Tag Archives: birthdays

OT: A birthday at the beach


Here I am, sitting in the dark of the condo’s living room, tapping away. I was so tired last night I fell asleep with this computer in my lap while the Alabama-Tennessee football game was on. This is an amazing feat when you consider my oldest sister, ever the enthusiastic Bama supporter, was yelling, leaping, clapping and in general making lots of noise (we won). Even with our own red-haired Mouth of the South lustily cheering her team on, I still zonked out.   I guess you could say I was bloody knackered. 😉

Benny saw I had dropped off and  gently suggested I go to bed. Having already cleaned my face, brushed my teeth and taken out my contacts, I shuffled off to don my PJs and slip between the sheets. I actually fell asleep before 10 p.m., which is a rarity for me. And then I woke up three hours later, which is not–a rarity, that is. *sigh* Oh, well, it’s not as if I have to get up and go to work in a few hours, right?

On a happier note, the weather was beautiful when we arrived here. The condo unit is on the 9th floor, giving you a spectacular view from the balcony of the blue waters of the Gulf and the strip of sugar white beach. Benny filmed the sunset with his videocam.

Benny and I along with my two sisters and BIL enjoyed a delicious supper of Chicken Bruschetta, risotto, (even Gordon Ramsey would approve of my sis’s risotto–perfect texture and perfectly delicious), a Caesar salad and garlic toast, topped off with Mr. Fedoralady’s yummy German chocolate birthday cake for dessert.  Benny seemed to enjoy digging through his bag filled with miniature candy treats, gummi bears, almond crescent cookies and, of course, his Doctor Who DVD featuring the Doctor of his youth, Tom Baker.  Here is some fan art celebrating my favorite fellow in all the world–my dearest Benny.

Back to regularly scheduled programming later this morning. I might be asleep but WP, good Lord willing and the Creek don’t rise, will automatically post Mr. A for me. 😉

That’s Fedoralady’s middle sister checking out the contents of Hubby’s goodie bag.

Ladywriter & the Unexpected Guests: Part Two (of Three)


(This is a continuation of Ladywriter and the Unexpected Guests. I apologize for the delay, I was ill most of last week and didn’t get much writing of any kind done.  Hope you enjoy! Here’s the link to Part I. https://thearmitageeffect.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/ladywriter-and-the-unexpected-guests-part-1/

Harry turned, his own bright blue eyes wide with curiosity. “Ladywriter, do you know a lot of–little people with a great deal of—hair?”

Ladywriter furrowed her brow. “There’s my friend Colin, but he’s not particularly hairy . . .”

Recognition dawned on her face. “Why, it must be Thorin and his friends–”

LW raked her fingers through her still uncombed hair. Glancing down at her rumpled tee and shorts, she bit her lip.

“Oh, heavens, I haven’t met any of them other than Thorin. I really need to make myself presentable.”

She expelled a breath and looked up at Harry.

“Dear Mr. Kennedy,  will you play host and welcome them in? I’ll be back in a jiffy. Took a shower last night, so I just to change and slap on a little face paint.”

Harry grinned with his typical amiability. “I’d be happy to, LW.”

A loud sniff sounded as Sir Guy tossed his raven mane with considerable disdain.

Guy . . .”

He bared his teeth in her direction and inclined his head.

“I promise to play nice, my lady.”

“See that you do,” LW replied, brandishing an admonishing finger before disappearing to do a bit of primping.

She was no longer a spring chicken, nor was she as vain as her beloved Sir Guy, but LW did want her unexpected visitors to know she could at least clean up nicely.

In the meantime, Harry opened the door to quite a crowd congregated on the front deck and down the steps.

“Hullo there,” he said with a smile. “I’m Harry. I take it you all are here for Ladywriter’s birthday celebration?”

The tallest and most regal of the hairy little men—actually, they were dwarfs, of course—stepped forward and made a polite bow.

“Indeed, we are. I am Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of this company. I am pleased to make your acquaintance on this auspicious occasion.”

Sir Guy managed to contain his sniff, but I fear he did roll his eyes at Thorin’s words.

“And with me I have Oin, Gloin, Balin, Dwalin, Fili, Kili, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Ori, Nori and Dori.” As Thorin named the dwarfs, each stepped forward, a sack in hand, and made a small bow before entering the house.

