Friday, December 28, 2012

The Great Santa Sedition

It was a hot day in July, 1951. Christmas seemed a lifetime away. Harry Truman occupied the White House. Peace talks floundered and the Korean War ground to a stalemate. But another war raged, a war without peace talks, and I desperately sought a way to end it.
I'd just celebrated my fifth birthday. My Aunt Barbara and Uncle Benny, four and five years older than me, respectively, were more like a big brother and sister. This pseudo-sibling relationship came complete with their occasional desire to torment a little brother for entertainment.
On this hot July day, I sat between them in the backseat of my grandmother's car headed to town. Grandma drove and my mom sat beside her.
Now, I should stop here to explain something. My grandmother went to unbelievably great lengths to preserve her kids' belief in Santa. Gifts mysteriously appeared underneath the Christmas tree. She would talk about reindeer on the roof. She had her kids believing well into their teens … all but my mom, who enlightened me when I was four years old.
Back to the trip to town—the torment earlier that morning from my uncle, and the resulting smirks from my aunt, still smarted. But I'd developed a theory that even in July, the power of Santa was incredible, E equals M C squared. I hypothesized that if I could split Santa, the war with my aunt and uncle would end in a huge mushrooming explosion and their unconditional surrender.
I stood in the middle of the floorboard—no seatbelts back then—and turned to face my aunt and uncle. Sneering at them, I sequentially met their curious gazes, took a deep breath, and opened the bomb bay doors, dumping my whole payload. "There ain't no Santa Claus!" I waited.
A deep guttural sound began as a moan. It turned to wailing. Uncle Benny wailed in tenor while aunt Barbara took the alto part. The wailing soon became words. "Moooother! Make him stop!"
Next, I fired all my rockets. "I know there ain't no Santa Claus!"
"Moooother! He's saying it again!"
The caterwauling, combined with the threat to her well-kept secret, destroyed my grandmother's concentration. She stopped the car to have a conversation with my mom, a conversation drowned out by the continued wailing in two-part harmony.
What a rush! I was finally in control, giving my tormentors their just deserts.
I put my hand on the machine gun and fired a burst. "There really ain't no—"
An iron hand clamped onto my shoulder.
I glanced toward the front seat.
My mom glared back at me and shook her head. "You can't say that anymore." This was her stern voice, a voice I needed to obey.
"Can't we even talk about—"
"Not with your aunt and uncle."
"But, Mom, you told me that—"
Grandma glared at me too. "The subject of Santa Claus is off limits … forever."
In an instant, my nuclear arsenal had been neutralized, not with the fear of a retaliatory strike, but from the fear of a wooden paddle on my rear end.
Soon my aunt wiped her tears. My uncle Benny sniffed a couple of times, then slowly his confident, annoying smirk returned. So did the torment … for five more years. Oh, he was a good big brother to me—taught me to field hot grounders, throw strikes, shoot a basketball, throw a spiral with a football, and run like the dickens when he was trying to perform tickle torture.
I miss those days with my aunt and uncle, all except the torture. And I'll never forget the adrenaline rush from the power of the Santa sedition.
If there's a moral to this story I guess it's that you shouldn't follow my example. When you have the truth, wield it in love. Using truth as a weapon doesn't persuade anyone of anything except that you're an unpleasant person. A man named Peter said something similar regarding answering people with the truth. We're to do it "with gentleness and respect," not a nuclear attack on their most cherished beliefs.

H. L. (Harry) Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Meteorologist. He worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics, then as a large-scale, computer systems developer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area where he is involved in a small-group ministry. In 2010 he began another career, writing fiction. His romantic thriller, Hide and Seek, the first book in the Pure Genius Series, is coming in February 2013  from Harbourlight Books, Pelican Book Group. You can contact him through his web site, blog, or the social media:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Apple Pie Theory of Life

By Tom Blubaugh

It starts with Thanksgiving. Thanks? Well, that, but not only that. Family? Yes, family for sure, but not only thanks and family? What then?

Food! Yes food—tasty food like fresh baked rolls and candied yams,
Mashed potatoes with thick gravy served with juicy ham,
Brown Butterball turkey, cornbread stuffing and cranberry on the side,
Cheese balls and crackers along with soup – I ate so much I nearly died,
And then we got down to the serious stuff, you know what I mean,
Pumpkin pie and apple cobbler with a few cookies in between.

