Friday, November 30, 2012

Did Yogi Like Yogurt

By H. Kirk Rainer

Though Yoga may not have been routine (referring to my article in September), Yogi could have made the healthy choice of eating Yogurt.

Consider possible places or sources (for Yogurt) in or near Jellystone Park

> Dairy farm—where yogurt is fast fermenting...

> Convenience or grocery store (in the frozen foods section)

> Ice-cream parlor or malt shop (assuming such places were ahead of their time)

> Picnic baskets (metal or Styrofoam coolers usually stocked with 6 oz. Coca-colas, Dr. Peppers, 7-Up, Nehi, etc.)  

> Ranger’s refrigerator (next to the glass bottle of milk)

Yogi would have been selective; not all flavors would satisfy such a particular palate, so distinguished a diet (though typically, Yogi was as hungry as a bear). 

Plain yogurt could not have cut-it without some all-purpose honey; and as to the flavored varieties of yogurt, consider possible combinations:  

> As a dip, fruit-flavored yogurt might go well with a SCOOBY-snack (if Yogi was like Shaggy—who coincidentally suffered from the munchies)    

> As a desert...after wolfing-down the main course (such as yesterday’s WIMPY-burger or today’s KRUSTY-KRAB cake)

> As an doubling of the basic supplement of daily vitamins found in such cereal as TRIX (though Yogi may not have ventured down that rabbit hole)

Yogi would have liked Yogurt (given that he was “smarter than the average bear”). Yet, finding such a variety of dietary delights, or cultures, could have been more than a challenge in the vicinity of Jellystone Park, a culture of the 1950’s.


As of June 2010, H. Kirk Rainer has written and published two books:  

·         A Once and Always Father - is a dedication to his kids; the content expresses a husband and father’s perspectives on marriage and family, courtships and courts, custody and criminalization; and what has happened with the taking of the time-honored treasures of marriage from that of a contract to the present “relationship of convenience”; and all along, addressing the plight of a parent through family law—in the context, conditions and consequences of uncontested divorce, victim’s rights, and court conduct. 

·         A FATHER AND FUTURE FELON - is loosely based on twelve letters—written from jail—the book is a dedication to fathers and to those who fit similar roles and responsibility.  Drawing from the works of Saint Augustine, the Bible, historical and other-subject resources; each chapter offers alliteration on fatherhood—in a physical setting of St. John’s County (FL) and other detainees that he generally categorizes as “Fellows/Fathers”.

These publications are available at the St. Johns Public Library; e-versions of the books are available at

H. Kirk Rainer is an engineer with over twenty years of experience primarily in aerospace and defense.  Having master’s degrees in aeronautical science (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University) and industrial engineering (University of Central Florida), Kirk’s most recent accomplishments have been in program planning and scheduling for such companies at Northrop-Grumman, Honeywell, and General Dynamics.  In and through these experiences, he has acquired related certifications with the American Society of Quality (ASQ), University of West Florida (UWF), Project Management Institute (PMI), and the Society of Cost Estimating and Analysis (SCEA). 

While he been able to continue his profession (in some degree), H. Kirk Rainer has also been embroiled in the never ending consequences of no-fault divorce and parental alienation— the details of which are reflected in his books, Websites (,, and other developments. Support organizations include:   American Coalition for Fathers and Children (; Alabama Family Rights Association (; Protect Fathers' Right (; National Father Initiative (; Institute for American Values (; and the Florida International University (FIU), "The State of Fatherhood" research.     

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Confessions of an Internet Junkie

By Linda Lange

Let’s get something straight. I have never texted while driving. I check my-email at stoplights, though. Particularly when the light is red.

My name is Linda, and I’m an Internet junkie. This is not supposed to be happening to me. I am 65 years old. This is something that happens to kids. Stupid kids
I had to learn about WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads to promote my book, Incomplete Passes. But this goes farther. I admit it, I’m obsessed.

When I was a kid, computers took up entire rooms. Today I’m besotted with one that fits in the palm of my hand. I would rather leave my house minus underwear than without my smartphone.

When my husband and I go out to dinner, I fidget throughout the meal, looking at my phone repeatedly. I note what our son has posted on Facebook and relay it to my husband. Our son lives 2,000 miles away. This is how we keep up with him. 

Dinner is meant to be family time, right?

