Friday, July 25, 2014

Bergamot’s Lavender Essence (The Power of Ideas)

This morning I sip black tea “kissed with bergamot’s lavender essence.” Ahhh...and just what is that essence? Google describes an aromatic oil found in bergamot orange peelings. The Bergamot, an Italian citrus tree, produces this substance used to flavor food and prepare essential oils and skin care products.

The rich floral flavor, also used in Earl Grey teas, boasts a tinge of bitterness. The Bergamot’s pale gold oil gives a fresh citrus scent. In other words, this cup of tea ought to transport me far from Iowa’s frozen tundra outside my window. In one fell swoop. To what location? It really matters not—just away.
The idea of an Italian landscape, straight out of the movies, lush with citrus groves and lavender fields—conveys strength. The idea has power. And those who hail from stringent pasts, where choosing the best was most likely prohibited, breathe in the strength of ideas.
Ideas can transform our attitudes. Not merely this cup of tea, but the very words on the box, may serve as transport to another, brighter place.
Why did I listen to my savvy daughter and paint our dining room walls such a flagrant yellow-gold? (She will tell you it took years for me to accept the introduction of brights into our d├ęcor, but at least I finally did.)
I did it because color makes a difference, like ideas. Stepping into this cheerful room, I feel better. This hue makes me forget that just outside, another ice storm wreaks havoc. It reminds me that somewhere, brightness prevails, and if I allow the process, even color or a mere idea can slip me into another way of looking at things.
Getting out of bed in the morning may be hard enough, much less producing any worthy thing throughout the day. But yellow helps, and so does the lavender essence in my mug. A hand-thrown pottery mug, by the way—a lovely creation by the same daughter who turned dull and uninteresting walls into inspiration.
Now that I think about it, an idea--an assignment in the Oregon Summer Writing Institute ten years ago, led to my memoir. Starting tomorrow (July 24) thru Sunday, Catching Up W/Daylight, is on sale (Kindle) for 99 cents, and I would so appreciate you spreading the word in whatever ways you are able.

After teaching English as a Second Language and expository     writing, Gail Kittleson enjoys her family (married 35 years, two children and two delightful grandchildren) and writing. Her nonfiction (Catching Up With Daylight/WhiteFire Publishing, 2013) and fiction (World War II era) share a consistent theme—empowerment. Visit Gail at her website
Catching up with Daylight can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Polar Bear Prayers

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death (Psalm 13:3)

I pray for really strange things. This morning on our walk Rosie stopped to sniff a worm that was painfully inching its way across the asphalt. I jerked my dog away and breathed a quick prayer: “Dear Lord, please help that worm make it across the road.”

I considered finding a stick to move the creature but decided against it. The worm would make it or not; I had done what I could.

My prayers are many and varied. Of course, I pray for my children and my husband, my friends, my church, and humanity at large; but I’m just as likely to pray for the mother bird I see flying to her nest with a twig or the baby birds that will soon fill that nest.

Before going to a book signing or setting up at a festival, I pray for the people who will buy and read my books.

Okay, now you can say, “Edith, you are weird. Who prays for worms and unborn birds?”

You’re right, it is weird; but I’ve come to terms with the fact that that’s the only way I can function. To borrow from William Wordsworth’s poem, “The world is too much with us; late and soon.”

Somehow these prayers absolve my conscience of the fact that I can’t protect all worms and birds just as I don’t have much control over people’s reaction to what I write or the to world in general.

Am I always successful in turning things over to God? Of course not! Most of the time I’m busy snatching back whatever I’ve put in His hands. It’s only when I am totally exhausted and out of options that I’m able to completely let go.

I love polar bears. I’ve never seen one outside of a zoo, though that’s on my bucket list of things to do. I worry about polar bears. Mentally I imagine a polar bear family huddled together on an ice floe as it visibly shrinks because of global warming.

What can I do to protect that polar bear family? Nothing, beyond joining environmental groups and approaching legislators—which I do.

In reality, my voice is small and I am overwhelmed by the bears’ plight.

That’s when I have to send up one of my weird prayers—so that I don’t sink into a morass of worry about circumstances over which I have little influence.

I’m not responsible for God’s world. I believe He creates and recreates. Maybe my calling is to point out worms struggling across hot asphalt, the polar bear plight, or my neighbor dying of cancer.

I do what I can.

 Please visit Edith at

Edith has written three fiction books and co-authored a collection of short stories. She writes about strong women living action-packed lives and overcoming great obstacles. Her stories are set in her native South and often are historical fiction.

Edith’s latest book will be released in early fall 2014. It is tentatively titled Called to Tell the Truth and is a collection of essays and short stories based on the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:13: “…faith, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love.

Friday, July 11, 2014


What the hey? Do-rags and patch-heavy leather vests? Earrings? Keys and bike fobs hanging from belt chains? And many with tattoos, beards, and goatees for gosh sakes. What happened to these lovely people?

Some serious morphing from school principals, cops, lawyers, printing company owners, surgeons, ministers, commercial artists, cigar store owners, brick masons, and on and on into (gasp) bikers doesn't just happen by accident.

No! Bill Harley and his pals, Art and Walter Davidson, must've had twinkles in their eyes when they attached the first pint-sized gasoline engine to a bicycle 110 years ago. But as excited as they may have been in their early marketing success, they couldn't possibly have envisioned the vast network of Harley-Davidson dealers and dealer-sponsored H.O.G. chapters that exist nationally and around the world today.

On any balmy weekend or evening of the year, normal citizens transform themselves into brothers and sisters of the road. And a large number of them are well past the midcentury mark of their lives, some even into their eighties.
Why do they take up this dangerous hobby, many ask. As the patch says: "if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand." Some have been riding most of their lives. Others made it number one on their bucket lists when they retired. Still others like me rode small bikes or scooters to work in our younger years when we had only one family car and dreamed of the day when we could hit the road again on more noble steeds.
Every time we straddle our machines alone or in a group, we get a surge of positive endorphins. It's always fun when our costumed crowd walks into an eating establishment and invokes one of three looks from the patrons: fear, disgust, or envy. I try to fake a thin smile that says I'm nice but watch yourself. When stopped at traffic lights or in gas stations, we often receive a thumbs-up or positive comments from cagers (car drivers) in the lane next to us.
But this is not merely a self-indulgent pastime. Much charitable good is performed regularly by bikers nationwide. The Patriot Guard Riders escort and protect military funerals on a regular basis while seasonal toy runs for children occur in every state. Bikers tend to be very patriotic and charitable as individuals, and we don't suffer the unpatriotic and uncharitable lightly.
In our genre of motorcycle riders, safety and practice leading to skills is a given. Helmets, obedience to traffic laws, and ongoing training is standard. We hold no affection for "sport bike" demons slashing their way through freeway traffic at supersonic speeds, clearing car fenders by inches. Nor do we have any patience with folks texting or engrossed in phone calls while we share the road with them.
When we pass a fellow biker and throw down the deuce, a two-fingered greeting, we have one thought for them that we tell each other when we part ways: "Be safe!"

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th!

Happy Independence Day!

....and the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. Oh say does that star spangled banner yet waive o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

May your 4th be blessed with time spent with family and friends as we enjoy the freedom bought for us by those who have served over the years, preserving that freedom. Thank you to all who have served and are serving! May your independence day be a grand celebration of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

God bless the USA!

Friday, June 27, 2014

I’m a Glutton for Punishment!

Why do I sit and watch Jeopardy? I don’t know any of the answers. I marvel at people who can spout out the most extreme trivia before I can read the clue. By the time the show is over, I feel like an uneducated bloke.

And then there are crossword puzzles. I absolutely love them! I streak through and fill in a whopping four words. Sometimes I’m on a roll and I know six answers. If it weren’t for my cell phone and Google, I’d be up a creek. Don’t shake your head at me - it’s not cheating, it’s making good use of my resources.

I’m not much better at jigsaw puzzles but I always have one in the patio room, in some state of chaos. I can usually get the flat-sided pieces arranged into the border but it’s slow going after that. I roam in occasionally and stare at the mess, fitting in a piece at the blistering rate of one per hour. My favorite was a gift from my beloved daughter: a field of bluebonnets. Every piece was some mix of blue and green. I was just about bald before I finished that one.

