my question was answered while writing an article about laughing at life. I was thinking of events both good and bad that have happened in my life and wondered if there was anything I would change if I could. I always come to the same conclusion…No… because I don’t know how those events shaped the woman I became. I wonder if Claire would come to the same conclusion?

We all bring our experiences with us when we read and I brought the story of Corrie Ten Boom with me when I read Claire’s story. Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian spinster, who saved many Jews from the concentration camps and then was interned for her actions.  She lost many family members to the camps including her beloved father and sister. She survived and then spent the rest of her life travelling the world telling her story of how there was no pit so deep that God was not deeper still. Corrie carried with her a bit of needlework to use as a visual representation of how life works. She would first show people the underside of the needlework.  They would see nothing, but a mess of different colored thread crossed and knotted. If they looked very closely they might be able to see a pattern, but it wouldn’t be clear. Corrie would then say that is because we can only see the underside of life and we don’t know why certain threads are used or how. The dark threads she points out might be as important as the light. She would then turn the cloth over to reveal a beautiful crown.
No one could accuse Claire of having lived a soft life.  She lost her parents at a tender age and spent her formative years travelling in third world environs. I believe these seemingly “dark threads” helped to form Claire’s coping skills, attitudes and values.

Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a good example of how to learn from all of the experiences of your life. Her experiences served her well.  She learned how to handle whatever life threw her.  She learned what is worth spending your energy on and what isn’t. She learned valuable lessons about what is truly important in this life and her exposure to different people and cultures helped her know herself which in turn helped her gain a heart for people.

Over and over again we were able to read of Claire adapting to change and unexpected situations. She may have expressed concern, dismay and even grief, but she always picked herself up, dusted herself off and found a way.

Why is Claire important to me? Because she shows us a woman can persevere and adapt. She always finds a way to make the best life for herself with dignity and often with humor. I have always admired her ability to laugh at the ironies of life.

I can’t think of an example when Claire was a willing participant in any kind of malicious gossip or intentional hurtful behavior toward another woman or anyone for that matter. Oh, there were people she didn’t care to spend time with, but even that choice was never spiteful.  Claire has just learned it is best to avoid poison people and situations if you can.  She doesn’t dwell on people whose values and views don’t match hers. If she doesn’t want to cover her head, she doesn’t. If she wants to spend her time healing the sick, she will. Why is Claire important to me? Because she shows us that it is possible to live without the approval of other women or men.  She doesn’t need others to validate her or her choices.

That doesn’t mean she won’t fight if she has to! Why is Claire important to me? Because she stands up for what she believes is right and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. How many times throughout the story do we see Claire ride or walk or crawl for that matter to right injustice, many times at her own peril and to Jamie’s frustration.  We see her leave her husband to care for a ship full of plague, fight to stop the slaughter at Culloden and even offer her daughter the option of an abortion.  On the other hand, she does not easily take offense, is tolerant of other’s beliefs and does not need to always be right.

Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a wonderful example of a woman who knows what is really important in life. Claire knows that in the end it is all about relationships and people. I credit her experiences of travelling the world and having few possessions for teaching her this lesson that so many folks come to realize late, if ever. I never read of Claire being worried about possessions, or fashions, or money, or position. She is not motivated by greed or political gain.  If they have enough food, clothing and shelter, Claire is happy.  It isn’t that she doesn’t enjoy nice things; she does, but, she doesn’t need them. It is very telling of her worth that the “things” she does treasure are never her own purchases, but rather gifts like the Indian amulet and her medicine chest.

And finally, Why is Claire important to me? Because she is a woman who knows her own worth and mind. Claire doesn’t bother with false modesty.  She knows what she is good at and uses those gifts and abilities to help others. Conversely, she knows what she isn’t good at and circumvents her weaknesses. One of things I most admire about Claire is her lack of guile and her unwillingness to lie to herself.  Time and time again, we see her take ownership of her thoughts and feelings even when she doesn’t like what she is thinking or feeling.  There is real power there. It is difficult to be manipulated when you own your “stuff”.

For all these reasons and more, Claire is a woman to be admired and emulated. Truly, I could point to her as a proud example of womanhood. I believe Claire’s example of what it means to be a good and proud woman will stand the test of time.  Ms. Gabaldon has written a woman for the ages.  She represents the epitome of what it means to be a woman of worth and substance. Claire makes me proud I’m a woman.