On the serious side, this is the time of year when the whole country moves into a frenzy of shopping days—Gray Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. I agree, it’s good for the economy, maybe not so good for our budgets. The last sixty days of the year are chaotic.

Let’s take a break from it all and look at life.

Do you like sugar?  How about a cup of it all at once?  Would you like to eat a half cup of all purpose flour?  I like apples but would I like eating six cups of thinly sliced, peeled cooking apples (2 pounds)?  Or 1/4 cup of butter?  I think not!
These are all ingredients of apple pie.  When you take these ingredients plus cinnamon, ginger, mace—put them in a pan and place it an oven for about an hour at 375°, you get an apple pie.  Hot!  Yummy!

This is a good illustration of life.  There are some good things but too much of a good thing isn't appetizing or healthy.  Some things are bad and hard to digest.  Unappetizing.  But when God takes them, mixes them together, applies the right temperature for the right amount of time it produces life.  Sweet.  Tasty.  Enjoyable.

Take a look at Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose".  I see apple pie when I read this verse. 

Tom Blubaugh, Author of Night of the Cossack and other works

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Inspiring Close to Home

As writers we hope our words will inspire others to laugh, to think, to change, to review, or to take a chance. But sometimes we inspire in unlikely places. My current book – the first one in quite a while – came out in November and my family and friends have all very excited and supportive.

            When my ten-year-old grandson came to visit he asked to use my ipad and the keyboard so he could write a book too. He plopped himself down at the dining room table and started to peck at the keys.

            “Grandma, how many chapters do I need?”

            “I usually start with twelve.”

            More pecking at the keys.

            “How do I get a publisher?”

            “Don’t worry about that yet, Drew. First you finish the book.”

            Peck. Peck.

            “So is an agent expensive?”

            “Not too bad, but well worth it.”

            Finally the pecking stopped and a big smile spread over his face. “I finished chapter one. You wanna read it?”


            “It’s a Spiderman Trilogy with a cross over with the Justice league.”

            I was pleasantly surprised. For a first attempt from a 4th grader is was pretty good. I understood the plot in the first few sentences and his main character was appealing. Throughout the rest of the day, he worked on his ‘book’, stopping now and then to tell me he’d added a girlfriend and a villain, and later he introduced another girl character to make the girlfriend jealous.

He wrote up to chapter seven and I read it again, my grandmotherly pride swelling. I was amazed to find he had an understanding of story structure and rising and falling action. There were even cliff hangers at the end of each chapter. (The chapters were short –two paragraphs in some places but it had heart.)

            Drew lives in a neighboring State so I’m not sure if ever finished the book. I’ll find out tomorrow when the family comes for Christmas. I hope he did. Maybe he’ll work on it again while he’s here.

He’ll never know what a wonderful gift he gave me—to see firsthand how my feeble efforts at writing inspirational romance had spilled over and inspired my grandson to write his adventure story. What more could an author ask for?

            When he’s completed his trilogy, I plan on sending a sample to my agent just for her input. I know Drew will be thrilled and who knows, she might want to represent him someday.

            Christmas is an inspiring season, I hope you’ll all be inspired to use our words and our actions to inspire everyone around us.

Merry Christmas

Lorraine Beatty

Rekindled Romance – April Love Inspired
Restoring His Heart – June Love Inspired
Plantation Christmas Weddings – Christmas Wreath – novella collection, September Barbour Books!/Lorrainebeattyauthor

Lorraine Beatty was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, but has been blessed to live in Germany, Connecticut, and Baton Rouge. She now calls Mississippi home. She and husband Joe have two sons and six grandchildren. Lorraine started writing in Junior High and has written for trade books, newspapers and company newsletters. She is a member of RWA, ACFW and is a charter member, and past president of Magnolia State Romance Writers. In her spare time she likes to work in her garden, travel, and spend time with her family.




Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Xmas GGGs

Just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you all and wishing you a Merry Xmas!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012


By Jim Carey                                                                       

Life can be challenging enough without the additional burden of having to carry all the unresolved emotional baggage that we’ve accumulated along the way. These challenges, when faced and promptly dealt with, offer us opportunities to step beyond ourselves and grow. When ignored they become part of the burden that we carry and they often interfere with our ability to deal with life on a daily basis. Carried long enough, they can affect our health, our peace of mind, our relationships and ultimately every aspect of our lives.

