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  1. My father married the girl next door. My parents met because they lived next door to each other, in post-war Barrow-in-Furness. But saying it like that makes their story sound so simplistic. My parents did not a make big deal of how they met. It certainly wasn’t a family story, brought out at every chance and worn as a badge of pride. I only found out how they met when I was fifteen. My parents had taken me back to Barrow-in-Furness, a car drive up from Liverpool with our pet dog. That trip we had not visited either of my father’s brothers, who still lived there, he was not close to either of them. He had been close to his brother John but John had died several years before from cancer. With hindsight, losing his brother deeply affected my father, John was the first of his brothers to die and it made my father face his own mortality. My father was always stoic with his emotions, not talking about his feelings and just keeping things to himself. I wasn’t aware, at the time, of how much John’s death affected him, I was not a preceptive teenager, but I have had many years to look back on events. I don’t remember why we visited Barrow-in-Furness that bright spring day, but my father decided to drive around the city, showing me places from his childhood and youth there. As we drove around, our dog bounced about on the car’s backseat with me, she hadn’t had a long enough walk and was full of energy. We drove to the street where my parents had lived as neighbours. It was a narrow street of terraced houses, the briefest strip of pavement in front of the two rows of houses and the road itself still made from cobblestones, causing the car to rhythmically shudder as it was driven over them. My father stopped the car in front of two houses. They were a matching pair of terraced houses. He told me that they were the two houses where he and my mother had lived, with their parents, before they married. The house where my father had lived now had a cream-coloured rendering covering the front of it and a pale pastel-coloured front door. The housed my mother had lived in had a frontage of dark grey bricks and a chocolate-brown front door. The car drove on and my parents made no more reference to those houses. I was fascinated by it though. I might not have been a perceptive teenager, but my imagination had matured early and was very alive. Falling in love with the next-door neighbour was a cliché of much fiction, and even songs, and here were my parents who had done that. But it also gave me another insight into my parents’ lives, especially before I was born. My father loved to tell me stories about being a boy during the Second World War and my mother would talk about growing up and living with my grandmother, but neither of them talked at all about their adolescence and courtship. Their lack of information intrigued me; my imagination began to fill in the details. My father was born and grew up in Barrow-in-Furness, living in the same house, but my mother was born and grow up in Kendell, Cumbria. She moved to Barrow-in-Furness as a teenager, after the war, when her parents moved there; her father had got a new and better job there. He was the first person to own a car on their street. But how did they meet? Did their mothers become friends, chatting over the garden fence, and so they got to know each other? Did my father see the new girl next door and decide that he wanted to court her? Did my parents become friends first and then from friendship did romance bloom? I don’t know, they never told me, but my imagination has filled in that blank space over and over again. I am not a fan of romantic fiction, but I am fascinated by people’s stories. How someone met their partner can tell me so much about them, about their relationship, and it fascinates me because we are all different and we all have our stories. As a writer, how couples met can be the catalyst for so many stories and can help me shape characters. But I just don’t know how my parents met. Then, as an adult, I stumbled across a fascinating detail. My father wasn’t the first of the Payne brothers my mother dated. First, she dated my father’s older brother Arthur before she dated my father. How did my father feel when his brother was dating the woman he wanted to? Or did he first notice my mother when she was his brother’s girlfriend? Did my father dating his ex-girlfriend affect Arthur’s relationship with his brother? As for my mother, why did she stop dating Arthur and start dating my father? What did my father have that Arthur didn’t? I don’t know the answers to any of those questions and I won’t now, both my parents died nearly twenty years ago. I wish I had asked them those questions, asked them how they met, asked them about their courtship, about their life together before they married. They were middle-aged when I was born and they always seemed so old to me as a child, too old to have once had a romantic life or even a life before they became parents. Back then, I had such a narrow view of life. I have learnt differently since then. After my parents died, I inherited so many of my mother’s photographs. One of my favourite ones is of my parents before they married. It was taken on a summer’s day and my parents are standing in front of a farm gate. My mother is wearing a white 1940s dress with a wide belt around her waist and the skirt flowing out under it. My father is in shirt sleeves with his left hand down by his side, carefully holding a cigarette. They both are wearing photograph expressions, their best smiles directed into the camera’s lens. They look so happy. There is a postscript to this story. The last time I saw my Uncle Arthur was at my father’s funeral. It was during that awkward limbo time when we were waiting for his funeral to begin, waiting for the right time to leave the house for the church, waiting for all the other mourners to arrive. I was standing outside my parents’ house with my brother, just waiting. My cousin’s car pulled into the street and he got out of it. Out of the passenger side of the car slowly stepped my Uncle Arthur. But he was the double of my father. The same build, the same profile, the same head full of hair. He was my father’s doppelganger. The shock caught in my throat. “Oh, my God…” I hissed in shock. “Yes,” my brother agreed with me. Drew
  2. It's been a long and crazy year. SP just left for work; we'll stay up & have a glass of Champaign when he gets home. Spent some time this week working on his house, but not as much as he would have liked. We have got a lot accomplished (I think). We made Hoppin' John for supper tonight, and there's enough for lunch tomorrow (a VERY Southern US dish for New Years that, in it's most basic form, contains rice, black eyed peas, ham and/or bacon, green bell pepper, and some cayenne pepper for a bit of heat). I'm going to attempt to make a tourtière [Quebec mixed-meat savory pie] for supper tomorrow night. Hopefully, it turns out well. Wish me luck. Our professional photographer should have our wedding pics done in the next few days; possibly as early as tomorrow. But thought I'd share this one of SP and I that my brother took [hope the link works]. We make each other very happy.