There were probably going to be a lot of sore necks by the end of the day, what with the dwarfs craning theirs to look up at the lads, and the lads bending theirs to look down at the dwarfs as they all introduced themselves.

Soon Porter, Lucas and Claude were in full decorating mode. Porter used his mighty lungs to blow up balloons whilst the former spy and his art instructor hung a broad and colorful birthday banner (hand-painted by the two ChaRActers) above the mantelpiece in the den.

Ori, who was quite the artist himself, looked on with interest and gave them two thumbs up when they got it straight.  “I love the flowers around the lettering,” he said with an approving smile.

Monet flashed a dazzling grin at Ori. “Flowers were the inspiration for me to become an artist.”

Across the way in the kitchen (LW’s home had an open floor plan) Harry organized the food and drink, assisted by one very rotund dwarf—Bombur–who presented the Jumper-Clad One with the dwarves’ contribution to the festivities.

“Arkenstone’s Finest Dwarf Ale,” said Bombur with a nod of his bushy red head.

Harry’s eyes widened as the quantity of ale was revealed, bottles and bottles and bottles of the stuff.

For little fellows, it appeared they could put away quite a lot . . .

Harry’s brow furrowed as he shook back his floppy fringe. “I am not sure there’s going to be room in the refrigerator for all of it, Bombur.”

The dwarf shrugged his shoulders. “’Tis no matter, we will drink it at any temperature.”

“That’s right. Hot, cold, or in between, you can’t stand between a dwarf and his ale, my friend,” chimed in another dwarf. This one wore a rather silly-looking hat with a pair of dark pigtails sprouting right out of the sides of his head.

Yes, it was Bofur, he of the devilish dimpled grin . Somehow Harry suspected this dwarf would be sporting one of LW’s lampshade on his head and swinging from one of the chandeliers before all was said and done.

Bofur had moved to the stereo in the den and was sorting through the CDs. “We need to get this party started—we need some music!”

Soon the sound of KC and the Sunshine Band—who knew dwarfs were a fan of 70’s disco?—was blasting through the Surround Sound speakers as Bofur did his best Saturday Night Fever imitation, spinning his arms and pointing at the ceiling.

In the kitchen, his brother Bombur’s eyes lit up when he spied a large box of Cheez-Its. “Ooooh, I love a good cheese snack,” he said with a clap of his chubby hands before opening the box and shoving a large handful into his mouth.

Harry looked on with a bemused expression.  Sir Guy—aficionado of all things Cheez-It—would not be happy.

Oh, dear, what have we got ourselves—and Ladywriter—into?


Whilst her beloved ChaRActers and their guests were busy taking over the house, LW changed into her best jeans and a favorite blouse in a festive tomato red color.

Giving her hair and teeth a quick brush, she popped in her contacts and applied a touch of liner, a coat of mascara, a sweep of blush and a swipe of red lippie.  After a spritz of her J’Adore, she was ready to face all her unexpected guests.

“Oh, heavens,” she murmured under her breath as she walked into the living room. Her home was average-sized—just over 2,000 square feet—but it seemed very crowded.

One might be surprised by just how much space 13 dwarfs can take up (Bombur alone equaled at least two dwarfs), not to mention five full-sized ChaRActers.

It was not only crowded, but rather noisy, as music blared from the den stereo, mingled with an unusual number of deep baritone voices talking and laughing together.

Everyone, that is, except Guy. The knight was quiet as he lounged against the upright piano in the living room, watching Thorin and the other dwarves as they conversed.  His arms folded, Guy was wearing what he thought was an impassive expression.

Ladywriter smiled at him and gave a quick pat to his arm.

Guy is never very good at hiding his feelings, bless his heart. He is certainly not happy about this latest development.

He gave her a small nod. “My lady looks lovely,” he rumbled, his face still rather somber, save for a certain glint in those blue eyes.

“So does my dark knight. Now, if he will only behave as beautifully as he looks . . .” Ladywriter said, positioning her head so that Guy alone could see the slow wink she gave him.

She saw a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

He bent his head and whispered in her ear. “I promise to be a veritable pussy cat, my lady.”

