Author Archives: Author

November Means Veterans Day and Remembrance Day

Jillian here. Sorry this will be a long post! It’s November and since this is the month we remember our veterans—on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, I thought I’d share some tidbits about the veterans in my own family.

My Revolutionary War ancestor was Thomas Gresham (yes, my U.K. friends, I am related to Sir John and Sir Thomas Gresham—perhaps you’ve heard of them 😁 but that’s a story for another day). One of the later generation younger sons came to the colonies in 1690. By the time of the Revolution, we’d been here long enough to become attached to this place and my five- times great grandfather enlisted in Washington’s Army at the tender age of 15. He survived that long, freezing, brutal winter at Valley Forge (got sick and lost some wages as was too ill to fight for a bit) and also survived the war- thank goodness he did or you wouldn’t be reading this post!  🙂 When I think of what I was doing at age 15, my admiration grows for this young man and all the others who stood with him.

My great uncle, William Eugene Fowler died at the Battle of the Bulge and is buried in one of the American cemeteries in Belgium. He was an army sergeant and died while in battle, but not before saving five of his men and pulling them to safety. My dad, who was a tot at the time, as he was born in 1940, loved his Uncle Eugene. My great grandmother had a portrait of him in a massive oval frame with one of those bubble glass fronts. My dad would carry that thing around even though it was as tall as him. Thinking about the sacrifice Uncle Eugene made—saving others— without regard to his own safety, makes me proud to be related to such a brave man.

My dad enlisted in the Navy when he was still in high school and left for boot camp a few days after he graduated. He was already engaged to my mom. His mom and dad moved from their farm into town while he was gone and he didn’t know where they lived when he got back. And my grandmother had gotten rid of all his civilian clothes as she thought he’d always be in uniform and wouldn’t need them. 😁 —he served during the Vietnam era and volunteered to go over, but he wasn’t allowed as he was a weapons instructor and was needed stateside to train the young me who would go. He’s always felt a little like he cheated by staying in the USA. This is him below:

His younger brother, Robert, always wanted to be in the Air Force. He was a fun person and a real ladies man. I remember him well even though he died when I was almost six. He injured himself in boot camp and was told he was going to be shipped home as his back injury was so bad, he wouldn’t be able to serve. Despondent that he’d never have the life he’d always dreamed of, and with no loved ones near to help him, he took his own life. It was terrible and so sad. My dad was the one who had to tell his father as the Navy commander was contacted by the Air Force as they had the records that Dad was his brother. The commander called my dad into his office and told him.  My poor dad had to make that terrible phone call to his father. My grandmother was never the same. Her bible, at her death, had so many notes in it where she was praying on paper for understanding of the death of her fourth son. I share this to say I don’t consider my uncle a coward. I consider the pressure he was under and the loss of his lifelong dream as the impetus for his actions. If only there had been the kinds of services we have now for counseling back then, I think he’d still be here.

And lastly, my nephew, Kyle ____ (his middle name is Eugene), who is very much like my Uncle Robert, charming, fun and a ladies man (they even look similar), is currently serving in the Air Force. It’s like we’ve come full circle with him and my uncle. Kyle is following Robert’s dream. Maybe not exactly the same exact dream, and we hope the ending isn’t the same, but I do find it comforting that Kyle found his own path, that included military service, and has been following it for more than 12 years now.

What about you? Any stories to share about loved ones who served in your branches of the armed forces?

A Little Change of Pace for this Post

Jillian here. I decided I’ve been whining too much on my posts and, instead of bemoaning the direct hit hurricane we had here in September and the loss of power for several days, I thought I’d share a little story I wrote for a contest (I didn’t win or place)–The theme was all about smells. I picked New Orleans as my setting as it is full of smells, both good and bad. 🙂 Hope you enjoy.

Beauregard, Canine Cop

Stale beer and vomit. Stale beer and vomit. The mantra played in my head as I trotted along at the end of my leash. The New Orleans French quarter has a distinctive character as well as scent. Being a canine cop for the city police department comes with some perks. Like all the andouille sausage I want because, after all, who’s a good boy? Me. I am. Especially when I find the bad guys. Or a corpse.

Today is a corpse finding day. Maybe. There was a shooting outside the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street last night. And several people called in sightings of someone gut-shot staggering down the street. That street called Bourbon that didn’t smell like bourbon, but stunk like the rest of the Quarter. Stale beer and vomit with a side order of urine and semen in some of the darker corners.

My partner has me out following a spotty trail of blood. It started out thick and viscous but petered out as we went on. I ran quickly at first, barking once in a while to show my enthusiasm. Not that I’m ever very thrilled to chase scents on city streets. Too many distractions. Meats cooking, stir-frys, strong perfume, cigarettes, and tourists sweating. I try to focus, but this area of town is tough. I’d rather be out near the old abandoned Six Flags Park as it’s easier to follow human scent in the wild. At least we weren’t over by the Cafe Du Monde today. The odor of the donut grease and powdered sugar is really almost too much.

Powdered sugar makes me sneeze which I guess is good to clear out my sinuses to be a better  tracker, but I like to stay away from that street if I can help it. Too many people there, too. It’s easy to lose the thread of the quarry’s trail when there’s a big crowd and there’s always one at Jackson Square.

Sadly, I’m not the master of my own domain.  I go where I’m taken. Crime fighting is not for everyone. My partner, who egotistically calls himself my handler, sometimes makes me mad when he pulls me off a trail that may lead to something I want. Like that time last week I absolutely craved locating that dead possum and having a small little snack. My partner jerked me away and tossed that lovely carcass in the closest ravine. Brat.

Focus, focus. Find the dead man. Find the dead man. Stop thinking about snacks.

I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk. Is that a faint tinge of human blood?

Before I can lift my snout and determine where it’s coming from, my partner jerked a bit on my leash. “Come on, Beauregard. It’s not time to rest. You need to earn your sausage.’

Humpf. Earn my sausage. Right. Give me a minute, old man.

My partner turned to another officer. A detective I like a lot. She’s a real lady. Always smells clean, like soap. A refreshing thing in this town full of bad aromas. She also usually carries a few pieces of kibble in her jacket pocket.

“Beau seems to be off his game today, doesn’t he?” my partner asked her.

“Give him a chance. The droplets have virtually disappeared. He needs to recapture the scent.” She knelt down and slipped me a bacon flavored treat. Ahh, bacon.

This is another reason I like her. She doesn’t rush me. My partner sometimes gets a bit impatient. He should know better. He’s supposed to be trained, too.

She patted me. “You’ll find the man, Beau. I have faith in you.”

Refreshed by the bacon and her praise, I lifted my nose in the air and concentrated on the odor of the dead guy’s blood. Trying to locate the scent by isolating it out of the atmosphere was harder than usual. Some guys up on one of the balconies were cooking burgers and hot dogs. The smoke wafting out from the wrought iron balustrades was distracting, to say the least. Yes, I just had a snack but surely it must be lunch time by now.

Although lunch time usually found me sitting in the station eating kibble or in our rig with the air conditioner running while my partner ate at 9 Roses Cafe near the cop shop. Trying to hit on the pretty detective. I don’t think he’s ever going to get her to go out with him even though I’d like it too. Since I live with him, she’d surely come by if she was dating him. I’d get lots of attention from her. In fact, I think she likes me better than she likes him. Oh, to be human.

As I pondered all the fun times we’d have if she came over, I caught a faint wisp of that blood I was seeking.

Without letting my partner know what I was going to do, I took off in a run. I probably pulled his shoulder out of joint judging by the way he yelped when I jerked him into a trot. Serves him right for acting like I’d lost the trail. Never mind that I had for a moment or two. What does he know?

Down the block we went until we ended up at a shotgun house painted yellow with green shutters. I loped up onto the porch and clawed at the door. The guy is in this house. I got a whiff of him. He smells like decayed leaves and something metallic.

There was another aroma as well. Fear. Sweat. Someone inside was terrified. There was someone in there with the guy. The stench of the terror came at me in waves.

I sat back on my haunches and whimpered. Man, I wish I could speak English and warn my partner there was danger inside to whoever was trapped in there with the bleeding man. The dude most likely wasn’t a corpse if this other person was so afraid.

Since I couldn’t tell him my thoughts, but knew I alerted on the door for a reason, my partner didn’t wait for me to do anything else. He knocked on the door and called out, “New Orleans Police.”

Nothing happened for a moment. Just me, the detective and my partner on the porch in silence.

Then a lady’s voice, “Please go away. I’m ill and can’t let you in. It’s contagious.”

“We can’t go, ma’am. We’re looking for someone who was shot before dawn and the trail leads here. We need to come inside and check for this man.”

“I don’t know what you mean. There’s nobody here. I promise.”

