Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Writer's Adventure in Baking

Objective: To make a vintage candy to sell at a vintage sale.

Outcome: A new kind of frosting and an amazing cookie....

This week I decided I was going to make some goodies to take to Vintage Habitat, a vintage sale in my hometown, where good friends of mine were going to be selling their handmade accessories. (Links to their Esty sites will be at the bottom of this blog). I decided I would make Divinity, a candy that my great-grandmother used to make all the time. So the candy itself was going to fit in with the vintage feel of the show. To make this candy you have to boil sugar, corn syrup and water and then pour it slowly into stiff beaten egg whites. This is where the disaster happened.

In the background of all this is my grandfather who refuses to turn up his hearing aids so the TV is at like a thousand decibels, which makes it hard to hear candy "crack" in cold water. So somewhere in between the sugar not boiling long enough or the sugar and eggs not getting beaten long enough, I came out with a candy in the form and consistancy of marshmallow cream.

After letting the candy freeze hoping it would set up I ended up dumping them back into the mixing bowl and beat three cups of powdered sugar into the mix and came out with a great tasting frosting. I then made cookies and put the new frosting between them and created what I now call "Vintage Cookies". They are a cross between a chocolate cookie and a moonpie. They were really good too.

So in conclusion, next time I'll just make something I know I'll be able to make well and go from there.

Como la Flor Accessories:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Josh Groban Show August 12th, 2011

I know they're a little late but here's some of my favorite shots I took during the concert. Such a great show!

Excerpt from "Indiana Jones Never Mentioned This"

Chapter Seventeen: Casey Dennis – Early July – Day 43 – The Temple Complex of Karnak

With renewed strength we get to work near the west corner of the Temple of Amun in Karnak. Dr. Sinclair is almost crazy in his search for the Ark. Everything that we discover has to be logged in so many books that it makes my head spin. We all heard about the wager between Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Wexler. That wager drives everything we do. Aaron and Dr. Sinclair spend hours going over maps and charts, planning where to dig next. We only have until the end of July and one week in August to make good on Dr. Sinclair’s bet. The only day we are not at the temple was on Saturdays. Every three days Deacon and I trade places with Tag and Josie in the Valley of the Kings. Mr. Larson drives back and forth to each site relaying messages and progress to both doctors. I start bringing my laptop with me so I could download all the photos I’m taking and analyze them on the spot instead of waiting until we get home.

The one thing I do notice was that Veronica and Aaron are acting strangely. They whisper together and hold each other’s hand when they think no one’s looking. Being a wallflower for most of my life, I pick up on odd behavior quickly. I have a feeling that they’ve been surreptitiously together since the night of the festival three weeks ago. Because it’s none of my business I leave it alone. If Veronica wants me to know what’s going on between her and Aaron she will tell me in her own way. Until then I’m just going to do my job and take pictures of our findings.

Along the same line, Deacon has been acting curiously since the festival. I enjoyed the dance we shared but not another word has been spoken about it since. I had caught Deacon watching me closely one afternoon but he hurries away before I can say anything. Other times he will say my name and start to tell me something then change course and ask for some haphazard item next to me. It’s infuriating but like the Aaron/Veronica debacle I will just have to wait it out.

With the rest of our schedules going to the loony bin, Bubbe manages to stay exactly the same. It doesn’t matter how late it is when we drag our tired and sun-burnt bodies back to the house, Bubbe always has something hot and ready for us to eat. One night we came home to pizza, a welcome sight for us Americans. Bubbe always makes sure we are happy and content. One thing is for sure, I’m going to miss that wonderful lady when I return home. Store bought hummus will never be or taste the same.

Everyday we dig and every day we come home with nothing more than sore limbs and sun-burnt bodies. Aloe Vera gel is becoming my best friend. Dr. Sinclair is getting desperate. Two weeks into the dig at the Temple of Amun is turning into a bust.

“Abba, are you sure the scribe said the west corner of the Temple of Amun?” Veronica sighs, wiping the sweat from her brow. “Could Ima have translated it backwards?”

“I trust your mother’s translation skills,” Dr. Sinclair replies. “What we could use is a good ground penetrating radar device.”