“A declawed and toothless one, Sir Guy?” Oh, I really should not tease him.

Ladywriter . . .” There was definitely the hint of a growl there.

Ladywriter squeezed his arm, giving him another wink and turned to find the leader of the dwarves had risen to his feet.

“My lady,” Thorin said with a gracious bow. “I bid you good tidings on this special day.” He withdrew a square package tied with blue ribbon from a pocket inside his  coat and presented it to LW with a flourish.

“’Tis a small token from our company to mark the occasion.”

LW smiled down at Thorin—what a handsome creature he was, and that hair!–and inclined her head. “Thank you so much for your good wishes and for this gift. I am sure I will treasure it, whatever it may be.”

Thorin inclined his head. “You are most welcome. And now, Ladywriter, may I introduce to you our company?”

LW raised her hand. “Actually, if you don’t mind, Thorin, I would like to see if I can name them all–” She gave him a rather sheepish smile. “And get the right name with the right face. I have been studying.”

LW thought she detected a twinkle in his grey-blue eyes beneath those bushy brows.

“Then by all means, proceed, my lady,” Thorin said with another small bow of his regal head.

LW nodded. “OK.”

She looked at the older grey-haired dwarf, wearing a somewhat dour expression, sitting to the left of Thorin. “You must be—Dori, brother to Ori and Nori.” LW smiled. “You’re the caring big brother who always looks out for the younger ones.”

Dori nodded and gave her an appreciative half-smile. “I do my best—although it certainly isn’t not easy,” he replied with a put-upon sigh.

LW glanced at the dwarf sitting to Dori’s left and wagged a finger. “And you, if I am not mistaken, are Nori.”

Dori would want to keep an eye on you. You’re always up to something. A bit light-fingered. But not here—I am hoping. What is that bulge in your coat pocket?

Nori grinned, waggling the multiple braids of his brown beard.

“If you are looking for little brother, he’s in the other room with your artist friends.”

Well, that made sense, LW thought. Quiet, polite, artistic Ori would very likely be drawn to that sensitive soul, her darling Lucas and the brilliant and passionate Monet.

However, she still had dwarves in the living room to identify. It was pretty hard to mistake which one was sitting next to Nori.

The rusting remnants of an Orc ax buried in his poor head was a dead giveaway. She knew the dwarf was no longer able to speak.

“Hello, Bifur,” LW said, stretching out a hand and giving him a welcoming smile. The dwarf gave her hand a firm shake, grunting in reply.

She turned her attentions to the loveseat, where a couple of handsome young dwarves, one fair and one dark, were seated.

They both jumped to their feet with the enthusiasm of youth and gave her a bow.

Ladywriter inclined her head. “I believe I have the honor of meeting—Fili and Kili, if I am not mistaken.”

“At your service,” Fili and Kili chimed in unison.

“Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake your bootie, shake your bootie!!” Someone was singing at the top of his lungs.

A dwarf with Pippi Longstocking-style braids came dancing into living room, doffing his hat to twirl it in the air above his head as he wiggled his posterior with great enthusiasm.

“This has to be Bofur,” LW said with a chuckle, shaking her head.

“At your service, my lady.” He took her hand and pressed a kiss to it even as he still kept dancing, his dark eyes full of mirth. “Happy Birthday and I hope you don’t mind us making ourselves at home.”

Ladywriter gave him a lop-sided grin. “I understand dwarves have a habit of doing just that . . .”

She glanced toward the den, where she could glimpse Porter, Lucas and Monet tying balloons to pretty much–everything, while assorted and sundry dwarves looked on.

“Well, it certainly is looking festive,” she announced loudly, slipping over to the stereo cabinet to turn the volume down just a tad.

“Oh, the banner is gorgeous! Did you lads paint it?”

Lucas and Claude glanced at each other, grinning, and nodded.

“And you must be Ori. The artist of the group.” Ori gave her a soft, shy smile,  his dark eyes not quite meeting hers, a blush coming to his cheeks.
Clearly a sweetheart.

And more dwarves to identify: two on the sofa and two more in the oversized easy chairs. She restrained an impulse to giggle as they rocked, their booted feet dangling in mid-air in the rocker-recliners.

