Travel Gives Me Inspiration To Write!

“The world is a book, and those without travel read only one page.”–Saint Augustine.

New York Times on 8th Street, Manhattan

Michael Jackson Musical @ the Neil Simon Broadway Theatre, Manhattan, New York

Update On Leaving Henry

Hello Everyone, and Happy Holidays! I know it’s been a while. My travels for work and leisure kept me busy for most of the year. Traveling inspires me to write. I finally finished my novel, Leaving Henry, and I have started writing my second draft. The first draft was thirty-six chapters full of adventure, some heartbreak, and eventually triumph. I want to shorten it to 34 chapters once I finish the rewrite. Then, I can focus on preparing the manuscript for my editor to review and chop it up to her heart’s desire, with the end goal of publishing by late summer 2024.

While completing the first draft of Leaving Henry, I worked three months in Manhattan, Kansas, spent vacation in Costa Rica this past summer, and traveled to New York City last weekend to see the Michael Jackson Broadway Musical for my 65th birthday. It was a whirlwind trip but exciting. The last time I visited New York City was in the 90s.

Being a novelist, I stopped by the New York Times as my hubby and scrolled down a busy corridor on 8th Street. I majored in social work and nursing in college and began studying journalism. I even wrote for the university newspaper twice during my college tenure. Unfortunately, I did not pursue my literary passion, but if I had, I dreamed of working at the New York Times. It sure would’ve been an adventure if I had followed the journalism path.

We continued to weave and navigate the masses of people, stopping at a food cart along the way to order a hotdog, a food my doctor advised me to stay clear of because of my hypertension. But since it was my birthday, I ignored her advice. I always wanted to eat one of those famous street hotdogs in New York City, and it was good, juicy, and greasy. Later in the afternoon, we dressed up and attended the Michael Jackson Musical. My hubby surprised me with front-row seats. It was a fabulous musical, the best I had ever seen. The talented cast was mesmerizing, and the actor who portrayed Michael Jackson brought the iconic singer back to life. I swore Michael Jackson was singing and dancing on that stage if I didn’t know any better. Lol!

Dinner After The Show

After the show, we enjoyed an authentic Italian dinner with wine at Da Tommaso Ristorante, around the corner from the theater. My hubby had Gamberi Portofino, a delicious shrimp dish with prosciutto, mushrooms, sherry wine, and cream. I had Saltimbocca Alla Florentine, a scrumptious dish of veal sautéed with sage and prosciutto, and we shared a large portion of Tiramisu for dessert. Needless to say, I enjoyed myself for my 65th birthday!

The American Jazz Museum, Kansas City, Kansas

Union Station, Kansas City

My Travel Work Gig In Kansas

My traveling social work gig took me to Manhattan, Kansas, the home of Kansas State University, 2 hours from Kansas City. The quiet college town surrounded by cornfields and farms lacked entertainment, and when my hubby came to visit, we spent the Labor Day Holiday weekend in Kansas City. We visited the American Jazz and Negro Baseball Museum. It is a must-see if you decide to visit the city. My mother often talked about the Indianapolis Clowns Negro Baseball Team she saw play after she left Henry, Tennessee, and moved to Indianapolis. I enjoyed reading about the team’s history while visiting the museum, and I mentioned the group in my novel, Leaving Henry.

We also visited Kansas City Union Station and the Blue Room, a famous, historic jazz club back in the day. With its mysterious, dark vibe and thrumming jazz beat, I enjoyed listening to the music. Last but not least, we visited the Country Club Plaza on Broadway, a pretty outdoor mall with a Moorish, high-end vibe. Although Kansas City is known for good barbecue, I wasn’t impressed. Lol! But if I were to recommend a barbecue place, I encouraged you to visit Jack Stacks Barbecue at the Country Club Plaza. Their Fire-Kissed Wings, hickory cooked and rubbed in cajun spices, were to die for.

Traveling To Costa Rica on Vacation

Outdoor Eatery in the jungle.

Looking out the window from our hotel-Costa Rica

We passed by these Umbrella Plants on our journey in the Jungle

Donell shopping at the flea market in San Jose

Waiting for ice cream at the flea market.

Bobcat resting on the path during our hiking journey.

My hubby and I visited Costa Rica this past July, a Central American country known for its Pacific and Caribbean coastline, rainforest and jungles full of wildlife, and vast green coffee plantations. The most exciting thing about Costa Rica was the loud, screeching, colorful, exotic birds we heard all day. The locals told us they become louder and shrill when rain is on the horizon.

I could take a picture of one of those Screeching Birds during my various treks through Costa Rica.

On our first day, we spent the day in bustling San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, combing their large flea market, Mercado Central. The busy retail bazaar is a crazy maze of narrow alleyways with vendors selling wares from Costa Rica’s famous ice cream, Lolo Mora, to authentic pottery, jewelry, and masks. We spent the whole day there shopping.

