Friday, May 31, 2013

Hitting the Wine Trail on vacation

May 31, 2013

Vacations are marvelous and precious things. A week away from the day job has passed in the blink of an eye, and while I value my employment, I find I'm in no hurry to return. Doing good in the world one person at a time can be rewarding, but it does take an emotional toll. So does dealing with the politically-minded who don't realize they sound like brainless magpies, but I digress. For my last official day of this week of vacation, we went in search of local wine.

I live within easy driving distance of West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Which way to go first was the hardest decision. We chose....poorly. The idea was to go far and work our way back home so we headed out to a new winery, Red Heifer, in the Cascade/Smithsburg area of Maryland. We didn't get to the wine part because...we drove right by the place. Their sign sits back off the road and, yes, I drive a little fast. My honey's nav program on his so-called smart phone was then activated and we turned around and went back.

I hope Red Heifer does well, but it will have to do well without me. We traversed a dangerously rutted and pot-holed gravel lane to a facility that is NOT handicapped accessible. #1 - My car sits a mere six inches off the ground and dragging bottom isn't in the playbook. I had to keep going to the top as there wasn't any way to turn around and go back down the mountain. #2 - My partner scared me to death when he got out of the car on the severely sloped parking area. And once he got down to the side of the parking area, no way in hell could he get back up under his own steam, even with his cane. Yes, I backed my car over their yard to get it to him.

Seriously, I hope you go and support them because I think small businesses are the backbone of this country but be warned - take a four-wheel drive and only people who can walk normally without assistance.

Our spirits somewhat dampened (okay, mine were soaking wet because my partner felt so bad he thought he was about to ruin my whole day out and it was NOT his fault) we decided to head straight to the place we really wanted to visit - Knob Hall in Clear Spring, Maryland.

Knob Hall sits out in the middle of nowhere, which is a plus for a vineyard. Once again, parking the car was a problem - NO handicap parking. Of course, by this point, I didn't give a damn if I ran over things to get him to the front door in any manner necessary to avoid him risking a fall. (Note: this is why handicap parking is so vital - people like ME get PISSED OFF if their loved ones don't have ingress and egress and WE are the ones y'all have to worry about because we're determined enough to take matters under our own four tires. Again, I digress.)

Once we were inside the rustic barn, this lovely blond chickie greeted us and invited us to have a little wine tasting, which we both thoroughly enjoyed although one of us more than the other - please refer back to the mention of a young blond. And I've digressed yet again....

We tried six different wines and ended up buying one bottle each of three of them. It was very instructional as to why we like the wines we do. We were well pleased with the staff and wine, and if the selections are as good with a meal as they were just sipping them on a hot spring day, I know we'll go back and stock up. Their prices weren't bad at all, and once again, I'm all about supporting small, local business. And the little four-bottle carry-all is pretty cool. I'll take that along whenever and wherever I get the next round of wine. I'm not bashful.

The one thing we do regret is not splurging on a bottle of their "port" wine. We'd never tasted "port" before and it had a wonderfully unique aroma and flavor, and had we been dogs, our ears would have pricked up. Another reason to go back to Knob Hall Winery.

We didn't make it to the three places in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, but we will some future day when I'm not stuck at the day job. It's good to have something to look forward to.

So now we've come to the last hours of a Friday afternoon. We're rested from the hours spent driving around some of the most beautiful countryside you'll find anywhere and it's time for us to relax on the patio until the bugs drive us back inside. It was a good vacation. 


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cicada - it's all about the bug

May 29, 2013

I'm still waiting to see the first cicada of 2013. If you live on the east coast of the United States, you've been hearing about Brood II for a while now. If you live in western Maryland, you're likely still waiting for the big event. I *think* I heard one yesterday, but no visual contact yet, and I'm sort of disappointed.

Call me crazy but I think this is fascinating stuff. Mother Nature in one of her more unique moods. A seventeen year life cycle is some sort of poetry for a insect.

