Never Be Fooled by the Outer Package

pool party john cropped
24 years ago….

The scene is a party I hosted for my brother who’d accepted a physician position at George Washington University Hospital. He and his family would be leaving Sudbury, Massachusetts.

We in the family all chipped in to give him this party. Only problem? My fiancée (with whom I’d bought this house seen in background) had just died. Boxes of packed items sat all about, in the home. We hadn’t even unpacked everything yet, when he’d suffered a heart attack. He lived only two days.

The irony was:  The first party in this new home was supposed to be our wedding reception.

Now, I had to pick up the considerable pieces….

I didn’t feel I could cancel my brother’s party. People were coming from out of town and there’d be no time for our family to get another venue.

Instead, I threw myself into getting the yard and the house ready and baking 5 calzones (they ALL went, even before the caterer’s offerings, a caterer my older brother, sister, mother and I hired.)

That’s me in the swimming pool, wearing a turquoise bathing suit and a smile (disallowing most from knowing my true state.) This picture—and what it portrays–is testament to the reality that one can’t know what’s going on, in another, by outer appearance, for this was the year that almost broke me.

I’d already gone through terrible crises—a divorce from first husband, raising my first child alone, a second difficult marriage, culminating in a two-year terminal illness with that husband.

This became my 3rd. crisis.

My world (and that of my children) reverberated with terrible challenges.

But if you see this “happy pic” you’d never know it…….

From “In the Shadow of Princes” by Colleen Kelly Mellor

***And if you want to be alerted to new postings or future books, pls. sign up, at top right hand corner. Your email will go nowhere else–promise.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Watershed Moment–#70 is Here

palm springs...colleen and kerry in bathing suits

I can’t believe it…No, I’m serious. I REALLY can’t believe it. I am 70 years of age and basically fit enough to be still active…still travel…still be excited about life.

Now, why is that so darned unusual? 14 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, endured a 9-hour surgery (mastectomy) and ended up in Rhode Island Hospital’s ICU for two whole days. All I recall in that claustrophobic setting was towers of blinking lights beeping and reacting, tracking some poor soul’s (maybe my own) vital signs.

Staff thought I was checking out of this world and so did many in my family.

I didn’t. As a result, I have gone on to some of my most productive days in my 3rd. career— writing. The other two careers? Teaching for 30 years and real estate for another 8. All have given me knowledge and training that I now tap into when I write my Op-Eds for the Providence Journal or work on my 3 books.

But I’ve not released books about my own life, to date. That will change this year.

I am already a children’s book author. I write of my long-time partner, Paul’s experiences as long-haul trucker, traveling across America, for 30 years. Focus audience? Little kids 4-9 years old.

Our Grandpa and the Truck books have been heralded as “cool gifts for kids” by the top international, long-haul truckers’ union, OOIDA, since they speak accurately of a trucker’s life…his or her experiences…the challenges of weather, other drivers, geographic obstacles (mountain roads, city craziness, etc.) Purchase them– autographed by author (me)– at

We’re the only ones who have written such.

So, freelance writer, children’s book author and guest speaker to elementary audiences (our biggest audience was 200), I now look forward to branching out and completing my own books on a crazy life that has fulfilled in so many ways.

I’ll keep you posted as to a timeline of when I release the first.

If you wish to make certain you don’t miss release dates, please sign on to be notified, via e-mail. As always, I thank you for your support and enjoy hearing from you, too.

palm springs--I fan Amanda with palm leaf like Romans did
Top photo is older daughter Kerry Mellor and me; bottom is younger daughter, Amanda Mellor O’Connell and me. We had fun in Palm Springs, Calif., where they celebrated my watershed birthday.

As you can see, we make the most of the Gift of Time we’ve been given.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Not So Fast”–If You Consider Leaving Rhode Island

Thinking of leaving Rhode Island, to live elsewhere? Tired of poorly-realtor--bettermaintained roads, government mismanagement, and high taxes, when you know other states entice newcomers with no state income tax and a significantly-lower (or no) sales tax.

Why do you think so many retirees go elsewhere–especially to Florida? (yeah, it’s rhetorical.) It’s not because they want to play host to Disneyworld-seeking relatives.

What do I think of living elsewhere, especially in one’s senior years? I’ll give you my unvarnished report, based on our amazing, 9-year experience living in one of America’s ‘top retirement towns’—Asheville, North Carolina.

I’ll tell you how we decided about “Where?” and how we avoided common, costly pitfalls homebuyers in a new region make. Can you use this information if you buy in Rhode Island, too? Of course.