Something told her it would be bad form to laugh at—

“Hello, Oin.” LW said in a loud voice, knowing this grey-haired healer was hard of hearing. He nodded in response.

“And you must be Gloin, his brother. May I say you have a most impressive beard.”

The fierce-looking dwarf lightly stroked said beard, trimmed with a great deal of silver jewelry.  He was obviously proud of it.

“Regular conditioning treatments. My wife’s beard is almost as impressive.”

That left three dwarves to name. She smiled at the venerable-looking white-haired gentleman on the sofa.

“I believe you are Balin, the Dwarf Lord and a trusted advisor to Thorin?”

Balin gave her a gracious nod. “Indeed, you are correct, my lady. Thank you for welcoming us into your home.”

As for the fearsome balding tattooed dwarf sitting beside Balin, it could only be–

“Dwalin, welcome.” Knowing Dwalin’s prejudices, LW was thankful no elves had shown up. Yet. Where would I put them if they did?

That left only one dwarf. And he was unmistakable.

The rotund red-haired fellow in the kitchen with Harry was the Company’s chief cook, Bombur.

He stopped stuffing his mouth with Cheez-Its long enough to mumble an amiable reply to LW’s greeting. Cheez-Its! And it was Guy’s favorite flavor, Hot and Spicy.

Harry shrugged his shoulders and gave her a reassuring smile as if to say, “Go with the flow, LW, go with the flow.”

“I say break out the Arkenstone ale!” Bofur cried.

Ladywriter was surprised he hadn’t already been into it.

Oh, dear. A dozen naughty, raucous, hard-partying dwarves, five ChaRActers, including  a somewhat volatile knight whose favorite snack food was rapidly being scarfed down by one of those dwarves.

“Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy birthday,” she murmured to herself.

 (End of Part Two)

Ladywriter and the Unexpected Guests: Part 1


Mr. LW had departed for work and all was quiet chez Ladywriter.

She was still snug in bed after a restless night, fully expecting a calm, peaceful, perhaps even slightly dull day to mark her 52 years on earth.

But that’s not what happened.

She awoke to find herself looking up into a pair of kohl-lined eyes of azure blue.

Even in her short-sightedness, she could recognize those peepers anywhere. He was also leaning down over her, his particular musky, spicy, ultra-masculine scent filling her nostrils.

Not an altogether unpleasant way to wake up.

“Awww. So you are awake, my lady,” the dark knight rumbled.

“Sir—Guy, what are you doing here this early?” LW said drowsily, rubbing her eyes and reaching for her glasses.

He certainly looked as if he might be up to something, she thought. And a tad nervous, too?

Sir Guy tilted his head and flashed those dazzling white teeth—really, was it fair for someone from the bloody Middle Ages to have a toothpaste commercial smile?—and took her hand. “I wanted to be the first ChaRActer to wish you a happy birthday, dear LW.”

He paused, licking his lips as he expelled a breath.

“I—have a surprise for you. Lady Leigh helped me with it.”

What had Leigh come up with?

Ladywriter raked a hand through her hair, wishing for a brush. And some lippie. Oh, well, Sir Guy had seen her plenty of times before in a less than glamorous state.

He still loved her anyway, the big lug. And she, of course, adored him.

“Don’t keep me in suspense, my dearest Dark Knight.”

Sir Guy held up one elegant index finger. “Just one moment.”

Striding over to the computer hutch, he began to punch keys on the desktop.

Suddenly, music poured out of the external speakers.

Ladywriter’s eyes widened when she recognized the tune.  Was the Hot Velvet Henchman going to serenade her?

It seemed that he was. Sir Guy cleared that lovely, long column of white throat and opened his mouth–

Blam! Blam! Blam! It sounded as if someone was trying to batter down the front door.

Sir Guy, a rather ferocious frown crossing his face, cut off the music and stomped one large foot. “God’s tears! Who can that be?”

Ladywriter shrugged. “I certainly wasn’t expecting anyone.” She sighed. “Since not everyone can actually see you, I suppose I’d best answer the door.”

Blam! Blam! Blam!

“Good thing I wore shorts and a tee to bed, I suppose. Otherwise, our visitor would probably knock down the door before I could even get dressed.” Ladywriter grumbled as she padded into the living room.

“Hang on, hang on, I’m coming!”

