Saturday, January 29, 2011


The other day I was talking to my twin brother telling him how sometimes I rack my brain for interesting blog entries.  He suggested writing about our trip to Mexico.  That got me to thinking about things he and I did as kids that drove Mama crazy.  So, like WTCF (What-the-cat fur), every once in awhile I will share the childhood adventures of the Burkett Twins, Jimmy and Ruth.
Jim and I were famous from the get-go.  We were the first boy and girl twins born at the old Washington Regional Hospital in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  This was before the time of ultra-sounds and Mama had no idea she was having twins.  Neither did the doctor.  My oldest brother, Wes, was so excited he told everyone he was a double-uncle.
We were born six weeks early and weighed 3lbs, 11 oz..  We spent some time in an incubator before going home.  Mama and Daddy had to sell the cows to get us out of hock.  Grandma told everyone what a perfect gentleman Jim was to let me have the honor of coming into the world first.  Mama, on the other hand, didn’t share the same theory.  She maintained that Jim was tired of me by this time and kicked me out.  Personally, I think he was scared to pop out first so he sent me to check things out. 

Needless to say, Mama had her hands full taking care of twins.  What one couldn’t think of, the other would.  The trip to Mexico however was a joint effort.

Jim & Ruth

Being a twin meant you always had a playmate and a partner in crime.  We were fortunate growing up as we had a large back yard with big trees complete with rope swings, a creek, and a weed-patch behind us.  Mama didn’t allow us to go into the weed-patch because of copperheads.  Of course since it was forbidden territory, the weed-patch became our Bali Ha’i that called and tempted us with its mysterious charms.
On a crisp fall day while Jim and I were playing in the backyard, a rustling came from the weed-patch.  Eyes wide, we waited for a lion or tiger to step out.  But instead of a wild animal a stranger walked out of the weeds.  Quite sure this guy was a world-wide traveler we asked him where he had been and where he was going.  He told us Mexico.
Jim and I looked at one another and the same thought popped into our heads—let’s go to Mexico!
Not only were Jim and I lucky to have a large back yard to play in, but we had our own real-life guardian angel as well.  Our dog, George, was a spotted angel with a long straight tail and four paws who protected us at all times.  Naturally when we took off through the weed-patch, George walked by our side.
Our excitement built.  What would Mexico be like?  How long would it take us to get there?
Unknown to us, Mama’s excitement was growing by leaps and bounds as well. Her kids had disappeared from the back yard!  Where were they?  She yelled our names over and over but we never heard.  After all, we were half way to Mexico by this time.  But God heard her frantic cries and answered them.  She caught sight of George’s stick tail bobbing through the weeds along with the tops of our bright colored stocking caps.
Alas, we never made it to the border.
I think Mama switched us.
I know she asked what the hell we thought we were doing.
Quite innocent, we told her we were going to Mexico.
I think this stunt, along with others, was why Mama dyed her hair to hide the gray.
Jim and I never made it to the Land of Enchantment.  We have no desire to go there now.  However, The Land of the Midnight Sun is calling . . . "come to me, come to me."
George will have to go with us in spirit.  



Saturday, January 22, 2011

In memory of Sissy

Last Thursday I had to put my cat to sleep. 
It sucked!
Sissy had been with me for over twelve years.  She wasn’t only my companion, but Pan Cat’s buddy as well. 
Pan is black as midnight, mysterious, with a hint of wildness, my muse, my familiar, my witch cat.  Sissy, on the other hand, was reserved, quiet, and shy.  In fact, friends thought she was a figment of my imagination as she would run and hide the minute they came to the door and not reappear until they left. 
At all times, Sissy was the perfect Southern belle, a lady, a diva.
Every morning she helped me get ready for work.  Sitting on my bathroom vanity she would stick her head into my makeup bag making sure I remembered the mascara.  After applying blush, I would make a few quick brush strokes to her cheeks and nose as well.  Dusty Rose was her favorite. 
Sissy loved bling.  I’d find jewelry in strange places—rings under the bathroom rug, earrings in the bed.  My jewelry box was a playground of delight and I’d often catch her pawing at the bobbles as if trying to decide what to wear that day.
Even though always the lady, Sissy did have a wild side.  After all, she was a cat.  She’d pin her little ears back, race through the house, and tackle anything that moved.  Quite the mouser, that little gray diva cat. 
Then, one day, without warning, she got sick.
I made a deal with her—as long as she ate and drank and wasn’t in pain, I would take care of her.  But the minute that all changed, I would put her down.  For two months she honored that agreement, but last Wednesday she crashed and burned.  She hurt.  Tore my heart from my chest.  Thru the night I held her, brushed her, and sang lullaby’s in her ear.  Anything to soothe her and let her sleep.  Tears running down my face, I told her how much I loved her, how beautiful she was, and what a honor it was to be her mama.  I would always remember her.
Then, I told her I was going to put her down, but not to be afraid.  I would be there to hold her hand.  My brother would be waiting on the other side to take care of her. 
She understood. 
So, in the ice and snow I drove Sissy to the vet, stood bravely by her side, kissed and hugged her, and said my last goodbye. 
She’s feeling much better now.
Some people claim animals don’t have souls.  I have one word for them—bullshit! 
Pets are God’s unconditional love and acceptance wrapped in fur with tails and four paws—or feathers, or fins. It is ridiculous to think HE would give his ultimate gift of love to mankind and not give them souls.

Others say that our pets resemble us.  Maybe it’s the other way around.  I have Pan’s wild, witchy side, but I also have Sissy’s reserved, shy side as well.  Who knows?
All I know for certain is the world would suck without the Sissy cats!
Rest in peace, my little diva.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Real Women drink Tequila!

Dixie Dandelion’s soiled dove friend, Cinnamon, was a dark-skinned, mysterious-eyed, half Creole beauty whose little French accent drove the men wild.  Cinnamon was a real woman of the West and she called tequila the “golden elixir of the handsome, bronzed Aztec gods.”
Dixie called it Aztec Joy Juice.
I call it purgatory in a fancy bottle.
Why purgatory?  Because after a few shots, I’m clinically alive, but I know I’m dead.
My first exposure to the liquid dynamite came after winning a woman’s softball tournament.  Feeling smug and over confident, I downed a shot on a dare.  The amber lava tore down my throat and hit my stomach a few seconds before my brain registered what I had done.  Then, all hell broke loose.  Spitting and choking, I hacked up everything but my toenails.  I still remember the words I managed to croak, “This stuff is nasty!”
Of course I proceeded to throw back a few more shots just to make sure my analysis was correct.
A few years later there was an incident in Cozumel where the mango margaritas flowed like water and I danced on the table with cute, Mexican waiters.  But that was just innocent fun.
Ah, the glory of youth!  Young, dumb, and full of . . . stupidity.
But I am older and wiser now.  This past weekend I proved my maturity by mixing tequila with rum.  Well, gee, I had to.  It was a celebration party complete with kindred sisters, a bonfire, and paper lanterns that sailed into the dark sky like tiny ships starting out on a “first star to the right and straight on till morning,” voyage.  It would have been a sin to sit under that grand ol’ walnut tree, butt grounded firmly to the rich earth, and not toast to a brighter future.
I mean, gosh, it would have been downright rude to refuse that shot.  And I am not a rude person.  Although after a second and third shot, I turned into Chatty Cathy—pull the string and listen to the Kewpie doll chatter.
While we all sat in a circle, I put on my pointy black witch hat and passed out advice like serving chips and dip.  One half of my brain screamed, “Shut up!” while the other half kept right on trucking.  My "witchy-woman” self was out and flying.  Who am I to deny the “spirits” when they come out to play?  Be they ancient deities, Captain Morgan, Jack Black or Jose Cuervo?
What is it about tequila that makes a woman, no matter her age, act so free and wild?
Personally, I think it has to do with the power of the woman.
Even if she heaves over the deck railing, it takes a real woman to lick (the salt), swallow (the tequila) bite (the lime,) grin and say, “Hit me again.” 
And there ain’t nothin' more sexy than a real woman!
Granted it may not be pretty the next morning, but if you run with the big dogs, ya gotta’ take the bad with the good.
And speaking of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Clint Eastwood looked damn hot shooting tequila too!
Ole’ for Jose!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Horses from the Mist

