Monday, July 30, 2012

Age From a New Angle

JoAnn Swearingen, author and artist

Perhaps I’m seeing age from a different angle, but it seems that society’s opinion of age has changed. I remember my grandmother. While cleaning out closets I came across the beginning of a biscuit quilt that my grandmother created out of scraps—rags, stuff that we think today belong in the landfill or never see because we don’t let our clothes disintegrate into scraps. We prefer paper towels and quilts from the antique store or local boutique. Grandma’s quilts are treasured, but we don’t have time or the need to use up every inch of what we have.
 I didn’t see her as “old’ although today she would qualify as a senior citizen. To me, she was intriguing. I thought my parents knew a lot, but she seemed to know more. My mom knew how to crochet, tat, and knit but didn’t produce the beautiful décor that my grandmother had.  
Nursing homes were deemed horrible places and only the poor were doomed to live there. Spare rooms and grandma suites were provided for many. Grandmothers and sometimes aging aunts took care of the home and children while the parents worked. My grandmother didn’t come to live with us, but I wish she had. She taught me to crochet, but I could have learned so much more. How she a housewife summoned the courage to move into a house in town and live by herself for a while when grandpa refused to. But it was only the beginning of that era of retiring to a place in town, and she soon moved back to the farm.
            When it came her turn, my mother progressed graciously into great-grand motherhood. She faithfully sent letters every week and cards on special occasions.  My children and grandchildren still remember how loved they felt when a few dollars came in the mail every year at birthday and Christmas time. They welcomed her correspondence as something as precious as those bygone quilts painstakingly sewn together by the light of a coal oil lamp by my grandmother. My oldest grandchildren are almost grown now, and I feel I’m becoming one generation removed from the family. My children and eventually my grandchildren will all scatter. If we’re fortunate, we’ll be able to have holiday get-togethers, but the sense of family has changed. My grandmother filled the void with teaching lost arts and my mother with letters, cards and small money gifts.
But what am I going to contribute?
I’m transforming myself into a “technie” to keep up because even my e-mails fail to get answered today—texting is the in thing. However, texting is evolving into skyping. If great-grandma wants her great-grands to know what she looks like and/or talk to her, she’ll have to buy a special telephone and set up a skype account.
Something seems wrong with that picture. And I’m not sure how to “fix” it or how I can toggle into the modern generations with my “old-fashioned” ways. After thinking about it, I’ve decided perhaps keeping pace with the changing technical world is not what the grandchildren or children, whether mine or those of a friend, want from me. Instead, they sincerely want to know what it was like when I was a child, a young adult, or if their grandmother, a young mother raising their mom or dad, etc.  Our youngest grandson heard about war at school and wanted to know all about what being in the “service” was like for granddad.
I couldn’t resist and also told him what it was like when granddad and I met. I told him grandpa told me I was “beautiful.” He loved it, but his response? “Ewwww.”

Nope, being an old gal or geezer may have its connotations, but it’s also a good thing. And I feel it’s up to us aging matriarchs and patriarchs to determine for ourselves what of value we want to imprint in the minds of the future generations. And figure out how we can link our pasts with their present and futures. 

JoAnn is a writer and artist. Visit her art website at: 
and her blog at

art website:

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Best Time Ever to Be a Kid

When I was growin' up in the '50s, my best friend was Colby. Now, we didn't go around tellin' everybody we were best friends, like girls do. We didn't even tell each other. Heck, we didn't need to. The things we did together demonstrated our relationship better than any words could describe it. We had more fun than any two boys ought to. If our parents knew half of what we did, they'd agree.

I should warn you, if you wanna' read our adventures, they can make you laugh, gag, hold your nose, cry a little, call us crazy, or maybe liars. Did you know people do those things to geezers ... all six of 'em?

Our stories got told so many times they sorta' grew into a book, Colby and Me: Growing Up in the '50s and '60s. Its premise is that we grew up in the best place, best country, and best time ever to be kids. I'll bet you want some evidence though.

As Perry Mason says, "exhibit number one" – in 1956 a kid could walk into a drug store, hand the druggist fifty cents, walk out with a can of saltpetre, mix it with a little sugar and blow up … uh … moving on to exhibit two.

You can't beat the good ol' USA. Everybody wants in. Nobody wants out. By the time Colby and I were born, we had antibiotics. Without them, I wouldn't have survived to have any friendships. About the time we became aware of polio, we had the Salk vaccine. From the time we were aware of wars, we had only the Cold War to worry about, but we knew our beloved Ike would protect us.