She took a quick peek through the blinds of the front windows before opening the door and gasped.

“Happy birthday, Ladywriter!” A chorus of male voices greeted her.

Ladywriter clapped her hands in delight, then held open the storm door and waved her visitors inside. “What a surprise! I wasn’t expecting all of you–”

A jumper-clad fellow sporting a sunny smile leaned down to plant a hearty kiss on her cheek. “We couldn’t miss your birthday, dear LW. The missus sends her best.” He held up a round plastic container. “And I brought you a cake!” He waggled his brows. “Lots of layers and lots of chocolate.”

Ladywriter couldn’t resist pinching Harry Kennedy’s cheek. “Sounds delicious. As are you.  You’re a regular dose of sunshine, you know.”

Harry blushed in a most attractive way, his blue eyes twinkling merrily. “Well, there you go . . .”

“Oi, budge over, Harry, give us some room,” laughed another visitor, impressive biceps bulging beneath his olive tee-shirt as he placed the bag he was carrying on the floor. “I want to give LW a nice bear hug for her birthday.”

Soon Ladywriter was enveloped in John Porter’s strong arms. “Happy birthday, luv. My family sends you their love, too,” he murmured in her ear.

“It’s wonderful to see you, John. Just wonderful.”

Ladywriter sighed as she rested her head against that muscular chest. Wrapped in a John Porter embrace was a good place to be. And whilst he might no longer be on active duty, he was still most definitely fit.

“Give the rest of us a chance, will you, Portah?”

Ladywriter stepped back and looked up into a pair of heavenly blue eyes smiling down at her. “Lucas—you are looking so well, too. You all look just—great.

Lucas bent down and kissed her on the cheek, gently stroking her cheek with the pad of his thumb. “So do you.”

“Liar,” said LW with a wry shake of her head. “But I will take the compliment, nonetheless.”

She glanced over Lucas’s shoulder at the lanky figure in the jaunty beret and blue smock standing behind him. It was Lucas’s rather famous art instructor.

“And bonjour to you, Monsieur!”

Monet bowed and took her hand. “So delighted to be here on the occasion of your special day, Madame.” His address might be formal, but there was a teasing glint in those incandescent blue eyes.

Monet held up a basket. “I brought some fruit, crusty bread, cheese and le vin.

Ladywriter laughed. “How very French of you, mon ami.”

Mais oui, Madame.” Monet gave her one of his infectious smiles.

Lucas held up a large shopping bag. “And I’ve got the decorations.”

Ladywriter raised a quizzical brow. “Decorations?”

Harry grinned. “Of course. Ladywriter, this is your birthday bash!!”

“And we are taking care of everything,” Lucas added.

Porter grinned. “And I’ve got the champers and some sort of fancy—what do you call ‘em?—hors d’oeuvres that Layla prepared.”

“Eh-hmmmm.” Someone was clearing his throat. All eyes turned to see Sir Guy standing there, arms folded across his broad chest, eyes narrowed.

“Pray, why did no one apprise me of these plans? I was just preparing to present my lady with her special birthday gift.”

Porter grinned. “Well, if it isn’t the Medieval Menace himself.” He could not quite resist getting a dig in. “Maybe we thought you couldn’t keep a secret.”

The Dark Knight’s nostrils flared as he thrust out his stubbled chin. “That is simply NOT true–”

Harry raised a hand. “Now, now, Sir Guy, the sergeant is just teasing you, of course.  Actually, I believe you were, perhaps– indisposed—with one of your many lady friends whilst we were organizing our plans?”

Sir Guy’s bristling stance relaxed a bit as his mouth curled into a knowing smirk. “Ah, yes. That is a definite possibility.”

Porter snorted.  Guy glared. Ladywriter shot both a warning glance.  “Let’s all try to get along, boys, it is my birthday, after all.”

Harry nodded. “That’s right, lads, let’s all pull together and be extra kind to one another. Now, LW, you just sit back and relax and we shall take care of everything–”

Blam! Blam! Blam!

“Were—we expecting anyone else?” Ladywriter queried.

The ChaRActers all looked at one another, shrugging and shaking their heads.

This time, Harry peeked through the blinds.

“Well, what do you reckon . . .”

