It’s Been Ten Years Since You Passed Away–Still Thinking About You Dad!



September 9th is my dad’s birthday. I’d just like to say ‘happy early birthday’ and I miss you Dad! This birthday wish is coming a little early. He’s been gone ten years, and often it seems much longer. Time does a weird thing when people we love pass away. Time seems to stretch out long and slow when we think of them, yet it still flies by in our busy, workaday lives. Memories of our loved ones stay near and dear to us, and sometimes we wish we could just ask, “what do you think about that? What would you do?”


You were a husband, a father, a grandpa, a great-grandpa, a brother, and a son, and you loved all your roles. You came from a time when you made a living for your family and you raised your kids to take care of themselves. You could spoil the grandkids more than your own kids, because quite frankly, you weren’t responsible for their up-bringing. That let you relax a little bit. You didn’t have much education, but I think you were proud of the life you’d built for your family, and I think you had reason to be.


I remember I showed you stories I wrote and you were so proud. It made me feel like a kid again. I wish I could have shown you the books I wrote. You told me some stories of your own, and I wish you had time to tell me more. I hope some day I can make them into tales that will make you smile. I know each of the grandkids have memories of you and most would still make you laugh.

When someone passes on, I find there are a lot of wishes left behind. We’d all like to snatch back a little bit of that time we thought would last forever. Memories are precious, but it can’t replace real life moments. My philosophy will always remain don’t wait for someday to tell someone how much they mean to you, because someday may never come! Love you Dad and I hope you and Mom are smiling down from heaven.

Thank you for stopping by, and if you knew Lloyd, I hope some of these pictures made you smile.




To Be Somebody–A Story Dedicated to Some North School Kids!


This story is dedicated to some of the students I worked with when I taught at North School who always knew change was possible.

To Be Somebody

As I walk to school, I already know it’s going to be a bad day. When I left home, my sister, Cynthia, was in the middle of a fight with her old man. He’ll leave her again. My mom will go nuts trying to take care of Cynthia’s two-year-old daughter while my sister works. So this morning, my mom yells at me because it’s easier than screaming at Cynthia.

The pressure inside is building–it keep building. It’s like that stew my mom cooks on the stove–yeah, menudo–that’s the stuff. Sometimes she forgets it and it bubbles and boils all over the place. That’s how I feel right now.

I’m early to school and the guys are hanging out on the grassy area. I’m wearing a red shirt and khakis because my buddies are Nortenos and they want me to become a banger. It’s not me, but sometimes it’s easier to wear the red. They’re standing in a circle when I walk up.

“Sup?” I ask. As soon as the circle opens for me, I know what’s up. They’ve got nerdy Erik cornered, and they’re smacking him up side of the head.

Erik’s a little guy who dresses all slick and stylin’ like his mom buys his clothes. He’s askin’ to get kicked around. But him and me worked on a science project together, and he’s pretty cool in a nerdy way.

“We’re just showing this dude he better not be frontin’ us again.” Miguel stands with his hands across his chest, looking at me hard.

Miguel’s big–nearly six foot–but I’m the same size, so he doesn’t scare me. I give him a little shove so he steps back.

“Why are you up in my business?” Miguel looks so puzzled, I almost laugh.

The pressure bubbles over again. “Just step off,” I say. He and the crew start closing in on me. Something explodes inside me. This time I shove harder and Miguel looks surprised to find himself on the ground. I grab hold of Erik’s arm and shove my way through the group, dragging him with me.

I don’t like the silence when I walk away. I glance over my shoulder and see Javie staring. He and me have been buddies since first grade. He’s big like an oak tree, and I’m sorry to say, dumb as dirt. He just became a banger and has been pressuring me to join. They love him because he’s good muscle, but I know that’s not Javie either. I look away and head for class. Erik thanks me and goes over to his fellow nerds.

Rumors fly down the hallway. Tomorrow Miguel is supposed to bring his brother to school and they say he’ll be packin’ heat.

Michelle, who I think likes me, warns me they’re going to jump me after school tomorrow. I shrug like I don’t care. Still, the pressure’s there, pushing inside my brain.

At home, my sister’s still at work and my mom is exhausted from watching the baby. I scoop my niece Jennifer up and she wraps her chubby little arms around my neck. I carry her to the living room and set her in front of her toy box. I sit down beside her and we dig through the toys. As Jennifer climbs over me and plays with her stuffed Snoopy, something inside me releases and the pressure slips away. I put my head in her black, satiny curls and she smells like lilac soap and baby lotion.