“Did someone call for some radar?” Mr. Larson’s jolly voice shouts from behind a sand dune. Mr. Larson comes cresting over the hill in a small truck. He is waving his hat out like a passenger on a ship.

“Where the hell did you find that, Liam?” Dr. Sinclair asks, loudly.

“You won’t like the answer to that,” Mr. Larson replies. “Let’s just say I may have to move in with Marilyn and Andrew until I can get my savings back to where it was.”

My first guess is that Mr. Larson purchased the equipment on the black market. He and his driver unload the radar device, setting it gently on the sand.

“My question to you bro, is why haven’t you thought to invest in this stuff before now?” Mr. Larson teases.

“Shut up Liam,” Dr. Sinclair laughs. It was the first time I had seen Dr. Sinclair genuinely smile since arriving in Egypt. Veronica said it best when she told us that having her uncle, our teacher, around lightened the ex-Marine up immeasurably.

It’s going to take a few hours for the radar equipment to be set up so Dr. Sinclair tells Deacon and I that we can go be tourists at the rest of the temple compound. Deacon and I pack up what we were working on, refresh our water bottles and wander over to the visitors entrance for the temple.

The great stone rams greet us as we walked towards the temple. My camera’s out and I’m snapping pictures left and right. Poor Deacon is the subject of every single photo I take. He never once complains. We walk along the compound taking in the grand structures of the ancient times.

“Excuse me sir?” Deacon asks the man walking next to us. “Could you get a picture of me and my girlfriend? She has yet to be in one.”

“Of course, young man,” the older gentleman says, his accent that of a Scottish burr. “Such a handsome couple ya make. Say ‘pharaohs!’”

“Pharaohs!” Deacon and I exclaim. He wraps his arm around me, pulling me closer to him. The Scottish gentleman snaps several pictures of us. I thank him as he hands me back my camera and Deacon takes my hand and we walked on.

“Girlfriend?” I question.

“Do you want to be?” Deacon asks and I can’t tell if he’s joking or being serious. We walk hand in hand for awhile longer. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that I would be walking hand in hand with Deacon Talbot at the Temple of Amun in Karnak, Egypt. Never have I fathomed that he would be the one to initiate the hand holding. At one point I wish that if this is a dream that I never wake from it.

“Umm, Casey, there’s, uh something I need to tell you,” Deacon says, stuttering over his words. I’ve never seen Deacon Talbot that nervous before.

“Tell me what, Deacon?” I ask, stepping in front of him. He leans back against a pillar, looking down at his shoes.

“Do you remember that day in March when you asked Mr. Larson to drop you from the internship program?”

“Not one of my favorite days,” I say. “But yes, I do remember. I ran into you in the hallway. You asked me if there was anything you could do to help.”

“What did Mr. Larson tell you about how your balance was paid off?”

“The faculty got together and sponsored me,” I reply. “I wrote them all thank you notes. Deacon, why do ask?”

“It wasn’t a sponsorship from the teachers, Casey. It was…it was me. I left the money on Mr. Larson’s desk with instructions that it was to be used to pay for the rest of your trip here.”

I drop my hands from his grasp. I’m an abundance of conflicting emotions. I want to slap and kiss Deacon. I’m eternally grateful and extremely furious. What would have possessed him to make such a grand and… romantic gesture?

“Why?” was the only thing I can say. “Why? Why would you do something so… romantic?”

“Because I love you,” he says, pushing a curl back behind my ear.

“What did you say?” I ask, not trusting my own voice. Now I know I’m dreaming.

“I adore you Casey. I love you.”

His hands go into my hair, pulling me into a kiss. I give in instantly, wrapping my arms around his shoulders and holding on for dear life. Tears sting my eyes, I am so happy. Deacon Talbot loves me. Me, Casey Melissa Dennis. I no longer care if this is a dream. I never want this moment to end. Deacon ends the kiss first. I sigh and lay my head on his shoulder.

“I never even thought you knew my name,” I whisper. “Or that I was even alive.”

“I knew your name Cee. I knew much more than that though. Don’t you remember? You were in my algebra class. I know your class schedule and what bus you ride to get home. Casey, be with me.”