Why listen to my advice? After my 30 years in teaching, I became a top-ranked realtor, earning well over 6 figures, because a realtor’s job is a lot like teaching—we teach clients how to buy and/or sell homes.

Now, I share my knowledge with you, the public.

But I’ll give you more, too. I’ll tell you how to choose a condo/townhome unit from a vast array (no one else is going to share this important info with you.) I’ll tell you the pitfalls and advantages of communal living. I’ll show you how to self-sell and not get beaten-up, in the process, by realtors (remember, I was one).

I’ll offer hilarious insights as well.

I’ll tell you what might finally affect you, too, if you give up your home state for the lure of another….All considerations you might want to crunch in the hopper when you decide.

You see: It’s never just about seeking the balmy beaches of that southernmost tip when February’s harsh winds sink their teeth into our region.

This book will be useful for any who contemplate a move or even for those who aren’t sure about staying where they went.

My book--“The Asheville Experiment” is coming……………………….

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

If You’re ‘Weird,’ You Might Want to Go to Asheville

 sycamores ashevilleYep…it’s a place where ‘weird’ flourishes.

Consider the trees that run along Merrimon Ave. in the Beaver Lake district, of Woodfin. Their bark sprouts “barnacles” of sorts (remember, I’m from the Ocean State) or “warts.”

On a human, such would be considered “disfigurement.”

As trees, they’re considered ‘beautiful.’

They’re not accidental…they’re planted in rows, owing to some wise human(s) who saw their future value.

They shade the roadway and remind us of that talking pile of rocks in the childhood classic “The Neverending Story.” Sometimes I expect, they’ll talk to me (with Southern accent, no less.)

But they’re definitely silent witness to Beaver Lake joggers.. strollers…romantic couples who lie out, on blankets in the spring.

They probably know, too, why all those police cars from Asheville and nearby communities, line that same Merrimon Ave., along Beaver Lake, each spring– an annual rite of passage we never figured out (if you know, tell us…please and solve a mystery for all time.)

***I’ll be talking about more oddities and pleasures in the weeks ahead, as I complete “The Asheville Experiment,” the story of my husband’s and my 9-year sojourn in a town that consistently makes the list of “Top Retirement Towns of the United States.”

List your email address (in top right hand corner of this website,) if you don’t want to miss future teasers or date of book’s availability.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How the Enneagram Got Us to Asheville

The 9 Personality Types…Which are you?enneagram_alltypes

The Enneagram made me do it….

Move to Asheville, that is.

“How so?” you ask.

Well, according to the Enneagram (and its abbreviated, free test on the website,) I’m #8– a Challenger and pretty much, that’s what Asheville is—a counter-culture kind of place (they even have a coffee they tout, by that name.)

In a positive sense, I confront the norm—especially if I find it faulty. I’m not afraid to ‘fight the good fight.’ “The Challenger’s” also got its downside, but I’ll keep that private, for now. Let’s just say I am aware of my weaknesses.

I apparently answered to that vibe, as soon as we hit town. Only real problem? If a town’s full of challengers (I mean, look at the descriptive terms). It explains why I liked Asheville right off, when that never happened elsewhere. I guess one might say, the “law of attraction” was working, full-blown.

Wanna check what you are? Here’s the link (Take the free, shortened version.)

It’s like horoscopes, only better.

What personality type are you and do you agree with your assessment–or even mine, about Asheville?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I’ll Publish My First Book…Soon.

colleen--bestTwo years ago, I wrote a blog ( that focused on the good in this world. Because its theme was “encouragement,” I got categorized (by Google) with the “Born-again’s” and religious revivalists, tho’ I’m neither. I wrote 3 times a week and I had a really good readership…..

I began that blog,  following my husband’s “death experience” on that North Carolina mountain road (he survived the accident but the hospital experience almost killed him.) It’s been a tough climb back.

For the past two years, I’ve concentrated on getting my Op-Ed’s published (they appear in the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Providence Journal) and working on my books. Now, I write to tell you I’ll be releasing my first book in the months ahead.

On this website, I’ll tackle occasional other issues (like today’s “Mr. Holmes”) but mostly I’ll file snippets of longer stories that will appear in my books.

“The Asheville Experiment” (book I complete now) has invaluable information regarding how to choose a home–especially out-of-state, self-sale (saving thousands,) quirks/benefits/drawbacks of condominiums and townhomes, power players in those communities, how to sell your furniture to your best advantage, how to deal with closing attorneys, etc. (remember– I was a successful realtor.)

