October 30, 2019

This is a “Wrap”!

What’s on my mind? This is a wrap” - movie lingo for an act or scene successfully completed. You’ve been reading my posts for the past 10 months. I thank you for that. What you don’t know is that you, dear reader, were my collaborators in a devious marketing scheme. 

A long-retired literary agent once said writers should “Promote! Promote! Promote!” So I’m taking her advice. 

The collage below features most - but not all - of my traditionally published non-fiction books. The first two sold an aggregate 350,000 copies; the co-written* Never Say Diet! was translated into eight languages, including Russian. Along the way, I won a few prizes, but spent my winnings on jaw breakers and bubble gum.



* Not shown: Nutritionist-turned-crime novelist Judy Toews and I co-wrote Raising Happy, Healthy, Weight-Wise Kids, as well as a third book in the award-winning Never Say Diet! series.





The photo above is not Judy Toews. The photo above is me. Wave if you see me at the supermarket. Write if youre a reputable literary agent - unless I write you first. Why?  

At 88,000 fun-packed words, The Butterfly Box is my first book of women’s literary fiction. Its plot follows the curious little life of Amanda Eleanor (Flea) Fleagle over more than 90 years - and (briefly) the destiny of a very dead (but very important) escargot entombed in its greasy shell.

I come with a letter of reference from respected and long-retired editor Mike McRanor of Vancouver, Canada. Mike isnt related to me, but is a real-life editor!). Mikes letter bandies about such words as “phenomenal” ... “best-selling books” ... “national and international houses” ... and “powerhouse. (I assumed Mike was writing about Judy Toews, but he surprised me). 

I tweet @fisherparton , Facebook at Nicole Parton Fisher,  and cook at Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes. For reasons that will soon be obvious if you read the last entry in that blog, Ive been too embarrassed to post to it since an unfortunate little encounter with an orange cake recipe. Himself (related to me and a real-life spouse!) blackmailed me with photographs. Of the cake. Just so you’re clear on that

The catch: I haven’t written a book for yonks. The reason: I got married and divorced and married and widowed and married and divorced before I finally married Himself! What woman has time to write when she’s always in the sack?

What I have done is write a companion book to The Butterfly Box as well as plot out a second novel ... The BBs companion is probably the only book ever written day and night by someone in the nude.)

So its a wrap” for this blog. Love from me to you - 

Nicole  

©  Nicole Parton, 2019

October 29, 2019

Unzipped and Unhinged

What’s on my mind? Claustrophobia. 

As any claustrophobic knows, being inside a car (locks down; windows up), a small, windowless room, a stuck elevator, or any physical situation with no means of escape can provoke an immediate, severe, anxiety attack. Welcome to my world.

“He-e-y, baby … Try on these fur handcuffs …”

“EEEEEK!”

(“He-e-y, baby … You’re a froot loop …”)

A few days ago, I said I’d nap in the car while Himself went shopping. With claustrophobia bigger than Donald Trump’s ego, it wasn’t long before I bounded from the car to breathe the clean, fresh, and very cold air of the upper parkade of a Big City shopping mall. It was such a frosty day that I brought my ski jacket and - having gained a little (heh-heh-heh) weight, tried to fasten it. 

The zipper stuck just below my crotch. I panicked. 

(A medical note: I suffer from an advanced condition known as Mature Woman’s Hips, Boobs, and Upper Arms. There was no way, no how, no where I could slip outta that jacket, especially in the upper parkade of a Big City shopping mall.) 

Hyperventilating, I paced around the car, consciously suppressing the desire to scream because I was imprisoned in a 20-year-old Helly Hansen ski jacket with stuck zipper. It was then I saw my prince, the man who would free me from this claustrophobic nightmare.

He had a broom. And a step-on dustpan. And a glassy look in the eyes of his very bored face. I guessed him to be 19, marking time until he could achieve his true calling as a nuclear physicist. 

“Help! Help!” I cried in my Weak Little Woman’s voice. The sleeves of my jacket flapped feebly, my Mature Woman’s Upper Arms being pinioned inside them. The kid gave me a dull look and continued sweeping.

“H-E-E-LP!!!” came my feeble cry. “H-E-E-LP!!! H-E-E-LP!!!” That got his attention. “My zipper’s stuck! I can’t get free!”

Staring at the frozen zipper just below my crotch, he handed me his broom and his dustpan and furiously set to work. UP-DOWN-UP-DOWN-UP-DOWN! The zipper didn’t budge.