I've lived on this hillside all my life. In 1996, the last year Brood II was active, I swept cicada shells off the patio every day. I rarely saw the live critters because they were in the trees, feeding, but something drew them to the patio to shed their skin, perhaps heat. The noise, and they are noisy little critters, wasn't too bad unless a person walked up the mountain into the deeper woods, but I did keep the windows closed. It becomes "white noise." There in the background and hardly noticed. Then it's gone and a person spends a few days wondering what's missing.

There are several "cookbooks" available online for those who want to try cicada, even one from the University of Maryland, but I'm happy just to watch and listen to them. I don't find the idea of being overrun with these "locusts" the least bit annoying. I may not be here in another seventeen years and this might be my last chance to enjoy one of my world's stranger events - even if it is all about the bug.

The weather forecast is for a ninety degree day so maybe I'll get lucky and see the first one today. And maybe I need to be more careful what I wish for. Who knows?  It's one of those things that keep country life interesting!

PS. If you're in or about western Maryland this weekend - it's Bluesfest time! Slip on down to Hagerstown and join the party. Maybe they'll have improved parking this year to match those ticket prices. After all, the Bluesfest first emerged in 1996 with the cicada.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Holidays and horoscopes

May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day to you! If I seem a little perky on a day where we remember and honor those who have sacrificed so we have our freedoms, it's that I have something big to celebrate this year. This Memorial Day, one of my own is home from his second tour in Afghanistan. God is good to return him to us safe and sound.

We're back from a fast trip south to my brother-in-laws home to celebrate his birthday. We hopped in my trusty Charger at daybreak Saturday and headed out. I was behind the wheel for most of the five hour drive and let me tell you - people on I95 are nuts. The stretch between just below Fredericksburg all the way to the King's Dominion exit was NASCAR at its best. I stayed with traffic, well above the speed limit, and people still passed me!

(To the guy in the black Charger with the big Hemi who slowed down, pulled up beside me, waved, and took off like a rocket from an 85mph start- funny dude. I get it. Those 400 horses needed a run. You're still an idiot to do that in traffic. Bet that baby wouldn't be pretty as scrap metal.)

The birthday party was nice. It's always good to be with my partner's family and especially nice when all five siblings are in the same place telling the same old stories about each other again. It would be annoying to hear the tales over and over except that I understand the love they share and that the distance between them sometimes weighs heavy. The instant sharing of texts and photos are great, but I see it on their faces - nothing beats a real hug.

On the way home Sunday morning we learned something else. We hit the highway before seven a.m. and there were Virginia state troopers with radar guns everywhere on Rt.64. Didn't see any on the way down, but I counted eleven with someone pulled over and another eight lurking with radar guns. Moral to the story - the next time we go south, we're not heading home until noon. My honey is very careful when he drives my car (yeah, it's the one time he's afraid of me because if he puts a scratch on my car........). He set the cruise control and we were fine.

I hate to use the word "obligation" when speaking of family, but the language is what it is. With the family obligations over, I'm now on vacation for the next week. So I get this as my horoscope today:  Your head is swimming -- but it's not an intellectual failure! Your energy is just out of sync with the ideas you have to confront, but you should be back in the game in a couple of days at the most.  Really? This is news? No, this is vacation brain. I shall embrace it. I busted my arse to beat a June 1 deadline so I could enjoy my home and play for the entire week. I still have more than a few years until I can retire, but this week is a practice run!

So that's my news from the mountain this morning.

Peace to us all.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's a QR code for your smartphone

May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day to everyone! I've got to start dinner prep soon, but I'm procrastinating. It's true - I let an article on the Internet distract me from my To Do list. And it doesn't matter that I know better because it was fun and easy.

What was fun and easy? A little QR block that will take your smartphone to my website. Best of all - it worked!

Now what I do with it from here is something I haven't figured out yet, but I feel so 2013! 


