Thursday, December 29, 2011

Once I hit Route 46, ... I made a slight detour...into Hot Dog Johnny’s

Ten minutes later, as I turned from the ordering window with my lunch, the ... truck pulled into the street side parking area. He waved again as he strode toward me.

“Is this a coincidence?” I said, juggling my birch beer and dill pickle.

“Could be. I do—still—frequent this place.”

“Or?”

He grinned and shrugged. “Or could be I was on my way into the Belvidere hardware store for screws, spotted your Jeep and got a sudden hankering for Tastykakes.”

It felt like flirting.

Johanna Lawrence Wheeler, The Chick Palace




The Chick Palace

A lakeside romp fueled by friendship, family,

and one old flame not averse to once again testing the waters


http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/NOOK-First-eBook-Featured-Authors/379003312/

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Three Dilemmas...



two friends,

one deserted tree house





during a simmering summer on Lake Allamuchy







available now from Barnes & Noble Nook Book

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-chick-palace-leslie-davis-guccione/1108055479

Monday, December 26, 2011

I glanced at my platter. She glanced at my platter. ...


Somewhere a dog barked.

“I’m sure I’d feel the same way in your position,” she continued.

“What position is that?”

She flushed. “You know, the ex-wife.”

“Ex-ex wife.”

“Yes, and I’m sure you feel as though first I take over your husband and now your property… I respect your space, Lilly.”

My space? Gag me with a spoon. Her blunder was so spilling over with implication, past transgressions and flat out balls, my snappy comebacks tumbled over themselves on the race from my brain to my tongue. High road, high road. …

Catalana Gallordi, Madison Avenue’s femme fantastique, … glanced at me as if I were a skeptical prospective client in need of convincing. “I want to be a good guest… As for the bungalow, I put everything back in place on Sundays. You can understand why we—why I bring my own towels and linens.”

More easily than I could understand why she wanted my husband. … redneck tantrum still rang in my ears. Lordy, I was tempted to give her a first-hand experience with one. …I resisted. “Sugar, Brad and I fit together no better than a hobbled harness in need of grease. It’s his place too.”

“Well, thank you, Lilly.” She …looked through the tree house window. “…a real getaway out here. The Hamptons can be as much of a pressure cooker as the city. This is a chance for us to unwind.”

Maybe. For now she was still stiff as line dried January overalls.


Lilly Covington, The Chick Palace


THE CHICK PALACE

A lakeside romp fueled by friendship, family,
and one old flame not averse to once again testing the waters.

Available now at Barnes & Noble Nook Book





Thursday, December 22, 2011

She entered my life as Lonnye-Ronette Drinkwater...

...and sweetened my four-year foray from Boston into the land of Dixie-at-every-football-game. I may have been the Yankee from 830 miles north, but my bound-and-determined Selwyn roommate less than a two-hour drive from home had her own row to hoe at that bastion of future Junior League presidents.

By the middle of Orientation Week I realized she had an agenda beyond academics and by the time we’d boarded the chartered bus back to campus from a Davidson mixer, she was well into her master plan.

Johanna Lawrence Wheeler, The Chick Palace



The Chick Palace

A lakeside romp fueled by friendship, family,

and one old flame not averse to once again testing the waters.


Available December 26th as an exclusive from Barnes & Noble Nook First


"There are certain shades of limelight...


...that can wreck a girl's complexion." Holly Golightly

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's


When Johanna called Tuesday afternoon, I was fixing to pull the pepperoni off Monday night’s half eaten pizza and call it late lunch or early supper. In the background, Bob Marley alternated with Billie Holliday...part of the spoils gleaned from my second divorce of Mr. Wrong.
Short of upending a bottle of rum and revisiting my collegiate cigarette habit, I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap myself around misery than mournful music.

Lilly Covington, The Chick Palace




A lakeside romp fueled by friendship, family,

and one old flame not averse to once again testing the waters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The trouble with pivotal moments...


