G&S: What are a few of the nicknames you go by?
DT: Spike, The Secret Weapon, Sunshine, Lady Di, Mama Love, Mama Meerkat.
G&S: Spike? The Secret Weapon? You must elaborate for us.
DT: Spike – I had a HORRIBLE experience my freshman year of college. It sucker-punched me academically, socially, and emotionally. When I transferred schools, no doubt in an effort to completely re-invent myself, I gave myself a nickname, Spike, and created a brand new funky-punky persona (actually, I’ve ALWAYS been funky-punky) complete with lots of black clothing and always crazy hairstyles. More than once I was told I was Belinda Carlisle’s (of the girl-band The GoGos) long lost twin.
The Secret Weapon – Actually, my softball team calls me The Secret Weapon. I’ve only been playing a few years now. It all started when a couple games in a row, my husband and daughter’s co-ed softball team asked me to play because otherwise they’d have to forfeit. Due to my inexperience, they put me in as catcher. Somehow, I instinctively knew to “chatter.” My husband calls it “talking smack.” I call it “talking Sugar Smack.” I keep up a running dialogue to my pitcher, to my team, and to whoever is at bat. I had an umpire tell me this year, “You’re the reason you all won this game. What you do behind home base, though it sounds sweet, throws off the batter. Keep it up.”
G&S: Great explanations. So who are your immediate family members?
DT: Husband Tony, Oldest Child Josephine Joy, Middle Child Cody Brook, Youngest Child Tre Antonio, Son-in-Law Chris.
G&S: Where do you currently call home?
DT: Morgantown, West Virginia (also known as the BEST Virginia or Almost Heaven).
G&S: I drove through your neck of the woods this past May and it truly is beautiful. I do know some Virginians who may argue the BEST part, but hopefully they won’t chime in. Where else have you lived?
DT: Huntington, WV, Washington DC suburbs, Cincinnati Ohio, Bruges Belgium (Just kidding about that one though it would be awesome.)
G&S: Have you ever been to Bruges? I hear it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but I wouldn’t personally know.
DT: When was the Gulf War? Because that’s when Tony and I went to Europe the first time. Because of the war, the airfare was ridiculous. $350 a person, I think. Before we left, friends took us out to dinner. They called it our Last Supper, said they’d never see us again. Americans in Europe during a war we started? Surely we’d be hated. But we weren’t. We wore mostly black and I had crazy hair, so we fit right in. We flew in and out of Amsterdam. A friendly word of counsel. When in Amsterdam, don’t eat the “cake.” And also, be advised the wee tiny cups of coffee will keep you awake until 4 am.. And if you stay in a youth hostel, you’ll have to sleep separately from your husband. So our plan was to spend time in Belgium and France but we fell so hard in love with Bruges, Belgium, we stayed there all week. In a cute B&B. We bought a primrose at the market and kept it in our window. I named it Freddie. In the morning the adorable B&B owners would bring us breakfast–fantastic coffee, orange juice in wine glasses, slices of bread, ham, and cheese. Pots of real butter (I abhor margarine.) and little pitchers of cream, yellow with milk-fat. And individual pouches of Nutella. “This would sell like nuts if it ever made it to the US,” I told Tony (Call me prophetic.). We rented bikes and rode to the ocean, past flocks of sheep that I said, “Baaaa!” to. We played cards in pubs, adored how the bartenders would pour beer into bowls for dogs who came in with their owners. Of course we purchased and gobbled Belgium chocolates. The streets were made of cobblestones the size and shape of fists. If I remember correctly, folks on bikes outnumbered folks in automobiles. We toured the Basilica of the Holy Blood, I think that’s what it’s called. In Europe churches are often built around holy relics–an apostle’s finger, a vial of some saint’s blood. The churches are dark and sober (except in Italy where the gilt-trimmed ceilings are painted to be sunny skies filled with clouds and cherubs). There were canals, a windmill, swans and geese (including a blind-in-one-eye goose that would chase Tony whenever we came near). I ate my first and only eel in Bruges and I must say, I do not care to do it again. Surely folks have died of eel bone-punctured throats, so sharp, so sharp! We were so enchanted by Bruges that we thought long and hard about relocating there. It is truly one of the best places on the planet.
G&S: *Sigh* Okay. Moving on. What takes up most of your time?
DT: Holding down the fort, loving my family (which includes two kitties and one bunny), writing, reading, drinking coffee, preparing and consuming simple but savory food.
G&S: What are you reading right now?
DT: Just yesterday I finished my friend, Marie Manilla’s book The Patron Saint of Ugly. Last night I perused my To-Be-Read pile and selected Brian Doyle’s The Wet Engine, Exploring the Mad Wild Miracle of the Heart.
G&S: Can you share what some of your all time favorite books are?
G&S: How about a few of your favorite TV shows? And Netflix counts.
DT: Actually, I don’t watch much TV. When our oldest was in grade school, one year the Principal’s Challenge was to NOT WATCH TV for 30 DAYS. I did the challenge along with her and never went back. I’m currently watching “Breaking Bad” with my husband because I heard the story-craft was awesome. I cover my eyes on the crazy-scary parts and Tony pats my thigh when that part is over.
G&S: Which is your TV food of choice? Sweet or salty?
DT: You had to go there? To the topic of food? It’s one of my passions. I would say chips and salsa or olive-oil popped popcorn prepared by Junior-Man. With that said, I recently discovered a new snacking addiction–Martin’s Pretzels. We were visiting Cody Brook in NY last month and we sampled then purchased multiple bags of Martin’s Pretzels. They are extraordinary. So light, so crunchy. Perfect. In fact, just this morning I filled a cyber shopping cart with one of everything they have. Make this your GO-TO Christmas gift for everyone on your list.
G&S: Hold on.
Okay. I’ve made a note for Christmas giving. And speaking of Christmas, what is your favorite holiday?
DT: Oh my goodness, I’m not sure how to answer this. Having A LOT of tasks can often overwhelm me. And holidays usually include a lot of tasks. It takes prayer, deep breathing, and supremely detailed to-do lists to fight off hyperventilation. Okay, so it’s not THAT bad (Guess my one grad school teacher was right when she said I tend to the hyperbolic.). With anxiety issues aside, I’d say Thanksgiving (So much glorious food fed to the people I adore.) and Christmas (Because it is an act of love to very thoughtfully select presents for the people I adore. And because it is sweet baby Jesus’s birthday. Can you even imagine leaving PERFECTION to come down to this mess? So yeah… But gosh! Then there’s Easter and that is even better because: “Take that, enemy! You and sin and death everlasting have been vanquished once and for all! And not only that but now, not after we die, I’m talking NOW, this very moment, we get the gift of ABUNDANT LIFE. Okay, I made up my mind. Easter is the KING of Holidays in my heart.).
G&S: What is your favorite scripture and why?
DT: Really? You had to go there? That’s like asking me to pick which child is my favorite! Isa. 54:4, Ps. 30:11-12, Phil. 1:12 and… and…Okay, I’ll stop.
G&S: Why do you write for Grace & Such?
DT: Because I played co-ed recreational softball with the flame-tressed darling whose name is Natalie and she introduced me to your ranks. Because it is such a blessing to be free to write essays of a faith-based nature. And because earlier this year I was praying for community and you all are that–a community of sisters in the faith. I thank my God whenever I think of the Grace & Such gals:)
G&S: Thank goodness for that redhead! We’re very glad you wanted to come along with us.