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Monday, 9 July 2007
The Haunting by Ayn Hunt
Topic: First Chapter

The Haunting (ISBN 1-59088-748-4)


Also available on &


Formats: Paperback &

E-Book (ISBN 1-59088-306-3)


            I ran down the long, dark, narrow hall in the old haunted Harding mansion with ghosts chasing me, quickly gaining ground. Frantic, I reached out and tried each door I passed, but they were all locked. Then suddenly, I was backed up against the window overlooking the gardens far below, and one of the larger ghosts started touching me. Terrified of his icy embrace, I turned and hurled myself out of the plate glass window, sending crackling shards of shattering glass into the air as I plunged to my death.

            Abruptly, I bolted upright in my bed and realized where I was – in Aunt Alice’s spacious home. My heart was beating out of control, my breath ragged as I struggled to take air into my lungs.

            With shaking hands, I pushed back my short unruly hair as I nervously glanced around. My dark purple quilted bedspread was a jumbled, twisted mess, entwined with my pristine white cotton sheets. The short, mauve curtains at the windows billowed gently in the damp, early morning breeze. Outside, I saw the tips of Alice’s prize-winning roses under a stormy predawn sky. And there, beside my bed, was the large armchair with the clothes I’d chosen to wear today…to go to the monstrously huge, reputedly haunted Harding mansion for clues, God help me, to the murderer of the wealthy late owner.

            Had I just had a realistic dream? Or was it a portent of things to come?  

            “Jessica?” whispered the sweet familiar voice of Emily as she knocked on my door then, slowly opening it, quietly eased inside. “Are you awake, dear? You wanted me to make sure you got up at five-thirty, remember?”

            “Thanks, Em.” I felt exhausted, but forced a smile as I slipped on my old, navy blue, baggy sweatshirt. “But I’m already up. I didn’t sleep well. I know it’s foolish at my age to have nightmares, but I did. And it was so realistic! I could’ve sworn I witnessed my own death at the Harding mansion just before I woke up.”

God, that sounded strange. “I was being chased by ghosts over there.”

            To any other person, I’d never have admitted such a thing. But Emily wasn’t just another person. She was like my second mother, taking me under her wing after my parents died. “But it wasn’t like a dream I’ve ever had before. I felt myself running. I felt the floor shudder as I ran. I smelled the decay and dust of the old house. I even felt one of the ghosts touch me. His fingers were like icicles, and blowing around him was a strong, continuous icy gust of wind.  And I felt his anger too. And his rage!” Nervously I swallowed. “I don’t think it was a dream, Emily. It was more of a portent, a warning, of things to come.”

             Raising her white neatly plucked eyebrows, Emily solemnly nodded as she perched on the edge of my bed, then sympathetically smiled. “It’s no wonder you’re having forebodings, dear, what with that house’s terrible reputation and all the murders and things that have taken place there. Mrs. Smythe, who lives across the street from there, told me herself she’s seen strange lights going on and off in there at all hours. And Mr. Evans claims he always hears strange, loud, pitiful moans

coming from there when he walks by, going to the store. Even the mere thought of going near that house, let alone actually going in, is enough to give anyone strange, um, let’s just call them dreams. Your reaction is perfectly understandable.”

            “You think so? Really?”

            “Absolutely. Anyone in your position would feel the same way.”

            I relaxed a little. “I’m so glad you understand! I knew you would though. I just hope I can find something we need over there, for Alice’s sake. It’s been such a long time since her fiancée’s murder. And there’ve been a lot of people traipsing in and out since the old housekeeper died and the county seized it and sold it at auction. I hope no one’s disturbed anything I can use to lead us to the identity of the horrible person who murdered him. Alice’s sure the housekeeper kept a journal describing that terrible night, including the name of the murderer. She claims that if anyone knew who murdered him, it was Mrs. Johnson.”

            “Oh, absolutely. I agree. Mrs. Johnson knew everything that went on over there. I seriously doubt if anyone has bothered her stuff, dear. Don’t forget, she lived down in the basement despite her mysteriously inheriting the house years ago from Mr. Harding. From what I’ve heard, it’s a dreary gray cement area. Chances are, not many people would go down there for more than a cursory look. And that inheritance of hers was so strange! Why he left her the entire house and the furnishings is anyone’s guess. But people do all sorts of things that others don’t understand. Mrs. Johnson herself was an enigma too. Most people around here thought she was just plain insane, and insanity carries its own stigma, which kept

people away. I’m sure her things are all there and still intact, just the way she left them.