...is that you don't recognize them them until you've been blown ninety degrees off course. Roads may very well diverge in a yellow wood ...

and life's a series of those forks,

but for Lilly and me, it's the right angle turns in life

that lead you down those paths less traveled.


Johanna Lawrence Wheeler, THE CHICK PALACE



The Chick Palace

A lakeside romp fueled by friendship, family,

and one old flame not averse to once again testing the waters.


Available December 26th as an exclusive from Barnes & Noble Nook First

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

And so we made our way...


...to Brad’s Porsche, steering the conversation back to the mundane...and clear of references to past summers, past issues, past lives.

He drove me ... in the car we’d once shared, past the house we’d once owned. Maintaining our historic brick-end colonial required as much effort as our marriage and Ex-ex had not been up to either task. ... I stared at those old trees wondering what had possessed me to accept his offer of a ride, let alone his half-baked request to share the bungalow.

In the open Porsche Brad’s repp tie flapped against his monogrammed shirt I no longer dropped off at Ceccarelli’s Cleaners on Springfield Avenue. ...it was still easy to imagine him the privileged Shady Side Academy student he’d been in Pittsburgh, about the time I was chewing popcorn in that middle row of the Paradise, reciting dialogue along with George Peppard and Audrey Hepburn.

I arrived at Selwyn fresh from a scholarship to Duke’s pre-college program. All summer I’d studied the ways of (the) khaki-and-madras crowd...pledge brothers flipping up their Izod collars, hosing down their Mustangs.

I wanted one of those careless boys born to that.

Be careful what you wish for.

Lilly Covington, The Chick Palace


The Chick Palace

A lakeside romp fueled by friendship, family,

and one old flame not averse to once again testing the waters.


Monday, December 19, 2011

“It’s so hot I’d liked to died,” I quip as a brunette pauses...

...on my dorm room threshold like she’s not wanting to come any closer. Through the haze of my perfect smoke rings dissipating above my frosted hair and hoop earrings, she glances from the fresh and crisply made bed on the other side of me to the bare mattress ticking I’m reclining on. I shoot another three smoke rings toward the ceiling.

“You’re as good as that Camel billboard in Times Square,” she says.

“You’ve been to New York City?”

“My grandmother lives there.”

“Well, hey! That makes you my Yankee roommate? Johanna Lawrence?”

She eyes my Percy Sledge album spinning on her stereo. “Johanna,” she replies, “Everyone’s been calling me Johanna. And you all must be Lonnye-Ronette Drinkwater?”

I stump my mentholated Newport into the ashtray. “First thing you need to know: y’all’s plural and there’s only me in here.” ...

She seems desperate for the familiar. .... And here she stands like she’s found herself on another planet called Charlotte, North Carolina.

Lilly Drinkwater Covington, The Chick Palace



Three Dilemmas, Two Friends, One Deserted Tree House

during a simmering summer on Lake Allamuchy

Saturday, December 17, 2011

It's not all WORDS at work

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.





ext: Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
Music: Gustav Holst, 1874-1934
Tune: CRANHAM, Meter: Irr.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Guilt had maintained its pinch on my sassier self.









Johanna Wheeler, The Chick Palace

By late afternoon,though the heat still hovered like the morning’s mist. Physically and mentally I’d been hither and yon and now, with the sun glinting off the water, a need to postpone idle chatter propelled me to the end of our dock.

I kicked off my flats and walked the weathered boards. In fact I turned around and retraced my steps to hear it again. The so-often accompanying smack of a canoe paddle or clink of turnbuckle and halyard against the Sunfish mast played in my memory. …I dragged the paddle from under the Old Towne, flipped the canoe and eased it along the roller.

…Guilt had maintained its pinch on my sassier self. I patted my empty pocket …and glanced over at the public beach by the lifeguard tower then tried to clear my head …. Angst befuddled everything.

When no Two Rock drawl called “Wait up, Sugar!” I paddled into the sparkling light splintering and bouncing off the water.

