Sunday, November 30, 2008

Home at last...

On the road again! We should be home sometime today! Yay! It's been quite a trip. I'll have my reflections on traveling later this week. In the meantime--blessings on your day!


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Online again...

I've spent a week off-line--not only internet/e-mail, but also cell phone. My folks live in a small town (whistle and you've passed it) deep in the country in Texas. My phone had no "bars". None. They don't have internet access so that also meant that I had no access to my e-mail. Hmmm. It was interesting. I only suffered minor withdrawal pains.

Instead of burying my nose in my computer, I napped, read, chatted, played my psaltery and even (shock of shocks) mulled over some story ideas. It was down time. For two weeks I've been on vacation with minimal writing (blogs only) and a lot of unwinding time.

Dare I admit that I'm anxious to get back to the writing? Tomorrow evening we'll finally reach home. After dragging all our vacation loot and dirty clothes up to our apartment, I'll no doubt be tempted to settle in front of the computer and get back to the stories, but I'm going to restrain myself and wait until Monday morning. I swear.

In the meantime, we'll be on the road today to Bull's Gap, TN. I'm not sure how the day will go, but we'll drive carefully and pray for a safe trip. On this 29th day of November, let us be thankful for safety on the road!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Heading Home

Black Friday! And we're on the road again! I don't understand how it always works, but I nearly always end up with more stuff than I started with. How does that happen? Am I the only one?

I have bags and bags of stuff. Tee shirts. Pictures. Christmas presents. Souvenirs. So we're heading home.

On this 28th day of November, let us be thankful for good times with friends and family.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful day! Travel safely. Visit well. Be thankful. On this 27th day of November let us be thankful for family and friends.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Shared memories

Heh. I can see you wondering what this picture is about. Today is my cousin's birthday. We are four days apart in age. I am the older one and therefore the smarter one... right? We were the only girls among the cousins for quite a while so we united against all those stinky boys.

So... Happy Birthday, Molly! May we share many, many more!

Wednesday in Texas. My parents don't feel well so our visit is quiet which is as it should be. Time spent together is the purpose of visiting, after all. I introduced my father to my new psaltery. Since he loves music, this has been most successful.

On this 26th day of November, let us be thankful for shared memories and lives.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Share the feast

Tuesday in Texas. Much warmer than it was in Oklahoma! My brother and sister-in-law will be coming over for dinner in a little while.

Most people have their Thanksgiving shopping done and perhaps have started their preparations for their feast. While Thanksgiving dinner is traditionally a turkey with the trimmings, many families I know eat ziti, ham, ribs, or even tacos for Thanksgiving. After all, the point is the meal shared--not what is consumed.

In our home, I'm not fond of turkey (and there is normally only two of us there for dinner) so we have a small one pound ham, red potatoes, and a vegetable. The thing that makes the dinner special for us is the honey oatmeal yeast rolls that I make. And the house hunk usually makes a marvelous carrot cake. Extra rolls and a large portion of the cake are shared with my neighbor.

What do you plan for dinner? Anything traditional within your family? Please share your family traditions.

On this 25th day of November, let us be thankful for the bountiful food we have in this country.
Even under the worst circumstances, we have more food available than in most other parts of the world. Plan to share what you have with those around you who are less fortunate.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Rest in Peace

Monday... in a short while we'll check out of our hotel in Greenville, TX and head for my folks house. Yesterday we took the scenic route from Oklahoma to Greenville. The scenic route was an effort to track down an errant cemetery for some of my ancestor's. The information I had was that the cemetery was located behind a small defunct rest area and was knee-high in weeds.

I'm thrilled to death to say that information is no longer correct. Above you can see a historical marker that now tells the history of the cemetery.
As you can see, the cemetery has been cleaned up and graves of unknown individuals are neatly marked with white crosses. The rest area has been replaced with a beautiful handicap accessible picnic area.
Above is the headstone of my great-great-grandfather. The stone was broken, but the caretakers have preserved it and the matching one for his wife, laid flat in the ground. At the foot of each stone, a new engraved stone is in place.

On this 24th day of November, I'm thankful for those volunteers who tirelessly care for the grave sites and cemeteries of strangers. So many family members live too far away to take care of their loved one's final resting place. Rest in peace.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

On the road again...

Had a great birthday! We're off to see the wizard... oops, wrong song. Anyway, have a wonderful day!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Logging off...

