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All Things New again

January 3, 2023

I’m not one to celebrate a new year. It’s just a new date to me, and since the computer and the phone and the echo devices update their date features automatically, it isn’t much of a thing for a new date anymore. But the combination of 2021-2022 has been so up and down, I’m glad to see a new year for once. Who knows? I’ve always thought of the number three as a good number, so maybe 2023 will be a good one.

As I’ve been quite the slacker in updating my blogs—this one and my author one—Here are some highlights of the last two years. I’ll probably skim some of it, but some might be long. Grab your favorite beverage and snack, pull up a comfy chair, turn on the fireplace if you’re in cold weather, and sit back and enjoy the ride.



In February of that year, I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer. I often tell my guide dog, Shani, that she saved my life. I had to do a physical and that’s when we discovered something wrong. Turned out I had a large tumor in my left kidney. It was stage 3.1, which is close to serious. I was born with a chronic and painful disease, and so I have learned to ignore pain and tend not to worry about aches and pains in my body. I’d ignored the pains I’d been having in the kidney area or the weird issues with going to the bathroom.

I had surgery in April to remove my left kidney. The surgery went well and they believe the surgeon got all the cancer. Of course, I have to have CT scans every few months to check, because kidney cancer can spread to unusual places. I’m almost two years from surgery now, and mostly, I feel confident about my prospects. I do have moments of fear that the cancer will come back. Kidney cancer can’t be treated with chemo, and because of my auto immune disease, I can’t join any drug trials.

And yet, with all the fear of the cancer, something amazing and wonderful came out of it all. The day I was diagnosed, after telling my close friends, Doug and Joylene, I longed to hear my sister’s voice. We had once been best friends, but after our dad died—of cancer also, though a different variety—I had been in such deep grief, and I ran away from family. I guess I felt that being around them, without Dad, would be so painful, I couldn’t handle it. It was a cheap, nasty move on my part, but I wasn’t really thinking coherently about it. There’s more to it, a very bad relationship that made me want to hide from everyone who loved me, but I’d let my closeness to my sister especially and my brothers and my mom in all but biology, slip away. I’m the oldest, and I sure didn’t act like a loving giving older sister. I feel guilty to this day. Still, I called my sister that diagnosis day, and we clicked again instantly. Her first reaction was to come and be there for my surgery. One of my brothers did the same. They both came, and I was so thankful to have their love and support. The cancer brought us back together, and I’ll never let us slip apart again.

In July of that year I retired from my job, permanently. I am happily retired and don’t miss the grind at all. I’ve never regretted making that decision.

Also in July, the big thing, the great thing, the dream that I finally brought to life, I published my first novel, Haven. Haven is a romance, set in a fictional town in Colorado. The main female character is blind, and she has just suffered a terrible loss. In a custody battle with her ex-husband, the judge awarded full custody to the ex, because he didn’t believe a blind woman could raise a child. Sadly, this has been a serious problem for many disabled parents, and when I hear about it, my heart is broken every time. My male lead is a widower, a pastor of a small church, though I can’t say the book is religious fiction. It’s just how he appeared to me when I thought of him. I took my characters on a journey to healing, finding love and maybe resolving other painful issues outside the relationship. It’s available in paperback and kindle from amazon and from audible as well. I’d dreamed of doing this since I was around nine or ten, and at last, it had happened!


Our year just past was a terrible and wonderful year for me. let’s talk the wonderful stuff first.

The reunion with my sister, and good friends moving back to California, started me down the road of thinking about moving back home. Getting cancer left me with a soul desire to be a part of my family again, to laugh and cry, to enjoy just talking and being together. I wanted to come home. In February, I flew to Monterey to stay with good friends.