The following day, we did an 8-hour hike to Poas Volcano, an active 8,848 ft stratovolcano in central Costa Rica in Poas Volcano National Park. During our journey, we saw exotic plant life like the umbrella plants in the picture above and various wild animals. We stopped and ate delicious, spicy taco salads at a fun outdoor restaurant. The 8-hour hike worked every muscle in our body, and we were tired at the end of the day.

We also had an opportunity to visit a coffee farm, Cafe de Monteverde, a few miles from our hotel. We tasted three different coffees. The nutty coffee aroma smelt delightful, and the delicate, smooth balance of acidity, buttery, and sweetness danced on my palate. I enjoyed all three coffees so much I bought a pound each to take home.

Coffee Bean Tree @ Cafe Monteverde during my pilgrimage to the Coffee Plantation.

Coffee Beans Before Roasting

Therefore, as you can see, my travels inspire me to write and share my adventures and experiences with all of you. Next year, we plan to visit Egypt once I finish my final draft of Leaving Henry. I’m still determining what exciting traveling work gigs may come my way, but I will keep you informed. In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas and a joyous Happy New Year!

An Excerpt From The Novel, She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup

Salter’s Point Regional

Wednesday, January 9th

Rachel didn’t get much sleep, so she called out sick to take time to get herself together. She wasn’t in any emotional shape to see patients, especially mentally ill ones. Rachel showered and threw on her red sweats. She went to the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee. With her back against the counter, Rachel contemplated how to spend her day honoring Jamie. She wasn’t the least bit interested in sitting around moping and crying. Her desire was to do something worthwhile.

Antsy, with no ideas in mind at first, Rachel finished her coffee, grabbed her purse, and strutted out the door. She had no idea where she was headed, but she hopped in her Toyota and took off down the road. To her surprise, Rachel found herself turning on the street where Jamie lived, and she decided she would stop by to see if Peepers was there,

Rachel pulled up in front of Jamie’s townhouse and parked. She was surprised to see a green Oldsmobile sitting in the driveway, Rachel wondered who it belonged too. Maybe it’s one of Jamie’s family members,

Determined to find outRachel grabbed her purse and got out of the car. She stepped briskly to the door, and boldly rang the doorbell. Swift and heavy footsteps approached from the other side and abruptly stopped. The door swung open, and a man about five foot and seven inches tall stared back at her with deep-set ocean-blue eyes. He had blond hair, which was thick and lustrous, but greying around the temples, and his suntanned face was sharp and well-defined, giving the impression he had weathered many storms. He wore wrinkled black overalls with Nike tennis shoes. 

“Can I help you?” he asked in a gruff voice.

“I’m sorry…I…I don’t mean to pry,” Rachel stuttered, terrified. “My name is Rachel Thomas. I’m a friend of Jamie’s, and I also worked with her at Salter’s Point Regional Hospital.”

The man’s face brightened a little. “I’m John Lee, Jamie’s husband.”

Rachel jerked her head back and bucked her eyes, floored. “Oh, glad to meet you. Jamie didn’t tell me she was married!”

“Yep, for ten long years.” For a minute, he seemed to blank out, staring into space as if he was reminiscing, living in another time. When Rachel cleared her throat, he came to his senses. John took a step back and opened the door wide. 

“Would you like to come in? I’m packing some of Jamie’s things.”

“Love to,” Rachel said as she walked inside, and he closed the door behind her. She stood in the living room, inspecting the place. Clothes and shoes were sprawled everywhere on the couch and chairs. Cardboard boxes were scattered on the floor, some filled to the top with clothes and others half filled with Jamie’s shoes. John carefully folded Jamie’s sweaters and packed them in a box. 

“I see you’re packing up Jamie’s clothes. Are you taking them somewhere?”

“I thought I’d take them to the women’s shelter in town. I certainly don’t have any use for them,” he gruffly answered.

“Sounds like a plan,” Rachel smiled, pleased Jamie’s clothing would be put to good use.

John stopped packing and walked swiftly toward the kitchen. 

“Can I offer you anything? Coffee, juice, water? Anything?” Rachel took the liberty and followed him. The color drained from her face, unable to answer when she entered the kitchen. Cardboard boxes were everywhere, and Jamie’s dishes and pots were out on the counter and table. Rage pulsated through her veins, and her cheeks burned. Why is he packing everything up so soon? Jamie hasn’t been dead for a good forty-eight hours, and he’s already getting rid of her belongings! What’s the rush?

“I didn’t hear your answer,” John said, raising an eyebrow.

“I’m sorry,” Rachel replied. “I guess I was taken aback by all of the packing. Why the rush?” Oh, shit, I didn’t mean to say that. Oh, well.

“I realize this looks quick, but I don’t have a lot of time. I pastor a church in Colorado and I’m leaving on a mission trip next week. Although we were separated, Jamie considered me her family. It was her desire that if something happened to her, I would take care of things.”

Rachel’s anger faded. “I understand. Please forgive me.”

“No problem. So, what would you like to drink?”

“I know it’s early, but a shot of whiskey would be fine.”

John’s eyebrows went up, hesitating, and he cracked up laughing. “A shot of whiskey? So, you’re a whiskey drinker like my wife.”