It’s not all instructional. Much of what I write is amusing or downright hysterical.

Finally, another of my books, “In the Shadow of Princes” tells how to recover (seriously, it’s possible) from negative  family dynamics. Again, humor is my weapon.

My books aren’t ready yet, but “The Asheville Experiment” will be first.

Now, enjoy my most recent post “Mr. Holmes”…and please, sign on in “Subscribe” area on top right. Just add your e-mail address; I promise: it won’t go anywhere else.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

“Mr. Holmes” Is a Sleeper

holmes and roger walking from beachBut it won’t put you to sleep..altho’ it might just lull you into thinking the movie industry can produce some fine work that elevates the human condition.

A “sleeper.” That’s what they used to call them—movies that just squirrel their way into your consciousness, to leave a lasting impression. They lack the hype of a “Star Wars” or “The Hunger Games” but they’re so much more satisfying.

Anyway, I just saw one. I’m referring to “Mr. Holmes,” that sweet movie that demonstrates a young boy and an old man can, indeed, be best friends.

Lord, it’s lovely.

In the movie, an aging Sherlock Holmes is in a state of despair, has lost friends to death, and has retired from the world to his seaside cottage, with only a widow housekeeper and her young son, Roger.

The boy is incredibly inquisitive and loves learning from Sherlock Holmes. The latter teaches him about bees and how to run the apiary on his grounds and even puts the boy in charge.

The most touching scenes for me are when the boy helps Holmes after the man falls (out of his bed, while reaching for something) or following their swim in the brisk ocean, when the boy steadies Holmes, as they walk back to the house.

Then, too, there are the quiet times when they’re just talking and enjoying each other’s company.  Absolutely charming.

Favorite quote from movie? When Holmes says “Sometimes the most unremarkable parents produce a most remarkable child” (or something like that.)

Cinematography? Gorgeous. I think those are the famed white cliffs of Dover in background.

I won’t spoil the finale but can only say I found this movie uplifting. I suggest it for grandparents and kids 10 and up who are sensitive types (it’s not an adventure flick with lots of noise, as are most films dubbed “Family entertainment” these days.)

Come to think of it: Maybe grandparents should bring insensitive kids to this movie; it might teach them it’s cool for people to empathize.

PS…The young boy actor (Milo Parker) who plays Roger is phenomenal, as is that perfect character actor, Ian McKellan (Holmes).

Here’s a link to Rotten Tomatoes review of this film. Watch it but don’t forget to answer my questions below….I’m really curious (almost as much as Roger.)

The pic below…Our grandsons and husband, poolside, engaged in quiet “man-talk” (he was telling them stories of his youth.) They sat, for over an hour, like this….

Maybe that’s why this movie resonated so–I know how important these old/young relationships are (click on pic to get better look.)

luke grandpa and sam poolside Man-talkingSo, tell me:  Did you see this movie yet?

Are you planning to?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 6 Comments

‘Typical’ Ashevillian? Hmmmm…..Let’s See…..

gunrunners tenn....oxymoron

“Gunrunners” and “Jesus”…Isn’t that an oxymoron?

The heads above, in my header picture, aren’t really talking…but I am. I’ll tell you about life in Asheville, as we experienced it. It’s a crazy region, filled with contradictions, as the gunrunner pic demonstrates (nearby emporium on Tennessee side, so technically, ‘not Asheville.’)

My columns in Asheville’s famous alternative newspaper, the Mountain Xpress, talk about our 9-year sojourn in this trendy little town.

But in my book, “The Asheville Experiment,” I go deeper, still.  Who’s it for? Anyone who’s planning to move in or out (of Asheville,) anyone who’s there already, or others who are intrigued at the thought of a couple settling into any region where they know no one (is that gutsy or crazy?)

As a career realtor,  I’ll share secrets, regarding how you can save on costly realtor commissions–anywhere.  But protect yourself at the same time. And I’ll tell you what to guard against, too, if you consider living in a community of townhomes or condos (yes, there’s a difference.)

But my subject matter’s not just about buying and selling homes, for we had one heck of a run in this delightful town.  No, I’m gonna tell you about  the food…the people…the sights. And I’ll lace my accounts with humor.

But there were hiccups, too (one was a damn near strangulation).

Click on this link to my Mountain Xpress article, explaining why husband and I never settled in Naples, Florida (the way so many did.) It’ll give you a taste of what’s to come.