During my visit, my sister found houses for sale in the city where she lives. I looked at some, and eventually, I bought a home in that town in the central valley area of California. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve lived in my adult life. It’s got three bedrooms, two baths, a dream of a kitchen, a laundry room I call a butler’s pantry, because not only does it have the requisite equipment, but it has a sink, and lots of cupboards! I have a beautiful back and front yard, with flowers and trees, and even a small putting green. I’m in a quiet area with wonderful neighbors. Imagine that! I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to know neighbors before, but here, they are friendly and helpful, and it’s great to get to know them. The whole town seems welcoming. Why, I even had a personal meet and greet with a mayoral candidate, who came to my house and discussed his ideas for the town and my thought on needs for disabled people here. We’ll be meeting again sometime this month. I’ve had a yen to be more involved on the city level, for a long time actually, and here in this quiet little town, it may be happening. I live less than a mile from my sister and see her often. We next nearly every day, whether or not we get together. I love her husband very much, have been getting to know my nephew/godson and his wife and baby, and life is joy after joy. I’m so glad I made this move!

And now, Friday evening, March 25, 2022

Friday night, that late March evening, was just a normal evening. I was still with my friends in Carmel. I was in my room, doing something on the computer, and my friend was upstairs in her room reading. It was a normal night. My cell phone rang. It was from the 206 area code, and I had a funny feeling I should answer it, but I didn’t get to it fast enough. I listened to the voice mail, and I felt like I was going to throw up. You’ve read that line about your heart sinking and your stomach going in to knots and various other uncomfortable things? Well, I can’t find a better way to describe it. The call was from a trauma center in Seattle. I called them back and here’s how it went.

“Hello? This is sherry Gomes. You left me voice mail?”

My hands were shaking. My heart was beating out of control, Tears were already gathering in my eyes. My best friend in the world, Doug, had gone out to dinner that night, walking to and from the restaurant with his guide dog. Could something have happened to him? It was the only thing I could think of, since he is the only person I know about whom a hospital might call me.

“Yes,” the hospital person answered. “We need the contact information for the legal next of kin for Douglas Payne.”

I did start crying then. Was she saying what I thought she was saying? Those words, legal next of kin, were ominous. Bringing up the worst my imagination could conjure. Oh no! Was Doug gone? Why did they need legal next of kin. I was not the legal next of kin at that time.

This all raced through my mind in an instant, as I fought off the nausea and tried to keep my voice under control.

‘Yes,” she said again. “We need to be able to contact his father.”

“You can’t contact him. He is ninety years old and is in the hospital. I don’t have the contact info for his brothers but I can get it. Please tell me, what happened to Doug.”

“All I can tell you is that he was brought here by paramedics. We have his guide dog too; the police brought him. We need someone to take care of the dog too.”

Intubated? Do they just need permission for that legal next of kin, to pull the plug? What the bloody hell is going on?

They told me again, most forcibly, that they needed the contact info, and I promised to get it.

After I hung up, I flew out of my room, calling for my friend, Joylene. I had let go and I was crying and shaking, still feeling I might throw up over everything. Finding contact info for Doug’s brothers and dealing with taking care of his dog, would give me a way to focus my mind and push the fear away a little bit. We spent the next two hours trying to find cell phone numbers for the brothers. With everyone having cells now, you can’t just look them up easily. I found several disconnected numbers. I left voice mail on a few other numbers, hoping somehow, that one of those messages would get to a person who could get it to one of the brothers.

While waiting to hear back, I called Guide dogs for the blind, the school where Doug got his dog. I told their emergency night person that Doug and his dog had been in some kind of accident, but that the dog seemed okay. Could they get a local puppy raiser to pick the dog up from the hospital? The hospital isn’t equipped, nor should they have to take care of the dog.

Soon after that call, I heard from one of Doug’s brothers. One of my voice mails had gone to his ex-wife’s number, and she’d gotten the message to him. The police had also found him and let him know. He gave me his number and gave me their other brother’s number. He also told me what had happened to Doug. He had been walking home with his dog. He was on the sidewalk. Can I mention that again, in all caps? HE WAS ON THE SIDEWALK. A woman, pulling out of a driveway, was trying to turn on to the busy street. She saw a break in the traffic and without looking both ways, she pulled out, hitting Doug and his dog, throwing Doug several feet in to the street! Remember those words, on the sidewalk? Doug had skull fractures and had been taken to the trauma center. His dog was not hurt.

The brothers told the hospital to give me access to any information about Doug’s condition, and I was able to get updates from the hospital freely after that.