“No, not really. I prefer wine, if you must know.” Rachel chuckled, batting her eyes.

“Then why the whiskey?” 

Rachel shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe it’s my way of honoring Jamie somehow.”

“Perverse, but I love it!” John laughed. “Let’s see if I can find some for you.” 

He went to the pantry, opened the door, and shoved some canned goods around. “I know Jamie must have some stashed away in here somewhere,” he muttered to himself. Rachel checked John out. She had to admit Jamie had good taste. Handsome, despite his rugged, weathered looks and short stature, John wasn’t her kind of guy. She preferred a taller man, much like the suave, mysterious Doctor Everett James.

“You’re in luck! Look what I found behind a big can of Crisco.” John held the bottle up so Rachel could see it.

“Great,” Rachel smiled as she pulled out a chair and sat at the table. “I just want a little bit. I’m not used to drinking whiskey.”

“At your service.” John went to the counter and twisted the cap open on the whiskey bottle.  He found two shot glasses in the dish rack and poured the whiskey, filling both glasses to the rim. He brought the drinks to the table and sat, shoving one over to Rachel.      

A box of photos caught his attention, and he pulled it in front of him. John grabbed the first picture he saw on the pile, that was all it took for his eyes to water. He clutched the solid wooden frame tight in his hand, reminiscing over a perfect moment in his past. 

“This is Jamie and I when we first got married. The happiest memories hurt the most,” he said in a low voice as he managed to restrain the flood of tears from within.

“You say you guys were married ten years?”

“Yes. Jamie and I grew up together. We both were from a religious family, grew up Catholic. We talked about having our own church one day.” He handed Rachel the photograph, and she looked at it. Rachel marveled at how Jamie’s style had changed over the years, from dressing feminine to more manly. Thinner and looking happy, Jamie looked cute, holding her bouquet of flowers in her little white dress. She had a big smile on her face as she gazed into her husband’s eyes. John looked like a movie star in his double-breasted pinstriped suit. His hair was longer but still swept back away from his handsome face.

“You know, Jamie never talked about her marriage much. What happened between you two? If you don’t mind me asking.” The photograph reflected happier times, and they were such an attractive couple.

“Anne Cleveland happened,” John quipped in a sour tone, frowning. He almost looked wolfish as he briefly recalled his wife’s betrayal. “Jamie met her at an aerobics class, and the rest is history. It took me a while to get over it,” he said in a low, cracking voice.

“I bet.” Rachel could see it was painful for John to talk about it and decided not to press him for more details, but John apparently needed to talk.

“Every time I called her and learned she was still with Anne it would break my heart. I knew I couldn’t live anywhere near the two of them. My ego couldn’t take it.”

“So, you and Jamie never divorced?”

“No, we never did.” 

“Well, if it’s any consolation, Jamie and Anne broke up a month ago.”

John’s eyes widened as he fell back in his chair. “Really? What happened?”

“Anne will tell you they broke up because of her drinking, but the real story is, she fell in love with a man who happens to be my ex,” Rachel answered with sourness in her voice. 

“Damn!” John shook his head in disbelief.

“Damn is right,” Rachel said, half smiling.

John looked down for a moment at his glass of whiskey. He brought the alcohol to his lips and threw his head back. The bitter sensation of the liquor made his eyes water. John coughed, blowing out his cheeks as he swallowed, and grunted. “Well, I guess we both got burned!” He looked over at Rachel and noticed she hadn’t touched her glass. “What are you waiting for? Drink up! It’s in Jamie’s honor.”

“I know.” Rachel sighed, taking a deep breath. She laid John’s wedding photo back in the box and picked up her glass. Rachel took one sip, almost spitting the bitter-tasting liquor straight out of her mouth. She managed to hold it in, getting it down, screwing up her face as she swallowed. Rachel coughed repeatedly. “Damn, that’s nasty!” she said in a dry, hoarse voice.

John’s eyes gleamed with amusement as his mouth curved into a smile. “You weren’t kidding. Whiskey is definitely not your drink.”

“No, it’s not.” Rachel looked John dead in the face, scrutinizing him. “I don’t believe I ever witnessed a pastor drinking alcohol.” Rachel wanted him to know she disapproved of his behavior. 

“They generally don’t, but this one does,” he smirked, winking at her. “Besides, I’ve got a lot on my mind.”

“Well, alcohol isn’t the solution.”

“I’m well aware.” John’s smile slipped into a questioning frown. “So, is there a reason why you stopped by? You knew Jamie is no longer here.”

Rachel’s eyes watered. “I know. I guess I wanted to see if she was really gone, besides I was hoping Peepers would be here.”

“Peepers and Jamie are gone, I’m afraid.” His face darkening a little. They sat quietly for a while   each soul a million miles away stuck in their own thoughts. Rachel flinched when John tapped his fingers hard on the table. 

“Where are you with the funeral arrangements?” she asked. 

“I’m almost done with the arrangements. Jamie is Catholic, so her funeral will be at Saint Mary’s Church.” A muscle in John’s jaw twitched as he gazed down at the table misty-eyed. 

