The Purple Foot Scrubber of Deathly Tickles

There’s nothing like it…immersing your feet in a warm, bubbling foot bath while sitting in a chair that massages your back. Except of course if you’re watching Rhee Drummond and having a glass of wine while you’re having a pedicure. I can’t have the wine right now, though, because it’s only 9:30 a.m.

My sister and I probably put sixty plus miles on our poor, aching arches while we were at Universal at the beginning of June. Last year I bought a pair of slip on tennis shoes that from day one, cradled my feet in marshmallowy comfort. This year, thinking the same thing would happen, I bought a new pair of those same tennis shoes.

I was wrong about the new shoes. I got BLISTERS. I was in misery. Of course, you don’t feel them while you’re walking but let me tell you something, you sure as heck feel them when you get back to the hotel room when shreds of skin are hanging out the backs of your heels.

Fine, I think. Tomorrow I’ll just wear my tried and true, three year old tennies tomorrow. Which I do. However, I also have on brand new, plush socks and between being on my feet too long, sweating, and having those super soft socks on, I managed to work up some terrible blisters again, this time in a different spot. It’s almost funny except it’s not. My blisters sting.

I am forced to switch to flip flops the next day and I don’t know about you, but I don’t do so well walking ten miles in flip flops. My calves still haven’t quite forgiven me.

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My legs and feet kind of looked like this. (Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com)

Fast forward three weeks. We’re back from Florida, and I have my tootsies soaking in the aforementioned bath at the nail bar, relaxing.

My technician comes over and pulls my feet out of the bath and sets them on the footrest. She leans in and looks closer.

“Oh, my gosh. What did you do to your feet?” she shrieks. She’s staring at my poor arches, where the skin is pruny from the warm water. It’s also showcasing all the remnants of those blisters and all the trauma I put my feet through walking around the parks. She puts a mask on and some gloves and it’s then I notice that none of the other technicians have on gloves and a mask.

brown chair with white pillows

Almost this luxurious. (Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com)

I’m feeling singled out.

My concentration is broken by a couple who came in with matching “Eleven years of wedded bliss” t-shirts. They’re both there to get pedicures too. Their technician doesn’t say anything about their feet.

My pedicure begins with a sugar scrub on one foot, then the other, followed by the Purple Foot Scrubber of Deathly Tickles. I’m biting my fingers to keep from kicking her in the head when she hits an especially sensitive spot.

She manages to calm my aching, previously blistered feet down so much that they’re smooth and pretty. By the time she’s done painting my toes, I’ve forgiven her for making a fuss because they look so good.

I tip her well, mostly to ensure her silence for the next time I’m in the nail bar. Maybe she’ll skip the mask. And the purple foot scrubber.

Struggling With A Dual Reality

It’s been two years and four months since my son died.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with this dual reality my life has taken on. There was my life before and now my life after. The problem with after is before still intrudes. It’s still very much part of this new life; it’s the foundation, really.

Except we can’t focus on before and wish for what we can’t have, so our only option is to forge ahead, keep moving along this new path. Until four months ago, the second anniversary of my son’s death, that new path was shadowed by his ghost.

But now our new life is truly, entirely new. Everything we do, everything we experience from this point forward has never occurred before. He didn’t make it past this point. My daughter will be our first to finish seventh grade; first to start eighth grade. First to reach her fourteenth birthday. Every single day is a first, for the rest of her life.

One of the biggest struggles along this new path is the guilt. Because it’s true what “they” say: it does get easier. It gets easier because we think about it less. There’s really no choice; life charges on, whether we want to stay stagnant and drown in our memories or not. And eventually, we get caught up in life, and we think about those who are gone less and less. Even if we don’t want to let go.

Don’t be fooled into thinking they are ever very far away, though. They still regularly intrude on this new life, often in unexpected ways. Sometimes I see a toddler, going about his merry way, and he does something that reminds me of my son. The other day, in church, it was actually a little girl. She kept digging in her mom’s purse, pulling out small packages of fruit chews. Just like my son used to do.