I was so afraid. Doug and I have been friends for nearly 24 years. He is my soul mate, my brother, my pal, my bosom buddy. He took three months out of his life to stay with me and help me recover my my kidney surgery. He’s been there for me time after time again. I can tell him any secret, any fear, any dream, and I always know he will be there by my side, as I will and have been for him. I was so afraid I was going to lose him. How do people recover and be normal again after several skull fractures? I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. Every day, that first call in the morning, I held my breath, clenched my hands together and hoped and prayed.

It took time, by day by day, he did get a little better. When I told my sister what happened, her response was, when do you want to go up there to see him. Isn’t she amazing?

This post is already so long, so I’ll skip the description of the trip, except to say we did go, and spent a few days up in Seattle. It was a good trip, a scary trip, in some ways a crazy trip, and a fun tale to tell. So, hopefully, in a few days.

Doug is still recovering. He does have permanent hearing loss and other issues, but he’s still Doug, and that’s all that matters to me. He spends a lot of time here, and hope this is a restful place for him to be.

By the way, the woman who hit and seriously injured my best friend, the woman who changed his life irrevocably, had no insurance, no property so no way to sue her for pain and suffering. She got a slap on the wrist for no insurance, and my friend has serious physical changes that will affect him for the rest of his life. It’s not fucking fair, and I’m infuriated all over again, every time I think about her. Thankfully, Doug just wants to move on with his life. He doesn’t want to hold on to the anger. I do that for him.

2023, All Things New

And here we are at this new shiny year. Doug is doing well. As far as I know, my cancer has not come back. I’m rebuilding family bonds and so happy in that. I cherish every moment I can be with those I love, because I so nearly lose of those, and because the new ties with my family are precious to me. What do I want for 2023? I hope to finish the sequel to Haven. I hope to get a little healthier. I hope the cancer doesn’t come back. I hope I find ways to keep busy, to give to my community, to make new friends in this new area, to keep growing, learning and changing. But I don’t resolve to do any of these things. I hope to do them, and that is the best I can give. Hope is a most important things in my life.

Here’s to 2023! May it bring us peace.

oncology visit

Here is the news from the oncology visit.

Here’s the scoop

My oncologist, Dr. Maymani explained some things about the pathology report. He described the cancer tendrils as creepy crawlies, which made their way into the renal vein and blood vessels, into some fatty tissue around the kidney and into the lymphatic system, though not in the lymphnodes.

Kidney cancer is a tricky thing. It doesn’t respond to chemo or radiation. It is most often treated with new clinical trial drugs, Immunotherapy. However, in my case, because of my JRA, which is an auto immune disease, I would not be accepted for any clinical trials. The drugs enhance the immune system, but mine is already defective, not to mention how it could make my arthritis even worse.

So, we are doing what he called surveillance. For the first year, I will have a CT scan and meet with him every three months. We’ll do the first one in two months, since my last scan was over six weeks ago. After the first year we’ll cut back to every six months. The thing is that there is a 50 percent chance that the cancer will come back within the next five years. And of that 50 percent, 20 percent of patients cannot be cured. Also, apparently, kidney cancer is one of a handful of cancers that can be aggravated by a defective auto immune system. The immune system is constantly working to fight off cancer, in any normal body. But for those of us with problematic immune systems, it may not be doing what it should.

The oncologist was absolutely wonderful! He spoke directly to me. He told me he’d read all about me and the process so far, but he wanted to hear about it from me. He also knew what JRA is and wanted to hear about that from me. He was straightforward, honest and explained everything beautifully and clearly. He asked me multiple times, how I felt about what we were discussing, what my thoughts were, did I have any questions. He answered all my questions. He answered things the damn urologist would never give me a straight answer about. He checked my incision, something else the urologist never did. He asked me how things are feeling since the surgery and if urinating seems to be doing okay since surgery. He also had blood drawn so he can monitor my kidney and liver function. I asked about diet and he said no special diet. People with kidney disease need to eat a low protein diet, but not people with kidney cancer. He just recommended watching my blood pressure—it was sky high today, though that is unusual for me—and watch my weight so I don’t develop diabetes. I’m not happy about this wait and see thing. I feel like I have a sword over my head and I’m just waiting for it to come down or to be pulled away. I have a 50 percent of having the cancer come back, and then only a 30 percent chance of surviving if it does. I am not usually one who expects a wait and see attitude medically. Joints damaged by JRA, let’s replace. JRA flares up, let’s try new meds. There’s always been something to do. But, I feel confident that I am in good hands and my doctor will do all he can to get me through this, however it turns out.