“Please let us in.” The detective knocked herself. “We can’t leave without checking the premises. Even if the man is dead, we need to come in.”

“There’s no dead person here.” The lady’s voice quavered.

At her words, my concern for the woman inside the house grew. She said there wasn’t a corpse. That meant I was right and there was a live person in there, holding her hostage.

Luckily, my partner had dropped my leash. He trusted me to stay put. This time, I wasn’t going to obey the rules. Someone was in trouble and I was the only one who knew it. I couldn’t verbalize what I knew, so I was going to have to act. Somehow.

I sidled away from the porch, hoping to find an entry point. If I could get my teeth on the guy, this would all be over.

Slinking around the corner, I inspected each window to see if there was one left open. I could see a couple of window unit air conditioners and hoped some of the windows without them were open to catch a cross breeze. No such luck. They were all tightly closed.

Luckily, the back door was a little bit ajar. I could see some blood droplets leading from it into the center of the next room. The guy must’ve been too hurt or lost too much of his vital fluids to have thought about closing it all the way. Stupid move for him, but lucky for me.

I nudged the door open with my nose and hoped my toenails didn’t give me away on the wood floor.

As I crept deeper into the house, the smell of the blood grew stronger as well as the stench of that lady’s fear.

I could hear my partner and the detective still trying to communicate from the front porch. There was no response from inside the house.

Small sobs alerted me to the hostage’s location. She was somewhere near the front door. Now I needed to know where the man with the bullet in him was sitting. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t be standing based on the amount of blood on the ground at the crime scene and along my path to this house.

“Stop crying or I’ll shoot you now.”

She gasped in fear, but I knew he’d never do it while officers were within hearing distance. All his words did was make her cry harder—but still almost silently—and alert me to his location.

As soon as I had a bead on him, I tore directly toward him, counting on the element of surprise.

I threw myself at him, paws out. My full weight hit him in the shoulders and chest.

Gore and mucus and other nasty smelling stuff from his gut wound covered my stomach where I hit him. Ugh.

Luckily, the weapon he was holding skittered across the wood floor.

The lady had the sense to grab it while I barked with my whole being.

Before the hostage could open the door, the injured man was screaming at her. “Get your dog off me. Get your dog off me.” I bit down on his arm to lock him in place although he didn’t seem to have much strength left to fight me.

The lady of the house stood there in a daze with the gun in her hand as my partner and the detective came in from the back.

“Beauregard. Are you okay?” my partner called out.

“Get this foul beast off me.” The wounded man fought against my hold on his arm. He was causing himself more pain. My teeth tend to create more damage when people fight against their grip. I might also have bit down a little harder. Foul beast? Me? Look in the mirror, mister. I’m not the foul one here. Except for your guts all over me.

While my partner called for an ambulance and took the man into custody, allowing me to release my grip, the detective turned to the former hostage who seemed a bit perkier now. “Do you know this man?”

“No. He barged into my house and said he was going to wait here for help. He called someone and they were bringing a doctor. He said he’d let me go when they got here. Then you knocked on the door and he threatened to kill me if I let you in.” She drew in a shuddering breath.

By this time, the man had passed out. Blood loss was my guess. He was really pale and barely breathing. No more fight left in this one.

The detective knelt down beside me. Even though I reeked with the man’s guts all over me, she kissed me on top of the head. “You’re such a good boy, Beau. Even if you stink and broke the rules about leaving your partner. Great work.”

She didn’t have to acknowledge my stench. With my nose, I was more aware of it than anyone in the room. It was nice to be kissed by a pretty detective, but a bit embarrassing to be so disgusting from my work. Just wait until I have a bath. Then she’ll see I’m worth not only a kiss on the head, but also some belly rubs. Oh, and being given extra andouille sausages and bacon treats. Mustn’t forget those.

*THE END*

September 2020- What a Month so Far

Good afternoon, all. Jillian here. This will be short as I am still not feeling up to par. Sorry I haven’t been around to comment on all the posts. I promise to read them as soon as I can focus my brain for more than 10 minutes at a time.

We went down to Maitland, Fl (a suburb of Orlando) to visit the son and daughter-in-law near the end of August. They bought a mid-century house there and basically gutted it to renovate. They’ve been diligently working on it since April. The old screened in porch was rotting in places and there was a big masonry grill/fireplace out there as well. My husband volunteered to help tear down the fire thing and also to replace the wood on the porch before they got a new pool enclosure.