Are you a current Ashevillian? Or are you just beginning to think about Asheville as your retirement town? (If so, you’re hardly alone. It makes the list of “Top Ten Retirement Towns in America,” practically every year.)

And if you’re close to being ‘almost-native,’ you’ll find familiar territory in my topics…and more than a few chuckles.

Buckle up on the Airstream seats…Some of the ride will be bumpy….


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“Loves” and “Hates” Regarding Asheville

mini donkeys in nCSee this inquisitive little fellow? He lived right across the street from us…in North Carolina.

If you’re ‘inquisitive’ about what’s in my upcoming book (cuz you or others will be looking for retirement community–or if you’ve heard what a neat place Asheville is), consider my book “The Asheville Experiment” when it’s available. It’ll have lots of tips on buying (especially in another state)..a ton of colorful information..interesting characters..mostly-fun episodes (remember, I’m a humorist.)

What You’ll Discover in “The Asheville Experiment” (Pssstttt!…Get the word out.)

1. How we chose Asheville, NC (culmination of a many-year search.)
2. Adjustment requirements to this quirky town set in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
3. Our townhome community…the “leaders,” growing pains, and all-out wars.
4. Too many rules? and possible consequences.
5. The mountain crash that “killed” one of us.
6. Why we decided to leave.
7. How we managed self-sale of our townhome, saving us $20,000 (you can do this, too.)
8. How we recuped on furniture expenditure.
9. Problems with lawyers and what we learned.

Why You’ll Love Asheville

1. If you’ve got a pet, you’re “in.” If not, get one—or two.
2. You can dress any old way you want. It’s encouraged.
3. You can experiment with Yoga—and do it cheaply.
4. You’ll find friends easily, for everyone’s from ‘away,’ unless they’re hill people from nearby (and they’re not interested in being your friend.)
5. Police can be summoned quickly, in emergency—too quickly, as I’d find.
6. New restaurants appear with great regularity; they also close with the same.
7. Two can eat out cheaply and often, and restaurants never blanch at “Oh, can you split the check 14 ways?”
8. The medic squads attract the handsomest people, leading some to probably self-inflict.

Why You’ll Hate Asheville

1. Outside of the main hub, one needs to travel considerable distances to other towns, with  little activity in between (OK, we’re from little Rhode Island.).
2. In New England, “Cove” suggests harbors and water. Not the case in Asheville.
3. Roads disintegrate from paved…to gravel…to cowpath…to “Dead End.”
4. GPS’s often doesn’t work in the mountains; the same with cell phones, resulting in dropped calls and long conversations with one’s self.

***See? The “loves” far outweigh the “hates.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Woah!!!…Exposes Galore in “The Asheville Experiment”

couch-rug-n-cUpdate? Well, we sold our townhome in Asheville, NC. The decision and move weren’t easy. We’d spent 5 months a year (wintertime) in one of the trendiest retirement towns in America for each of the past 9 years, a place where we’d built a new life.

In the end, we left.

Why’d we leave that Southern mountain enclave to return to a geographic location that got 3 feet of snow last winter? I get into all that in the book.

There, I cover the joys and problems of close community living in a townhome complex (with rules and regs.), the in-fighting, the adjustment to a Southern way of life. I mention the time we residents tried to find the ‘final resting spot’ of one of us (to pay anniversary tribute,) only to find the marker to his ‘grave’ moved. Or the time we rode all over town looking for the right Baptist church but ending up in the wrong funeral procession.

I tell of the process of selling our townhome by ourselves–thus saving approximately $20,000 realtor commission fee….and our disposing of an entire household of furniture. Some experiences,  such as our Craigslist sale of our Cabrio car to a Southern hill person, are hilarious.

In fact, much of the book is pretty amusing, altho’ some characters may not like how they’re portrayed (even if I do disguise them.)

Then, there were the lawyers….those we thought we paid to oversee the remainder of the deal. Not so funny but you’ll definitely want to know–if only to save yourself future problems.

So, these are just some of the topics. It’ll be a helpful guide to all who consider moving to another state, for they’ll probably repeat the process that saw us investigate coastal communities from Maine (Portland area) to Key West.

Going inland to Asheville was the end-result of a many-year process.

In the end, we came back home. My book will tell you why……

***Below is a pic of my Asheville women friends. I’m in the center (it was my Going-Away Party), wearing a green t-shirt with “Asheville Under Glass,” the name of the column I wrote for Asheville’s alternative newspaper, Mountain Xpress.

women friends--asheville..going away party

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments