Archive | December, 2013

We Get Seven

31 Dec

I just looked at the forecast for Friday. The high was seven last night; now it’s five. My kids and I are doing something fun that day so we don’t have to leave the house – we’re having a “cold day”. We’re building a fort in the living room with every blanket we have in the house and we’re hiding in there all day long. I’m even considering attaching some fleece blankets to the windows in the living room just to make a warmer environment. We are preparing in our own crazy way for some super silly cold weather.


But what about you? In all seriousness, do you know how to prepare for this? There are a few things you need to know about the coming cold weather.


Bring them inside!!!!! Your pets shouldn’t be outside right now anyway, but when it gets super cold, they really shouldn’t be out there. Do you have an animal that just refuses to come in the house? I have a friend who had a dog that wouldn’t come inside. His solution was to insist the animal stay in the heated garage during really cold weather. If you don’t have a heated garage for that animal, make sure it is inside some sort of shelter. Give it hay, blankets, straw or something to use for warmth.

If you find a stray, call animal control or let it into your back porch. Close it off into a separate room and alert the authorities, if you can. I see an influx of strays posted to Facebook after every cold snap because they’re seeking warmth on days like this. Be kind and get the animals warmed up – especially your own. They don’t need to be in your face but they do deserve to be warm, just like you.


The Car

Should you fill the gas tank so it doesn’t freeze? Not anymore. Gas is more alcohol than water these days, which means it won’t freeze in cold weather. You should, however, make sure all the fluids are topped off and give your car at least a half tank of gas. This is for safety reasons more than anything else. If something were to happen and you need to get out in an emergency, you’re set. Don’t warm up the car either – it’s not necessary for anything built in the last twenty years. Older carburated cars actually sustain damage with a warm-up. Put on your gloves and go.

The House

Most houses are built in accordance to their area – Northern homes are built with water pipes inside to prevent freezing. As long as you keep your home at a reasonable heated level (60 or above on Friday), your pipes should be fine. If you’re worried about the pipes freezing or if you live in an older home, run the water throughout the day to help the water move around. This will keep stationary water droplets from freezing. Basically, go through your normal routine throughout the day and your pipes will be fine. You shouldn’t have any problems with your house on Friday as far as freezing pipes are concerned.

Make sure your chimney is cleaned, however. It’s going to be cold and you might want to start up a stove, if you have it. Chimney fires are most common because people forget to clean the remnants out of the chimneys, flues and other areas of the stove. Clean it out this week to be prepared for Friday. Also, bring the wood, pellets or whatever you use around to a convenient spot to avoid going out in the bitter cold. You’ll do your skin a favor.


Cover yourself. Frost bite happens fast and it happens without us realizing what’s going on. Let me tell you a story: I was in the woods with my brother a few years ago when I found blood on the snow. I asked him what was going on and he said he didn’t know. We looked ourselves over and found out that my brother had nicked his hand slightly on a tree. He wasn’t hurt badly, but he was bleeding enough for me to find it. The moral of the story is that he didn’t know he was bleeding. The winter cold had numbed his hand and he felt no pain. Frost bite emulates this. You won’t feel a thing until you get that skin back in the warm air. Frost bite is one of the most dangerous winter ailments because it acts this way.

Even if all you have is a pair of socks to put over your hands, do it. If you’re driving anywhere, cover your skin from the house to the car. Frost bite won’t happen that quickly, but why wouldn’t you protect your skin? Many women will put a bottle of lotion in their purse to apply to the hands at work, and this is a good idea for skin protection as well. The cold air will grab any moisture it can find, so rubbing a bit of lotion over your hands after you get to work is quite a relief.

If you can avoid going out, do so. Consider whether or not you really need to leave. If you don’t have to leave, don’t. There is no reason to put yourself in danger due to frozen roads or frost bite. Keep the kids indoors as well. Kids are especially prone to damaging cold because they don’t think like adults. If they’re having fun, they won’t notice their fingers, toes, noses and ears freezing. It’s just not worth the risk.

Stay warm out there. If you are going to drive, follow this link provided by The Weather Channel on safe driving in snow and ice:

Driving in Snow and Ice


Getting the Job – Creatively

30 Dec

I answered a Craigslist ad today for a writing job. The guy wanted a remote writer who will pay close attention to deadlines and be available for projects on an as-needed basis. This is the email I sent him:


I am responding to your ad on Craigslist for a copywriter. I understand you are probably getting a number of responses, so I want to make mine stand out. You’re looking for someone who will be there for your projects on an as-needed basis – I am a mom. This means I live my life on an as-needed basis. 
Do you not like the idea that I’m a mom? That’s okay – a lot of people back away from me when I say that. If you’re doing this, do me a favor and read this first: I have never missed a deadline in my life. That’s a stretch, isn’t it? It’s true. I’m working with a politician in New Hampshire who really doesn’t know what a timeline is – and I’ve always delivered to him. I also worked with a used car salesman and stayed up three nights to get him his projects on time. 
Other people might tell you they’ve been to college and can study all night, or that they work for a big copywriting company and have professional skills. I’ll say the same, but nothing trains you in life to manage your time, stick to deadlines, keep appointments and get your schedule together like being a mom.
I have references attesting to my expertise. If you’ll kindly follow this link, you’ll see them:
After you’ve read what others have to say, follow these links for those pesky writing samples you need to drudge through to gauge your interest in my work:
(I ghost wrote this:)
I hope you’ve read this far. I hope to hear from you. If I’ve grabbed your attention, give me a call – oh, I live in (omitted) Of course, you can also just hit “reply email.”
Looking forward to a conversation!”
He contacted me and wants to go over my terms with me tomorrow. I’m rather proud of this creative avenue into getting through to this possible future contractor!

Dinner with Ted Nappi

29 Dec

The house sneaks up on you, as if it's holding its secrets at bay.

I caught up with Ted Nappi, director of House on Ghost Hill Road, over some amazing Chinese ham and shrimp noodles. We talked about the film, the process and where the team is now. It was a fun night filled with ideas and plans for what’s to come in production.

Ted mentioned that all the pieces are coming together, and that some of the shots look beautiful. He is pleased with what he is seeing with DA Bush, the executive producer, and they are working on putting the film in logical order. Ted was especially happy with the final day of shooting, when the stars aligned and shots came out golden.

As we sat down right after the holidays, he mentioned that production had slowed a bit, but heading into January, he is certain that the schedule will pick up again. He and DA are looking into computer graphics to clean up and add to some scenes, further enhancing the special effects. He hopes to bring a new level of effect and perfection to this film and will not be satisfied to release it until he and DA have obtained their perfect production.

Moving forward, Ted is eager to begin work on the next film while simultaneously finishing “House on Ghost Hill Rd”. Keep your eyes here for more updates, and always follow to see what DA and Ted have to say directly!

The Family Business (Working Title)

29 Dec

Coming in 2014, the tale of a family business and how it can go so strangely awry……

I was five when my daddy handed me my first knife.

It was a hunting knife with a serrated blade. I saw my wide eyes reflected back at me in the shiny blade as I reached my fat five year old hand toward its business end. My daddy smacked my hand fast and hard and said sharply, “No!” Before the tears could flow, he flipped the knife around and wrapped my fat fingers around the wooden handle. It was heavy as daddy let go of it. I was surprised by the weight but I didn’t drop it. I looked at my daddy proudly as I held it pointed to the ground. He wrapped his arms around mine and lifted my wrist to level the knife. He raised my arm at the elbow then pushed my hand down hard. The knife sliced the air with the most pleasing swooshing sound and hit the wood stump in front of me with a “thud”. I didn’t like the sound of that thud, but I did enjoy the skin removal of the deer daddy brought home later that same year. It sounded smooth and free, like the deer meat underneath had been dying to get out. This was daddy’s sixth deer this year – he skinned deer for anyone who would pay him. It was our side business. He brought me in to watch so I’d get used to the process, he said. He said I needed to not cringe when I saw the deer or feel bad that it had died. Daddy needn’t worry – there was something peaceful about the deer, about the way its eyes looked straight ahead. It didn’t have to worry about one more thinning winter. It didn’t have to run away from hunters anymore. Its plight was over, and it had gained the final freedom. I was honored to be a part of the process, even if it was the end process. I was destined to be a hunter, and as soon as daddy let me, I was carving skin off deer myself, draining the fluids and feeling the skin peel away in my hands. It was the only control I had in my young life, and I relished every minute of it. I eventually learned how to grind the meat and mix it with strips of pink meat from pigs. Daddy sold what he could and gave the rest back to the people who paid him to strip the deer. He had been a butcher his whole life; this was a natural side job for him.

When daddy died, I was twenty. I had graduated college early with honors in all my courses. I ran the gamut of summer and winter courses to finish early. Daddy saw me walk for my diploma and dropped over sideways from a heart attack the next day. It was 1999. The turn of the century was coming and everyone was grabbing their aluminum hat. I’m glad daddy never got to see those idiots on TV. I dragged through job applications that year; mom was no help in her current condition so I kept daddy’s house. I didn’t care if I got a job or not. I often thought back to the days of the deer and how pleasant the flesh felt peeling from the skin. I soon became fixated on it and wanted that feeling again, if only to get closer to daddy.

I started hunting again that fall. I used my daddy’s old rifles and bagged the legal deer limit. I ripped out their guts in the woods, dragged them home, drained and peeled them, but wasn’t completely satisfied. I mixed the deer meat with pig like daddy showed me, but it just didn’t taste the same when it was cooked. I thought I was just missing daddy and wrote off my dissatisfaction to grief. I got a job offer that winter two states over and offered to let mom come with me. She denied, telling me it was my time to explore the world and I had to leave our small town anyway. She told me she would be fine. I moved within a week, all on the company’s hefty dime. I started the new job and fell into quite a regular routine.

I still felt something missing from my core, however. I missed my daddy and I craved…something to fill the hole. I had no idea what I was looking for until I saw her – all five foot six of her. I was running in the park and I came across a shoe on the path. This wasn’t unusual; people left all types of trash lying in this park. I slowed down when I saw the shoe though; to this day I don’t know why. The shoe contained a foot, which contained a leg, which led up to a crumpled skirt, which held a sweet little ass… this was a full dead person. She was just dead, there on the path, calling to me to come claim her. I looked around to make sure no one was looking, but since it was late and the path was wooded, no one was around. I pushed my way into the woods and dragged her with me. I held her close to me, feeling her skin against mine. I ran my fingers over her face, her hair, her mouth and her nose. I rocked her in my arms gently. She was stiff, but not yet bloated. She couldn’t have been there more than two days. I held her and marveled at my find, then I pulled at her skin.

It rose slightly in my fingers. Since she was stiff, it didn’t peel quite yet, but I knew I would get my knife underneath her scalp easily. I surprised myself with this thought, but since she was already dead, I didn’t think anyone would notice if I took her skin. I wondered why no one was looking for her yet, and as I wondered that thought, I also thought I should get out of there. I couldn’t take her back to my apartment so I’d have to leave her here. My heart shattered at the thought. I wanted to free her from her torture, as I had freed all those deer from their earthly fur and skin. I wanted to feel her flesh against her bones. I wanted to witness the white shine of the bone under the surface. I cried as I walked away, realizing what I wanted and what I could never have.

The mystery continues from here. Does he go back to that dead body, or is it found before he can get his knife? Does he go see a shrink about his desire to skin women? Why doesn’t his venison taste the same as his daddy’s? What is he forgetting? Must be a spice, right? Why does he feel an attraction to this dead woman? It’s gonna get real interesting around here….

If you’re dying to read more, stay tuned. In the meantime, order my previous book of strange tales and short stories while you wait for the next installment of “The Family Business (Working Title)”

Shelves and Book Cases

14 Dec

I had an old dresser I didn’t need anymore:


What I did need was shelving for storage and a new bookshelf for my son. I started looking over the dresser to see what I could do:

unnamed (1)

I figured out that the sliders on the drawers were simply screwed in so I took them all off. I removed the knobs from the drawers and nailed three of the drawers to the walls:

unnamed (2)

That worked for my shelving shortage! Next, I took the last two drawers and inspected them:

unnamed (3)

The boards were slid into slots and glued together. It was simple enough to separate the bottom from the rest of the drawer. I used the bottoms of the drawer and screwed them into the dresser. If you look at the dresser again, you’ll see boards across the front which held the drawers. This is what I used to attach the bottom of the drawers to make shelves. I had to attach the second shelf to the back of the dresser, but the third shelf attached to the boards which held the drawers.

unnamed (4)

This is the book shelf, finished and unpainted. We are in the middle of a snowstorm so I won’t paint this until I can get it outside, but for now, it’s going in my son’s room and he won’t care if it’s painted or not. I can’t wait to get it painted though. It’s going to look great!

Cortland Celebrates with an Official First Night

3 Dec
images (5)
Cortland is emulating a number of other cities and is proudly presenting itself in a First Friday style of local businesses. Visitors are invited to walk along Cortland city streets after work, where art galleries and businesses will be open for your entertainment and enjoyment. As part of the Cortland City First Friday Art Walk on December 6, 2013, the Madrone Center for Transformation presents the artistic creations of AmarA & jk. 
The address if the Madrone Center is:
  • 6 Euclid Avenue, Building 1
  • Cortland, New York 13045
Grab some more detailed info about the paintings being premiered:
About the AmArA TaroT
The Tarot is always relevant to one that sits down to read the cards, because all the concepts embodied are always, to some degree or another, present in the human experience.  They do not read the future, but provide archetypical avenues for the mind to travel.
To this end, the images envisioned and created must visually represent something that is beyond the barrier of language or culture, invested with core human concepts that lead the mind on the journey of discovery.
Discovery, like painting, is not a moment, it is a process.  In a place where time is irrelevant, it unfolds like petals, revealing things previously unseen.  We all live, always, balanced in both our own minds and in the external world.  To discover in one is to ultimately to discover in both.  The Tarot is a way to expand discovery by suggesting paths that have not been considered and to point out the influences around us and always with us from our past.
The paintings here are the first public premiere of any of the AmarA TaroT.  The artist has been working on the 26 card (Major Arcana and representation of the four suits) for over 2 years.  She has to this point completed 10.
Come out and support Cortland, a beautiful city which is much more than just a college on a hill!
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