My novel, Soldiers From the Mist, is more than just another Civil War story.  It tackles present day problems such as: alcoholism, mental/verbal/physical abuse, dysfunctional families, women’s rights, depression, and man’s inhumanity to man.  It also has whisperings of the paranormal in that the story was channeled to me from the ghost of Charles Ely.     
Needless to say, working with a ghost provided me with many interesting moments and events which I’ve detailed through out the book.  Some will argue these happenings couldn’t have taken place or are just coincidences.
 Coincidences?  Don’t believe in them.
Charles Ely, the main protagonist in the book, enlists in the Confederacy in the War Between the States and is a member of the cavalry unit, #547.  I worked hard to describe and capture the personalities of each key cavalry mount.  To reward my diligence, Charlie pulled the paranormal strings and provided me with pictures of each horse. 
So without any further ado, I present the horses of Soldiers From the Mist:
Charlie’s companion is RED:  An eight-year-old part Thoroughbred sorrel gelding.  “Runs like the wind.  Jumps like a deer.”   (My own personal horse, King resembled him so much I wondered if Charlie was pulling strings long before he appeared to me from out of the mist.)


Charlie’s mother, Clara, sacrifices all she holds dear to buy RED in the hopes the magnificent horse will bring her son back to her arms, safe and unharmed.


BELLE is Specks’ mare:  A shy, bay with large doe eyes and the heart of champion. She chooses Specks, not the other way around.

Jessie’s horse is a piebald with a coat of black and white patches, hence the name, PATCH.


CROW is “a witch with four legs and a tail.”  Only a man with a soft voice and gentle hands can ride her.


MAJOR is Lieutenant Peter James Montgomery’s dun gelding.  Strong, flashy, and dependable.

Horses play an important role in the novel, and I hope you keep their faces in mind when you read, Soldiers From the Mist.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I love the movies.
I celebrated the New Year by going to the movies and seeing True Grit.   I hadn’t planned on watching this remake of John Wayne’s movie out of respect for The Duke; however curiosity got the best of me.  Would this version measure-up to the original?  I’m not a big Jeff Bridges fan.  Would I believe him as Rooster Cogburn?  And what about Mattie Ross?  Would I want to meld into her skin and transform into a sassy, independent tomboy determined to avenge her father’s death? 
The answer to these questions?  Yes and yes.  Sorry, Big John, but I like this new take on Charles Portis’ book better.  From the opening scene to the rolling of the credits, True Grit held me captive.  I laughed, cried, and cheered. 
The first movie I remember seeing was, To Kill a Mockingbird.   
Mama loved Gregory Peck and since this was during the time when children went every where with their parents, she took my brother and me along.   The bright lights of the movie marquee at the old Ozark Theatre in Fayetteville welcomed us into a lobby scented with the buttery smell of fresh popcorn.  Twenty-five cents got us both popcorn and sodas. 
The lights dimmed and my pulse quicken with anticipation.  The opening scene flashed onto the big screen and I was hooked for life. 
 It is interesting to note that a large percentage of the best movies out there are based on books: To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind, True Grit, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings to name just a few.  
                             Of course, I dream of the day my book, Soldiers From the Mist, hits the big screen.  I’m not alone in this wish.  My friends, Gypsy Jan and Alaska Patty see their novels, Broken Dolls and Redneck-Ex on movie marquees as well.  
Dusty Richards’ award winning book, The Sundown Chaser is an excellent movie possibility.  Tom Selleck as Thurman Baker?  Sounds like a winner to me.
I realize that there are those that scoff at this idea.
 “Your book?  A movie?  No way.”  
I have two words for these non-believers—Yes, way!”    
Today's impossible dreams are the realities of tomorrow.
I don’t know which movie stars will portray Charlie, Jessie and Emmie.  Perhaps an unknown will be discovered and Soldiers From the Mist will be his claim to fame.  Martin Scorsese will be the producer/director, however because I dreamed I stood on stage with my Oscar for “Best movie based on a Novel” signing The Impossible Dream to Mr. Scorsese.  A silly dream or a valid premonition?  Only time will tell.
To dream the impossible dream, to reach the unreachable star . . .