“What do you want me to do?” he asked.

“GET IT UP!” I screamed, upon which I instinctively realized that anyone passing by (which thankfully, no one did) might get the wrong idea about the kid’s zealous UP-DOWN-UP-DOWN-UP-DOWN motion near my crotch. 

In a parking lot. With basically no one around. As I carried a broom. Presumably to return the favor. 

“What time is it?” he asked. 

“One o’clock,” I snapped, upon which he wordlessly took back his broom and his dustpan and trotted off to lunch. I stayed stuck until Himself returned from shopping. With the deft hand of a man accustomed to - well, never mind what he's accustomed to - Himself unstuck my zipper. This is a true story.

But what if … what if … I’d called 911, sobbing and hysterical as someone (we won’t name any names) with claustrophobia can easily become. And what if …

“911! Ambulance, police, or fire?”

“Fire Department! Hur-ry! Puh-leeze! I’m stuck in the upper parkade of a Big City shopping mall! I can’t get free! I’m trapped! H-H-H-H-HE-E-LP!!!” And then I’d faint, the phone slipping from my limp hand as my Weak Little Woman’s voice trailed off to nothingness. 

Which is the when, why, and how the 10 burly fire fighters would have come running. Sadly, that part of the story isn’t true. 911 would never have dispatched the fire department for such a flimsy request. They would have sent a therapist.

© Nicole Parton, 2019

October 28, 2019

Things That Go Bump in the Night

What’s on my mind? This being the haunting season, I’ll spit it right out: I believe in the paranormal. Weird as this may sound, I’ve seen a lot of places and done a lot of things, but will probably never forget these two ghostly experiences - each of which was also experienced by a second person with me. 

Some time in the 1980s, my late spouse and I spent a night in the Oregon Caves Chateau. We jerked awake to the sound of a woman pacing above us. Back and forth, back and forth she went. Which was strange, because we were on the top floor, with nothing above but the roof. Too nervous to leave the bed, we spent the night hiding under the covers and eventually fell back to sleep.

When we commented about this at breakfast, our server called the manager, who pressed us for every detail. In the 1930s, he said, a bride named Elizabeth hanged herself on her wedding night when her new husband took up with a chambermaid. Elizabeth is said to haunt the chateau - especially room 310, the one in which we were sleeping.

The server also said staff who set the breakfast tables have learned to duck when knives, forks, and spoons sometimes fly from the cutlery drawers. 

“Want to see something extra spooky?” the manager asked.

I said yes.  Having seen my “morning face” without makeup, I figured I could take anything. The manager took me to a light-filled room without furniture the chateau never rented. The moment he opened the door, I stood at the entrance, frozen with terror. I couldn’t even go into the room.

“That’s everyone response,” he said. 

Thanks to the modern-day magic of Google, I’ve found a version of what we experienced on a National Parks website:


The second haunting? In 2003, my adult daughter and I stayed at the Empress of Little Rock in Arkansas. We weren’t aware the hotel had a reputation for being haunted. As it was, we were the hotel’s only occupants, and had our pick of its many sumptious rooms.

After we’d settled into sleep, I awoke to hear loud snoring pour from the walls and from the other side of the bed. The inhalation and exhalation immediately beside me were so loud and so prolonged, it would have been impossible for any person to have done this. 

I heard the snoring in the middle of the night; my daughter heard it in the very early morning, while it was still dark. With no one else in the hotel, she assumed I was asleep in the next room, but the room I’d chosen was several rooms away.

Checking the pillow, the mattress, and the walls, I found no sign of any device, so did what any mature, intelligent women would do, which was to hide under the blankets.


We heard at breakfast that three or four apparitions sometimes climb a non-existent ladder, passing through the ceiling into the attic. When a staff member dashed into the through its proper entrance, he found the ghostly apparitions as a table playing cards.

True? False? Who knows? The story certainly sounded interesting over bacon and eggs, and what each of us had experienced was couldn’t be explained.

©  Nicole Parton, 2019

October 25, 2019

Anyone Want a Boob-ectomy?

What’s on my mind? Medical referrals. Like gold, they are. These days, no one gets anywhere without a referral. 

So there I was, clutching mine as I sat in a specialist’s office with really not one clue where I was or why I was there, except that I had a referral. 