Colby and I lived in Southern Oregon, a virtual paradise for young boys. Besides the Pacific Ocean, the many rivers and hundreds of lakes for swimming and fishing, we had a bazillion acres of uninhabited forest land to wander as far as our legs could carry us in a day. To top it all off, we had a great spring and fall with a long, hot summer sandwiched in between to give us plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors.

We were raised before those doggone, no-fault divorce laws that brought the marriage meltdown. Only one kid in my whole school came from a divorced family. And none of us worried about bein' snatched by some evil maniac while outside, in town, or anywhere for that matter. There were no illegal drugs. That came later when hippies from San Francisco invaded us.

We had no real worries as kids except report cards or, as we grew older, zits. It was a time to just enjoy bein' a kid without anyone trying to speed up our growing-up process. To top it all off, I had a best friend, Colby, who when combined with all those other bests, gave me the best childhood of any kid that ever lived. At least I think so.

About H L Wegley
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories, where he published scientific articles, reports and books. In his second career, he worked as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area where he is involved in a small-group ministry. In 2010 he began his third career, writing fiction. His romantic thriller, Hide and Seek, is coming soon from Harbourlight Books, Pelican Book Group.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Alice is doing a fill in today....a couple of serious, one light.

Today, at Charity Resale, a local Toms River thrift shop where profits go to fight hunger, I  was volunteering as I do every Wednesday morning, and visited with two friends as we priced donations in the workroom. 

One of us just went through a very difficult time with her husband who has COPD. The  other friend told of how her husband had survived throat cancer, and we all agreed  that people in their thirties and forties cannot understand why our age group often doesn't commit to upcoming events. They are busy with paying mortgages, raising their children, and are not, for the most part, faced with the upcoming death of a mate or a longtime friend. Death is  always a part of our world.  

Well, we are faced with unpleasantries, okay, but as time passes, our sense of humor and patience grows. For an example, our neighbor was having a fit because a dog urinated on someone's lawn. Hey, send that dog over to my yard anytime. Saves watering the crab grass! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why the Old Get Old

Get involved: stay young
We get old because we hang out with old folks.

As a young mother, I leaped over coffee tables to keep my toddler from hurting herself--or worse. I taught school during the day, sponsored Girl Scouts by night. I ingested coffee to keep me regular--that is: to get me to the dentist, the School Improvement Committee meeting and my dinner date on time.

Now, all I do is hang out with old folks. And the consequences?

 I park in the handicapped spots because my mother has an artificial knee (and hip and several other body parts. Why she's disabled is beyond me. She is the bionic woman.) My husband blasts the TV, deafening me, because he can't hear, and so my hearing has devolved. And my social calendar consists of sipping coffee on the porch and waving to neighbors.

Where have all my physical, intellectual and social incentives gone? And what's an old lady to do?

Old age and old peers are no excuse. We can still:

1. Exercise. I no longer run marathons...but I stay active by: walking the dog, kayaking and short jogs. If that's too much for arthritic limbs, invest in a Wii. You can dance from a wheelchair, bowl from the sofa or box to your heart's desire (and improvement)--all without injuring yourself.

2. Learn. As we age, we retire. Our blissful peace comes with a price as we lose intellectual stimulation. Check out your local college, see what courses they offer for seniors. One college nearby offers a group called New Horizons. It teaches seniors new musical instruments.

3. Volunteer. While it's nice to wave to people, as humans we need more. Even with our own limitations we can volunteer. Check out your local Habitat for Humanity, head to the nursing home, or help at a preschool, those little ones kept you young when you were young--they still can.

So old people surround us. We meet one in the mirror every morning. But that's no reason to become old, dessicated and cranky.

Carol McClain is a multi-published author in the magazine market. The biggest challenge she's discovered since she's retired is having down time. She does everything in her power to avoid that.
You can visit her blog at

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Still Riding the Road

By G. R. Holton

So your over 50 and gave up your motorcycle 25 years ago. I did the same thing because holding it up and riding for 20 – 30 miles became a chore. I saw a sight today that reminded me of why I enjoyed riding and how I can get back to it. I was sitting in a McDonald’s in town and I heard the familiar rumbling of motorcycles… not 2 or 3. There had to have been at least 30 trikes pulling into the parking lot. 

I was amazed.  It was then that I realized that none of the riders could have been younger than 60 years old. They all wore florescent yellow t-shirts that read, “The Restaurant Riders – Trying new restaurants’ one at a time”. It was a bikers club that was travelling the country in search of the next great meal.