  3. From the album: Pride Pics

    We'd just got our t-shirts and were waiting for the others to arrive to help with collecting money during the parade.

    © Caz Pedroso 2018

  4. After a few rocky weeks, our lives are returning to normal. Well, normal for us. Two working adults, with one car, mornings starting at 4:45 AM. Two kids in high school, one with a job, the other with after school commitments until 9 PM. Weekends are full of their events, family time, household chores and on and on ad nauseum. People are often shocked at that. Well, yes, it seems a lot. But it’s normal for us. Normal, now there’s a word I’m not to sure about. What is “NORMAL?” We hear about “the new normal.” Kindergarten kids have lock down and active shooter drills. “Oh, well, that’s the new normal.” More and more people are utilizing food banks, and low income housing. “That’s the new normal in this economy.” But, they aren’t normal. They’re outside the norm, aren’t they? So, is normal a fluid concept? What was normal to our great grandparents during the Great Depression wasn’t normal to our parents in the 1960’s. And it sure as hell heck isn’t normal to this mom in the 21st century! And, the definition of normal is boring, and I mean like BOOORING!! Merriam-Webster says: conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle But who wants to conform to a norm, or a type? Why? Who wants this? Aren’t we all individuals? Why do I have to conform to some outdated definition of a word that changes its meaning. Okay, okay, I know there are societal norms that we all need to follow, you know, like wearing pants when you go out in public, and not talking with food in your mouth. But really? Who wants to be normal? I live near Austin. Their motto is “Keep Austin Weird.” There’s a statue going up of a homeless man known as Leslie, who roller skated all over town in a bikini, and ran for mayor 3 times.(He actually came in second once! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_Cochran) I raised my kids constantly telling them that normal is overrated. And who wants lock down drills and not being able to buy your own home “normal?” Normal sounds like an insult, “Why can’t you like chocolate like a normal person?” “Why don’t you wear a dress like a normal girl?” “Normal boys don’t take dance class.” Normal sounds so blah. Normal sounds like average, like beige, the four door sedans of the automotive world. I don’t want to be average, or blend in. Now, I can understand the concept of NORMAL, as it relates to me and my family. But it’s really an illusion, isn’t it? Because MY normal isn’t YOUR normal and it’s not HIS normal. So why should this word be applied willy nilly to all things? Is there anything that is really NORMAL anymore? Was anything ever NORMAL? And is that good, or not? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
  5. From the album: Personal

    My cousin got married 8th July, and i just had to show off how handsome he looked. Who doesn't love a man in uniform?
  6. So, I make a joke about how I'm used to Black and Mild cigars as opposed to the chocolate cigars they were handing out to celebrate Sister 2's twins arriving, and now Sister 1 and Sister 3 are convinced I'm a cigar smoker who secretly goes out to get my fix. They really do want to believe I'm just some liar who hides what he does from everyone and is into all kinds of crazy shit. I absolutely lost it in front of my mother. God, they piss me off. It of course makes sense that the first time in a long while that I've gotten this pissed off, it'd have something to do with Sister 3. God, what a bitch. I need to just ignore it, but god. I make a 4.0 this semester and I land an internship, but because I don't have a paying job that makes me some kind of cigar-addicted leech. I am so sick of the way my sister treats me. Of the three sisters, I can only really get along with the one who just had twins, but since she's pretty much occupied...there's not much support I'm getting. Starting the internship and getting out of the house will be nice. Really nice. God, I'm going to need it to get through this summer.