For reasons not worth mentioning (Hint: Oversized body parts. Further hint: Ma-ny, ma-ny oversized body parts), I assumed I was cooling my oversized heels waiting to see a plastic surgeon.

Visions of butchered bums danced in my head, but I was nervous. No woman wants her ear accidentally grafted to her nose.

My doctor had simply said: “See this person,” and scrawled an undecipherable name. So here I was. Unfortunately, my doctor was rushed, and neglected to elaborate. 

The specialist was located in a bank of sleek, modern, glass-and-steel Big City offices. Wow! The only offices I’d ever seen this fancy belonged to divorce lawyers born with gills, fins, and razor-sharp teeth. Given all the youthful, wrinkle-free faces and stick-like upper arms in the anteroom, I guessed that every doctor in these gazillion-dollar offices was a gazillion-dollar plastic surgeon.

As I sat waiting, a Barbie-Doll beautiful woman walked in. She must have had a lot of “procedures,” I thought. 

Only those of us familiar with the lingo of plastic surgery know this surgical term. I, myself, have never had any procedures, but after seeing this woman, whatever it is in the plastic surgery department that might be half-price this week, I want it! 

I felt an overwhelming desire to leap up and tell that woman how great she looked, but thought better of it because she might slam me with a #metoo suit.

My guess was that she’d been suctioned like a milkshake and carved like a turkey to look “young.” She was probably an old broad who’d had a lot of “work” ... another surgical term. 

(Ooops! No one uses the word “broad” today. I should substitute the more medically precise term “old woman.” Hell, she was probably in her late 60s.) 

To compliment or not to compliment? I was about to open my yap to say: “I know you’re an old woman in your late 60s who’s had at least one face lift, but the surgeon did a really good job! How much did it cost?  Will you also be getting a boob-ectomy? It looks like you need one ... or two, heh-heh.”

She was massive on top. Hu-u-uge. She could have put Stormy Daniels to shame. 

(It later dawned on me that my words may have made me more of a social pariah than I already am for past transgressions such as talking with my mouth full of single malt scotch, picking up sidewalk nickels that are actually hardened gum, slipping my grocery list into my bra and needing an archeological dig to find it, and plenty more.)

Fortunately, just as the words were about to fall from my face, a woman in a white smock poked her head from a doorway: “Come on in, Julie!”

As the ginormously endowed Julie tap-tapped down the hall in her tight skirt and stiletto heels, I stage-whispered to the receptionist: “How many face lifts has she had?” 

The receptionist narrowed her eyes, saying nothing. Plastic surgery could fix those droopy lids, I thought. I plowed on. “How much does a face lift cost, and how many plastic surgeons work in this office?”

“You’ve been referred to a dietitian,” she said. Some patients need to gain weight ... and others (she gave me a hard look) need to lose it.”

“Like Julie in the boob department?” No answer.

“Dietitian” was what she said. But her look suggested I could use a boob-ectomy, gut-ectomy, bum-ectomy, and (yes, sad to say) a tongue-ectomy.

©  Nicole Parton, 2019

October 22, 2019

Pie in the Sky

What’s on my mind? Get thee behind me, Satan!

It’s raining. It’s cold. It’s bleak. I need comfort.







But then ... I don’t want anyone to see my behind. 

©  Nicole Parton, 2019

October 18, 2019

Is PoisonEx Right for You?

What’s on my mind? I am “under the weather,” as the saying goes. I have a cold, as do millions if other people at this time of year. Bummer.

So, feet up on the couch, eyes rheumy, nose sniffly, I stare blankly at CNN. The pharmaceutical ads that pay the bills for this and many other stations command my attention: “And now, a word from PoisonEx, the makers of cyanide!”

I’m joking, of course. Today, ads seamlessly segue from one to the next, their “entertainment factor” high.

“Ah was healthy until ah started ta take these pee-ulls …” 

No one says that, either, though it’s sometimes true. Consumer Reports magazine notes Americans take an average of four prescription meds as well as over-the-counter vitamin and herbal supplements, some doing more harm than good, with unreported drug interactions.

As Consumer Reports further notes: “The number of prescriptions filled for American adults and children rose 85 percent between 1997 and 2016, from 2.4 billion to 4.5 billion a year, according to the health research firm Quintile IMS. During that time, the U.S. population rose 21 percent.”