Recognizing his vulnerability, Rachel felt empathy for the pastor. “Do you need any additional help with the planning? I don’t mind helping,” she softly offered.

“I’m fine. Jamie and I have talked about this many times. She has a will. I’m following her wishes.”

“When is the funeral?”

“This Saturday.”

Rachel stood on her feet. “Okay. If you need anything, please let me know.”

“You’re so kind. Thank you,” John smiled as he stood up. He escorted Rachel out of the kitchen and into the living room. Rachel walked to the door and she abruptly turned around to face him. “I enjoyed meeting you, John. I wish it was under better circumstances,” she said with a warm smile. 

“I do, too. It was nice meeting you, too, Miss Thomas, my wife’s friend.” 

She laughed, and John opened the door for her. Rachel waved as she walked out. 

“See you soon,” she hollered as she hurried to her car.

On her way home, Rachel stopped by the grocery store and bought a pint of chocolate ice cream. She thought about John and his heartbreak over Jamie. For a brief moment, she scolded Jamie for giving up on her marriage, but her scolding turned to sorrow, when reality hit her again.  Damn, I’m going to miss that girl!

Once she arrived home, Rachel went to the kitchen, opened her chocolate ice cream and put two scoops of the dessert in a plastic bowl. She put the rest in the refrigerator, then she went to the living room and plopped on the couch.  Exhausted from grieving, Rachel turned on the TV, inserted a movie in the VCR, and ate her bowl of ice cream. For the rest of the afternoon, she watched funny movies, and at dusk, she put on her pajamas and climbed into bed.

As Always Thank-You For Reading, Comments Welcome!

Homer, Alaska-A Coastal Paradise!

The Homer Spit

Happy Father’s Day and Juneteenth, Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy winding up my work contract in Alaska. I will return home to Atlanta at the end of the month, and I am looking forward to it.

At the same time, I have been feverishly writing my newest novel, Leaving Henry. I am writing chapter twenty-seven and have eight more chapters to go. However, I took a break this weekend and drove to Homer, a scenic coastal town in Alaska. Simply a true paradise. Whereas, yesterday, early morning, around seven-thirty, I left Anchorage. It was a bright, sunny day, the temperature in the mid-sixties, a welcome delight after enduring dreary days of cold and rain.

The Drive

Despite the long five-hour drive, I enjoyed the breathtaking mountain terrain. Stopping along the way to take pictures. I even saw a Momma moose and her calf leisurely crossing the road, amazed at how big these animals can get. By noon, I arrived in Homer. A coastal paradise nestled against the majestic Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet. One can also get there from Anchorage on a 45-minute flight. Hungry, I stopped at Flat Olives Restaurant. A lively spot set in a former garage on Ohlson Lane. My friend and colleague, Julie, an Alaskan native, recommended the place. The eatery serves wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches, seafood, and steaks. I ordered a 12-inch Roman pizza with pepperoni, Alaskan style, which was quite delicious. I ate three pieces and took the rest to go.

The Homer Spit

Because Homer is a scenic, coastal town, it has plenty of rustic log cabins, cozy bed and breakfasts, and hotels to suit every traveler’s lodging taste. The Homer Spit, a 4.5-mile-long piece of land jutting into the Kachemak Bay, has numerous local-owned restaurants with fresh seafood. Colorful shops with native wares make for an intriguing shopping experience. Next, I drove down the Homer Spit, parked, and walked the busy road along the beach. People walked on the road and the beach, and bikers rode the spit.
Furthermore, patrons crowd the shops on both sides of the strip. Visitors, who preferred to rough it, parked campers in designated lots along the coastal strip. Some folks pitched tents on the beach instead of paying for lodging. The locals referred to these campers as Spit Rats. Needless to say, the beach proved to be a pretty lively place!


Sometime later, I stopped in a shop called Lamp Work Beads. A sucker for earrings, I bought two pairs. The owner told me the earrings were made by Paula Rourke, the only lamp bead earring maker in the United States. I left that shop, pleased I had a little national treasure. Lastly, I stopped by the Bear Creek Winery on Bear Creek Drive. I participated in a wine tasting and loved the winery’s Rhubarb Wine. A delicious, sweet, crisp dessert wine made from rhubarb fruit. I bought two bottles and a chardonnay setting me back $80. I learned the winery’s owner was also from the South. A North Carolina Native who came to Homer years ago after she married.

Afterward, I sat on the deck and enjoyed a glass of Rhubarb wine at the Cozy Cove Inn, where I am staying. Watching the sun set over Homer’s majestic snow-capped mountains. Immersed in the view, I looked forward to another day in Homer. There’s plenty to do. I will be brave, dance when sunrise, and hike in the wildlife parks. Oh, wait a minute! These parks have moose and Kodiak bears—with no bear spray and cowbells to speak of to scare them away. I’ll play it safe and stick with shopping! Lol! As always, Thank you for reading. Until Next Time!