“Deacon…Tell me I’m not dreaming.”

“You’re not dreaming,” Deacon replies, kissing my cheek. “You have no idea how long I have wanted to tell you the truth.”

“I’m glad you did what you did, Deacon. If you hadn’t, I would be spending another summer working at Aunt Melanie’s peach orchard.”

“Shall we continue our brief day of freedom?” Deacon jokes, offering me his arm. I gladly take it.
We wandered around a bit more before we figure we should get back before our ride home leaves us here. Twenty minutes later we are back at the site. Not much has been done since we left hours earlier. Dr. Sinclair and Mr. Larson are arguing about the proper functions of the ground penetrating radar.

“Liam, if you wire this wrong and this thing blows up in my face, I will haunt you forever,” Dr. Sinclair says.

Deacon and I stay together while we walk back to the tent where Veronica and Aaron are hiding from the arguing adults. They have a card game laid out on the table.

“What are you guys playing?” I ask.

“A game my friend Roxie taught me while I was in America,” Veronica says. “She called it ‘Egyptian Rat Race.’ But I am failing to see the Egyptian or the rat part of this game.”

“I know this game!” I exclaim. “My friends and I played this during the breaks in our block periods at school. Don’t worry about the name. It doesn’t make sense to me either. Deal us in?”

Veronica reshuffles the deck and deals Deacon and I into the game. Several hands later Deacon has condemned me to hell three times, told Veronica she can eat rocks and Aaron to walk into a vat of salt acid. He does not take to losing very well at all. It’s an endearing fault to add to his other qualities I seem to enjoy.

“Casey Dennis, how do you keep winning?” Veronica questions.

“Freshman and sophomore class testing,” I laugh, scooping up the cards. “Had a lot of time to kill before classes started. That and being a camp counselor.”

“I have never gone to summer camp,” Veronica says. “I guess being around places like this is summer camp enough.”

“I think this summer has been camp enough for anyone.”

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Finalized Dream Cast of Indiana Jones Never Mentioned This

Finalized and updated Dream Cast of Indiana Jones Never Mentioned This

Veronica Lydiah Sinclair: 18; only child of Drs. Randall Sinclair and Khristina Gregory-Sinclair; born in Alexandria, Egypt, carries Egyptian passport; has spent less than six months of her life in the United States; is “banished” to the states to finish school; rejoins her family in Egypt with her uncle Liam Larson and his honors history students for a dig in Luxor; falls in love with Aaron Holbein, the Bethlehem University student working with her father; speaks fluent Arabic, English, and Hebrew; Jewish in religion (As portrayed by Demi Lovato)

Dr. Randall James Sinclair: 57; Veronica’s father; former United States Marine; doctor of Archeology and Egyptology; spent most of his time in Egypt and Israel; very rule oriented and no nonsense; married Khristina Gregory in Bethlehem; speaks Arabic, English and Hebrew; adopted the Jewish faith with wife and daughter; doesn’t like people; rivals with Dr. Robert Wexler (As portrayed by Gerard Butler)

Dr. Khristina Louisa Gregory-Sinclair: 47; Veronica’s mother; doctor of Archeology and linguistics; is of Egyptian and British descent; adopted by Marilyn and Andrew Larson when she was 10; adopted sister to Liam Larson; speaks Arabic, English. Greek and Hebrew and is able to read ancient Egyptian; is Jewish by choice like daughter Veronica (As portrayed by Ashley Judd)

Liam Edwin Larson: 35; Veronica’s uncle; Khristina’s brother; lives in Macon, GA; teaches honors history; takes four of his students on a dig in Karnak hosted by the Drs. Sinclair; is the closest thing to a best friend that Dr. Randall has; struggles with Arabic; is always being set up on blind dates by his mother and Bubbe Gretel; falls for and marries Johanna Lowe, his sister’s assistant (As portrayed by Bradley Cooper)

Johanna Elisa Lowe: Dr. Gregory-Sinclair’s assistant; is set up with Liam by Bubbe; marries Liam while he is in Karnak; used to be Veronica’s tutor (As portrayed by Amy Adams)