Monday, May 6, 2013

Deuce of Diamonds, a new book by KC Kendricks

May 6, 2013

It's been a long time coming! Deuce of Diamonds is finally available! I wanted to have this ready to go months ago, but the timing didn't work out, I'm sorry to say. I love writing Ian and Rick. These guys are honest characters. They screw up and read each other wrong. They make decisions the other isn't comfortable with and yet they love each other enough to be mature and understanding. Yep. I like these guys and I hope you will, too. - KC

Deuce of Diamonds
available now at 
Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo

Private investigator Ian Coulter has a knack for finding trouble even when he’s minding his own business. Ian’s in the midst of a routine weekly job for movie star client Saylor Blackwood when the man confides he thinks he has a fan turned stalker. Ian stays close to Saylor to observe the people around him and gets an unwelcome shock when FBI agent Rick Mohr contacts him.

Rick Mohr has a problem. Ian’s name just popped up on an FBI watch list. Rick knows it’s guilt by association where Ian is concerned, but what about Blackwood? Rick won’t allow Ian to get dragged into the mix when he’s not involved. For Ian he’ll break whatever confidentiality rule necessary.

It doesn’t take long for Ian and Rick to join forces to clear Ian’s name and get to the bottom of what’s going on in Amethyst Cove, because on or off the case, together is how they work best.


“I think you need to explain that to me, Rick.”

“I can’t. I logged on to run a weekly update. I…I have your name on a private watch so I can, um, sort of see if anything exciting happens in your world. So when it popped, I backtracked it. I don’t have details yet.”

“Local law enforcement personnel get a mention anywhere? If Foxy or Bunson got my name added, I need to know.”

“I thought of that and checked. No mention of them. Listen, Ian, I’m not in a position to have any right to judge you for anything you do, but be careful with him.”

“Damn, I wish…Rick, I had a really hinkey feeling last night. Like something was off kilter and I can’t bring it into focus. I can’t say it’s Saylor himself, but something is bugging me and I need to figure it out.”

This time Rick’s silence didn’t disturb me because I knew he was thinking. He sighed audibly. “I don’t like the sound of that. Your instincts are really good.”

“Thanks for the compliment, but I’d appreciate ideas more.”

He laughed softly. “You are an action kind of guy. Seriously, give me a day or two to dig around, and I’ll get back to you.”

“Don’t do anything stupid, Rick. I can back away from Blackwood, no harm, no foul, and he won’t know why. I can tell him we stepped over the line last night, so I can no longer have him as a client.”


The quiet pain in his voice brought me up short. Did he regret his choices? I refused to say anything that would sway him one way or the other.

“I’ll be careful, Rick. I promise. Since you’ve given me a tidbit of intel, I need to go check a few things on my end. Thanks for letting me know. You didn’t have to.”

“Yes, I did. I don’t want you caught up in whatever he may be doing, if he’s doing. Now I can tell the task force looking at him you’re not involved.”

“Thanks for having my back, man.”

“I’ll always have your back. I’ll call you soon.”

“Okay. Later.”


I disconnected before he could say more and the three thousand miles between us became an impenetrable wall of silence again. It hurt. I took a few deep breaths to ease the ache in my chest, but it didn’t work. It never did.


His gaze slammed into mine, hot with anger that didn’t touch me. “I was a fool to walk away from you. ‘One more try’ he said. What a joke.”

“I’m sorry.” And I was sorry he’d been hurt.

“Jesus, Ian. I knew when I left you standing there on the street, leaning on your car tipping your hat at Frank Bunson, it was a mistake to give Johnavan a last chance.”

He’d seen my little act of defiance at Frankie-boy? Huh.

“Why was it a mistake?”

His mouth dropped open. “Why? Why? Why the fuck do you think?”

“I think all sorts of things, Rick. I’d like for you to tell me the truth so I can make sense of some it.”

“It was a mistake because I’d met you.” He sighed heavily. “I didn’t …my heart wasn’t really in giving him another try.”

“And yet you did.”

“I wish I could lie to you, Ian, but I can’t. I’m not that big a bastard. You know what I thought? I thought I’d get him moved back east where he’d be happy and I’d be free to move on.”

I winced inwardly. Rick wasn’t a cold or calculating man in his personal life. “So how’d that work out for you?”