Do I love being frustrated? Am I excited to discover how little I know?

Not really – but I do love being challenged. I enjoy stretching my brain to shove in one more bit of information. It’s fun navigating through a maze of links to find the five-letter word for an ancient Babylonian coin.

My friends claim I don’t have a patient molecule in my body but I don’t agree. It takes tons of patience to stare at a pile of scattered, seemingly random pieces, to search for that elusive match, and remain. convinced there’s a small victory hidden in there somewhere. I delight in the finished picture I create from the jumble.

Let me tell you about determination! It doesn’t matter how few words I’ve filled in a crossword puzzle or how long I’ve stared at a puzzle without playing a single piece, I don’t give up. I’m sure it’s an issue of pride but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

Challenge, patience, determination. Skills I use every day in my work, my relationships, and my marriage.

So…when I’m sitting at the table where my jigsaw pieces are, crossword puzzle in hand, watching Jeopardy, I’m the most challenged, patient, determined insane person you'll ever meet!

Sherry Carter's first bible study "Storms of Life" won the Award of Excellence in Christian Literature at the 2007 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.
For several years, she worked as an engineer in NASA’s Shuttle Program, where she designed on-orbit experiments to be performed by the crew. After a series of agonizing crises, culminating in a layoff, God brought about an abrupt career change: Sherry, the engineer, became a Christian author.
She currently lives in west Texas where she and her husband are in service to their adopted retired-racing greyhound. She has two daughters and two perfect grandchildren, all who have the audacity to live in the Northeast.
Photo credit Crossword puzzle InterNACHI
Photo credit Jigsaw piece

Friday, June 20, 2014

Life Explained!

I take no credit for what you are about to read. It was sent to me and as is common with so many things passed from one person to another on the Internet, the author remains anonymous. This gave me a chuckle so I thought I’d share it with all of you.

On the first day, God created the dog and said, sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this I will give you a life span of twenty years.

The dog said, "That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?"
And God said that it was good.

On the second day, God created the monkey and said, "Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span."

The monkey said, "Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the dog did?"

And God again said that it was good.

On the third day, God created the cow and said, "You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years."

The cow said, "That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?"

And God agreed it was good.

On the fourth day, God created humans and said, "Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years."

But the human said, "Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?"

"Okay," said God, "You asked for it."

So that is why for our first twenty years, we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years, we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years, we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years, we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.

Life has now been explained to you.

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Collecting Mania

What do music boxes, quotes, angels and mugs have in common?

They’re all collected by a person who loves to enjoy them. It’s a mania. Of sorts.

Not that I’m a hoarder, but I’ve always loved to collect things, and I do have collections that have given me pleasure through the years and as a side note, have been lots of fun.

Take the quotes, for an example. They are short, pithy, and pack a wallop of information. They’re well suited to add to the end (or beginning) of a devotional, a guest post, or really, any type of post you want to share. They can be uplifting. They can deliver a punch. They can be hilariously funny yet get your point across. They can be serious giving the hearer/reader some valued thoughts for days to come.

The mugs and music boxes I kind of fell into, in a manner of speaking. We’ve traveled so much through the years, and thinking I needed to buy something for a memorable keepsake, I began gathering mugs from various places, states and countries. Fun for a time.

The music box collection began slowly. Then sometime in my twenties it exploded into a maddening gathering of any and all. Friends and family added to the collection. I didn’t have to particularly “love” the thing; it was just another one to add to the growing number.

After gathering over a hundred, I realized I no longer desired that feverish activity. Slowly I dissolved into a collector who was (is) wiser and choosier. Only those boxes that truly attract my attention, are old, or interesting in some way, are worthy of my cabinets now.

Am I over my mania? Of course not. A true collector maniac never heals from the “disease.” Will I ever begin seriously collecting another item? Doubtful. I'm at the stage where simple/fewer/easier is at the top of
my lists.

But I am doing one thing beneficial :): I’m passing that mania down to my grandsons. Grandson #1 is already showing the signs of “antiquing mania.”

Getting that trait honestly, I’d say!

Question: What do YOU collect?

