Blog Tour! Get On Your Traveling Clothes!

Remember those old Herbal Essence commercials where the one model turned into two, then into 4 and within seconds your TV screen was covered with a bazillion models, all sporting gorgeous hair? Well, this is like that. Except for the gorgeous hair. Mine is a mess right now. That’s one of the perks of running a blog. I can do this with messy hair and a pink nightie on. Wait… was that too much info? Sorry.

But really… bazillion blog time. Ok, so maybe just me and three others being mentioned here. But those three I mention are so darn awesome that they may as well be a bazillion! So what exactly am I going on about? Well, my friend Donna from over at the very tasty blog “Cookistry” invited me to be a part of this. This being…well…this. In her post, she said wonderful things about me and some other bloggers. Don’t believe her btw, when she says she wasn’t drinking. How else could she have come up with wonderful things about me? And now, I and those other bloggers say wonderful things about her, answer a few questions, then say wonderful things about some other bloggers too. The point being to introduce our readers to some bloggers they might not know of and shouldn’t be missing. So here we go! Put on some comfy shoes and your backpack, cause we’re going to a few different parts of the country now!

First, there’s Donna, who invited me. I “met” Donna (someday, I hope to take the quotation marks from around that word and make it for real) because we had a lot of friends in common. We both tend to have the same rather smart alecky, sarcastic sense of humor and are near the same age. Well, I think she may have me by a decade or two, but don’t tell her I said anything. I very bravely sent her a friend request on facebook.  I say brave because I always have these doubts that awesome bloggers will want anything to do with me lol and she is darn awesome. I mean, look at these Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls! ! Can the woman bake or what!? Donna is one of those people I strive to be like. She is smart, funny, can bake like no one else, has a gorgeous smile and makes me laugh. What else does one need?

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls by Donna  of Cookistry

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls by Donna of Cookistry

Donna has a cookbook coming out soon. Run over to Amazon and put it in your cart for pre-order! And go check out her blog! You won’t be sorry!

Now, on to my questions. I was dreading this part cause it means I have to talk about myself. I much prefer we just talk about cookies. How bout you? Sigh. Ok, ok, I’m talking.

1) What are you working on?

Usually, I’m just trying to get through the day still kicking by bedtime. Barring that though, I have been working on a handful (yes, all at once. This is MY mind, after all) of book ideas. No, not cookbooks. I am that anomaly among food bloggers. Someday, I may try a cookbook, but now, these ideas are all fiction. I’ll keep you posted.

2) How does my work differ than others of its genre?

You know, I’m not really sure. I’d say the one basic difference is simply that I don’t cater to trends. You won’t see me labeling things as gluten free here unless I just happen to find a recipe I like that is gluten free, won’t see me posting things as “Healthy! Low Cal! Great for low carb diets!” etc, unless, again, I just happen to like a recipe that fits that criteria. I am a home cook, a comfort food cook. I take great joy in knowing that when someone eats something I baked or otherwise created, their arteries are going to be crying and they won’t even mind. Butter, sugar and cream are my bff’s.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’m that person who can’t really remember a time I DIDN’T cook. I know I was about 9 or ten when I started is about it. I do this because I love to cook and it is a high for me to hear about it when someone has made something I developed and tells me how good it was. I do this because writing, for me, whether I’m good or bad, is second nature. My mind creates plots and stories and jokes and I have to share them or bust. I have another blog where I, as I put it, “really” write. In this one, I tend to be more joking, more lighthearted. But no matter what, I have to write… I have to cook and create recipes. It’s just…me.

Whew. I got through that without too much heavy breathing and sweating. Now I can tell you about the two bloggers I picked.

