Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Don’t worry, I don’t plan on buying or wearing any of those minimal named articles of clothing, but in my eccentric mind, I made a connection of how life is like them or even more like thongs. In my life, buying something as regrettable as a thong is like the poor choices that I made. The things that are exposed are not at all beautiful and have left scars that may fade, but will never go away.
Time spent in living often match the composition of a Speedo. The material of the Speedo covers the barest of necessary things that need covered, but leave much untouched, uncovered, and regrettably unfinished. I know that I have seen so much and time has passed so quickly, it feels as though I have barely accomplished anything.
The Speedo is pliant, stretching to fit the shape that it’s put onto. Sometimes it is necessary to wear swim trunks, a Speedo will not stretch any farther to cover the bulk of the situation and a change in lifestyle is necessary.
I have my “family jewels” covered, my children. They have been raised and are having their own children and making lives of their own. The things that they do are weaving the cloth of their legacy.
Time has a way of covering only the barest of essentials. Anything that I chose to do that was extra took time away from the time I spent on “rat race” It took effort to cover more of the things that I wanted to do.
Looking back, I can see just how little the Speedos of life covered. As a new year begins, I want to resolve to slow down and do more, but will it be like so many other New Year’s resolutions? The Speedo of time won’t slow. I will have to find a way to pack more in or find a larger pair of swim trunks.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Old Swimming Holes

Several days ago, I drove by one of the places that as children, I used to swim. It threw me back to the time of my childhood and the several spots in local streams that we swam. There was only one large swimming pool in the area and it cost money to go there to use the diving board, changing rooms, and it even had a slide. I think we may have visited it two times. It was called Maple Grove, Cutty’s and it is called Pine Acres.
What I really wanted to comment on were the deep spots in streams where we would gather on hot days. The first was located beneath a bridge, between Normalville and Indian Head, Pennsylvania. It was the closest to home and it was the challenge swim. We made the challenge to swim in the deep and shaded part of the stream. The waters flowed from melted snow and ice as well as from smaller streams and springs. This water had little chance to warm as its course wound around rocks, shaded by the trees that overhang the flow. We boys would challenge each other to be in the stream before the beginning of May while the water was still icy. We had to build a fire before we swam here, even later in the year when the sun was hot.
The one most frequented was the farthest away. We would walk to our friend’s home along the way and together and hike together. Once all eight of us did pile on an old Ford tractor and ride there. It was probably three miles from our home, but it was more fun because it was a larger dammed area and there were usually others there. The water was warmer because the water was slower moving covered a larger area.
The final place I’m going to mention is very close to Indian Head. There used to be an open field where kids would gather to play softball. There was no backstop or outfield fencing, only green briars and weeds. The draw to play ball here was the nearby creek. It was a secluded spot, dammed by kids and only twenty yards from the ball field.
Playing ball under a summer sun was hot work for kids and the water of the stream was cool and refreshing after however many innings we played. Entering the wooded bank of the stream, we shed our inhibitions and our clothing to “skinny dip.” The plunge into the water was an exhilarating experience. It was a glorious feeling. Hidden from prying eyes we swam and dove like otters, frolicking in the cool shade and water.
The only drawback was when a train would roar by on the far bank. Every naked boy would head to deep water and watch the train roll by with water lapping beneath our chins. The engineer would smile and wave. We were sure that he knew what we were doing. After all, he had been a kid once, too.

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Grand Christmas

It was a whirlwind day of Christmas, yesterday. It started with the routine thinks of checking my e-mail, going on Face-book, posting an old postcard from my growing collection, and grabbing a bite so I could take my medications. Then, it was gathering the final things to go to my sister, Kathy’s house for brunch. After the meal and gift openings, Kathy pulled out some old photos and we began to sort them. We divided the ones that belonged to our immediate family and she stored the rest for safekeeping.
My sister lives in Indian Head, Pennsylvania. It is the house that my grandfather, Edson Thomas built and that Kathy and her husband, Douglas, have beautifully remodeled.
Then we came back to my house near the little town of White, Pennsylvania. My daughter, Anna’s boyfriend, James drove to his house to open gifts with his family. We got the evening meal ready while we waited and my son-in-law, Eric, reattached the wires to a new television that I bought. My old one had developed lines and made watching it a distraction. My daughters, Anna and Amanda were cutting and creating in the kitchen, while my granddaughter, Hannah, was being her usual curious and rambunctious self, playing with whatever she could find. The toy basket isn’t as interesting at the other things at Pappy’s house.
As I sat waiting, I remembered something that my sister had said and connected it with a photo I had placed on Face Book as we waited. It was a photo of my grandmother, Anna, in 1903, when she was only 18 years old. The thoughts were of those unmarked pictures and perhaps my aunt, Dorothy could recognize some of them. I called Dorothy and made arrangements to meet later in the evening.
The Christmas tree had already been lit and my new treasured Christmas bulbs were incorporated into the hordes that were already hanging on the tree. James returned and we opened gifts. The usual “snowball fight” with discarded and balled wrapping paper didn’t happen and I am not sure why it didn’t.
Finally, it was time to eat. It was not a fancy meal, just a hearty soup, two large, freshly-baked, sandwich rings, and cookies for dessert. I finished my meal and bid the family adieu. I was off to Dorothy’s house for some reminiscing and perhaps some labeling of some other photos. Her son-in-law, Don Hodge was there. He is a family historian and into research into family lineages. I knew he would be there and I was especially eager for him to see the photos and to glean what he could from them.
Dorothy did recognize a few more photos and did enjoy looking at them. Don and I talked and he shared things about family burial plots in Donegal, the Nedrow-Fergueson cemetery in Somerset as well as our ancestors burial spots in Bakersville, Pennsylvania. They were the first Beck’s to arrive in America from Germany.
He photographed many of the photos that I had brought. It would help him with faces and names as he did ore research on our family. I enjoyed talking with them and renewing bonds that time had frayed. I enjoyed the evening.
It was time to go home and to settle down, put the feet up, and relax before bedtime. Al in all it was a busy and productive day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I Remember…