Casey Melissa Dennis: 16; going into her senior year of high school; Liam’s best student; avid photographer; youngest of three ; parents are not as well off as Deacon, Josie and Taggart’s families; almost didn’t get to come on the dig; bonds quickly with Veronica; admires Deacon from afar; is paired with Deacon and Dr. Gregory-Sinclair for the internship (As portrayed by Ayla Kell)

Deacon Jensen Talbot: 17; going into his senior year of high school; is Liam’s best student and TA; rebuffs attention by Josephine Masterson; cares a great deal for Casey Dennis; best friends with Taggart Bolton; is an only child from a wealthy Macon family; is paired with Casey and Dr. Gregory for the internship (As portrayed by Cody Longo)

Taggart “Tag” Adam Bolton: 17; going into his senior year of high school; one of Liam’s students; is Deacon’s best friend; adores Josephine Masterson but she won’t give him the time of day; oldest child of five, three younger sisters and one younger brother; plans to go into the Air Force to help with college; is paired with Josephine and Dr. Sinclair for the internship (As portrayed by Nathan Kress)

Josephine “Josie” Marie Masterson: 16; going into her senior year of high school; one of Liam’s students; is a very prissy and girlie-girl; adores Deacon and tolerates Tucker; gets on Veronica’s nerves early on with her superficial behavior and vanity; flirts extensively with Nicholas Wexler; is the only child of wealthy Macon widower; is paired with Taggart and Dr. Sinclair for the internship (As portrayed by Tiffany Thornton)

Bubbe Gretel Rosencrantz: 70; Veronica’s Jewish nanny; accompanies her to the states during Veronica’s “banishment”; teaches pre-school at the local synagogue; cares a great deal for Veronica and her family; cares for the family’s two Dobermans Isis and Sokar; is the family yenta (matchmaker/gossip); plans to marry off Liam by the end of the summer (As portrayed by Meryl Streep)

Aaron Moses Holbein: 24; Bethlehem University grad student working with Dr. Sinclair; falls in love with Veronica; rivals with Nicholas Wexler for Veronica’s attention; is not really who he seems; speaks Arabic, broken English and Hebrew (As portrayed by Jackson Rathbone)

Dr. Robert John Wexler: 57; curator at the Cairo Museum; former archeology professor at Cambridge; once dated Khristina; rivals with Dr. Randall Sinclair; aims to discredit the find in Karnak; sends son Nicholas to oversee the operation; the chief financier of the dig (As portrayed by Pierce Brosnan)

Nicholas “Nick” Henry Wexler: 22; son of Dr. Robert Wexler; is a very cocky and jerky person; is at his father’s beck and call; helps Dr. Wexler to discredit the artifacts found in Karnak; likes Veronica but she can’t stand him; hates Aaron Holbein; flirts with Josie until told she’s only 16; the only one besides her mother who calls Veronica “Roni” (As portrayed by Ben Barnes)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Excerpt from "No Such Thing as Easy Street" (Formerly A Ghost of You)

Mid-November – New York City, NY – Present Day

“Ithaca!” my father’s voice calls. “Phone!”

I slide away from my desk, first glancing at framed photograph of our whole family at Tricky and Jett’s wedding. Ada and I were grinning not only at the fact that we got away with throwing the wedding but that our parents were engaged. I walk over to the kitchen bar and take the phone from Dad.

“This is Ithaca,” I say.

“Ithaca, it’s Arcadia. Remember your offer to monster watch?” Arcadia asks.

“Yeah. Why?”

“Our normal baby-sitter got sick on us and both Bert and I are being called in to the station. We could really use you,” Arcadia explains.

“Can you give me an hour or so to get there?” I ask.

“I think I can hold off the cap till then. Thank you so much honey. You’re a lifesaver.”

“It’s not a problem Cadi. See you in a bit.”

I hang up the phone and look over at my dad. “I’m spending the night with Hadley and Donny.”

“Remember your meds,” Dad says, sipping his coffee. “Are you still coming with me to see Lauren and Memory for Thanksgiving?”

“I wouldn’t miss the chance to get to see them for anything.”

