Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gilbert Reviews Terminal Point (The Hunter Drune Series, Book One)


On John Jason Lee's Website, he has this to say about himself:

John Jason Lee lives in the back end of nowhere in Suffolk, England. He has a number of cats that strive at every turn to hamper his creation of genius by sleeping on his chair, his lap, his keyboard - and a psychotic, bad smelling dog that has inspired an interest in all things strange and undead. When he is not travelling the universe or jumping back and forth through space/time J.J enjoys playing with photography and watching movies. He likes loud cars, fast music and motorcycles that frighten environmental activists. He cuts his own hair, shaves occasionally and never wears aftershave. He believes a man should be a man and should smell like one. Sweat, old leather and engine oil are good for the soul - and for getting elbow room at the bar.


                                                      Hunter Drune

 I've been following this talented writer for some time now on Twitter and Facebook, but I really would love to learn more about John Jason Lee and maybe, with a bit of nudging, he might grant me an interview. John has a novel out called Terminal Point (The Hunter Drune Series, Book One). You can find it on Amazon. You should buy it and I’m going to tell you why. Terminal Point is one of the best written action books that I’ve read in a long time. Hunter Drune is a Federation Officer on the trail of a man who not only stole two vials of deadly spores, but is now hiding out in a dying city filled with crazed survivors. Will Hunter Drune be able to bet hold of the vials before the spores are released?

That, my friend, is for you to find out. The one thing I will tell you is that Hunter Drune gets into your head and your heart and you find yourself  invested in his surviving. Buy the book and become a fan. You can find John Jason Lee at these sites:




Side note: Book Two will be coming out in the near future. I can't wait!!!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 22: Batty

My cousin Annie, on my mother’s side, reminded me of an incident with her brother Dennis when he had stayed at our house. My father was in the hospital recovery from surgery and Mom had asked her sister, Ann if Dennis could come down and help in the store.                                                                          
My Aunt Ann had five children, starting with Dennis the eldest and only boy, Annie, Susie and twins Gracie and Gladys. I loved whenever my cousins would visit us. We got into a lot of adventures together. They learned about life in the big city and when we visited their home, we experienced the wonderful world of nature. Bugs did not scare my cousins, but we city kids ran for cover.

cousins Gladys, Gracie, Aunt Ann, Susie, Anna with me
My Aunt Ann lived in New Gretna, New Jersey, and to us city dwellers, this was considered the middle of nowhere, hick town, and the big scary Pinelands. Goes to show you how much we knew. My mother was afraid of nature in general so anything not covered in tar and cement was too wild for her to visit.
Mom would occasionally allow us to spend a few days with my aunt and cousins at their home, but most of the time, my cousins visited us. Now that I’m older, I wish we would have visited their home more often, because I feel we missed out on a lot of fun with our cousins… anyway, my older cousin, Dennis, spent the week with us, helping my mom run the grocery store. He also handled the heavy stock boxes and whatever else needed to be done.
It was summer and we slept with the windows open. We had window screens but, my brother poked holes into most of the screens. When asked about this, he told my mother that it was a science experiment. Michael did a lot of science experiments and there were holes in most of our walls. He loved playing pirate and was looking for gold…he never found any.

                                                                Brother Michael
Now before I go further with this story, you have to understand that in South Philly during the late 50’s, there weren't that many  trees for blocks and blocks. Our version of wildlife was squirrels, pigeons and the occasional sewer rat scampering along the curb whenever the streets were dug up for one reason or another.
One night, as my sisters and I were settling in, we heard flapping and squeaking sounds. What the heck? I switched on the overhead lights and saw this big dark shape flying around the bedroom. We had never seen anything like it…except in horror movies. It was a vampire and it was in our bedroom. All hell broke loose.

My sisters and I began screaming that a vampire was in our room. My mother, groggy from sleep, realized what it was and tried to cover our heads. “Don’t let it get in your hair,” mom screamed as she pulled a pillow case over her head and tried to do the same with us.
Dennis and my brother Michael ran into our bedroom when they heard the commotion. But, after the initial fright, my sisters and I pulled off the pillow cases. We watched as Dennis captured the bat with one of the sheets from our bed. All this time, my mother was still screaming for us to cover our heads.