Sometimes it’s a parent of one of his friends, posting something on Facebook about high school, driver’s training, homecoming, a first job; pretty much any step they take in life, that my son will never get to experience. The other day my husband and I had a conversation about high school graduation: when his friends graduate, will we go? Can we handle it? Do we want to put ourselves through that, what will be a day of celebration, happiness, joy, pride–for all those other parents?

We didn’t have the answers.

Sometimes it’s another death, someone’s parent or spouse. Very occasionally it’s the death of another child. Someone reaches out—another friend of theirs is suffering the same fate my family had, and they thought I might be able to help in some way.

Sometimes it’s simply life.

Did you know July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month? I had no idea, and I’ve been part of that club for over two years now. I did a little research about it when I was thinking about writing this blog post. Just a little, though. Lord, it’s hard to read those stories. It’s a dual pain—I hate it for those other parents and I hate stirring up my own memories that are best left tucked away in the dark recesses of my mind, where they don’t make me cry. Not all the time, anyway.

But they are always still there, no matter what I do, where I go, what I think, what I wish. I can’t ever escape, not entirely. I can go for long bouts without thinking about them, but eventually they will surface, insist upon rearing their ugly, sad, depressing head. Which aren’t really ugly, sad, and depressing. Most of those memories are fun, wonderful, cheerful, sweet, any number of positive emotions.

Until I remember that this is all I have: memories. Old memories. Past memories. There will be no new ones.

And when that happens, all I really can do is cry. Seriously, there is no other cure. Having a wallowing in self-pity cry is the only way to shoo those memories back to where they belong, so I can continue on this journey called life.

I guess I don’t need to feel that guilt after all, do I?

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Tami Lund writes depressing blog posts as an outlet for the pain of losing her child. She also writes romance because she craves a happy ending, more so now that she’s suffered the sort of pain she often puts her characters through. Her next release is Dragon His Heels: A Bad Alpha Dads Romance.

 

Walking is good for writing

In our never-ending quest for fitness, Saturday Joe and I went for a walk at Baumann Park, which is in Cherry Valley, Illinois. If you are a nature-y type person, if you lurrrrrve the great outdoors…you’d love this place and quite honestly, I cannot recommend it highly enough.IMG_20180707_132307

The Kishwaukee River runs alongside the park. Sometimes the water level is extremely low and the river sluggish. However, right now, due to the monsoonish rains we have experienced over the last month, the water is quite high and the current is very brisk. Over the years, it used to be a virtual hotbed for summertime tubing but since they don’t let you bring alcohol onto the river anymore, it doesn’t seem that people are planning exciting floating quests downstream anymore. It’s almost as if there’s a connection between summertime water activities and liquor.

I digress.

The weather has been so perfect lately in Rockford that we knew when we got out of bed on Saturday that it was going to be picture-perfect for a walk—80 and sunny. On the way there I downloaded a “pacer” app since my Fitbit Flex refuses to sync with my new phone. #getanewone

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There are paved walking paths that circle Baumann Lake. The lake is not all that big. The paths go all around the lake and one pass from start to finish is approximately a mile. The back half of the path winds through trees so just about the time the sun becomes too much for you, you have some shaded areas for a bit.

I had to take some pictures to share with everyone.IMG_20180707_132117

Families with picnic lunches and fishing poles dot the shores, and lots of picnic tables and benches. There are fishing limits there (not sure what they are) and you can only bring night crawlers for bait and the water is gorgeous to look at while you’re walking. Tons of people were fishing while we were there, and lots of people walk their dogs as well.IMG_20180707_131719

My husband and I have good chats on our walk, and sometimes just companionable silence which allows me time to spin crazy ideas for books, or noodle out plot holes. I know writers out there who agree with me that walking is one of the best things you can do for your writing. You can figure out so much as you stroll along.

Although the second lap around is a teensy bit harder than the first—the smallest incline is like climbing Mt. Everest—we finish and according to my new app, it’s about 2.8 miles and a little over 7500 steps, and takes us a smidge over an hour.

I wish finishing a book would only take an hour.

Alas.

 

 

 

 

Three Sexy FBI Reads for 99 cents Each!

Check this out: I just discovered a few of my earlier books have been dropped to only 99 cents. Didn’t know it was happening, and no idea how long it will last, so my advice to you is: Grab ’em now, just in case.

