Friday, April 24, 2015

After several warm days, I became used to the warm, near-summer temperatures. I was lulled into a relaxed feeling of winter weather is past. I stored the winter coats and was thinking about pulling off the flannel sheets washing and storing them. Wednesday God showed me that my assumption was flawed. He hadn’t. The morning was chilly, rainy, and dreary. The temperature dropped and it began to snow.
At other times in the year, it would have looked beautiful. It might even have been welcomed with open arms, but after being teased by the warmth and sunshine of a hoped-for spring, it was an unwelcome surprise.
The snow started slowly, then as the morning progressed, the snow became heavier and thicker. The flakes fell faster and grew larger. It was a heavy snow that compressed on itself piling up until there was an inch on the car and the grass.
My recently blooming flowers were covered with the thick white blanket. The only good thing that I could see from it was at night the temperature dropped below freezing and the coverlet of snow protected them. The tender blooms, warm beneath the snowy blanket.
I was used to going outside and dealing with an icy wind and frigid temperatures, but I was spoiled and cringe about the thought of going outside until the sun has warmed the air and invited me to come outside and play. I’ve been spoiled.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Finishing Up

I’m finishing my last reviews of the stories in my newest book. I am torn between allowing it to stand as it is or to try for another murder in it. The themes for the stories are for the most part, recollections of murder mysteries that happened while Tommy Two Shoes was a homicide detective for the Pittsburgh police.

Each story is fictitious as is the character Tommy, but in my fertile, creative mind he exists and solves the crimes with his partner Duffy and his help from the deceased Uncle Aidan LeClerc.

He is retired and cannot be involved in murders now, but each recollection of an odd crime scene or odd death is triggered by something that happened at home.

His newly acquired family is snug at home. It is nearing the Christmas season. The home is decorated for his wife Cora, his mother-in-law, Anna, and newly adopted son, Johnny. The tree is up and the mistletoe is hung. Little Johnny’s stocking is on the fireplace. Everything is ready for the arrival of…past recollections of the murders.

His partner, Duffy and Tommy solve them by following clues they find or by obtuse clues shared with them by Uncle Aidan. Each crime gets a holiday title because of the warped sense of humor that Duffy has.

Tommy’s divorce from his first wife leaves him despondent during some of these crimes. The pressure from the job and the demands of his first wife were what caused the divorce. Tommy had to choose and his dedication to his profession won out.

These were all memories. Now, he has a new family. Retired he has time for them and is just starting to do some writing of his memoirs and beginning private eye work to keep himself busy.

Monday, April 20, 2015

America’s Sins

There was a time in America's history that it was a God fearing country. The first men and women came to our shores seeking religious freedom, searching for the ability to worship God without interference from a king or government.  The foundation of the Constitution was based on biblical principles that God almighty decreed in His Word. The Constitution of the United States is the document that separates a freedom loving people from the peoples from the rest of the world.
America has been blessed and the face of God has looked favorably on our nation and helped our country to become a powerful entity. God has allowed our country to intervene when evil dictators attempted to rule the world. America has given the lives of its men and women to secure liberty for those who were being oppressed.
Year after year, Americans have turned their backs on God and year after year, God has been saying, “I love you. Come back to me.” The government has been straying from the principles on which our nation was created. Too many politicians have come to rely on their strength and wisdom instead of seeking the face of God, the source of all wisdom and strength.
Morality is on the decline and depravity is on the rise. Governmental legislated morality changes nothing. If the heart is not changed, laws will do little to restrain evil or to limit its effects.
God has been showing His displeasure by increasing the frequency of earthquakes and weather disasters. When mankind is unwilling to recognize the Creator of the Earth and the weather and gives credit to “Mother Nature” or “Climate Change” it will only increase. When men do not give Him the credit for His Creation nor do they see it as a pronouncement of judgment, God will continue to judge those people or will allow that nation to be brought down in defeat.
History shows that when a country removes God from its daily life, other than to think of Him as a servant; only to be called on when something is needed, that country fails. God will use the same hands that He delivered the years of blessings to also deliver the wrath of His judgment to the people of that nation.
It is time for Americans to be less proud and more humble. God is the only strength and refuge in times of trouble and fear. He is our buckler and our sword. God can bless America again if only we turn to Him and seek his forgiveness and face.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The grand finale to Pocket Change

A sly smile crept across Norman’s face “It all starts when you find the right stone. Some of them are magic.”
But before Norm could say anything more or before Frank could ask any more questions, they heard Aunt Rose calling, “Frank! It’s time to go.”
“I’m coming Mom,” Frank turned and began to walk along the stream. Norman watched as Frank would take a few steps, bend over and pick something up, before taking a few more and bending over again.
Trixie and Norman followed behind. By the time they caught up with Frank, he was standing beside his mom at the car. When Norman saw that both of Frank’s pants pockets were full and bulging with stone, he could hardly keep from laughing.
“All right, let’s get in the car. It’s time to go,” Aunt Rose leaned over to hug and kiss Norman. “We’ll be back soon, I promise.”
As Frank started to climb into the car, he stopped and grabbed at his pockets. Aunt Rose just picked him up and sat him on the passenger seat.
Norman waved as they drove off. Trixie chased the car down the driveway.
There in the dust, was a small pile of “Lucky stones.” Norman picked up one that had rolled almost next to his feet. He looked at it and broke out with a big grin. “Frank picked up so many rocks that they must have poked a hole in his pocket.” Norman thought. The smile became a soft chuckle. I think I finally impressed Frank.”
“What are you smiling about Norman and what is that in your hand?” she asked.
“Just some pocket change, Mom. Just some pocket change.”
I hope you enjoyed one of the children's stories.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pocket Change Part 2