Angst befuddles everything



The Chick Palace

Three Dilemmas, Two Friends, One Deserted Tree House

during a simmering summer on Lake Allamucy
























Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Clever, clever, clever...

My photographer friend Deni Johnson surprised me
The perfect little zipper bag for treasures & travels.

Or a small notebook

No writer should ever be without without pen & paper.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I smiled at the familiar aroma...

of Maggie Lawrence's barbecue sauce wafting behind them. "The tradition continues,” I said as I sidled up to Johanna who'd set it to simmering.

Lilly Covington, The Chick Palace


What's a summer at Lake Allamuchy without Maggie Lawrence's barbecue sauce?

Unfortunately it's up to Johanna Lawrence Wheeler to make it & she is trying mightily to rise to the occasion. We've lost Maggie before the story begins & it's triggers like the aromas in a summer kitchen or even a glimpse of familiar handwriting that call up the bittersweet.

As Johanna will tell you~~

Sunlight filtered through the treetops, soon to burn off the mist, wispy as tulle, hovering over the water. ... I kept a steady pace and pulled the bag of ashes from my shorts followed by a battered index card. Best Barbecue Sauce lay across the card in my mother’s distinct script. The Palmer Method, wasn’t it?

Tears welled over my lashes as I rounded the first bend, past a cottage cluster. Her handwriting raised a bruise on my heart, as Lilly would say. Where did these unbidden memories lurk that they sprang up like geese off the beach?

At the moment The Chick Palace is simmering like Maggie's sauce, due for its December 26th launch. In the meantime, no one combines recipes & reverie like my Austin buddy Lee Stokes Hilton, so I'm sharing her tribute, her barbecue sauce & her blog. Enjoy!


Friday, December 9, 2011

It's not all WORDS at work


Sometimes it's words not working.

But outside my office window, my source of inspiration keeps the faith,

season in,

season out,

till the muse returns.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"What if you had never met me?"

"What would your life be like?"
Leah Stewart, The Myth of You and Me

We took our coffee and climbed up to the flat, lattice-framed roof as sunbeams sliced through the overhanging branches. "...Let's do this every morning. We'll come up here and have some tree house tributes..."


At six, with the sun low and the temperature falling, we regrouped in the tree house with my pitcher of margaritas, Johanna's chicken salad and the last of the local tomatoes bought for the holiday weekend.
...

By the time Lilly shared her margarita's secret ingredient ("I set off the lime with a touch of simple syrup, same as I make for sweet tea.") we were sipping on the roof, the air sweet with honeysuckle and a CD of Cuban salsa music.



Three Dilemmas, Two Friends, One Deserted Tree House

During a simmering summer on Lake Allamuchy

What's it going to be then, eh?


Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange



Long before there was a plot,
long before Johanna Wheeler & Lilly Covington
dove head first into their simmering summer
on Lake Allamuchy, New Jersey,

there was a very real, very deserted tree house
in Massachusetts.
And there were two very real friends & next door neighbors
who confiscated it

for commiseration, conversation & cahoots.


All it took was my imagination to move it...
to the empty meadow

with the commanding view,


Behind Johanna's "cottage"

and Lilly's bungalow.


What's it going to be then, eh?

Commiseration, conversation & cahoots


The Chick Palace

Three Dilemmas, Two Friends, One Deserted Tree House






Who's there?


Shakespeare, Hamlet, Prince of Darkness

I grew up with tales from my mother's childhood summers.

The house across the stream, with the chauffeur's quarters
over the garage & a sleeping porch.

A clay tennis court, gone to seed during WW2 when gas
was rationed & fewer folks could get there to maintain it.

A dock and canoe. Always a dock, always a canoe.

Lily pads. Always the lily pads & painted turtles sunning themselves.


Who's There? Happy ghosts of summers past hovering just over the shoulders of the
happy figments of my imagination.

The Chick Palace

Three Dilemmas, Two Friends, One Deserted Tree House

during a simmering summer on Lake Allamuchy