My wife and I loved riding together, but as I got older it was too much of a hassle to be in pain riding. We missed those days of riding the back roads and finding ourselves lost until we wanted to be found again. I have checked out trikes lately and they have stereo systems, citizen band radio, intercoms to talk to each other, built in cell phone setups. These trikes are luxurious. They have extra wide seats and arms rests for the passenger. They are almost the size of a compact car making them a lot easier to be seen

So I went online and just started looking at trikes. You can find awesome deals from twenty thousand and above for great looking trikes, of course the nicest ones I saw were 2012 trikes fully loaded with all the bells and whistles for forty five thousand and less.

I know this posting has absolutely nothing to do with my writing and screenplays, but I know when my first movie comes to fruition you know where I am headed. You will find me at the Goldwing dealership looking for my trike. What a wonderful way to see the country now that you have the time to do so.

So if you find yourself hankering for a run on the road… wear bright colors and keep it between the lines.
G. R. Holton

About G. R. Holton
On a warm summer morning in 1962, G. R. Holton was born in a small town in Massachusetts and is the second eldest in a family of eight children. He is happily married and living in eastern Tennessee. He has two daughters, a son, a step-daughter and a step-son and is also the proud grandfather of four beautiful girls.
 G. R. took an interest in computer games to pass the time, and then one day he made a friend on one of those online games with chat that turned out to be a screenwriter and movie director. They became great friends and after a few weeks of talking, he met her husband online and hit it off quickly. He gave him a couple of his screenplays to read and he was hooked. He knew at that point he wanted to try writing.
One night, after days of not being able to come up with a story to write, he had a dream of three teens on another planet and in a cave. This was it; he knew what had to be done. He sat down at the computer and over the course of three months he had written his first book, “Soleri”. He knew he couldn’t stop there, so he continued writing and “Guardians Alliance” was born. He has also published a children’s picture book called, “Squazles” about not judging others and did the book design for Cameron Titus’s “A to Z book: A Habitat for Humanity Project”. His latest, “Deep Screams”, is a science fiction/horror/paranormal thriller that has become the Books and’s Best Science Fiction for 2011. G. R. has also won The Author’s Shows “50 Best Writers You Should be Reading for 2011”. All of G. R. Holton’s work can be found at all the internet book sale sites or on his website at His latest release is called, “Dragon’s Bow” a tale of sister vs sister and good vs evil.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


by Linda Rondeau
Editor, Geezer Guys and Gals

I dreaded the prospect of aging. The inevitable had come like taxes and morning breath. As I gazed into the mirror, I concluded I could no longer hold to the illusions of eternal youth. But, how does one gracefully glide into the night while still worshipping the day? I looked for someone to teach me and found a hero in my cat.
Already grown when she found us, she stayed for another twenty years.  
We already owned two male cats and hadn’t wanted any more. Yet, there she was, sitting on our porch, licking her fur, and acting like the princess of 900 Greene Street. She knew she had found a home before we even knew she needed one.
It was nearing Christmas and a familiar scripture came to memory, pulling at my senses like a nagging child:  “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me (Matthew 25:45). 
But, like the Levi in the Good Samaritan story, we passed her on the other side while she huddled into a cold corner of the porch.
 When she clung to her post, I felt remorse, as if she’d been sent to us somehow.  After three days, I could stand the guilt no longer. We brought in her and named her Noel in honor of the season. 
At first, Noel roamed while we slept and became invisible during the day, occasionally allowing a glimpse of her brown, tiger-stripped body as she scurried up the stairs to hide. She remained secluded, refusing to eat while the home’s denizens were active. 

Soon, her fear gave way to curiosity.  She sauntered into the living room to examine us, yet remained aloof. The slightest attempt at affection sent her flying back up the steps to her secret place.  
This sleuthing continued for the next six months until the day she decided to engage us. I was reading a book and sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee when I became cognizant of loud purring and an inexplicable weight on my tummy. Distracted from my comfortableness, I found Noel resting on my lap. Then she started nipping at my hand. 
 I thought about ignoring her just as she had ignored us for the last six months. Tenacious to the core, she continued nipping until I had no choice but to stop reading and either pet her or push her off my lap. I chose the first option, and the purring resumed. It was the beginning of a long and great friendship. 
Noel’s tenacity continued to characterize her disposition into her old age. In spite of her hefty bulk and arthritic joints, she fought for first sitting rights. Even to the last, she battled with our two male cats for lap supremacy, the younger felines scooting for safety whenever Noel hissed.   
Noel braved whatever life threw her way, including the ravages of age. She withstood pain with the same fierce determination as that blustery, yuletide day she first decided to grace us with her love.
I am grateful she found us. Among the many things she taught us was that life is precious at any age.