Dennis finally caught the bat in the sheets, carried it out the front door and released the poor thing. When he returned to our bedroom, there was blood on his hand. He had been bitten during the rescue. My mother cleaned the wound and wrapped the hand in bandages. She never bothered to take Dennis to the hospital, which I thought was strange.
Needless to say, my siblings and me believed that Dennis would turn into a vampire because he was bitten. That whole week he stayed with us, I would sneak up on him with a mirror to see if he had a reflection. Jane took to wearing a cross around her neck. Michael hung fresh garlic around his bed, and little Lucy poured holy water into Dennis's soup, waiting to see if he would burst into flames

In the end it all turned out well. Luckily for Cousin Dennis, the bat did not have rabies and Dennis never became a creature of the night, but... I'm not sure the Bat survived its encounter with the crazy humans living on Porter Street. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jimmy's Farewell Party


I was there in the delivery room with my daughter when Jimmy was born. I knew from that first moment that my first grandson was going to be a warrior. How? Well for starters, he punched the doctor who delivered him in the nose within seconds after being born. No! I’m not exaggerating. My grandson reached up and popped the doctor in the nose. We all laughed about this even the doctor.
Growing up, Jimmy was always fascinated by Ninjas, swords, knights and soldiers. He and his brothers fought many battles in my back yard as they pretended to be pirates or Samurai warriors. I was often encouraged to join in the battle, but most of the time was assigned the job of corpse or prisoner. After Jimmy graduated from High School, he joined the United States Marines. Oorah! But, what my daughter, her husband and his grandparents didn’t know was that Jimmy had been planning this for some time.
My daughter and her husband had a big send-off party this past Saturday for Jimmy who will be heading to Camp Lejeune for infantry training.

Friends and family all gathered around to celebrate and it was the best time ever. Plenty of good food and conversations made the whole day perfect. 

I even got to visit with my daughter’s childhood friend, Rita Palange-Screnci, who was there with her husband and son. Rere and Rita were always together, through thick and thin, and I’ve come to think of Rita as my second daughter.
                                                                   11 year old Rere and Rita
Jimmy’s younger brothers, Joshua and Nathan are sure going to miss their big brother. Who will they fight with? Oh yeah, each other!
The perfect party included a surprise visit from the bike club, Warriors Watch Riders of NJ, who stopped by to say goodbye. Joshua and his friend Tyler get the credit for arranging this. Tyler’s dad is a member of the Warriors Watch Riders. Thank you, Mr. Tucci. Jimmy's childhood friend, Sean is also leaving for military tour, overseas. Stay safe, soldier. 
I was thinking as I watched Jimmy joke with his friends and family at the party, that it has been a blessing watching him grow from that infant, who came out fighting, to the man he is now.

 When he leaves on Tuesday, he’ll take his family’s love and support with him, but….also a nice chunk of his parent’s and grandparent’s souls. That’s how we live forever…giving chunks of ourselves (our souls) away to our children, grandchildren, and future generations. Oorah!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gilbert's Interview with the Creator of Devine Organics



Demetra Davis is a dear friend and colleague from the days before I retired from the Academy of Natural Sciences where my position was Manager of the Changing Exhibit Hall and Birthday Party Coordinator. Demetra, who was part of the WINS Program, not only worked in my department, but helped out with Safari Overnights, Outside-in, and Diorama Carts. What is Wins? Women in Natural Sciences, which is a free after school and summer science enrichment program at the Academy of Natural Sciences that introduces hundreds of high school girls to careers in science by providing hands-on science workshops. I knew from that first day that Demetra introduced herself to me in the Changing Exhibit Hall, that this young lady was going places. She has the entrepreneur spirit! Demetra has started her own business selling beauty products and she is my guest on my blog.



What inspired you to start Divine Organics?

I was inspired to start my business because there are so many products out there that don't do what they're supposed to do. They don't moisturize, they don't clean, and a lot of them are bad for you laced with more chemicals that natural ingredients. Also I've noticed a lot of the healthier options are too expensive. A lot of people will buy the cheaper stuff because it's cheap and they're harming themselves. I wanted to offer solutions to both problems.

Have your friends tried your products and if so, what did they like or dislike about the products?

Yes I make everything myself and I also allow anyone who wants to order from me to customize their order. Right now I offer body scrubs and whipped hair and body butters. I allow the customer to choose their ingredients.


Yes, I’m planning on selling this on line and people can find my products on these two sites. Life with Demetra and here. 

Here is the list and price of products available now:

So far I have three scrubs I love

Vanilla Coffee

Vanilla Lavender

Lavender Mint

Eucalyptus Mint

Vanilla Almond

Vanilla Lemon

You can customize your scrub by choosing your ingredients from the list below….


  • Dead Sea Salt (Body)
  • Atlantic Sea Salt
  • Lavender Dead Sea Salt (Body)
  • Sherpa Pink Himalayan Salt (Body)
  • Organic Coconut Sugar (Face and Body)
  • Cinnamon Vanilla Nut Coffee (Face and Body)

Oils (All organic and cold pressed)

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Unfiltered and Unrefined)
  • Jojoba Oil
  • Sweet Almond Oil
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Castor Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Rosehip Oil
  • Jamaican Black Castor oil
  • Peppermint Castile soap
  • Lavender Castile Soap
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Lavender Essential Oil
  • Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • Organic Orange Extract
  • Organic Vanilla Extract

I have 4 oz for $4, 8 oz for $8 and 12 oz for $14 available now and will add more sizes later this week.
Demetra Davis's Products can be found here and here.