Well, for the next few days I will be offline as I spend the week with my parents. They don't have a computer, internet service, and the closest internet access (public) is about 25 miles away. It is most unlikely that I will be on the computer so I'll be writing and scheduling blogs for the week.

I hope you all will still stop by occasionally as I'll be looking forward to your comments when I get back to civilization. In the meantime, please have a fabulous, safe Thanksgiving if you are in the USA. If not, I still wish you a wonderful week.

Yesterday, I started off the day by getting a hair cut. Then we all went to visit relatives where we discussed family history and looked at pictures... old pictures. They sent me off with a pile of photos to copy and return the originals at my leisure. We also had a chat with their donkeys and walked around on the old home place (ca. 1890s).

Today we'll straighten up, pack most of our gear in preparation for taking off first thing Sunday morning. Later today, my aunt and uncle have invited some more relatives over for dinner in honor of my birthday. Yep. Today I'm another year older. I've finally reached the stage when it's a good thing to have another birthday!

Odds and ends: Gas in Norman, OK. $1.63/gal. Today is the big OU/Texas Tech game here. Traffic is unbelievable. Weather is 38 F.

On this 22nd day of November, I'm very thankful to reach another birthday!


Friday, November 21, 2008


Ah, vacation! Temps fell sharply yesterday. Last night it was below freezing. Plunging temperatures didn't prevent us from gadding about. We went out with my Aunt to pick up her turkey from her employer. Then we drove by old homeplaces where my family members have lived in the past.

Next we stopped at the Rock House in Noble, OK--home of the rose rock. Good thing we don't go on vacation often as we splurged on souvenirs there. One that I'll mention is a shirt that declares that I'm older than dirt. That's appropriate enough as it was dyed using the local red dirt.

We rounded out the evening by dining at the Rib Crib (all you can eat ribs!) Delicious. Good thing that we don't go on vacation often or the househunk would have to roll me along like a barrel.

I finished off the night by working on FLEs (final line edits) for Magnolia, the next Flowers of Camelot book--coming out 12/12! Yay!

Today? More visiting with family members. A quick zip through the Wal-Mart. Possibly a little more sightseeing. Mostly... just chillin'.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Examining the Evidence

After watching a zillion hours of crime shows, I am now qualified to gather evidence... right? Right? Probably not.

In the past week I've watched CSI (all it's incarnations), Cold Case, Without a Trace, Bones-- and others that I no longer remember the titles for. I have a question. Why do they use a flashlight in a room that has perfectly working lights? Why do they use a flashlight inside of cars that are sitting in the sun? Is it magic? Does the flashlight use some special light?

Then there are all the weird things the characters do that their real counterparts would never do. Since when do CSI techs interview suspects? Huh?

Or... since when do detectives move evidence at a murder scene before the CSIs process it? Aren't there procedures that are supposed to be followed? Isn't the detective the one who is supposed to analyze the evidence after the CSIs process it?

Maybe it would take too many hours and too many characters for them to do it correctly on television series. Imagine how disappointed some kid will be when he decides he wants to be a detective and only finds out after the fact that he will be expected to follow the rules.

I have to admit that it's been an interesting week. But I think I've seen enough crime shows to last me for a few more years. I think I'm ready to move on to some good books.

Yesterday we drove to the top of a mountain and looked out at the surrounding smoky blue mountains as they marched into the distance. It was wondrous. Then we stopped at Heavener Rune State Park where I walked down into a canyon and marveled at marks left by Vikings' hands fifteen hundred years ago. Good thing I took pictures. I don't reckon I'll be able to make it down that trail again. The knees and ankles are still protesting.

We stopped in Henryetta, Oklahoma for lunch and gas. Odd things... The Sonic was not permitted to have an outdoor trash can due to a town ordinance. Seems that trash cans attract flies. When I asked where we were supposed to put our trash, the waitress graciously offered to take care of it.
At the gas station, we discovered that gas was $1.71/gal. Think that's our new low price for this trip. Also the cigarettes were $3.80 a pack unlike New York where my daughter reports paying $8/pack. So, yay, Henryetta!