Unresolved emotions such as anger, resentment, jealousy and guilt can be powerful disruptions in our lives. The negative influence of these emotions can cause us to be reactive to life rather than having the ability to consciously choose our responses. The best way I have found to reduce the impact of these emotions is to actively work to identify them and then work to release them and let them go. Through the experiences I had with this work I became aware of the power of forgiveness, or the letting go of the hold that a situation or a person had on my life in order to claim back my own personal power. That piece of myself that was tied up with the negative emotions is then returned to me.

In the beginning I had to “unlearn” and let go of my old definitions and beliefs about forgiveness. Forgiveness, I learned, is a process that is very much about the “forgive -er” and often has very little to do with the “forgive-ee”. Forgiveness has nothing to do with passing judgment. I came to understand that forgiveness is ultimately about gaining more personal freedom. It is definitely not about blaming others or judging right from wrong. In my life, forgiveness has become my way of proclaiming that I am no longer willing to carry that part of my burden forward and that I am no longer willing to live with the effects of those negative emotions.

The process of forgiving others is a very person experience and can be, and often is, done without the participation of the other person. It is not really the person or the event that matters, it is letting go of the personal attachment and resulting effects that is important. By deciding that the event will no longer affect you, everything changes. The act of forgiveness is done for you and the others involved are responsible for their own process. When the person or event no longer holds an emotional charge then your energy is freed and we are then better able to make conscious choices regarding our actions and reactions to life. It is very important to remember that the act of forgiveness is non-judgmental. It is not deciding if a person or event was right or wrong, good or bad. Rather, it is a statement that you are no longer willing to carry the emotions tied to the person, event, or experience forward into your life.

It is also important to realize that forgiveness is not just for others. At times we will find that we also need to forgive ourselves for some harm (real or perceived) that we caused. This can be a very powerful experience that frees up life energy. Sometimes we are our own harshest critics and letting go of self-judgment is an essential step in personal growth. It has been my experience that the more I work with this concept of forgiveness, even to the point of seeking out events from the past that still need attention, the more it allows me to be flexible and adaptable in my daily life. I no longer feel a slave to patterned responses and behaviors from my past, but rather am free to bring more of myself into the experience of life in the present moment.

Echoes from Home is the first novel published by author Jim Carey. A social worker, then a chiropractor by training, writing has been a passion for Jim for the past twenty years. Jim describes himself as a story teller.  His interest in the Civil War started early. After seeing Jimmy Stewart’s movie Shenandoah at the age of six, Jim became fascinated with the Civil War. As the years passed, playing with toy soldiers became part of his past, but his interest with the Civil War continued. For years Jim planned to one day write a book that would be a typical civil war story filled with names and places, battles, dates and divisions, but shortly after the writing began, the character of Joshua Miller started to fully develop and he began to realize that the Civil War was to be the backdrop for the life story of this young man and his friends as they journeyed through these powerful events in American history. Jim’s next project will be a collection of short stories based on the Civil War, tentatively entitled The High Price of Freedom.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


By Kathryn Bain

            I think God might have done it backward. We should be able to enjoy getting old more than we’re able to. After all the kids are grown and gone. There’s a strange sense of peace and a clean house for the first time in years. Too bad peace of mind doesn’t last long.
            Last night I woke in a pool of perspiration, and it was only forty degrees out. After breakfast the next morning heat engulfed my body. Welcome to my world of night sweats and hot flashes. This should be the time in my life when I do what I want. All I want to do is stay home and sleep.
            If menopause isn’t bad enough, my body now makes strange noises and no longer works properly. I find myself standing in line to use the lady’s bathroom so I don’t “leak” in my car.
            It’s not a choice anymore as to whether I can wait until I get home to use the bathroom. When I have to go, I have to go. If the line is too long, I’ll use the men’s. But men, there’s no worry. What’s that old saying? If they have something I haven’t seen before, I’ll just shoot it. Of course, it’s been so long since I’ve seen anything, there might be additions I’m not aware of.