I'm so happy for you, Demetra, and I want to thank you for visiting my blog. You can bet that I’ll be ordering my own body scrub to try out and I'll be telling everyone how much I love it. Best wishes to you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Life with Fred and Lucy, Part 21: Fresh Fruits

                   Our Family Grocery Store in South Philly                                         

I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that owning a grocery store does not guarantee financial freedom. Nope! My dad learned to make due with the small change made off each product sold. He called it being frugal, us kids called it being cheap!
Before the age of dousing fruits and vegetables with toxic chemicals and when there were more local farms, my father bought his fruit from the vendors who sold the produce from the back of a pick-up truck; nothing like fresh fruits in season.
My Uncle Jack had a farm in Jersey and in the summer, sold my father the excess peaches that Aunt Louise couldn’t make into a pie or jam. The peaches today don’t have the sweet taste of the peaches that I remember from my youth. The taste is different from the peaches of the 50’s & 60’s era… something has changed with the taste of our food…something is missing.

Anyway, because Dad could only sell fruit to our customers while it was fresh and was at odds on what to do with the fruits displaying signs of rot. Guess who was given the bad fruit?

Yep, the Maratea kids were given the apples, bananas, peaches, etc. with brown spots. It wasn’t until I was an adult and went shopping for food on my own that I realized that, contrary to what I was told as a child, bananas don’t grow on trees squishy and brown. Wow!

My father changed his ways as the time passed and grandchildren were born. After my divorce, my two year old daughter and I moved back in with my father. My mother was no longer there. No, she didn’t pass away…she took off, heading to sunny California, but that is a story that I’ll save for the book.
Fred was different with Rere. She was the first grandchild and was treated as royalty. When my father gave Rere fruit from the store, it was the prized peach or apple. My daughter never ate a banana that featured any brown spots.

Why the big switch? One day, before I headed off to my job at St. Agnes Hospital located on Broad Street in South Philly, my father handed my daughter a big juicy peach to eat before she left for the Montessori pre-school across the street. I was curious and asked, “Fred, why the fresh fruit now and not when we were growing up?”

His reply, before heading back into the store was, “Dumb ass!” This was his normal response to any questions that he either refused to, or did not have an answer for. My daughter never having to dream about eating fruit without spots did not appreciate the gift given to her and because the peach was too big and she wasn’t able to finish it; she hid it.
I came home from work to find a plumber working diligently on the downstairs bathroom. There was something clogging the pipes. My father was mumbling under his breath about dumb-ass plumbers and how expensive they were, while my daughter, clueless to all the activity going on around her, played with her dolls.

My father and I were in the store wondering what could have possibly caused the back-up and following biblical flood in the bathroom, when the plumber came out holding the slightly eaten peach in his hand.
My father, who would have taken the belt to us kids if we ever did anything like this in the good ole days, said nothing to my daughter or me. Grandchildren change the way we handle disasters. My father continued to give the best produce to his granddaughter and a special spot in the fridge for Rere to store her unfinished fruit.

Side note: Later that year, my father found another hiding spot where Rere stored her unwanted dinners; Fred’s snow boots.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Road Trip Home, Part Two: From Here to Eternity


After, Jimmy’s graduation from Parris Island, my daughter and her family with me riding shotgun began our long ride, 700 miles, home to New Jersey.  Although the van was a nice size, after we packed it up with our suitcases, Jimmy’s marine bags, three adults and three teens, the van seemed to mysteriously shrink in size. We were tired from all the activities of Family Day and Graduation Day at Parris Island and I was anxious to get home to my husband, who was too sick to make the trip.
My daughter and I were squeezed into a little section of the van as the boys either fell asleep or played a board game. To play the board game one of the seats had to be folded down and used as a table. I told my daughter that I felt like one of those poor cows that were warehoused at industrial farms. MOO!
We stopped for lunch after being on the road for several hours. After a quick bite, we loaded back into the car only to learn after driving for an hour that we had to turn back. One of the boys forgot their cell phone behind.

I'm not mentioning any names, and none of us were happy about the extra time on the road, but shit happens. My son-in-law was anxious to get me home to hubby and figured that we would make it home by 10 p.m. on Friday night if he kept the pedal to the metal. Wrong!

Young Jimmy has a childhood friend (also a new marine) who is being transferred overseas and he wanted to visit him at the Fort Lee base. We made the detour and after entering the base, got lost a few times before finding his friend. Happy reunion between friends accomplished, we headed to a restaurant before continuing the trip.

The newest estimated arrival time to New Jersey was now closer to 1:30 Saturday morning, which I wouldn’t have minded except my daughter and I were exhausted and still squished in-between three growing or grown teens. Help!