The article lists 12 conditions for which people can attempt lifestyle changes before taking prescription meds: ADHD; back and joint pain; dementia; mild depression; heartburn; insomnia; low testosterone; osteopenia (bone loss); overactive bladder; pre-diabetes; pre-hypertension, and obesity. The pharmaceutical ads don’t mention that; they should be required to. 

Maybe I’m just crabby. Maybe you feel differently. As you watch the ads - sniffly and rheumy-eyed, feeling sorry for yourself - three things may happen: 

(1) You start to drool as the ad shows real actors - not people - who once felt lousy. Today, they’re playing tennis, bouncing grandkids on their knees, frolicking in swimming pools (which any fool knows is a prelude to sex), and cuddling (ditto) as they watch the sun set on the pain and misery they suffered before taking PoisonEx. 

You chew that over awhile. Everyone in the ad is wearing color-coordinated clothes. Dang! You’re worthy! Why aren’t you wearing color-coordinated clothes instead of this ratty bathrobe? 

It takes another 30 ad exposures for you to make the connection that PoisonEx = color-coordinated clothes = silver-haired foxes of the sexual persuasion = sex! sex! sex! for y-o-u-u-u-u! 

(2) You barely read or hear the federally mandated cautions because the visuals are so compelling. Delivered in fine print and in calm, reassuring tones, these cautions include words such as “excessive bleeding” … “seek medical help immediately”…“liver and lung” … “certain fungal illnesses” ... “serious and sometimes fatal incidents have been known to occur …” 

It’s hard to read and hear those messages as you fixate on the sexy, athletic, pill poppers who walk on beaches, stroll in parks, smile as they jog, and laugh during family picnics.

There they are, holding hands and making (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) eye contact. Because you’re still thinking about those color-coordinated clothes (and what might happen when you peel them off), little else registers in your brain.

(3) And now for the clincher, as a disembodied, hypnotic voice says: “Ask your doctor if PoisonEx is right for you!” 

And you, wanting sex and color-coordinated clothes, think: “Maybe PoisonEx is right for me …” After which you also think: “What’s it supposed to fix, again …? You cant quite remember. Too many ads. Too little time.

If you’re sensible, you snap back to reality - still feeling lousy, still rheumy-eyed, still blowing your nose, but savvy enough to know your cold will be gone in a week. PoisonEx is not right for you, though a little frolicking and cuddling may not be such a bad idea. 

©  Nicole Parton, 2019

October 15, 2019

Hotter than Havana

What’s on my mind? Our freighter of a fridge has died. Died!

DOT-DOT-DOT-DIT-DIT-DIT-DOT-DOT-DOT … 

SOS! SOS! SOS!

Died! With dinner guests about to descend. And no hope of resuscitation. When Himself tried to give it mouth-to-mouth, he nearly choked on melting ice cubes. Our fridge is hotter than Havana.

SOS! SOS! SOS!

We’ve got a tugboat-sized fridge beside our (puny 12 cu. ft.) deep freeze, but that smaller fridge is full. We also have a plug-in cooler the size of a bar fridge, but it’s crammed with the salad dressings, sauerkraut, and those other things that weve jammed in and piled - topsy-turvy - atop the stuff that was in our broken main fridge. 

Our freighter-of-a-fridge is adrift in a pool of water on the kitchen floor. We’ve been told the freighters “old.” Obsolete, even. How old? Oh, maybe 10 years. Around that vintage, anyway. Even its parts manual is no longer online. Hmmm …. 

Its replacement, some fancy cruise ship model, costs so many thousands of dollars I can’t even count that high. 

We recently walked through a department store and saw a $10,000 fridge. It was wider than ours, but otherwise looked the same. But hey! It was on sale! I know you won’t believe this, but as God (and Himself) is my witness, it was $10 off. Ten dollars! Whoopie!

When we bought the tugboat-sized fridge four years ago, the clerk sniffed: “You don’t want that! It has wire racks!” It also had an $800 price tag, which nicely met our budget for a second fridge. 

She suggested that what we really wanted was a glass-shelved fridge of several thousand dollars. I suggested what she really wanted was a big fat commission. Besides, a glass-shelved fridge can look grungy - especially when its owner (who, with better ways to spend her time) never cleans it.

Two things: It occurs to me that many of us in the western world have too much of everything - whether food, clothing, rooms in our houses, cars, boats, and more. Too, too much. It’s shameful. 

It also occurs to me that I’m never going to be able to find a basic fridge with the same stainless steel doors the freighter had, but without an ice maker, water dispenser, dancing blue lights or any of the other fripperies that kick up the cost. I just want a fridge the size of my (RIP) freighter, to fit the existing space. With wire racks, of course.

