dianne salerni author
dianne salerni author



(Eldest Daughter is Princess, Gina is Queen)


Gina Band 2014Bob: Konnichiwa Kozoku!  (Greetings Family!)

Gabbey: Ohayo, gozaimasu! Watashi wa ojousama!  (Good day with respect. I’m a Princess!)

Bob: Princess who?

Dianne: Isn’t Gabbey supposed to be compacting her French 1 and French 2 courses to squeeze them both into one year? Why is she suddenly learning Japanese?

Gabbey: If I learn Japanese, maybe Daddy will take me on one of his business trips to Japan.

Bob: You could all come and join me at the end of one of my projects!

Dianne: Fourteen hours on a plane, by myself with the girls … not happening. I’m nervous enough driving to Long Branch, New Jersey to present at a school librarian’s conference. I’ve got my Mapquest directions printed out, and my Google Maps directions … both of which differ.

Gina: What’s wrong with the car’s GPS?

Dianne: It wants to kill me. That’s what. It tried to send me the wrong way on the Schuylkill Expressway and down a long dirt road into a ditch. It’s possessed by evil.

Bob: Do you want to go back to teaching at the building 2 miles from home?

Dianne: Nope. (stuffs the directions into her travel bag) I just want to be prepared. Speaking about prepared, who’s going where while I’m away for two days and does everyone have a ride?

Gabbey drivers licenseGina: I’ve got the Atlantic Coast Championship marching band competition on Sunday at Hershey Park and regular rehearsal on Monday.

Gabbey: I can drive her! And I have play practice after school on Monday. Can I have the car?

Bob: No. I need a car, too. I’m taking my bike down to Newark for a ride in the morning.  I’ll drive everybody where they need to go.

Gabbey: If I had a car of my own … Just sayin’ …

Bob: Popcorn anybody? (takes down the air popper from the top of the china cabinet)

Sorcia: (massive Scooby-Doo-type scramble and noise of nails scrabbling on hardwood floor) Popcorn! He said that word! He’s got the thing!

Luna: (sound of jingling cat collar) The dog is excited. I must investigate.

Bob: Aha, I’ve attracted the four-legged denizens of the house.

Dianne: Why is the cat all wet?

Sorcia and Luna share a bedGina: She showered with me again. I conditioned her.

Luna: (wet fur sticking out all over, but very soft and sweet smelling) The water escaped down the drain despite my best efforts. Tomorrow, I will mount a better defense.

Sorcia: Popcorn! Popcorn! (runs around excitedly with her ball) Play ball with me, kitty! (drops ball on cat’s head)

Luna: (smacks dog on the nose) Get your slobbery ball off me, you big buffoon.

Gabbey: Neko wa shihai suru! (The cat is dominant.)

Bob: Ie no naka de hoka no on’nanoko no yō ni amayakasa  (Spoiled like other girls in house)

Dianne: No idea what they’re saying.  I feel left out, Gina. What about you?

Gina: I don’t really care. How’s the static shock mat doing to keep the cat off the counter?

Bob: I don’t know. Who got zapped by it today?

(Dianne, Gabbey, Gina, and Bob all raise their hands. The cat cleans her tail serenely.)

cropped selfieBob: She might be too smart for us. (puts a bowl of popcorn on the floor for each animal.)

Sorcia: (gobbling it up) Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy!

Luna: (removes one piece from bowl and chews on it) This is disgusting. But the dog wants it. I must eat it. I demand my share!

Bob: Okay, what gifts do you want me to bring back from Japan on this trip?

Dianne: How about another Daruma doll? I’m ready to start a new book and set a new goal!

Gabbey: A Korean boy band. (Everybody stares at her.) What? Korea’s close to Japan, right? Okay, I’m kidding. Bring me all the mangas.

Sorcia: (swipes her huge tongue across cat’s dish while Luna is still trying to choke down a single piece) Anata ga ushinau inemuri, neko. (You snooze, you lose, kitty)

From Bob to everyone: Anata ni kōun o negatte to Daian no hon kau!

(Wishing you good fortune, and don’t forget to buy Dianne’s book!)