Someone got the bright idea to put on a movie called Dragon Ball Z. I had no freaking idea who or what Dragon Ball Z was about. Why were all the characters in that movie screaming at each other? What was the background story on Dragon Ball Z? Nathan, the youngest, took his time explaining to me and my daughter who each character was. I wasn’t impressed.

Maybe it was because my daughter and I were so exhausted or maybe it was because we were giddy from the lack of oxygen due to being squished in the van, all I know is that we began to laugh hysterically while Nathan explained who and what Goku, Chi-Chi, Gohan, Broly and Oolong the pig were doing in this movie.  I don’t know about you, but Oolong is a very strange pig.

Like I said, it was a long ride home and my poor son-in-law drove it all by himself. When we did arrive back home, we all tumbled out of the car and began unpacking. I arrived home a little past two in the morning. That night, I had a nightmare that I was a character on Dragon Ball Z.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Road Trip to Parris Island, Part One

The Proud Mom and Dad of James R. Reid the 3rd.

This past month has been a flurry of excitement with all the families of the Parris Island recruits preparing for the big day…the day their sons, daughters, grandchild, sibling, husband or wife was graduating boot camp and becoming a full-fledged Marine.

Everyone, who was connected to a recruit in 3rd Battalion Kilo Company was able to check in on their recruit because of the Kilo Facebook page and a very special person who ran the site, Tammy Opel. This amazing woman kept many parents and grandparents calm while explaining exactly what would be happening to the daily. We can’t thank you enough, Tammy. I’m sorry that we didn’t get to meet you on Graduating day, but I will keep in touch through Facebook.


Whenever a picture was posted to the Kilo page, my daughter and I would scour through the photos trying to find a picture of Jimmy. There were several pictures that I even posted to my Facebook page swearing that they were of my grandson. Ha! We weren’t even close, but for some reason; they all look the same. Kind of makes me wonder how good of a job I would do picking someone out of a police line-up.


But luckily for us, Michele Breland Gauthreaux found a picture of Jimmy and the article saying that, yes indeed, this was our recruit. Michele was also the person assigned to getting the news out about the SAM BAGS. I wrote a blog about this event …more on this later.


Wednesday Morning

The plans were for my husband Dan and me to ride in a rental van with my daughter and her family all the way to Parris Island, but as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men often get screwed up. My husband, who was hit with several major health issues this past month,  had to stay home, while I went with my daughter and her family on the road trip.

The van although huge, seemed to shrink with each passing mile; 700 miles to be exact. At one point, it was suggested that I ride on the roof of the van, just like in a certain movie...only kidding, but it was a long trip.

We arrived at our hotel, the Detreville House, which is part of the Marine Corp Community, late Wednesday night. The hotel was awesome and we were protected by armed marines; cool!


Family Day and a Freezing Thursday Morning


 We were at the base by 6 a.m. to line up and cheer for our brand new marines at the Family Day Race. It was so stinking cold on that Island, and my daughter and I were bundled up like Polar explorers, but it didn’t help at all. We couldn't wait until Jimmy and the other marines were dismissed for a few hours of liberty


 Nathan and Joshua were in their glory and couldn’t get enough of their big brother. I found this really funny since they did nothing but fight before he left for basic training, but absence does make the heart grow fonder, especially when you can raid big brother’s X-box games.


My son-in-law and my daughter were so very proud of their son. They were pleased to know that contrary to how he kept his room at home, Jimmy was quite capable of making a bed. Thank you Drill Instructors!


Thursday night we headed over to Gilligan’s Seafood Restaurant for dinner…they have the best food, ever, followed by Gilligan’s manager, Kelly telling us the history of how the Sam Bags Project was started. Sam Bags stand for Stand Alone Marines. These are marines whose families, for a number of reasons, are unable to attend the graduation ceremony. This site explains everything and how you can participate even if you don't have any family members at Parris Island.


I was able to get a picture of three kilo moms, starting with Michele Breland Gauthreaux on the left, Candy in the middle and Patty on the right. We all pitched in and packed the blue bags with goodies  for the big day. I’m going to support and blog about this event every year from now on because I really think this is such a worthwhile cause.

Friday: Graduation Ceremony

This was the big day and all the Kilo families were in the bleachers waiting for their marines to go through the graduation ceremony. It was all so very impressive, but for four families even more so because four marines from the Kilo Company received awards.


Jimmy was one of the four and he received a plaque


 Pvt. James R. Reid III, Kilo Company high shooter of Platoon 3018, earned a rifle score of 335 out of 350. I guess it does pay to play war games on X-Box.


After the ceremony, we all loaded into the van for the long and wayward ride home. Stay tuned for part two or as I like to call it, “From Here to Eternity.”