surgery and then



I know I haven’t kept up with this very well. Recovery has been slow and exhausting. i’m almost four weeks out and still in a lot of pain. Makes sense when you consider that they cut into my gut to remove the kidney. The muscles and such will take a while to heal.

But then, there’s the pathology report, and it isn’t happy. Looks like the cancer has spread outside the kidney, and I’ve been referred to an oncologist. This is my greatest fear. Having watched my dad die slowly and painfully from cancer back in the 90s, I’m afraid of chemo, afraid of going through this. But my appointment isn’t until the 26th of this month, so there’s not much I can do for now, but take things one day at a time.

This time tomorrow

At this time tomorrow, I will still be in surgery. It starts at 11 AM. it should take three hours, depending on how it goes. How do I feel? I’m queasy and anxious today. They told me to stop taking ibuprofen as of this past Friday, so my arthritis is bad right now. tylenol does not cut it. sigh. i’m anxious, scared but also weirdly eager just to get it done!

trying again, an unwanted journey

An Unwanted Journey

I am embarking on an unwanted journey. It’s not the trip to Paris of which I’ve dreamed for fifty years. It’s not a trip to the desert. It’s a journey through kidney cancer.

In February 2021, I had to have a physical to begin training with my new guide dog, Shani. I saw a physician’s assistant, Mark, who works with the internist I have as my primary care doc. I don’t like the internist. She talks down to me, knew pretty much nothing about    JRA, and spoke to my friend Joylene, instead of to me. But Mark was different. He oozes compassion. He knew about JRA, asked informed questions about my joint replacements and generally came off as respecting me. So, I felt confident to tell him about something that had been bothering me.

For a couple months, I’d been having pain when I had to pee, pain before and after. It didn’t feel like a UTI, but I thought that was probably it, or maybe a kidney infection. Mark ran a urine test and it turned out there was blood in my urine. He had me come back twice to run the test again with the same results. After the third one, he ordered a renal ultra sound and referred me to a urologist.

All my test results are online at the site for my health care facility, so I read the test results once they were submitted. It showed I had a tumor in my left kidney. The urologist ordered a CT scan of the left kidney, and the results showed there is a renal carcinoma. Yeah cancer in my left kidney. I am scheduled to have the kidney removed on April 20, 2021.

This freaks me out, honestly. The urologist says it hasn’t spread to other tissue, and that removing my left kidney will solve the problem, but I’m still scared. What if they find it has spread? My dad died of lymphoma cancer, and I have too many vivid memories of what that did to him, between the cancer and the chemo.

I don’t want this. I don’t want this. I do not want this! I know, I know, millions of people live with only one kidney. I’m trying to find reading material about living with one kidney. Are there dietary changes I’ll need to make? Will any of my meds be problematic? My JRA is the type that is systemic, so it can cause damage to the kidneys, among other internal organs. Will there be more risk to my lonely right kidney? I’m scared, okay, I’m scared.

Everyone is trying hard to be positive with me. It’s going to be okay. You’ll do great. No problem. I end up feeling like I can’t express my fear and the terrible constant buzzing in the back of my mind wondering what’s going to happen. My logic knows I’ll be just fine. But I’ve had terrible experiences with surgery, all those joint replacements. My heart, my emotions are just scared, and I want to scream it out to the world. It’s human nature to think, such and such could never happen to me. Of all the health issues in the world, I never thought it would be cancer. It’ll never happen to me. But it did. Sigh.


