Welcome to Dee's Pad

My life as a writer, and as a wife, mother, and grandmother.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Autumn's birthstone found


Dear Autumn,

It has come to Santa’s attention that you were upset that you never received your birthstone when you were born. Santa isn’t in charge of birthstones, but since your mommy wrote to tell us about this, saying you really, really wanted a birthstone, Santa had his elves check out just who was in charge and to find out what happened to your stone.

My Elf, Noah, was put in charge of finding the person in charge and to see what stone it was. So Noah took off to where the stones are kept. Noah got terrible confused when the Stone Man asked, “Which stone are you looking for?”

“June,” Noah said.

The Stone Man scratched his head. “There are three stones for June. There’s the Pearl, which has been used for centuries. There’s the Alexandrite, a relatively modern gem, first discovered in Russia in 1831. And then the Moonstone. This gem was given its name by the Roman historian, Pliny.”

Noah stood in awe. “Um, um, I don’t know. Santa sent me to find this stone for a little girl who didn’t get hers at birth. I’m an Elf, not a stone master. Please tell me which one so I can tell Santa.”

The stone master picked up the three stones and showed them to Noah. “Tell me something about this little girl, then I can tell you which stone should be hers.”

Noah sat on a large rock, placed his chin in his hands and said, “Well, Santa showed me a picture of Autumn. She’s got long light brown hair, a nice smile and is about as tall as I am. She’s very kind, loves her sister, Sophie, and her Aunt Emma is one of her favorite friends.”

“She sounds like a loving child. I’ll bet her eyes sparkles, don’t they?”

Noah stood up and tripped, then landed back on the rock. “Whoa! Sorry, Mr. Stone Man. I didn’t hurt your rock, did I?”

Stone Man laughed. “You cannot hurt that rock, Noah.”

Noah smiled. “The picture of Autumn Santa showed me, yes, her eyes do sparkle.”

“Then I know which stone is hers.” He pulled out stone and handed it to Noah. “Czar Alexander II liked this gem. It is an extremely rare chrysoberyl with chameleon-like qualities. Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light. I can make this into a necklace if you want me to. It’ll take me just a few minutes. Can you wait?”

“Thank you, Stone Man. Yes, I can wait. Santa will be so happy to learn I found the stone for Autumn.”

And so Noah placed the necklace into his pouch and with his eyes sparkling, handed it to Santa. “I did it, Santa! I found Autumn’s birthstone!”

“Ho Ho! Good job, Noah. Autumn will be so happy.”

On Christmas Day, Autumn joined her family at Gammy and Pappaw’s house. Santa placed her necklace under the tree and hoped Autumn would like her special necklace made especially for her!

Lots of hugs and kisses.

Mrs. Santa Clause 

PS--After reading this to Autumn she looked at me and said, "Is this for real?"


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meet the Obitch Queen


What is the working title of your book?
The Obitch Queen

Where did the idea come from for this book?

I was the Obitch Queen when I worked at a small newspaper in OH. One of my jobs was to take the obituaries and the kids I worked with tagged me with the title. Then the morticians began referring me by that name. I dug out some notes I took while working there a million years ago and decided to write the book.

What genre does your book fall under?

Woman’s Fiction with a lot of mystery

How long did it take to write the first draft?

Really, I don’t remember.

What actors would you use for a movie rendition of your book?

Sandra Bullock for Ellagrace.  Someone older but with the personality of Blake Shelton for Gary.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

It wasn’t a pretty day when Ellagrace Gosdin received the news her husband died in the arms of the town prostitute, and she was determined to get revenge.
Will it be self published or represented by an agency?

If I don’t sell it or have an agent  by March, I’ll try to self publish. Right now two agents have partials and an editor has the full.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

One day I was thinking of all the kooky characters I actually worked with at the newspaper and decided I could pull from them and from my notes to write a book. I use to refer to the town in Ohio where I worked as the town of the dead and the dying. 

Many years ago my husband was waiting while getting a lube job on his car, and a man sitting there was from a neighboring town and he used that phrase. Funny!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I really don’t know. I read lots and lots of books, but nothing I can compare with mine.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

An older woman who is left destitute, had to find a job, and meets her high school sweetheart at a party, drags him with her to a friend’s house where they find a man dead in the friend's  kitchen, the friend tied up like a Christmas turkey in a closet, then the friend is upset that her good knife is in his chest and pulls it out, holding it when the police arrive. There are other dead bodies found, like the dead man sitting on the friend’s porch at a later date, posed with a cig in mouth and a note saying they wasted him because he sold them bogus blow, which they later learned was her husband’s ashes and they apologized. A sexy ex-boyfriend she’s determined not to become involved with after her lousy marriage, but how can she make herself not get involved?

The characters are as loony as many people I’ve met over the years, the ones I loved to hang out with, the ones we all love because they are fun to be with.

Oh, Diane notes that I write about dysfunctional families. Are there really families who aren’t dysfunctionals? I thought that was today’s norm!

Welcome to my world.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

I'm a hoarder

Hoarding or not
Dee Gatrell ©

I never thought of myself as a hoarder until recently. I was looking through pictures to find some to send to a few cousins who wanted pictures of their parents. That’s when I discovered that I have thousands of pictures. They start from the time I was a few months old up to now.

Cousin Vicki wanted pictures of her dad. He was three years older than me and was my uncle. He passed away probably 10 years ago. Those who go early in the family mostly were smokers and drinkers, it’s a long family tradition.