“How the fuck do you think?” He scrubbed his palms over his face. “I’m not good doing things to deliberately hurt people. He didn’t find a job right away, so I couldn’t just say ‘bye’ and leave him without rent money, now could I?”

That sounded more like him. “No, you couldn’t. Did he get a job or find someone else?”

Rick looked at me, a mix of emotions on his handsome face. He shook his head and rolled his eyes at the ceiling. “I came home from a day at the office and he was all packed and ready to go. It seems he used me as his ticket back to New York.”

“Oh, jeez. Hoist with your own petard.”

“Yeah, Shakespeare. I was. So I said it was fine and decided to enjoy a couple of weeks of solitude to make sure my head was out of my ass. Then you fucking call me and you’re going the fuck out with movie star Saylor Blackwood and I’m a fucking idiot!”

My joints went to jelly as the realization he was jealous I’d tricked Saylor sank into my brain. I grinned at him. “You’re not too fucking stupid. You are here now.”

And you want to sleep on the couch!”

I echoed his tone. “Well maybe not!”

We stared at each other.


Deuce of Diamonds
available now at 
AmazoniTunesBarnes and NobleKobo

Also available DOUBLE DEUCE
Contemporary gay romance mystery
now at AmazoniTunesBarnes and Noble, and Kobo.

 KC Kendricks

Life through the eyes of Greenbrier Smokey Deuce:

Friday, May 3, 2013

Reflections on the 2013 A to Z Blogging Challenge

May 3, 2013

So you’d think I’d be all blogged out by now, wouldn’t you? You’d be correct and I am, but not so much so I can’t finish the challenge out with a ‘reflections’ post. Hmm. The bad grammar in that last sentence - I should be ashamed (but I’m not).

If you followed along at Between the Keys you already know I chose the theme “It’s All About the Books” for the 2013 A to Z.  Between the Keys is both a personal and a promotion blog, so the theme fit. Here at my blog is where you can get to know me. I post all sorts of things depending on my mood of the day. So far in 2013, I happen to be in full author mode.

In 2011 I did the A to Z Challenge by the seat of my pants. It was fun, I enjoyed it, but I’m a planner by nature. I like organization in major undertakings, which the challenge is. Last year I created a calendar and worked out the daily topics, but didn’t have a theme. This year it all came together - a calendar and a theme. Good thing, too, because I have a lot of writing projects in various stages of completion so doing some promo on the backlist was very helpful as a timesaving device.

Following the calendar, which was truly the foundation of my plan, I began in January to compose the opening statements. By February I was pre-scheduling the posts, and by March 31st, I was looking forward to the 2014 A to Z Challenge. (Yep, you read that correctly. I mentioned 2014.) Each Sunday evening I checked the pre-scheduled posts to make sure they were good to go and could rest easy I was prepared for the week.

Once the month started, I tried to get around to various blogs, leave a comment, and join as a follower if they were on blogger. I’m not well versed on wordpress or other blog hosts. A lot of blogs didn’t have a “followers” list, which made me question if Between the Keys needed to have one showing, but I think it does so I left it in place.

I even got in the spirit of the cute individual letters someone created and made 2013 A to Z Blogging Challenge board for them over at my Pinterest page.
The one thing that did happen was Between the Keys became the target of a spammer. It’s not the first time this has happened but it did force me to turn on the word verification. I know we’re not supposed to do that because it annoys folks and discourages comments, but I simply couldn’t risk some of those comments getting through. Call it my Executive Order privilege.
Did I enjoy the challenge? Of course! Would I have mentioned 2014 if I’d had enough? My hat’s off to Arlee Bird, the organizer, and his support posse. They do a great job and I’m sure each of them spends a lot of time on this project annually. The bottom line is the A to Z Challenge is a mechanism to build a community of bloggers and gives people a way to get a glimpse into the lives of fascinatingly normal people.
And there it is. Another challenge met and conquered. From here it’s on to 2014 and whatever theme, or non-theme, strikes my fancy when the time to create my calendar rolls around. 
Peace to us all.