Finally arrived at my aunt and uncle's home where we were served a delicious dinner before settling in for a nice visit. On this 20th day of November, let us be thankful for safe travelling!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On the road again

Well, my visit with my son is drawing to a close. Sometime later this morning we'll be on the road on our way to Oklahoma. On the way we'll stop at the Rune State Park. Back in the 700s Viking explorers journeyed down the Mississippi River Valley. They carved their names in an enormous rock slab. So I'm stopping by there to take a picture.

Before that we'll probably stop by the local castle. And another stop at the local crystal and rock shop. Oh yeah, we're also going to drive to Oklahoma.

Last night we had a great steakat the Branding Iron! And a yummy piece of pecan pie. Well, I need to get on the road. Talk to you tomorrow! On this 19th day of November let us be thankful for blue skies and excellent weather!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Down Time

Vacation day number six. Fifteen hours of television. Four hours of shopping at the local Wal-Mart. Three books read. Good food. Delicious snacks. Plenty of rest.

My commentary for the day: Commercials on USA television are insane, frankly unbelievable, and in some cases incredibly stupid. I don't understand how people listen to hour after hour of commercial dreck. Really.

I thought of couple more new story lines. And petted some fabulous puppies. So overall its been a productive day. On this 18th day of November let us be thankful for down time. You can't ever tell what you might accomplish.


Monday, November 17, 2008


Day two of television. Cartoon channel in the middle of the night. That's vacation.

Read several books yesterday. Wrote my blog for OhGetaGrip. Yawned some. Ate three meals.

AJ, I'm unwinding! Y'all have a good weekend.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happines is a Warm Fire

Hi! We arrived at my son's home near 4 PM after a wonderful day on the road with beautiful scenery, bright sunny skies, and cold blustery winds. The last two hours on the road were in the Ouachita Mountains where the roads were mostly steep and curvy. But the gorgeous colors were priceless.

My son's girlfriend breeds tiny dogs, yorkies and malteses. There are a LOT of doggies running around here, including two tiny precious puppies that are only three days old. I don't think I've ever seen so many dogs!

When we stopped for lunch yesterday at the Rib Crib, I was reading on my Sony e-reader. Pretty soon I had a curious group of wait persons standing around watching me demonstrate my e-reader. When they dispersed, the manager came over and chatted while he checked it out. Watching the wonder on their faces as I showed them all the bells and whistles was so much fun. I admit that I passed out my cards to one and all, too.

Thought of a couple more ideas for stories and took some more pictures for scene references. This has been a great trip so far. I've learned that there still isn't anything on television. And the weather channel isn't any better. And the cartoon channel has some weird stuff on late at night on a segment called Adult Swim. Very strange...

On the other hand, HGTV has some really odd stuff, too and seems to obsess about selling houses. I wonder why they never have any segments where they decorated an apartment where they're not allowed to paint the walls or make any renovations (including the carpet) due to lease restrictions. What would they change then?

My son has a wood-burning stove for heat in his mobile home. And it's very cold this morning! So we'll see if we need a puppy to keep us warm or not!

In any case, this is the 16th of Novemeber and on this Sunday let us be grateful for the opportunity to visit with loved ones at every chance!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Coming over!

Day two began at 7:00 AM. This girl is used to getting up around nine-ish. So right off the bat I was... cranky. Then we walked outside. Ugh. Fog. Lots of heavy, solid fog. Visibility less than 1/4 mile. The fog lasted until eleven o'clock. By then we were rolling through Nashville.

Travel went really well, even with the fog. At the Memphis city limits, the sky opened up and poured on us, but traffic was light so we breezed through town, crossed over the wide Mississippi and headed for interior Arkansas. Arrival at our hotel? 4:30 PM. Not bad!

Today we'll arrive late afternoon at my son's place. Yay!

I have to say that Tennessee has fabulous drivers. We traveled the width of the state without incident. No aggressive drivers. No accidents slowing down traffic. Just smooth travel with generous drivers who willingly made room for the "out-of-state" driver who always seemed to be in the wrong lane. Tennessee, I salute you! On this 15th day of November let us be thankful for generous, polite fellow drivers!


Friday, November 14, 2008

Good News

Yesterday morning we were up and on the road by 5:30 AM. By 7:30, we were well on our way and decided to stop for breakfast. Immediately, it began to rain. Hard. And it rained until well after noon. The clouds were so low that the mountain peaks were sticking up above them. At one point I pointed out a big cloud of black smoke out in front of us. The house hunk corrected my impression. The black cloud was a mountain top... a high mountain top!