            Stuffing my cold feet into the warmest, thickest pair of athletic socks I owned, I slipped on my tennis shoes and absently tied them, listening to the rumble

of thunder of an impending storm. “I hope you’re right. I want to solve this thing so badly I can taste it. Alice deserves to find out who killed Mr. Harding.  It would mean closure for her and the chance to bring a murderer to justice.

            “Yes, well, it might take some time to find those things so just be patient when you search. Very few people saw any of them, and Lord knew, as reclusive as she was, she never confided anything to anyone about them.

Personally though, I never did like the brash Mr. Harding, and I told Alice how I felt years ago, trying to dissuade her from going through with the marriage. I still remember him coming over to her house, all smiles, bringing her expensive gifts all the time, courting her – that’s the expression we used back them. She was only seventeen, and I always thought there was something odd about a man nearly forty wanting such a young girl for his wife. But he was wealthy, well educated, and Alice’s parents, God rest their souls, were as pleased at such a match as Alice. Everyone, with the exception of me, was very impressed with him.”

I nodded. Alice had told me basically the same thing. But I was mystified why she’d disregarded her friend’s advice. Emily was a renowned psychic and very astute about human nature. She always had been, and her wise counsel had safely guided me through what could’ve been turbulent relationships if I’d relied only on my own instincts. It’d gotten to the point where I’d refuse to even date anyone until Emily had met the man first and gave me her opinion.

            Sudden lightening flashed brightly, illuminating my dim room like a neon bulb, spurring me to hurry. “I hope I don’t get caught in the storm,” I said as I quickly got my bright pink umbrella from its hook on the back of my closet door. “And hopefully, I won’t have to use this”, I continued, stuffing my pink-handled, custom-made derringer from the drawer of the bed stand table into my large canvas bag. Although I was trying hard to be blasé, inwardly I was puzzled by Emily’s neutral face. I’d expected her to be surprised…to be agitated…to warn me against taking my gun – but she wasn’t. Meaning what? That she expects me to have trouble over there?

            Emily glanced at her diamond watch. “I wonder why Mrs. Tremble’s not her yet? I told her six on the dot, and usually she’s early.”

            “Mrs. Tremble? Why’s she coming over? Are you going someplace too?”

            “Didn’t I tell you? I guess it slipped my mind, what with writing down the directions of what pill to give Alice at what time and all.” She smiled innocently as she carefully smoothed her newly permed curls. “I’m going with you.”

            Grabbing my large white canvas bag stuffed with everything I needed to do a thorough search in a dark old house without power, I froze. “Excuse me?”

            Emily glanced out the window, her face void of expression. “I’m sorry I forgot to tell you, dear,” she said, turning around to face me. “I guess it just slipped my mind.”

            “Have you forgotten about your arthritis? Your rheumatism? Your own pills you need to take? You know how your joints are aggravated by dampness and low-pressure systems. The way it’s starting to storm, you’ll be in so much pain you’ll barely be able to walk, let alone traipse up and down the stairs of that high porch and the one leading down to the basement.”

            A dreamy, far-away look lit her green eyes. “Don’t worry! None of that will bother me. I’ve heard so much about that grand old house all of my life. But I never got to see the inside. It used to be known as a real showplace.  The marble of all eight fireplaces was rumored to match the décor of each room, and the hand-painted exotic mural on the dining room wall won several prizes. This is my golden opportunity. I’m not going to let it pass me by.”

            I was sure that was the truth as far as it went. But I also knew how she still worried about me, seeing me as the orphaned twelve-year-old when I first came to live with Alice, instead of the thirty-one-year-old woman I’d become. “The house now though is old and decayed. It’s very run down, looking nothing like it once did. It’s much too dangerous for you to go. I don’t know what I’ll find, and neither do you. There could be a tramp camped in there and God alone knows what kind of bugs and snakes will be lurking around. Besides, you’ve got to stay here and take care of Alice. I don’t trust Mrs. Temble, and that new medicine the doctor prescribed for Alice isn’t doing her any good. Someone has to call and get him to change it again.”

            “I’ve already talked to Mrs. Tremble about it. Besides, there are ghosts

reputed to be in that house, and I know how to deal with them. If that house is as haunted as everyone now claims, I can be of help to you.”

            I sighed, studying her. I didn’t believe in ghosts despite my strange foreboding and she knew it. But she was nothing if not stubborn, and didn’t realize the physical hazards an decaying house like that could harbor. Not only could there by structural damage, there could be problems with one of the many homeless people that wandered on and off the trains. One of them could’ve decided the house was the perfect home and set up housekeeping.  While I’d never personally encountered danger of any kind, I’d heard plenty from my late husband, a homicide detective of Houston p.d. Crime was rampant all over and that included small towns. Thanks to the bustling tourist trade, Galveston had more than its share.   