(to be continued)

Tolkien Week & My Early B-day Celebration


It’s been buzzing on Twitter today that Sir Peter has left a brief video (41 seconds) on his Facebook page marking the beginning of Tolkien Week and the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit. Here’s a link to TORn’s story:


PJ’s contribution to the celebration will be the debut of the eagerly-anticipated second trailer for TH, set for Wednesday, Sept. 19 (Ooooh. More Thorin, surely. Speaking, fighting, roaring, singing, riding? Can’t wait to see what’s there!) He’s also promising some other goodies for fans during this “exciting, interesting week.” Maybe more Thorin photos amongst them? *sigh*  Although, truthfully, I am having fun exploring all things hobbity these days.

Of course, Thorin’s Second Breakfast celebration is coming up Friday and a combined Bilbo/Frodo Birthday Bash is coming on the 26th of this month. And sandwiched in between all this is yours truly’s own birthday celebration on Sept. 25. I almost feel as if Sir Peter is helping me celebrate early this year!

Thanks, Sir Peter, for the early bday gifts this year. You are one swell guy. Wish I could give you a big bear hug. And ruffle your hair even more.

My copy of the movie tie-in version of The Hobbit, another early birthday gift, should arrive this week, too. Hoping for a few more new photos. Not that I am greedy or anything . . . may all of you have a wonderful Tolkien Week!

OT: The man who brought me stories


Today is my father’s birthday. If he were still alive, he would be 92 years old.  He’s been gone more than nine years, but I still think about him everyday. When the trees are bare in winter I can see the grey slate roof and the red brick chimneys of the farmhouse where I grew up in the little valley below us.

It will likely surprise no one who knows me very well that I often carry on imaginary conversations in my head with my dad. If I can do it with beloved fictional characters, I can certainly do it with the man whose genetic material I carry.  He loved to tell stories.

Stories about his school days at Mt. Zion and the time the schoolhouse burned to the ground; stories about the sister who dyed her hair to match her car, about his days as a military policeman at a German POW camp and the time he and his sergeant had to go drag WW I hero Alvin York’s son out from under the house when he went AWOL. We heard some of them so many times we could have probably recited them in our sleep.  And then out of the blue he’d come up with one we’d never heard before. Who knew my dad had taken flight lessons and even soloed when he came back home after WW II?

Then came the day of The Accident. Being run down by your much-loved John Deere tractor and having your leg ripped open by a bush hog implement doesn’t do a senior citizen a lot of good.  I remember kneeling at his side, teasing him about the circumstances while trying to keep him conscious as he lay there on the ground, blood-soaked towels around his leg.

“You would go and get run over by your very favorite tractor, wouldn’t you? Nothing runs like a Deere. Nothing runs over you like a Deere?” He gave me a woozy smile and started reciting all the John Deere memorabilia he owned, from signs to mugs to Christmas ornaments. It kept him awake. It kept me from squawling.

Being run over  turned out to be a blessing heavily disguised.  His surgeon, concerned Daddy might have suffered internal injuries, ordered additional tests and it was discovered my dad had an abdominal aortic aneurysm the size of a grapefruit. The proverbial ticking time bomb.

Were it not for the CAT scan following the tractor incident, we would never have known about the aneurysm. And one day he would have simply dropped dead; barring an autopsy, we’d have never known why. For much of the remaining two years of his life, Daddy loved telling the story of the John Deere run amuck.

When his leg healed enough he had surgery to remove the aneurysm. He reacted badly to medication he was given. How badly? Let me just say there are some things you do not want to ever see. Your father in a straitjacket is one of them. He was never quite the same afterwards. We think he may have suffered some light strokes in the aftermath of it all.

Two years later came the night he began talking about “bent fences” over and over again. He’d suffered a major stroke. He wasn’t paralyzed anywhere and his speech wasn’t slurred. But a chunk of his brain had been blown out.  The condition is called vascular dementia.  It’s like a sudden leap into Alzheimer’s.  His memory was scrambled, his judgment and reasoning affected.

My father’s mind was badly fractured and I so wanted to put it back together for him.  But I could not. No one could.

I became “Lady.” Benny, the only one physically able to really handle him at times, was “Sheriff.” My mother was known as “That Woman.”