As I grew up, there was a television program, I Remember Mama. I can’t remember many of the plots, but I can recall that they all centered on the family; day to day problems, familial love, and their integration into the community. Black and white images still flicker across my brain, mostly still shots of their faces.
My memories of Christmas’s past do much of the same only in color. Cousins by the dozens would gather at my grandparents’ large rambling farm house in Indian Head, Pennsylvania. The din and the laughter rise from the cobwebs of my brain. Cookies of all kinds were toted in by my aunts for the occasion. My grandmother always made popcorn balls and would sometimes put the meats of butternuts in some of the syrup covered popcorn.
My grandfather, Ray, was a short statured quiet man. A smile rarely left his face, surrounded by his raucous progeny. Now, that I’ve aged, I understand that feeling. There are people who will not be here for Christmas again this year, claimed either by distance or death. That saddens me, but there is still love that the Christmas season brings and eases those feelings.
My grandmother Rebecca was always busy. If she wasn’t cooking or baking, she was directing the aunts what to do or where to place the food. If she ran out of those, she shooed kids from under her feet. She was a larger framed person who had very few gray hairs until later in life.
Christmas at my grandparent’s Beck was more subdued. We went to their home in single family groups. Strict Pentecostals there was less decorating and less laughter, but the memories are still just as tender. The hardest thing was sitting on their old excelsior filled couch and chairs. The upholstery was scratchy and the seats were hard. It was difficult to sit while the adults talked without squirming. Usually, there were gifts for us, socks, a few dollars in a card, and maybe a piece of fruit.
When I married and began celebrating Christmas in my own home, my wife Cindy tried to create memories for our own kids.  She was worse that I was at the holiday. We would be up late, wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. It didn't matter what time it was we went to bed, she would be awake at 5 a.m. and would make noises until our kids would be wakened.
Cindy wouldn’t snoop until the gift was wrapped. I could have placed a bag of unwrapped gifts on her side of the bed and they would be undisturbed, until they were wrapped. She would make excursions to the tree, poking and prodding, and trying to find what she got for Christmas. It became my mission each year to disguise her gifts and to make some challenges for her. I would wrap her panties around a cheap package of combs; hide jewelry in a Pringles can, or other unusual ways of camouflage.
The panties became a traditional gift for her. Struggling, as most families do when first married, she walked by me, one side of her underwear came loose from the elastic and drooped. “I said, “You need to buy some new underwear.” She replied that they were still okay to wear. When she walked by me again, I grabbed the droop and finished ripping the material from the waistband. She said, “Now, you have to buy panties for me,” and so it became a tradition, Christmas underwear for her.
The ring that I hid in the Pringles can came in a Lucite box. With her shaking, it came loose and rattled. Because of the gifts that I would but to stump the snooping, Cindy thought it was one of those kid games with the Bee Bees that needed to be maneuvered into place into holes of a picture. She tossed it back beneath the tree, untouched until Christmas Day. It was the last gift that she opened. Her eyes brightened, a smile spread across her face, and she mouthed, “Is it real?”
I guess that because the ring was real, Christmas and our love became more real as well.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a wonderful New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Spirits of Christmases Past

I want to share just a few recollections of Christmases that our family celebrated together. One that came to mind is about our mother, Sybil. Mom had allergies to peanuts, eggs, and so forth. She had one allergy that she tended to ignore at Christmas and that was pine. She had to have a live tree and would sniffle her way through the holiday season.
What makes it a memory was that she was taking a bath and heard a thump. She quickly dried off, slipped on a house coat and went to investigate. What she found was the tree sprawled on the floor of the family room where it had fallen over. She decided to push it up and lean it against the wall until Dad could secure it.
Grasping it securely, she began to hoist it back into position. As she did, her gown opened in the front, exposing her chest to the scratching, pricking short needles of the pine tree. Now, she is caught on the horns of a dilemma. Does she drop it or does she finish the job and push it upright? My mom was never a coward and the tree was pushed up against the wall. Mom told us that she developed a long lasting red rash on her chest from the encounter with her enemy the tree.

The tree topper for as long as I can remember was a thick, translucent plastic star that had a red plastic connector that framed the ornament. That star was always a special part of the holiday when Dad hung it and it was lighted.
The other ornament that was an integral part of Christmas was an older frosted glass irregularly shaped bulb. I claimed it as mine and hung it on the tree every year. It was gold-green in color and had white frosting bands encircled the high point ridges of it.
Mom allowed me to take it when I became married to my wife, Cindy, and it was one of the bulbs that graced our tree at our first Christmas. That bulb became part of our newly formed family’s tradition of the season. Then, one year, it mysteriously disappeared. There was no trace, no ransom note, and no one claimed responsibility for its exodus to worlds unknown.

This year, my sister, an E-bay cruiser, found a tree topper similar to the one that graced out tree so many years ago and bought it for me. She told me how to browse the E-bay pages and as I did, there was the ornament that I had claimed as mine. It was bunched with several others, but it was the same beloved bulb and it called my name. My sister, Kathy, bless her soul, already had an account and put a bid in on it. I assume that she got it and will have to wait until Christmas to find out. The star or the bulb one will be a gift and the other, I will reimburse her for the costs.
The last memory that I will share is of my father, Carl. He wasn’t an expressive man, didn’t say much, and his “I love you’s” were almost non-existent. Each year, my wife and I would try to get a gift that would try to get him to express that he was happy with what he’d gotten. Nada.
One year, my brother suggested that since he recently joined the fire department, we get him a jacket to match the other members. The members told Dad that they couldn’t order more. Dad was disappointed. I told my brother, Ken, that I wanted to try to get one and I wanted to buy it myself. I wanted to finally paste a smile on his face from a gift I bought him.
I drove to the store where the fire department ordered the jackets and found one display jacket left. It was Dad’s size. I was able to sweet talk the owner into embroidering Carl on the front and sew on all of the patches for the fire department to it.
Dad still didn’t do much more than mumble thanks when he unwrapped it, but when he held it up in front of him, smiled and put it on right away told me I’d finally done it. He had gotten a gift that he really liked.
             Merry Christmas and I hope that this has stirred a memory or two from your own holidays past.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Shopping Etiquette

My mom, Sybil Beck, was a fun-loving, but firm mother in many ways.  I was reminded of an incident that happened while shopping by a posted video on Face Book. The video was of a boy who looked about five or six years old, ramming a shopping cart into the person in front of the boy and his mom with one of those mini-shopping carts. The man being assaulted tried several times to push the cart and child away with gentle shoves and redirections, but the child returned to use his battering ram. Meanwhile, the mother seemingly unconcerned, allowed the youth to repeatedly push the cart into the other shopper.
Finally, the man had enough and reached into the child’s cart and removed a small carton of milk. Then he proceeded to open it and dump part of the contents onto the boys upturned and smiling face. The smile disappeared and so did the child. The mother, apparently insulted by the male shopper’s lack of decorum, grabbed her child’s hand and left the area.

My mother would never have permitted it to go that far. The incident that I thought of was a shopping trip at a large grocery store. My brother, Ken, was pushing the cart. It was something that he liked to do and Mom allowed him. I think he got bored because it was a large store and Mom had a long list, because he began to drive the cart from side to side in the aisle instead of driving in a straight line.
Soon, that wasn’t enough and looked for other ways to amuse himself. What he settled on was to lag behind, then charge ahead. At the last moment, he would leap into the air and slam his shod feet onto the buggy’s back two wheels laying black rubber wheel tracks onto the tile floors. Mom didn’t notice what was happening behind her until she turned o place something in the cart and caught him in the act. When she looked behind him, she saw that the entire aisle was a trail of black marks where Ken and the cart had been.
She took over control of the cart and warned Ken, “If you ever do that again, I will march you up front to the manager and have you clean the floors for him. Someone has to clean the floors at night and you are making his job harder.”
That put a stop to the grocery cart drag racer, although when my brother grew older, he did drag race souped up 1972 Dodge Demon. It was black with two white racing stripes from the air scooped hood across the top and back down the trunk. I would kid him that it looked like a skunk.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Even Gray Days 

Ice on black branches
becomes nearly translucent
in the thick, gray fog.

As I was driving home through a thick gray fog that had been lingering day and night for several days, I was feeling a bit down and out of sorts. There was only wan, filtered sunlight. The daytime was wrapped in a depressing gray cloak. I think that I was on the verge of giving in to the doldrums when I noticed that the cold temperature and the thick fog had transformed the black and bare branches to an icy crystal covering. The mist had draped itself on the limbs and made transient diamonds where there was once only coal hue.
The crystal of the ice hid the dark branches and made them almost transparent and invisible against the gray curtain of mist. Driving and seeing the spectacle from different angles developed into a kaleidoscope of ever-changing patterns. The shapes continued to change, but not the clear lack of color that covered the branches. It was remarkable. It changed my vision from the thinck blanket of fog to what the fog had created.
The scenes changed from tree to tree. Some were straighter while others were twisted and gnarled. The dark green leaves of the Mountain Laurel took on an impressive new color and sheen. Trees that still retained some of their leaves became a cascading fountain of shining brown heavy with the armor of ice.

It became apparent that so often we are distracted by the big things in life that we miss the beauty that is all around us. It is as easy as shifting our focus or looking at things from a different perspective. I marvel at what God can do with some cold air, a little water, and uplifted arms.

Monday, December 15, 2014


I recall so many things and they sometimes jumble together and not enough to link together as a post. So, I will circle the wagons around my uncle Amos Jacob Stahl and his wife Helen Irene Beck-Stahl. They were a good-hearted couple with six kids. George, Barbie (She calls me Tommy so I have to tease her with Barbie and not Barbara), Glenn, Dottie (Dorothy), Anna Gail, and Larry. Each paragraph may be just a short fleeting recollection with Jake , Helen, and family as the only thread.
Their home was perched on a hillside above Indian Head, Pennsylvania. The kids would spread out in the town, playing with their friends. When it was time to eat or for the kids to be home, Jake would stand on the side porch and bellow. It could be heard everywhere in town and kids would head for home.
Helen was an extremely clean person. With all of the kids, I think it was nearly impossible, but she did chores like washing, ironing, baking, etc set for specific days. On top of that she had a room that she did what we would call a “spring cleaning” for each day. She had a little ball of a belly that would jump and shake when she laughed and always dressed to the nines when she left the house, high heels, purse, and pearls.
Jake was an excellent stone mason. Built like a small tank, he was robust, rotund, and had short legs. His always drove an Oldsmobile automobile. The combination of the shortness of his legs and the size of the steering wheel, he ended up with a worn area on the front of his pants. To provide for his family, he moved to Orlando, Florida so that he could work year-round.
I recall stories of the kids taking coal shovels and cardboard to sled ride in the winter while they lived in Pennsylvania. The story was told that they took off their shoes and had them beside the road as they sledded. The snow plow came through and many of the shoes couldn’t be found until the spring thaw.
Once when our family visited for a meal, there were no mashed potatoes left. Jake placed slices of bread on our plates and we were introduced to “gravy bread.”
Helen was struck by lightning. I believe it was three times. Her favorite footwear, like the kids, was bare. They had a small, uncovered, concrete back porch-stoop. She would go out there to shake rugs etc. That is where the nearby strikes jolted her.
When I was stationed in Orlando as a naval corpsman, they would be offended if I didn’t visit every weekend that I was free. It was a bus ride for me to their home, but I was always made welcome. I wanted to pass these memories that I have as a tribute and a thank you to Helen, Jake, and their family.

Friday, December 12, 2014


There are so many unassociated and disassociated ideas vying for my attention this morning, but none are actually long enough to write with any length and many may think that is a good idea. So I will randomly write about things that press.

The first is that I woke to the fragrant and spicy aroma of my venison jerky curing in the dehydrators. It wasn’t finished and the smells had my breakfast appetite whetted. I settled for some hash brown potatoes and a cup of tea.
I did break out some ibuprophen. I was sore from hunting and walking yesterday with my brother. My hips, ankles, and knees were glad to get in out of the cold, windy, snow covered hills of Somerset County.  We did see some deer and one of the guys with us was able to shoot one.
The package to my son, Andrew and his family is on it’s way to Amarillo, Texas and I am sending a birthday card today for Celine and later in this month is my daughter-in-law Renee’s birthday. So, I will hunt for a card for her. I am not a Hallmark junkie like some, but I have to find a card that is what I want to say, inside and out.
Tomorrow, if the snow holds, I may break out the cross country skies and shuffle around my yard to try them out. They were only $5.00 at a yard sale for the skis, poles, and the boots. I should get my money’s worth, even if I make one circuit of my yard.
This year has certainly gone by fast. In a way I think it is because I don’t have the daily routine of employment days to measure the time. Days swiftly turn into weeks then months without the marking of days.
Sally is an active octogenarian and when I wrote my one story, she read the love scene. It was on the beach and she said, “They would have made love in the water. No one wants sand in their crack.” Well, she invited our writers group to her house for a Christmas party today. I made a “Sand” dessert for her, decorated with “beach” umbrellas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Venison Cornucopia
This year I was able to get an eight point buck during the Pennsylvania antlered deer season. It was close to my home place, just along Poplar Run Road. I was glad that I didn’t have to trudge too far off the roadway, I sprained my ankle more than a month ago and I still have pain in the joint. As long as I am careful, it isn’t bad, but the strength to keep it from happening again on the uneven surface of the woods isn’t there. I don’t want to reinjure it.
Another good thing is that my brother has an ATV quad and I didn’t have to drag the heavy carcass too far. Those off road machines are great for older guys like me. It’s not that I mind the exercise, but there is a small leap to a heart attack with the heavy towing.
Ken, my brother, and I hauled the buck back to an outbuilding on his property. We hung it on a lift and peeled off its hide to let it hang and cool before I would take it home to butcher.
I spent most of the past two days cutting up the carcass and wrapping it to freeze. I butcher my own deer, because I want to be sure that I get the same deer, the same amount of meat back, and a deer that hasn’t sat around unrefrigerated for days. I remove the meat from the bones before I cut the meat. Deer bones are brittle and often will shatter when cut by a band saw. If the bones don’t shatter, the saw makes a “saw dust” of ground bone that I don’t like either.
I remove the inedible bits and hair. Some butcher shops are careless in these things. If I find anything that I don’t like, I know who to blame. I got almost fifty pounds of steak and “chunk meat.” Chunk meats are the smaller pieces of venison, too small for steaks. I sometimes cold pack it, grind it and make it into bologna or sausage. This year, I decided to freeze it in bags with smaller portions.
There were some pieces that I cut specifically and put aside to use for jerky. Yesterday, I made the marinade for the venison strips, poured it over the orts of meat in gallon bags, and placed them in the cold on my back porch to allow the flavors to permeate the meat. This evening, I will start to dehydrate it.
My mom bought two smaller dehydrating “ovens” that holds several racks. The low level of heat slowly dries the meat, vegetables, or fruits placed inside.
The leftover scraps don’t go to waste either. I could have cooked everything in a large spot and made a meat pudding like my ancestors, but I stated over the last few years to put all of the inedible bits into the rib cage cavity and hang it in a tree at the edge of my property. It looks more like Halloween, but for the crows, ravens, and the blue jays it’s Thanksgiving with the rib cage being a cornucopia of fresh food for them.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Gray Skies

There are times that gray skies make me feel sad and depressed. Not as in a clinical depression, but more like I feel down. It is more so since my wife, Cindy, has passed. Many times I really don’t notice the skies, either I am inside writing, taking a nap, or my daughter is home and that keeps me busy. But when the gray skies have sleet or snow, or rain, I do notice because they tap on the windows to get my attention.

The intensity and hues vary with the type of weather. It can range from a silver-white with a misty rain to a dark gray from ice and snow laden winter clouds. They can appear as almost a midnight blue of a spring thunderstorm to a sickly gray-green of possible tornado weather.
Some days it’s smooth and one solid color as though it had been spray painted or rolled on. There are days when it looks like swirls of cotton candy. Broken clouds look as though they were spread through the sky with a palette knife, thick, patchy, and broken.
Gray clouds may by wispy, like a veil of tightly woven spider webbing, barely concealing the sun. The very solid and dark clouds seem almost oppressive, hanging low and swallowing up Old Sol.

One scene that I always love is a stand of trees that can be seen from my front porch. In the spring and summer the green of the leaves hide the nakedness of their branches and trunks. In the autumn, the colors blaze against the background sky, but my favorite happens infrequently. It is when the leaves have all fallen and before the snow decides to blanket them. The clouds are a deep gray-blue and as the sun sets, it lights up the front of those trees. Their nearly white trunks almost glow, framed by the cobalt of the sky behind. It is a glorious thing to behold. I watch until the bark darkens and the sun disappears.
Gray clouds can bring me down if I allow it or they can be a thing of great beauty, It is my interpretation of what I see and how I internalize it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Managing a Manger

Today, I decided to break out of my lazy mode and get busy. I got up early and was able to get an eight point buck. Taking it to my brother’s place, we skinned it and hung it to cool in one of the out buildings. While we skinning it, I got a call from my daughter that there had been a cancellation and if I could go at 10:45, they could fit me in. I said yes and went with blood stains and mud spattered jeans.
When I got home, I began the renovation of a plywood manger scene. I had cutouts of Mary holding Jesus, a standing Joseph, two sheep, and the manger. I made them about twenty-five years ago. They decorated my yard each Christmas, but stopped when they began to fade and get worn looking. They have been tucked in my basement for almost fifteen years.
They weren’t good enough to display and because they were handmade by me, I couldn’t throw them out. I’ve been eying them for most of last week and decided it was time to refurbish them and stake them out for this Christmas season.
One sheep was beyond repair and I used my jigsaw to cut another. Spreading them out in the basement, I went from one to another repainting the figures. The hues weren’t quite the same, but it wasn’t necessary to match them, I painted over them with the new colors. The original palette was chosen from small amounts of the leftover cans of paint that I hadn’t thrown away.
Mary is sitting, holding a swaddled baby Jesus. Her dark hair and dark blue robe, highlights the holy infant. Joseph is standing holding his staff in brown and green robes, his face vivid against his black hair and beard. The two sheep are painted white with black faces, one is lying down and the other is standing.
Tomorrow, I hope to build a triangular background to support Mary and Joseph. They are taller and need support to stay erect in the wind. I’ll fasten them to the triangle to be more solid and to remain standing against the wind. At the apex, I have a light up star and two solar spotlights to illuminate the scene.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weather or Not

There was one time when the weather or no matter how I was feeling, I would have gone buck hunting this morning, but several things changed my mind. The first was that I awoke with diarrhea and stomach cramps. The second was that this year I would be hunting alone. My hunting partner got his deer in archery season and it isn’t nearly as much fun as hunting with friends.

Another reason is that my granddaughter Hannah is visiting. I love the time I can spend with my grandkids. A final reason is that I have an appointment to have my lawn mower serviced before I park it for the winter.

The weather in past hunts has ranged from weather similar to today’s rain and fog to cold and blustery. One winter, it was so cold that the water bottles we had in our pockets froze. We had to build a fire and set them beside it to partially thaw.

I always carry something to build a fire. Matches are essential as a fire starter. The other thing is that I carry either Tootsie Roll or Bit-O-Honey miniatures. They serve a dual purpose. They are good to eat and they are wrapped in waxed paper. The waxed paper makes a great fire starter and will burn hot enough to get damp slivers of wood to burn.

I have so many great memories of hunting with my grandfather, brother, and father. Memories of wading thigh-high snow, sitting quietly and listening for movement, and treading through the woods often come to mind. I think of my dad who was upset because he thought someone was sitting in his favorite spot. Later he found that someone had left their orange hat behind after using it on a behind.

Other memories include seeing poopcicles on low hanging branches. Drips marked the spot my dad had visited and vacated, or should I say evacuated. I have memories of marching up and down steep hillsides, riding a four-wheeler and the freezing from the below zero temperature, as well as days of sunshine and light snow.

Then there are the acts of butchering and cutting up our own deer. I find it more preferable than taking it to a shop where I am not sure how long they will keep it, how clean the facility is, if I am getting the same deer or the same amount of meat that you gave, and by doing it myself, I know who to blame if there is hair on it. The final reason is that I cut the meat away from the bone, because venison bones are more fragile, will shatter, and I hate splinters.

Good memories can be made in all types of weather, whether good or bad.


Friday, November 28, 2014

All Around the Table

Yesterday, after the overgrazing on the Thanksgiving foods, we sat around my sister Kathy’s table and sorted through most of the photographs that my mom, Sybil, and my dad, Carl had saved and stored. Even though they aren’t there any longer to enjoy the meal, we felt them close as we looked at the photos. There were photos of past generations and ones of those who have grown to adults now.
School pictures, those awkward bookmarks in each life, separated one growth spurt from another. They showed the “in” fashion of the time, hair styles, and glasses. These are pictures that make us smile now, but to “fit in” was desperate stuff, back then.
We found one photo of my great-grandfather Austin Beck and several of my great-grandfather Rugg. I remember him and a great uncle Wesley. There were other old photos of Great-uncles and great-aunts as well as photos of my Granddad Beck and Anna, my grandmother Beck together. We found some of my Granddad Raymond Miner and some of my grandmother Rebecca Rugg Miner.
Some photos of young people that are no longer here, but passed. I think those were the hardest, most of them were just into their early, early adult years. The pictures were in no specific order and the randomness of finding the sad ones among the amusing and funny increased the impact of both.
My sister, Kathy, said that she had the same expression on every photo, “Get away. I don’t want my picture taken” even the one in the frilly dress. One photo (black and white, of course) was of her with a hat on drooping down over her eyes as she played with Mom’s purses.
Some were of all three, my pigeon-toed stance prominent on many. Some were of just my brother Ken and me, playing in the yard or sitting on Dad’s car.
Many were gifts of wedding pictures and graduations. We decided to pass them along to family members who will cherish them more than we will. Maybe they will display them instead of locking them away in an attic.

Memories and stories floated around the table as did the aromas of our meal just past. Memories are meant to share.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgivings at Home

As I look back, I cannot remember any special moment or memory that stands out in my mind celebrating Thanksgiving at my parent’s house. I am unsure why, but imagine that it is because there is no major celebration attached to it. There is no giving and receiving of cards as on Valentine’s Day. There are no fireworks and picnics as on Independence Day. There aren’t any scary costumes or passing out of treats like at Halloween and Thanksgiving is tucked between Halloween and Christmas. Retailers push the Christmas sales closely after Halloween and smother the thankful holiday. Then there is the celebration of the New Year.

I am sure that the other holidays have something to do with Thanksgiving being a less appreciated holiday. Much goes reason goes back to the belief in a divine being, the provider of all of our blessings. Without a belief in God, to whom are we thankful? Do we thank ourselves or are we only thankful to agencies and to the government for a free meal and handouts? When a society isn’t thankful to God and only places demands, it will not long last. God judges the people who push Him aside and are not grateful for all of the things that He has done for them.

I believe the reason that I do not have outstanding memories is that they all blur together. The warm feelings of food, family, and friendship meld into one pleasant memory. Sitting around a table laden with food, I share the memories of the family, strengthening those ties. Our laughter fills the room as full as the aromas of the turkey, dressing (Mom always called it stuffing, whether in or out of the bird.), and the spices of the pies and cookies.
It isn’t that I’m not thankful for my blessings, but the celebration was the low-key joining of our hearts that blended one Thanksgiving celebration into another. Each year became a block in my life and love is the cement that binds the years into one.

Monday, November 24, 2014

November to Remember

I thought that October was going to be my busy month, and it was, but November has been a whirlwind. October has traditionally been a busy month in my calendar book. I was glad when it slipped into my past and was looking forward to winding down and living a slower pace. Was I wrong! I have felt so very busy. I belong to three writers groups, an organization to support artists in the area, church work days, and finishing my shed.
My shed about did me in. I sprained my ankle and it still gives me fits intermittently. I have been babying it and taking ibuprophen. This month of November has kept me busy to say the least. I’ve gone to my meetings and still have a few to look forward to, I was an escort to a wedding party by a fine lady. I think that she wanted someone who would drive for her in Pittsburgh. It was her grandson’s wedding, how could I refuse?
The ceremony was in Morningside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the Catholic church of St. Raphael. The groom was proudly wearing his Navy dress blues and his bride a lacey, sparkling gown. The colors of the stained glass permeated the sanctuary as the sun dropped lower on the horizon. As an escort to the groom’s grandmother, I was placed in the front of the church.
I was thankful that someone had given the Grandmother written directions, because I don’t often drive in Pittsburgh. The reception was held at the Priory Hotel on the Northside of Pittsburgh. Again, I don’t have the slightest idea of how to get there. When I asked if anyone knew how to get there, I was answered with nos. Most people were relying on their GPS. As I was escorting my friend to the car, I saw a beautiful younger woman in front of us, so I asked again, and she said that she knew the way. I was so relieved.
By following her, we made it.
The next day, I went with friends to the Golden Corral for an evening meal. It was where the birthday girl wanted to eat, so that is where we went. Sunday I went to church as each Sunday and now trying to get work done around the house. My daughter is sick and Thanksgiving ahead.
There is Christmas beyond that. I don’t think things will slow down for December either, SIGH!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Another Rewrite

I just finished the rewrites of my last two stories in my Tommy Two Shoes series. Who would have thought that a simple challenge to write a detective story would have stirred me to write so much? Before the project to write a story of a detective on vacation, I had no desire to delve into that genre.
Once I started, the words flowed and I had the basic first story written and typed within twenty-four hours. The character grew on me and stories evolved from the introduction of Tommy Two Shoes, retired Pittsburgh cop.
The strength of Tommy and the other characters grew as I became familiar with them, what they would say and what they would do. Some stories drew them together, while others were forced apart. Tommy and his mystery solving aptitude are at the center of each plot. He is assisted by the spirit of his deceased uncle Aidan LeClerc.
Aidan slips Tommy oblique clues that connect at the end of the story. By collecting them, the reader can foresee the ending. Words can be misspelled, but are clues none-the-less. Tommy knows when Aidan arrives because of the fumes from various cleaning supplies. When he was alive, Aidan was a fastidious bachelor and that ad carried over into the afterlife.
The editing has to be a huge burden for my editor. She has to have the patience of Job. I write a great story, but my phrasing and my punctuation would make my English teachers cry. Sorry. I was always interested in the words and not so much with the periods and commas.
I have always liked to play with words, most of all the ones with a hidden meaning or a double-entendre.
Well, the rewrites are over, unless she finds other faults as she goes over the manuscripts with her fine tooth comb. She tells me if all progresses well, the second Tommy Two Shoes should start to be available just before Christmas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thunder and Lightning

His rudeness was monumental. It was harsher, coarser, and more grating than a bastard rasp. His tongue was as sharp as a freshly stropped straight razor. The worst of his special talent appeared when he was driving his car. When the term was coined for “road rage,” he was the poster boy. The fact that he was driving an old clunker, a 1962 Chrysler didn’t boost his feelings of well being.  It was little more than patches of rust held together by putty and paint. The engine just turned over 200,000 miles and had been rebuilt twice.
His vile attitude cost several well paying jobs. He now flipped burgers in a small diner. His work station was the narrow kitchen, hovering over a hot grill. The heat did little to mellow his attitude. He worked alone, other than a mute dishwasher. The deaf man was the only person who could stand to be in the same room as him. He was a great cook and the smallest complaint felt like an unpardonable insult to him.
“I need another burger,” the waitress called. “I got a customer who said she found a hair in her burger and that it wasn’t seasoned enough.”
The hurled spatula barely missed the waitress as she ducked. A string of curses filled the kitchen. He ripped off his apron and stomped on it. The swinging door flew open with a loud bang, almost popping off its hinges. Dishes stacked on nearby shelves rattled.
The waitress cringed behind the counter, holding her breath and waiting for the obvious and inevitable confrontation.
The frail, gray haired lady sat with her back turned toward the approaching storm. Her head was bent over as though she was saying grace.
The thundercloud hovered over her, then rumbled, “What do you mean, coming in here and….”
A withered face looked up at him with tender eyes.
The lightning bolt fizzled, then went out. “Hi, Mom. What can I do for you?”


Monday, November 17, 2014

Out to Lunch

The Mount Pleasant Library has been very good to our writers group. The librarian has allowed us to use one of their areas for our meetings. It has been a real joy to gather there and I believe it has been mutually beneficial. We have done several writing projects that have drawn publicity from the local newspaper and it has drawn more visitors the library to read out stories. I’ve met quite a few people that have become more than acquaintances, if not friends.
I was unaware of the group and their purpose until I joined a newly formed group of writers. Slowly, over the past year, I learned of the Friends existence and their purpose. I have met and talked to many of the members. They are good and unselfish people. I got a closer feel for them and got to know several more at the used book sale at the library.
Arriving early as usual for the writers meeting, I began to help them sort and display the books for the sale in ways that might be more easily seen by the shoppers. Although my knees were sore when I stopped, I had a great time with these charming and gracious people.
Last evening, I attended a buffet that was sponsored by the Friends of the Mount Pleasant Public Library. It was my first time at such an event. The men and women Friends have dedicated themselves to the sole purpose of increasing literacy in the area.
The funds that they have raised over their five years of existence have gone to modernize the infrastructure of the library and have provided monies to purchase new books. Most of what is done by these individuals is a behind-the-scenes type of work. They volunteer, donating so much of themselves to this cause.

The food at Nino’s was delicious and plentiful and I was wondering where Nino got the vast array of cookies that filled two tables. I didn’t ask, but later at the end of the meal, I found out. When the speaker for the Friends was sharing the names of officers and board members, she was thanking them and the others who had worked so diligently to make the buffet a success. She also announced that the cookies were baked and donated by many of the Friend members. All in all, it was a special event and something that I will add to my storehouse of memories.

Thank you, Friends of the Mount Pleasant Library, for all of your hard work.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Shed of It

I am so glad that I finished the major part of my shed yesterday. I only have some pieces of trim left to put on it. I finished the last few pieces of the siding and hanging the door. It is a homemade door of two by fours, aluminum pieces to strengthen the corners, and covered with a sheet of the siding. The door is heavy, fits well, and has a coincidental advantage. It closes by itself. Unless it is propped open, it shuts on its own with no need for a piston or spring.
The cold, snow, and wind would make it very uncomfortable to work outside. I am a couch potato by choice. Working outside is a “do only when necessary” for me. Mowing, weeding and gardening used to be something that I enjoyed, now, not so much.
My shed was made with scraps from pallets and leftovers that I’ve had around the house. The base and flooring were two pallets four foot by six foot, placed end to end, they made a shed four foot by twelve feet. My kids call it a corn crib, but it is a place to store shovels, rakes, and hoes in the off season. I don’t plan on storing power tools or anything expensive inside. Too many people think that what others own, belongs to them and are willing to take it.
The framing for the walls were made by using deconstructed pallets and nails pulled from them. Building with used nails is nothing new to me. I think that I was almost a teen before I knew that nails came from the store straight and shiny. All we had ever used were rusty, straightened nails.
I had windows in the basement given to me by my dad and they were the ones I used to light the shed. Other than time and electricity for the power tools, the only costs were for a roll of felt paper, a bundle of shingles, some galvanized nails, two hinges, a lock hasp, and eight sheets of T 1 11 exterior siding.
My progress has been slow. I tear apart a few pallets and plan how and where to use the lumber. At first the framing was wobbly, even after I put on the roof. The roof was made from plywood covered two by sixes and very heavy. Angled braces nailed to the outside helped to steady it until I was able to apply the T 1 11.
I am the reason that the T.V. cartoon character is called Builder Bob and not Builder Tom, but for less than $350.00. I was able to put together a solid, snug shed. It isn’t the most beautiful, but it was built for utility.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Stroke of Love

The small clapboard building was the center of the community, located at the head of a valley in the backwoods of Tennessee. The families could only reach their homesteads by foot or riding their mules or horses. Single file trails were the passages through the mountains. Their running water came from springs or streams and indoor plumbing was nonexistent.
The building was a church on Sunday and a schoolhouse on weekdays. Pews were backless, plank benches. They had no preacher, so elder Harden ministered to the rural community. His messages were always Hell-fire and brimstone. Each sermon spoke of an angry God who wanted to punish sinners. He preached of a harsh and judgmental Father.
In the school were eight children in five grades, taught by a single teacher. Chance was an outstanding pupil and read every book that he could lay his hands on. When he read every book in the community, he walked nearly six miles to borrow books from another town’s library. His appetite for knowledge earned him a reputation and a scholarship to a Bible college.

After years of sermons on an angry God, Chance discovered the attributes of a loving Father. He learned that God sent his Son, Jesus, to die as a ransom for man’s sin debt. Chance graduated, carrying the message of God’s love in his heart and to his community.
Back home, Chance found that Harden was still preaching on a wrathful God.  Chance attempted to breach the walls of a vengeful God, but Harden fought back.
“If you’re going to try to teach that love foolishness in my church, I will throw you out!” Then he addressed the rest of the congregation, “Listen to him and you can leave the church as well.”
Chance countered, “Brother Harden, 1 John chapter four reads ‘God is love.’ It doesn’t just say, God loves, it says God is love. He sent his Son, Jesus to die for our sins. That’s a Father’s love, not someone who hates mankind.”

“Out! Out!” Harden screamed. Spittle flew from his lips.
Chance turned to leave when Haden collapsed. He helped the other men of the church carry Harden home. Chance stayed by Harden’s side.
The stroke left Harden weak. Chance worked Harden’s farm and his own, often eighteen hours each day. After many weeks, Harden was able with help, walk to church.
As he entered the building, a hush fell over the congregation. A fly could be heard buzzing overhead.  Harden shuffled to the pulpit.
Pulling himself erect, he said, “God is love.” Turning, he stepped away from the pulpit and took a seat on the plank bench.



Monday, November 10, 2014

Who Would Have Thought

I was just reading a post on Face Book about chronic pain and ways other than medication to relieve and lessen the discomfort. Some I could have predicted, but one I was surprised to see, pleasantly surprised.
The first of the tips was to use Tiger Balm for topical application. It was said that it stimulates circulation and helps joint flexibility. It suggests that it eases headaches, brain fog, and stress. I hadn’t heard of this unguent, but it was described as having a hot/cold sensation. I wonder if it is similar to the analgesic effect from the menthol Bio-gel that therapists use. I will have to check this out.
The second and third sort of run hand in hand, Yoga and meditation. Yoga is to allow body, mind, and spirit to connect, while meditation allows you to face the pain and see it in a different aspect. People tell us that the brain is more powerful than we now know and that can help the body to relax and heal.
The fourth is good old Epsom salts. Soaking in the warm brine increases circulation, relax the nervous system, soothe muscle and joint pain, draws toxins from the body, and even strengthens the walls of the digestive tract. Soaking for about twelve minutes is optimal.
The fifth of the recipes for lessening pain was to watch your diet. Certain foodstuffs are hard to digest and are inflammatory, while others allow healing and are easier to digest. Think of mealtimes as heal times. The article suggests we refrain for dairy products, refined sugar, processed grain products, alcohol, and vegetable oils. It suggests that we eat avocados, fatty fish, olive oil, pastured eggs, brightly colored vegetables, and spices like ginger, nutmeg, and turmeric.
The sixth was the one that surprised me as a writer. It suggests journaling. List pain management attempts and how well that they work, it may allow you to find the triggers for your pain and that will allow you to avoid those pain inducing ingredients. Not only will journaling allow you pinpoint the things in the environment, but will give a sense of empowerment to you so that it becomes easier to face and deal with your discomfort.
I think that writing in general, not just journaling helps the person in pain by drawing attention from the cycle of distress and to concentrate on the ideas that a person wants to express. Writing can take the author to other worlds and other times. It frees the spirit to share with others your thoughts and viewpoints. There is power in words and a writer can use that power in a multitude of ways

Friday, November 7, 2014

I must apologize for my last poor post. I was under the weather and not thinking well. I knew that I needed to share something and I think that I did. What it was, I don't think well when I am ailing. Again, so very sorry.
Super-dooper Pooper Stories
A friend posted on Facebook an article about the fifteen worst poop stories. Accidental evacuations to super clogged waste receptacles. My family would have some to add, including a few of my own. Let’s go back a few generations. I got a call from my mom asking me to give an enema to my grandfather, Beck. He hadn’t gone and me, being a nurse, was the prime candidate to complete this task. I fortunately escaped. While I was donning garb to make the trek, Mom called back, saying, “Your grandfather called. He had a ‘wonderful passage’.”
Now, to the other side, Granddad miner had come to the house for lunch, after being in the barn. We always wanted to sit beside him at the table. When my sister pulled her stepstool chair away from him, Grandma asked her “why?” Kathy said, “He don’t smell like no gardenia.”
My dad always had loose bowels and carried a wad of toilet paper in his back pocket for any type of emergency runs. When we hunted, my brother Ken commented, “I know that dad was here. There are shit-cicles on the bush over there.
My mom was the opposite and had to struggle to have a passage. She often told the story about the constipated mathematician, who worked it out with a pencil. It almost seemed apropos for to like this joke.
I take after both, fluctuating between the firm and the fluid. The need to go has struck in the most inappropriate places. Once in an under-construction building, it was necessary to unload. Another when I climbed to the top of a tree. The moon came out and my grandmother’s neighbor told her that she’d seen it all.
Many times, I have had to do the boot and scoot shuffle, with cheeks puckered tightly trying to make the marathon run to the toilet goal line. The hardest thing about this test of endurance is when I encounter a Mt. Everest of stairs. It is an almost unachievable roadblock, an insurmountable challenge.
My sister never speaks of her tragic waste removal other than her need to empty her bladder. It is often as formidable as the need for me to find a bathroom. Her husband often presses the issue by driving slowly, using the window washer and wipers, or just talking about consuming huge quantities of liquid.
To hear my brother speak, he only passes flatus and he is proud of that accomplishment. He doesn’t care who knows, he flaunts that it was him. It doesn’t matter whether it is ranked by a thunderous clap of noise or whether Saddam Hussein would have bottled the odorous detonation for use in biological warfare; he throws out his chest and claims it as his own.
I was a nurse for over thirty-five years and did a stint a corpsman and a nursing student before that. I have many more stool samples to share, butt not about my family, lest all of our secrets are made bare to the light.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I am late posting today. I woke feeling tired and with a headache. It hasn't gotten better at all, so I have been dragging with anything getting done. I have not felt like writing my blog, writing another story, or on my next episode in the Tommy Two Shoes series.
I did some laundry, washed dishes, and made breakfast. That was about it before I pooped out. My little granddaughter had the sniffles. It was too soon for me to be getting what she had. I have felt tired for several days, so it must be something going around.
I wanted to do more work on my shed, but I did some measurements, but that is as far as I got. I didn't want to do anymore. I hate it when I have a day like that. I wasn't productive at all.
I am hoping to feel more like working tomorrow, whether it is working on my writing, my shed, or going out to work on the prophet's chamber at church.
I have a general idea for the next story in my Tommy Two Shoes series. I just need to have a clear mind, ignore the television, and concentrate on the story. Once I start writing, often the characters will write the words, I just need to copy them down.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Old Postcards

I have been sharing the old postcards that were lest to me by my mother-in-law, Retha Morrison. Some were sent to her, while others were bought traveling with my father-in-law, Bud. After Bud died, she gathered some as she travelled with her best friends, Conrad and Dorothy Auel. Conrad and Dorothy lived in Sheriden, Pennsylvania and were great friends. They met at Camp Christian, near Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Bud was the caretaker and Retha did much of the cooking.
Sadly, all of them are gone and I miss them terribly.

But, back to the postcards, there are well over five hundred cards some postmarked and sent, while others remain unadulterated. The earliest that I’ve found was 1938, but I haven’t looked at them all, yet. What I have been posting on Facebook has been a condensation and recollection of a camping trip for our church for the teenage kids. It was an experience that I look back on fondly.
There were things that we saw and things that we shared, that I will never experience again, even if I should live another hundred years. Two of the most lasting memories both centered around Sunday and the two different church services that we had.
The first was at King’s Creek Campground in Utah. We actually had the service on a Saturday night, because we had to get up early for the Sunday journey. It was an open air service in an amphitheater with tall evergreen tree walls and a starry sky roof arching high overhead. It was a feeling of closeness to God that I haven’t felt since then.
The other memorable Sunday was the one following our tour of Yellowstone Park, Wyoming was our overnight stay in a small church. It was located in Wapiti Valley, Wyoming. The word wapiti means white rump according to one definition, describing an elk.
The church was built from the timber and boulders that were removed from the site where it was build. The mountains surrounding it, only enhanced its beauty. Inside, were the heads of several antlered elk hanging on the walls beneath high, wooden, cathedral ceilings and over the doors. It was s if the members were paying special attention to one of God’s creations for which the valley and church were named and we were allowed to sleep in the basement and cook inside, instead of having to set up camp to stay overnight.
We would run late if we stayed for Sunday morning service, but how could we refuse to such gracious hosts and I am glad that we did. The most memorable incidents that I can remember were the sharing of music and the collection of the offering.
Unusual memories? Not really. Our group was the special music and the “passing of the hat” was literal. When the ushers collected the offering, they used two white Stetsons as collection plates. It isn’t a memory that will quickly fade, for me and the rest of our troupe.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Hope in a Dark Place

After she fell, Hope crawled across the rough floor, bumping into unseen objects and getting splinters in her hands and knees. Pain mingled with fear. She stopped, sat up, and began to sob.
It was dark, extremely dark. Shaking her head, she thought, “I have to hold myself together and not panic.” She held back her tears. Her breathing sounded loud in her ears. A soft whistling sound, barely audible, came from the direction she was headed.
She pushed herself to a standing position and with hands extended, she took a few shuffling steps toward the sound, paused, and adjusted her path. Step by faltering step, she inched across the room. “Oomph,” she cried. Hope rubbed her thigh when she struck her leg against a hard corner. “I’ll have a bruise there tomorrow.”
Using her hands, she felt her way around the object, then stood quietly until she heard the sighing whistle again. She eased forward. It seemed like an eternity until she felt a solid wall before her.
The surface was irregular. By sliding her hands over the surface, she ascertained that it was a door, a double door, portals of escape, a way out of this darkness. She felt the crack where the two doors met. The faint whistle emanated there. A faint breeze and a thin shaft of diffused light squeezed through the crevice. A vestige of hope flickered in her soul.
She allowed her hands to slide downward, seeking the doors’ knobs. A cold, metal protuberance greeted her searching fingers. “It’s a handle. All I need to do is to pull it open and I’ll be free.”
Sliding her hand farther down, she felt more cold metal. She palpated it to determine what it was that she was feeling. There were thick, cold metal, interlinking ovals.
The doors were chained tightly shut. sliding to the floor, she began to sob. Hope was dashed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another of my short stories. I am rewriting for my editor, another story for my second Tommy Two Shoes mysteries. I will share this instead of writing an entry for my blog.

Matchless Grace

Grace decided to create a matchmaking business for the sole purpose of finding men for herself. The interviews for women were short and much less intense than the questions for the men. The men answered an impressively long list of probing and intimate details. Most of what she gathered was for her own use.
She created a profile for each applicant as well as one of her own. Her intuitive skills worked quite well. Many of her subscribers were dating exclusively or already wed. It wasn’t the best of the applicants she kept, but men who were desperately lonely and alone. She sought men who were small cogs, men who would be scarcely missed when they disappeared. Not overly impressed with their looks or prestige; she was decidedly not finicky. She took her time and chose her men with extreme care.
Grace could have created a thriving business with her intuitive matchmaking, but she ignored it, concentrating on her own desires.
She found new applications in her site’s email and began to rifle through them. One application caught her attention. She was attracted by the stats of Alex Walters. He was 34, a writer, his parents deceased, and no close relatives. Few other items mattered. After running a background check and finding no arrests and no outstanding bills, she was satisfied with her selection. His address was located in a moderately high scale building.
Immediately she began to memorize his likes and dislikes before sending him a “like” message. He accepted and soon began to date. At their first meeting, something was vaguely familiar, but she thrust it aside. Three dates later, she enticed him to visit her home. She slowly enticed him to come into her bedroom. He was shy and reluctant, but she finally convinced him.
Inside her boudoir, things changed and he became aggressive. She was willing to follow his lead, as long as it allowed her to gain access to his assets.
After she was firmly bound, hands and feet, Alex said, “I had a twin brother, Alan.”

It clicked. She remembered Alan. He was her first victim.

“We were separated at birth and had just found each other when he disappeared. I decided to find out what happened to him.” After removing a Tazer from his jacket pocket, he leaned over Grace and smiled.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Her Mother’s Child   

There are certain traits that I am glad that my children inherited from their mother and not from me. They are more adventurous than I was and that is good in many ways. I can be intimidated with many aps and programs on a computer. I am always concerned that I will do something that will cause the system to crash. My wife always was good with finances and my children have gotten the good part of that.
            The one thing that I am not happy that my one daughter has inherited is that she can use five pots and six utensils to boil water. A simple recipe can involve so many dishes to make it and the kitchen sink is filled afterwards.
I, on the other hand is proud that I can make a six course meal and dirty a pot, a serving dish, and one spoon to create a relatively tasty meal. If you use the measuring cup to measure the dry ingredients first then the wet, there is no need for two cups. Sometimes I actually use measuring spoons to follow a recipe instead of the pour on the palm of the hand for measuring.
There are times that I allow the creative juices to flow and start tossing things into a pot. Usually, it comes out edible if not tasty. I wipe off the spoon that I used to stir and mix to use as the serving spoon. Why not? It has all of the ingredients already on it.
One pot meals are my favorites and if I serve them on a paper or Styrofoam plate, fantastic. I do still like actual metal utensils with which to eat. Plastic just doesn’t cut it unless it is absolutely necessary. We have a dishwasher, but I think my daughter only uses it when the kitchen sink gets full. She can carry a dirty plate and place it on the counter above the dishwasher, when it takes about another three seconds to open the door and place it on the rack. That drives me insane and maybe that is her plan. She wants me locked away where I can’t share family secrets.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Only Yesterday         

It seems like only yesterday that I removed the flannel sheets from my bed and put on the summer garb of percale. In reality, it has been about two months ago. The summer wasn’t warm enough to shed the flannel snake skins. The nights have been cool enough to warrant a warmer covering.
This summer has been another wet and cool one. My lawn has enjoyed it, stretching heavenward and needing mowed twice a week, but I resisted, only completing that chore once each week. The only good thing about the cool autumn weather has been the beauty found in the multihued leaves and for some reason, the wonderful cloud formations. Many of the clouds have seen wispy, in a feather or fern frond way. They have been remarkable.
The coolness of the October weather has compelled me to pull of the short-lived percale sheets and replace them with the flannels. I did have only one set of flannels, but I found a set of barely used ones at our school’s yard sale and I bought them. Now, I don’t have to pull the flannels off when they get dirty, wash, dry and put them back on the same day. I can just replace them with another set and wash the others at my leisure.
I like the feel of flannels when I crawl into bed at night. The percale sheets would greet me with icy fingers while the flannels welcome me with warm and wide open arms. It is almost as though they know what kind of day that I’ve had and want to cuddle and make me feel as though they care.

I like my bedroom to be cool. It helps me sleep through the night, but the flannels keep me toasty and I like that, too. I have on my bed one of two knotted quilts that my mother-in-law, Retha Morrison, helped me to make. The top is made with various colors of double knit squares that are place onto a fleece backing, then knotted with yarn at the alternating corners of the squares. The fleece backing may wear out, but anyone who has used double-knit knows that it wears like iron. The fleece can be replaced and the quilt lives on, reincarnated like the Phoenix.
Retha started to make these quilts on a small scale. I mean that she would make baby quilts for people that she knew who were having a baby. She would use pale colors and white double-knit and knot it to a large bath towel. It made a personal gift for the parents and the newborn child.
Retha passed away, nearly eleven years ago, but I carry on the tradition and make baby quilts for relatives.