Of Dodge Ball and Other Indignities

I am not athletic. I’ll just put that out there up front. But it’s probably no surprise, right? Bookish at a young age equals nerdy equals non-athletic. I do, indeed, fit that stereotype. I’m the girl who feared/loathed P.E. class.

I remember the embarrassment of being chosen last for a team, any team (or not chosen at all, and simply assigned as the leftover). I mean, really, who wants a scrawny girl who’s afraid of the ball on their team? I get it.

Endurance is a big word in the sports world, right? It’s important to build up your endurance. To go the distance. Yeah, well, for me, P.E. was all about endurance – enduring the class.

dodgeball-memeI ran across this dodge ball meme, and wondered if it was true. Do today’s kids miss out on the opportunity to be hit repeatedly by a red rubber ball? Oh, the memories this meme dredges up. Dodge ball and Red Rover were among the most humiliating games. I was such an easy target. Remember the chant? “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Darlene right over.” Not sure how that was fun for my opposing teams, but I certainly got my exercise in Red Rover. I could never break through the line, so I spent a lot of time running from one side to the other. Actually, volleyball may have been the worst. At least with dodge ball there was a chance the ball would hit me in the backside, or the leg. But with volleyball, what are the chances of it not hitting my face?! I’m looking up. The ball is coming down over the net. The physics of that trajectory put the ball squarely in my face. Volleyball was pegged as a girl sport. But I hated volleyball, even if it was a girlie game.

Sophomore year of high school we still had a P.E. requirement. For the love of God, would this never end? But, wait! There was a new course offering – drill team. And it could be counted as a P.E. credit. Hallelujah! It meant I could escape the swim semester of P.E. Unfortunately, my euphoria was short-lived. The class was run by a battle-axe of a drill sergeant. And it turned out that her vision of a drill team and mine were quite different. The group ended up being on the hokey side, in my 16-year-old opinion, complete with short white cowboy boots, cowboy hats and vests. If I had hoped to also gain a point or two in the popularity standings by being part of this new half-time entertainment show, it soon became apparent that would not happen. But the opposite was a definite possibility. I could not be on this team. So, it was a P.E. quandary. Go back and suffer through regular P.E. class or endure the humiliation of drill team? In a stroke of good fortune, a friend and I cut a deal with the battle-axe. We were allowed to drop off the team, but stay in the class as long as we showed up and learned the routines. Whew! It was a sweet compromise, but the longest semester of my life.

Okay, lest you think I am completely inept and uncoordinated, let me say I was better with ropes than balls. I was able to climb the long ropes dangling from the gym ceiling, and I did have one somewhat athletic claim to fame. In third grade, I was crowned the jump rope queen. Champion of the entire grade’s jump rope marathon. I jumped the hell out of that rope for what seemed like hours, almost giddy, watching my classmates drop one by one until only one boy and I were left. At that point, my arms ached, and my legs were starting to shake. But I. Was. Determined. I did not stop jumping that rope until I saw him go down. And then . . . well, with my usual athleticism, I basically collapsed. Let go of that rope and sank onto the floor – right down onto my ankle. So, wearing my crown of glory, I was wheeled out of the gym in a little red wagon. Not even kidding.

Ahhh, glory days.

And what are your athletic accomplishments?

The Year we went with Wacky

p1010898p1010902

So we’re planning to get a Christmas tree this weekend. We always get a live tree, and almost always end up going on one of the coldest nights of the year. That’s not the plan, as I am a winter weather wimp, but as fate would have it . . . that’s the way it goes. I’m watching the forecast, but whatever, the schedule says it’s this weekend. Because we don’t want to wait too late.

One year, a few years ago, we decided to wait until both kids were home from college before getting the tree. You know, make it a fun family outing.

Well, we did have that, but when we pulled up to our longtime Christmas tree lot, the place was packed up and put away. Gone. Except for . . . this.