Why?

Well, 99 cents is a steal for a full-length, good-quality book. Also, these books are romantic suspense with a touch of funny, so bonus!

They’re part of the Tough Love series. The first in the series is Naked Truth, and yes, Jack’s undercover assignment as a stripper was inspired by the movie Magic Mike.

Do you really blame me for putting that experience into a book? I didn’t think so.

So Jack’s an FBI agent who’s gone undercover as a male stripper, trying to catch a serial killer who’s targeting said strippers. Right before his assignment, he meets a good girl at a friend’s wedding and convinces her to have a one-night stand.

Except he wants more. But his job–not surprisingly–is getting in the way. Especially when the killer sets his sights on…Kennedy, the girl Jack may or may not have fallen in love with.

After you’ve devoured that 99 cent read, you’re gonna want to pick up the second in the series, Undercover Heat. This one, by the way, won a RONE Award in 2016. So yeah, it’s well worth your time and attention.

(Here’s the funny blog post I wrote about winning the award and giving an impromptu speech: Awards & Sexy Shoes.)

In Undercover Heat, Kyra and Quinn are both FBI agents and their undercover assignment is to… act like a married couple to ferret out a Ponzi scheme crook who has bilked people out of millions of dollars all across the country. Problem is, Kyra and Quinn can’t stand each other. Well, at least initially. But underneath all that loathing is a serious dose of lusty attraction that becomes too damn, er, hard to resist.

When their newly discovered desire threatens to blow the case, what are they gonna do?

(PS – a large part of the reason this book is so good is because Quinn is a fabulous broody hero with a very deeply hidden heart of gold. I’m pretty sure he is my favorite of all the heroes I’ve written.)

And lastly, we have Delicious Deception. It’s a slight change from Naked Truth and Undercover Heat because the hero, Connor, is actually wanted for questioning by the FBI. Oh yeah, and he’s sleeping with Jack’s (from Naked Truth) sister. So yeah, things aren’t looking so good for our hapless beta hero in this one, which I think may be the funniest of the three, thanks to the back and forth between Connor and Jack.

Three great summer reads for only three bucks. And like I said, I have no idea how long they will be so cheap, so get to clicking. And enjoying! Three cheers for sexy FBI heroes (and Connor…)!

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Tami Lund writes angsty FBI heroes and sexy chefs, when she’s not drinking wine and winning awards, at any rate. Want more? Check out her website: http://tamilund.com/

We got some weather

I used to absolutely love thunderstorms. The heavy feel of the air pressing down on my body when I stood outside sniffing at the air, knowing a humdinger of a storm was on its way. The bruised color of the sky as the storm moved into our area and the smell of the pending rain all around me. The way it got darker and darker outside, as if it were nighttime, instead of 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon and the delicious sound of the far off thunder.

And then, there was the spectacular moment the heavens opened up, lightening cracking across the sky while I watched from inside the house, mesmerized at the heavy rain and hoping the electricity doesn’t go out. I mean, I lived for thunderstorms where I could doze on the couch, with that storm sound in the background, a lovely white noise.

lightning in sky at night

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Storms relaxed me, but not anymore.

I watch the weather forecasts now while biting my nails down to the quick and not even realizing it. If weather heads into our area, I find different websites that offer radar readings, and compare each one to where we are on the map. One says 1-2 inches possible. Another says it’s going to barely clip our area. Another says to take shelter immediately. Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

I’m simultaneously swallowing coffee and Xanax*. I want to be relaxed enough to enjoy the lovely but severe weather but alert enough to be able to get down the basement stairs when and if the tornado alarm goes off.  Anxiety always wins and the coffee ends up aggravating it.

Back then, when I enjoyed the storms, it was all about lighting a few candles in case the power goes out. Now, it’s about making sure that not only are the candles lit…but that we have flashlights, our most important documents in a baggie (think passports and birth certificates and the new book I haven’t read) and enough dry towels to mop up the seepage that will start coming in from the walls and window wells soon enough. You see, we have been burned before: the first time while Joe was visiting me in Plainfield in 2006.