  7. So Sister #3 told Sister #1 that I got money from our mother. I got an extremely nasty voicemail from my sister about how I need to stop accepting money from Mom, because I'm too old to do so and I need to support myself. You would think she would have a point, except 1.) the only reason I need money from Mom at all is because my mom used my credit cards for things like keeping on the utilities- nearly everything on my card comes from that, it's why I have to pay 300 dollars a month, and that is why my mom sends me money to pay for it, and 2.) my sister who sent me that nasty voicemail was living with us for very little money when she was bouncing between jobs at the age of 24 to 26. She has no room to speak at all. Sister #3 complains about the power being cut off at the house, but that sure didn't seem to stop her from going on multiple trips to Syracuse, Washington State, and the Outerbanks while not giving any kind of rent money to Mom. And it's somehow my fault that the power got cut off at the house, because of 75 dollars my mom sent to me. Right. I am starting to think that getting away from home for grad school instead of staying close by is the best decision I've made in my life.
  8. My whole family is bitching at me right now because I'm applying to this school called Millersville Univeristy, which is, at an hour and a half away, 'too far' for me to go, and 'isn't a good school'. They keep bitching at me to apply to a closer school in the area, and look at closer area schools, which I have! They are either too good for me to get into, or they don't have my program. Then they bitch about me about how I need to take educational courses if I'm going to be a community college professor- which isn't even true, because I've asked professors time and time again. They tell me I should apply to my undergad school, like there's a chance in hell I'm going to get in with a 2.64 GPA. They don't seem to understand that I don't have a whole hell lot of options. Ugh, ugh, and ugh.
  9. I spent the 4th of July at my sister's house in the boondocks. She had a lot of friends over, as well as the in-laws-to-be, and we sat around and had lots of food, set off fireworks, and got to know the people that I'll be calling family soon enough. Seven years ago, my sister Chrissy was in this horrible relationship with a loser cokehead named John. She was engaged to be married to him, and luckily, that fizzled out and she met a much better guy named Mike. They're getting married in September at this nice country club on the outskirts of my college town. It was a happy day for me- watching how my sister at 28 has found a certain peace that you wouldn't expect with the kind of background we've had. She has a nursing career she loves, friends that adore her, and a wonderful fiancee that I will be proud to call my brother-in-law soon enough. I'm walking her down the aisle (since, you know, our dad is nowhere to be found), and I'm glad I'll be gving her away to this nice, sweet guy that loves her. Contrast that to the girl she was at 17- barely passing 11th grade, in a relationship with a guy that our family couldn't stand, working her ass off at a dead-end job in McDonald's to help keep the light on at our apartment- and I just think, "Wow, she's really come a long way, and she's matured into one hell of a woman". As a guy who's trying to navigate the road to adulthood, and sees the end of his college years looming, it's nice to have a sibling that can kinda "show" the way. I mean, not that I plan on taking the same sort of path- but it's nice to know that she, along with my oldest sister Jenny, found a way to a good, stable life despite all the hardship we all suffered as children .
  10. Okay so next try, I'll guess I will focus on my father this time. So I am gonna post what has happened, generally, for the last 3 years of my life with my dad. I got involved in the disbutes between my mother and father about child support and found out he had been cheating on the money my entire life. This led to my dad saying things to me that no father should say to his son. I said horrible things about my dad to his face and about his wife. You see, his wife (Or like i like to call her, his husband :]) is very dominant, for lack of a better word, and i dont think she likes me very much but thats all good cause i do not like her very much. So she kinda controls him and tells him what to do. And my dumb ass of a father listens to her even if that means losing his relationship with his only son. She has been breaking apart my family for years. And its to the point where she has got rid of me and his mother, my grandmother. So it had got to the point where he did not even call me anymore (He barely did before) and i no longer went out to Arizona to see him anymore. Well i still called in order to talk to my 3 sisters that live there and he would not allow me to talk to them anymore. I've tried everything in order to talk to them again but i haven't in about 2 years. He missed my birthdays and he has missed all the holidays. I remember these exact words out of his mouth "Fine if your not gonna be good to me then you are no longer part of this family." Okay so in the last month he started calling again, trying to do it once a week. And these seemed to be getting better. The phone calls were kinda awkward but we were actually talking and it was only like 10 minutes long. He talked about coming to Illinois in the spring to come see me after we fixed our relationship and everything and he also promised me that i would eventually be able to talk to my sisters again. So after about a month of talking and everything going really good i asked him if i could talk to the girls again. He said no and not to call the house anymore because he didnt want the girls to answer the phone. We got in alittle argument and havent talked in about a week and a half to two weeks. So it seems like thats the end of all the progress that we have made. And i realize that he actually doesn't care. I honestly don't think that i will ever talk to my sisters again until they at least get older but i am not gonna give up hope. Im gonna make the same regular phone calls in a hope that they will actually answer the phone and i will be able to talk to them again. I will still call on their birthdays in order to leave a message over the answering machine to say happy birthday and call over the holidays. But who knows. Skyler.