Nelson Mandela, The Legend and Change Agent

I would stand by this window every morning and observe him going through his routine. I would then call Pretoria. I was very interested in what happened to him daily.-Colonel John Hardman

President Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, the legend and change agent, is known as one of the great political leaders of recent times. An international hero, Nelson Mandela’s lifelong dedication to stamp out oppression in South Africa won him the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidency. However, the road to freeing his people took work. He spent eighteen of his twenty-seven years in Robben Island prison for refusing to give up the fight against apartheid. During my vacation in South Africa this past Fall, I visited the prison.

Robben Island takes its name from the Dutch word seals (Robben), located north of Cape Town. The south african locals called it Robbeneiland. Political activists and criminals were housed in the prison from the late-seventeenth century until 1996 when apartheid ended. The island is basically oval shaped and flat, barely above sea level, about two miles long and one-eighth mile wide. At the base of the island sits a pearly white stone barrier in front of the pier. Lonely and desolate, it’s out there in the middle of nowhere..

So, one cool, sunny November morning, we took a boat there on the Indian Ocean. Although deep baby blue and breath-taking, the Indian Ocean waters were calm. Once we arrived at the island, the lack of green vegetation amazed me. Mostly sand, we saw the graveyard where prisoners were buried and the bathroom hide-out where they met and talk without being overheard. Eventually, the guide took us on a tour of the prison grounds as well as inside, and I actually saw some seals wobbling and hawking on the island nearby.

Today, Robben Island is a South African National Heritage Site and museum with millions of visitors every year! Therefore, please take a moment to look at the photos and imagine Mandela’s journey of imprisonment. South Africa is free today because of his efforts and the deep committment he had to his people! Thank You for Reading! Until Next Time!

More Photos…

Coming Soon! Summer 2024.

My Safari Trek in South Africa!

Hello Everyone! My journey to South Africa is a three-part series.

In November last year, I took a break from writing my latest novel, Leaving Henry, and went on my first Safari Trek to South Africa. Kruger National Park is South Africa’s most famous safari, and I had a fabulous time. Visiting the park for the day was an incredible adventure and an exciting journey with its beautiful vast landscapes and spectacular African wildlife. It took our tour group all day to get there by bus from Johannesburg.

The Safari Lodge

Soon we arrived, and a group of monkeys welcomed us. They sat in trees and stared as we entered the Safari Lodge parking lot., We stayed two nights, and with its 1950s ambiance, tasty food in the dining hall, and breathtaking views, staying at the lodge was quite enjoyable. One could hear wild animals growling and chattering at night, crickets humming, and the mosquitos were relentless. Luckily we had the proper mosquito repellant and had taken malaria pills to protect us from a severe illness.

The Big Five

The following morning at four, we loaded the safari truck with the sack lunches the staff had prepared. Surprised that the sun was already out. It was a beautiful, chilly day. We almost didn’t make it out of the parking lot. Staff working on the safari lodge grounds were protesting low wages. Spilling into the road and parking lot, blocking our passage with huge signs.

Finally, the police arrived an hour later, the people dispersed, and we continued our journey. However, exploring the safari park was an all-day event. We saw Africa’s big five: The Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard, and Buffalo. Afterward, we saw unique wildlife, like the pretty bird and the giant snail in the photos above. Earlier, I found watching a female lion hunt and kill her prey fascinating.

The Bathroom Fiasco

What’s more, bathrooms took a lot of work. The safari guide only stopped every 90 minutes, and the time increased as the day wore on. Unable to hold my water after riding with the guide for over two hours. I complained, and he told me I had to go into the bush. First, I laughed, thinking he was kidding. But he wasn’t. His face remained stern as he stared at me with mocking dark brown eyes.

Hot with anger, the safari guide and I had an intense five minute conversation. I decided to go in the bush after he insisted it would be another 45 minutes to get a bathroom. Tearful and embarrassed, my hubby held up his coat, giving me privacy while I quickly peed in the bush. No wild animal snatched me in the process. Thank goodness!

At last, we made it through. Despite, my bathroom mishap, it was an exciting, fun day at South Africa’s most famous safari park. Next Sunday, I’ll tell you about my journey to Robben Island Prison, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years! Stay Tuned, and Thank you for reading!

Running With The Reindeer, Very Alaskan!

It was a cold, bleak, December morning in Alaska, a place so far north on planet earth that if there were such things as popsicle people, they could live there quite comfortably.-Dew Pellucid

Happy New Year, everybody! I know it’s late, but as most of you know, I am a clinical social worker and an aspiring Novelist. I’ve been in Alaska, the last frontier, the locals say, on a three-month contract working in a rehab hospital in Anchorage. Between the heavy amounts of snow, the scary-looking ravens, and the humongous moose trotting down the streets, stopping traffic, it’s been quite an experience, I must say.

The people here are friendly, much to my surprise. The mountain range is breathtaking on a sunny day. The seafood in most restaurants is to die for. Halibut, shrimp, salmon , and fresh sourdough bread are the Alaskan favorites, and the sausage reindeer hotdog is an acquired taste.

