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Blogging By the Sea
Wednesday, February 17 2016
My Mom

My mom changed her address to heaven eight years ago this week. In some ways it seems impossible it’s been that long since the day I held her hand and heard her draw her last breath is still so vivid in my mind. But then I think on all the things she’s missed. Among other things, my mom loved babies and there have been five new great grandchildren she would have loved to meet and cuddle. Our annual family vacations at the lake, holidays, weddings, graduations and family celebrations of all sorts. However much my mom has missed, though, we’ve missed her more.

My mom had the biggest heart of anyone I know and she shared her love with everyone her life touched. When I was growing up, she seemed to worry about everything and it was frustrating at times, but with age and motherhood, I’ve discovered that worry is part of caring. It’s easy not to worry when you don’t care so much, and my mother cared fiercely about all the important people and things in her life.

But as the years pass and the stinging loss fades to longing, it’s the memories of her that stay bright and remind me of all the things she brought into our lives.


My dad called her his cutie. In today’s world many women would find that offensive, but to my mother it was an endearment she treasured. And it was part of her personality. Even in her last years in the assisted living home, the caregivers often told her she was cute. (She was barely five feet tall by then.) She scoffed at the notion and told them she wasn’t cute, she was old. But I think she was still touched by the appellation.

As I look back over all the years, it’s a kaleidoscope of memories jumbled into one brilliant, beautiful pattern: the hours she spent sewing tiny, elaborate clothes for my favorite 6 inch doll, the abandoned baby squirrel she nursed until it grew strong enough to become a pet, the lily of the valley she would tuck into a tiny basket to leave on her mother’s door on May Day, her encouragement when I was down, her joy when I succeeded. We still laugh over the mosquito she rescued from freezing to death in the refrigerator and her refusal to let us squash it while it was still immobile with cold. And it’s even easy now to laugh at the way she would end an argument she was losing, by shutting her eyes so she could no longer read your lips. (She was completely deaf for the last 50 years of her life.)


                 Mom, Scotty & Me                      My Grammy, Me, my son Alex and Mom

Toward the end of her life, she began to horde and hide M&Ms and after she went into assisted living we found all her stashes in the most unlikely places. I think of her every time I find something in my own home that I tucked away and then forgot about. I also think about her when I’m folding clothes and realize how many of my garments are blue. My mom loved blue, pretty much to the exclusion of wearing any other color and I still chuckle about the day we were moving her into her new room at the assisted living facility and my daughter-in-law, who was hanging clothes in the closet held up a pink flowered blouse and began singing the Sesame Street song One of these things is not like the other.

We all have our favorite memories of my mom and we often share them when we get together at family affairs. But the most poignant and heartwarming of all the memories I hold in my heart is that of her smile. She smiled, I’m sure, at my first steps and the first time I called her Mama. She smiled, I know, at my graduation and my wedding and all the triumphs and joys of my life. But near the end of her life, when Alzheimer’s had taken so much away from her, even though she no longer remembered exactly who I was, her smile when I walked into her presence would light up an entire auditorium. She still knew that I was an important part of her life and she was happy that I'd come. That smile still wraps itself around my heart and keeps her close.

I love you mom. And I miss you, always.


Evelyn Woodd Stark Parker  December 3, 1922 – February 19, 2008

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, February 13 2016

In the spirit of Valentines Day, this month’s Blog Hop asks: Why do you think 'bad' boys are so popular as heroes and 'bad' girls so often reviled? In real life, can those labeled bad change (certainly 'bad' is open to interpretation), or are such fictional romances misleading?



I think there are a couple main reasons why the bad-boy hero works in romances if not in the real world. One of the appealing things is the idea that the love of a woman can turn the life of a bad boy around. Perhaps we see a hurt little boy inside desperately trying to convince the world he’s tough and can’t be hurt. In real life the love of a good woman is often not enough to turn a bad boy away from a life of misbehavior and recklessness. However hard a woman tries, she might never pierce the protective shell she has convinced herself he’s built around his heart, and thus transform him. But the desire and belief that her love can make the difference still holds out promise both in stories and in real life.