For people reading this who may not know, JRA stands for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

An Unwanted Journey



Hi all, I have a serious update about what’s going on in my life. I had to have a physical before training with my new guide dog, shani. I happened to mention to the doctor that I was having some pain when I go to the bathroom. He did a test and we discovered blood in my urine. After two more tests with similar results, he had me get an ultra sound and referred me to a urologist. That doctor had me also get a CT scan of my kidneys. It turns out I have a large tumor in my lfet kidney and it is cancer. On April 20, I am having surgery to have my left kidney removed. I’m pretty freaked and scared, even though my head knows that millions of people live without one kidney and don’t have negative repercussions. But my dad died of cancer, so for me and my brothers and sister, the word cancer freaks us out. They don’t think the cancer has spread outside the kidney, so removing it should mean no chemo or anything like that.

new guide dog



Great news! On Monday, yes this coming Monday, I will begin training with a new guide dog from Guiding Eyes for the Blind, GEB. I have been without a dog for a year and a half. I’ve never been so long without a dog since I got my first in 1975 at age 17. I’m so excited! I won’t give details until my trainer says it’s okay, but the dog has been living with me since Monday, so we can begin to bond. She is adorable, an absolute darling, and I am already head over heels totally in love! Follow the journey here if you’re interested!

Book Release, Shattered, by D. A. Charles

By D. A. Charles

Today, I’m writing about the release of a new book, Shattered, by D. A. Charles. I’ll be back later with a full review, but I’ve been involved with this story, in one way or another, for nearly ten years, and I’m thrilled that the release is finally here!

As a disabled person—I am totally blind and have been since about age five—it’s frustrated me all my life that disability representation in the arts, books, movies, TV and so forth, has been so lacking. And if disabled people are there, we’re often portrayed unrealistically as helpless or superhuman. Often we are given miraculous healing that is not possible even today, and we’re almost never shown as living a real life, doing the things every person wants to do, growing up in a normal family, going to school, getting a job, falling in love. I have always wanted to change that, to do my small part and write stories and books that will show people like me in ways that anyone can relate to. My genre is romance, and my dream is to write stories with the usual romance genre foundation but with characters who just happen to be disabled, and yet the stories won’t necessarily be about the disability, or what I call the how-I-live-life-as-a-blind-person stories. This was why I wrote my fan fiction story, seeing Bella. My book release day will come soon, but today is all about my friend and what her book means to me!

In the midst of writing Seeing Bella, I came across Impact. I’d found it! Another story giving a true and believable presentation of disabled characters, but a story showing all the depth of being human, grief, anger, struggle, loneliness, despair, joy, success, romance, and love. These themes are universal, and there they were! I cared deeply about the story, deeply about the characters, and though the story dealt with their issues of dealing with new disability, the universal themes together with the disability issues, drew me in and made me love them fiercely. This was the kind of thing I’d wanted to read ever since the first time a teacher put my hands on a braille book!

I reached out to Denise and we became dear friends. We talked about many things as the story was being written. And when the time came to think about publishing it, she asked me to be part of the team. It meant the world to me that she asked, and I was committed to help her make Shattered into the best it could possible be. She is a brilliant writer with a true gift for telling us a story that will live in our souls. Today, as Shattered is released, I feel so proud, proud of and for my friend, proud that I was a part of it in some small way, and oh so joyful. To see her dream come true.

The beauty of shattered is that we can all read these characters and relate to them through our own human experience. We can learn as we grieve and cheer for them, and we can know that whatever and whoever we are, abled or disabled, any race, any nationality, any gender and sexuality, what makes us human, makes us one with each other. We’re really not that different after all. Words from a song by country singer Collin Raye say it better:

“I laugh; I love; I hope; I try,
I hurt; I need; I fear; I cry,
And I know you do the same things too,
So, we’re really not that different, me and you.”

As we read shattered and lose ourselves in the world of the book, we can all see the truth of those words, we really aren’t all that different.

review, Les Miserables 2018 National Tour


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Les Miserables 2018 National Tour review


I’ve loved Les Miserables for thirty years, ever since a friend first introduced me to the original London cast album. I played it over and over, learn all the parts by heart. It touched my soul in a deep way, reaching every part of me and bring out every emotion. I’ve never gotten over it. I saw it in 1990 in San Francisco. I saw it in Seattle in the early 2000’s. I saw it this past July in Denver. I have the original London cast CD, the complete symphonic recording, the tenth anniversary concert album and DVD, the twenty-fifth anniversary concert DVD, and the 2012 movie DVD and CD. All I can say is that excepting only the original London cast, the one that first stole my heart, all the other pale next to the 2018 National Touring cast!