When I arrived here in early December, adjusting to the below-freezing temperatures ( one day, it was -2 degrees), thirty inches of snow, and darkness until ten in the morning took me a while. When I wasn’t working, I stayed inside, snuggled in my wool pajamas, working on my latest novel, Leaving Henry. Inspired by the snowy scenery outside my window, I’ve written twenty-two chapters since I have been here. Writing my mother’s life story has been a rewarding but tedious journey. I’m halfway done. Only twenty chapters to go. Whew!

Working and writing aren’t the only activities I’ve been doing. Donell and I took scenic weekend excursions, driving along the coast. Navigating the icy, curvy roads is not for the faint of heart. But we were fearless, driving through snow and ice to reach our destinations. We visited the Alyeska Resort, which was forty-five minutes from Anchorage, and the City of Seward, a rough, bumpy ride was two hours away. We visited the gift shops and bought odds and ends, and ate at their local eateries while we were there. On the way back from Seward, we left later than we intended, and it was a little scary. Dark like tar and no street lights to speak of. The only light we had was the oncoming cars in the opposite direction. However, we made it back to Anchorage safely. A close call to say the least.

Two weekends ago, my sister, Crys, came for a visit. We stopped by the Anchorage Museum and saw native artwork and artifacts. The history of the indigenous native people was quite impressive. I love their masks and clothing and their love for nature. Take a look at the face masks below. I found it intriguing that the African masks and Native face coverings were similar. Alaska and Africa are on opposite ends of the world, but the cultural differences are not that far apart.

This week the Alaskans are having their annual winter festival called the “Furrondy.” The streets of Anchorage come alive with winter sports, native culture, and many unique events, such as “Running with the Reindeer!” This is not your usual race, and the truth is, it’s pretty remarkable. Instead of getting chased by bulls, you get chased by rambunctious reindeer. Hundreds of people participate in this race, running as fast as they can to outrun the reindeer, and at the end, everyone gets a reindeer hotdog, and the reindeer prepare for the next race. Well, I pass on this one. Not my cup of tea. But I plan to go to the Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market this upcoming Wednesday! I can’t wait to buy some fabulous native jewelry; I got my greens and am ready to shop! Well, that’s all for now. I will settle in for the evening with my novel, Leaving Henry, and hopefully, write and finish chapter twenty-three. As always, thank you for reading!

Just Wait Until You’re 95!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am in the process of writing a novel loosely based on my mother’s childhood years in the south during the 1930s. I just finished chapter thirteen, with 17 chapters to go. Yes, it is a slow process, but shaping up to be a riveting, entertaining, and sometimes ill-fated story.

My mother’s memory has faltered for the last two years, particularly during the pandemic. She has exhibited signs of early dementia. Repetitious statements with occasional confusion about past events have been more prominent this year. Sometimes she forgets to eat, which causes me concern.

Mother has stairs in her home and a very steep driveway. Although she walks better than most people her age, she is at high risk for falls. Last summer, she fractured her foot and had fallen recently with no injuries. I lived in Georgia but have stayed with her for over six months.  I help her with the minor chores, such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, transportation to appointments, getting her mail, and pulling the trash cans up the steep driveway weekly to set out on the curb for the garbage collector.

I am on a contract with one of the local hospitals in Washington State that will end this week, and I plan to return to Georgia. I have two sisters who live in the area, but they both have full-time jobs. Anticipating my leaving, my sisters and I talked with our mother about hiring a part-time caregiver in the home one morning over breakfast. My mother spent the weekend with my sister, Cheryl, where the conversation took place. . Needless to say,  she had plenty of witty comebacks for every argument we had.  It went something like this:

“Mom, you know I’m leaving soon, and we need to talk about what’s going to happen after I leave.”

“Oh, really?” she frowned. “Where you’re going?”

“Remember, I’m going back home next Friday.”

“What are you going to do there?” she asked with big eyes.

“Mom, I lived there. It’s my home!”

“No, your home is where you grew up! Your home is here!” Then she made a face.  “Why, you want to go somewhere where they still pick cotton?”

“Mom, Atlanta is a metropolitan city. They’re not picking cotton,” I laughed.

She stared at me with those big hazel eyes of hers. “Mm, you can have the south!”

“Mom, Nita is leaving, and we need to get you help at home because Crys and I work,” Cheryl interjected with wide eyes. “You need someone to do those little chores during the week.”

“Yeah, Cheryl and I will come over on the weekends and help out,” Crys said.  But it’s hard to get over there during the week with our work schedules.”

Mom looked around Cheryl’s place with a big smile on her face.  “Well,  Cheryl, I can stay here with you. I can stay in the room I slept in last night, and there’s a bathroom across the hall. The laundry on the right is at my fingertips. The perfect setup for this old lady.”

“Mom, you’re welcome to stay, but you will need someone to come in every day because I work,” Cheryl reminded her.

“Come in to do what?” Deep creases appeared on her forehead. Mother leaned forward, placing her hand on her thigh. “Let me tell you something. I can bathe and dress. I prepare my own meals, and for an old lady, I can walk better than you! I think I do well for myself for a ninety-five-year-old!”