A Slice of Salerni Life 2012 
The End of the World
Gabbey: (looking over Dianne’s shoulder) You too, Mom? All my friends on Facebook are being weird about the world ending, and I’m like, “Really, people? Don’t make me unfriend you.”
Bob: You can tell them Mommy and I saw the actual Mayan calendar at a museum in Mexico City this summer, and it said nothing about …
Dianne: That was the Aztec calendar, dear. Not the Mayan one.
Bob: It was? Oh. I got nothin’ then.
Gina passes by with a suspicious-looking can in her hand and sticks it in the refrigerator.

Dianne: That better not be crickets!
Gina: (snorts in derision) Why would I put crickets in the refrigerator?
Dianne: What was in the can, then?
Gina: Worms.
Dianne: I can’t believe we let the girls get lizards. Feeding raw chicken to the dog wasn’t enough, we’ve got to keep live vermin to feed the lizards?
Sorcia: Whine, bark, whine, whimper, sob. (Translation: I can’t believe you got lizards either. Stop looking at them! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!)
Bob: 2012 was a good year for us. If the world has to end, at least it’s ending on a high note.
Gabbey: I’m not listening to this anymore. (puts ear buds in her ears) I’m putting on The Legend of Zelda, Symphony of the Goddesses.
Dianne: (snaps fingers) That’s right. Gabbey went to see her first concert this year. A symphony. Very highbrow. My first concert was Journey.
Bob: (raises a hand) Huey Lewis and the News.
Gina: I’ve never been to a concert, but I really, really, really want to see Justin Bieber.
Gina: (looking over Dianne’s shoulder) ARRGH! Take that out! That is NOT true!
Dianne: (applies strikethrough) Okay, okay. I was just making a joke. So Gina has never been to a concert, but she went to an air show with Tara and competed in TWO triathlons.
Gina: And Dad was awesome in the Atlantic City Triathlon with Chris and Andy! He did the bike leg in just over an hour.
Bob: Thus in the middle of the pack and thoroughly beating my goal of not being last. We even got Mom on Gina’s bike this year and built her stamina up to almost 10 miles. All she needs is one of her own, and we can go riding as a family.
Gina: You think Gabbey will come with us?
Gabbey: (pulls out one ear bud) What? In the sunshine? Unlikely. (hunkers over her laptop and types intensely)
Dianne: Don’t give us that dark, teenage attitude. We know you can do “bright and perky” after your performance in Snow White this fall. And you were pretty animated in the Avon Grove Community Theater’s production of The Music Man, too.
Bob: Wow. I almost forgot about the show this summer. How did we squeeze that AND Gina’s band camp between Spiderman on Broadway and Teotihuacan, Mexico?
Dianne: You know, not many husbands would plan a spur-of-the-moment trip to Mexico just so the wife could write a better climactic scene to her fantasy novel.
Bob: (coughstax write off”) Well, climbing to the top of the Sun Pyramid was well worth the effort, considering The Eighth Day sold to HarperCollins in a 3-book deal.
Dianne: 2012 was a darn good year, but I’m looking forward to 2013, too. Gina in Oklahoma!at the middle school, our annual Pocono ski trip …
Gina: The Spirit Game film, The Caged Gravesgetting published …
Bob: Maybe Vermont over Spring Break and Europe over the summer …
Gabbey: (perks up) Driving lessons!
Silence. A long, LONG silence.

Bob: Maybe we shouldhope for the end of the world.
Gabbey: Ha, ha. Very funny.
Dianne: Regardless, 2012 has been a wonderful year. (gives Bob a big kiss)
Gina: Ewwww. Gross! (This from someone who puts worms in the refrigerator.)
Sorcia: Whine, bark, whine, whimper, sob. (Translation: Stop kissing her! Kiss me! Kiss me! Kiss me!)