I give my father a hug. It’s been hard for him to be so far away from Lauren and Memory. Dad really loves them both but he and Lauren can’t seem to get in the same place at the same time. They put the wedding on hold when Ada got sick and it had been on hold ever since. Every year they try to plan the perfect time to have the ceremony but somehow they can’t coordinate everyone’s schedules. I call them the Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe of the Lower East Side. I want to plan them a surprise wedding like Ada and I did for Tricky and Jett. Although I don’t think it would go over as well as Tricky and Jett’s. I am always hinting at Dad that he and Lauren should just fly to Vegas and be done with it. Lauren refuses because she wants all our friends and family members to be there.

I wander back to my room and start packing a bag. I make sure I take all the dosages I would need for the next day just in case the gig turned out to be longer than either Bert or Arcadia planned. Before leaving the loft I pack my laptop so I can work on my paper after Hadley and Donny are asleep.

Making sure I had everything I would need for my night over at the Arvines’, I kiss my dad and head for the subway. I would have taken a cab but most won’t go to to Brooklyn after dark. I barely got in the door when I’m tackled by Donny and Hadley. Hadley had her stack of books next to her mother’s chair for us to read together. Just feet away from the chair Donny had his Star Wars and Transformers action figures out for our on-going epic battle. It was the Autobots and Jedis against the Decepticons and Sith Lords. Not being from the age or gender of sci-fi and action figures, I’m still learning who all these characters were. On the other hand, Hadley had My Little Ponies with names and colors I didn’t know either. Hanging with them I always manage to learn something new.

It’s a typical Thursday night for us. Arcadia gave us money for pizza and breadsticks. We had a picnic on the floor of the playroom with the harmonious sounds of Veggie Tales playing in the background. After dinner, I take our dishes back up to the kitchen and am putting them into the dishwasher when my worst fear occurred. One of the knives in the sink slipped and in my stupidity I go to catch it and miss. The blade slices down my left forearm and it starts to bleed. To make matters even worse I hear a shrill scream from the playroom. I cover my arm with a towel and apply pressure and run downstairs, nearly tripping on a pile of laundry.

Little Hadley was lying in a heap on the floor, her right leg at an unnatural angle. She was reaching for me and I stop frozen, unable to move.

“Ithy! Ithy!” Hadley sobs.

“Hadley!” I cry. “Donny, what happened?”

“She slipped on the stairs and fell down,” the little boy says, tears filling his eyes.

Hadley was bleeding from her leg wound and there was nothing I can do to help her, with my own arm bleeding faster than I can get it to stop. I can’t touch Hadley or even try to stop her bleeding without risking blood to blood contact. Pressing the towel tighter to my side, I reach for the phone to call 911. “Don’t worry, Hads. Ithy’s going to get us some help.”

“Emergency services,” the voice on the other end says.

“My baby sister just fell down the stairs and I think she broke her leg,” I say, trying to keep the panic out of my voice.

“Is she breathing?”

“Yes. Please send someone.” I rattle off the address to the dispatcher.

“The ambulance is on their way. Do you want me to stay on the line with you until they arrive?”

“Yes please,” I say to the very nice lady on the other side of the phone. Her voice reminds me of my nanna Ophelia. Caring and full of concern.

“What is your sister’s name and how old is she?”

“Hadley Arvine, she is four years old and her favorite color is green,” I ramble to the operator. “Donny, baby, please go find your coat and Mr. Chuckles. She’s going to want him.”

Before long there are sirens outside and a loud knock on the door. The knock shakes me out of my fearful stupor.

“NYFD Paramedics!” a loud voice shouts, through the door.

“Donny, stay with Hadley,” I order. “Don’t let her move.”

My calm was gone when I go to the door to let the firemen inside the house. “I was upstairs washing the dishes. I didn’t see what happened.”

“Don’t worry miss. We’ll take good care of both of you.”

I’m barely holding it together. My adorable Hadley, was lying on the floor with a broken leg and I can’t even hold her and let her cry into my shoulder like she did when she scraped her knee while we were skating outside. I can’t watch as Hadley is laid onto a stretcher by the big firemen. Donny of course thinks it’s awesome having real live firemen in his house. He had did what I told him to. He had found his and Hadley’s coats and Hadley’s stuffed frog, Mr. Chuckles. Two of the paramedics are working on helping Hadley and the other is talking with Donny.