            Sitting down beside her, I patted her little jean clad knees. “Be reasonable, Emily. I’m licensed to carry a gun. Rob made sure I knew how to protect myself. I’m not about to expose you to the possibility of danger.”

            Emily tossed her head, her white curls bobbing. “Very nice speech, dear, very well done. But I’m not impressed. It just so happens I can protect myself just fine. I too, have a gun. I’ve started carrying a specially ordered Glock 9 millimeter, semi-automatic which shoots off nine rounds without having to stop and reload. It fits perfectly into my purse.” She smiled proudly. “So you see? I’m as prepared as you are. Maybe even more so.”

            All prepared? A near-sighted, eighty-four-year-old carrying a gun which could blow an entire army contingent away with just one blast was being all prepared?

            “Where did you get a gun like that? I’m sure you don’t have a license for it. That’s a powerful weapon! Only cops should carry them, and even then, only when they’re on duty.”

            “I never said I was licensed. Only that I have it. I got it out of a gun catalogue at one of those mail order places. I bought it when Alice told me what she wanted you to do. I know better than you how dangerous that house is.” She leaned forward. “Oh, come on, Jessica. Let me come with you. I think I can shoot fairly straight with my glasses on. That’ll take care of any human intruders we encounter. Unfortunately though,” she lowered her voice, “I’m pretty sure we’ll be dialing mostly with the non-human kind over there, and that’s what worries me. If you’ll stop overreacting and calm down, you’ll realize I can be of help.”

            I studied her dear old wrinkled face. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. But I had to stop her somehow. She was just too tiny, too frail to go through with the kind of search I was sure I’d have to conduct and I loved her too much to put her through it. “As much as I’d love the company, I can’t let you come, Emily! Think about it. It might be necessary to defend ourselves at a moment’s notice. And there might be holes in the stairs or floor or something. Don’t forget the power there’s been turned off. It’s going to be awfully hard to see anything with just my little flashlight. Not only that, there’s no running water to help you swallow your pills. And with this storm, it’s bound to be damp and chilly over there too.”

            Getting up, I shook my head. “So the answer is no. I love you too much to subject you to all the possible danger and discomfort.”

            Crossing her arms, Emily theatrically sighed. “Very well then. I’ll follow you in my own car. That way, technically, we won’t be going together and you  won’t be exposing me to danger. I’ll be doing it to myself.

            Shaking my head, I smiled ruefully, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Not only was Emily not licensed to carry a gun, she wasn’t licensed to drive either.  Her driving permit had expired years ago when she’d failed her eye test. Why couldn’t she realize I was trying to protect her? Bless her heart, her intentions were good. But I had bad feelings about this. Not concerning any ghosts, of course, but about the house itself. A lot of murders and unexplained accidents had taken place there. The building had an evil history, and there was an evil atmosphere around it. That’s why it was going to be torn down.

            But Emily was not about to be dissuaded. “I’ll wait outside in my own car, Jessica. That way I’ll be close by, just in case.”

            Staring into her mesmerizing large green eyes, I felt chilled to the bone. Emily had the eyes of an old soul, with so much knowledge revealed there, it was often painful to look at them, and I felt myself weakening. Am I being too practical, too overly protective? Will it hurt to have her come and wait outside? Surely, she’ll be safe in the broad daylight.

            “Oh, all right,” I sighed, quickly turning away, running my brush through my hair. “You can come but we’ll both go in my car. And you have to promise me you’ll stay in it.” I smiled at her. “Okay? Promise?”

            With her eyes shining with her eager enthusiasm, Emily made an X over her heart. “I promise.”

            I studied her, hoping I was doing the right thing. But a rumble of thunder shook the entire house, interrupting my thoughts. Quickly I checked the canvas bag I was taking. I had my old, sturdy red flashlight and two white candles and matches in case my flashlight didn’t work. And my new cell phone, which I’d charged the night before was in there, as well as tissues for the runny nose I’d be sure to have in an empty house loaded with dust. I had my two bottles of expensive, imported water, and also a credit card with my driver’s license, along with two twenty-dollar bills. And last but not least, I had the pack of metal lock tools my late husband had given me years ago in case I ever got locked out of my house or car.

            I sighed, thinking of what I was about to do. This time I wasn’t going to use the tools because I’d forgotten my key. This time, I was going to use them, God help me, for breaking and entering and which would have Rob spinning in his grave.

            Looks like we’re all set,” I said. “As soon as we get some coffee, we’ll hit the road. There’s no time breakfast, I’m afraid. I’d like to get this over with and be back here before the storm breaks much more if we can.”

