Sunday, August 30, 2015

new pieces~small landscapes from Southern Ireland~

 A year ago I spent 5 weeks in Ireland, mostly in the city of Cork.  These paintings are scenes from (left) Kilarney National Forest, and (right) Inchydoney beach in Clonakilty. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

beginning of screenplay-first 10 pages~




The silence is broken by the pitter-patter tapping sound of

little dog feet as they meander through the house and into

the bedroom. Marie opens her eyes and squints over the edge

of the bed where the Chihuahua, raggedy and elderly, stands


What're you doing down there? Come

Marie picks up the dog and pulls her into the bed. Small,

black and furry, Chica scratches herself vigorously, then

settles next to Marie.

Go to sleep.

Marie studies the ceiling for a moment. She reaches her arm

around Chica. Then glances over at the man who sleeps next

to her. He is an older man with a tidy beard, glasses on

and mouth open. An open book is across his chest. He has

strawberry blonde hair; his beard is white. He snores

softly, then snorts in his sleep. She looks toward the

ceiling again for a moment, stretches her leg across the

bottom half of his body, and closes her eyes. Just then...a

small voice calls out.

What is it honey? Go back to
Mom? ....I need you.

She stumbles into the next room. Marie is fully dressed in

torn jeans and a t-shirt. She leans over Malcolm who is in

his small bed. He snuggles a petite brown Chihuahua.

What's a matter? You okay? (rubs
her hand across his forehead) Your
head's all sweaty. (pause) You
want me to get in with you?


Without opening his eyes, Malcolm scoots backward in the bed

making room for her, pulling his little dog along with him.

Marie crawls into the wee bed with her son and closes her

eyes. Once again there is the little pitter-patter of

approaching dog feet. She leans over, pulls Chica into the

bed too. Malcolm lay holding his dog, she lay holding hers.

They drift off to sleep in the continued darkness.


Marie drives along Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans from Mid

City towards the French Quarter. The historic homes along

the avenue were obviously once very grand and elegant,

French and Spanish architecture, but now there's all manner

of deterioration in most. An eclectic mix of tourists and

local street people peppers the sidewalk. A small wooden

building on the right is covered with grafitti.

Marie wears sunglasses as she drives with the windows down,

her arm out the window as music plays--Trouble in Paradise

by Tele Novella.

I had dreams. Sometimes....I even
try to remember them.
I loved a boy. He was sun-tanned
and cajun. My soulmate I guess.
(pause) Even now....I wonder
about him...and everything I had,
you know, a long time ago.

She continues along the avenue, driving, music playing.


She quickly climbs the stairs in an old French Quarter

building which is at once elegant and decrepit. She ascends

past the brightly colored signed Jazz Fest posters, some

black and white signed photographs. She rushes toward the

meeting room, looks in, but no one is in there. She walks

across the hall to another room where a colleague, Michael,

sits at his desk with his back to her.

I thought I was late.
She plops down into a soft chair next to him.

Michael speaks slowly, without looking up, in a warm

Southern accent.
Hi honey. (pause) The meeting
doesn't start until 10, you know~
(glances around
for a clock)
Isn't it 10 now?
Well, nobody's here, are they?
(Then quickly adds,) Well, Ann's
Michael motions toward a young blonde woman sitting in the

room whom Marie hadn't noticed. Ann stands, reaches out to

shake Marie's hand. Marie jumps up to shake it.
Hi I'm Ann with American Mortgage.
I think we met before at an open

Oh sure! I always hear good things
about you. Give me your card and
I'll recommend you!
I just had them made. Here-take a

Michael is now on his cell phone. He vigorously shoos the

two women away as if they are children. Marie and Ann

quickly scurry out of Michael's office and into the meeting


I brought this candy basket for

She sets the basket down on the large rectangular wooden

table that looks like it used to be in somebody's dining

room. Ann then takes a seat on the far side of the room.
Thanks, but....I'm starting to
spread out a little bit in the
my whole body really, I need to
get back in shape in case I run
into Al Stewart again....(pause)
although God only knows what he
looks like these days.

Marie and a rock musician laughing in a hotel room. They

are half undressed. She is younger with wild curly hair. He

speaks with a British accent and swigs from a bottle of

Pepto Bismol.
Your body's so pale! Don't you
ever get out in the sun?
Never. I work every night and
sleep during the day.
Well okay but I think you need
some sun!
What I a photogragh of
your behind.
What for?!
(as if obviously)
Tape it to the back of my guitar.

They laugh and fall into the bed.