By four o'clock we arrived at our hotel in Knoxville. While I read and practiced on my new psaltery (an early birthday present), the house hunk played his computer game and we just relaxed. We're having to learn how to do that.

I'm suffering withdrawal from having no computer time! And the laptop doesn't have all my links so I have some blogs I haven't found yet today. We'll see if I can locate them when I have some time at my son's house.

When I called home, my friend shared wonderful news! Her roommates most recent medical report was all clear. Excellent news!

More good news--my daughter received a promotion which included a raise, new job title, and an office! What wonderful news for this time of the year, especially!

And finally, a dear friend had a birthday! Hey! Happy birthday! You know who you are! Many, many more.

So on this 14th day of November let us be thankful for the shared good news!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

On the Road

By 5:30 AM the house hunk and I will be on the road. Yes, we'll be tooling down the freeway on our way west. It's a three day trip to our first destination, my son's home in Arkansas. After visiting there a few days, we'll drive on to my Aunt and Uncle's home in Oklahoma. And then about five days later, we'll move on to my parents in Texas. Sigh. Then on Black Friday, we'll head home.

Every time we travel across this same route, I'm continually amazed that my ancestors did it on foot and by horse drawn wagon. How on earth did they keep going day after day? In some places the majority of the land is perpendicular. What must it have been like for them to hope and pray that they made fifteen or twenty miles?

I remember traveling (by car, of course...I'm not that old!) back when all roads were two lanes with hills and curves and tiny towns where you had to slow down to twenty miles an hour. It's amazing that people traveled as much as they did.

I suspect that the youngsters don't realize how very blessed we are to have a wonderful Interstate system of freeways that allow us to travel from coast to coast in relative comfort.

So while I'm rolling down the road, admiring the scenery let us be thankful on this 13th day of November for the highways that take us to all those new places and allow us to spend time with our families.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Time is short...

A dear friend of mine lost her mother yesterday. For the first time in a long time, I find that I have no words... no words of comfort, only grief and love for my friend.

On this 12th of November let us be thankful for the comfort and love of friends.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Love a Vet

Today is Veteran's Day. Contrary to what some think, this day was not set aside for shopping, a day off from school, or a day off work. It was actually set aside to honor veterans. Whether living or dead, this is the day we are supposed to take time to appreciate the sacrifices they've made and to offer our thanks.

So I'm wondering when we do this... When is the last time any of us have shaken a veteran's hand and said, "Thank you." No parade. No big to-do. Just a simple heart felt thank you. I have several veterans in my family. Seems like today might be the day to acknowledge their contributions.

My dad was in the Air Force in the late forties. He was a plane mechanic on a base in Arizona. Dad, thank you for keeping the planes up and running for the pilot's training. I appreciate your hard work.

My father-in-law was in the Navy during World War II in the Pacific. Pops, thank you for joining up and fighting in a nasty difficult war. I appreciate your hard work and the time you were away from home.

My cousin was in the Green Berets in Vietnam. Two tours of duty. Jack, thank you for going and fighting. Thank you for not giving up on America when we didn't appreciate your sacrifice. Thank you.

Another cousin was in the Coast Guard at the tail end of the war. Not many people realize that the CG is part of our military and that often it's more dangerous than other assignments. Molly, thank you.

My son was in the Navy for eight years. He finished his last tour the year after 9/11. He was stationed at the submarine base in Connecticut, responsible for 24 hour turn arounds for our subs as they guarded our shores from terrorists. Thank you, Tony. I'm glad you're safe now.

How about you? Do you have someone to thank? Speak up and let us know! On this eleventh day of November, let us be thankful for our veterans!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Grin and Bear It

"Smile! You're on Candid Camera!" I remember watching that show back when I was much younger. What drew us to that show? Laughter. Personally I never got into those funny video shows because I didn't find them funny. And most of the sit-coms are so unfunny that they put a laugh track on them so we'll know when to laugh.

When's the last time that you laughed with genuine joy and humor? Do you remember? It occurred to me that I haven't laughed in a while. I've smiled. I've grinned. But I haven't laughed that belly laugh that makes your ribs hurt and your eyes water. Does that mean that there's nothing worthy of laughter?

Or have we become so jaded that we've forgotten how to laugh? I think that part of it is that laughter has gotten mean. We don't laugh at innocent things anymore. Have you noticed that so many of the movie laughs are based on laughing at instead of laughing with the characters?