“My mommy and daddy work at the 9th precinct in the city,” Donny tells the paramedic with pride. “They’re detectives.”

I walk with Hadley out of the house and into the ambulance. The paramedic walking with Donny sat him next to me and he laid his head on my shoulder. It’s a quick ride from the Arvines’ home to the Brooklyn Medical Center. On the way the paramedics set Hadley’s leg and cleaned my cut. It’s just my luck that Miss Helene is working that particular evening.

“Honey child, what has happened to you?” she questions, coming around the desk when the paramedics bring Hadley and I into the ER.

“I’ll explain later,” I say, still holding tightly to Hadley’s little hand. “Miss Helene, could you keep an eye on Donny for me?”

“Of course Miss Ithaca,” Miss Helene answers. She offered her hand to Donny and the little boy looked over at me to make sure it was okay.

“Go ahead Donny. Miss Helene has candy at her desk.”

The little boy grins and joins Miss Helene. Hadley and I wait for the doctor to come in and see us. The paramedics had given her a shot so she isn’t in as much pain. Her cries have moved to small whimpers. She’s hugging tightly to her stuffed frog, Mr. Chuckles. I keep my wound covered and move to cuddle with Hadley. I’m a few moments into the newest installment of the Princess Hadley Adventures, when Fitz appears at the door of our room. Hadley’s face lights up with the sight of such a friendly face.

“I think I’m going to call you two the accident twins from now on,” Fitz teases. “Hadley don’t you know you’re not supposed to pick on kids bigger than you?”

Hadley giggles and sticks her tongue out at Fitz, to which he returns the gesture. “Hadley picked a fight with the playroom stairs and the stairs won,” I explain, moving a curl from her face. “How did you even know we were here?”

“Miss Helene called up to the pediatric oncology wing where I was playing Donkey Kong with the cancer kids,” Fitz says, like it was so obvious where he had been. “She said Hadley was hurt. I figured you both could use a friendly face down here,” Fitz says, taking the empty chair in Hadley’s room. “What about you? You all right, babe?”

“Caught a knife with my arm, but I’ll be all right. It’s Hadley I’m worried about,” I say brushing another brown curl out of Hadley’s face. “Do you have your phone? I left mine at the house. I need to call Bert and Cadi.”

“I always have my phone,” Fitz says, keeping the mood light. He squeezes my hand softly. He hands me his Blackberry and I quickly punch in the number to Albert and Arcadia’s precinct.

“Yeah, hi. Detectives Albert Arvine or Arcadia Arvine please,” I say. “I’m on hold,” I say to Fitz and Hadley.

“Detective Arcadia Arvine,” Arcadia’s voice says, slightly frazzled.

“Cadi, it’s Ithaca,” I say, trying to keep the calm in my voice.

“Hey sweetie. We’re a little swamped down here. Is anything wrong?” Arcadia asks.

“We’re at the Brooklyn Medical Center ER,” I say. “Hadley and the stairs had a disagreement. We think her leg is broken.” There’s silence on Arcadia’s end of the phone. “Cadi?”

“I’m going to stay on the line till the doctor comes in. Let me talk to Hadley.”

I hand the phone to Hadley and listen while the two have a private mother-daughter chat. Fitz keeps hold of my hand, rubbing my knuckles softly. I can tell from his expressions that he knows I was far from all right. He leaves for a minute and comes back with some gauze and Permabond. He cleans my cut, seals it with the medical superglue and wraps it in the gauze. It not much longer that a very tall and very large, black man enters the small exam room. He’s sporting a tie-dyed lab coat, a stethoscope with an elephant on it, neon colored mismatched scrubs and a red foam clown nose. There’s only one doctor in the whole of the Brooklyn Medical Center who would even dare to bend the dress code rules and that doctor would be the Chief of Pediatric Medicine, Dr. Tyson McKensie. In the fourteen years that I had known Dr. Tyson McKensie, he had never been without the clown nose or his diagnostic team, his Beatles finger puppets that a mother had custom made for him and a pocket full of Tootsie Roll Pops.