In response to my post describing my distaste for Black Friday, my brother-in-law Larry O’Donnell has contributed a guest post about the extreme other end of the continuum. Evestering.  I’ll let him take it from here …

EVESTERING by Larry O’Donnell
There is a holiday shopping alternative to Black Friday, which we’ll call Evestering.  Evesters are cut from the same bolt of cloth as pantsters: adventuresome, creative, and solving difficulties on the fly.  Evesters are ordinarily men.  I’ve heard stories, but I’ve never seen a woman Evester.  They must exist but are rarely seen.  You just don’t find many women with really bad shopping sense.

Evesters are extreme shopping procrastinators.  I was part of the movement until lately, having wound down considerably since I married Deb.  I still feel the urge sometimes but Deb has gotten very good at hiding the car keys, shutting off the internet, and disabling my cell phone.

Evesters don’t worry about waiting in lines nor do they have crowd concerns.  There is camaraderie among Evesters, with high fives all around when one gets the last floor model of some hot item.  Of course, it is a bit shopworn but what the heck, the season is about giving, not sticky controls, scratches, dents, missing parts, and no instructions.

Evesters will climb a three story rack system to grab that last circular saw at Lowes and will gladly toss down Dremel Tool kits, cordless drills, orbital sanders, and routers to kindred souls below.  It’s a lot like looting, only you pay for the stuff you find.

No problem with traffic or parking spots.  No mugger in his right mind is going to get in the way of a man who has to buy gifts for a wife, four children, four parents, and six friends in two or three hours. 

Evesters often get great bargains.  A Christmas tree that cost $40.00 on Black Friday goes for about $6.00 at 8:00 Christmas Eve.  The tree guy will even throw in a stand and give you a cup of coffee.

There are some challenges.  Some stores’ merchandise has been picked over and the shelves look like nuclear Armageddon happened last Tuesday.  Evesters start to think that the wife would love a new set of pillowcases that don’t match anything at home or in the store.  Then they snap out of it and head for the penultimate source, the all-night pharmacy.  These places expect Evesters and always have gift items for sale on hand late Christmas Eve.  Of course, the merchandise is not always mainstream but you can get a Pony VHS player, a Samasonic alarm clock with digital display and built in cassette deck, or a Falcon keyboard with forty pre-recorded show tunes.

Then there is the ultimate source, the Evester’s last resort, a jewelry store.  It is here that the Evester finds the perfect gift for his wife.  There is no haggling, and generally the Evester gets to learn exactly what his credit cards limits are.  It is not a problem since the jeweler has a telephone number the Evester can call to get another $2500.00 added to the limit of each card.  So, the bass boat goes up on Ebay on December 28th, no big deal.

The Evester gets home around 11:15 pm., puts up the tree and rapidly distributes his treasures underneath it.  The wife’s glare is softened somewhat by a very little box placed in a prominent position on her pile.

Of course, there’s another kind of shopper — the kind I am. The sort-of anti-shopper who doesn’t like to set foot in an actual store on Black Friday, Christmas Eve, or any day in between. The Internet Shopper. But I’ll have to tackle that subject on another day … if I’m willing to confess my sins.

Dr. Seuss was right of course. We all know it, even if we did scramble to make sure all our store-bought presents arrived on time and were wrapped by Christmas Eve.  But some of the most thoughtful gifts don’t come from a store.

One of my students gave me an ornament hand-painted by his mother to match the cover of my book.  I was reduced to tears.

My daughter Gina wrote me a guest blog post, which I will post on Wednesday.

And my other daughter Gabrielle painstakingly learned (by ear) the theme for the eleventh Doctor Who (Matt Smith) and played it on her viola for me Christmas morning.

I feel very lucky.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday you celebrate … and wishing you a good New Year’s to come!

Happy Holidays to all my blogging friends!

If I haven’t been to your blog this week, please forgive me. This is the longest teaching week of the year, and the children’s minds are GONE.  I may have taught the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Declaration of Independence this week, but I doubt anyone was paying attention. If I survive until 1:30pm today, it might be a Christmas miracle.

And in the evenings, in between wrapping presents, attending Christmas concerts, and licking envelopes, I’ve been furiously writing, writing, writing.