My first here is my friend Christine of Texanas Kitchen. Christine is one of a kind. She is kind, she is witty, she has a biting sense of humor, killer legs, perfectly manicured toes that she likes to flaunt in front of all of us to make us jealous and she can cook to boot. You think I jest? Just lookee here. Uber Dense Fudgy Brownies You know you want those. I just want to stick my face in the plate and lick up the sauce after inhaling the brownie. 😀

Uber Dense Fudgy Brownies

Uber Dense Fudgy Brownies from Christine at “Texanas Kitchen”

Christine also has a habit of making one think with some of her posts. She is willing to say what many of us think, but are too timid to say. Fine, she says what I wish I had the cojones to say. Like in this post,- “Retarded, Gay And Fat” she talks about how hurtful those words can be and how hard it can be to get people to realize that. So g’wan. Shoo. Check out Christines blog too. Again; you won’t be sorry. I promise!

The last person I am highlighting here today is another friend; this lady is a fairly new friend but we have already found out that we have a lot in common, one of those things being that whole love of butter, sugar and cream thing. Sara runs the blog My Imperfect Kitchen. Sara is wonderful. She is sweet, makes a person feel comfortable talking to them right away (trust me; I know. I stink at conversation and she made me comfortable within seconds), also has a great sense of humor (see a theme here in how I pick my friends?) and also can cook to beat the band! Did I also mention the gorgeous head of auburn hair I envy!? Here’s just one example of what I mean and it’s making me hungry! I absolutely LOVE Homemade Fried Rice but when I make it, it never looks that pretty. it tastes good, but it’s always a large mass of rice covered in about 12 cups of soy sauce. I, ummm, have a sad soy sauce addiction. But Sara’s rice? Omg, do you just want some chopsticks right now or what?

Fried Rice from Sara at "My Imperfect Kitchen".

Fried Rice from Sara at “My Imperfect Kitchen”.

So there you have it. I have, I hope, introduced you to three mind bogglingly wonderful bloggers, all three, smart, funny, and great cooks and bakers. Go check them out; add them to your daily reading list and hunt them down on Facebook and “like” them there. You’ll be glad you did and I won’t nag you. Otherwise…no cookies for you!

Luvsome Pet Foods (Sponsored Post)

Luvsome Cat Food1

A while back, a gentleman by the name of Josh (I happen to really like his name, considering what the name of my youngest child is :-D. Just thought I’d throw that in there hehe ) contacted me. His company wanted to offer me a chance to feed my kitties some of their Luvsome cat food. He had seen me mention our two indoor kittens, Sierra and Opie, on my facebook cage, so he knew a cat lover when he saw one 😀
Now, anyone who knows me or has followed me for a while knows that yes, I DO love cats. I happily admit to having ten of the little critters. Two of them are indoor cats, the rest outdoors. We live in the country, with a fair amount of land and people have a tendency to dump cats out this way. We, of course, can’t bear to see them go hungry or homeless, so they join our outdoor menagerie.
We did, as I mentioned, have Sierra and Opie as our indoor family. But sadly, Opie has disappeared. She got out one day and we haven’t seen her since. I try not to think about what may have happened, so I just tell myself that she found a new forever family somewhere and is living a pampered kitty life. Her brother Sierra is still with us and joining him indoors is a kitten my daughter had to get rid of because he was too wild around my one year old grand daughter. So Sierra and Ozone are now the subjects of the Luvsome taste test.
First, from a human perspective. You know how some cat foods, be they dry or wet, you open and immediately want to cover your nose or worse, almost make you gag? Luvsome is NOT one of those kinds. The dry food has a rather mild, meaty cereal smell to it (I used to tease my kids and say that if we ever ran out of cereal, I’d just fill a bowl with cat food and milk and they’d never know the difference hehe). The wet food also has just a meaty smell to it and nothing off putting that makes one think they used God alone knows what part of the animal to make the food.

Now, the kitty perspective. I would type this in “Kitten”, but I know that not all of you are as fluent as I. So we’ll stick to English and picture talk. Look at the following photo. it was taken abouuuuuut 7 seconds after I put the can of food down lol.

Sierra & Ozone- Luvsome Cat Food

Sierra & Ozone- Luvsome Cat Food

Want to know something else wonderful about this company beyond the fact that my cats loved it? Every time you or I use the hashtag #luvsome, Luvsome  will donate a bowl of their food to The Best Friends Animal Society. There are so many wonderful animals out there who don’t get enough to eat. I personally think it’s fantastic that a large company is willing to go the extra mile to take care of animals. You can go to Luvsome-Cares to find out more about how #luvsome helps out.