  11. I'm back, getting my creative juices flowing and trying to earn discreetly online. A lot has been happening at home and it's been driving me up the wall. It hasn't been the most pleasant experience and it makes me sad that I've been on and off with all my projects mainly because I'm in hiding with my family. But, I refuse to just stop and give up. I keep holding onto these little bits of myself that I feel matter. In the society I'm in, creativity is a waste of time most of the time. It's rather half-assed. I'd like to believe in the potential of a creative and adaptive mind. I'm definitely brooding something personal. Fights and arguments with my folks just fuel this fire to just be better than all of them, and hopefully step on them when the time comes. I've lost most sympathies for them, which I didn't plan and yet can't help but feel. So I came back with a few story updates. I'd been revising the flow and pacing for some of them, so I hope they're to your liking. I posted updates to my long-running series A Frigid Grasp and His Happiness. So have a read and enjoy! I'm aiming for weekly updates so please follow the stories if you enjoy them.
  12. Okay, I have been in physical therapy for two weeks now, and have finally found my first bit of relief. Yesterday, my therapy took a new direction. In addition to the chiropractor , I have begun trigger point therapy. Basically, they insert needles into the muscles of my back and inject something to force the muscles to relax. I hadn't realized how tight the muscles were, but a day later my back is in constant ache mode. I will take that as a success. At work one of the women I really get along with is leaving. Her position is open and I am applying for it. It would mean a set schedule, no closings, and Saturdays off. It would be the closest I come to working a 9 to 5 job while in retail. Wish me luck. Dad is doing okay. My second cousin is up to see the family, her friends, and take care of a few odds and ends before her wedding. With my back an hour is the outer limits of what I can do right now. Traveling down to Western Pennsylvania for her wedding isn't something I can do by next month. So I got to see her today. A friend is going through what can only be a really rough patch in his life. No one should have to deal with the blows he has had recently. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. Meanwhile, another friend has graced me with a package. I love and look forward to a card so you know I was like a little kid at Christmas. Thank you Jo Ann. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated. To my friends, well beware started another round of postcards. Stay well and be happy.