Thanks Sam and Cait for Jamie and Claire…Quintessential Moments.


image I’m watching the first eight episodes of Outlander in preparation for my standing appointment with the Starz channel every Saturday night.  While watching I was struck again by what a great job the actors are doing portraying my favorite characters.  In fact, there are some moments that scream Jamie and Claire!  Moments that are quintessential !  Here are some of my favorites. QUINTESSENTiAL CLAIRE: A lot of folks give Caitrionia Balfe praise for her portrayal of Claire’s strength, pluck and downright sassiness. It is well deserved praise. Claire is a smart, strong woman and Cait makes those qualities obvious.  However, it was her more subtle performances that convinced me she was right for the part. One of my favorite things about Claire’s character is her lack of guile.  She isn’t a woman who is motivated by greed, money or political gain.  She hasn’t much need for manipulation or lies.   Because she finds herself trying to survive long enough to get back to the stones, she has to lie, but she never seems quite comfortable doing so.  She seems to find it even more difficult to lie to herself. I’ve always admired her inability and unwillingness to fool herself.  She owns her thoughts and feelings even if she doesn’t like what she is thinking or feeling. Cait gave me the quintessential Claire moment when Jamie asked her if she enjoyed their love-making session.  Right away her face showed her internal conflict. Jamie, not having any clue about Frank, of course misinterprets the change on her face to mean she did not enjoy herself.  However, in true to form Claire fashion, Cait let us see her confusion, her correct interpretation of Jamie’s disappointment and sadness, and the moment she admits the truth to herself.   “Well, there it was. Not only was I a bigamist and adulterer, but I’d enjoyed it”. Quintessential Claire. outlander107a QUINTESSENTIAL JAMIE: Jamie is being portrayed as a man with some emotional intelligence. His sensitivity and concern  for Claire comes through loud and clear. The audience can see, through Sam’s performance, that this man is different from the other men at the castle.  But, for me the moments that are quintessential Jamie are once again more subtle. I so enjoy his moments of humor and self-deprecation and the little peeks at the man beneath the boy. There are actually several scenes that found me saying, “Yes! He gets Jamie!”  When Claire is tending his shoulder at the castle and Jamie has just told her a horrible story about his sister and  Black Jack, he responds to her sympathy with the, “Aye chickens are verra poor company” line. Jamie’s ability to not take difficult circumstances too seriously is one of his saving graces.  He has every reason to feel sorry for himself, to feel bitter and yet, he chooses to give not one more moment to Black Jack. Cheerfully taking a beating, forcing Dougal to give him a wedding, comparing Claire’s hair to water in a bern, were all convincing performance moments. But, the one that caught my attention was the scene in the stable with Murtaugh. With a few sentences and body language, Sam was able to convey the man of integrity that is Jamie Fraser. ” I plan to be married, but the one time and I will do so in a way that will make my mother proud”. Quintessential Jamie. He is guided by a moral compass. 571-300x187 QUINTESSENTIAL JAMIE AND CLAIRE: There are a lot of scenes between the two that are heart-warming, sexy and flirtatious.  The scene in the surgery where she is checking his shoulder? There was enough chemistry to blow up the castle! The wedding was superbly well done. I sighed and giggled and sighed some more watching those two consummate their vows.  But, once again my Jamie and Claire quintessential moment was more subtle. The infamous “Help! he’s falling over!” scene. LOL!  I remember watching it and thinking THERE, right there is where he fell in love! She is threatening, cursing, caring, kind and demanding and he… is awestruck. Which of course he covers up with a Jamie quip,”Threats is it? And after I shared my drink with you too!”  I was so struck by this I wrote a poem!   ALIEN ANGEL He awoke to a vision A bristling, cursing, demanding angel He awoke to love s01e01_869   IN CONCLUSION: I know not everyone will agree with me and I wouldn’t expect you to! Everyone brings their own experience to a reading or film and therefore no one will have the exact same reaction or interpretation.  Everyone will see things differently and have their own quintessential moments. Which when I think about that reality, I find myself in awe of Mr. Moore, his writers and directors. Getting it right seems almost impossible!  But, overall, I think they delivered the spirit of my beloved story.  And Cait and Sam? Thanks for delivering on the promise of being THE Jamie and Claire!

Choices…..Jamie and Claire…Outlander returns April 4th.


Claire-and-Jamie-Fraser-claire-and-jamie-fraser-37427982-681-1024Okay… just saw the trailer looking ahead  for the second half of the season. Lots of exciting stuff coming up! The word “CHOICE” is what I’m left with after considering what they’ve shown us. The choices Jamie makes. The choices Claire makes. Monumental. Pivotal. Heart and gut wrenching. Diana says she reveals who her characters really are by putting them under pressure. We learn a lot about Jamie and Claire through the pressure they are under in the second half of season 1 and that knowledge will color everything we know about them from now until the end of all of the series to come. (may there be many)

Jamie’s choice:

Jamie chooses to rescue Claire. Even though it means going back to a place full of devastating emotional significance, at the possible cost of his own life.  There is never any doubt in his mind that Black Jack will kill him if he’s caught and there is never any doubt that he will go after Claire despite this knowledge, even though he believes she left him on purpose and that she may indeed be an English spy. We finally begin to see what kind of stuff this man is made of.