            Emily glanced at her watch as we left my room, gently closing the door behind us. “Maybe we will. I’m sure Mrs. Tremble will be along shortly. At least I hope so. I told her six on the dot.”

            I nodded as I softly padded across the vase house to the kitchen in the back. As long as Emily stays in the car, she’ll be safe. She gave me her word she’d stay there.

But why, I wondered, wouldn’t the feeling of dread go away? It was so palpable, like

energy waves crashing over me again and again. Did its strength mean something bad was going to happen? But what? I’ve prepared for every eventuality.

            Helping myself to the ever-present pot of coffee Emily always kept at the ready, I sat down at the small wooden table. Maybe Mrs. Tremble won’t show up. What a godsend that’d be. It’d keep Emily, at least, out of the path of danger. She’s have to stay home if Mrs. Tremble didn’t come. She’d have to choice. No way would we leave my sick aunt all alone. Despite Emily’s promise she’d stay in the car, I had an uneasy feeling she wouldn’t. Sitting idly by while someone else was busily engaged in something she considered interesting wasn’t Emily’s style.

            Filling her large mug with coffee, she sat down beside me. “Before we go, I want you to promise me something,” she said. “I want you to trust your instincts. You have good hunches about things. Don’t ignore them.  But don’t get carried away either. Sometimes your imagination goes hog-wild. You can’t afford that right now. You must relax as much as you can, and think logically. Our thinking has ways of creating whatever we fear, so you mustn’t give into it.”

            My heart skipped a beat. “Meaning what? Exactly?”

            “I know you sense danger. I sense it too. That’s way I’m going with you. I sense a very powerful, intelligent force in that house. I know you and Alice don’t believe in ghosts. But I firmly believe that vision you had last night was a warning. It wasn’t a dream. And while you should take heed of it, don’t let the fear you felt while having it have power over you. If you believe the worst, Jessica, it will happen. But if you think pragmatically, if you calmly consider all your options today, you

have the ability to change your future.” She stared hard at me. “Use your innate ability. Promise me you will!”

            Shivering, I nodded, quickly taking a large swallow of my steaming coffee to ward off the chill of terror. She’d just unwittingly confirmed my worst fear. If she sensed danger, then it was real.

            Very gently, she took hold of my ice-cold hand with her freckled, bony one and squeezed it hard, staring me in the eye. “You’ve got strength in you, kiddo. You just don’t know it yet.” With a faraway look in her eyes, she turned and stared out the window in the direction of the Harding mansion. “I have the strongest feeling you’re going to be tested for all you’re worth today.”

            Getting up, she patted my shoulder. Then she quickly opened the back door for Mrs. Tremble who was loudly thumping up the stair

Posted by joyceanthony at 9:32 PM EDT
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Friday, 6 July 2007
Camille Claudel: A Novel -- A Review
Topic: Book Review

Camille Claudel: A Novel

Author:  Alma H. Bond

ISBN:  1-4241-1670-8


In a time when women were expected to stay home and stay quiet, Camille Claudel had the fortune--or misfortune--to be born with a talent for sculpting and the passion and will to throw aside convention and follow her heart.  She lived and loved with a passion unsurpassed, yet died alone, her spirit broken and penniless.
  Alma Bond has written Camille Claudel's story, using great psychological insight, in a way I believe Camille herself would have written it -- with great passion and emotion so rarely seen in today's literary works.

While Ms. Bond willingly admits she used her imagination to embellish the history and add to the facts, I can't help but feel her insight into the human psyche has allowed her to capture the feel of what really happened.

Bond has immense insight into not only the artistic mind, but also into the inner workings of a mindgone mad.  She has a way of infiltrating Camille Claudel's mind, wrapping herself around it and exposing it to her readers in a way that pulls them in and allows them to experience the emotion for themselves.

If you are seeking a light read, pass this one up.  If, however, you want a book in which you can immerse yourself, one that invokes emotion to the highest degree, pick up a copy of Camille Claudel: A Novel and be prepared for an experience you won't soon forget.

Posted by joyceanthony at 11:51 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Topic: First Chapter

For more information on "Blood Tastes Lousy With Scotch" please visit Raven West's site at





            The mounting problem with guardianship and conservatorship is not new for those who have been victimized, yet it is only recently, with the media's attention on the Terri Schiavo case in 2005 that this financial and emotional abuse of our most vulnerable citizens has gained nationwide attention. Articles have been written in publications such as AARP magazine's "Stolen Lives" and published on Internet web sites "Justice For Florida Seniors", which is designed to "prevent guardianship abuse through education and action". A four part series in the Los Angeles Times became the impetus for California Assembly Bill 1363; Omnibus Conservatorship and Guardianship Reform Act of 2006. A March 22, 2006 episode of the television show Boston Legal featured a segment where a court appointed guardian was stealing from his ward. When the judge continued the case, the guardian told the attorney he would find his own attorney who would charge him $500 an hour and the money would come from the estate of the ward. This part is not fiction. (Hiring two thugs to beat up the guardian to force him to sign the release of his guardianship however was fiction) There are hundreds of horror stories of seniors who have been victimized from Florida to New York to California, but there are no happy endings. Until now.