Back in the sixties, Disney came out with a wonderful string of non-animated films that were hilariously funny. I still love watching them. Parent Trap (the original), With Six You Get Eggroll, Apple Dumpling Gang. So many more...

How about the John Wayne movie McClintock? Or the James Garner movie Support Your Local Sheriff? Every time I think about James Garner's character facing the gunslinger in the center of town with nothing in his hands but a bunch of rocks, I have to laugh.

What about books? I love reading books that make me laugh. Open Season by Linda Howard has a scene that makes me laugh so hard that I cry... no matter how many times I read it! Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer is one book that I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair. Hmmm. I need to pull that one out and read it again!

This week in all the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays, find the opportunity to laugh. Really laugh hard. Because laughter is one of God's greatest gifts. On this 10th day of November let us be thankful for laughter. It really is the best medicine!


Sunday, November 9, 2008


As a youngster I read all the usual suspects... Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Little House on the Prairie, Bobbsey Twins, Dick and Jane. But I also read science fiction and fantasy. Tom Swift. Mark Twain. Jules Verne. Aldous Huxley.

As I moved on into adulthood, I found myself drawn more and more into those imaginary worlds where anything and everything was possible. Small wonder that most of my writing falls into that broad genre labeled paranormal.

Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal--all offer opportunities for writers to explore the limits of their imaginations. Perhaps that is the attraction for me. The lack of limits allows me to write stories where the impossible is not only possible, but even likely. Animals can talk. Plants can think. Space travel is common. Grass is purple and pine trees are red. People are blue.

The limitless imagination is a priceless gift. The opportunity to spin a story from it is wondrous and precious. On this ninth day of November let us be thankful for the gift of imagination.


Saturday, November 8, 2008


"I have no friends!" my granddaughter cried. Her parents are quite strict and she lives in a dangerous neighborhood so she's not allowed outside without supervision. They hope to move to a better neighborhood soon. But in the meantime... So we had a talk. Turns out that she was complaining that she wasn't allowed to run around with her friends unsupervised. I side with her parents on this.

But it started me thinking about friendship and how we define a friend. What changes our definition from "a woman/man I know" to "my friend"? How do we make that shift--and why?

Some would say it's based on commonality of interests. I'm not convinced that's it. I think that two very different people can be friends. Two people of disparate interest, educational backgrounds, even age, can build a close friendship. I suspect that it is a shared spirit. In the worst case, two negative individuals forge a friendship wherein their mutual negativity feeds off each other. It's a destructive relationship from the beginning. In the best case, two individuals build a wonderful relationship which supports and encourages both of them. Most of us end up somewhere in the middle.

Friendship can be short, long or intermittent. I have a friend that I talk to about every two or three years. That's the way our lives have gone. We've been friends since we were eighteen-year-old newlyweds. If I pick up the phone tomorrow, we can take up our conversation where we last left off. I don't have to explain things to her or apologize for my feelings because she understands. We are friends.

I move frequently and that means that I sometimes have to leave friends behind. But for that time period that I lived in that place, those friends and I had shared experiences we can look back on with smiles. We were friends.

When I arrive at a new place, I face the prospect of making new friends. Fortunately in this place I have a wonderful friend and neighbor close by. We've shared some interesting times as I've become a published writer. She's my cheerleader and coach when I'm feeling blue. She's my confidant. She's my friend.

Friends are a priceless gift. On this eighth day of November let us be thankful for friends--past, present, and future.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Male model

If women were to provide a list of characteristics for the ideal man, on that list somewhere would be "good father". But the definition of a good father is harder to pin down. My own definition is shamelessly stolen from a Jayne Ann Krentz book--Grand Passions. The hero tells a younger man that the most important qualification for a father is to "just show up."

In an era of absentee fathers, divorced fathers, it-was-too-much-so-I- split fathers, and I'm-tired-of-the-responsibility fathers, those words take on deeper meaning. Just show up. Be there. Be there for the ups, downs, and middle ground. Be there for the triumphs and the failures... for the joy and the sorrow.

It takes a special man to be a father. Biology is not required, but love and discipline are. Providing an example for a child is so much harder than any other job. As a popular country songs says..."I'm watching you..." Yes, our children are.