            Advertisements for adult diapers are no longer funny. I consider them informational guides. Have you seen leak-proof pads or diapers for adults? For those unfamiliar, let me describe them for you. The leak proof pad is the size of a bicycle seat. You’re supposed to wear this inside your underwear and walk at the same time. An adult diaper comes in one size, extra plush. No thong styles here. How can you look sexy in a Depends?
            I wish Mattel would come out with a middle-age Barbie. She’d have reading glasses, wrinkle cream that doesn’t work, and cellulite. I have little doubt she’d still have her fake boobs though. Nothing looks better on a fifty-year old body then large round plastic balls hanging down to your belly button.
            Loose bladder, night sweats, hot flashes and irregular periods. What could be next? Gray hair.
            I went from looking and feeling like I was thirty, to looking and feeling eighty within a twenty-four hour period. At least I have one solution for my gray strands. Ms. Clairol. As we get older, we lose friends and find new ones. Ms. Clairol tells me how I can look younger just by using this stuff in a box. This could be the start of a great relationship.
            It’ll be nice when I get past all this mid-life stuff. If God had made it so we could be more like teenagers once we hit our fifties that would have been great. But alas, things do start wearing out over time. And this too shall pass like everything else in life. One day there will be no more menopause. I’ll adjust to all the changes in my body. I did it as a teenager, I can do it again. I just can’t imagine what’s next.
Colonoscopy. What’s a colonoscopy?

Kathryn J. Bain began writing more than ten years ago. Her first release "Breathless" came out January 13, 2012. Her novella “Game of Hearts” was released in March 2012 followed by her inspirational romantic suspense "Catch Your Breath".
She is the former President of Florida Sisters in Crime and is currently the Public Relations Director and Membership Director for Ancient City Romance Authors.
To survive and pay bills, she has been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law.
She has two daughters and a dog named Gretchen.
Kathryn grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In 1981, she moved to Boise, but it apparently wasn't far enough south, because two years later she headed Jacksonville, Florida and has lived in the sunshine ever since.

Kathryn's website:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Becoming an Author at 64

By Roy Murry

My life was given a new breath at 64, when my first novel The Audubon Caper was published by Black Rose Writing.  

For a number of years, I was just living the life of a bored work-a-day bachelor. Then I decided to read one of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s books.  To paraphrase one of his quotes, you should not let the song within you die with you.

My song within me was to write a novel.  I decided at the age of 60 to enroll at Long Ride Writers Group, a school that gives one-on-one training in the art of writing.  Needless to say, I completed the course in recorded time and was told I had a talent by my instructor who has written a number of novels.

I had a story to tell.  All I had to do was write it.  It’s a daunting task for a man who was set in his ways, as most sixty year olds are.  But, I was committed to getting the job done.  I believe this strength came from wanting to tell my story before I die – you never know when that will happen.  

I was persistent in my endeavor, putting everything else on the bottom of my to-do list.  Writing was my task.  Golfing, my first love, next to reading, as did dining and drinking out with friends, became the last things I thought of. I wrote several hours a day.

One day I woke up and the novel was done and I was sending it to an editor. Then I sent the manuscript to a hundred or more publishers and agents. With many rejections, it got published.  Happy Days!

Now, I’m promoting that novel on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.
And I have combined my new loves - writing with reading, by promoting other authors’ books on my blog.  Golf and other endeavors are always secondary.

Roy Murry is a father and grandfather, Green Beret Operation & Intelligence Specialist in the Vietnam War, Bronze Star recipient for Meritorious Achievement, BSA Degree from Bentley College, 1974, minor in English, president ofPDE, the Honorary Journalism Society, editor-in-chief of the Yearbook, twenty five years in the Caribbean Hospitality Industry, and presently: semi-retired.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Remembering the Beast