The barn was filled with sweet smelling hay. In seconds, the two boys had climbed into the hay loft. Trixie began to whine at being left behind. “Trixie, be quiet. You can’t come up and you don’t need to see the kittens.” They crawled farther into the mow and peeked into the nest. Frank lifted his hand and started to reach toward the nest.
 “Don’t touch,” Norman cautioned.
“I’m just counting them,” Frank pouted, then began to count, “One, two, three… uhm, I see six kittens.”
They watched for a few minutes until Muffy came back and hissed at the two of them. They backed away, slid down from the hay loft, and sped away in search of other things to do with Trixie close on their heels.
Norman showed Frank the other animals; the cows, the pigs, and the chickens. He didn’t seem to be impressed with anything. Soon the heat chased them into the cooling shade of the nearby woods. Just at the edge of the trees, along the bank of the stream, Norman saw a round black stone. Kids called these smooth rocks “lucky stones” and this one seemed to shine in the sun. Norman bent over and picked it up. The smooth stone felt hot on the palm of his hand.
Frank pressed close and asked, “What did you find?”
Opening his hand, Norman showed Frank the smooth, dark stone.
“It’s nothing but an old rock,” Frank said. It hurt Norman’s feelings.
Nothing that Norman had said or done seemed to please his cousin, because Frank said, “He was a city boy and there was nothing a country boy could do that would impress him.”
Norman stuffed the stone deep into the left pocket of his overalls. The stone clicked on something that was already in the pocket. He slipped his fingers deeper to see what he had in there. When he pulled his hand out and opened it, there was a bright red marble on his palm.
“How did you do that?” Frank gasped in surprise. His eyes opened wide as he stared at the marble.
“Do what?” Norm asked, not sure exactly what he had done.
“How did you change the color of that rock?” Frank said as he pointed to the marble.
It was almost the same shape and size as the rock. Norm chuckled as he remembered something he had in his right hand pocket. “Watch this.” He dropped the marble into his pocket, delving deeper to pull out a large steel ball bearing. Norman opened his hand and when Frank saw the shining, silver ball bearing, he pointed and cried, “That’s magic. How did you do that?”
Once again Norman remembered something he kept in the back pocket of his jeans. “That’s nothing. Watch this.” He slipped his hand into his back pocket and released the ball bearing. When his hand reappeared, the ball bearing was gone and in its place was a bright, shiny quarter.
“Wow, Norman, that’s great. Tell me how you do that,” Frank pleaded.
“I can’t tell you, it’s a secret,” Norm whispered, his eyes twinkling with mischief. He moved the quarter to his other hand and thrust it into the front left pocket. He allowed the quarter to slip from his fingers and grasped the smooth black stone that had started it all. When Frank saw the stone, he begged, “Come on Norm. We’re cousins. You can tell me. Show me how, please.”

Today is the first post in a three part story. I wrote it
Pocket Change
                Norman was a curly haired, rosy cheeked boy who lived on a small farm with his mom and dad. His dad raised chickens, pigs, and a few cows. There was never a time on the farm when there were no cats around the barn and Norman had a dog. Trixie was his canine companion and followed him everywhere, helping with the chores.
                The farm had a small orchard and large garden. It was Norman’s job to keep the weeds out of the garden and it was Trixie’s job to keep the animals out. Although Norman spent a lot of time on chores, he did have some free time. That is when he and Trixie would explore the open fields and nearby wooded glen. They found secret places to play among the rocks and trees. They splashed in a little stream that tumbled through the woods and raced across the fields.
“Norman, Norman Lee,” he heard his mom’s voice calling. Norman had been in the barn looking for Muffy, one of the barn cats. She had a litter of kittens and he had just found her nest. He slid down out of the hay mow.
“Coming Mom. I’ll be right there,” he yelled as he hurried from the barn.
Parked in the driveway was a shiny black car. His mom and another lady were standing beside it. The other lady looked a lot like his mom. Drawing closer, he could see a boy about his own age standing with them. His hair was so blond; it looked almost white in the bright summer sun.
Trixie ran ahead and stopped by Norman’s mom. She absent-mindedly scratched Trixie’s head while they waited for Norman to catch up.
“This is your aunt Rose and your cousin Frank. You haven’t seen them since you were just a baby. They are visiting for a few hours. You two boys can play together while I visit with your aunt Rose. Show him around the farm and have some fun.”
“Great Mom,” Norman said as he grabbed Frank’s hand and shook it. Trixie ran around the two of them barking. She seemed to know that they were going exploring.
“Come on Frank. Let me show you something that I just found.” They started walking toward the barn.
“I just found Muffy’s new kittens. We have to be quiet and we can’t touch them yet. They are too young.” Norman was glad to have someone his own age to play with and to share some of the secrets of the farm.
for a good friend. I will share it in three parts.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Today Begins

Today begins the clean up in the aftermath of the work to dry out my basement and from the debris from my firewood. The workmen had to dig all around my house and out into my yard in many places. There are mound of upturned sod and exposed rock all along the ditching.

Today I will try to gather and dispose of the rock and push the sod back into place. I want it closer to the way it was, so that I can mow when the grass gets a little longer. I don’t want to throw the rocks with the blades or destroy the mowing blades.

I want to open up the depression at the entrance of my driveway. It allows the rainwater to flow past my drive instead of coming back in and down my drive. It used to go into my basement when the rain fell heavily. Now, because of the sump pump, I don’t have to worry as much, but I want to eliminate the potential for any flooding.

Spring cleaning will have to wait until I can get the outside done or the grass will be naval high. The supervisor of the work crew said, “I don’t know how you can grow grass here. There is so many rocks and so much clay, I don’t know how grass can take root.”

It is what it is. The area all around the spot where my house was built had been strip mined and it was erected on the edge of the mining activity. I am sure that there were trailings stored where my house sits now.