            Magazine articles, media coverage and even new legislation are totally ineffective when the controlling forces of attorneys and judges dictate an individual's rights to their own liberty and property. In many cases the laws are as blind to the due process clause of the 14th amendment as the Statue of Justice is to the plight of the victims and their families. It takes extraordinary efforts of everyday heroes to help Lady Justice see, take notice and act.

            My mother always proclaimed the warning not to give your child the name of a bird because she'll spread her wings and fly away. What she should have said was not to name your child after an action hero, because she will have a life long propensity towards fighting for truth and justice. Notwithstanding the more derogatory inferences to "round Robin" and "Rockin' Robin", such is my curse having been named Robin. As a result, my aspirations were much more of the heroic breed of Robin Hood and Batman's partner.

            My history of fighting injustices took me into the political arena in Glendale, California when the city's redevelopment agency was forcing small business owners from their property through the power of Eminent Domain. In1988, I began a redistricting petition so that every resident, rich and poor, would have equal representation on the City Council.

            This compulsion led me to run for Thousand Oaks Board of Education to oppose a religious group's attempt to circulate abstinence materials in our public schools, which forced the school board to remove the brochures from the schools. When I reviewed my daughter's history textbooks, I worked with the Jewish Anti-Defamation League to remove the anti-Semitic texts from the High School. With no committee or any funds, I single handily defeated an overblown $110 million dollar school bond initiative. Twice.

            I accomplished these heroic feats while raising three daughters, running a retail store with my husband William, and publishing two novels under my pen name Raven West.

            A mid-life crises soon after my 50th birthday led me to enroll in Southern California Institute of Law, where I hoped to find a way to continue my education in an area that I felt would afford me the opportunity to continue my pursuit of justice in a more lucrative career. (Super heroes rarely received compensation for their endeavors). Yet, with all my experience fighting against the injustices of society, I was unaware of the true evil that was brewing within my very own family. An evil so insidious that it eventually cost my parents their home, their life savings, and nearly their lives.

            They say truth is stranger than fiction. As a writer of fiction, I can verify the truth of that platitude, because in my wildest imagination I could not have possibly created the story that became my own reality horror show. The list of villains and their accomplices rivals any comicbook character's nemesis. The battle was waged in a court of law and won by a daughter whose love for her father was stronger than steel. The is the true story of my incredible fight to rescue my father from the clutches of financial vampires comprising of my cousins, Attorneys Howard Raab, G. Mark Shalloway, and the guardian Lee Eakin and Neil Newstein of the Ferd & Gladys Alpert Jewish Family & Children's Services of West Palm Beach, Florida.

            Our family owes a huge debt of gratitude to Elder Law Attorney Sheri L. Hazeline , an intelligent young woman who went up against a powerful law firm and beat them at their own game. If not for her advice and support, I am certain my father would be living in a Medicaid facility in Florida and all of our family's assets would have transferred into the bank accounts of Shalloway & Shalloway and the trust fund of Jewish Family Services.

             "Blood Tastes Lousy With Scotch" is not only an interesting and informative account of how our family was able to defeat the Florida guardianship system, but will serve to help other families who feel helpless against a heartless probate court system. This book will alert our baby-boomer generation to the early signs of financial abuse and undue influence by relatives and caregivers and offer ways to protect their loved ones from the predators who use the legal process for their own gains. It is my hope that our story will offer help and support to those who have been victimized, so that no other family has to suffer the lose of their elderly parents and all they've worked their entire lives to accumulate to some nameless, heartless agency and their attorneys. My ultimate goal in writing this book is to expose the insidious web of legalized theft perpetuated by judges, attorneys and the national tragedy of a corrupt guardianship system. It this tragedy can happen to someone as well known and loved as Ruby Cohen of Cohen's Bakery in Ellenville New York, it can happen to anyone.

            The work of an action hero is never finished until evil is exposed and eradicated once and for all.