I check for e-mail and texts. Ten minutes later I check again. Someone might send me an urgent message. My husband falls asleep waiting for me to come to bed. I’m down the hall surfing the ‘Net. My name is Linda …

My friend Marilyn is a psychologist specializing in addiction. “It’s easy to tell if you’re addicted to your computer,” she told me. “Check the list in my book.” So I pulled out Addicted? by Marilyn Freimuth, Ph.D. (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008).

Marilyn named eleven criteria for computer addiction (I’ve abbreviated them to conserve space).

1. Experiences gratification when on computer
2. Preoccupied with computer activity
3. Needs to spend increasingly more time on computer to change mood
4. Fails repeated efforts to control activities
5. Restless and tense when not on computer
6. Needs to return to computer to escape problems or relieve mood
7. Neglects social, familial, education, or work obligations
8. Lies to family members, therapists, and others about extent of time spent on computer
9. Threatens or loses significant relationships, job, etc., because of computer usage
10. Physical signs, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, backaches, dry eyes, etc.
11. Changes in sleep patterns

If five apply, you’re addicted. I got eight. Sheesh! How many did you get?

I haven’t even mentioned Words with Friends.

 I play with my friend Carla, who lives in Wisconsin. She plays on her iPad and I play on my phone. Recently I was driving on an errand, maybe ten miles, and I stopped twice because my phone dinged and I had to check out Carla’s move. At least I pulled over.

But I can justify this. Carla, who’s my age, says she plays Words to keep her mind sharp. That’s it! All this Internet stuff is keeping my mind sharp. If I stay on the ‘Net, my mind will stay sharp and in fifteen or twenty years, I won’t have to go to a nursing home.

… If I do go, they better have WiFi.

Linda Lange, author of Incomplete Passes

Linda Shaw Lange has never forgotten what it was like to be a teenager living in Green Bay, WI, during the era when Vince Lombardi coached the Packers.  She shares her memories—sometimes nostalgic, often wry—in Incomplete Passes:  Reflections on Life, Love, and Football.
Linda is a graduate of Green Bay East High School and earned a BS in Speech from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.  Following graduation, Linda worked in broadcast stations and spent ten years as a copywriter in the advertising sales promotion department of U.S. News & World Report magazine in Washington DC.  After moving to Cincinnati, OH, in 1983, Linda took on free-lance writing assignments and volunteered at Save the Animals Foundation, a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats.  She served for several years on the shelter’s management team.
Incomplete Passes, Linda’s first book, was named a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Linda has been married since 1969 to Scott Lange, an announcer and narrator.  They have two cats and a son who is not named after “Mr. A” in Incomplete Passes.

Follow Linda Lange and Incomplete Passes on the Internet:
Incomplete Passes blog:

Facebook:  Search and LIKE “Incomplete Passes”                                                         

Twitter: @linda_lange
Pinterest:  lindafrom gb               

Contact Linda Lange:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Defining Times

By Dawn Sinclair

As any writer will tell you, “coming out” or declaring to the world our right to be called “an author” or “a poet” is no easy thing to do. In the first place, in common with the rest of educated society unless we were terribly unfortunate, we’ve been writing since we were knee-high to a rocking horse and everyone is aware of that.

 In the second place, we’ve all probably had our fair share of “could do betters” from teachers, parents, older siblings etc. and have developed a sense of self-preservation when it comes to admitting our delusions about our ‘genius’ to all and sundry.

But there does come a time in every writer’s life when you just have to do the Oscar Wilde thing and declare your genius by saying “I am a writer.” Albeit, you may feel the need to preface that statement with “Um, er, well I suppose you could say…” or perhaps you preferred to use an addendum: “though not really a professional one yet,”  or “unpublished writer, that is” or simply “in the making.”

It’s not a lack of self-confidence that makes us blurt out these things in such modest terms. Writers are always confident or they’d have chucked away their pens and taken up chess or Rubik cubing or fencing or – well anything else – instead. Inside us, we are full of confidence that this book or the next will be the greatest book ever written or else how and why could we continue to do it?

Still, when should we finally define ourselves to others? When we have written something we are really proud of? When we have finally finished writing an article, blog, poem or book that someone other than our mum or best friend thinks is wonderful? Perhaps not then or then or then…

Society dictates that people are defined by what they do to pay the rent. Your dad can fit an entire bathroom, plumb it in, sort out the electrics, paint the walls and tile the floor but unless someone paid him to do so, he is still a bank manager or postman etc.