Available wherever books are sold
Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight),  LINDA RONDEAU, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.  Readers may visit her web site at  Her second book, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation, Trestle Press, is a futuristic political thriller published is now available in ebook on and Barnes and Noble.  Print edition will be available September 7. 

To Purchase                                                                            

America II Nook

America II: Amazon

Monday, July 16, 2012

Name That Kid!

I feel sorry for modern kids. Or should I say kydz? Today’s parents either don’t know how to spell, or they’re trying to be cute. 
           Not long ago, David was always D-A-V-I-D. Little Davey didn’t need to spell his name to the librarian, his Sunday school teacher, or the softball coach. Now he totes flashcards and wears a name tag day and night. It might be Dayvid, Davidde, or Daivihd. Same with a perfectly decent name like Mary. Her flashcards could read anything from Mahree to Mayrie to Mairey.
I cringe to think where this generation of creative spellers is leading us. Imagine a family singing together on a road trip. Sister starts, “There was a farmer had a dog and Bingo was his name-o, B-I-N-G-O...”
Brother interrupts, “That’s not right. Kevin has a dog named Bingo and they spell it B-E-E-N-G-O-U-G-H.” Family bonding takes a huge step backwards.
Or what about Sunday school songs? The leader steps to the podium and charges into, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me…” when a redheaded girl in the front row corrects him.
“We don’t spell it that way anymore,” she says. “We use the new spelling: B-Y-E-B-I-L-L.” He stumbles off the stage, his hopes for a shining career as a song leader dashed.
I know, I know. Embrace progress, move forward, don’t dwell on the past, change is good, etc. I agree. But please don’t tell me I’m going to turn on the T.V. one day and hear “M-I-K-K-E-E M-O-W-H-S!”

Jeanette Levellie is a humor/inspirational author and speaker who's published hundreds of articles, columns, stories, and poems. She's thankful that her debut book, Two Scoops of Grace with Chuckles on Top: Sweet, Funny Reminders of God's Heart for You, has received tremendous reviews. She and her husband Kevin, from Paris, IL, are the parents of two grown children, three grandchildren, and servants to four cats. Jeanette spells her name the right way.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Are we there yet?

By Babs Mountjoy

I remember the family road trip.

You know, the one where you’d pack up the kids and the family dog in the big old station wagon along with the cartop carrier full of camping gear and whatever else you could squeeze in there. Off , shoulder to shoulder, to find some cottage or campground for a week of “Mom, he touched me!” and “Are we there yet?” and if Mom and Dad were lucky, a few minutes of peace when the children all found something else to do.

We were pretty low-tech back then. You brought board games to play by lantern light, a deck of cards. A Frisbee, if you could find yours. Then you spent the rest of the time gallivanting about the spot your family landed—in the lake, at the mini-golf, playground, even hiding-and-seeking in the woods, exploring as long as you could. When it got dark you’d come back to the cabin/tent and patch up your wounds, slather on the calamine lotion and sleep hearty till the next day. Seems simple enough.

This summer, I’ve headed west to do some research for a book I’m writing set in Montana, so I invited a friend to help me drive and brought my twelve-year-old daughter, too. But we’re not doing anything so easy as we did “back in the day.”

We’re traveling in this:

My dear husband insisted that we must purchase this in time to take it with us. Since my husband couldn’t get away from work to help me with it, this has certainly been a learning experience for ME, though. So with less than three days’ preparation, away we went.

I’ve got to admit it’s got its perks. TV —even cable, depending on the stop. Running water, toilet, shower, all inside with you. Refrigerator instead of that old clunky plastic cooler. Even a stove so you don’t have to light a fire anywhere. Big comfortable front seats and lots of storage and room for the girl to move about inside. But beyond that, it has a stereo system. And during the thunderstorm that terrified my child, a DVD player with plenty of episodes of Glee.

Camping used to be easy. I know how to set up a tent. Sleeping bags go on the ground. Zip the tent before the bears (or more likely raccoons) get your food. This behemoth? It leads to some rather unexpected problems.

Like toll booths.