I could attend Les Miz every year and never get tired of it. When I first saw it live, at the finale when they sang, “Will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand with me?”, I was ready to get up and go, biting my tongue to keep from screaming out, “Me, Me, I’ll go, I’ll go!” Les Miz has affected me that way every time. I still cry. I still get chills at the finale. I still want to scream that I’ll go and want to jump up and join them at the barricades. So, I was thrilled when I heard it was coming to Denver this summer.


I invited my friend and her daughter, and we made an evening of it. We had dinner at the Limelight café in the theatre complex. We stopped at the customer service counter to pick up my braille program. We took our seats in the orchestra level, and I could barely contain my anticipation. I was not disappointed. I was in awe, blown away, stirred even more than ever before. When it was over, I only wished I could sit right back down and watch the whole thing again, and again, and again.


The cast. What can I say about this cast? How can I express how incredible they were? Nick Cartell was the most amazing Valjean I have ever heard. His passion and emotion, his way of singing softly, then belting, giving us the exact right sound for whatever he was singing. He wrang emotion out of me, emotion I thought Les Miz couldn’t reach anymore, because I thought every previous viewing or listening had gotten it all. When he sang “Bring Him Home”, I was spellbound, not even sure I breathed, during the whole thing! I have to admit, that particular song has never been a favorite of mine. Audiences usually love it and cheer it, but my attitude has so often been ho-hum, is it over. Until now. I was on the edge of my seat, listening for the slightest note, weeping as he cried out Valjean’s desperate plea. That song will never be ho-hum to me again. That’s just one example of all the ways he drew new feelings, new chills, new joy and grief from me.


Then there was Josh Davis, as Javert. I’ve always found Javert an interesting complex character, but in some ways, his big numbers have never really thrilled me. Josh Davis blew the roof off those feelings. Compelling and powerful, his performance made me feel things I’d never felt during the Javert scenes before. I felt sorry for this rigid man who could not understand mercy and forgiveness, and I cried at his suicide for all the depth of life this character missed.


The chemistry between those two characters, Valjean and Javert had me on the edge of my seat every time they were together in a scene. They clicked, for lack of a more flowery way to express it. Two powerful characters, played by two incredible performers. Their scenes sizzled and popped. I could believe in them, in their animosity, Javert’s quest and pursuit of Valjean; Valjean’s efforts always to outwit Javert; the eventual mercy of Valjean and the inability to accept of Javert.


Joshua Grosso as Marius was a pleasant surprise. I’ve never really liked any of the guys who’ve played Marius since Michael ball. Nobody else seemed to express the first innocence of and then the grief of this character. Nobody had the anguish to compete with Michael ball’s rendition of “Empty chairs at Empty tables”> I wasn’t expecting to feel any differently this time, but that was okay with me. I’d already been so engrossed in the other performances, if Marius wasn’t the best, I could live with it. Well, here was another person who took me to places I’d never been with this show, who made me feel that grief and pain all over again. I thought of the loved ones in my life who have died, and I wanted to cry out with Marius against the grief. It was just brilliant!


Jillian Butler played Cosette. This was another role that hasn’t thrilled me much since the original cast. I never thought anyone sounded great up on the high notes, or they didn’t blend well with whoever was playing Marius. But there she was, another one who took all my low expectations and blew them away. She was beautiful. My friend who had also seen Les Miz before said the same thing. She was the best Cosette I’d ever heard. She captured that sense of young love, of longing for more than what she had, but searching for something different. Her scenes with Marius made my heart ache from the beauty of their harmony. Another one who left me breathless.




Emily Bautista was a passionate, perfect Eponine. When she sang “On my Own” I just wanted to hug her and tell her it would be okay. She grabbed my heartstrings from the start and never let go. I could imagine her pain, how he’d had such a miserable life, and this one boy was the only person who had shown her kindness. Her death scene left me in tears.