One lone deformed tree had been left behind. I mean, this tree made Charlie Brown’s tree look like perfection. At least his was shaped like a tree! This thing looked more like a shrub in need of a serious trimming — something fitting for a Dr. Seuss scene. Sitting in the car in the cold, we considered our options. Go drive around and try to find another lot that was open? I have no idea whether there were any others that still had trees. It didn’t matter, though,  because a kind of poor-baby sympathy began to well up for this pathetic little tree-thing that nobody wanted. Plus, it was free, right?

In the spirit of Christmas, we decided to give the thing a home. So, we loaded it up and took it with us. My husband had to hack and saw on it just to get it into the tree stand. Once inside the living room, there was a definite “now what?” moment. Laugh or cry?! Well, we dressed it up as best we could with our usual ornaments. Had we known this is what we’d end up with for the year, we might have come up with a clever “theme” more fitting of the situation. But time was running out, so we made do.

In the end, we kind of liked our wacky little Seuss bush-tree. It was worth some laughs. And made a fond family memory!

 

Do you have a favorite let’s-make-the-best-of-it holiday story? Do share!

It’s Snippet Sunday!

Hey, readers,

Here’s a treat for you today. I’m inviting authors of all kinds of genres to share a tempting snippet from one of their books to give us a quick peek into their story. It’s a fun way to get a look at new authors and books you might not have discovered.

If you’re an author, please post in the comments a short paragraph or few lines to give us a hint about your book and writing style. (No erotica. One buy or website link only, please)

I’ll start. Here’s a snippet from Barefoot Days, book three in my small-town women’s fiction trilogy. Coming soon!

John gave a barely perceptible nod, and walked past Mary.

Mary stepped to the counter and gave her order while frost settled in her chest. What in the world was going on? She couldn’t remember offending anyone – recently. Mentally, she ticked through the various committees she served, trying to pinpoint an issue. She came up empty, but she was no stranger to drama. The slightest ember could erupt into flames with but a whisper of hot air.

Find books one and two here!

Black Friday Freebie

5x8TemplateSo, who’s shopping today?! Not this introvert! Can’t handle the crowds. For me, this is the perfect down day. A day to relax, get things done around the house, or, of course, curl up with a good book. If you’re looking to join me in that, here’s a deal for you!

A digital copy of my contemporary romance Her Greatest Risk is free on Amazon today! Take a break and get lost in a love story. Will Jennifer risk her heart or settle for safety?  “Love is a daily work in progress with ups and downs you have to be prepared to weather and Darlene Deluca writes with clarity how much the heart can handle.” — Amazon reviewer

 

Get your copy here!

I’ve got three books that I’ve started. Hoping that choosing which one to crack open this afternoon is the hardest decision I have to make all day! And maybe I’ll at least start my Christmas shopping list. Planning to do a little Small Business Shopping at my favorite indie bookstore tomorrow.

Happy reading!

Darlene

It’s a Good One!

CoverOnly.SG.lowresI’ve been waiting for several weeks for this review, keeping my fingers crossed, of course, that it would be positive. It just came in yesterday, and I have to share! Something Good passes the test of Kirkus Reviews!

TITLE INFORMATION
SOMETHING GOOD
Darlene Deluca
CreateSpace (322 pp.)
$13.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-4959-1795-0; March 13, 2014
BOOK REVIEW
An unlikely romance begins in a greasy spoon outside a soulless chain hotel.
When Lane Whitmore first meets Miranda “Mandi” Evans, she is working as a waitress in the depressed part of Texas he’s researching for his next project as an urban planner. Lane invites Mandi to his hotel room after her shift, but when she’s reluctant to tell him any details about her life, he worries that the beautiful woman with the haunted eyes might have more baggage than he’s willing to unpack. Back in her trailer park, Mandi harbors a shameful secret that she’s desperate to atone for, and she thinks she’s found a way to do it without ruining her ambitions to move to California and finish school. But her good intentions aren’t enough to keep her past trauma from threatening her future happiness. Mandi’s secret plan for redemption is commendable but complicated—maybe too complicated for Lane. Though Mandi’s dingy surroundings initially cast her in an unflattering fluorescent light, they also illuminate the camaraderie and determination of poor working women, whose managers walk them to their cars at night to make sure they’re safe, yet pay them so little that they can only afford to live in flimsy trailers in bad parts of town. There is something undeniably alluring about the flicker of the neon vacancy sign in Deluca’s (Her Greatest Risk, 2015, etc.) novel. It’s the nitty-gritty details that make this improbable romance unfold in such an unusual and affecting way. While Lane wonders how a girl from a wealthy family could end up living this way, Mandi ponders how an urban planner could be so blind to her plight. They’re not entirely sure they can even trust each other, let alone start a relationship, but their mutual
attraction should keep readers coming back for more.
This tale’s seedy premise featuring a Texas waitress evolves into an absorbing story of redemption that’s hard to put down. – Kirkus Reviews