You know, all you have to do is drive up to one of these booths and take the ticket. Easy enough. Unless the booth thinks you’re a semi truck. Then it spits the ticket out about eight feet off the ground. So here I am belted into the driver’s seat, my shoes off for driving, trying to reach out the window for this ticket. No way to reach it so I wriggle out of the belt. Still no joy. So I open the door a crack to lean closer and drop a shoe out of the door. Fabulous.

We survived that, of course. We survived the cupboard flying open and shattering the glass dishes all over the floor. We mostly survived the gas station with the large concrete block that took out the back left compartment door, after applying a batch of duct tape and a bungee cord to hold the particleboard skeleton together till we get home.

We learned how to make the hot water heater work, how to pack most things in plastic, how to get the set-up and take-down of all the cords and hoses nearly as fast as getting that tent up and packed. Actually, we’ve figured out that by the time we get home and park it, we’ll probably know it all.

And the opportunity to spend a night inside a strong metal bus during a 20-mph wind and rain storm instead of in a puddle in a tent? Pretty awesome.

Then there’s the pull-up-for-the-night and not having to lug ANYTHING inside a hotel. Coffee, snacks, dinner, even breakfast, right at arms’ reach. The sudden realization one morning in Minnesota that a whole line of thunderstorms was bearing down on us and we unclipped and unhooked and sped away before Little Miss ever woke up. She slept on the road for some time—and thankfully forgot we’d promised her swimming in the morning.

So, yeah, we’ll keep the newfangled way to travel the byways, though we may still pull over to picnic at the rest stops, with our slapped-together ham sandwiches and grapes and paper plates and our Frisbees to throw back and forth till it’s time to get back in the vehicle. This country is beautiful through all its different terrains, temperatures and tent/camp sites. We’ve enjoyed and marveled at everything from the dry, ghostly castles of the Badlands to the depths of Glacier Lake, and the bright nightlights of Reno, Nevada.

The important part is that we’re able to travel together. We might like it enough to consider it as a retirement option—something that a tent and a station wagon would not have done for us.

But if someone asks “Are we there yet?” one more time

I guess some things never change.


Barbara “Babs” Mountjoy has written since she was a little girl, unable to restrain the stories that percolated through her fingers onto her keyboard – or, back then, onto the old Royal typewriter. Babs has been a published author for more than thirty-five years, with a number of publications under her belt. Her non-fiction book, 101 LITTLE INSTRUCTIONS FOR SURVIVING YOUR DIVORCE, was published by Impact Publishers in 1999. Her first novel, THE ELF QUEEN, was released under the pen name Lyndi Alexander in 2010. THE ELF QUEEN launched her Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series, under which the second and third titles, THE ELF CHILD and THE ELF MAGE, released in 2011 and 2012. Wild Rose Press released her romantic suspense novels, SECRETS IN THE SAND, in 2011, and, CONVICTION OF THE HEART, in June 2012. Will Rose Press will also release Babs’ THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE in September 2012. Zumaya Publications published her women’s fiction title, SECOND CHANCES, in July 2012. Babs is a contributor to two CUP OF COMFORT anthologies. She blogs about autism, writing and life at, and spent seven years of her career as a news reporter and editor in South Florida. Her romances/womens fiction books are published under the pen name Alana Lorens, and her fantasy/sci-fi under the pen name Lyndi Alexander.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

All Because of a Big Bag of Potato Chips

Please Welcome today's guest geezer gal, Phyl Manning

Yes, I’m a writer with four books plus another contracted under my belt—and largely because of one humongous bag of potato chips! 

It must have been 1936 when the Omaha World Herald announced a Children’s Poetry Contest. At five years old, I qualified. The newspaper even prescribed the title: "If I Could Fly." Whee-ee!
So yes, I rhymed up a poem of three verses: "If I could fly, I’d go up high/And catch hold of a cloud as it went by" and so forth. And my undistinguished literature won first place! So Kitty Clover Potato Chips (of Omaha) rewarded me with a crisp new dollar bill AND the aforementioned bag of potato chips—a delicacy not experienced previously in those years of economic depression. The World Herald contributed a modicum of fame in printed words read aloud to me by proud parents.

Suddenly and permanently, I knew how to answer grownups who were always asking what I wanted to be when I grew up: a writer! Define "grown up."

At age 22, leaving university with an undergraduate degree in English Writing and Speech, Dr. Walter Van Tilburg Clark (Oxbow read my small writing collection and told me, "You write very well indeed. Unfortunately, you have nothing to say."