Children look to their mothers for comfort and the softness in their lives, but they look to their fathers for stability. He provides the sturdy platform for their life. He shows them by his example exactly what a man should be. If he treats his wife shoddily, then that's what his children will think is the correct way. If he demonstrates love and how to share responsibilities, then that's what his children will learn.

Does he value books? Does he have a personal moral code? Does he pick up after himself? Does he pitch in with the chores? Every action is evaluated as our sons strive to emulate their fathers and our daughters make mental notes for the future when they're looking for their own men.

Fathers. The backbone of the family. On this seventh day of November, let us give thanks for the men who have taken up the responsibilities of fatherhood, whether they're father, uncle, grandfather, stepfather or foster father.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Man's Best Friends

Some of the most enduring characters in fiction have been animals. One of the first books I remember reading as a young teenager was White Fang by Jack London. Animals, for whatever reason, engage our hearts.

When I was very young--maybe three or four--my father brought home a puppy. We named him Rover. I have no idea what kind of dog he was. He looked like a small version of Lassie. We had Rover until I was eleven. Rover had wandering paws. Intermittently, restlessness took over and he would wander off. Well of course after a while my brothers and I would hanker for a new dog. And dogs were plentiful back then so we inevitably ended up with a new pet. Within a few weeks, Rover would reappear. And within a few weeks after that, something would happen to the new dog! Perhaps it would run in front of a car. Or whatever. But Rover always ended up as the only dog. Looking back on it, that was just scary.

When my kids were in their early teens, we went through the hamster stage. One of the kids had a tiny gray teddy bear lady hamster named Whiskers. One day Whiskers was in an adventurous mood and jumped out of my daughters hands, landing on the floor with a thump. It was clear that her back was injured. In the weird way that these things happen, she became my hamster. Whiskers lived nearly four years. Yep. She was a very old lady hamster when she died. I reckon she lived so long because no one touched her except me. I could hold her in my hand while I watched TV. When she got tired, she curled up in my palm and took a nap.

When we lived in Texas, we had a parade of cats and dogs. One day my son came home with a tiny gray tiger kitten with no tail. He claimed that he found the kitten playing in the intersection on the next block over and fearing that a car would hit it, he picked it up and moved into someone's yard. Then when he walked home, the kitten followed him. Heh. We had Patti for seventeen years. She was a gentle loving cat. When we were transferred from Texas to New York, she also became an extraordinarily well traveled cat. The house hunk's company boarded her until we had a place to live. Then she was flown to New York. The house hunk collected her from the Newark Airport, and in succession, she rode on a train, a bus, and finally a car (two hours total!) to get to our new home. Most nights she slept on my pillow and kept my ears warm in the winter.

Animals of whatever species become part of our lives. On this sixth day of November let us be thankful for all the wondrous variety of animals God gave us... especially the ones who have served as members of our families past, present, and yes, in the future.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let Freedom Ring!

Whoever you voted for yesterday, I hope you exercised your right to vote. It's just one of the freedoms we celebrate on this fifth day of November. There are quite a few that I believe are important... like the freedom to read whatever I want to read. Or the freedom to work wherever I can get a job.

Freedom is sort of a catchy word that people worry about using when it appears that their freedoms might be taken away. Most of the time people don't worry about freedom, otherwise. You might even say that they take it for granted.

Genealogy tends to narrow the focus to individual people who are responsible for our freedom. In my family there was a man who walked over a hundred miles with his company through mountainous terrain so that he could guard the Hudson River crossing at Newburgh, New York against the British. Across the border in Connecticut, his brother died in a skirmish with the British on his eighteenth birthday. In South Carolina another young man--just sixteen--held off a British raiding party. He protected his mother and siblings and just incidentally protected supplies for the American troops.

When we think about the early forefathers in our country, we tend to think of people like George Washington and John Adams or even Thomas Jefferson. But the truth is that most of the forefathers were everyday people who were willing to fight for what they believed was right. Most of them were farmers. Many went off to war, leaving women and children behind to hold on to that farm.

We're very fortunate that we've not had a war in our country in well over a hundred years. Yes, our men and women have gone someplace else to fight, but the battleground hasn't been here. But because of our good fortune, we don't always appreciate what we have. Our fields are not burning. Our women and children are not suffering rape and murder. We do not have to worry about fighting our neighbors--or even our brothers.