Carole Brown lives in Southeast Ohio and is always on the lookout for catchy titles and suspenseful plots. The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, her debut inspirational novel, is a Selah Award Finalist and a ACFW Genesis semi-finalist. The first book, Hog Insane, in her cozy mystery book  series, has recently been released. A companion book for her debut novel (West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman), filled with quotes, tidbits of information, recipes and discussion questions, is also available.  She has written five children’s books, Racy, the Rabbit, dealing with character traits, and won two awards for her poems.

Carole has written her whole life as newspaper reporter, editor of journals and newsletters, and research manuscripts. When not penning her own novels, she enjoys mentoring beginning writers and founded a writer’s group called Circle of Pens where she can mentor to her heart’s content. Her passion for serving continues in her secretarial work and coordinator for the state of Ohio with ACFW. 

She and her husband have traveled extensively throughout the United States ministering and counseling. They have particularly enjoyed the western states where they’ve labored with the Native Americans and many other specific places where she gathers folder for her writings. They continue to enjoy traveling, their grandsons, the country life and city lights, gardens, and good food.

Connect with her here:

I also am part of several other blogs: 
And of course on Boomer Bits and Bytes.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Tippy and the Green Grocer’s Truck

In those long ago days just after World War II when I was growing up in rural Vermont, the local folks did not drive to the supermarket whenever they needed something to eat or cook. The Great Depression was still present in everyone’s mind and the suffering and lack that all endured was not forgotten. Driving to town was a treat. So everyone welcomed the green grocer with his weekly visits to rural homes and farms. We all depended upon what fruits and vegetables he found to buy on his visits to Albany’s warehouses.

The green grocer was a nice fellow, always happy to help farmers and their wives climb into the back of his truck to view his weekly selections and buy whatever they needed and their budget afforded. What he didn't expect was our cat Tippy, and her way of inspecting anything new. That’s just what the green grocer’s truck was to her as she was generally out mousing in nearby fields when his truck rambled up our driveway each week.

From where she was sitting sleepily on the old well outside our front door, Tippy saw a little field mouse scamper across the floor of the green grocer’s truck. And that woke Miss Tippy out of her cat dreams. She ran to the truck and jumped up into its rear section where all the week's fruits and vegetables were arranged in careful rows in bins attached to the truck’s side. No way was that little field mouse going to escape our Tippy's grasp.

She chased it around the bins and into a far corner and then she heard the truck’s engine start up as the green grocer backed out of our driveway. There was no time to jump off the back of the truck! Tippy was going for a ride.

She hid in a far corner as the Draffins and then the Rudds boarded the truck and made their selections. Then the green grocer pulled into the Hulett's back yard and Aunt Nellie Hulett came out to greet the green grocer. She had her wicker shopping basket over her arm. Aunt Nellie was prepared to buy broccoli and lemons and as she held a lemon up for a closer look, she spotted Tippy hiding beneath a nearby bin. “Isn’t that Don Norris’ Tippy?” she asked the green grocer.

He smiled as Aunt Nellie bought a bag filled with broccoli and lemons after reaching out for Tippy, whom she scooped up and placed in her wicker shopping basket. Aunt Nellie smiled and Tippy smiled wider. After a call to my father, Don Norris, Tippy was on her way back home to our house, settled in the wicker shopping basket that would be her bed for the remainder of her long life as our cat. Funny, but from that time on, whenever the green grocer’s truck came rambling down our driveway, Tippy stayed in her basket on our back porch. She never ventured near that truck again.

Alice DiNizo was raised in Vermont in those golden years just after World War II ended. She grew up in ArlingtonVermontwhere Norman Rockwell lived at that time with his family. She swam with her friends in the Battenkill River which flowed under the covered bridge that faced his home. Moving to New Jersey over forty years ago was an interesting experience for Alice, who writes under her cat’s name, J.B. But tough old girl that she is, she’s learned to love her adopted state and enjoys writing stories about it. She also reaches into her memory and writes stories about her family and childhood experiences. She lives at the New Jersey shore with her husband, dog and cats and contributes on a regular basis to

Friday, May 30, 2014

Get Up and Move

Rebecca Carey Lyles

I’m sitting in a chair as I write this, but I shouldn’t be. Why? Because a recent Swedish study concluded we need to move every few minutes to maintain our health. So, I just stood up, touched my toes five times and did a couple lunges. Now, I’m back at it.