Another thing most women want, although some will never admit it, is adventure. Maybe even a bit of naughty adventure. Sometimes adventure to the point of living dangerously. And what could be more dangerous than to fall in love with a man who has a cocky disregard for societal convention and a reputation for wildness. Somehow there is more sexy, edgy appeal in a wild ride behind a man on a barely broken stallion, a rumbling Harley that breaks all the speed limits or on the tossing deck of a pirate ship than could ever be found in a classy town car or a Carnival cruise ship. I’m not saying that there can’t be a steamy and thoroughly satisfying love scene in the back of that town car or on the starlit deck of a cruise ship, but the heart-pounding excitement of the stallion, or the motorcycle adds danger to the same love scene, and therefore more adventure. That’s what the bad boy brings to the romance table. It’s the difference between being kissed breathless in the middle of the town square where the whole world can see in varying degrees of shock and finding a socially respectable time and place.


As for the bad girl not being an acceptable heroine – it’s the double standard that prevails everywhere. Two guys can stagger down the street stinking drunk and singing the latest hit off key and they’re just being boys. Two women do so, and there aren’t too many people who find it cute or even remotely acceptable. Guys might enjoy a wild senseless fling with a woman who loves being naughty, but they don’t marry them and most romance writers instinctively know that and don’t push those boundaries.


Are romance novels unrealistic? Of course they are. But that’s why we read them. Some of us are fortunate to find and marry our soul mates. Some of us have good and satisfying love lives and marriages. Most of us have memories of the boys and men we loved and lost. But let’s face it most of those stories, if written into books would make for some pretty dull reading. We want the excitement. We want to fall in love with both our heroes, bad boy or otherwise, and our heroines. We want to watch them struggle to overcome the conflicts that keep them apart and become better for the struggle. And we want our happy ever after. Again and again. That’s what romance fiction is all about.



See that these authors think about the Bad Boy Hero:

Helena Fairfax
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse
Connie Vines
Fiona McGier
Rhobin Courtright       


Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, February 02 2016
Another Tiny Miracle

Many years ago, I had a discussion with my father about whether a baby is a miracle or not. He maintained that they were not because miracles were rare and babies are born every day. I argued that an infant is a miracle because of all the things that have to happen just right for an embryo to become such an amazing creation. From just a single tiny egg and an even tinier sperm, comes this intricate miniature human being. Their senses are all functioning even if they haven’t learned how to process what they see and hear – they do know what Mommy smells like and they know her heartbeat. And did you know that a fetus even has their own distinct fingerprints well before they are born? How can anyone not consider that a miracle?


Even if that tiny perfect human being doesn’t seem like a miracle, just think about the potential. Consider the mind-boggling number of things this little person will learn in just one year – how to smile, to laugh, the sound of their father’s voice or a sister’s giggles. How to put things in their mouth, how to crawl and even perhaps to walk. How to say Mama and Dada and sometimes how to sign what they can’t yet say. They’ll discover what marvelous things their own hands are and how to explore their world with every sense they have. In the words of my granddaughter, their world expands from ‘sleeping, eating and pooping’ to that of a little person on a mission, bustling about his world learning what he likes and dislikes, what sunshine feels like and rain, grass under his feet and snowflakes on his nose. How to hold a crayon and a fork and open supposedly childproof containers. And that’s just the first year. From there he or she can grow up to be anything: a waitress, a soldier, a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, a scientist or a poet or even a leader of nations.


But despite the outcome of the debate between my dad and me, or the wider world either, I know I have another new miracle in my family. Nicholas Philip, all nine pounds two ounces of him arrived on time and healthy. He’s grandbaby number fifteen for me. And every time, in spite of having had four children of my own, I am amazed all over again at how tiny and perfect a newborn is. I marvel at those tiny fingers and toes, the big adorable eyes, the little bowed mouths. I love the little sounds they make when they sleep and I especially love they way they smell.


Every one of my babies and grandbabies have created memories that are special and different, but one thing that never changes is how wonderful it is to cuddle a sleeping baby against your chest. Even in the middle of the night, or perhaps especially in the middle of the night when all the world is sleeping and the soft cover of darkness surrounds you, curled up in a rocking chair with a sleeping infant cuddled against your shoulder is one of the sweetest things in the world. I love those moments and cherish them.


So, welcome to the world Baby Nicholas. You are a special miracle and I love you.

Posted by: Skye Taylor AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
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