So it's easy to stand back, criticize our government, and loudly declare that we have rights! Yes we do, thanks to generations of men and women who have fought for them. On this day, fifth of November, let us be thankful for those who paid for our freedom.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The sound of Music

Music. It's part of our lives from the first lullabies that sooth us as newborns to the last song at our funerals. Melodies evoke memories like nothing else--except perhaps special scents.

Funny how memories just jump up and grab you. I remember riding in the back seat of the family car... a dark starry night in the Arizona desert singing Purple People Eater. Heh. I bet no one even remembers that song.

Then there were the sock hops in eighth grade. One particular song was very popular. Patches. Do I remember the words? Nope, but the melody still calls up memories of standing against the wall and wishing that I had someone to dance with. For that matter, wishing I knew how to dance. I was a gawky, brainy girl that word glasses and was the Baptist minister's kid.

When my mother died, I helped pick out the music for the funeral. One special hymn I love to this day is Abide With Me. It still calls forth memories of standing next to that grave, wondering what would become of my family.

Who doesn't understand the tug of memories when we sing Happy Birthday? Or Twinkle, twinkle little star? Or Away in a Manger? All around us, lasting impressions fill our hearts with the whisper of a melody.

Next month we'll plunge into the Christmas rush with the burst of Christmas carols both religious and secular. More than any other thing connected to the holidays, the strains of carols snap us into place.

Music. There's something for everyone. On this fourth day of November let us be thankful for the gift of music. Share your favorite tunes!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Hands that rock the cradle

In a couple weeks I'll be traveling across country to visit with my parents. In the United States, we celebrate Mother's Day in May with much hoopla, gifts and cards. But then, for whatever reason we sort of take them for granted. My stepmother will be eighty this year. As frightening as the concept is, I know that our time together is limited.

She came into my life the year I was eleven. I was a wild child, rude and angry because my mother had died the year before in a car accident. I certainly didn't want some strange woman telling me what to do, how to dress or any of the other important things that this woman tried desperately to pass on to me.

Things like courtesy and dressing neatly, cleanliness and respect for my elders. It was due to my stepmother's urging that I wrote to my grandparents and aunt and uncle who lived far away in Arizona. That's no small accomplishment when one of the correspondents is a mulish eleven-year-old.

She was terribly mean. She made me go to bed early. She expected good grades. And I had to do chores every week. When I finally graduated from high school and had a full time job, I was expected to pay rent!

When we were younger, she read a chapter each evening before we went to bed from a collection of Christian YA books. The stories were very exciting and we eagerly looked forward to the new chapter each evening. I still remember the last name of the family in the books--Jolly.

Though it no doubt was a pain on the ears, she made sure that I practiced the piano an hour every day. I played the piano for many years and that musical background has stood me in good stead all these years later.

I look forward to our visit even as I know that it will possibly be our last visit. Joy and grief. Memories and sorrow. Funny how they walk hand in hand. On this third of November let us be thankful for the women who had to courage to bear us for nine months and for those who raised us. Often those are not the same women as in my own case. Let us be thankful for the mothers, aunts, grandmothers, stepmothers and foster mothers who stand in the breech, doing whatever has to be done, teaching us the things we have to know to be worthy adults.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Small things

It's amazing how small things tug at our hearts. Little children, baby animals all yank on those heart strings when we confront them. I can be in the crummiest mood and see a baby or puppy or kitten and ah, there's a smile. Somehow I can't keep it in.

Perhaps it's because they're so obviously helpless. Even cross-species as in the picture above, the mature animal understands that vulnerability. My daughter's dog nursed three kittens who ended up in her home before they were really ready to be weaned. It was pretty odd to watch them all snuggled up against her belly.

I think that we also appreciate the innocence of the very young. We both yearn for and fear that innocence because we know all the pitfalls in the life ahead. Don't we vow to protect them as long as possible? Doesn't the heart squeeze when we think of anything hurting them?

I think that God gives us small things to keep us from becoming too cold, too full of pride, too lonely. I know my own experience when after many years of feeling angry and resentful, God sent me a tiny granddaughter to live in my home. The thing was, there was so much love for her that it squeezed out those negative feelings.

So on this second day of November, let us be thankful for the small things around us.


Saturday, November 1, 2008


Officially the beginning of Thanksgiving month. There are a lot of things to be thankful for..... beginning with Pumpkin Pie!

Have a great weekend!


Oh, yeah! I have a new poll up. Tell me who you are!