Just then, in the midst of her semi-daydream, James arrives

and sits at the head of the table as he is in charge of the

meeting for the day. Michael, then Roy stroll in. Marie,

slightly self-conscious, sits down in the chair nearest to


Roy! It's good to see you! You're
always so tan.
You put George Hamilton to shame.

Roy smiles/looks pleased with the attention as if he has a

little crush on Ann.
Is this everybody? Is Dorian

No one answers.
Marie, do you have anything to
Well, I usually sit on the other
side of the table, so I'm a little
I know! You're in my chair!
Do you want to sit here?
(smiles, shouts)
Of course not!
Okay, well, I do have a closing
coming up at my listing in the
Ninth Ward, but we had the
inspections the other day, and the
guy found all kinds of things that
are crumbling down, so now I don't
know what's going to happen there…
And I still have my listing in
Chalmette. I've shown it a bunch,
but no takers. It's a really cool
place, too. There's these really
gorgeous Mexican tile floors all
through the house. The owner, this
old guy, Ray, put in all top of
the line stainless steel
appliances and all. Anyway, so
today I'm going on broker tour
with the Chalmette agents.
Poor you!
The Chalmations!

You know...before the storm their
accent would aggravate the hell
out of me but now I just really
miss it.
It's the same accent as ours in
Well, yeah, but they're the Yats!
Where y'at?
Makin' groceries at Schwegmann's!
The meeting format begins to digress.
When I was younger and dating, my
dad would say something like,
"so you going to the Quarters?"
And I'd say, "Well…no…just the

Colleagues knowingly laugh and chuckle.

Marie reaches into her tiny overstuffed purse and looks

through assorted scraps of papers.

"Oh God! I forgot about this
traffic ticket!
I gotta go pay this before I get
(A beat, then thoughtfully)

I wouldn't manage well in jail.
What's if for?
Expired brake tag.
They've been setting up a lot of
traffic stops in the French
but I only got a warning.
Well the guy who stopped me said
that he would've just given me a
warning except that it's been
expired for two years.
I think for me it's about 8 years.


Marie stares at a computer screen in the downstairs part of

the office. Her e-mail inbox is displayed, with messages

such as:
"Open house Sunday-historic gem in the Bywater"
"Learn to meditate with Deepak Chopra"
"Find your inner strength by letting go"
"Improve your focus by clearing away clutter"
"Five tips to re-ignite the excitement in your sex life"
"vitamins for longer life"
"You now qualify for a free scooter chair"

Dorian, tall and elegant, breezes past and stops when he

sees Marie.

(asks, almost
Aren't you coming to the meeting?
I'm going on broker tour in
Chalmette today;
gotta be there in a few minutes. I
just had to pay a traffic ticket
online first.
Would you like to handle an open
house for me this weekend?
A condo in the Quarter?

Yes, I would!

(quickly rushes
off upstairs,
calling back)
I'll send you the details.

A sharply dressed woman passes by. Marie quickly jumps up

to follow her.
Hey Caroline, can I see you for a
Sure Marie. What can I do for
My dad called me about an
apartment for lease. He wants to
rent an apartment that he saw
listed through our company and I
see that it's your listing.

Marie takes a deep breath then exhales.

He's a pack-rat, a hoarder, you
know? He somehow manages to break
the plumbing wherever he lives and
he may bring home drunk women.
Oh that's perfect because the
owner is a slum lord.




Well, let's head down the road,
(smiles, looks over at Marie to
"down the road" means toward
Meraux. We were "up the road" in
Arabi. (a beat, then more
seriously) Katrina sure did
change things around here for us.
My mom and dad's house isn't even
there anymore. It's hard on them
and a lot of the old people still,
all these years later. People who
had to move away can't return for
one reason or another.
My dad's one of them. He loved it
here. His house was bulldozed in
the aftermath.
Of course it needed to be
flattened even before Katrina
because of his hoarding.


A weary Marie and her husband, Marvin, watch the news

intently from the interior of a small shabby hotel room.

News of Hurricane Katrina is ongoing on CNN. The newscaster

specifically mentions the extreme flooding in Chalmette.

At least your dad's house is
getting washed out.
Entire neighborhood blocks are
gone. (He points out the window)
That's all green space now.

CUT TO....

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

black holes and stuff~


     I have always lived beside a black hole, just as some people live beside a creek, or a school, or a park. It's swirling, sucking motion is a constant concern for me, because slipping into the darkness is much easier than finding the way out again. It's my dark space-crazy, chaotic, jumbled, and messy. I'm not like other people. I see them going through their day and they don't seem crazy at all. I feel embarrassed that maybe they all know that I am not like them. I am always on the verge of falling into the black hole.
     Albert cries, “Mom, don't go! Please! Please! Don't go!”