My mom comes in and watches us. “You’re so good with her, Vincent.” Her tired black eyes glow. “You’ve grown this past year. You remind me of your Uncle Anthony. He was tall and slender like you and he had the broad shoulders. Only his black hair wasn’t so straight.” She brushes the hair off my forehead. “He’d be proud of you.”

There are tears in her eyes, but neither of us mention why. My Uncle Anthony died in Iraq. Later, I fall asleep with thoughts of my Uncle Anthony floating in my head. The pressure builds again. I don’t want to disappoint my family, but somehow I’ve got to get through school tomorrow.

Next morning, I walk real slow to school. My buddy, Josh, hooks up with me. Since we’re on year-round school, he’s off-track right now and not in school.

Josh says, “I hear you got some problems with the crew.”

“They’re talking some smack,” I admit.

He smiles and holds out his hand and I look down. He has a shiny, five inch blade. The boiling and churning build up again. The sunlight falls on the silver blade and it gleams.

I push his hand away. “I don’t need that.”

“Chill. You need to protect yourself. It’s all good,” Josh says.

I lift my hand and let it hover over the silver knife. Josh snaps it shut and I jump. He laughs and I grab the knife and slip it into my pocket. The bubbling inside my brain overflows and it’s like I hear the hiss of the stew hitting the hot stove.

In class, the weight of the knife feels weird in my pocket. Rumors are flying that Miguel and me both have knives and we’re meeting in the park after school. At break time, me and my jock friend George go off in a corner and start messing with the knife. It falls apart in my hands. Shocked, I stare at my friend. If Miguel has a knife and I have nothing, what can I do?

“Let’s go in the bathroom and fix it,” I say to George.

We’re the only ones in the bathroom and we huddle, trying to get the stupid thing back together. We don’t pay attention when the bathroom door swings open and then shuts again quickly. We get the knife fixed and head back to class.

Back in class, there’s an announcement over the speaker asking for me to go to the office. My heart nearly pounds out of my chest. The eyes  of every classmate are glued on me. I feel like I’m walking underwater as I head out of the class. I look for a place to toss the knife, but teachers are standing and talking around the hallway.

At the office, it feels like the end for me. I try to explain to Ms. Mason what happened, but all she gets is that the custodian saw me with a knife and she’s heard it’s a gang-related incident. She calls in Miguel, but he’s so cool and doesn’t have any weapon. He swears I’m making it up. So I’m suspended from school pending my hearing, whatever that means. Miguel goes back to class like nothing happened.

The worst moment is when my mother comes to school to pick me up. I can’t look her in the eye. She cries all the way home. My father doesn’t even want to look at me when he learns I was involved in gang stuff. At least my little niece doesn’t judge me. She holds up her little arms and says, “Up, Vincen.” She never could say the ending  ‘t’ sound.

After the shock wears off, my family and friends support me. When we meet with the school board, my mom and dad stand by me. Even with letters from teachers and coaches sticking up for me, I still get suspended.

The suspension is for three months and I have to go to an alternative school called Live Oaks. At school, we make jokes about the place saying it was named that because you had to be stump dumb to go there. It really isn’t funny.

It feels like I’m in jail. There are about twenty kids in the class ranging from 7th grade up to 12th grade. The teachers place us by ability and not age level. This part is sort of cool because now I realize I’m smarter than I thought, because I’m now doing the work of the 12th graders.

If I thought I’d been under pressure before, it’s nothing compared to this. If I talk out or do anything wrong, I’m suspended for five days. They have what they call the ‘three strikes rule’ and if I get suspended the third time, I’m out…period.

It’s really weird being surrounded by kids a lot dumber than me and most don’t even care they’re at this place. A few kids have already been kicked out, but the rest are hanging on like me because they know there’s nowhere else to go. We sort of walk around cattle-like, the older students mixing with the younger because no cares if you’re cool or not. All the basic freedoms, like talking to my friends or walking around at break time are gone. There’s no science, no after-school activities, no sports. I’ve had a lot of time in these three long months to think, since my biggest focus at this school is not screwing up.

After three months crawl by, I’m grateful to be back at my old school. I never wear red anymore. Javie is still a banger. Sometimes we talk, but he still doesn’t get it.

My grades have improved, but even now, sometimes I forget and my grades slip again. But one thing I learned at that school is that I’m not dumb. When I used to talk to my old friends, I’d think I wasn’t being clear enough, now I know they just weren’t smart enough to get it.

Coming back to school, my teacher suggested I work in a kindergarten class every day. At first I thought no way, but then I decided–what have I got to lose? When I work with those kindergartners, it feels a little bit like playing with my niece. There’s something about young kids that makes you feel like you’re always somebody in their eyes. That helps when you sometimes feel like nobody to yourself.