Writers, though, must define themselves because there is never a guarantee that they will ever sell what they’ve been writing for the past year/decade/month/whatever. And, let’s be honest, no one but the writers themselves will ever believe that one day all this finger numbing scrawling will ever pay the rent before the bank account shows it does.

I am sure, every writer reading this will be able to say: I called myself a writer when….

My own self-definitions have come incrementally. I wrote poetry for 35 years but one day someone showed me how to use a computer, make a website and display what I’d kept inside unread notebooks all those years. When I’d finished displaying, I sat back and said to myself “When people read this, they will know I am a poet.” After that, if I had to fill in forms where it asked my occupation, I’d put ‘POET’ confidently.

Some music people asked me if I had any lyrics among my poems and gradually I added them to my collection. To my amazement, musicians began making songs out of them and gradually I built up a collection of music CDs with my name in the credits. One day, someone suggested I copyright the lot so I did and had to fill in a form, asking me what part I played in the making of the songs.
‘LYRICIST’ I said, defining myself again.

Later, I wrote some novels but, having no faith in myself as a writer it took me a couple of years to show someone else and he said “Good Lord, you really can write!” Five years on, the same person told me he was disappointed that I hadn’t been published before now and he was visibly stunned when I told him that I’d never tried to get published at all. He showed me how to self-publish, offered to proofread and wouldn’t let up until I did finally publish two of my novels. (I decided the rest were not even worth showing him and shredded them myself).

When the books came out with pretty covers and all, I felt like an author but only muttered it quietly to my family to test the waters. Then, people bought the books and the reviews started coming in and coincidentally, I had to fill in a form that asked my profession.

‘AUTHOR’ I wrote, thus defining myself once again.

Now people ask me what I do and I have no hesitation: I am a poet, lyricist and author. And when they ask, “Does it pay the rent?” I smile.
Sometimes I add, “No but it makes me happy.”

The Eternal Question
Children of Hamelin
Both available on (Kindle)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Have I Learned A Thing or Two At My Age?

First of all, let me admit, until a few years ago, I had no idea what Black Friday meant. Oh, I knew the term had something to do with go-out-of-your-mind-crazy holiday shopping, but why was this day called Black Friday?
          The best I could come up with was that’s how Detroit fans felt about life after the annual Thanksgiving Day loss. Unfortunately, as a Cowboy fan, I feel the term currently describes my outlook in life as well. After a 38-31 loss to the Redskins, my beloved Cowboys stand one game under mediocre in the 21st century.
          At my age, you would think I’d learned a thing or two about life, but sometimes I make my wife wonder.
          For example, Ellen and I ran into a young mother I hadn’t seen in ages. I took one look at her and said, “When’s the baby due?”
          My question mortified Ellen who, as soon as we were out of earshot, told me never to do that again.
          Yes, I should have known better then, and, by now, I should have that life lesson down pat. I will admit I was strongly tempted to say something to a soon-to-have-twins pregnant mother, but I stayed strong and ignored the obvious. She volunteered her due date without my asking.
          And what about the previous young mother? She had given birth to a daughter two weeks earlier, so my question wasn’t entirely off the mark.
          Let me return to my simple premise. As people age, they should learn a thing or two.
          While walking my dog at a dog park, I met Bruce. He and I talked about our dogs and our families. He mentioned that his family had all gone through a recent bout of sickness.
          I asked, “How many children do you have?”
          Now you’ll have to admit that’s a pretty obvious follow-up question—nothing improper in the asking. I just wanted to know more details.
          And Bruce said, “I have three boys.”
          Here’s where I should have applied those previous know-a-thing-or-two lessons from past conversations.
          What I should have done was ask a simple, open-ended question. “How old are your boys?”
          What I did was ask a question based on one assumption—Bruce looked old (not older than me, mind you, but gray-haired old anyways).
“So how old are your boys—middle school? High school?”
          You can see where this is going can’t you?
          He said, “Grade school.”
          Grade school? Uh-oh!
          So here are the a-thing-or-two this gray-haired old guy now knows.
          Stop and think before you ask a question. During her Thanksgiving preparations, my friend asked a chef, “Should I stuff the turkey before or after brining?”
She knew the answer before she got the whole question out, but that didn’t stop the chef from bursting out laughing.
          Start with what you know, not what you assume. I knew Bruce had children. He’d already offered that information, so I started with what I knew when I asked him, “How many children do you have?”
          When he said, “Three boys,” I assumed they were older. I didn’t need to assume anything. I could have simply asked, “How old are they?”
          By the way, Black Friday has nothing to do with the outcome of Thanksgiving Day football games. The day kicks off the holiday retail season, a time when retailers hope to get their accounts in the black for the year.
          So I guess I have learned a thing or two at my age.