This is my Christmas card to you all … a year of my life.
And yes, that IS my hand on Will Smith’s knee.  No, he didn’t object …

I’ve been doing family skits as a Christmas newsletter since 2002, when the girls were ages 2 and 5.  It’s just a yearly peek inside the Salerni house, and here’s the most recent:
A SLICE OF SALERNI LIFE 2011 (The Tenth Edition)
DINNER (Reprised)
The Doctor: (cue dramatic music) There’s one thing you never put in a trap—if you’re smart, if you value your continued existence, if you have any plans about seeing tomorrow—there’s one thing you never EVER put in a trap … ME.
Dianne: Turn off the TV and come to dinner! (Sorcia scrambles over to the table, feet slipping cartoon style on the hardwood floor.)  Not you! You’ve already eaten a slab of raw chicken big enough to have been Foghorn Leghorn.
Bob: So, I hear DINNER is the topic of this year’s newsletter.  Didn’t you already do that?
Dianne: Seven years ago, yes. But a lot’s changed since then.
Gina: What’s this speck on my chicken?
Dianne: Well, not Gina.  Gina hasn’t changed a bit.
Bob: It’s a flavor particle. Eat it.
Gina:  What KIND of flavor particle?
Dianne: Parsley. Now eat it.  The girls have really grown up since I wrote that skit in 2004.
Gabbey: BRRRWAAAAAP! (lets out a spectacular burp)
Gina: (admiringly) Nice!
Dianne: Although I still think they might never be fit for boys to take out to eat on a date.
Gabbey: You should be grateful I know better than to do that in public.
Dianne: They’ve got Doctor Who on the TV instead of Kim Possible. That’s a plus.
Bob: I kind of miss Dr. Drakken, actually, but Doctor Who can be fun, too – especially since Gabbey doesn’t sob at the sight of Daleks anymore.
Gabbey: Give me a break, Dad. I was FOUR.
Dianne: You were ten.
Gabbey: (bends head over dinner and mutters) Daleks are scary.
Gina: OH NO! The juice from my chicken is touching my broccoli. Aaaaaahhhh! (Stuffs napkin under plate to tilt it. The juice runs back toward the chicken.)
Bob: Life was simpler back in 2004 – now we’re hard pressed just to keep up with band and orchestra concerts, play practice, Thanksgiving Day parades, Robotics …
Dianne: Ah, but if you took a bike ride with Gina back then, she was strapped into a seat on your bike. Now she’s matching your pace on 10 mile bike rides through White Clay Creek Park.
Bob: It’s true I don’t miss the toddler/pre-school days much. We couldn’t have taken them ziplining on Catalina Island. And we certainly wouldn’t have dared bring them along to meet a film producer for dinner in Hollywood …
Gabbey: CHA-A-ANGE PLA-CES! (Gina and Gabbey grab their plates and dash around to new seats at the table. Dianne and Bob hang onto their plates and refuse to move.)
Dianne: We’ve got the Alice in Wonderland play to thank for that. I should be grateful that was well after the Hollywood visit.
Bob: And they’re pretty good natured when we drag them along on your book research – to coal mines and abandoned cemeteries.
Dianne: True. Gabbey even got out of the car last time we visited the caged graves.
Gabbey: Yes, I looked at your creepy graves!  You know, while you’re making fun of us in the Christmas skit, you might want to remember that seven years from NOW, we won’t be here eating dinner with you. We’ll be away in college.
Gina: Yeah.  You’ll be sitting here alone and sad without your lovely daughters.
Bob: (looks at Dianne) I’m thinking champagne … on a Caribbean island.
Dianne: Before-dinner cocktails on a cruise ship, somewhere between Italy and Greece.
Gabbey: Except you’ll have two of us in college, so you’ll be POOR.
Bob: Touché.
Dianne: She’s right. It’ll be TV dinners in front of Doctor Who for us, Bob.
Gina: (pushes green specks aside on her plate) I’m not eating these suspicious flavor particles. Can’t be too careful. Gabbey’s been reading your poison book again, Mom.
Gabbey: So, I like to poison people.  Fictionally. Sue me.
Dianne: Darling daughters, both of them.
Bob: Wouldn’t trade ‘em.