We didn’t go anywhere once we got there, but did stop got gas and other needs on the almost 7 hour drive. We were super careful and took Lysol wipes with us. One of the places we stopped for gas, I went in and got some peanut butter crackers. When we came out, I turned to my husband and said, “If I get Covid, it will be because of this place.” I laughed.

That was on Thursday., the 21st of August. All was well until Saturday, August 29 when i felt a bit weak. By Monday, the 31st, I was so sick I could barely hold my eyes open. When I could, I frantically googled Covid symptoms. I didn’t really seem to have any- other than feeling like I had the flu. Being the paranoid person I am, I finally broke down and had the test. It came back as “No Covid Deteccted” so I was very relieved. I still feel a bit weak and blah, but I am better than I was even three days ago, so I hope to keep improving until I feel 100% again. I also won’t be making jokes about Covid-prone places…..and staying close to home.

Stay healthy, friends.

August. Already the 9th?

Jillian here. Can you believe it’s already August and the 9th at that? It’s weird that some days seem to take forever to pass and yet, before we know it, another week has gone by. Or it could be just me. Funny how time can slow in one respect and quick in another.

July was busy at work—never seems to let up. I have one case driving me a bit over the bend and I’m praying it ends soon. It’s like torture. I want to get in there and try the thing and put it past me, but opposing counsel is in the “paper the other side to death” mode and is relentless. I’m pretty sure I’m going to win the war, but the daily/weekly battles are wearing me down.

Visited with my parents and sister today. We watched an episode of Midsomer Murders  (love that series) and I had to say to them, “This makes me glad we have a nice, boring family with no psychopaths.”

I’ve written three short stories and submitted them for consideration for three anthologies. I like shorts as they are quick and the whole thing can be in my head at once. One of them is set in New Orleans. One is a Krampus story and one is at Halloween. Hoping for good news on one at least.

I had oral surgery 12 days ago and the stitches come out on Wednesday. They are driving me bonkers and my tongue can’t—or won’t—leave them alone. It’s annoying me. 😁

Hope you’re all having a nice summer. It’s hotter than Satan’s front porch here, but that’s pretty normal for us in August and September- our two hottest months of the year.

Now that I’ve whined all over this post, I’ll go have a glass of iced tea and catch y’all later.

Here is Hobbes on International Cat Day (yesterday)— he’s got the right idea. E67B25C7-776D-4900-8FD0-21008FB509DA

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Oops- Missed My Day

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Jillian here. I had been thinking about what I’d blog about this month and knew the 9th was my day, of course. I got derailed as my paralegal has been out all week waiting for results from her COVID test. … Continue reading

A Tale of a Tree

Jillian here. It’s June already. Can you believe it? Time is going fast this year even with a lot of places locked down and folks staying home. You’d think that would mean time has slowed,  but it seems like every time I turn around, it’s Thursday again.

June in my backyard means it’s hurricane season. There were two named tropical storms before June 1st which sometimes happens. The third storm, Christobal, hit the Louisiana and Mississipi coast this past weekend. We got some wind, rain and storm surge because of it. We’re about 2 hours from the Louisiana line and 1.3 from Mississippi, so when the storms hit there, we usually get some of it and vice versa.

We have this tree at the office that got struck by lightning a number of years ago in the middle and you can still see the stump of it inside. The cool thing is that the rest of the tree lived and thrived. I think I’ve blogged about it before here. It means a lot to me that this tree defied the odds and kept on going. It seems like our lives are that way. We get hit by bolts—sadness, illness, death of loved ones—yet we keep going. Our core may be hurting, but we keep blooming. Each time I look out my office window, I see that tree and think about it. I watched that lightning strike and worried about the tree, but it didn’t need my worry, it thrived without it.

Tropical storm Christobal did some damage to my little tree, but it’s still standing. We’ll clear away the debris and leave that lightning-struck core (Picture 4) and new growth as another reminder that when life’s storms come, we can weather them. Maybe not in a pretty way,  but weather them we shall.
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Happy May – Time Flies

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Jillian here. Happy May. I hope everyone is healthy and happy in this (already!) fifth month of the year. Can you believe how fast the year is going? Sure, some days are super long, but looking back, the weeks have … Continue reading

April Stress…Aren’t We All Stressed?