T. Neal Tarver, a native Texan living in Wisconsin, has served churches in Texas and Wisconsin. He, his wife Ellen, and son Daniel lived and worked for three years as missionaries in the Russian Far East. Tom speaks enough Russian to both converse and confuse.

In 2011, Tom was selected as a semi-finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis contest. He’s also been a two-time winner of MBT’s “Make Every Word Count Flash Fiction” contest. His debut novel, Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes, is available through WestBow Press, Amazon, BARNES & NOBLE, and other retail outlets.

He currently writes from his home in Richland Center, Wisconsin, or from wherever his travels take him. He posts weekly articles on Christian community at A Curious Band of Others.

Tom has spoken in churches across America, and in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012



By Annis Pratt

Here comes Thanksgiving, with my annual Turkey Panic. Is there anyone else who has reached a ripe old age and, having prepared Thanksgiving dinner for what seems like eons, still gets her knickers in a twist over baking that great huge bird?         
                                Illustration published in The Birmingham Eccentric, Nov 23 1992, by T. Graves

                I have kept this picture for years, covered with scribbles and post-it notes. You would think memos like “14 lb took whole 5 hours,” “Use foil at browning time, not throughout,” “In at  9 done by 12.30 but too dry – baste more,” or “O.K., no problem – cooked in 4 hours,” would reassure me that I have lived through this before and will again, but I always confront some new worry.
There was the time my ten year old daughter opened the over so many times to baste the turkey that it took eight hours to cook. There was the time when I roasted it at home and brought it to my younger daughter’s apartment an hour’s drive away, only to find it stone cold and dried out on arrival. There was the year that my older daughter became a vegetarian because she didn’t want to eat anything that “had eyes and could look at me.”  She was delighted with her Tofu Turkey, but the rest of us felt weirdly guilty feasting on our succulent bird. Then there was the time when my younger daughter ordered a complete dinner from Whole Foods because she would be coming home from the hospital with her new baby on Thanksgiving Day.
            “Put your forks down,” declared my son-in-law, brandishing a ladybug he had found in the stuffing. “We can’t eat this!”
            Thawing a frozen turkey was always problematic, so I decided to order a fresh one, only to find it icily solid, fore and aft.  I telephoned the butcher in a panic. He told me to immerse it in lukewarm water for an hour and a half on each side; it felt like giving a bath to a wrinkled baby.
            When the family is all at the table and we are saying grace at last, it is always, always worth it. In 2001, in spite of the enormous tragedy of 9/11 and my husband’s death the year before, our hearts were full of thanksgiving for two new arrivals in the family.  My granddaughter had been born on September 18 and then, in October, my younger daughter and her husband underwent an arduous trip to Ukraine to bring my seven year old grandson safely home. The first time he saw a potato he wanted to peel it and cook it. He only spoke Russian, but  it was clear to us that he had spent a lot of time in the orphanage kitchen.


            He was puzzled by the turkey on his first American Thanksgiving, but wolfed down a big serving of the mashed potatoes he had prepared himself. Then, with an enormous grin, he realized that he could ask for more.

Although she grew up in New York City, Annis Pratt makes her home in the Midwest, where she taught English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for many years.  In 1990 she threw her full professorship out the window to move to Michigan, where she is engaged in community activism and novel writing
    Passionate about the environment and an enthusiastic sailor, canoeist and kayaker, she chose a genre where she could create compelling fiction about ecological degradation.
At 75 years old, she feels like she is in the second out of her ninth inning, having published the first volume of her historical fantasy trilogy when she was 73.