    “I want you to come, too, sweetie, ” I calmly and lovingly look at him.

    “I don't want to go and I don't want you to go either,” he whines and continues, “it's too dangerous!”

“ Honey, it's not like I'm jumping out of a plane or something. I'm just renting a car to drive to the coast so we can pick shells. Dad has got you so panicky! First he's afraid to fly, now he's afraid to drive, next he'll be afraid to breathe!” Albert laughs for a second, then continues his pleading, “Mom, please don't go.”

Randy walks in. “Why do you have to do this?! You're a lot of trouble, you know. We could go at the end! You don't need to do this now. ”

“It's that the weather's good now, and also I just need to get away from the University and the English major stuff, and you're so busy, that you need a rest from Albert and me for a couple of days anyway.”

“You're so selfish, and you're a prima donna!”

“What does that even mean?”

“You know you can't drive on the left side of the road!” Albert continues, “please don't go. It's too dangerous!”

Randy sternly affirms, “If you do go, Albert cannot go with you! Are we clear on that?!”

“Mom, you can't go; we can go at the end with Barry and Dad!”

Randy looks cold and unrelenting. I can still picture his happy, laughing face, but that was long ago, and I really miss it. I wish I could still charm him like in the old days. “Cheryl, you are so selfish; It's so inconsiderate and irresponsible, and you know it costs too much money!”

“Mom, nooooo! Don't go....!”

The tediousness of the conversation caused my footing to slip and into the black hole I fell once more, like I've done so many times before since I was even a small child. Dark, lost, flailing, intense noise around me......Then after a period of time, silence.

I gathered myself up off of the floor where I lay, and managed to get myself outside to the bus stop. I recognized the young bus driver; I had ridden his bus before. “I'm going to McCurtain St.” I say it like it's a question.

“What d'ya go there for? Train Station?”

“I'm going to try rent a car at Hertz”

“Oh, well I guess it's there then. Here's your ticket, love.”

     I manage to find the Hertz office and wait my turn behind a young couple.

“You're having a baby pretty soon,” I say to her, stating the obvious.

“Yeah, only a month and a half to go. I can't wait,” she smiles. “Where you goin?”

“I want to go to this peninsula I read about. Can't get there by bus. I reserved a room at a B and B in a town called Fethard-On-Sea.”

“Oh that's in Wexford, where I'm from. Yes it's lovely there.” Their car is ready and we smile as they leave. “Bye now.”

At the counter I find that there are no more cars today. “We can get you a very small car tomorrow morning? Is that alright? Sorry, it's just very busy this time of year. Let us know by 6, if you want to reserve it, okay?”

As I decide whether to “defy” my crazy husband, or listen to my crazy self, I walk back from downtown Cork to our apartment-about a 45 minute walk. The buffalo song plays in my head. I don't even know the words, but it keeps playing anyway, and it's okay because I realize that I like it after all. I stop in at a health food store along the way. “I have travel anxiety.”

“This line of remedies is very good. They're very gentle.”

“I think I need something strong.” She softly chuckles, “sometimes the gentle treatments are better.”

“I know,” I smile, too, and purchase a product in liquid form called, “confidence.” “I don't need a bag,” I say and stuff it into the backpack already filled with things which I thought would get me through the next couple of days on the Irish coast.

  • Walking along St Patrick St in downtown Cork, the black hole is just behind me as I can feel it's pull, with a strength like that of a tractor beam from Star Trek. I keep pushing onward though, into the daylight, with the buffalo song playing somewhere. I know that Albert, who has gone to work with Randy today, will be happy to see that I'm still home when he returns. And I'm looking forward to see him, too.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dear Old Honey

Grandma Honey enjoyed her cocktails or hi-balls as she called them. She used to make pina coladas at holiday time or anytime. We would gather together at her dingy little grey apartment on Lepage St-my two brothers, Gary and Neil, Neil’s wife, Terri, my husband, Randy, & sometimes our friend Bruce, who lived upstairs. Grandma’s live-in boyfriend, Pat was an alcoholic, and was usually lying around in the dining room. He was a sweet guy, though; Dad used to refer to him as a “very amiable drunk.” When Pat had gone into the hospital once, however, he detoxed pretty obnoxiously, and the nursing staff was thrilled to be getting rid of him. Grandma called me to insist that I pick them up and bring them home; I helped Pat to get dressed, pulling his pants up over the adult sized diaper, while Grandma gathered up their belongings. She called out, “Pat, you want me to pack this straight jacket?” He firmly asserted, “Well sure! We paid for it.”