Mary Kate Moore as Fantine. What can I say? I feel I’ve used every superlative there is. Fantine’s story has always broken my heart, and the same thing happened this time. She breathed new life into her scenes, causing me to feel all the sorrow again, aching for this girl who had been so mistreated by so many. Tears were pouring down my face as she sang “I dreamed a Dream”>


I really could go on and on. As I flip through my braille program, I could think of things to say about every scene, every character, every moment. The ensemble was fantastic; the orchestra was exceptional; all the parts together were beyond extraordinary. Just thinking about the experience, my heart is beating a little faster, my soul is aching a little more. I only wish there could be a cast album, but there’s never cast albums of national tours. I wish there could be a DVD, so I could play it over and over. I’d never get enough, and I’d share it with everyone I know.


For thirty years, Les Miserables has been my favorite musical, and this cast showed me again why I love it so much. They brought my love of this show to new heights. I salute them all for their hard work and their wonderful portrayals of these iconic characters, their beautiful takes on these great songs. How I wish I could see it again!


Oh yes, and if you’re wondering, at the end, during the finale, after I pulled myself together following Valjean’s death, when they sang, “will you join in our crusade, who will be strong and stand with me?” Yeah, I had to grasp the arms of my chair, hold myself back, bite my tone, in order to keep myself from jumping up and screaming, “I will, I will! I’ll join the crusade!”




Book review, The Six, by K. B. Hoyle

Book review, The Six, by K. B. Hoyle

I first fell in love with the Gateway chronicles when the series was originally issued by another publisher. I loved the world of Cedar Cove and fell head over heels for Alitheia and all the people we met there. I’ve read and reread the series since then, and I was thrilled to hear about the rereleases this summer, enjoying the added tidbits that don’t change the story, but make it even more rich!

Darcy Pennington, age thirteen in this first book, does not want to go to the Cedar cove family camp. She wants to go bac to the horse-riding camp she’d attended before. She’s in a foul mood when she and her parents and younger brother arrive, and that mood isn’t made any better by the exuberant attentions of Samantha Palm, a girl who is trying hard to be Darcy’s new best friend. Through Samantha, Darcy meets the other four campers who have all been coming to cedar cove for years, and who have been friends with Samantha all those years. Darcy desperately wants to have friends, but she’s also shy and doesn’t like herself much. She has trouble accepting the genuine kindness and loyalty of Samantha. She makes mistakes, feels awkward, is scared, full of anxiety, and yet, truly is sorry for the mistakes and tries to be her best.

Through what Darcy thinks to be accident, she stumbles into, and eventually leads the others to a magical alternate land called Alitheia, where the colors are brighter, magic is real, and there are funny and fascinating creatures to meet, in particular, Narks, creatures I love completely and still wish I could meet! The six teenagers soon learn they have embarked on a new adventure, where they are part of a prophesy foretelling the hope for freedom from an evil oppressor. And so, the adventure begins, for the Six, and for anyone who reads thisincredble book.

I related to Darcy the first time I read this and relate more every time since. I wel remember being her age and being that girl in the corner, ignored on the playground, wishing I had friends, but so terribly shy, I really didn’t know how to put myself out there to meet them. I found myself alternating between wanting to give Darcy a good shake or a good hug and always wanting to tell her it would get better.

Some people have compared these books to Narnia, but to me, they are far better. I found Narnia, boring with characters I didn’t care about, not only is it allegorical, but it beats you over the head with the allegory, to the point for me, of making me not enjoy the stories at all. But K B Hoyle’s Gateway Chronicles gives me much more. Believable characters with strengths and flaws with which I can relate, a magical land of endless fascination, a cause I cared deeply about, an adventure I never wanted to end. Much like my reaction when I first read the Harry Potter books, I wanted this adventure to go on and on. I often joke that here I am, sixty years old, still waiting for my Hogwarts letter. Well, here I am, sixty years old, looking and looking for a magical gateway into Alitheia, where I too can join the adventure.