I’m glad this year is almost over. The pressure still builds and threatens to spill over, but I’ve learned basketball or football help. In high school I can start fresh; ready to be whoever I know I can be. If I see guys picking on a nerdy kid in high school, will I walk away? No way–but I’ll know how to handle it better next time. I’ve learned that I always have choices—but the question is will I make the right one.

This is dedicated to all those kids at North who struggled so hard to do the right thing even under extreme peer pressure.

Thanks for stopping by.











One of the Places I Miss Most in California–Yosemite!



Favorite pictures of Yosemite–I have a few. Memories of Yosemite–I have even more. There are so many ways to view Yosemite, and I must admit that for over more than fifty years, I have seen it in many different ways. As a kid, we’d spend what seemed like hours and hours traversing hairpin turns, only to spend about two hours there, have  a picnic, turn around, and go back home. Much to my disappointment, I searched and searched, but I couldn’t find any family photos when we visited there.

When we were first married, we stayed at Yosemite National Park in as economical way as possible, and it didn’t get much more economical than staying in their canvas tents! Once a raccoon invaded our tent. I screamed because I thought it was a bear. To be fair, it was one fat raccoon! My husband’s philosophical viewpoint was just leave it alone, and it will leave you alone.  As time moved on, we could finally afford to stay in the Yosemite Lodge. We even indulged and stayed at the Ahwannee  a few times.


It’s easy to see there’s just not one way, nor one season, to visit Yosemite Valley. I remember ever since we were married, hum–forty years ago–we’ve always managed to visit Yosemite National Park at least once a year. Although, we haven’t been for six years now because we’ve lived in Florida for that long. I remember Yosemite weather could be extreme as in really, really hot or really, really cold, but it was always a fabulous place to visit. When snowfall had been good during the winter, there was nothing like seeing those overflowing waterfalls in the spring, and nothing sadder than seeing those waterfalls, barely a trickle, during a drought. We’ve even seen the falls completely frozen over in the winter. Yosemite always has its surprises.


 Of course a drought wasn’t the problem in the picture above. That sign above our heads is how high the waters rose in Yosemite in that January of ’99! Yosemite–much like California itself–never ceases to amaze.


We’ve shared a lot of memories and moments with family and friends in Yosemite, but I’ll have to search my albums and see what new memories I can find.

139 1044

One thing I have to say is that I’ve always been amazed at people who have lived in California all their lives and never visited Yosemite. If you’re on of those people, then you should take the time to visit at least once. https://www.nationalparkreservations.com/park/yosemite-national-park/lodges?gclid=CI-WsNX5lsACFSdp7AodPzIAZg#.U-7ehT90wdU A word of warning though, if you want to spend the night, you’d probably do best to book a year in advance. My husband and I often got good deals on last-minute cancellations, but that isn’t always a safe bet.

Thanks again for stopping by. And if you haven’t been to Yosemite lately, please visit soon and share the pictures. I miss it so much!




Legalizing Marijuana–Cha-Ching–Is It Really Such a Great Idea???


This is an incredibly personal post, and I will tell you up front that it’s not based on any scientific studies I’ve done on the pros and cons of marijuana. But my personal and observational experiences coincide with research done on the effects of marijuana, so it makes me a believer in that research. Child of the sixties that I am, I have a little bit of knowledge of marijuana. First of all, in case you weren’t aware, a big amendment on the table for Florida this fall is for the legalization of medicinal marijuana. I have to say that I have no experience with medicinal marijuana, nor do I know anyone who has used marijuana for an illness. Let’s face it, back in the sixties and seventies, you just didn’t light up a doobie to cure your glaucoma.

The reason I don’t believe in medical marijuana is because I think it simply opens the door for the legalization of recreational marijuana, and I think there’s enough scientific research out there that suggests marijuana is not the best thing for our brains. http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2013/12/marijuana-users-have-abnormal-brain-structure–poor-memory.html If you read this link, it says marijuana can actually change the shape of your brain–and not into something new and wonderful. Yikes!

I do know there are a great many people chomping at the bit to pass this amendment to legalize medicinal marijuana in Florida. My cynical guess is that a great many of these people are thinking ‘show me money’ as opposed to ‘let’s help these sick people.’ I’m not sure how many people are aware of the International Cannabis Association which is headed for New York City. Cannabis is one of the FASTEST growing industries in the US. Once again–Cha-Ching!