Blub: The Marshlanders and Fly Out of the Darkness are the first two volumes of The Marshlanders Trilogy, historical fantasies about the conflict between self-sustaining Marshland communities and Merchant Adventurers trying to drain their lands. These are page-turners about the conflict between people who respect their environment and developers who see it as a source of income.

links ,, and a humorous blog:
Novels may be purchased at or



Sunday, November 18, 2012

Getting Older Has Its Advantages

~Getting Older Has Its Advantages~

 By: Author Mary Annslee Urban

When I was young I used to love to listen to my grandparents talk about years of old. Times when they were young, living in a small Italian town in Illinois. Neither of their parents spoke English and memories they shared sounded cozy and simple. They spoke of people I didn’t know, places I hadn’t been and experiences I couldn’t envision.

I often wondered what it would be like to recall things that happened twenty, thirty or forty years before. An odd concept for a child still missing front teeth.

As with most things, a few years and a lot of history took care of that question. I now have the pleasure, of recalling long ago events. Memories that still bring a chuckle or heartwarming tear. Others that incite tears of sorrow and legacies lost. But all in all, memories that have made growing older bearable and fun.

When I was still in a preadolescent state, I dreamed of starting a career, marriage and children, travel and adventure. Now my children are living those dreams for themselves. I’m now making memories with grandchildren involved. Who would have guessed how quickly that day would arrive and with me being so young! :-)

Nonetheless, it is a treat to sit around the table with family and relive adventures. With an airline pilot as a husband, travel has been a big part of our lives. One special memory that continues to resurface: our trip to Alaska. 

We traveled in early June, right before the traditional tourist season. The roads, trails and picnic area weren’t almost desolate. While in Seward, we stayed at an Alaskan style bed and breakfast―a game-room over the garage converted into a bunkhouse.

The family we stayed with worked as a tour guide and teacher. A wealth of knowledge we were blessed to be privy to. One day, on their advice we hiked a trail not listed not known by many. It was supposed to lead to a beautiful lake. So with five kids in tow, we embarked down a three mile path. 

Along the way my husband told a story about someone he’d flown with. The man had hired a guide to take him to the best fishing lake. The guide led him on a hike over a mountain. On the other side, a canoe waited. They got in the canoe and crossed the lake. Then, carrying the canoe they hiked over another mountain and arrived at the most beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains and stocked with fish.

As we crested the hill near the end of our path, my oldest son, Ryan, thirteen at the time, said, “Man,, all we need is a canoe.”

We chuckled as Ryan ran ahead toward the lake. He shouted back. “Look! A canoe.”

Of course, I thought he was kidding. But I caught up with him, and sure enough there was a canoe resting on the banks of the most beautiful lake, surrounded by soaring mountains. But, I said, “There may be a canoe, but not oars.” Ryan tipped up the boat and there sat two oars. I was impressed, yet, I said, “But, there aren’t lifejackets.” My son was never one to give up. He flipped the canoe over and two life jackets appeared.
My first thought was, “No way.” My second, “Thank you, Lord!” 

The rest of the day, as we picnicked along the shore, my husband took turns taking each child out fishing in the well stocked lake. 

A memory worth growing old for!

Mary's newest book is:
She Came to See the Snow: A Colorado Christmas Romance

When Journalist Haley Blackwell travels to Colorado to visit her grandparents, she plans to relive childhood memories and enjoy the snow. What she hadn’t expected was to meet her grandparent’s handsome neighbor, Tate Rivers. Trust and relationships have never been easy for Haley since her father deserted her as a young teen. But she'd never met anyone like Tate and soon she’s in danger of losing her heart. After a failed marriage Tate Rivers is determined to stay clear of another relationship and concentrate on raising his preschool daughter. He doubts he could ever trust his heart to another woman, that is, until he met Haley Blackwell. Together can they push the past aside and together move forward in love?

To purchase:

Mary Annslee Urban is an author of Inspirational Romance. Her goal is to write stories that stir the heart about love, honor and God's grace! Her debut book, Tapestry of Trust, White Rose Publishing, was released June 2012. Her second book with White Rose Publishing, She Came to See the Snow~A Colorado Christmas Romance, was released in November 2012.

A Registered Nurse by trade, Mary also has been a freelance writer for newspapers in her area and has had articles published in magazines as well as online publications. A North Carolina resident, Mary and her husband have five children and 3 grandchildren. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, traveling, long walks and anything chocolate!