Jillian here. Happy?!? April. I’m sure we’re all worried about our loved ones and trying to keep ourselves safe and healthy. I know a lot of people are tired of being on lock down, but sadly, that isn’t me. I wish I could be home, but my profession is considered essential. If anything, my life is more hectic now than it was before- and add in the worries about elderly parents and friends- I’ve found myself in panic mode more than once. I have to  make an effort to breathe slow and settle down. I have a bad worry habit and it’s hard to let go and let God. I hate being a control freak, but I am and when things are out of my ability to control, I fret and sometimes say things I shouldn’t. Perhaps we all do that.

I feel tired all the way to my bones.  Not sick, but just weary.

We lost my dad’s younger brother (76) in mid-March- he had COPD and was cleaning his house with bleach and was found unresponsive in his bathroom and passed away four hours later. He will be very missed. My family is super close and we have a hole now where he was. My dad and he talked all the time and it’s been hard on Dad.

A dear friend lost her mother (78) – who I adored- she was a sweet, sweet lady full of love and laughter- she also had COPD. Neither have been counted as Co-vid deaths, but it’s odd that they both had respiratory issues and passed away in March- no autopsies for either. No funerals. My cousins got to see their dad but my friend didn’t get to see her mom. It’s incredibly sad.

Three out of the four people who work at my office live at my house so we’re def. isolating and staying away from others. We aren’t seeing any live appointments and documents are being left outside for us to bring in. The new normal?  Hopefully, not forever.

Now that I’ve depressed everyone, Here’s a picture of my sweet grandson, Benjamin, to make you smile. He is my heart.

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Late, Tired, Frustrated and Needing a Nap

Jillian here – late yet again. It’s becoming a habit for me, it seems. I’ve had a great couple of months but it’s wearing me out. I made the trip to Birmingham, Alabama which is about 4 hours from me. … Continue reading

February Fun and a Bit of Sadness

Jillian here.  I was going to get this post done on the 6th and set it to go off on the 9th like I am supposed to but since I wanted to write about what I had going on the weekend of the 7-9, I figured I’d wait until I got home and share what happened. When I got home, I posted a picture on FaceBook and then was hurt and sad and lost all motivation to post about what had been a wonderful weekend.  Back to that in a second.

Friday night, I was happy to serve as a judge for the Regional session of the National Moot Court competition. It’s hosted by my law school and since I’d already committed to a book signing on Saturday with some friends in Alabama, it made sense to volunteer to do this as well as I’d be in the area (about a 3.5 hour drive from home).

It was a great competition and seeing these law students be so passionate and competent about the fact scenario they were assigned was wonderful. The law schools are doing an excellent job teaching advocacy. When I was in law school (In the dark ages) we didn’t do moot court until our last semester. Some of these students were second year and very well-versed in how to try a case. Makes me proud of the changes in legal education.

The next day was the book signing. It was the last event I’ll be part of in RWA. My membership expires in March and I won’t be renewing. I’d have resigned but I had this event with ladies I love and treasure so I stayed for it. I hate to leave the Birmingham, Ala chapter but I can’t countenance what is going on in the national organization.

I sold some books, met some new readers, someone who used to work for me here in Pensacola who moved up there, and also some old friends. My sister-in-law and her daughter live up that way and they came to see me as well. It was lovely for them to be there and supportive and buy a copy of each book I had.

Here comes the sad part:

One of the other authors took a photo of my sis-in-law, my niece and me.  I usually don’t allow pictures of myself as I am embarrassed about my weight. I never had an issue until my second child was born and no matter what I do, I can’t seem to lose. It’s even worse since I had my hysterectomy. I beat myself up every day about it. I am hungry a lot of the time- I don’t snack- I eat my three meals – even my son says he can’t figure out the issue since I don’t eat a lot.

Against my better judgment, I posted that picture on FaceBook. A woman I’ve known since I was a little kid commented with a rose emoji at first.  Then she must’ve thought about it a minute and came back with “You’re still pretty even though you’re fluffy.”

I can’t even imagine saying that to someone. Believe me, I know I’m fat. I see myself in the mirror every day- I am always beating myself up about it. I sure don’t need her pointing it out. I was so hurt, I couldn’t even think the rest of the day. I cried off and on- silently – and even almost didn’t eat dinner- which was just grilled pork and a cob of corn. I am still sad today. I’m embarrassed enough without someone calling me out on it. I want to hide. All the time.

I’ve always been a happy person with a love of laughter. I hate that she stole my joy. I can’t get her words out of my head.  All I keep hearing is, “You’re fat but still pretty.”

Guess what? I don’t feel very pretty.