Not sure how many know this, but you should never just decide to give your pet a new food without phasing them into it. Their digestive systems are not like ours and not easing them into a new food can cause some not so pretty issues. Luvsome has that under control too with a great schedule gradually easing your pet into a new food.

Luvsome GuideSee how easy that is? Want another plus? Luvsome is less expensive than many of the leading competitors brands. I mean, really, what else do you need to hear here?
1) No bad smells to upset the human nose
2) Your cat will love it
3) Luvsome is a company that gives a helping paw to animals in need
4) It’s less expensive.
The ONLY drawback? #Luvsome is only available at Kroger brand Stores. Now that doesn’t mean just Kroger, so stop pouting. It means stores that may be Kroger in MY state may go under another name in YOUR state. So just do a search on the Luvsome site to find out where you can buy the food in your area.
Bottom line?
Go buy Luvsome. Your kitty will thank you with purrs and cuddles.
Oh! They also have dog food for those of you who have furry friends of the barking variety! 😀
This has been a sponsored post for Luvsome Pet Food. I was compensated for my time and also provided coupons for food for my cats. But all opinions ARE my own and 100% honest. 🙂

Ramblings And Reviews #2

It’s been an…interesting… couple of weeks here. Some good, some bad. My favorite Kitty, Horatio, died on the 19th of last month. He was about the best cat ever and I still miss him.

me and horatio

When he died, I told myself that that was it… no more indoor cats for me, just the cats we have that live outdoors. But, fate, as it often does, intervened. I was just fiddle farting around online one day and found myself going to the page for the local shelter. So what happened? We now have not one, but two, kittens in the house. Go figure. When I first thought about it, I was just going to get this little girl whom we have named Sierra-

SierraBut then she seemed lonely. Extremely loving, but lonely. So I had to get her brother. I justified it by reminding myself that they were rescue cats. No crazy cat lady here *coughcough*

This is her brother Opie. So named because he is a whiny sidekick but yet still cute as can be, like his namesake lol. If Sierra leaves his side, he whimpers and follows her around.

Opie

I have come to the conclusion (ok, I came to the conclusion years ago, but I’ve been in denial) that I have a serious lip balm addiction. I can barely make it through a store w/out buying another one. The bottom of my purse, which btw, I only keep lip balm and old receipts in, is covered in lip balms. Many many of them. One of my favorite brands is Eos. I absolutely love their products. They aren’t oily or greasy feeling on my mouth, just smooth. Plus they taste great. That can of course defeat the purpose of not getting chapped lips if you find yourself constantly licking your lips like a starving fat girl, but hey, I’ll deal with that drawback by just putting on more. I also love the lip balms from Kiss My Face, especially their Sliced Peach, but I haven’t been able to find it anywhere in months now. *Sobs* I would LOVE to try their Maple Sugar one, but I’ve never seen it in stores at all.

EosLately, I have been on a binge with the new “Hello” bars from Lindt

LindtOh. My. Gosh. I would say which one is my favorite but for the life of me, I can’t decide. When I try a piece of the coconut one, I’m in love. Then I try one of the others… same thing. They are pretty darn awesome!

On a non food addiction, beyond the bazillion lip balms, I have, for months now, loved this Body Butter from Trader Joes.

Trader Joes Body ButterIt smells fantastic; a strong but not overpowering coconut scent and it leaves you oh so smooth and soft. Just don’t eat it, tempted as you’ll be. 😛

Onto an actual good for you treat… I’ve been loving both of these products below lately. I found mine at Whole Foods.

ButtersThe Justins Vanilla Almond Butter is amazing. Smooth and creamy with just the slightest hint of vanilla. I would tell you that I use it in all sorts of wonderful recipes, but so far all I do is squeeze it out of the little pack into my waiting mouth hehe.

While I enjoy the Cacoa Bliss the texture takes a bit of getting used to. it has that slightly gritty texture that anything made with real coconut is going to have. But the taste is pure heaven. Coconut Chocolate Heaven. Go. Buy some.