The Swedish study, combined with others, found that lack of movement is harmful to our health. Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, says, “Sitting is a risk factor, not a disease. It's comparable to obesity, and it's almost to the level of smoking.” Dr. Joseph Mercola of writes: “Mounting research suggests that even if you exercise regularly, you might still succumb to the ill effects of too much sitting.” What are those ill effects? Heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke, shortened lifespan... Shortened lifespan? Yikes!

For years, we’ve been told regular exercise leads to improved health. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, I exercise every day for at least half an hour. Isn’t that enough? Evidently not—because, as the authors of the Swedish study point out, no matter how vigorously we exercise, that burst of exertion only involves a tiny portion of our 24-hour day. Dr. Mercola explains the problem by quoting David Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia. He says the lack of muscle contraction caused by sitting decreases blood flow throughout our bodies, thereby “reducing the efficiency of biological processes.”

I hate to say this, but housekeeping is good for us, as are washing cars, raking leaves, mowing lawns and tending gardens. Your house may be spotless, like mine (just joking…), and your hubby mows the lawn; plus, he takes the car to the carwash. What can we do around the house (or the office) to move our muscles?

Dr. Mercola sets an online timer to ring every 15 minutes. He takes a 30-60 second standing break and may do stretches or squats or posture exercises. If your house or building has stairs, you could run up and down a couple times and do some calf stretches—or heel stretches on one stair. Those with wood or tile floors might slide or skip around the house (or the office, if you’re daring).

Sweep your front porch. Do jumping jacks on your deck. Set your laptop or tablet on a counter and work while standing. Use a door frame to stretch arm and shoulder muscles. Yoga moves and isometric exercises are also great options. Even standing and rolling your head from side to side can be beneficial.

In nonmedical terminology from a nonmedical person, I think the idea is to keep our blood flowing. Remember, writers’ brains crave fresh blood as much as our muscles do. Stand up, stretch, march in place, sit down and write!


About Becky:

Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, the setting for her Kate Neilson novels. She currently lives in Idaho, where she serves as an editor and a mentor for aspiring authors and as a coach for women transitioning from prison to life on “the outside.” Her most recent book, Winds of Freedom, is the sequel to the award-winning first novel in the Kate Neilson series, Winds of Wyoming. She recently served as an editor and contributor for a short-story collection titled Passageways, which is scheduled to release next month.

About Winds of Freedom:

Winter storms blast across the Whispering Pines Guest Ranch, and a cold wind blows through Kate Neilson’s soul. Despite her pain, Kate’s well-being takes a backseat to the needs of loved ones: her best friend, who’s been ensnared by evil; her failing great-aunt, whose dementia care keeps Kate guessing; and Laura and Mike Duncan, whose ranch and livelihood are threatened by a land-grabbing neighbor.

Connect with Becky:
Facebook: Rebecca Carey Lyles
  or Becky Carey Lyles
Twitter: @BeckyLyles

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bear ye one another's burdens…”


Annette Bergman

I have a dear friend named Sally; we go as far back as Kindergarten. She was probably closer to me than my sisters.  She has always been there for me whether I was right or wrong.  Always patient with me, she would say things like, “Have you ever thought about…?” then she would elaborate on my latest dilemma. She gave me choices or ideas about how to move forward and resolve my issue. She has never judged me, only loved and supported me during trying times, and never told me what to do.  Then during the years when we were raising children I lost contact with her.

When, eventually, we reconnected, I asked her how she had developed this sincere and caring trait. “Why do you listen to everybody’s problems and try to help them?”

“It’s because of my sister, “ she said, “she was a lot younger than us. She started having trouble with her marriage and then turned to drugs, and she didn’t seem to want to help herself.  I was getting fed up with her not listening to me and I just gave up and told her to resolve her problems herself.  I learned the next day she took her own life and I have always felt as if she would be alive today if I had kept listening.  So now I take the time because I know what not caring can lead to.”

I can only imagine the pain and suffering she endured after her sister’s death. But shortly after, she became a surrogate mother to her sister’s children and treats each of them with love and respect.

Is this what God is saying in Galatians 6:2?  It’s certainly worth considering: Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the whole law.”