In 2006, Rockford was deluged with rain on Labor Day. It flowed like a raging river into the back of our house while he was sitting in my Plainfield living room, blissfully unaware. It broke out two basement windows and flooded the entire basement. Five feet of water in the basement and goodbye to the water heater, washer, dryer, and of course furnace.

person riding a bicycle during rainy day

Photo by Genaro Servín on Pexels.com

Rinse and repeat that in 2007 although not as bad…The window wells flooded, the walls seeped, and we mopped up water for two days before our honeymoon and ended up sleeping away the entire first 24 hours of our trip to Mexico.

Repeat again in 2009, when sadly the train tracks were washed away in Cherry Valley and the train derailed. The storm sewer crossed with the drains somehow, we got six inches of rain dumped on us, and I don’t know what the hell happened but suddenly we had storm water surging up through every drain in our basement. We lost that fight as well as our water heater again. Two sump pumps later and it still took weeks to clean up from that mess. We were lucky compared to most…our basement is not finished so we’re working with cement that can be easily mopped.

We put in a real sump pump that year.

blue close up electric equipment

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Since we’ve been burned so badly, when the weather threatens and there’s a chance that we could get some bad storms now—meaning lots of rain—my gut churns and my heart jumps into my throat. Although I still enjoy a good thunderstorm, I also get that sinking feeling that something is going to happen to our basement; either windows will break out and we’ll have a huge disaster on our hands, or spend hours squeegeeing and sponging and drying up our basement for days on end.  Storms don’t hold the same appeal anymore.

However, since I’m from the Midwest, in Illinois, I of course will stand on the porch until the last second, until the twister is practically in our front yard before I’ll hightail it to the basement. I mean, dude. I did used to live in Tornado Alley.

As I get older now, I have to balance that “hold my beer” mentality against how fast I can make it down the stairs with a knee that sounds like Rice Krispies.

Having said that, lest you think I’m irresponsible, I would like to also point out that I am down in the basement long, long moments before my husband believes we’re in imminent enough danger that he deigns to come down the stairs. He normally just stands at the top of the stairs and laughs at me for being down there with the TV blaring warning sounds. Yuck it up, Huckleberry. We’ll see who’s laughing when you’re sucked up into the sky along with the basement door, a’la Twister.

Until then, I’ll cower downstairs, thanking God that we have a cozy basement to bunker down in, and wait for the all clear.

So I can mop up the water.

 

 

Saturday, I arted.

I had an incredible day Saturday with my family dying silk scarves. The only bad thing? One wasn’t enough. Heck, ten wouldn’t have been enough. It’s addicting!

Saturday morning, I gassed up my little Cruze (meep meep, 48 mpg highway) and picked up my girls for a little road trip into Plainfield, where we were going to meet two of my sisters and two of my nieces, as well as my mother. After the requisite McDonalds stop for a couple of breakfast sandwiches, we were on our way. It was going to be a fun day.

It wasn’t just a fun day, though.

It was a super fun day!

The eight of us gathered in the home of Jennifer Lagerwall, who with her husband has a cool set up in her basement where you can dye silk scarves. They run a business called Silk Avenue. You can bring a bunch of your friends (and snacks/drinks, if you so choose) and, working two at a time, create beautiful masterpieces that you can then take home and wear.IMG_20180623_130750

My sister and I went first, each choosing various shadesIMG_20180623_115231 of purple and pink for our colors. Then you drip paint carefully onto a big flat tray of water that has been thickened with a special ingredient, making it a little goopier. Think paper mache. You let drops of paint fall onto the water and they spread out, then you can pick different colors to accent your scarf. The best part is after your paint is all applied to the water, you can carefully guide a thin metal bar through it (or a piece of plywood with lots of bars) and the pattern swirls in delicious ways.IMG_20180623_122752_1

After we finished, we got to watch the others work on theirs. It was gratifying to observe them not only choose their colors, but show the vision they had for their own scarves.

We oohed. We aahed. Each was truly a work of art, and I could have done one scarf after another, seriously. It’s so addictive and none of them are the same.

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After our masterpieces were finished (it took us about two hours for eight of us) we all trooped to lunch where we were able to relax and chat.

I cannot recommend this type of afternoon highly enough. Our hosts were phenomenal and helpful, and it’s a really fun afternoon out for your book club, or girls from school, teacher friends, etc.