 True. By age 24, I was essentially widowed with two small children to support. In writing? You jest! So I continued teaching school, but applied successfully for overseas venues in places (by choice) with strange-sounding names that sat softly on my tongue and contained potential for adventure: new ways of thinking and (my beloved) wildlife. My children were raised in the West Pacific before returning to the U.S. to finish high school and go to university. By then, I was loving doctoral studies in anthropology on the traditional culture of the Inupiat (look ‘em up!) and then later and happily working in schools overseas.

Finally retired, I decided that I might by now be sufficiently "grown up" and actually have a few things to say. Now at (as Abraham Lincoln would say) "four score" years of age, I have dozens of articles and stories published and some books on the shelves . . . and it all started with a dollar bill and a really BIG bag of potato chips!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Childhood on the Train

We know that any "seasoned" woman or man from an older generation is accused of telling anecdotes of how as a child she/he used to have to walk to school uphill in the snow. For at least ten miles. Without a warm coat. I didn't have to walk in the snow to school, but I did have to ride the train. That was forty-seven minutes to school and forty-seven minutes back. "So," I tell my kids, "Your mother had it rough." But looking back, I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.

We were six years old when we started riding the Hankyu line to school in the sixties from Awaji to Karasuma. During the winter mornings, the windows steamed up and we wrote our names on them. In the late afternoons, we crocheted long red scarves, tried to make sense out of math homework, and avoided conversing in English with Japanese men with brief cases.

You had to know a thing or two in order to be a proficient train rider, and the younger children learned the ropes from the older kids.

Rule number one was to walk briskly out our gates from our missionary homes. Once the five of us blond-haired American kids gathered, we marched past the incinerator behind the Yodogawa Christian Hospital, out the hospital gates, to the left, toward the station. Sometimes at 7 AM there was a dusting of frost on the grass. Sometimes one of us lagged behind due to racing back for forgotten homework or a lunch box. We had to pick up the pace; we had a train to catch and it would, sure as tofu is made from bean curd, not be late---even if we were.

Once the train pulled into the station, doors slid opened and passengers boarded the already packed car. Gloved station attendants pushed commuters onto the cars as the whistle blew. Inside the car, we lifted book bags onto the luggage racks or held them between our feet. Then we grabbed the hand rails—loops of plastic suspended overhead—as the train picked up the pace toward Kyoto.

The next rule was to be extremely quiet as the train doors opened at Takatsuki-shi. I think we heard David O talking to himself even before he boarded the car. We held our breath and closed our eyes, as though those actions would keep him from spotting us. As silent as we were, he always managed to find us.

"Hey," he said one morning so that passengers five cars down could hear. "I got this new chemistry set. Wanna see it?" He hoisted a brown square bag.

No one responded.

David O nudged me, his elbow poking both me and a woman trying to read a paperback. "It's really cool."

I was shy, especially around a boy who was two years older than I. While the other kids engaged in conversation leaving me alone to talk to David O, I shook my head and clung to the handrail.

At last, sensing he was being ignored, and the train was too congested to show us vials and test tubes anyway, he offered to show it to us later.

The third rule came into play at our destination. Immediately, when the doors opened, we were to head up the platform stairs as fast as we could. We raced past ladies in gray kimono and weaved between businessmen so that we could be first in line at the taxi stand.

Our final part of our journey was to ride a cab (five of us missionary kids packed into one Nissan) for six miles to our tiny international school where spelling tests and math equations greeted us. At recess, we enjoyed games of Kick the Can and Red Rover, Red Rover.

I have fond memories of those long treks to school. I smile to think how unusual we must have seemed in a land where the natives all had black hair and dark eyes, were dignified and soft-spoken. We were blond, tall, loud and rowdy.

And as for David O and his chemistry set, I did get to see it. One afternoon on a rather empty train car, he spread his set of chemicals and glass beakers onto the seat. As the train rounded a field of rice paddies, the whole car jerked, and my friend Josephine and I watched the green seat turn red and yellow. The conductor raced out of his compartment in a fury, yelling at the Canadian boy for damaging the train seat. David O hung his head while the conductor covered the stained seat with mounds of newspaper.

Which brings me to the next rule for riding the trains---this one became extremely important for survival. When the train conductor fumed over a spilled chemistry set, it was best to run---not walk---away as fast as possible.

And as Josephine and I crouched inside another car, we closed our eyes and were silent, hoping that perhaps no one would notice that we had anything to do with the boy who had caused a scene.

