What a Nice Surprise!

I would like to clarify and follow up on my March 22 post, “Pay Attention,” which described the trouble I had after losing my driver’s license during a recent flight to New Jersey. The last paragraph mentioned that my license arrived three days after I returned home, which was not intended to mean the original license, but instead, my replacement license.

Before I left to return home, my sister bet me one dollar that within a year, I would receive the lost license in the mail. She was confident that a Good Samaritan would return it to me. I took the bet, and I am happy to report that I lost that bet.

One week after leaving New Jersey, I received an envelope in the mail with the return address of an unknown sender containing nothing but my lost driver’s license. On the inside flap was a brief note stating, “I found it in the airport,” followed by a telephone number.

The name was illegible, so I tried locating the sender by address, but alas, the address is that of an apartment, so there is no tax records pointing to the owner of a residence. I only know that their first name begins with a “J.” So that night, I sent a text to “J”, thanking him/her for returning my license and stating that his/her action showed that there are still some very nice people in the world.

We “chatted” for a few minutes, and not knowing where the loss had occurred, I asked “J” where my license had been found. I was informed that it was discovered at Newark Airport, Terminal A, which told me that it must have happened after I left the plane and was probably on my phone looking for the details regarding my car rental. My license had been left in the same pocket as my cell phone.

Apparently, “J” works at the airport, and he/she told me that he/she got what he/she wanted, which was to hear back from me and know that I was happy. When I responded that “J’s action made my day, he/she said, “Win the Powerball and give me a dollar.” I agreed that we would meet somewhere, in disguise, for the transfer of the cash.

I am rarely so happy by a mail delivery. Thank you mystery worker at Newark Airport.



To be Three Again!

It is now less than five weeks until our last family wedding, and as the mother of the bride, I feel like I need to have a new outfit for this momentous occasion. I am confident that wearing my favorite jeans will reseult in a few bad comments and shocked looks.

Hanging in my closet is my backup ensemble, which is a cute little jumpsuit that I recently purchased on a whim, not knowing until that moment that they had made a comeback. A jumpsuit had not been part of my wardrobe since 1992, but because of the inherent problem when going to the little girl’s room, I have not removed the tags.

If only I had a trunk of dress-up clothes like Lily does, I would be all set. While she was visiting me the other day, I asked her if she and mommy were going shopping to get a new dress for her aunt’s wedding. She paused a minute and then told me that she did not need to go shopping since she was planning to wear one of the dresses  she had received for her birthday. “I think I will wear my Elsa dress from Frozen.”

Knowing that the bride is a Disney fan, I thought she would love this idea. She told me a blonde braid would be needed, and I assured her that, of course, the Elsa outfit came with both the braid and the blue gloves.

Oh, to be a three-year old!


Pay Attention!

I learned my lesson regarding staying focused while at the airport last week.

I passed through security like a breeze on a warm spring day. I was pre-checked, so I did not have to remove my shoes, IPad, or liquids. The entire practice took a mere five minutes. I headed to my gate where I settled down with my Kindle, and I did not even stop for a bite to eat or a cup of coffee. My flight was on time, so I was happy to know I would arrive at the hospital with plenty of time to see Grandma prior to her surgery.

When I arrived at Newark airport, I boarded the monorail and headed to the car rental agency. Everything was running so smoothly, I thought to myself. I will beat that nasty New Jersey traffic. With only one person in front of me, I reached into my purse for my wallet so I could get my credit card and license.

Oh, no, oh no, oh no!!! Discovering that my license was missing, I could feel my heart beating at warp speed. I felt an awful pit begin to form in my stomach. I left the line and searched my entire purse, and then recalled that I had placed my driver’s license in my pocket along with my cellphone.

I went back to the terminal, where I learned that there are many sources of locating lost objects at an airport: the airline (nope, it had not been found on the plane), the airport lost and found, and TSA lost and found. Since I was uncertain where the loss had occurred, I had to make calls and file reports at both airports. (May I mention that Charlotte airport was much friendlier and accommodating than Newark airport, since Charlotte did not require me to file a report and told me they would email me it they find it?)

This changed the entire flow of the weekend. I now had to depend on Uber, or be at the mercy of drivers. Jamie suggested I could still drive one of the cars available to me by the family, which I immediately rejected. Although I have never received a traffic ticket, and I have only been pulled over once in my life—close to 25 years ago when I was speeding in our newly-purchased minivan. I was not comfortable with this idea.

After speaking with a friend’s son, who is a police officer, I was told that I would probably not receive a ticket. So on four different occasions, this law-abiding grandma drove without a license, prepared to throw myself at the mercy of the law if stopped. I was positive that a beacon of light was pointing toward the car each time I drove, announcing my heinous crime. I was a nervous wreck, but I had my story prepared to explain what I was doing and why.

The roads were dark and the car unfamiliar to me, so I was positive I would be stopped and hauled off to the pokey. Lily would be upset, because she is not a fan of orange, stating to me on many occasions, “I don’t like orange. Orange, boo Clemson.”