Joshie

Why yes, that IS a pair of underwear on his head. And yes, I have every intention of saving this and using it for blackmail purposes when he becomes an ornery teenager. 🙂

Last but not least, here’s your silly child pic for the week. I think my son needs massive therapy. 😀 I’m so proud!

Have a great rest of the week, everybody! Go cook something decadent and fattening!

 

 

 

Goodbye To My Sister

I have had people ask when I am coming back. Beyond the stroke, there have been other things.

My sister Sandra passed away last night. She had metastasized breast cancer She had her children beside her I am told and went peacefully. If you pray, please pray for her children that have been left behind.

 

I know where she is and I know that she is no longer sick, but is whole, healthy and happy again. But right now, I’m having a hard time letting that knowledge be enough.

I WILL be back. I promise.

Save a place for me, San. I’ll be there soon.

 

 

Doin’ The Stroke (Semi Important News)

 

…Except to you of course… you’re right now wishing I’d croaked so that you could pretend to mourn 😛

I hadn’t planned to say anything at all about this because other than when trying to get a laugh, I prefer not to call attention to myself but a couple of dear bloggie friends convinced me that I could use this for good and not evil :-p. .

So here goes. I had a mild stroke Sunday. Obviously I’m not dead. My left side and my speech were effected (affected?). I can talk but it takes a bit for the words to get from my brain to my mouth so I sound like I’m drunk which makes me laugh to be honest… thus making me seem more drunk and creating a vicious giggly cycle that will probably end with my getting committed soon. :-p

I’m weak, I get tired easily, I have no plans to run a marathon any time soon. Ok, I had no plans to do that anyway but it sure gives me a good excuse now. But I’m alive and have no reason to believe that that will change anytime soon. Of course, I had no plans to have a stroke either, so if I die, I expect you all to mourn me for at least an hour or so… then carry on and eat copious amounts of Cheetos in my memory.

Again… I’m ok. Am I enjoying this? Heck no. Turning over in bed is a bitch and a half because when I want to turn, my left arm and leg laugh at me and say “ain’t happ’nin biatch!” which means I’m not sleeping much, if for no other reason than having my limbs cuss me out tends to cause night terrors.

Doing all those little things one takes for granted, like say, taking a shower, are rather interesting to say the least. I can’t wash my right arm because I can’t lift my left arm to do it so this could get smelly over time :-p And putting on deodorant? Omg… I stood there laughing my butt off. I can’t lift my left arm to do my right and can’t lift my left arm…again… to use it under my left.

All of this is why I want to use this on the blog. All the sites I’ve seen about stroke recovery are as depressing as a life w/out Twinkies would be. So I want to be that place someone recovering can go to and laugh and say “oh God yes, same here!” and others who read my blog can see that nope, not even this is gonna make me stop cracking jokes and making food that makes your arteries cringe in fear.

There. Told everyone… so how ’bout them Yankees?

 


Foodie Pen Pals!

I recently started participating in the Foodie Pen Pal Club (program? mass hysteria? Fun? 😛 ). This was started by the wonderful Lindsay of the blog
The Lean Green Bean . What started out with just 30 people has grown to an endeavor of over 200. I have to wonder if Lindsay sometimes wants to bang her head off of her desk when she sees what she has created hehe. You oughta see the ten page spreadsheet of names we get at the beginning of each month. Yikes! I admire Lindsay because I would never be able to keep up with it. I would end up with one person having to send to ten others and 46 people totally forgotten.

Foodie Pen Pals is just what is sounds like. We all get matched up with another foodie (they don’t have to have their own blog, just a hankering {yes, I used the word hankering…sue me 😛 } to give and receive some fun foods.

This month I was sent a box from a lovely lady named Claire. She doesn’t have her own blog so I can’t link to her *sobs*. She sent me a nice assortment of goodies that are already all gone here in my house of gluttonous piggies hehe

I got some delicious granola (that I TRIED to hide from the kids…), some salsa that my husband immediately called dibs on, a chocolate bar with almonds and sea salt that I confiscated and threatened life and limb if touched (Claire… you MUST have read my blog at some point to know not to send me dark chocolate hehe) and a totally amazing loaf of Cranberry Orange bread. The smell alone was fantastic!

So are you interested in joining the Foodie Pen Pals!? You should be darn it! If you are, all you need to do is follow the directions below (I copied and pasted this straight from Lindsays blog).

If you’re interested in participating for March, please send  an email to me at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so you get on the right list!

You must submit your information by March 4th as pairings will be emailed on March 5th!

***PLEASE NOTE: if you send an email, you WILL GET A RESPONSE within 48 hours. If you don”t…please re-send your email or contact me via Twitter (@LeanGrnBeanBlog). Last month we had a few emails get lost as spam so we’re trying to avoid that!

Warning… if you end up with me as your pen pal, I am already notoriously late at getting things sent out because I always run short of cash lol. But I make up for it with baskets that may be just a little bit *coughs innocently*  over the price limit. So with me, you may get a late box but darn will it be guilt ridden good!

 

 

 

 

 

Foodie Penpals

Happy Birthday To My Son Zachary!

Yep; another birthday here in our household. It was… interesting having them 2 days apart when they both lived at home. Two cakes, two presents, two birthday dinners. It still feels kind of strange having him be the only one having a birthday at home in January now. The boy whom I thought would be my last is fifteen today. Continue reading

Happy Birthday To My Son Cameron

Cameron and his wife Tiffany

Twenty four years ago today I had my second child Cameron. I look back over the years and it’s hard to believe it’s been that long. Hard to believe that the little boy who looked like a cross between a starving Ethiopian and an Elf (He was frightfully skinny when \he was young with a really pointy face lol) has been married to his high school sweetheart for a few years, had the nerve to move away to Florida and is getting ready to enter graduate school.  Ummm… hello… I don’t remember giving permission for the time to pass and for him to grow up. Continue reading

Thank You For Being A Friend (Blogging World Is Awesome!)

It’s been an interesting week in the food blogging world. I have gone from being angry on behalf of some fellow bloggers to being amazed at the bonds that can tie together people who have never met and possibly never will. Let me backtrack a little.

Yesterday, I received an email (I will answer if you’re reading this! I just haven’t gotten to it yet!) that left me so very flattered. A lovely lady named Kris wrote and told me that she was starting a blog and that I had been one of her inspirations for doing so as I was one of the first blogs she had ever started reading. She then asked me for tips on blog etiquette. I was proud when she said that by watching me she already knew that one of the things you did was to give links back and make sure to say where you found your recipe

I found it ironic that she asked this now considering everything that has been happening in our little world in the last couple of weeks.
Most of you know that I am fairly new to the blogging world; at least the food side of it.  My blog isn’t even a year old yet. But not once have I been made to feel new or unwanted or not a part of the community. On the contrary, even when I had bad days and vented via my blog, I was virtually comforted by many friendly hands and hugs. Over the past almost 8 months, I feel as I have become part of a family. It’s one that stretches across thousands of miles and more than one continent.

Unfortunately, every family can be dysfunctional at times & have members who make it hard on the others. The last couple of weeks that has happened in our world. Yet again though, I have been warmed by seeing the responses of others.  When we all learned that a blogger we had known & trusted had been living a lie with her blog for over two years, when we saw more members of the family this week get recipes stolen from them… the whole community had each others backs. NEVER before had I seen the cohesion, the pure warmth and spirit, the feeling of friendship that I have seen in the blogging world in the last weeks.

So, I just wanted to say thank you. To you and you and you and you and yes, even you hiding there in the corner. And especially YOU… the person who was willing to put your neck on the line & take care of the foodie world like a virtual father. You all have my respect and admiration.

Thank you; all of you, for being my friend… thank you for being an examples to myself and bloggers even newer than I, thank you for making this community just that; a community, rather than letting the “bad apples” take over. Thank you for letting me be a part of the foodie world. Thank you for seeming to enjoy my warped sense of humor and my fattening recipes. Thank you for who each and every one of you is and the character you show and live. You are my heroes.

