Saturday, May 30, 2015

I usually post only three times a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but this was too good not to post early. I wrote it just to share on Facebook, but decided to put it in my blog as well.

I had planned to buy a pair of cowboy boots when I visited my son, Andrew in Amarillo. We went to a few stores to look, I was appalled. One store carrier boots for men in purples, greens, oranges, and red. These were for men, with the Tony Lama brand on them. The colors were bad enough, but they were made in CHINA... Cowboy boots from China? Can anyone see anything wrong with this?
Then he took me to a place that made custom boots. Interestingly enough, the shop was named Beck's Boots from Amarillo. I have wide feet, 10.5 EEEE. They measured to be sure. There was nothing in stock and Mine would need to be custom-made to the tune of $400.00. I said no thank you and bought a turquoise and silver ring instead.
I say all of this to tell you that I ordered a pair of brown cowboy boots at Jerry's Western Shop, Champion, PA. My daughter is getting married in October and wants the wedding attendants to wear boots.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Today Was Unusual, Which Is Usual for Me

            No wakeup call this morning, but had the call last evening to sit with the friend's father. I had things that I had to do and declined. I finished the half of the lawn that I left from Wednesday. After putting the lawn mower away, I went shopping for a few things that I needed.
            I tried writing, but each time I decided to actually work on some ideas, they became jumbled and that I a time to let things alone and let them perk and sort themselves out. My words seem stiff and forced if I don't let them come out naturally.
            I spent some time watching the helicopter land in the field behind my house, take off, and land again. The helicopter has a long cable with a cutter bar that must be at least twelve feet to fifteen feet long. The helicopter flies along the electric power lines and trims away intrusive bushed and tree limbs that could interrupt the flow of electrical energy.
            There was a ground crew that would service the helicopter and the sickle bar when the helicopter would land. I was able to snap a few photos on my cell phone before it finally disappeared over the horizon, hidden by the tree tops.
            In the mail today, I got a postcard from a lady that knew I was sharing postcards each morning on Facebook. I will show it on Facebook at my next posting.
            Earlier, I bought a pizza earlier and managed to finish it off for supper, washed down by my diet orange soda. I was thinking about taking my nighttime medications and going to sleep. Sometimes my jumble of words will pour out in the morning and actually make some sense, when the phone rang.
            If you guessed it was a request for my services to sit with the friend's father. I am glad that the next day is Saturday. No school and that means no babysitting for me. Teachers don't have to go to the job on Saturday.
            It's not that I dislike the gentleman or the job of sitting. It is the whole retirement thing. I have turned down offers of employment, because I financially can and because I don't want to work anymore. Writing is what I want to do and even though I haven't made money, I like doing it. I like using my creativity. I like to call myself a wordsmith rather than a writer or author, even though I am both. In my novels, I try to inject subtle humor or play with double meaning names.
            I named a murder victim Jake Farmer, because he had been wearing khaki pants. He is in my new book. It is a series of murders that Tommy Two Shoes and his partner Duffy solve. Each homicide occurs at or near the Christmas holiday. It is in the process of being edited and should be on the market before Christmas time. I am not sure of the title, my editor didn't like Homicide For the Holidays.So we'll see what the two of us can come up with.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Wake Up Call