Now that would float my boat.

©  Nicole Parton, 2019

October 12, 2019

She Doesn’t Want It

She says she doesn’t want it. 

Doesn’t want it? Anyone would want it! It’s beautiful! 

She says she doesn’t want it. Why should I care? Her loss! 

(My loss! Mine! She doesn’t want it. What am I going to do-o-o-o-o??? She doesn’t want it. Oh, God! Oh, God! Panic attack! I can’t bre-e-e-e-athe! Oxygen! Someone give me oxygen! She doesn’t w-a-a-a-nt it!) 

Bitch.

How could she do this to her mother?  To do it to some random woman on the bus … Fine. But to her mother? Her own flesh and blood? How could she not w-a-a-a-nt it?

Of course, she wants it. Of course! Kidding me, that’s what she’s doing - kidding me, so I don’t have to give it up too soon.

(Where the hell am I supposed to put it in this tiny place?) 


She doesn’t w-a-a-a-nt it!

I don’t accept that. I won’t accept that. She loves it. She’s always loved it. She’s kidding me. I know it! Kidding me, as a kindness.

She doesn’t w-a-a-a-nt it!

Not true. Deep in her heart, she does. Don’t I know my own daughter? She does, she does want it! She’s waiting for me to die, God forbid, so she won’t hurt my feelings by taking it now. 

No-o-o-o!!! You don’t have to wa-a-a-a-i-t! Take it no-o-o-ow!

She says she doesn’t want it. 

Bitch.

I saved for that china! I collected it, one piece at a time! I loved it! I still love it! (Where the hell am I supposed to put it?)

I’ve done everything for her! Sacrificed! Gave her bread while I went hungry! Worked two jobs, so she could go to school! How does she pay me back?

She says she doesn’t want it.

Royal Albert, it is! Gold on the rims! Real gold! (There was that thing about the dishwasher, sure, but why should that matter?) It’s an heirloom! Why should she wait until I’m dead? 

She says she doesn’t want it.

She’s young! She doesn’t know her own mind! Fifty’s the new 30!

(Where the hell am I supposed to …? Under the bed? My treadmill’s already under the bed …)

She says she doesn’t want it.

Bitch.

©  Nicole Parton, 2019

October 9, 2019

Pascal, Mon Amour!

What’s on my mind? Weather.

Dork! It’s pouring! 

(I don’t see any rain …)

Idiot! There’s a gale! 

(I don’t see any wind …)

Fool! There’s lighting! 

(I don’t see any lightning …)

Moron! It’s snowing! 

(I don’t see any snow …)

Dolt! It’s 999 hPa! 

(Wha-???)

Himself and I are the proud owners of a “weather predictor.” I’ve started to learn many mysterious weather terms, among them, “hPa” (otherwise known as “hectopascal”). I once dated a Pascal. He was French, and so, I think, is “hPa.” I now have 999 of them to worry about, as if I didn’t already have enough on my plate. 

Our weather predictor is a practiced liar. Many of the things it says about the weather aren’t true, but - like a stopped clock being right twice a day - will be true if we wait long enough. 

Isn’t technology great?

It was once said that everybody talked about the weather, but nobody did anything about it. I did. I looked out the window. The sun, the sky, and the clouds were a reasonably reliable weather predictor until technology invaded our lives.  

I see no rain. No gales. No lightning. No snow. No hPa. No Pascal either, but that’s fine by me. Pascal had a big ego and a small brain, even if he did speak French.

We have a second weather predictor in the kitchen. This weather genius says it’s 38 deg. F - not 42, as the one in the bedroom says. Probably, each is right. Hot stuff tends to happen in bedrooms.  

The kitchen predictor’s my favorite. It’s also more accurate. When the weather’s iffy, the little man who lives inside the kitchen predictor stands under his umbrella, which means it will probably rain. The little man is prepared for anything. I love it when he wears his bathing suit and gives me his “come-hither” look.

Weather makes me think of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (doesn’t everyone?), who wrote “There was a Little Girl”:

There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good
She was very, very good,
And when she was bad she was horrid.

It’s sleeting, now. I know that because the little man says so, even though the sky is clear and he’s still lollygagging in his bathing suit, which makes me want to “come-hither.” I think I’ll name him Pascal.

©  Nicole Parton, 2019