  13. I dunno but i’m just going to write down everything that is running through my head right now. but I honestly do not understand any of this. It started with small argument between my parents in the past year or so, slowly building up getting more and more severe over small things neither would listen to the other because the other wouldn’t listen to them. Things got worse but they concealed it from me and my little sister who is still ignorant. Slowly my dad got more and more possessive and controlling, while my mother slowly ceased to really care. They got agitated over more and more trifling subjects. It took a while but things started to look up when it seemed like my sister had a shot at getting on the junior british squad for her sport. The pair of them went to the pub, it seemed like a normal evening of mid november, but when they came back they came back separately. My mum went to go back to bed and my dad smashed open the back door and started screaming at my mum, and my mother screamed back complaining that he had kicked her in the shin. (Her lower legs were swollen at the time due to “underlying” health issues according to the doctor. So i went down to mediate the situation and remind them that my sister was asleep. I left once the situation looked under control. A short while later the shouting started again, this time more serious than before. I didn’t intervene as my mother left the house. I found out later that evening my father had threatened to kill my mother. But before this i thought everything would calm down. But i could hear smashing and crashing so i thought perhaps he’d hurt himself. So i went to see what was happening to find my dad smashing everything up, from the kitchen to the front lounge. Only to end up haveing bit of the kitchen unit lobbed at me. So i swiftly left to my room. I sorted out my room with enough space for my little sister, I got her from her room and put her near me. Cause ever fiber of my mind had judged my dad as a threat to myself and my sister. I thought maybe he’ll calm down and go to sleep. Not too long later he stormed in screaming “I’ll kill her, if she’s not back in 10 minutes. I’ll kill her. Tell her that.” It took him awhile to realised he’d scared the shit out of my sister. As soon as it was quiet enough to leave, i took my sister and we left the house. I didn’t care that it was 4 am. All I knew is my dad wasn’t sane, sober or thinking straight and a danger to myself and my sisters well being. I walked down the road with my sister and across to the local shops planning to go to my friends. Yeah i was just going to waltz into my best friends house and sleep on the sofa with my sister. but my mums friend phoned me telling me she’d phoned the police and they were coming to drop us off at hers, which is where my mum had fled too. We waited for the police, until they came. My little sister rather panicked, over what had happened was occurring. My mum decided we were going to go stay with her parents for a while so we spent almost two months there. No college for me, no school for my sister. My mother she was and emotional wreck and still is. Well both me and my sister decided we’d see him on weekends eventually. But currently they’re both bitching about the other. neither has realised that they issues upstairs arn’t going to be solved like that. You know for a while I was the sane mind, in the family. Ha yeah me Who trusts almost no one. And certainly relies on no one. But in the end I became emotionless as i was over my nans death. Yeah i liked her. But for some reason I had still have no feeling on the event and what occurred. But you know its not just that, my mother is trying to be someone she’s not and is now seriously suffering from depression and barely getting anything done. My father he’s spinning a web of words into my little sister ear, he can try all he likes to spin his web with me but i know the trick as i taught it to myself to knock the bullies down in school. So now my father probably doesn’t realise he’s polluting my sisters mind and she is saying thoughtless things around my mother that is sinking her deeper into depression. What are my feeling on this, I think about what each of them has done to wrong me. Then tally them up. But for some reason on this whole matter i have no emotions, all I want to do is LEAVE. but i know i can’t leave my sister to sit there and be broken by both of my parents shattered emotions, words & deceit. But when it comes down to it both my parents have made me feel like i’m worthless, and never going to amount to anything. It is one thing to be told these words by your peers but when your own parents say the words, it becomes a part of you. That you never escape. And to be honest, ever since my father backed up the word of my peers. I’ve felt like even if i try i’m going to fail. So why bother smiling and trying and continueing if you're only going to fail and never amount to anything. I’ll tell you something if it wasn’t for my best friend who fell in to anxiety issues and depression. I wouldn’t be here. Cause everyday I wake up thinking how stupid I am how fat, worthless and how i’m never going to make it through life, every single Stupid, Dumb or things i’ve done wrong throughout my life flashes through my mind. And everytime I try to sleep the same things flash through my mind till i have to cry myself to sleep. But that one thing that keeps me going everyday, is that I care for my friends before I care for myself. So I try to forget, everything that makes me upset, feel worthless all for the sake of my friend I smile and pretend i’m okay. I have this issue that I can’t cry when people are around, because after all I can’t trust or rely on anyone but myself. So I try my best never to look like these are the thoughts running through my head. So in the end I just become numb, neutral. It looks like i don’t care but I care, I do. They think no matter what we say you’ll be fine, it won’t affect you. they’re words and actions sting more than anything else. In the end the person I can’t forgive the most is myself. So today I wrote this to tell you all, because you can’t alway not explain sometimes you need to explain it to another to explain it to yourself. When I was younger i wanted to kill myself. Today I just want to leave and start anew, somewhere away from where I grew up and different from how i’ve lived till now. If you read this thanks, just for reading it. Just knowing that someone had read about my situation from myself I hope it lift my burden slightly. Cause I know that just writing this has lifted it a lot.