Jamie chooses to let Claire go. What this choice reveals about him is nothing short of staggering. This is a man of integrity. Everything he feels tells him to beg her to stay, but he chooses to let her go…why?

He now knows the truth and it cannot be ignored. There is a man…a husband … with a prior claim. Claire is the wife of another man and as a man of that honors these vows spoken between two people, he must acknowledge Frank’s claim on Claire. She isn’t his wife because she is still wed to another.
He must acknowledge that Claire doesn’t belong here. Her being here and with him is an unfortunate accident. She had no choice. She did what she needed to do to survive. And, after the witch trail , he knows she is a women out of her time and it will place her in danger again. She will be safer if she goes.  He knows she has tried to get back to her husband and life over and over again. He will not add himself and his need of her to keep her in a life that was not of her choosing.

I know I cried at every agonizing staggering step he took down that hill; my heart was breaking with his.

Claire’s choice:

She finally knows where she is and it’s near the standing stones.  She can finally attempt to go back home.  She makes the choice to leave the 18th century and…Jamie.  She knows he will be hurt, but believes after a time he will move on.  She feels guilty and I think even then an inkling that she feels more than sad to leave him.

Then comes Fort William and her daring rescue from the clutches of Black Jack Randall. The time that follows is filled with conflict between Jamie and Claire. These conflicts give rise to confusion for Claire.  What does she really feel for Jamie?  I’ve heard Caitrionia Balfe say that, “Claire has to get honest with herself and Jamie.” I was glad to hear that. Otherwise, the scene at the standing stones later would not have the emotional impact needed for the audience to believe her choice was tearing her apart.

And that choice. I was really truly worried about her decision. I’m hoping the viewers of Outlander on Starz will feel the same anxiety.

Once the big choice is made:

There are still many choices left after Craig Na Dun. I can remember thinking, when I first read, that their getting on the horse to go to Lallybroch seemed like a logical place to end the book. And, it would have been if Diana had only been writing a romance. But, in a very real way the choice at the stones was the beginning not the end.  Because,… Ms. Gabaldon was writing a love story.  Thank God!

From the moment Claire walks away from the stones and her feet pick up speed down the hill to the abandoned cottage, we start to see the results of her choice.  We are then treated to the beginning of a story about a passionately committed couple and their life together. That life continues to be full of struggles and choices; can anyone say Wentworth? But, there is never any doubt that they are together because they want to be…need to be.

Claire can’t “bloody well” live without the man and neither can we.

Bring on April 4th!

Thank God writers share their stories….Brad King.


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Just read an article written by Brad King on TheGeekyPress that separates his choice to live his life as a writer into three acts. Three acts..the script for his story…I liked that.  He gives credit for his choice to what he considers an “insignificant” event that changed everything. I put the quotes around the word insignificant for what I now realize are several reasons. First, it is a word quoted from his article and a word he felt was “significant” enough to include in the title. Secondly, I put quotes around the word to give emphasis to the irony. The event turned out to be far from insignificant. It changed his life’s choices and direction. And, finally, I used the quotes because the word resonated with me as important in my own writer’s journey.  King talks of interviewing writer Marc Smith and finding out about an event called Uptown Poetry Slam. The excitement over words and atmosphere he found there spurred him to find a way to live a life surrounded by words.

As previously noted, he divides his writer’s journey into three acts and concludes that, “While third acts are never quite as dramatic as second acts,…” he finds himself to be happy. I enjoyed reading about Brad and his writer’s journey. When I read these little bits of autobiography, I find it helps to calm my crises of confidence to see how many different paths folks take to get to the same destination.  There doesn’t seem to be just one way to become a writer. Thank God. Because I think I started  this writer’s journey in the third act of my life.

Brad points out that upon reflection he can “connect the dots” that led him from where he started to where he ended up.  I’m wondering if I’ll be able to do the same.  It seems to me my journey has been nothing but bizarrely connected “insignificant” events, like the fact that Mr King linked one of my blogs articles to his webpage, that I have a blog at all, that because I’m ill I have time to write. In the third act of a life filled pursuing things other than a career writing, I find myself writing and wondering where down the writer’s road I’m heading. Right now I find myself in a place similar to Mr.King, ” I write for small audiences, and I exist in small literary scenes. Yet my days are filled with words for the right reasons, and the songs and the pictures in my mind have returned. In all of that, I am happy.”  I write for small audiences ( it still shocks the shit out of me that people want to read my ramblings) and I’m doing it for the right reasons.  I love to write. I’m finding that writing brings the joy of being creative into my life in a way that has significantly impacted my well-being. I’ve been so encouraged by my reader’s responses (that stuff is like crack) that I’ve found myself writing everything; short stories, poetry, research pieces, reviews and yep, working on a novel. I don’t know where I’m going with all this! My small circle of literary friends tell me I’m wasting my talents on them.  Which is very flattering, but I have NO idea if I really do have someplace further down the writer’s road to go or should I just let my first act be my third because I’m happy… and surrounded by words.