You get a really cool scarf out of it…not to mention, you get to hang out with your friends. It’s a win-win situation!

 

 

Last Chance to Grab this Magical Antho

Back in December, I participated in an anthology that was published with the intention of donating all proceeds to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. It’s titled 12 Magical Nights of Christmas.

12 Magical Nights Antho Cover

I’m proud to tell you we’ve donated thousands of dollars over the past six months. (And there will still be a few more donations, as we will continue to collect royalties until September!)

But that was all it was intended to be; six months. And that time is quickly coming to a close. On June 24th, as a matter of fact.

Which means you have only a few more days to support this great cause, and add a fabulous collection of paranormal short stories to your E-reader.

So hurry!

PS – Here’s an excerpt from my contribution to this anthology. It’s called Gift of the Gods.

Seamless Wallpaper Pattern, set of six colors

 

 

Chapter One

 

“I know Christmas is still a few days away, but I’ve brought you a gift, to prove to you I’m sincere.”

With the horse’s reins in his hand, Asher paused before rounding the corner of the stone building, cringing at the sound of Prince Julian Montclair’s oily voice.

No doubt he was talking to Princess Charlotte of Mecosta. Julian had been chasing the princess’s skirts since that day, ten years ago, when he’d come across Asher and Charlotte kissing in the woods and had been so furious, he had Asher thrown into the dungeons beneath his father’s castle.

Sure, Asher was a pauper, and the princess—well, she wasn’t supposed to be locking lips with someone so beneath her station—but gods be damned, they’d been thirteen at the time. The punishment hadn’t exactly fit the crime.

Asher had intended to give Juniper a run, but not if it meant he would have to interact with those two. Shaking his head, he turned to trudge back to the stable, but paused when Charlotte spoke.

“Why do you think you need to prove your sincerity by giving me a necklace, Julian?”

“The serving girl comes to mind,” Julian said.

“You insisted that was entirely innocent. Are you changing your story?” Charlotte’s voice was frosty.

“No, not at all. It’s just … I know you were upset by it. Even if it was innocent. Because, of course, it looked … well, we all know what it looked like.”

Asher leaned forward to better catch her response, which was silly since he doubted she would say, “It looked like you were trying to convince that serving girl to share your bed that night. And considering you’re a prince, it probably happened. Even though you’re supposed to be courting me and treating me like the princess I am, the queen I will someday be.”

But in fact, she didn’t say anything at all, and eventually, Julian cleared his throat. “It’s enchanted. See how it has started to glow with a blue light? That’s how you know your one true love is near.”

Yeah right.An enchanted necklace? Asher could conjure magic like that in his sleep. And he’d bet last week’s pay that Prince Julian paid someone to cast a charm over it. Because everyone and the gods were fully aware the man could barely invoke the simplest of spells.

But power and control were all about the station one was born into, and Julian Montclair has been one lucky son of a bitch—no, son of a queen—since the moment he came into this world.

“It’s lovely,” Charlotte said. “And it’s warm to the touch.” Her voice drifted over Asher, making him hard like it always did. He grit his teeth, angry with himself for being so stupid. There were plenty of women in the village who were of an acceptable station and perfectly happy to warm his bed for a day, an hour, a year, however long he was willing—and he wouldn’t end up on the gallows the next morning, either.

Yet all he did was yearn for a woman he couldn’t have. A woman he didn’t really want.

Okay, didn’t want to want.

***

Gift of the Gods by Tami Lund

He’s a pauper. She’s a princess.

Ten years ago, he spent three months in a dungeon as punishment for kissing her. He’s never forgotten the experience—or her.

Now, they’re stuck together in a cottage in the woods, in a snowstorm, days before Christmas, when she’s to become betrothed to another. They can’t have forever, but what’s the harm in taking advantage of tonight?

Some gifts are worth waiting for.

Grab the antho HERE, before it goes off sale on June 24!

Tami Lund Headshot 2014

Tami Lund

…is an author, a wine drinker, an award winner, and a lover of romance. She writes happily ever afters, one book at a time. Check out her website for more books, as well as the many ways in which to stalk her on social media: http://www.tamilund.com