Chapter 1



My father, Ruby Cohen, owned and operated Cohen's Quality Bakery in Ellenville New York his entire adult life. During the 50's and 60's, the Catskills were the summer vacation destination for many Jewish families and no visit to Ellenville was complete without a stop in Cohen's Bakery, home of the "World Famous Raisin Pumpernickel". Everyone knew Ruby Cohen. He was as famous as any actor or politician and was regarded with respect and admiration by everyone who met him.[i]

            Dad was a charter member of Ellenville Elk's lodge 1971, founding president of the Ellenville Lions Club, among many charitable organizations. In 1997 he was honored as "Citizen of the Year." He was a wonderful father, husband, and a loving and kind grandfather to my three daughters: Tandy, Kimberly and Michelle. Ruby was a man anyone would have been proud to call their father, so much so that when my cousin's father passed away in 1968, "uncle" Ruby assumed the role of surrogate father.                                                  

            Their relationship became a constant tug-of-war that raged on throughout my adulthood, and increased once my two cousins Beverly and Diane moved to Los Angeles in 1984. Even though I knew we would never be the perfect extended family, never in my wildest imagination did I suspect they would conspire with other cousins to steal my father's entire life savings and try to permanently separate him from my mother.

            They say that blood is thicker than water, but you can't bath in it, wash clothes in it or water your lawn with it and blood tastes lousy with scotch.            

            I was working as an assistant editor at Healthy Living Magazine in Southern California in the spring of 2002 when I received a phone call from my mother informing me that my father had suffered a minor stroke while working at the bakery.  I asked her if she needed me to go to New York, but she told me she was handling things and that dad was fine. The stroke did little damage to his ability to function physically, but his memory and mental faculties were severely impaired, although at the time, none of us knew the extent of the injury or what his demented state would eventually cost our family.  

            The stroke forced dad to sell our family business. After over eighty years "Cohen's Bakery" would no longer be owned by a Cohen. I flew to New York in May of 2003 to attend the New York State Elks convention with my dad. I could immediately see the effects the stroke had on his ability to function in a normal fashion and although mom was trying to maintain a positive attitude, I could tell dad's deteriorating health was taking a toll on her as well. Mom told me she had received phone calls from the local police telling her that dad had been found wandering through town and she needed to pick him up. Believing he still owned the bakery, he would stop in and occupy his former office chair, and the police needed to be called to drive him home. On more than one occasion, dad stole the car keys and drove off, not telling anyone where he was going and usually ending up at the American Legion bar. I was amazed that my 79 year old mother was holding up as well as she appeared to be. Having volunteered for years with the Ellenville First Aid and Rescue Squad, she had knowledge of basic first aid and knew every emergency personal at the local hospital by name. Mom's ability to take care of my dad in his condition was truly amazing.

             In November, my three daughters and I flew to New York to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents. Dad was his usual jovial self, but complained that he felt like a prisoner because his doctor told him he shouldn't drive or drink alcohol and my mother was doing her best to ensure he followed his doctor's orders. In spite of what his doctor had told him, dad insisted on having a few shots of scotch and eating the pumpkin pie dessert. After dinner he became dizzy and passed out in the bathroom. He was rushed to the hospital with dangerously high blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The doctors were able to stabilize his vitals so that we were able to take him home that night.  Dad insisted he had the flu, and he'd soon be back to "normal" and would be out to California to attend Michelle's high school graduation in June. My mother said there was no way he would be able to make the trip in his condition, although we all hoped she was wrong. 

            When I phoned my mother a few weeks later, she told me of her concern that dad was receiving a number of phone calls from my cousin Gail Lerner who lived in Florida. Gail was never very close to our family and there had always been animosity between her and my mother for reasons neither of us knew or understood. Mom tried to tell Gail that dad wasn't strong enough to travel alone. He was having problems with his memory, sometimes forgetting to take his medication and worse, forgetting where the bathroom was when he needed to use it, but Gail only argued with her, causing their animosity to escalate. Mom's warnings began to re-ignite the friction between her and Gail. Their conversations became increasingly hostile, upsetting my mother, so she stopped talking to her.

             On a chilly end-of-winter day in March 2004 I received a frantic phone call from my mother that dad had packed a suitcase and told her he was going to Florida. Normally this was not an unusual occurrence. Dad would often vacation for a few weeks in warmer climate with his family while mom would stay home with her friends and social engagements. But unlike previous vacations, dad's health was a major issue. Mom was very concerned about his plans to have someone drive him to the airport in Newburgh, and his ability to change planes in Atlanta and arrive safely in Fort Lauderdale. I spoke to dad about our concerns and maybe it was a daughter's unrealistic denial of reality that I believed him when he told me he was fine and "not to worry."