He drops down beside Hadley’s bed and pops up once and then ducks back down, playing peek-a-boo with the little girl. They play the game for a few minutes before he finally pops up holding a Tootsie Roll Pop.

“A little bluebird told me, Miss Hadley, that you and the mean old stairs got into a fight,” Dr. McKensie says, tapping on Hadley’s pixie nose.

“The stairs and rotten Donny’s Obi-Wan Kenobi doll,” Hadley adds.

“And who is Donny?” Dr. McKensie asks, listening to Hadley’s heartbeat with the elephant.

“My twin brother,” Hadley answers.

“I had a brother once,” Dr. McKensie says. “But I sold him to the zoo.”

Hadley giggles. “Mommy won’t let me. She says Daddy likes him too much.”

“Well, Miss Hadley, I think you’re in tip-top shape. But I need to talk to your mommy and daddy about what we’re going to do next,” he says, handing her the sucker.

“Ithy and Fitz aren’t my mommy and daddy,” Hadley says, opening the sucker. “My mommy’s on the phone.”

Dr. McKensie looks over at me and Fitz and the recognition sets in. “Miss Ithaca Porter and Fitz Hamilton. Mr. Hamilton, when you gonna come work for me on pedes?”

“When Dr. Kaysen decides that he no longer tolerates me,” Fitz answers.

“I’m just babysitting tonight Dr. McKensie. Mrs. Arvine is on the phone,” I say. I switch on the speakerphone so Arcadia can ask Dr. McKensie any questions she might have.

“Don’t worry about a thing Mrs. Arvine,” Dr. McKensie says. “I will take good care of your baby girl. We’re just going to take some X-Rays of Hadley’s leg and will most likely be casting it.”

“That’s fine,” Arcadia answers. “Do what needs to be done. I will be there shortly.”

“Thank you Mrs. Arvine,” Dr. McKensie says. I end the call and give Fitz back his phone. Dr. McKensie turns to face Hadley. She’s really going to town on the sucker. Her face is covered in purple sticky goo. Dr. McKensie pulls out one of the Beatles from his pocket and slipped it onto his right index finger. In the worst British accent I have ever heard, he begins to explain to Hadley, as Paul McCartney, what’s going to happen next. “Miss Hadley Arvine, we’re going to take a rockin’ picture of your leg.”

“Can I see it?” Hadley asks. She loves having her picture taken.

“Most definitely,” Dr. McKensie answers. “Then we’re going to wrap up your leg up like a great big present so it can heal most righteously.”

“Mr. McCartney?” I ask. Dr. McKensie moves his hand so the puppet is looking at me. “How long will Hadley have to be in the cast?”

“Depending on the break it could only be three weeks to maybe after Christmas,” Dr. McKensie answers, in his Paul McCartney voice.

Hadley’s big brown eyes fill with tears. Dr. McKensie sees the saddened look on Hadley’s face and scolds his finger puppet.

“Now see what you did, Paul. You made Miss Hadley worry she’s going to miss out on sledding this winter. You need to say you’re sorry.”

Fitz and I have a very hard time, trying not to laugh as the big man, who was once a defensive lineman for the New York Giants, scold a finger puppet. Fitz has to turn and face the wall, so he won’t have to look at Dr. McKensie. He is shaking, trying to hold in the laughter.

Dr. McKensie holds his finger out in front of Hadley and in the same horrid British accent says, “I’m sorry, Miss Hadley. With luck you could be out of the cast before it snows!”

This makes Hadley smile. She kisses the top of the puppet’s head. Minutes later a nurse in the same mismatched neon scrubs comes into the room. She wheels Hadley’s bed out of the room. Fitz and I walk with her until we reach radiology. There we have to wait outside. The nurse goes to take Mr. Chuckles from Hadley but Dr. McKensie shakes his head.

“Fitz and I will be right here waiting for you Hads,” I say as she goes through the door. “I love you Hadley Anne Arvine!” I blow her a kiss as the door to radiology closes. Once the door latched, my composure falls to pieces. I start to sob. Big, heaving, heartbreaking sobs. I slide down the wall, just crying.