Get Something Good on Amazon

A Scary Bump in the Night

strokeIt’s almost Halloween, but the bump I’m referring to had nothing to do with Halloween. There were no ghosts or creepy costumed characters or ax-wielding zombies.

The thing that went bump in the night was . . . my dad.

It happened a few nights ago when he got out of bed for a visit to the bathroom, and found that his legs wouldn’t carry him. They cramped, and he fell. He was aware enough to know something was wrong, but he didn’t make the connection. He was suffering a stroke.

Like those men who refuse to ask for directions, my dad is reluctant to ask for help. Rather than banging on the wall or yelling for my mother, he spent the entire night – nine hours – on the floor. This, it turns out, is one of the more dire consequences of snoring. My mother, unable to sleep through the noise, had gone to another room upstairs, and had no idea anything had happened until the next morning when she finally realized he was sleeping later than usual.

His stroke was the bleeding kind, and not the clot kind, so getting the clot-busting medicine in a hurry was not a factor. Still, damage was done. Who knows whether getting to the hospital nine hours earlier would have made a difference. I can’t help but think it might’ve. Of course, we’re all still scratching our heads over the fact that he didn’t call for help. Really, if you fall and can’t get up – it’s okay to yell and wake someone up!

The brain is a funny thing. Dad was able to relate the story of what had happened, and even what time. He’s alert and able to communicate. He has strength in his arms and legs, but there is a disconnect. Though he can feel his toes, and move them, he can’t tell whether they are on the floor, so he can’t stand up. He has no sense of balance. He’ll be transferred to a rehab facility in a day or two, where he will, hopefully, regain his balance and learn to walk again. Doctors are optimistic that he’ll get there and have full mobility again. That’s certainly our hope. No wheelchairs. No permanent disabilities. And, please, no more bumps in the night.

Remember the acronym FAST to help you spot the signs of a stroke.

Move over, Martha

p1070029So this is it – the extent of my Fall/Halloween decorating. You’re jealous of the originality and effort that went into it, aren’t you? I must be the next Martha Stewart, right? Well, it did require a trip to the grocery store and some physical activity to gather the hedge apples.

Maybe some people do more lavish decorating once their “nest” is empty, but this is it for me. There’s no fake spider web material in the windows (I have enough of the real thing, thank you very much), no ghosts or skeletons hanging around, and no twinkling lights or sinister sound machines blowing in the trees.

Because, of course, there are no kids! Well, maybe. I suppose that’s part of it. I think it might just be the next phase. A transition. Decorating for all the seasons/holidays isn’t a high priority anymore. We’ve morphed into the de-cluttering phase. Scaling back. Less is more.

I visited a friend’s house last weekend and was amazed at the level of fall decorating both inside and outside her house. It was beautiful – wreaths, flowers, candles, etc., all artfully arranged throughout the rooms. Rich tones of gold and bittersweet were woven into impressive mantel and table displays. But as I looked around, I couldn’t help thinking, “Wow. That’s a lot of work.” And time. And money. And storage. The truth is, my house won’t ever look like that because I’m simply not inclined to devote the time and energy to that level of seasonal transformation. That’s OK. I thoroughly enjoyed her efforts! 🙂

Which holidays do you enjoy decorating for?