Okay, now I’m going to step back into some personal experiences with marijuana. Gulp!!! I used marijuana recreationally from the ages of seventeen until age twenty. These were not highly productive years for me; I had low grades in school, I lacked motivation, and I lost my first job. At age twenty, I started hanging out with different people who didn’t do drugs, so I stopped, and life got much better very quickly. Of course, I can’t prove marijuana was the sole, or even part of the cause of my problems, but my gut feeling says yes it was. Many of the people I hung out with during those ‘marijuana’ years had similar problems, and for those who advanced to harder drugs, things didn’t turn out well for them. I’m sure I’m not the only one who can name friends who died of drug overdoses.

Some people would argue and say marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol or cigarettes and that it doesn’t lead to experimentation with other drugs. Right now I’d like for you to do an informal survey of one in the privacy of your own home. If you’ve ever had a family member or other loved one who died because of cigarette-related diseases, raise your hand. If you’ve ever had a family member or other loved one who died because of alcohol-related illnesses, raise your hand. If you’ve ever tried marijuana and then tried another drug with the thought that it might make you feel even better, raise your hand. I don’t know about you, but I raised my hand on all three. And pay no attention to that family member who keeps staring at you and asking why you keep raising your hand.  LOL!

I have one last very personal experience I had with marijuana that still haunts me. When I was seventeen, I was very young and naïve and I was dating an ‘older’ guy. We were on a double-date with his friend and his pregnant wife. When my ‘mature’ boyfriend passed the marijuana to the pregnant girl, her husband said, “No, I don’t think she should smoke that.” My ‘cool’ boyfriend said. “Why, she’s just pregnant, not dead.” Even then I knew this wasn’t right, but I was too scared to say anything. This poor girl listened to the jacka@&. Twelve years later, after I had grown up considerably, I was substitute teaching this special needs class for reading, and yes, their son was in my class. It made me so angry, but of course it was too late for me to speak up. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3543-marijuana-use-in-pregnancy-damages-kids-learning.html#.U-aGtD90wdU  Perhaps that’s why I felt compelled to write this post now.

I honestly believe we need to consider whether the powerful initiative to legalize marijuana is in our best interests, because there are a great many studies out there that say, ‘no it’s not.’ Money and profit are extraordinary forces, and looking into the issue of legalization of marijuana, the biggest forces saying ‘yes!’ are the ones who stand to make tons of money from cannabis legalization. Cha-Ching!

Thanks for stopping by.


Awesome author, S.C. Mitchell is here today, talking about his book, “Son of Thunder.”


Son of Thunder

I’m excited to have author, S.C. Mitchell giving a snippet from his book, “Son of Thunder.” I love paranormal, and Steve really brings it!

Title: Son of Thunder

 Genre: Paranormal Romance

One Line Hook: The son of Thor has a lot to live up to, and no time for love.

Heat: Sizzling


The Heavenly War begins!

A prophecy centering on a mortal woman, makes her the focus of events that could lead to Ragnarok, the Twilight of the Norse Gods and the end of the world.


Know this. The Son of Thunder and this daughter of Midgaard will venture to the lands of Svartalheim and Jotunheim, to the very bowels of Utgard Keep. The power of the three artifacts will be reunited and the old ways will pass. A secret from the past is the key to the future, but a life must be freely given if the Golden City is to be saved.

From the icy wastelands of Svartalheim, land of the dark elves, to the towering peaks of Jotunheim, home of the frost giants, and right to the golden gates of Asgaard, the saga begins as war ravages the heavens.

Son of Thunder is the first in the Heavenly War Series, a combination of fantasy, mythology and romantic adventure.



The man looked like a god. Then again, he was one. . .

Jord Thorson was a god– the son of Thor, the Norse God of Thunder. In his search to find his missing father, Jord seeks out the mortal, Meghan Larson, who is in possession of his only clue–Megingjörð, Thor’s magical belt of power.

But when the belt decides to take matters into its own hands, locking itself around Meghan’s waist, Jord and Meghan are plunged into the middle of a massive conflict that rages across the heavens.

Giants, magical artifacts, and a golden city in the clouds weren’t exactly what Meghan Larson expected when that amazing belt arrived at her museum. Now Megingjörð is stuck around her waist and talking to her in her head. She’s got to be dreaming, but with the wonders around her and hunky Jord Thorson at her side, Meghan’s not sure she wants to wake up.


Son of Thunder, available at: http://www.amazon.com/Son-Thunder-Heavenly-Series-ebook/dp/B00BJ64GPY

S. C. Mitchell is also the author of Swiftly Beats the Heart, There’s no such thing as Werewolves, The Forsaken Templar, and Seeds of Immortality.

Find him at:

Blog: http://scmitchell.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSCMitchell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSMitchell

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007D0Z1MW

Thanks so much for stopping by!


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