  14. This is one of the places I've been hiding: prepare for... laughs.
  15. This is the discussion for my new posting Snowfalls, Fires, and Family. Summary: They had been pulled apart, their mother slowly falling into her mind, when he had been six. But now their mother had died just a month before and her will had asked for them to come together at least one last time to get what she has left behind for them. They thought they would walk away with a piece of liquidated estate and money for their own lives. They hadn't expected to find themselves coming back together as siblings. Some quick information on the story: I originally wrote this back in 2017. Before I got with my girlfriend (3 years this December 24th!), I decided that I wanted to do some holiday stories and post on Wattpad. This was one of them. This one kind of went different than what I wanted to go with it originally (lots of fighting and a not so happy ending) but then I was finding myself in a better place mentally and emotionally. As for the story, it is fully complete. Two (2) chapters of Ten (10) have been posted and I'll post the rest of the chapters at least once every couple of days. The next couple of days I'm just going to let it sit for now and let others read. It seems you guys seem to like it so far? I hope at least. I hope to hear your comments, questions and suggestions! It all helps me to grow as a writer and editor! Thank you. Quick edit: in the story there is talk of mental illness and the affects on a family. Nothing graphic but still...it does talk about it. And yes, I had my name changed to S.L. Lewis from Rose Strailo. So kind of ignore the copyright name on past and current story please? Thank you.
  16. Interesting article in today's NYT about the experience of being gay and the effects of same-sex marriage in the Southern United States. The article writes of the experiences of four couples and compares the year 2013 to present day 2015. I found the article and the included video to be quite moving and wanted to share it with you. There is an option at the end of the article to submit your own personal experiences. If anyone would like to include their own narrative about the new reality here, then you're very welcome to share (remember, no political discussions). I included the link for those who would like to read the article and watch the video. Struggling for Gay Equality in the South
  17. From Changes, Again - Chapter 1 The Party. This is the first story i've written where i've brought back characters. It was from something @droughtquake mentioned at the end of Changes. I thank him for it made me think and i decided there was a story there. Posting will begin mid-January. I hope you enjoy... Rena and Robert arrived first. Never ones to arrive empty handed, they brought a glorious bunch of tulips—in purple, soft violet and white—and nice ready-chilled wine. We settled in the living room with a glass of the sweet white. I was feeling good and just wanted to drink enough to feel happy and mellow. We had sipped our way through our first glasses, when Robert spoke up. "Um, hope you don't mind but I really need a word with Don. I'd like to before we get too happy and before dinner. I can smell those potatoes, Louis." I looked at Don who replied with a tight-lipped smile. Okay, so you're saying nothing. Rena wasn't giving up anything either. "Sure, you two go over to the office and I'll set the table and stuff, but when Harry and Gareth arrive, I'll send them to fetch you." "Don't mind them, Louis. I'll help you." Rena got up and put her arm through mine. I smiled at her. We picked up empty wine glasses and followed Robert and Don. Don rolled forward toward the kitchen. The door there was closest to his office. "We'll likely be back before then. Don't worry, babe. We'll have a good time tonight." Not wanting to ruin the mood, I bent and kissed him. "You two go. It's fine, Donny." Robert patted my shoulder and then grabbed the handles on Don's chair. "Don's right. We won't be long." After the door closed, I turned to Rena. "Do you know what's going on?" "I don't. Frankly, Robert's been quiet this afternoon. I asked if everything was okay, and he said it was. Just that he needed to get something important at work resolved, sooner rather than later." I pulled a deep violet and white checked tablecloth out of the bottom drawer in the kitchen island, and put it on the table. Atop that, I put Rena and Robert's flowers; it felt like spring. As we adjusted the cloth and laid out the tableware, Rena asked, "How is the birthday trip plan going?" "Pretty good. I was thinking Sonoma County in California, it's supposed to be wheelchair friendly. Lots of things to do, including tasting lots of wine, and lots of sunshine." "That sounds lovely, but you know Don will go wherever you want to go." "I know, but I wanted us both to relax, and being wheelchair friendly just took away one worry." "Well, if you want to go to Sonoma County, you do that." Rena smoothed a corner of the tablecloth. "The table is beautiful." I checked the potatoes, which were nearly done. I'd just turned down the oven when the doorbell rang. I smiled at Rena and walked to the front door. Gareth and Harry stood there together, grinning like schoolboys. Harry was in his early fifties now, but still as gorgeous and sexy as he always had been. Gareth was my age, cute in a young Jeffrey Dean Morgan sort of way; always with a warm smile. Each of them carried a bottle of