            My children are grown now and live a day’s drive away. Trips home for the holidays are as rare as apple blossoms in January. But whether by phone or by letter, every year we revisit The Tale of the Miracle Tree.  
That year our friends started their You-Pick Christmas Tree enterprise. “Sounds like a good deal,” I told my husband. “Plus, we get to spend an afternoon with friends.”  
Life is rarely that simple.
With temperatures in single digits, we sucked in courage and went to our friends’ country home. Kerry led the way into the woods then pointed up at the towering pines. “Don’t worry how high the tree is. Once it’s cut down, we’ll trim from the top.”
“That’s the tree I want!” I would have jumped for joy if the three feet of snow hadn’t pinned me down.  Fully understanding of my deficient depth perception, my husband responded with uncertainty. “Are you absolutely sure?”
             “As sure as when we got married.”
His objections silenced, Kerry chopped the tree down, cutting the tree at the coordinates I suggested. Eying its long green needles, I imagined how beautiful it would look in just a few days.
            My husband clicked with worry. “I doubt I can even get it on top of the car.” When my eyes filled with tears, he gave my hand a reassuring squeeze. “We’ll figure something out.” Half an hour later, exhausted but exhilarated, we dropped the tree by the station wagon. Our daughter gazed in wonder at the Goliath. “Even if we get it home, we won’t be able to get it into the house.”
Looking for a glimmer of hope, I found comfort in my husband’s solidarity. “You just let me worry about that.”  Using every bungee cord in his toolbox, he secured the tree and ordered us to get into the car. Seeds of doubt eroded my joy.

When we arrived home, my husband took charge.  “John, get my saw. If I lop off a few of these bottom branches and trim the trunk, it’ll slide through the door without taking off the hinges.”
An hour later, I brought my husband a warm cup of coffee. He took a sip and shook his head. “I love you,” he said. Translated, he meant, “You’re nuts, woman.”
Once, inside, he looked around. “Where is this twig going?”
I pointed to the dining room and quickly realized the tree was still three feet too tall.
My husband thrives on challenge. “John, get me the saw again. This is the tree your mother wanted. This is the tree we’ll have.”
After a few more adjustments, he hoisted it into the stand, and it toppled over. But my valiant knight secured the tree with yards of strong twine. Like a maniacal marionette without a puppeteer, it swallowed the entire dining room. Over the next few days, we adorned our misshapen treasure with lights and ornaments and ate our meals on TV trays.
Then, on Christmas Eve, the miracle happened.
We piled the presents under what now had been dubbed, The Beast.  Our daughter scanned the tree with interest. “Can we sing Christmas Carols?” My husband nodded and grabbed the guitar. Then Edie turned off the house lights.
During Silent Night, suddenly all seemed miraculously calm and bright. With its broad branches, the tree exuded a halo affect, adding angelic chords to our rendition. We could almost see the shepherds as they knelt in wonder at the Savior’s birth. And in that moment, the meaning of Christmas burned in our hearts as never before. The ugliest tree I had ever seen transformed before our eyes, a beautiful emblem of love and hope. 

For the next few years, we resumed our old custom of buying a ready-cut tree from the nursery, eventually switching to an artificial one due to worsening allergies. But, from that year on, until one by one our children started their own families and traditions, Christmas carols around the tree became our favorite part of Christmas Eve. 

Winner of the 2012 Selah Award for best first novel (The Other Side of Darkness/Harbourlight),  LINDA WOOD RONDEAU, writes stories of redemption and God’s mercies. 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, America the Second, is a futuristic political thriller now available in ebook on and  Kobo.  Her serial story, Rains of Terror is prequel.  
Linda’s highly successful Christmas Adirondack romance , It Really IS a Wonderful Life, is available through, published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas.
Her first devotional book, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children is due for release soon by Helping Hands Press.    

coming soon

Friday, December 7, 2012

Aging Gracefully ... Or Not

Dawn Sinclair

I don't know how people manage to age gracefully, do you? Is it something to do with deciding you like grey hair and wrinkles after all?

Or could it be to do with smiling in the face of adversity and accepting your lot, albeit a lousy deal of a lot?

For instance, when I was forty-something, a hearing specialist told me I had, surprisingly, an age related hearing loss equivalent to that of an average seventy year old. I laughed "gracefully" and accepted that I'd need hearing aids from now on in. Apparently, averages are made up of every age so I guess there were a few hundred year olds to balance the books.

In my fifties, my hair decided that it would skip the whole "going grey" fashion and head straight for white and, just to add spice to the equation, it thinned itself overnight by molting madly, apparently for no good reason except to lessen the amount of time it took to dry after a shower I suppose there is always a silver lining to be found then. I took myself off to the hairdressers where I was informed by a visiting top stylist that I was so lucky to have skipped grey because I still looked like a blonde but with even blonder natural highlights. Cool!