Some days he was convinced the front yard was full of frogs. I did not argue with him. Frogs were harmless, after all.  Later, when he was in the nursing home we received a call in the middle of the night that he was extremely agitated and we needed to come and calm him down. He believed someone had shot him. When he pointed to the “wound” and told me with huge tears in his eyes how much it hurt, the hallucination wasn’t harmless and amusing; it was heartbreaking.

While we were still able to keep him at home, we’d watch Lawrence Welk and sing songs while he sat on the toilet. He took an interminably long time as he carefully folded his tissue as if making some origami bird. He might not be able to remember our names, but he could recall “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” and other tunes. We talked about the old days. The familiar was comforting for him and for us.

He had his moments of lucidity. “It’s raining,” he announced. “And how do you know that, Joe?” Benny queried in a kind tone. “Hell, I just looked out the window,” Daddy replied, sounding just like his old self.  We laughed. It felt good to laugh.

When he was trying to think things through, and you could see him struggling, you wanted to be able to climb into his brain and help him out. “I just can’t remember–nothin’ no more,” he said one night, shaking his head in frustration.  His favorite stories and well-worn jokes were not always retrievable.

Daddy was always proud of the work I did for the newspaper. There were several of my columns which he carefully cut out and folded and tucked into his wallet to share with friends and acquaintances or to simply re-read when the urge struck him. I think it tickled him to think of his daughter carrying on his storytelling tradition, only with the written word instead of the spoken.

In the last months of his life, Daddy became bedridden  and lost the power of speech. My raconteur father was forced into silence.

But I kept talking. Each time I visited, I would share the well wishes of those I had seen, catch him up on the community news, tell him about interviews and assignments I had done.  I was not sure how much he understand in those last months, but I knew it was important that I kept talking, kept the conversation going, kept telling the stories.

And today I still keep talking. I keep telling the stories. Somehow, I know it is important.

Happy Birthday, Daddy. And thank you for the stories.  Your three girls love you and miss you very much.

Joe’s girls. My mother, two older sisters and me on vacation in Silver Springs, Fla. Daddy is behind the Kodak Brownie box camera.

And now, a message from Storyteller Richard


So, it’s evening in Detroit. Mr. A has put in another day on the set of Black Sky. I wonder if he’ll go out somewhere for the evening to celebrate his birthday–a birthday supper, perhaps? A little dining and dancing? Or will he be too tired and prefer to pack it in . . .  whatever he does, I hope it’s been a good day. I hope by the time he turns in for the night  he’s thoroughly felt the love and affection and appreciation that has poured out from all over the globe for him on his special day, on Armitage Day. And thank you, once more, Richard, for just being–you.  And for the effect you have on me, on us.  God bless you, Birthday Boy Extraordinaire.

Time to Party! It’s Armitage Day, Ladies & Gents


Here’s my third (and I promise!) final tribute vid for Richard’s birthday. Earlier I posted two vids of the chaRActers saluting their wonderful Creator. I actually think Thorin and Guy are vying for who is going to cut the cake. Those alpha males!





I wrote Mama Armitage a letter (well, a fictional one) in honor of her son’s day. Clink on the link at the right if you missed it.

And now here’s the vid, which I think everyone just might be able to see! Get your dancing shoes on and get ready to celebrate Richard Crispin Armitage’s birthday!  PAAAAAAR-TYYYYYY! Richard, I hope you have a very happy birthday and many, many more to come, dear fellow.

Black Sky & Birthday Preparations


OK, we now know the film Richard is currently filming will be called Black Sky.  Very ominous sounding, which is suitable for a film about a tornado and its terrible aftermath.  Less ominous sounding (and much more festive) is the fact Richard will be celebrating the big Four-One right here in the good ol’ USA in just a couple of days. Word on the street is the ChaRActers are already gearing up for the big celebration . . .

If you haven’t been to iwanttobeapinup.wordpress.com and participated in the birthday celebration countdown by AgzyM and Gisbornesboy, you’ve still got time to throw your name in the pot by answering the question of the day for a chance to win an amazing tote bag featuring Gisby’s own Little RA character cartoons.  Congrats to all the winners thus far!  And I have an RA birthday surprise or two for y’all of my own . . . 😉