Here’s Brad’s article



Okay….keeping a promise here. Yesterday, I was asked to share a story…on Twitter…not in 140 characters… I can’t …soooo…my only recourse is to write it all down in a blog. (Like you all couldn’t see that coming)
Let me set the scene. My husband,as you may know, was once a college football coach. Over the years, we moved around in a few states chasing his coaching dreams. One of those states was Pennsylvania. We were at this particular school for seven years and because of the perk of tuition remission, I got my college degree there. This school holds fond memories for me for reasons other than being my alma mater. I fondly remember our time there because of the friendships we formed with the coaching staff and their families.

Several of the staff were married folk with young families. College coaching consumes a lot of time and so the wives sort of banded together as a support system for the terminally neglected. It was either that or go everywhere and do everything alone. Actually, it was great having women who knew EXACTLY what you were going through as mentors and friends.

One the best times of our week was after a home football game. Everyone was ready to either celebrate or relax and commiserate before coaching meetings started again on Sunday night. No one in our group was getting rich (I didn’t say we were at a Division I school), so a lot of our entertainment was homegrown. We would take turns holding potlucks and BBQ’s at each other’s houses. There was lots of laughter, analyzing plays, telling tales and squeals of children playing kick the can. We enjoyed each other’s company.

Sometimes someone would attempt to ratchet up the fun by throwing an impromptu costume party. We would arrive at someone’s house and then be told we had one hour to go home and come back in costume. The fact that our testosterone driven football coaching husbands participated in this scenario speaks loudly to the security we felt in each other’s company or the power of the coaches’ wife. Either way, I’m so glad they did because we had a blast! Some of my favorite impromptu costumes had to be the totally politically incorrect and sacrilegious priest with a broken condom hanging out of his pocket and his partner the pregnant nun and the guy who came as a chef with an apron full of cooking utensils that he used to stir people’s drinks and pinch people’s posteriors.

I was fortunate enough to have a husband who was also a wrestling coach because his yellow singlet came in VERY handy in the ole impromptu costume making department! It was the center of two of our most creative costume masterpieces. The first of the masterpieces involved the yellow singlet and a full length zipped to the chin bright blue robe. Luckily for me the children had been Smurfs for Halloween that year and I had a supply of blue face paint! So, in a moment of sheer brilliance, I put on the robe, painted my face blue and stuck a feather in my hair. Voila! The Indian Ocean! My husband’s costume, however was not only brilliant, but appropriate for the day. The school’s mascot was a yellow jacket. With yellow singlet in hand we made him into a giant bee.

We began the transformation by having him put on black sweatpants and a black hooded sweatshirt. Over this was placed the singlet. I fashioned antennae out one of our daughter’s headbands and pipe cleaners. I then stuffed the bum of the singlet with newspaper and attached a pipe cleaner designed “stinger”. The outfit was completed with the use of black electrical tape stripes and my husband’s promise to say “buzz buzz”.

The memory still brings a tear to my eye and a cockle warming to my heart,

The second time the singlet was used in the impromptu challenge it was paired with my use of a Hawaiian print shirt and glasses with an attached nose and mustache. Line dancing to country music was popular at the time and we were in possession of a belt with a very large buckle. Carrying the belt for inspiration, I scoured the kid’s room and I found a spray can of gold body glitter and the glasses with a false mustache. I don’t know, but I found them and inspiration for a set of costumes complete with role play.

I became the manager of the big WWF wrestler called “THE GOLD NUGGET”. It was simple really. He put on the singlet. I sprayed him all over with gold glitter and created a championship belt out of foil and the Urban Cowboy belt and buckle. I wore a fedora with a press pass in the band and the tropical print shirt. We stopped at the drive-thru for a really big, really cheap cigar. I spent the night chewing on my cigar, challenging people to wrestling smackdowns in Cleveland on the 25th (seemed like a good day) and having my husband put people in head locks. Good times.

What we failed to appreciate then was that having a group of friends like this was rare. Since that time we have never had the pleasure of spending time with people with whom we felt so comfortable or with whom be had so much in common. They know who they are and if they read this. I miss you.