I retired to avoid those early morning calls because someone had called off and I was phoned to see if I could come into work. Not so, I got a call at 0635 asking if I could come and sit with a neighboring teacher. Her father has had some problems with pneumonia and a stroke. He couldn’t be left alone.
I gave in, after I shook the cobwebs from my head. I needed to be at their home by 0730. I threw together a quick microwave breakfast, ate, dressed, and brushed my teeth, before I gathered the book I was reading, a pad, and several pens. (A writer always has some story in mind or needs something to note if an idea should it occur.)
The daughter left to work once she showed to me the bathroom and the father’s bedroom. She was out the door and I was there with him. He was weak and could never be left alone for more than ten minutes or so. He was in his wheelchair and we got along fairly well, unless I tried to do something that he felt he could do without assistance.
He nodded off quite frequently, head nodding onto his chest. Nasal oxygen prongs hung from his nostrils almost looking like the body piercings on a person who enjoys that and thinks it enhances their appearance.
Coffee making was an ordeal. He had to measure the water and the coffee grounds. I got the half and half from the fridge. He claimed a premade sandwich and asked me to get out the bottle of ranch dressing for him, which he applied liberally or should I say generously. I have seen people dunk cookies or donuts, but this is the first time I saw anyone dunk a meat and cheese sandwich in their coffee.
His daughter returned after three rums to the bathroom, where I assisted him in and out of the wheelchair, helped him stand to wash his hands, and then back into the wheelchair. Pushing out to the kitchen table where he had his glass of water and paper towel waiting for his return. Once the oxygen was reapplied, he would speak a few sentences, then wander back down the lanes to sleepytown.
It was time to head for home, lunch, and to wait for my appointment with EverDry to return to evaluate some of concerns with lingering dampness.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Family Campfire

            Saturday evening, I had my daughter Amanda, her husband Eric and their daughter Hannah to share an evening with my other daughter Anna and her betrothed James. I went to the grocery store for the makings for mountain pies. White bread is versatile and with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese, a person can cook a personal pizza in a mountain pie maker in the heat of the campfire coals.
            White bread filled with the choice of cherry or apple pie filling and baked in the pie maker creates a personal, portable pie. Finger-burning, hot, and delicious delight is cooked in the fire.
            I also had the rye bread, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, corned beef and dressing to make Reuben's in the pie maker. I love the flavor of a Reuben with the outside grilled.
            For those who have never seen or used a mountain pie maker, let me explain. The maker consists of two hinged, metal pockets, approximately 4.5 inches square that are attached to two long handles. Buttered bread is laid into preheated pockets, the fillings are placed on one slice of bread, and the hinged pockets are closed. The pockets then are inserted into the campfire's hot coals. It's wise to turn the pie maker over at least once and to occasionally check the brownness of the pie before it becomes blackness.
            I bought hot dogs and three types of sausage, smoked sausage, with and without cheese, and a chorizo sausage. There were larger buns for the sausages and regular sized buns for the hot dogs. Chips and condiments competed for space on the table.
            We had a few pies that almost crossed over into the nether regions. What campfire would be complete without the S'mores. We had those as well. Amanda was courteous enough to bring the makings for those sweet endings to the evening.
            It was time to relax, except for Hannah who still wanted to play. We tried to allow our food to digest with our feet toward the heat of the fire. Too soon the sun dropped low on the horizon and a chill wind caused us to pack up and head inside.
            My son Andrew, his wife Renee, and my other granddaughters Celine and Moriah live in Amarillo, Texas. They couldn't join us, but you were remembered and we all wished you could have shared the food and fun around the fire.

Friday, May 22, 2015

And Now the Fun Begins

            Last evening, my editor sent back the first story in my new book for me to revise. She will make suggestions and look for errors in grammar, spelling, or punctuation. I will make corrections, reword, or rewrite until we are satisfied that the manuscript is the best that it can be. Then she will have someone create a cover for the next in the Tommy Two Shoes series. Since the other covers are photos of Pittsburgh in sepia colors for the other two books, I have suggested that the new cover have a photo of one of the past downtown Christmas tree on it. Once the cover is decided, she will send it off to be printed.
            The reason for the Christmas tree is that the entire set of stories are crimes that Tommy investigates that have occurred near the Christmas holiday and have wonderful names like "What Child is This," "Slay Bells Ring," "Under the Mistletoe," and "Over the River." Each story is an independent, stand-alone tale, but has a gradual progression of thought.
            Since all of the tales occur near the yuletide season, I suggested to her that we name the book "Homicide for the Holidays." She seems to like it, so we will see.
            If other authors can do it and plug their books on FaceBook, so can I. The following are the books that I have had published so far. My editor calls them cozy mysteries and I have been told by some of my readers that they are page turners. When I finished my first book, it ended in a bit of a cliffhanger and I was forced to write the second. Those who read the first kept asking, "What happened to Tommy's abducted brother?" So to answer them, I wrote the second and have been saddled with this retired homicide detective telling me what to write.
            I know some people will laugh, but these characters take on a life of their own. I have thought of an ending and have ended somewhere else, because Tommy says to go elsewhere and changes my mind somewhere in the middle of the story.
            It's time for me to stop with the blog writing for today and get busy with the new book. If you haven't read any of my scribbling, the titles are "Tommy Two Shoes: Form Mountains to More" and "Tommy Two Shoes: Entangled." They are available on Amazon.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Small Acts of Kindness