Luckily, nothing happened and I happily turned in those car keys and returned home, using my passport which had been mailed to me. My license arrived within three days. I have learned my lesson, which is to pay attention, particularly at the airport!

Crazy for Statistics

Writing a book has made me crazy and obsessive about scrutinizing all my book stats: how many pages have been read today; how many books, if any, have been purchased today; is anyone reading my blog today; are there any new reviews; and what is my current Amazon ranking.

Although I always said that I did not set out to write my book for anyone outside my family, that all changed once I realized that strangers have taken an interest in learning the tale about what happened to my family after they moved to Russia during the 1930’s.

As someone who loves numbers, when I learned about all the statistics available to me, I have been unable to stay away from the charts and rankings. I just can’t help myself. I am able to see, at a moment’s notice, these ever-changing numbers.

I learned this week that rankings are generated in several ways. I can view my overall ranking both in the physical book (#3,348,446) and the Kindle version (227,501 —up 94,854 positions today). I feel happier when I view my rankings with similar books. In the Kindle store, my book is ranked #51 under Historical Russian Biographies, #224 under History of Russia and Former Soviet Republics, and #224 under Historical Russia Biographies. I don’t understand the difference between Historical Russian Biographies and Historical Russia Biographies, but hey, statistically it’s a difference of 173 points.

I know the paperback has been purchased in the UK and Canada, and when I offered free downloads, readers in Australia and Denmark joined my “fans” in the UK, Canada, and the good old USA. I am flattered.

While my sales are not enough to alter my lifestyle, the interest is still more than I ever dreamed. Unfortunately, I have only garnered nine reviews and nine ratings, ranging from 2 stars to 5 stars. I have to admit that I am thrilled to read the reviews, particularly those from strangers.

This has inspired me to go back and write a few more reviews of some of the books I have read.  While I try to, at a minimum, rate a book, I do not always take the time to write a review. But I have realized that it need not be a multi-paragraph review to put a smile on my face, so I assume most writers feel the same. My most recent review was short and sweet, but it was enough to make my day:

Loved this book!!! It’s incredible to think that these things could happen to anyone, let alone American citizens, and there was nowhere for them to get help!

My thanks to “Anonymous.”


Our Work Continues

Today I got myself up and out of the house bright and early and headed down to the South Carolina State House to participate in Moms Demand Action Advocacy Day. We had a good turnout for a weekday morning, with about 200 women as well as men coming here from all over the state. The purpose was to speak to our two state representatives about two bills:

  • Extending the time for a background check from three days to five and also to decrease the time required to report such things as issuances of restraining orders, protective orders, and convictions of domestic violence.
  • Permitless carry, which would allow people to carry loaded handguns in public without a concealed-carry permit or a background check.

My small group of three tracked down our House representative, who was in agreement with our issues. He invited us into the Democratic Caucus meeting (upsetting because it was Clemson day which meant applauding our arch rivals), and although the Moms group is not a political group, that fact was mentioned and we agreed to go in order to promote our message.

While we were trying to locate our senator, many of the other Moms were introduced from the gallery of the State House Legislature. Again, the point was to draw attention to the issue to all of our legislators.

We are all aware that many uniformed people believe this is an anti-Second Amendment group, but I learned early on that many members of this group are gun owners. The purpose is to emphasize common-sense laws to protect people against gun violence and to keep guns away from individuals with violent backgrounds, severe mental issues, and convicted felons.

It was a successful day, and I look forward to a time where our job is no longer needed. Will that ever happen, I wonder.

My Little Plant Buddy

Today is March 1, so I can finally see spring on the horizon, which means time to start thinking about what new flowers to plant this year. Mock me if you must, my children. Perhaps you all do not even know about my obsession with adding new color and textures to my garden, but Kelly certainly does since she lives close enough to watch this process happen each year.

It turns out that my interest is shared by three-year-old Lily, who began walking around my yard last summer, asking me the name of each flower, tree, and shrub. It has put a lot of pressure on me, since I cannot name them all. I have been forced to accurately answer her questions, and she clearly has listened to me.

I have been told that as she rides in her car seat, she enjoys giving a running commentary on what she sees outside the window: “There’s a crepe myrtle,” or “I see a palm tree,” or “look at all the pine trees.”

One of her birthday gifts from me was a garden set, complete with a little rake, shovel, watering can, and gloves. We went out together and purchased pansies, and together we planted them in her front yard.

As the daffodils began emerging last week, I promised her that when enough had bloomed, she could pick some to bring home. When she noticed a flower pot filled with nothing but dirt and a dead blossom, she asked me, “What happened to the vincas, Grandma?” So not only did she know I had planted vincas last summer, she recalled exactly where they were planted.

She loves that her name is also the name of a flower. I can’t wait to take her shopping for more lilies, and cacti, and one of her personal favorites—Mexican petunias.

I am happy to have a plant buddy!