 

For Veterans Day… God Bless All Our Military

These two posts are from my other blog, You Have HOW Many Kids!?

and I wanted to share them. I have been asked if they are true. Yes, they are. Both happened.

Have a great Veterans Day and please… say a quick prayer for all of our vets. Many are alone and forgotten and feeling like they served in vain for people who don’t appreciate them. God Bless. This is long and there are a few cuss words in there. I hope you enjoy something from me that isn’t cooking and silliness.

The Soldier

 He had never thought of himself as having been a good soldier. He drank too much and partied too hard. He sometimes took his work too lightly and his fights too seriously. But he was old enough to fight in Vietnam and had no reason to run from what he considered his duty, so he went… and he fought. When he went home, he realized he no longer fit in. Seeing so many people worry about their jobs, their money, their small annoyances when every day the men and women he had known were dying so that they could worry about those things annoyed him. More than that, it hurt him.

They hated him. They hated what they thought he stood for and what they thought he had done. The cries of “baby killer” and murderer” tore at his heart. To have people think that he and his buddies were killers, that they killed just for the sake of it made him wonder where the spirit of the country had gone. He knew that his fathers war had been different. WWII soldiers had come home to cheers and people who thanked him for saving mom, apple pie and The American Dream. He, on the other hand, had come home to sneers, hatred and signs saying he was no better than a modern day Hitler.

So he went back. He went back to the swamps, to the mud, to the sweltering heat and to the people he now considered his. He went back to the women who treated him like a god as well as the ones who had bombs strapped to their chests as they took their own lives just so that they could kill soldiers like him.

He did this for three tours of Nam. By then the war was ending and they sent him stateside. But he no longer felt like he was at home. So he drank more. He took various drugs to help him forget. He had made it through three years of Nam without a scratch physically. But the scars on his heart and his mind were irreparable. He no longer knew how to survive without somebody shooting at him. He tried to get help but no one would listen. He was just one more wounded soldier without a scar.

One day, he decided he had had enough. So in a small hotel room in Indiana, he took a gun and he put a bullet through his brain. He left behind one son and a handful of friends. He also left behind a note saying he was sorry. He asked everyone to forgive him but said that he could no longer handle the pictures in his head and the way the world treated him and others who had fought in what so many considered a losing battle. he also said something I have never forgotten. He asked that if this ever happened again that we remember that the soldiers were just doing their job and not to hate them for it.

Sometimes now I wonder… have we listened to him? Or are we repeating the sins of the past and hating the men and women who serve our country during a war that most of us hate?

Twenty Four years ago tomorrow Jerry killed himself. What legacy did he leave behind? What legacy did all the soldiers like him, who suffered for us, leave behind? Do YOU remember them? I do… every March and every time I hear about one more soldier dying. So next time you want to rant and rave over the war, please… can you remember Jerry for me? He was only 33 when he died. He was my friend.


Gary Fulsom-

No matter what she did that night, she couldn’t get warm. December in Cleveland was a bad time to be temporarily homeless. Being only nineteen, she knew better than to go over to the crowd of men huddled around a garbage can fire. There was no friendship waiting there;only problems.

So she pulled her knees in closer to her chest and tucked her arms under the thin sleeves of her shirt and looked longingly at the bright flames and the bits of food the men were passing amongst themselves. She had no extra clothing, no coat. Those had been kept in a fit of temper when her ex-roommate kicked her out because she didn’t want to go farther than being a roommate.

She saw the aged man coming towards her and tried to make herself invisible behind the dumpster. It didn’t work.

“Hey Blondie. Why ya hidin’ back there? Scareda us gents over there? Well, you should be. We’re a nasty lot of lost souls.” He smiled at her showing a mouth full of broken teeth and sat down near her, waving a hand and telling her to sit back down when she arose and looked frantically around for the help she knew wasn’t there.

Sitting back down as far away as the limited space behind the dumpster she had been calling home for the last week allowed, she waited quietly thinking if she just let him ramble, he might leave sooner.