My family sat on the lumpy cot and the few assorted chairs in the dining room, as she busily moved about. She delighted in serving us. “You all want a pina colada?” Hers were the absolute worst of all time. Sometimes she ran out of her pineapple-coconut mix and even the rum, and would just serve milk and vodka, calling it pina coladas. Even her wine was terrible as it was the cheap sweet stuff, like Wild Irish Rose, and when the bottle ran low, she would stretch it with water and/or vodka.

She did love the holidays and having us all over there to visit-my dad, who didn’t drink anymore, and his progeny, for cocktails and food. Tiny and eccentric, she knew all about Bourbon Street in its heyday, regaling us with her tales of the French Quarter-gone-by over appetizers. For special occasions, she would serve her specialty, which were canned peach halves filled with a cream cheese-mayonnaise mixture. It was awful. We all politely ate them time and again, year after year. Gary told me as we drove to her house, “I’m going to tell her this time that I really don’t like those peaches. I just can’t eat them anymore.” Almost immediately upon arriving, after the customary kissing that Grandma Honey insisted upon, she said, “And Gary, I made your favorite peaches. Cause I know how much you love them.” Gary and I silently and discreetly laughed to the point of near explosion as he put one into his mouth and then another. Later he told me, “They really weren’t that bad today.”

“Well, good, cause you gonna have to keep eating ‘em now.”

Grandma Honey died of pneumonia in a Tuscaloosa hospital. She had only been sick for about a week. Stuart and I visited her in her final days, but I couldn’t forgive myself for not visiting her sooner, before she became ill. She had been asking me to come to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which was about 5 hours away, to visit with her, hoping that I would spend a couple of nights in her little trailer that she shared with Dad and Joanne, and to go out to lunch and dinner, but I never found the time.

Our second day in Tuscaloosa, for a brief moment away from the hospital, Dad took me to a little health food store that was nearby. He checked out the clearance items, saying that he always found good bargains there. Once he had bought a discounted bottle of glucosamine for arthritis and joint pain. At first he thought it was odd, he told me, that they were not only chewable but also “meat” flavored. When he finally realized that the remedy was meant for dogs, he continued to take them anyway, until they were gone. After all, he explained, he had already paid for them and they did help arthritis and joint pain.

Dad and Joanne arranged to bring my grandmother’s body home to New Orleans. My half sisters from South Carolina and their families came to town for her funeral. Neil, Gary, Stuart and Randy were asked to be pallbearers. My flood of emotions really surprised me. Not only am I a “wedding crier” but perhaps a funeral crier as well. I watched all the men in my life carry my Grandma Honey’s coffin, which was at once dear and moving. She had already made the arrangements for her burial. She wisely didn’t leave it up to Dad to decide what to do as he would have probably hoarded her. After the church service, we met at the little rickety graveyard/mausoleum where she was to be placed. My sister-in-law Terri leaned toward me, whispering, “What’s your dad got in that old bag?” He was carrying around a disheveled satchel that looked like it was from World War II. The raggedy brown bag and the raggedy brown dad blended together as one. I walked over. “Dad, what’s in the bag?” Solemnly, he said, “It’s your Nanny.”


“It’s your Nanny Edna’s ashes. She and Honey always wanted to be buried together. Ask Randy to come over here and pull open this coffin.” I let Terri know immediately what was in the bag and it was just the kind of comic relief that one hopes for at a funeral, we laughed into our hands. The situation would soon turn ugly, however. I looked over to see Randy, my proper English professor, and our friend, Bruce prying open Grandma Honey’s heavy coffin lid, and Dad slipped Aunt Edna, satchel and all, in there beside her. It seemed that the cemetery workers saw it too, and the burial officials were notified. “What did you put in there, sir? You can’t bury another body in here without proper documentation.” Dad was so furious. Of course he could put Nanny in there. They were sisters, weren’t they? And it was their wish, after all. How dare they tell him otherwise! It would nearly come to blows between Dad, the cemetery supervisors and the grave diggers. It was all too much for me and I began crying again. Terri put her arm around me and we sat down together on somebody’s broken down grave. We all waited around in the bright sun and intense New Orleans heat among the crumbling tombs while Neil, Gary and Randy worked to figure out a diplomatic solution that didn’t involve fist fighting and apparently eventually came to one. It would take paperwork, money and by the following day, the two once eccentric sisters would eternally rest together.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

