Tuesday, April 22, 2008


A few days ago, I was out running errands and came home to pick up one of my teenage daughters. She came out with a look of wonder on her face and then gave me a wry grin as she approached the car. As soon as she climbed into the passenger seat, she shared what had caused her to look so puzzled when she walked outside. She thought it was snowing...in Virginia...in April. I know some of you out there occasionally see snow in April (I remember the sensation from my college days in Utah) but it doesn't happen here. The source of the confusion, the pear tree in our front yard. The white blossoms have started to fall, and the breeze had kicked up and taken a good number of them from the tree making the pedals look like snow.

As I considered how much I enjoyed the look of my house with that pear tree in bloom, I couldn't mind too much that it was losing it's blossoms because the cherry trees in several nearby yards were now coming into full bloom. I love the Washington, DC area during this time of year as it comes alive with color. In fact, when my husband considered briefly taking a job outside of Virginia a couple of years ago, the thing I thought I would miss the most here (besides my friends) was the dogwood tree in the backyard.

Year after year I look forward to seeing it wake up each spring, first with beautiful white blossoms and then with brilliant green leaves. I think those two or three weeks that my dogwood is in bloom reminds me how quickly time passes and how I need to enjoy each moment while it is here.

I've always been the type of person who is planning for the future, and I often forget about the present in the process. So as spring is in full force here in the shadows of the nation's capital, I'm planning on enjoying every minute of it. I hope all of you do too.

Friday, April 18, 2008


A fire truck raced by me today with its sirens blaring when I was on my way home from the store. My first thought was "please don't let it be headed for my house." Quickly following that was concern for other family members that weren't at home and friends and neighbors.

I know some people see emergency vehicles on their roads often, but here in suburban Virginia they are not terribly frequent, especially in the middle of a weekday. Another thing that heightened my concern was the direction the fire truck was traveling. It had clearly come from the station to the east of me, and my neighborhood is one that is served by two stations. Rarely does this particular department go further west that where I live. It did today.

As I watched it travel at high speeds past me, a police car pulled onto the road, also with its sirens on. My concerned heightened as I considered that they were headed toward the high school where my two oldest children attend. Being an overprotective and sometimes paranoid parent, I did what anyone would do. I passed the turnoff to my house and drove by the high school just to make sure everything was okay. To my relief, the only emergency vehicle in sight was the deputy's car that is always parked out front.

I headed back home, still with a prayer in my heart for whoever had called those emergency vehicles. As I sat down to start working on another novel I thought about the many situations we have faced in my area over the past few years. The sniper attacks were perhaps the most stressful although 9/11 certainly probably ties with it. Then there are a few personal incidents when friends and family members were taken to the hospital, some surviving, some not. As I tried to turn my focus to more positive thoughts I realized that perhaps I spend too much time thinking about suspenseful situations. Then again, truth is usually stranger than fiction.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The funeral is Saturday. I didn't know Justin Whitaker personally, or if I did, he was one of the many nameless friendly faces in the halls of the high school where I coach. Justin's reputation however has taken on a life of itself over the past two years. He had cancer. Justin was a bright young athlete, a friend to many and an inspiration to all who knew him or even knew about him.

He lost his battle with cancer last week at the age of 18 and the green ribbons the students wore to remember him have been prominent around school. The students have lost one of their own, but they have come together to remember him and support those closest to him. Some days have been more difficult than others since his death. His long-time girlfriend watched prom invitations get handed out knowing that the dress she had already bought would not be seen by Justin. This young woman and so many others at school have shown such strength and courage that it's difficult not to admire them.

Today I walked the halls of the school to see many wearing Virginia Tech t-shirts, some with green ribbons pinned to them. Today is the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting, a day that is close to all of us here in Virginia. As my heart aches for those who have lost loved ones, I find myself drawing on those emotions as I prepare to start writing yet another book. I don't know what will come when I sit down at my computer. I only know that these everyday heros will continue to feed my characters' emotions and refuel my well of ideas. I can only hope that those who inspire me will all find their happily ever after.