~ Alice J. Wisler grew up in Japan where she rode the train to and from school and dreamed of being an author. Now she lives and writes in Durham, NC and looks forward to the release of her fifth novel, Still Life in Shadows from River North. Her other novels are: Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (all published with Bethany House). She also teaches writing workshops, both online and at conferences. Visit her website.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Don't Call Her Ma'am


I wish I could be like my friend, Kay. While I’m an I-know-I’m-wrong-and-I’m-ever-so-sorry wimp, Kay is the I’m-right-and-don’t-bother-to-argue-with-me champion.  
Nobody dares disagree with Kay unless they want a dressing down like a drill sergeant letting a new recruit know who’s in charge.
That’s what the young trooper discovered when he attempted to give her a citation for going the wrong direction on a one-way street. When I’m pulled over, I put on my best guilty look and surrender my driver’s license before the trooper can say, “How do you do?” I even smile and say, “Thank you,” when I’m handed my summons.
Not Kay who was a community health nurse in the rural county where I used to live. In the late afternoon on the day Officer Nameless decided to intrude into her neatly organized day, Kay had been going non-stop from house to house since the early morning. Things like nature breaks or even careening through the golden arches are rare luxuries for someone of Kay’s profession, even slightly past middle aged nurses. Supposing she had just enough time to gallop to the ladies’ room before her bladder burst wide open, she saw the annoying flashing lights as she bulleted into the county employee parking lot. 
The unsuspecting officer tipped his hat, “Do you know why I stopped you, Ma’am?”
That was his first mistake. No one calls Kay, “Ma’am” unless you’re under six years of age and even then you had better be irresistibly cute.
“What did you call me?”
He surrendered a quick apology, “I’m sorry, Miss—err—Ms.—“
Kay extricated the young man from his fumble. “No. I don’t know why you stopped me.”
“Well, uh, Ma’am—oops, sorry—you crossed that street from the wrong direction. That’s a one-way street. You can’t cross the intersection from there.”
“Well, that’s just dumb.”
“Yes, Ms. Ray (by then he’d seen her I.D. tag), but it’s still illegal.”
Like most people, I would have stopped arguing at this point. After all, he was the one with a gun.
Kay is not like most people.
“Now you listen to me, young man. I’ve been on the road since eight o’clock this morning. I haven’t had a bite to eat, a potty break, or as much as a cup of coffee. I’m menopausal, and I have to pee. Now, if you want to take the chance, go ahead and write me up.” 
Not wanting to harass a caffeine-deprived, half-starved, estrogen-depleted, bladder-blocked frenzied government worker any further, the trooper tipped his hat, “That’s fine, Ms. Ray. You may go—I mean you can—Oh, forget it. Have a nice day!”

Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight),  LINDA RONDEAU, writes for the reader who enjoys a little bit of everything. Her stories of redemption and God’s mercies include romance, suspense, the ethereal, and a little bit of history into the mix, always served with a slice of humor. Walk with her unforgettable characters as they journey paths not unlike our own. After a long career in human services, mother of three and wife of one very patient man, Linda now resides in Florida where she is active in her church and community.  Readers may visit her web site at  Her second book, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation, is a futuristic political thriller  and is now available in ebook on and Barnes and Noble.  


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How do you spell naive?

Please welcome today's guest blogger David Jones.

How do you spell naive?

I am a story teller. It shouldn’t be too hard to write a book—right? I have made sales presentations to groups from two to fifty, and kept them in the palm of my hand for an hour. I can spin a tale about my desire to go back to sea so convincingly you’d feel the beat of the engines rising from the steel plates of the deck, through your shoes. You’d feel the rise and fall of the swells in a gentle sea, and thrill at the glorious colors in the sunset. I’ve addressed an assembly of two thousand people and had them on the edge of their seats for a half hour. It’d be easy to write a book—right? How do you spell naïve?

There had been a story in my head for twenty years that I thought would make a good book. Finally I sat down and started writing. It’s a good story and will keep your attention. Half way through the book I was found by a lady who is an editor. All was good, she’d slap her ok on the writing and off to the publisher I go, carrying a bucket to hold all the money they’d give me. How do you spell naïve?

She started with sentence and paragraph structure, went to the punctuation, and then got to the technical things. “You’ve got misplaced modifiers here, passive voice there, and you use too many participial phrases. “Huh! I was last in a high school English class over sixty years ago. If they taught me about participial phrases, I was either looking at a girl or thinking about baseball.” I didn’t know a participial phrase from a dangling modifier.