            I asked him if he was staying with Gail, but he didn't confirm or deny where he was staying in Florida, only that he was only going for a few weeks, until the weather warmed up back home, and he'd be back in New York in time for the 2004 New York State Elks convention in May, that I had planned on attending with him.

            In spite of my mother's best effort s to talk sense into my father, dad phoned a friend to drive him to the airport and headed out the door. Although mom desperately didn't want him to leave, there wasn't anything a ninety-five pound, seventy-nine-year-old woman could physically do to stop him. We could not have possibly imagined that this one "small step" dad took that day would alter the course of the lives of my family forever, plunging all of us into a two year long nightmare.

            A few days after dad arrived in Florida, I called Gail to see how things were going, and to talk to dad. Gail told me he was out to lunch with friends and would call me when he returned. Three days later, I called again. Gail told me that dad was resting, but he'd call me as soon as he was awake. I never received a phone call, but with a three hour time difference between California and New York I didn't think there was anything that unusual at first about my not being able to call at a convenient time. I began to be concerned when my daughter Tandy called from Oklahoma and told me that she had also been unable to speak to her grandfather, and Tulsa was only a one-hour time difference. She told me whenever she called Gail, she was told dad was always either sleeping or out with friends and messages for him to return her calls went unanswered.

            March 19, 2004, nine days after dad left New York I received an email from Gail[ii]. Suddenly, this was no longer a two-week vacation. I had no idea who Henry and Sheri Solomon were, or what a Geriatric Care Manager was, or why my father would be looking for an "apartment" in Florida when, as far as I knew, he was planning on returning to Ellenville.

            I emailed a reply and tried to phone her, but the phone went directly to her voice mail. I left several messages trying to get in touch with my father and get some clarification as to what was going on, but never received a reply. Meanwhile, my mother was alone in New York, unable to eat, losing weight and literally worried sick about where her husband was.

            I kept trying to call, but no one would answer until about a week later when, by some miracle, my father answered the phone. I asked him about the email and the apartment and asked him what his plans were. His voice was so cold and distant. "I'm leaving New York, and never going back."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. This didn't sound like my dad. I felt the muscles in my stomach tighten, the first subconscious warning sighs of the dangers to come.

            "What are you talking about? Did you tell mom?"

            "I haven't talked to your mother. She hasn't called me since I got here. All she cares about is the money. Don't call me anymore."

            The phone went dead.

            I immediately hit the speed redial button, but no one answered. The next call was to my mother, who was crying so hysterically she could barely speak.

            "The bank just called. Your father tried to cash a check for $50,000.00."

            "You're kidding!" I replied. "Do you have that much in your checking account?"

            "Of course not. He knows that. The amount was crossed out and the correction wasn't initialed, and I don't think the handwriting on the date is his [iii]. Your father needs to come home, he doesn't know what he's doing."

            I should have left my job, quit law school and been on the next plane to Florida, but since I'd already made plans to go to New York in May, I didn't believe there was any reason to leave early. Mom told me she closed out all of their joint accounts, putting everything in her name to protect herself from future surprises, and she sounded as if she were handling the situation quite well. We both expected dad would be coming back to Ellenville, but found out that my cousin had other plans.

            A few days later my mother faxed me a copy of one of my father's IRA accounts, notifying us that the beneficiaries had been changed from my three daughters, to my four cousins; Beverly Cohen Scotti, Diane Cohen, Roberta Grundt and Gail Lerner [iv]. It was obvious in spite of my cousin's claims not to have known what Gail was doing, there wasn't anyway for her to fill in their exact month, day and year of their birth unless she had contacted them for the information. According to our financial advisor, this change should have never taken place without my mother's signature, which obviously, she never would have given had she known what Gail was doing.

I was furious. I knew my father would never take money from his only grandchildren, especially with Michelle, the youngest, graduating high school that year. Over the years dad had made many investments for his granddaughter's education. Even though they never asked or expected financial support, their relationship was tantamount throughout their lives. Both my parents attended all the special occasions in my daughter's lives, from the day they were born, each of their Bat Mitzvahs, Tandy and Kimberly's high school graduation and our yearly visits to New York were the highlight of my father's life. I knew there was no way he would have cut them out of any financial support and definitely would not have given it to his adult nieces. Someone was manipulating him, and I knew exactly who that was. Unfortunately, I had no idea at the time what lengths Gail was willing to go to keep my father from his family, until I received another frantic phone call from my mother.