a day in April

It's pretty hot today, and I don't necessarily think it's the wine I'm drinking~ There's a lot going on and if I can get a handle on it, that would be great.  I keep having weird dreams like the one where I'm fooling around with an old client of mine-a really old client! Then waking up to an 11 year olds crankiness, getting lunch together, etc. ....
I'm working in the real world again-at Chico's, selling upscale clothes to mature women.  As strange as it may seem to those who know me, it's working out great!  They love me and I love them.   Still, something's missing.  I've been reading the blog for Zero Waste Home and I recommend it to everyone.  I'm making some changes where I can. 
I plan on going on a fossil dig in June and it's something I really want to do again!  Hope I can swing it.  Then Randy teaches a Summer class in Ireland and we will all go.  Like I said, lots of stuff going on....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

another small excerpt of writing~

 ....I dropped in at Mom's house.  "I’m starving. Did you eat anything yet?”   She poured herself a cup of coffee and replied, “I ate a bunch of that cabbage I made the other day and now I feel sick. Why--you want something?”   “Well, yeah, but not what you had!”   I made a sandwich in her kitchen as we  laughed about the soap operas that she's begun watching since her retirement.  A message came to me by e-mail.  Had I
finished the inspection response form yet?  The buyer
was waiting for it, as he would have to receive it, sign it
and scan it back to me so that I could then
forward it on to the seller and being a Friday and all, he politely worried that we may run out of time and then there’s the weekend.... I unenthusiastically
e-mailed a reply, “I’m heading straight back to the office now.”
  With a 3’x4’ painting in my backseat I drove down Esplanade Avenue toward the French Quarter, and I caught a glimpse of him walking along on the sidewalk. 
 I kept driving but my mind stopped right in its tracks.
   It was Dad alright, walking along with his old raggedy bag of precious items such as a change of socks, old newspapers, assorted coupons, perhaps a boiled egg? He was looking down as he walked and didn’t notice me. He looked a little more pathetic than usual, his small dark frame puttering along. I would have stopped to give him a ride, on his road to nowhere, if not for the guy in California waiting for my inspection response report. Dad must have been coming from the house that he inherited from Grandma Honey, where he lives at times, even though it is still gutted 5 years after Katrina. He probably was headed to his rented apartment on Coliseum St. which must be filled with debris by now as it’s been about 6 months that he’s been there. I had tried to convince him that rather than renting a new space to fill up with junk, why not use the money he had,  and restore his house back to a livable condition? 
   I was taken aback when he had called to inquire about the available rental.  I reluctantly approached  the listing agent, who was also my dignified colleague at Dorian Bennett.  “My dad wants to rent the apartment you have listed, but he's a bag-man, a hoarder, you know; somehow he manages to break the plumbing wherever he lives and he may bring home drunk women.” She calmly replied “Oh, that’s perfect because the owner is a slum lord.”
   As I drove along Esplanade Avenue, a street like many others in New Orleans which is at once elegant and dilapidated, I asked myself, “why does he live like that?” My thoughts paused as if waiting for an answer, but none came. Then arriving at the real estate office, I immediately e-mailed the question to my brother, Gary, as if by some stroke of cosmic intuition, in the middle of his work day, he would have an answer. But then again how could anyone explain what goes on in the human psyche? I turned myself over to the half finished task at hand, not wanting to become someone like Dad, being lost and nowhere, and of where I can easily visualize myself heading, completed the inspection response, asked Georgia to review it just to be on the safe side, scanned it over to California for signatures, received it back and sent it on to the seller’s agent, to await their response.

*This is part of a larger work that I keep editing and re-editing.  Any comments, suggestions or critiques are appreciated.   Yours Truly, Cheryl 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A tiny excerpt of my writing.....
It was around 10 A.M. when I climbed the stairs in the old French Quarter building. I ascended past the brightly colored signed Jazz Fest posters, some black and white photographs, also signed, feeling like I was running a little late for our weekly office meeting, but when I looked into the meeting room, no one was there. I walked across the hall to another room where my colleague, Michael, sat at his desk. “I thought I was late,” I said, plopping myself down into the soft chair next to him. “Hi honey,” he said slowly in his warm southern accent. “The meeting doesn’t start until 10, you know,” he said a little condescendingly. I glanced around for a clock. “Isn’t it 10?” “Well nobody’s here, are they?” he said, then quickly added, “Well…Ann’s here,” motioning toward a young blonde woman sitting across the room who I hadn’t even noticed. ~