Farewell to Early Moments

I threw my childhood away today.  I packed it up in a plastic bag and out it went.  I’d been considering doing it for a long time, but today turned out to be the day.  Nearly 60 years gone, and finally the remnants have been returned to the earth from which they came.

Manfred the Wonder Dog was the hardest.  He was a red and white stuffed dog intended for use by a child as a sit-on and/or lie-upon.  I used Manfred for watching TV.  His name came from a cartoon on Captain Kangaroo, but damned if I can remember the name of the cartoon—which I think was the name of the main character.  I think it was a kid with a funnel for a hat, and the kid was really smart.  No, wait, I just Googled it.  Tom Terrific, that was the kid’s name.

tom-terrific

Then there was the poodle-ish animal with the “diamond” choker my grandmother made for me.  Gram made me lots of stuffed toys over the years, and they were among my favorites.  I still have the Raggedy Ann and Andy.  I’ll never give those up even though the sizing in the material has made their poor faces look like they suffer from vitiligo, and Ann’s right eye has ripped out and now hangs by little more than a thread.

A small, flower-print, vaguely human-shaped doll and a little blue dog with a zippered pouch that was never big enough for pajamas rounded out today’s haul.

They had to go, you see, because they lay on the floor, collecting dust, hidden away, unseen by anyone save myself, under a table, where one of the cats, potentially flea-ridden, used Manfred for a pillow.  Yeah, I could have washed them and hoped I’d gotten the eggs, but there comes a point in a life when you have to stop thinking of yourself in terms of your stuff and accept that you are who you are with or without all that stuff.

Other stuff will eventually follow.  You can’t hold on to everything, and, as they say, you certainly can’t take it with you.

Fatal Retribution by Diana Graves, A Review

I love finding a new female hero who steps onto the stage at the beginning of the book already strong and willing to grow stronger. Raina Kirkland is just such a hero. Raina lives in a world no one I know has ever visited even though Fatal Retribution is set in the Pacific Northwest. Her world is our world turned on its head, where elfs and vampires and witches and many more paranormal entities reside, existing within a society which knows them and for the most part accepts them as part of the landscape. To me, a novice to this particular subset of urban paranormal novels, the only word I could use to describe it is steampunk.
Raina’s tale begins with her joining her siblings for a camping trip which turns into the camp-out from hell as they are attacked by a raging newly “born” vampire. Two of her brothers are bitten and must undergo dying and being reborn in a VCC (Vampire Care Center–see what I mean about an alternate reality?) before being allowed back out into the world. For some reason, Raina, part elf, part witch and part human, survives her bite and must learn what it means to be a “living” vampire. It all has to do with genetics, and I must say that Graves does an admirable job of explaining the physiology behind vampirism as she takes us through Raina’s experiences and the experiences of her relatives and friends, old and new.
Raina, like any only slightly post-adolescent young woman, suffers from self-esteem issues and endures a meddling mother who means well but refuses to admit that her little girl is a grownup. (Living at home doesn’t help.) And yet, she is feisty and forever questioning what she doesn’t yet understand. No waiting for some guy to come along and save her; this gal has spunk and she uses it as she becomes involved in the mystery of who is illegally offering humans the opportunity to become immortal by shooting up altered vampire blood.
My only quibble with Fatal Retribution is the grammar and word usage issue. Graves is an excellent storyteller, but too often one gets caught up in the lack of punctuation that could have helped a sentence make sense and the use of the wrong word, usually a homonym of the correct word. I would have given a 5-star review had the quality of the text come up to the delight of the storytelling. Regardless, I do recommend it and look forward to more from Graves’ prolific imagination.

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