            As I look back on life, I have trouble remembering the acts of kindness or the words of kindness that I have done for others, although I am sure that I have given them out. At times, someone will say I remember this or that about you and quite frankly, I don't remember it.
            Maybe it is supposed to be that way. Accounts of kindness shouldn't be like an inventory or some people would be puffed up and vain. Isn't it enough that the person on the receiving end remembers? Isn't it enough that we have the pleasure of doing it? Isn't that reward enough?
            Small acts of kindness can go a long way in another person's life. My future son-in-law mowed my grass last evening, because my one knee was very painful. I said that I was going to mow today, but he went back to his house, brought his mower, and loped off the grass for me. God bless you for that. It allowed me to see what kind of a man my daughter is marrying. It allows me to be more comfortable in giving my daughter to him as a wife.
            I must have some kindness in me somewhere. I was a nursing supervisor for nearly twenty-eight years. That can be a hard position to fill and has the capacity to make many enemies, but Monday, I was invited to a luncheon for retirees of Frick hospital. It wasn't a management function, but rather an employee get-together and I was invited. I wouldn't have been invited if I hadn't made friends.
            I have a very liberal friend. She tells me that I am too kind to be a Conservative and so far, I am too kind to tell her that she's too intelligent to be a Liberal.
            There are a few times that I can recall acts of kindness and have written them down in my memoires as they come to mind. Many of the stories from my job are past posts on my blog. Some acts of kindness are placed there I am sure, but I am not adding them to this post, I just want to remind everyone, do small things for someone else. Don't expect a thank you or repayment. Be observant for chances to do things FOR others and not do things TO others. If we were as kind to humans as we are to our pets, the world would be a much, much better place to live.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Wonderful Evening

            Last evening at church, we had a group from the Indiana Bible College visit. They shared a testimony, sang, and gave a sermon. It is part of their ministry and chance for them to grow in their confidence and expertise.
            The hymns were beautiful. They harmonized quite well. I was sitting with a good friend Kathy and one of the hymns caught her off guard. "The Old Rugged Cross" was her father's favorite. It wasn't announced that they were going to sing it. When they started, she began to cry. I got up and fetched several tissues from the back of the church.
            One young man gave his testimony. It is remarkable how the Lord works in lives. He was saved in Germany, moves to Texas, and was led to attend the Indiana Bible College. I shared that my ancestry was from Huttendorf ,Germany and that my so lives in Amarillo, Texas. That wasn't part of his testimony, but just that it was a nice coincidence that made a connection between the two of us.
            The young man, who preached the sermon, combined his testimony as well as the scripture. It was taken from Joshua.  The message centered on the phrase, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. It was a very moving and thoughtful message.

            Two other "coincidences" occurred. We were having a celebration for our pastor emeritus' 81st birthday and were able to share the food and have a time of fellowship with these young men and women. I sat beside the chaperone's son. He was only fourteen, but was an excellent pianist. It was fun sharing jokes with him. He told some that I hadn't heard before. (I know that is hard to believe.) And I told him some that he hadn't heard, pulled from my vast repertoire.
            The second "coincidence" was that we finished our yard sale Saturday. Tables in the gym were still filled with clothing, purses, and other items. Our church was able to allow these young men and women to "shop" to add to their wardrobes. Students often need three things, food, clothing, and money. We were able to share all three: food, clothing, and a love offering. Thank you, Indiana Bible College for sharing.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The School’s Yard Sale

My kids attended a private Christian school from the time that they started their educations. I know that many people say that sheltering children from the world causes them to have problems adjusting to the life in the "real" world. I feel that sheltering them from the evils that are out there allows them to grow in faith and their belief so they can face the world and challenge it from a strong base.
Two times per year, the school puts on a yard sale. The proceeds help to support the school and the staff there. Like even the public schools now, the educational system doesn't work well and many classrooms have financial difficulty. Mostly due to governmental rules and regulations that schools are forced to comply. The financial burden of those rules haves drained the coffers and leave little money for the actual education of children.
I have helped in most of the yard sales, the week before, sorting, stacking, and carrying items bought in to be sold. It was sometimes difficult to arrange time off while I worked.
Our first attempts went well, but sere outside and at a private residence. That put us at the mercy of the weather. Sometimes we had to cover our tables and dodge the raindrops and chilly temperatures. It was surprising what we were able to accomplish.
The sales and the items became too large for the private home location and we moved indoors to the gymnasium of the school. That was a blessing to be in and out of the weather. Many of the tables were at hand and easily set up. The time and effort to sort, to carry, and to make sure the donated items were clean, in working condition, and sellable, remained the same.
The yard sale allows the school to earn much needed monies, as well as an outreach into the community. The amount of clothing that goes out every year is remarkable. The cost is $1.00 to fill a plastic grocery bag. (It used to be a paper shopping bag.) There may be some people who say, "Why don't you just give it away." History proves that when something is given, the recipient often doesn't perceive any value, but if they have to pay something, even if minute, they will appreciate it much more.
Many times there are people who pour over the items, deciding exactly what they want from the vast array of sizes and colors. Shoes, purses, and household items are for sale as well. We also sell baked goods, chocolate covered peanut butter eggs, and pepperoni rolls.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Singing the Blues

This will be another busy week. I am helping with the yard sale and I am babysitting for my granddaughter. So I am sharing some things that I have done, but not posted in the past. This item was a prompt from one writing group. The leader posed that we try our hands at writing a blues song. The following was mine, but he said mine was more like a country western. So, whatever, this is what I wrote.

My baby done left me, she took all that I had.

She wasn’t a Jezebel, I wasn’t Galahad.

She took all my money, after taking my name

She knew all the rules and how to play the game.


She wasn’t Delilah and strong Samson I’m not

She baited the trap and I surely got caught.

She stripped my bank bare and I’m shit out of luck

Taking my ole hound dog, she drove off in my truck.


It was what I came up with as a blues song. It sounded like the guy who was experiencing his wife leaving him would have been pretty blue to me.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Resh’s Red and White

                My brother Ken and I often walked the two miles from our home to Indian Head, Pennsylvania. We lived almost halfway the two small towns, it and Normalville. We walked to Indian Head most of the time because it was downhill most of the way and there were two steep hills between our house and Normalville. Water runs downhill and so do kids sometime.
Normalville wasn’t named because the people were noted for being normal folks, but because a teacher’s school was once located there. Teaching schools were called “normal schools” and the town derived its name from that school.
Our walk was not for exercise, but rather to collect glass soda pop bottles and turn them in for cold, hard cash which we spent right away. People then as today, would toss empty unwanted items from their cars along the highway. Three cents for the small bottles and five cents for the large quart size ones.
We would search the berm of the roads for the castoffs and carry them to the local Red & White store. The last name of the owners was Resh. It was no mystery how the store got its name. Red & White was the chain brand and Resh was the last name of the owners.
The highway that we walked was a combined route of routes 711 and 381. It was and still is heavily travelled. It was rare that we would make the walk and not find enough bottles to buy a candy bar and another bottle of soda.
Most often the drink that we would choose would be Cherokee Red, with an Indian’s head wearing a war bonnet of feathers embossed on its side. I can still remember lifting the Cherokee Red out of its cold water bath. It was tall, cold, and gloriously red.
If we didn’t have enough to buy two candy bars, we would alternate out favorites. Ken liked Three Musketeers and I liked Snickers. At times we would have enough for two bars if we bought a Lunch Bar. It only cost three cents. Its wrapper was forest green with white and red lettering on it. It was shaped and about the same size as the Hershey Bar with almonds, but it had peanuts instead.
Once we counted out the money for our purchases we hoped we had enough left over to buy a small box of matches. We would leave the store and cross the sandstone pillared bridge, stopping in the middle. Sitting our buys on the cement, we would open the matches and one by one rest the heads of the matches on the striker, flick a finger against it, and watch as it lit and twirled end over end into the water below.
Now came the walk home. We had already eaten the candy bars and would sip at the bottle of pop, making it last until we got home. We would store the bottle in a safe place. That was the start of our next trip to Resh’.

Friday, May 8, 2015

What to Keep and What to Toss

I am sorting through years of accumulated stuff. Where does it all come from? Why can’t I seem to toss things? I have cards from too many Christmases past, too many Father’s Days past, and from birthdays I’d rather forget. I know why I’ve kept some. They are the memories that my brain tries to keep alive. Others I’ve kept because I forget that they are there.

I just cleaned out my closet, passing shirts and pants that I either don’t like or I have too many of them. I bought dress pants and shirts for my job as a nursing supervisor. Now, I don’t need so many as I did then. Button down shirts and dress slacks were what I was expected to wear. Now that I am retired, I wear jeans and most often a tee shirt.

Papers and paid bills accumulate. I know somewhere in my attic are old check book stubs form fifteen plus years, tucked in among the paid bills of that era.

I have been sorting and shedding of some of these things. Yesterday, I took photos to Wal-Mart to have copies made. Not for me, but for my brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law. They were shared memories that were passed to me in photos from my mother-in-law Retha Morrison. They were photos that I was sure that they did not have, but I wanted to keep them for my kids as well. I know, I made more and not less things, but they are memories and memories were meant to share.

Our church school is having a yard sale to support the school next week and that has spurred me into a “clutter reduction frenzy.” I guess I shouldn’t say frenzy. It’s more like a higher gear of movement for me. I don’t do frenzies any more unless a wasp or yellow jacket ends up in my pants.

Slowly, ever so slowly I am trying to reduce the burden that my kids will have when I shuffle off this mortal coil or if I should decide to downsize and move to a smaller home when I am the only person living here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


It’s dreams of you that linger still,

warm and sweet, treasured and refined.

In my dreams, I can yet drink my fill

leaving reality behind.

My heart is still a resting place

where memories of you reside.

Fading images of your face

flickers softly stored deep inside.

I wake without you beside me.

I shake the cobwebs. My head clears.

The room is dark and so empty

I find my pillow wet with tears.

Your face reappears in my thoughts,

but my dreams still are burning.

As I wake, my mind’s tied in knots

alive or not, my thoughts churning.

My breathing seems so very loud

it mingles with the ticking clock.

My blankets wrap me like a shroud

ghostly memories me walk.

What is it that I find I miss?

Is it your smile, your touch, your soul?

Is it your scent, your eyes, your kiss?

In my life, you’ve left a great hole.

Where is the sweet bride that I wed?

I write to show that I still care.

You sleep in death’s icy cold bed

with arms that are empty and bare.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Smicksburg Book Signing

Saturday, I was invited to attend a book signing event at the Windgate Vineyards and Winery, located in Smicksburg, Pennsylvania. This was my first time to be invited. I had no idea how to get there or what to expect. I was encouraged to go by another writer and friend who had gone to the signings before.
Joanne, Joe, and I left Ligonier, Pennsylvania just after 9 a.m. for the drive north. Joanne retrieved written directions from an envelope and we were off. The roads took us through highways and back roads. Some roads were well maintained highways and some were pothole strewn back roads. Even while driving, I was able to enjoy the wooded areas, barns, and sometimes even beautiful vistas of valleys and streams.
Many places the leaves were just popping form their bud blankets, waking from their winter’s nap. The sun shone down on them, making their colors glow, like subdued hues present on the autumn trees. It was almost like travelling in a fantasy forest.
As we neared Smicksburg, we saw Amish farms along the highway. Soon we were sharing the world with Amish men and women guiding their horse drawn buggies along the road. Signs advertising handmade furniture, cheeses, hand sawed hemlock, and Amish Country stores, lined the berm.

The road to the Windgate Vineyards was gravel and dusty. I kept my speed down to prevent others travelling the opposite way from choking. Several buildings clustered around the winery sales room. In a large side room was the area set aside for the authors. Flowered tables with our name placards were already set up for us. We just had to claim our spots and set out our wares. More and more authors came and we milled around the room, chatting and getting to know our specialties in writing.
Our gracious hostesses Cay, welcomed us and set out a wonderful buffet of croissant sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Coffee, iced tea, and wine for those who imbibed, was made available for us.
Although I didn’t sell a thing, I bought books for my daughters for Christmas. Tired, driving home, we missed a turn. It took us longer to make it home, but all in all, it was an enjoyable day.
Thank you Windgate Vineyard and Winery for showing us a grand time.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Elevators of My Youth

In the rear lobby of the old, gray bank building, there was a glass encased marquee that listed the floors and office numbers for the professionals who worked in offices above. Looking through the glass front of the case, we could locate the office of the person that we sought. My mother ran her finger down the list until she saw the floor and room number of Dr. Stone, the EENT specialist. Turning, we walked across the white and gray marble floor to stand outside the elevator door.

The elevator was located at one side of the lobby. The car wasn’t on the lobby floor. I could see the darkness of the shaft through the small diamond shaped window in the door. There was enough light from the frosted globe chandeliers hanging from the plaster fluted ceiling of the lobby that I could see the metal bars of the accordion gate located on the other side of the thick window impregnated with chicken wire.

I glanced at my mom and she nodded. I reached out to press the black button with the ivory colored up arrow near the top of a shiny brass plate. This was the ground floor, but there must have been a basement because there was a similar down arrowed button.

Somewhere above in the blackened elevator shaft, a bell sounded. “Br-rin-ng.” In response to our call, the rumble of something heavy being closed, then the squeak and rattle of something lighter being closed in the darkness above. It was a time when the elevators had an operator who controlled the car. They would open and close the doors, then deliver the rider to the requested floor.

The noise continued to grow in the shaft. I heard the snap of a spark, then the thrum of an electric motor starting. It was replaced with the shush of the car as it started to descend.

Through the door’s small window I could see the thick dirt and grease coated electric cables loop into view into view, then droop lower as a pale light in the shaft grew stronger. The humming of the motor and the clicking of the elevator car intensified as it dropped into the lobby where my mother and I stood waiting. The soft swoosh pushed the smell of electric ozone from the motor out of the shaft and into the air to surround us.

Slowly the thick, dark platform of the car appeared in the window as the floor of the elevator eased by the window. The hum of the elevator became louder as it neared its stop. A gentle jiggle of the controls leveled the car with the lobby floor.

I could see a smooth mahogany colored hand reach across the now lighted window to unlatch the accordion metal safety gate. The hand pulled the gate to scissor to one side. The hand reappeared and I heard the rasp of metal and the elevator door slid open with a heavy metallic grumble.

As I stepped inside, I saw a much polished oak seat attached to the wall. It folded down for the operator to ride. The operator was a middle aged black woman who smiled as we entered. Her smile revealed a set of dazzling white teeth that was enhanced by her dark skin. She wore a white button down blouse and white socks, a black skirt and black tie-on shoes.

“What floor, please?” she asked.

My mom gave her the floor that we wanted. The woman smiled again as she reached for the hinged, metal handle that levered the car door closed. Giving it a pull, the door shut. The operator with a push closed the accordion gate before settling back onto the seat.

Grasping the handle of the dial on the green painted metal wall at her side, she pushed it forward and the elevator car started its slow ascent up the dark shaft. There was a small bump then I felt the vibrations of the motor through the hard soles of my dress shoes. Several floors passed by the window, showing a large white painted numbers on the thick concrete floors. The numbers designated the level of the building.

I saw 2, 3, and 4 came into view. The operator twisted the dial and the elevator slowed as the floor we needed approached. With a small adjustment that made the car jiggle, she stopped the car. With a practiced tug, the accordion gate opened, then she opened the outer door by tugging a long metal handle.

As we moved toward the door, she gave us a dazzling smile and said, “Have a good day.”

“Thank you,” I replied and exited the elevator.