wine. "Come on in. It's good to see you guys." Gareth hugged me first. "You look great, Louis! Where is that sexy man of yours?" "Out in the office with Robert. They'll be back shortly." Harry was next. He released me after a warm hug and said, "You want me to go and get them?" "No … you two come in. I'll go out there," Rena said, as she joined us, greeting Harry and Gareth with a hug. "I'll run out there now." She returned to the kitchen and went out the back door. Harry took Gareth's bottle and handed both to me, the Cabernet Sauvignon was a magnum. "As usual, we couldn't choose between red or white, so we brought both!" "Thank you. I'll put them in the kitchen. Do you want a drink?" I said over my shoulder as I walked. "Harry, sit down, I'll help Louis." After giving his husband a peck and a pat, Gareth joined me. He picked up the corkscrew and started to open the red. "This is Harry's favourite." I poured a glass of white for Rena, one for myself, and for Gareth. "It's a generous gift, thanks. Will you pour one for Robert and Don as well please?" "Sure." Gareth did as asked. "How are you Louis? Seems like forever since we've seen you two." "We're good, thanks. You both look like you are as well." Gareth picked up the glass of white I'd passed him. "We are. Harry and I are just back from New York. He was there for a publisher's conference. I was able to get time off to go with him." "Hey! I'm lonely out here!" Harry called from the living room. "And worse, I'm thirsty." Gareth and I laughed. "You take your man his wine, and I'll pop the hors d'oeuvres in the oven to heat up." "Thanks." Gareth picked up his husband's wine and glanced out the window. "It appears yours is on his way in too. See you in the living room." I glanced out. "Finally. Then we can get this party started!" I put the tray of small pastries in the oven to heat. Though I was curious as to what was going on, I just wanted to enjoy our get-together, so I shoved my questions to the back of my mind. It could be nothing, but frankly it felt like a huge secret. The backdoor opened and the three of them came into the kitchen. I handed Rena and Robert glasses of wine, and they continued on through to the living room. Don smiled. "I'll go out in a bit and start the barbeque. Something smells good. Do you need my help in here?" "There's a glass of wine there for you. I'll bring it. Can you carry these plates and napkins?" "Sure, Lous." He took the small plates and napkins and put them on his knees, and rolled out to the living room. I followed with our wine. Don had put the napkins and plates on the coffee table. "Here's your wine, Don. Harry brought that excellent Cabernet you like." Don sipped. "Mmmm, yeah this is nice. Thanks, Harry. Thanks for coming everyone! Now, if you don't mind I have a quick speech to make." We all groaned; Donny's speeches were rarely short. He eyed each of us. "No groaning. I can smell food, so that means I have to hurry. Now, as you know it is my beautiful husband's birthday in a few weeks. As we'll be away, I thought we could wish him an early Happy Birthday today." I wasn't prepared for this and nearly slid off my perch on the arm of our sofa. Five faces turned to me, each of them smiling. Then a chorus of Happy Birthday rang out. Once they’d finished, we were all laughing, and I appealed for quiet. "You guys … wow, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Now, I better get those canapes out or they will be burnt!" Practically running into the kitchen to escape, I leaned on the counter to breathe. Relief coursed through me. They'd just been planning this little celebration of my birthday. Worrying over nothing again, Louis.
  18. This cat is the most amazing pet I've ever seen. This cat drove away an attacking dog, and it's amazing. I laugh every time I watch this cat attack and chase away the dog, but I love this awesome cat. If you find similar videos of pets protecting their family and homes please post them here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI867wz93Lw
  19. This just goes to show, anything is possible with the support of your friends and family. https://youtu.be/MBdSSD4GWAM
  20. I am one of those writers who enjoys a challenge. Whether it is a new world to create, a love story, a mystery, or just breathing new life into an old tale. This story came about when I actually asked in the chat room about what fairy tale I should take on and recreate. I'd already done Snow White for a prompt by Lugh, and also taken a twisted take on Sleeping Beauty for a prompt I had created. Elezbed suggested I take a look at Little Red Riding Hood. So I now had the bare bones for my work. Welcome to the world that Dama and her family lives in. In the dark future the world is no longer controlled by humanity. The creatures that were once thought of as imaginary are proven to be real. In fact, not only are they real they now rule the world and are not sweet and kind about it. This world is dark and there are elements of it every child is never told of until after they have become an adult. Vampires, Werewolves, and Elves control the world. What they command will happen without question. To disobey is a death sentence. Here children had better listen to their parents for if they don't they will end up dead or worse. Chapter one is now up in this four chapter story. If you have any comments or questions feel free to post them here or on the story pages. Thank you.
  21. From the album: My life

    with my niece.