            Mom received a notice that her power of attorney was revoked. It was signed by my father and witnessed by my cousin and someone by the name of Frank, whom I later learned was Gail's boyfriend[v].  The form was dated April 14, 2004. In just over one month, Gail had managed to find an attorney and gain control over my father and his entire estate. The paper listed dad's new address. I looked the address up on the Internet and found the location was Newport Place retirement home in Boynton Beach. I immediately phoned the facility, asked to speak to Ruby Cohen and was told by the receptionist that Mr. Cohen was not to receive any phone calls by order of his power of attorney. I told the woman I was his daughter and I wanted to speak to my father, but she refused to connect my call.

            I called mom and tried to reassure her that I would take care of everything, but at that time it was an empty promise. I had absolutely no idea how or what I could do from 3000 miles away with Gail now holding my father's power of attorney and her having full access to influence him to agree to do anything she told him. What was so heartbreaking to our family was that my daughters, who had always been so close to their grandfather, had lost all communication with him and I was helpless to do anything to rectify the situation.

            Hoping to find some help, I phoned my cousin Beverly, who lived a few miles from me. She was very cold, saying she didn't want to get involved since it didn't have anything to do with her. I then tried to contact my cousins Bob and Norman Feldner from my father's late sister Jean, but they refused to listen to my cries for help. It became obvious that everyone of my father's family was siding with Gail for reasons I could not understand. In the past, I would always invite my cousins to our family's events, but they would only attend when my father was visiting. In June of 2000 I held a graduation party at my home for my daughter Tandy. Beverly and Diane took the opportunity to present dad with a father's day present, right in front of my guests, which led to many uncomfortable questions. Whenever my parents would come to California, my cousins would invite my father to visit them in Palm Springs, party on their yacht, attend their children's weddings, and many other charity events. My mother and I were never included in their invitation. When Beverly was married, I suggested she ask dad to walk her down the aisle. She thought it was a wonderful idea and he agreed. Neither my mother nor myself were invited. Beverly said it was a "small family wedding", so, I wasn't that surprised when Beverly responded the way she had, but I never expected that all of my cousins would conspire to such incredible lengths to try to take my father away from my mother and me, and worse, his grandchildren. But they never expected the lengths I would go to in order to prevent them from succeeding.

            The gauntlet had been thrown, the battle had begun and it was going to be a long and bloody war before it was over. With no siblings, no other family members on my side, my mother in New York, my father in Florida, I was facing my very own Bermuda Triangle. And I was facing it "relatively" alone.


[i]  Cohen's Bakery and Ruby Cohen

[ii]  Email from Gail

[iii] $50,000.000 check

[iv]  Notice of change in beneficiaries from America Funds

[v] Revocation of mom's power of attorney

Posted by joyceanthony at 8:21 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 July 2007 1:20 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Hunted by Jamieson Wolf--a Review
Topic: Book Review

They say power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This concept comes to life in Hunted, a novel written by Jamieson Wolf.

I was drawn into this story completely from the first page and it didn't loosen its grip until well after I turned the last one. Mr. Wolf has woven a haunting psychological thriller of the highest caliber.

His winning style draws you into the life of ex-soap opera star, Susan Halliway. Someone is stalking Susan and leaving her "gifts" of dead girls. Susan needs to find out who before more innocent children die.

Is the culprit Susan's friend Erin, who wrote the original storyline the stalker is following? Is it Susan's ex-lover, Derrick, who still yearns for her touch after all this time?

Follow this trio, taste Susan's terror--and in the end, even the most seasoned thriller reader will be shocked at who--or what--lies behind the terror.

For more information on Hunted, visit Jamieson Wolf at:

Posted by joyceanthony at 3:19 AM EDT
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Monday, 18 June 2007

I have been tagged by Cheryl Malandrinos to come up with eight unique things about me that others may not know. So here goes....

1.  The very first book I remember reading is Opalina by Peggy Bacon.  I must have read the book at least thirty times and would love to find a copy now to share with my son.

2.  My first short story is still sitting in a folder having never been shared with anyone.  The MC is named Adil and he's sixteen years old and fighting in a war.

3.  I never saw a television program until I was ten years old--it was on a black and white television and was Clambake, starring Elvis Presley.

4.  The very first song I learned all the words to was Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell.

5.  I have petted a lion.  There was a very old one at our local zoo when I was little.  He had lost all his teeth and he would allow visitors to reach out and pet him.  It was an amazing experience.

6.  I got my first job at the age of ten (a paper route) and worked at one job or another from then  until I was 36 and had to go on disability.  Of all the jobs I held, the receptionist for the casket convention was the most interesting.

7.  My favorite way to lift my mood is to put on Carman's R.I.O.T. as loud as I can and dance.

8.  I still have the original Bible that was given to me when I was seven years old.  It has the plain black cover and was given to me by my grandmother's next door neighbor, Helen Bowles.

Posted by joyceanthony at 1:34 AM EDT
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