It seems I broke that tradition. Instead I think my bad habit is hoarding.

In addition to all those pictures, I was cleaning out my dad’s old cedar chest and discovered, possibly hundreds of letters. They are letters from nearly every family member, including an aunt who died forty-some years ago. When email was new, I started saving them, too, but now don’t. Thankfully, email is saving me space in my closets. 

I hate to admit this, but I think I have large cans and a chest filled with letters in the attic. I don’t go to the attic, so they’ll be there until I croak and my children will be complaining about my addiction.

In addition to family letters, I discovered letters from people I worked with at Superior Court in Indiana about 30 years ago. I also discovered a certificate for profession paralegal secretary or something like that. The court house was different to work at. Gabe, the probation officer, was fun to be around. The lawyers that came to the office were funny and enjoyed telling us stories. The one Judge from Indianapolis was hot and we all drooled over him. Or maybe it was me doing the drooling. Shhh, don’t tell my hubby! Anyhow, I loved listening to his stories about the folks he had to deal with. When Gabe wrote she filled me in on what was going on at the court house, the people who worked there and the cases. I wish we hadn't lost contact.

Sometimes we were sent into the creepy attic to get files. It was said there were ghosts up there. I just know it scared the heck out of my when I had to go there. Spooky!

Other letters were from my Aunt Mildred who would often write from the hospital telling me that was her vacation spot. She was funny. And my dad often spoke about “your dear sweet mother” and how he was cleaning the cupboards, doing the house cleaning and babying her. 

I’ve decided one day I’m going to actually go through all those letters. Who knows? I may get writing material from them. We had a male friend Larry had been in the military with who wrote stuff about his dates that I’m sure they wouldn’t have wanted us to know.  He married three times. I still stay in touch with wife #1 and his kids. Wife #2 was a whack job and wife #3 sounded more intelligent, but I’ll just leave it there. The friend told me before he married wife #2 and 3 they were told they had to write me letters. I didn’t know this was a criteria for their marriage or I would’ve told him what I really thought. #2 reminded me of someone I knew and I would never have suggested he marry her. #3 did seem smarter, but there were red flags there, too. Of course, he was an alcoholic, so he had red flags, too.

I can always pick out something that came from my Aunt Martha. She was 5 years older than me and also died right after Uncle Donnie. She loved to underline words on a card. Slash, slash, slash—that was Martha. I still miss her.

Now it’s time to finish cleaning the mess off my bed and wonder what I’ll do with the rest of the mess. 

We all have to have our own addictions, right?

So what’s yours?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Have you Ever Milked a Cow?

Have you ever milked a cow? How about ride a horse that took naps?
Dee Gatrell ©

When I was a teenager my parents bought a 70-acre farm in Minerva, OH. I had been raised in the city of Canton until the age of nine when we moved to the village of East Canton. So at the age of 14, moving to the country wasn’t my cup of tea.

Eventually, my parents bought pigs, who managed to break out of their area often. Pigs are pretty smart and probably figured out why they were there. Then they got turkeys who were put on the top floor of the garage. They couldn’t stay outside. Turkeys aren’t overly bright and can drown in the rain. I have to admit, my cousin’s aunt and uncle had a farm with very mean turkeys that ran free. I wished they would’ve drowned. They used to chase us kids to bite us. 

And of course there were the chickens who ran free--until some of one of our dogs killed them. What fun to see a yard full of dead chickens. They got rid of my dog. I love dogs and cats and preferred the chickens go and the dogs stay.

Then my city parents decided we should get a cow to provide us with milk. Did I mention they took in foster kids and the house was generally filled?

I didn’t care for the chickens, turkeys or pigs, so I opted to learn how to milk the cow. I pulled out the little stool that I saw the others sit on when they milked the cow. How hard could it be to milk the thing? She was a sweet old cow, as far as cows go. I remember talking to the cow whose name was Bessie. I reached for her utters and nothing came out. I tried several more times. I guess she got disgusted with me as she decided to lay down and take a nap. I tried my best to coax her to get up. But no way would she allow me to milk her.

I finally gave up and let my foster brother take over. Of course he snickered once the cow stood up for him and let him milk her.

That ended my affection for the cow.

Until my parents got a calf named Candy. She was cute and I could pet her, and she grew into a pretty brown and white cow. My Aunt Mildred wasn’t too happy that I named her Candy. I never knew if she was joking or not, but she swore that’s what she wanted to name her baby. My cousin Mary Alice is thankful she wasn’t named Candy.

And then one day Candy disappeared while I was in school. My parents said they took her to their friend’s farm in exchange for meat, and Candy would be happy to run around with all their other cows. Okay, I could deal with that. Until a year later when my mother the liar told me we ate Candy. She also told me a rabbit I ate was chicken. She wasn’t a trust worthy mother.

Then there was the neighbor boy who had a horse. He brought it to our farm and said he’d take me for a horse ride, which sounded fun. We trotted about a mile and suddenly the horse laid down. What was it with me and animals lying down? I was a skinny girl back then, so it wasn’t my weight. And he was a skinny boy. But I was worried my 102 pounds was too much for the horse and I had hurt him. A week later my neighbor boy learned his horse was having heart attacks.

From then on I mostly did the housework chores and occasionally got to drive the tractor during hay season. But I longed for the city.

I didn’t live in the city again until I was married with kids. Then I longed for the country.

Teenage kids aren’t easy to please. I used to tell my parents if I died I wanted them to bury me where I could see city lights. 

And later what did I want? The country sounded great.