“She was hurt and I couldn’t even touch her!” I sob into my hands. “She was calling for me and I couldn’t help her! I must have seemed like a monster to her.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Ithaca,” Fitz says, sliding down the wall next to me. “You did what anyone else would have done. You called for help.”

“I shouldn’t have to,” I wail. “Albert and Arcadia left me in charge of their children. What if I had a bad reaction to one of my medications? Hadley and Donny are four years old, Fitz! They wouldn’t have known how to help me. I can’t do this. I can’t put these little people at risk like this.”

I can hear the irrational thoughts coming out faster than I can stop them. I hide my face in my hands sobbing. Fitz’s arms are around me. He whispers into my ear.

“Ithaca this was not your fault. Hadley and Donny love you like you were their real big sister. You didn’t cause Hadley to trip on the stairs. You didn’t mean to get cut. Accidents happen. Don’t let this one event cause a chain reaction that could possibly ruin a fourteen year relationship,” Fitz says. “Albert and Arcadia will understand. I’m sure once Hadley gets bigger she’ll understand why you couldn’t pick her up and hold her tight. It’s going to be okay.”

Fitz holds me tight to him and lets me cry. It’s nice to just be held. I am so lucky to have Fitz in my life. By time I had calmed from my meltdown, Arcadia came rounding the corner. I can’t tell from where I was if she’s really angry or just worried.

“Ithaca!” Arcadia calls. She runs up to us. “Where’s Hadley? Where’s Donny?”

“Donny’s with Helene and Hadley’s in X-Ray,” I say. “Arcadia, I am so, so sorry about this. I was upstairs washing the dishes. Hadley and Donny were downstairs playing. I dropped a knife and caught it with my arm. Next thing I know I hear a scream and Hadley was in a heap on the floor. Cadi, I couldn’t touch her. I just-I couldn’t. She was crying and I couldn’t help her.” I start crying again.

“Ithaca. Ithaca, it’s fine,” she says, wrapping her arm around my shoulders. “I understand. You didn’t want to risk Hadley any further. We’ll explain it to her when she’s older.”

“I don’t want to be an explanation!” I sob. “I hate this disease! I hate it!”

Arcadia wraps her arms tightly around me. I remember being held like that once before. She came to the loft a few hours after Ada had died. She held me tight while I railed against heavens for taking my best friend. Arcadia’s arms around me, then and now, are soothing and calming. She, Fitz and I sit outside radiology, waiting for Hadley. It’s very soon that Dr. McKensie and Hadley come out of X-Ray. She’s smiling and Dr. McKensie is laughing next to her.

“Wow Miss Hadley, you have a lot of visitors this evening,” Dr. McKensie says. “Mrs. Arvine? I’m Dr. Tyson McKensie Chief of Pediatric Medicine, we spoke on the phone.”

“The Chief of Pediatric Medicine makes rounds in the ER?” Arcadia asks.

“Only for very special cases,” Dr. McKensie replies, smiling brightly.

“Yeah, when Mrs. Cottonwell calls you at home,” Fitz mutters to me. I jab him in the side with my elbow. “Ow!”

“The good news Mrs. Arvine, Hadley had a clean tib-fib fracture that is going to heal nicely. Kids heal remarkably fast. We’re going to put it in a cast and she should be out of it by Christmas.”

I let out the breath I have been holding. Hadley’s going to be all right. I sneak away from my family and find an empty hallway. I slide down the wall and in my solitude I start to cry again. It was the first time in my life I truly hated being HIV-positive. I’ve never wish I can be healthy and normal like the other girls my age. I never wish that I had never gotten this disease. But right now, in this very moment I do. I hate AIDS and what it does to the human body. I hate that I have to take fifteen medications in the morning. I hate that I have it. I cry happy, terrified, ecstatic, miserable tears. I hug myself tight and let the tears fall. I am so happy that Hadley’s going to be okay. I’m going to be okay. My arm will heal and Hadley’s leg will heal and be stronger for it. It takes several months for my confidence to be able to care for Donny and Hadley on my own to come back.