My work was filled with mark outs, cross outs, cut outs and lines. I started over.  My editor is a former teacher and she went back to teaching, turning me slowly from a story teller into a writer. “Every word you write is important,” she repeated often. The young boy in the story didn’t want to take off his shoes after a day of hiking—he yearned to take them off.

My book is now published. Sales are moving along rather nicely. I am now an author, and in the eyes of the uninitiated, an authority. Recently a young lady approached me to discuss the writer’s craft. She was thinking of writing a book. “Do you have an editor?” I asked. “Oh”, she replied, “I just graduated from the University with a degree in English. I don’t need an editor. How do you spell naïve?”

About David:

D. Lincoln Jones
After a thirty-year career working for two Fortune 500 companies, D. Lincoln Jones ventured into the world of private business. As an entrepreneur, he has founded and served as the president of two corporations.
Always seeking new horizons, he has toured the West by motorcycle on his Honda Goldwing. When he settled, he became a student of art, excelling in working with pastels and colored pencil. His work is displayed in homes and small collections across the country. He is most proud of a sketch of Raggedy Ann and Andy, a gift to his granddaughter that she treasures.
Jones has been an avid reader since childhood, so his desire to write has come naturally. Among his favorite books are Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, Shogun by James Clavell, and The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.
High Grade is his first novel. A second is in progress.

David’s website:

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's a learning curve...or maybe a sharp corner.

Much has changed as I’ve gone quietly kicking and screaming into my sixties and retirement. It’s a good thing I like learning, because there’s a definite learning curve to the whole situation.

First thing you need to figure out, said my friend Cindy, is to say No. If the request is for something you don’t want to do, just don’t do it. So far, I haven’t had to say No because I haven’t wanted to. (Except for when another friend, Debby, suggested skydiving. I have a vein of cowardice that runs full width and very deep.)

Second thing on the list of learning is to make a list. If you live in the country, as I do, and don’t intend to move inside city limits, as I don’t, you need to make a list of Things To Do before you go to town. Filling the car with gas takes too much of a retirement check to even think of driving 26 miles round trip for only one thing. Usually, when I get home, I will give my husband all the details of where I’ve been and what I’ve done. The other day, I just said, “I stopped at eight places!” and started to tell him what they were. Duane said that was good, but he didn’t particularly care to hear about all eight of them. I don’t know what his problem was.

Third, in addition to making a list, make sure you keep a calendar. (While you’re at it, remember where the calendar is.) I keep one in my purse and one on the laundry room wall. What is unfortunate is that sometimes the information on both calendars doesn’t jive and I end up needing to be two places at once. I managed this just fine when the kids were growing up, but I’m not so good at it anymore.

Fourth, establish a routine. I only say this because I’m almost certain it’s a really good idea. But I haven’t done it yet because not having a routine is really fun.

Fifth, be careful what you commit to. I told Duane that when I was retired, I would devote 15 minutes a day to housework. This is not a joke; it is an illustration of just how much I don’t like “domestic engineering.” At the risk of sounding like I’m bragging, I will say I have stuck to that. Some days, like the ones when I clean out a junk drawer, I’ve nearly doubled the 15 minutes. Other days, I kind of stretch out how long it takes to make the bed because I really don’t want to do anything else that has to do with…you know…housework. When I get the aforementioned routine established, I’m going to cut back to 10 minutes.

Sixth, when you wake up and it’s snowing, it’s perfectly all right to roll over and go back to sleep. Or get up and drink coffee and not feel guilty. Either one works. You can also do this when it’s not snowing.

Seventh, cooking is fun when you’re retired. So is looking up recipes and deciding maybe you’ll try them later. Or not.

Eighth, it’s amazing how much stuff you can consign to Goodwill or Salvation army in 15 minutes. And if you get the bag into the car to deliver before someone else gets home, he’ll never miss it. You can put it at the end of your list of errands you ran while you were saving gas, and he will have stopped listening before you get to, “I gave away the jeans you haven’t worn since 1977,” anyway.

Ninth, if your mind wanders and you can’t remember what you were going to say next, it’s okay to just…uh…

Till next time.
Life is new and wonderful for Liz Flaherty these days. She retired from the post office in 2011, promptly gained 15 pounds—she swears it was overnight—and promised her grandkids, The Magnificent Seven, that she would make each of them a bed-size quilt. She also planned to write all day, every day.

What was she thinking?

Her fifth book is ONE MORE SUMMER, by Carina Press, available both digitally (everywhere) and in print from the Harlequin website. A SOFT PLACE TO FALL (Harbourlight Books) and JAR OF DREAMS (Carina 1/13) are next.