“Frightening looking old shit, ain’t I?” He spread his arms wide as if to show himself off. He wore a faded Army uniform with tattered old sneakers. His hair was halfway down his back and looked like it hadn’t seen a brush or shampoo in weeks. His right arm hung strangely and he favored the left, using the right only to cradle the bottle he periodically swallowed from.

He gave a snorting laugh and smiled at her. Something in his smile eased her fears a little though she still kept silent. “I wasn’t always this bum you see now, sweetheart. I’ll betcha didn’t know I was a vet huh? The uniform ain’t just for looks honey. I served three tours in Nam. Had me a good life going until I got hit. Had me a wife and a couple of kids waiting at home.” He took a long drink and was quiet for a long while. She thought he was finished and started to doze lightly, comforted by the presence of someone older. She awoke with a start when he began to talk again. “When I got hit, she couldn’t take it cause I ain’t a whole man no more. She took the kids. Got herself remarried. I lost touch with the kids ’bout 10 years ago. They’d be pretty much grown now.”

“VA didn’t help me much. The arms never worked too good since then; can’t really feel much in it. The rest… well, ain’t much they could do to make me a man again ya know?” She didn’t answer, knowing it wasn’t expected. She just sat with her head on her knees, listening and trying to keep warm.

Suddenly he looked at her as if really seeing her for the first time. “Shit honey, ain’t you freezing?” He walked away towards the rest of the men. She heard some low toned words being exchanged and he came back with a dirty woolen blanket. He tossed it at her along with a sack of cold burgers that she knew had probably come from a dumpster behind the local fast food joint.

Grabbing both, she wrapped up and started to eat, hungry enough after three days with no food to not care where it came from. He nodded, looking pleased to see her eat and continued talking.

“I like it out here ya know? Lotsa us out here. Nam… well, it fucked us up pretty good. You don’t forget; you can’t. No way to forget it when you see a pretty VC woman kill off your buddies like they was so many roaches. Can’t forget it when you watch a little boy blow hisself up in the middle of a crowd because someone paid his family ten bucks to let them wire him up.” He took another drink and offered her the bottle which she refused with a shake of her head. “That’s ok honey. More for me,” he said with another snorting laugh.

Suddenly he started digging in his pants pocket. “Honey, you got a family somewhere?” She nodded. “Can’t get back to them, can ya? Hmmpphh, know what that’s like. You don’t need to be in this place honey. It ain’t safe for you. Pretty girl like you. You’re sure quiet but I can see smart in yer eyes. You need to go home.” He pulled out a wad of grimy bills and thrust them at her.

That’s when she spoke up.”I can’t take your money. Thank you… but I can’t. I don’t have any way of paying you back.”

“Yeah you do honey.” Seeing the fear light up in her eyes again, he laughed. “Not that; told you… I ain’t whole… and anyway, you’re ’bout the age my daughter would be. I wouldn’t want her out here. Take the money honey. Go home. Get back to yer people before you lose your soul here. You can’t live this way and keep it or your mind. Go home. You can do something for me by keeping me in yer head. It’ll be nice to know that somewhere out there somebody remembers me. My name is Gary. Gary Fulsom. Remember that ok?”

She thrust the bills down into her pocket and got up. “Thank you. I don’t know why you’re doing this but thank you…Gary. My name is Janet. Again… thank you.” She turned to go, leaving the blanket lying next to him.

When she was a few yards away, she heard him call out to her. She walked back and waited as he fumbled out of his coat. He looked down at it, looked up at her, then back at the coat. “Take this; it’s fucking cold out here. I got the fire. You need a jacket. Now get the fuck outta here before I change my mind. Get your ass to the Greyhound station and get the hell outta this place. Go!” He pushed the coat at her and turned away. She held the coat for a second, knowing he had had it since the days when he had had a better life, when he had had love; a family.

“Gary!?”, she called out and ran after him. “Thank you… for everything.” On a feeling, she reached out and wrapped her arms around his waist for a second. He didn’t respond at first, then she felt his hand rest softly on her hair.

He started to speak and cleared his throat when his voice broke. “G’wan. Get outta here. You can prolly get a bus out tonight. Just remember ol’ Gary k?”.

I still do.