    © I am IAN 2014

  22. Finding Home by Diana DeRicci My rating: 5 of 5 stars Sometimes, I like a feel good story. Diana DeRicci's story, Finding Home, starts out rough for our main character, Parker. He's gotten the crap kicked out of him by life. Sometimes, pride is all a person has left but Parker takes the ride and the $20 offered to him by a well-meaning older man. Even more amazingly... just a short time later, he takes the help offered by a local gay couple, one of which is a local cop, to stick around for a while. People pop up to help Parker settle in to Jasper. No one offers him a handout after the initial effort of the ride and a bit of money for food, but they certainly offer him a hand up. I loved the realism of the struggles Parker faces as he begins to stand on his own two feet once more. Diana could've given us a pat romance device of uniting Parker with his first love, and the reason for his journey on the road, but she's a better writer than that. I loved the interweaving of Parker's past life and people from it with the connections he was making in the present with Ian and Caleb's families. I adored Summer, as we were meant to, of course. Okay, so the plot moves a bit fast for all the changes and the emotional leaps for the characters. I'd have enjoyed more story and getting to know Parker and his romantic interest more as a couple. That, however, is exactly what every really good story I read leaves me wanting. I know as an author that isn't always the way it works, but as a reader, I WANT! lol All in all, I definitely recommend reading this story! Oh, and I read this outside of the series, having never read the first or second, and had no troubles keeping up with the story as a stand alone. I'm sure I might have been more familiar with a few of the other characters had I read it after them, but it wasn't necessary. View all my reviews
  23. Like the title says not all things in life work. It's a shame, but it's true. My desire for our new boyfriend to become more in our little family didn't come to fruition. He decided it wasn't right for him and moved on. I've talked to him, but we'll leave it here for the moment. All of this was hard on tim. Especially since he'd grown so close to Jim. tim is willing to continue on this adventure - he has a big heart and wants to make me happy - but we will see. I am aware of other things he wants to explore, more related to our lifestyle, perhaps that's the best way to go. Hearts are nothing to be played with.
  24. i’m angry and hurt, and need to get this off my chest. People will tell you that death is a part of life, it’s all part of the circle of life. Well, they’re full of crap. Death is death. And it sucks. Doesn’t matter who it is, if you lose someone you love, it sucks. Like Great Aunt Betty, the one who would sneak you that candy you loved at the family reunion—it’s a loss and it hurts. A nephew with leukemia—hurts like a punch to the gut. A nephew was hit by a car, while he was in the crosswalk? Almost unbearable pain. Very recently, a few people i know here lost family members. It was hard for them. They were both sudden. Not that having advanced warning for an impending death, makes it any easier. i mean, we all know those stories; Uncle Frank diagnosed with whatever, so everyone starts “preparing” that he’ll pass soon. Nope, doesn’t help to have that time to what, wrap your mind around it? No, don’t think so. Loss is hard, nothing really makes it easier. i have had two losses in as many weeks. My family is shattered. My brother and sister both have lost sons. One niece has lost her big brother, another niece and nephew have lost a cousin and a brother. my own youngest son will have to attend his third memorial for a peer. A peer, someone his own age, not for an elderly relative, but a person in their prime. Of my sister’s step son, someone said, “He’s in a better place.” Hell, he was in a pretty good place! Good job, a beautiful wife, and the most adorable 3-year-old son. They said similar things about my brother’s son. He died in an accident on his very first day at university. His. Very. First. Day. He was 19. He was in a very good place already. i’m angry, hurt, all of those things. Grief is very different for everyone, and that’s ok. Right now, i’m stuck in anger and hurt. i need to work past this, a little anyway, since i’m going to have to be the big sister, the oldest child, next week and do all the social niceties. Go hug someone and let them know you love them. thanks @Mikiesboy you are the best
  25. A "transmission arm" broke early this afternoon in the city where my brother and parents live, leaving about 1/5 of the town without power (just under 10.4 thousand). Naturally, my charming brother didn't bother to text me until FOUR HOURS LATER to say that he still had power and mom & dad were with him. I hadn't had the TV on all day and hadn't heard anything about it. Aunt was without power too. Heat index there today was 108° F at 3pm. Can't find anything that gives trivial little details like why the line broke. 😕 He txt'd back a bit ago to say that mom & my Aunt had power but don't know about dad yet. Just glad that mom & dad had a place to go. Hate to think of the other elderly people in their buildings that didn't have anywhere else they could stay.
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