I took a deep breath. “Mom, that’s true. You can do those things, but you need extra help. That’s all we’re…”

“Help doing what?” she angrily interrupted me. “I have a housekeeper coming in monthly to clean the house.  A lawn man to do the yard. What else is there? What are you talking about?”

“Mom, you get confused sometimes. You have short-term memory loss…”

“So, do you, my dear,” she slyly replied with a smirk, cutting me off.

We cracked up laughing. “Mom, I’m serious!” Feeling exasperated. “You forget to eat, and you have lost weight!”

“I don’t need a lot of food. I’m not doing nothing but sitting on my behind! I have worked most of my life, and I deserve to sit on my behind! Besides, I like my weight. I’m trying to get me a boyfriend.”

“How will you do that, sitting in front of the TV all day, watching Jimmy Swaggert?” I earnestly asked, trying not to laugh.

“None of your damn business!” Then her expression turned childlike, and she asked. “Tell me again, what’s this conversation about?”

“Mom, it’s about you getting some help at home,” Crys sighed, frustrated. “If you don’t want someone coming to your home, how about going to that place you like, Patriots Landing.”

“What do I need to go there for?” She stared at Crys with steely hazel eyes. “Are you trying to put me away?”

“NO, MOM!” We all shouted simultaneously.

“Remember we went there to visit last month, and you like the place,” I  quickly reminded her. “You said you wanted that one-bedroom apartment. Remember?”

“And you been talking lately about how hard it’s getting keeping up with the house,” Crys added.

“Yes, I have friends there.  It’s a nice place. If I moved anywhere, I would go there,” she said, smiling. “I really like that apartment.”

“Then you should go! No time is better than now!” Cheryl piped in.

“Yeah, Mom,  you should go! After all, you can afford it,” Crys chimed in.

Mom gave Crys a dirty look.  “How do you know what I can afford?” she snapped with her head gyrating.

“I have seen your bank account!”

“What you saw was nothing but pocket change!” she frowned. “It’s not enough there to support an ant!”

“Mom, listen. I think you’ll like it!” I tried to convince her.  “There’s plenty of activities and things to do there. “

“Like what?”

“Exercise classes, gardening, entertainment, even wine tasting hour,” I explained. “Plenty of exercise and activity to keep one busy and engaged.”

“I get plenty of exercise at home,” she quipped.

I rolled my eyes.  “Really, mother? Like what?”

“I walk around the house, straighten the pillows on the couch and look out the window. That’s plenty!”

“Don’t forget you watch Jimmy Swaggert!”

“Oh yeah, well, at least it’s doing something!” Blinking her eyes erratically.

“Mom, you’re stubborn, and you’re stalling!” I angrily pushed back.

“Really? I’ll like to see how you are when you get ninety-five!” she snapped, glaring at me.

“Mom, you have to do something different. You can’t stay in your home without help,” I huffed.

“If I need help, I’ll call Cheryl and Crys, and that’s that!”

Cheryl leaned forward, folding her arms on the table. “That’s not going to work, Mom!”

“And why not?” she glared at Cheryl with that stern, motherly look, taking me back to my childhood days in the 70s.

“We have to work! We can’t be available like that!”

Mother pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. “I understand. Let me think about it,” she half-heartedly relented.

“Mom, you had plenty of time to think about it. Nita leaves…”

“Cheryl, pass me that quiche?” Mother gestured. Cheryl pushed the quiche closer to her, and Mother helped herself to a slice, sliding it on her plate. She grabbed her fork and looked up at us, “Now, tell me. What are we talking about?”

Note: Dementia is a slow progression of cognitive decline. Subtle short-term memory changes, confusion, loss of interest in hobbies, difficulty completing tasks, repetitious statements, poor judgment, etc. The risk of dementia increases as you get older with the majority of people developing the condition over the age of 65.

Enjoy your Sunday! Thank you For Reading!

My Day In Port Townsend

My sister, Crys, and I decided to visit Port Townsend, Washington, for the day to celebrate her birthday. Although we’re both from Washington State, this was our first visit to this pretty little city on the Quimper Peninsula in Jefferson County. The city only has 10, 148 residents, and it’s best known for having more than 300 Victorian-style homes. Port Townsend is a walkable city with trails, sidewalks, and low-traffic streets. The Jefferson County Courthouse Clock, built-in 1892, stoically towers over the city and bongs every hour.

When my sister and I arrived in Port Townsend around 11 am, Saturday morning, there was hardly a soul on the street. But by 12 noon, the sun came out and the streets were filled with people. We had a ball shopping in the downtown shops. The cute hat I’m wearing, I bought at a boutique called Conservatory Coastal Home on Water Street. A few doors down, I bought this beautiful collector’s mad hatter teapot made in Britain from the Mad Hatter & Company thirty dollars cheaper than the original price.

As we browse the shops, we stopped in Don Tiller Gallery. He paints in vivid, bright colors, his artwork ranges from landscapes to people. We had a lively chat, and although, I didn’t buy any artwork, I took his information to purchase in the near future. I collect art and I hope to add a Don Tiller to my collection soon.

Don Tiller Gallery on Water Street

As the day progressed, we had a late lunch at Sirens, an eatery on the water. The food was so-so, but the view was breathtaking. We ended our day at six, and we decided to cruise through the residential neighborhood on the way out. To our surprise, we saw deer freely roaming the streets and grazing in residents’ yards.

We ended our day at six and decided to cruise the residential neighborhood on the way out. To our surprise, we saw deer freely roaming the streets and grazing in people’s yards, and no one seemed to mind. Even the dogs roaming the streets ignored them. As the sun slowly began to set, we drove out of town. Another adventure, living our best life, and on to another one. Thank you for reading. Until next time!

Happy Mother’s Day

My Mother-“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue…” Proverbs 31:25-28

Hello Friends! I know it’s been a long time since I posted on my blog.I have enjoyed retirement, working part-time, and best of all, writing my Mother’s Memoir, Leaving Henry. It’s been enlightening and enjoyable writing her story. I have written ten chapters so far and have learned so much about her childhood life and the history she has lived through. She has lived a long time. She will be ninety-five in October. When she was born in nineteen twenty-seven, Calvin Coolidge was the President of the United States, and the Klu Klux Clan was running rampant across the Deep South.

Her parents nicknamed her Little Ella after her maternal grandmother in the story. My mother was born in Henry, Tennessee, and grew up poor. Her father was a sharecropper and her mother a maid, and together, they raised six children on a small farm they inherited. They weathered through the Great Depression by living off the land and their meager earnings.

Although my mother was a southern girl, she didn’t like the south much. So, almost since she was knee-high and aware, she made it her life goal to leave the south one day. But she stumbled against obstacles such as racism, poverty, and physical threats to her and her family along the way. But with courage and determination, she realizes her dream.

Leaving Henry is due out next year! Look for it on and Barnes and Noble Online Bookstores. In the meantime, visit my website, Happy Mother’s Day Everyone!

New Novel, Leaving Henry Coming In Fall 2023

Set in rural Tennessee in the 1930s and inspired by actual events, Leaving Henry is the story of a courageous young African American girl who dreamed of a better life.

Born in primitive conditions, life in Henry wasn’t a piece of cake for Ella Ridley. Because of her light skin color, hazel eyes, and auburn hair, her sharecropper father often mistreated her.

By the age of ten, she was working in the cotton fields until her fingers bled. About of malaria, an attempted rape and witnessing her father being terrorized by the Ku Lux Klan inspired her to hope for a day she could escape. Little Ella knew at an early age that the South and everything it represented was certainly not for her.

Poor as a church mouse, every penny she earned went straight to helping her destitute family. Stuck in her perilous position, she refused to resign to her fate. Little Ella prayed every day for a way out, asking God for a miracle that never seemed to come. Sometimes, she wondered if God was even listening to her.

Then out of the blue, on her thirteenth birthday, her uncle from Indiana came for a visit and offered her something she never expected, not even in her wildest dreams.

Hello Everyone! I am currently working on my newest novel which I anticipate will be ready for publication in 2023. The story is loosely based on my mother’s life as a young girl born and raised in the South. Today my lovely mother is alive and in good health, and she will be 94 years old in October. I look forward to writing and sharing her story with all of you. Until Next Time, Stay safe!

Take a moment to check out my other books on my website, by clicking on the link below.

Anita’s Novels

Anita sells books she writes on the website above at a discounted rate. Check out her books and upcoming events on her website.


Whiskey And Merlot A Love Story A Novel by Anita Dixon Thomas


   Whiskey and Merlot A Love Story


Anita Dixon Thomas

Isabelle Perkins has never met a man she truly loves. Newly divorced at the age of thirty, she doesn’t believe she ever will. Isabelle doesn’t believe in fairy tales. When she meets the dashing Lincoln Davis, she is smitten by his handsome looks and immediately attracted to his take-charge confidence.

But she discovers he’s married, forcing her to keep her distance. In a sexless marriage, Lincoln dazzles her with his charm and recklessly pursues her, mesmerized by her beauty and sex appeal. Before long, he persuades her. After a passionate evening of lovemaking, they find themselves embroiled in a hot affair. As time goes on, their feelings deepen, and they fall in love.

Soon, the lines between right and wrong become irrevocably blurred. Isabelle suffers intense guilt for being involved with a married man. The affair challenges her Christian morals and undermines her self-esteem. She entertains leaving Lincoln, but hangs on, convinced he’s her true love.

Lincoln wallows in guilt, disappointed in himself for breaking his marriage vows. Although he loves Isabelle, he’s aware they have no future. Lincoln continues his steamy romance with Isabelle until his wife confronts him. He’s forced to break it off with Isabelle, leaving her devastated and heartbroken. 

Eighteen years later, they’re paths cross again. After a sobering brush with death and now divorced, Lincoln is determined to win Isabelle back. But can she set aside her deep hurt and disappointment to let him back into her life and heart?

This book is available in both paperback and hardback on the author’s website, If you buy this book on the author’s website, shipping is free and you will receive a complimentary bookmark with your order.

It’s also available in hardback at Barnes and Noble Online Bookstore, and in kindle version and paperback on