Yippy for me! Aging gracefully was becoming easier every day.
Approaching my sixties, I seemed to be taking an extra pill per day for every year I advanced, all prescribed by my doctor who informed me I was doing splendidly considering how long I'd had diabetes. 

Well, at least I wasn't jabbing myself with a needle and isn't it wonderful to realize the doc trusts me to balance my own meds now? Besides, soon I'd get free meds on the National Health. Yay for 60!

I suppose I can also count myself lucky I can still recall my childhood with utter clarity (though do not ask me what I had for dinner yesterday please!) and there are huge benefits to being absentminded on occasion because I can watch films I've seen before without realizing it until the last knockings when I suddenly exclaim "Oh yes, this is the one where the butler really did do it!" and never mind that my husband, who's probably watched it before also, says "Oh thanks, you've spoiled the ending for me now." Well, after all, he is two years my senior, bless him.

We still hold hands when we walk down the street these days, except now we do it to stop each other falling over - it still looks pretty graceful though, I suppose. And, when we are wearing the right pair of glasses (rose tinted of course) we don’t notice each other growing older because if we did, we’d have to also take note of our own wrinkly changes. It would certainly seem odd if my husband started looking younger than me, you have to agree.

Could I have aged less gracefully? I have no idea. I suppose I could have had Botox and face peels, worn more makeup and refused to drop my hems or wear lower heels but really, if I am honest, I don't think that not doing any of that that means that I am more graceful; it just means I am a lazy old coot who knows that at the heart of it all, age is just a label and on mine the message says: you’re as old as you feel little lady.

Dawn’s Poems…in Born Poets
Dawn Sinclair’s Songs…in Soundclick
Theresa Dawn Sinclair’s novels…in Amazon

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm ready to fade to ROSE--are you?


I have to admit, I was a little floored when I heard the study this week that proclaimed that older people tend to be more susceptible to scams because their brains look for the best in a situation. The study disputed the earlier thought that seniors had diminished brain capacity or other defects, and says instead that people closer to the end of their lives tend to see things, if you will, with rosier colored glasses.

Researcher Shelley Taylor says:

“We know that older adults are good emotion regulators. They make their lives emotionally more positive...They don’t stress out over small things. They turn away from negative scenes. They are less likely to go to scary negative movies. They kind of keep their emotional life in balance.”

I'd just spent five bucks on the zillion dollar Powerball, pretty sure it was a useless gesture. Twenty years ago, when I bought even one ticket, I was convinced this was my real chance to win. I had the money spent before the balls were even drawn. Every time. I had such hope and desire and confidence. I would buy a house, take vacations, write to my heart's content, give my kids a comfortable cushion as they started their independent lives.

But over the years, I've gradually lost that optimism, rather than bent in the direction of the positive. I bought a ticket on a whim, just to cover my bases, but I had no dreams of being a winner. Not even for a two-buck chance.

Maybe it has something to do with being a family law attorney, when I see so many negative things people do to one another, or see clients fail time and time again or even simply give up on their dreams. After twenty-seven years of the same kind of practice, it's true a bit of burnout settles in.

Even at this time of the year, when so many people are positively glowing with holiday spirit, I find it hard to generate even the amount of warmth that could come from my proverbial lump of coal. Part of seems to be the inexorable onset of age--the change of seasons with its barometric yo-yo and the cold weather sets fire to my chronic pain disorders. Hours of walking the malls and the other holiday events are uncomfortable, even unpleasant, despite what I'd really like to do. I won't lie--some days it's hard to be upbeat.

Everyone's situation is different, of course. Some people are surrounded by loving friends and family, and that makes it easier to feel that good things can happen. For some, they follow Charlie Brown's edict--happiness is a warm puppy. Being involved in community organizations and events helps, I know, though it's not an option for me juggling two careers and special needs kids. Just not enough hours in the day.

So I guess I'm looking forward to becoming a "senior" sometime in the next ten years. I can't wait to regain that positive outlook and think well of people again, perhaps even find a little happiness and people who love and support the person who I am. I'm open to finding the best in others, being able to trust them, and expect that happy surprises will come my way. Just happy to hear that it doesn't necessary mean I get to be senile at the same time, thanks to Shelley Taylor.

How about you--do you look on the bright side of life? What helps cheer you up when you can't seem to find a silver lining anywhere?

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, CONVICTION OF THE HEART, in June 2012 and THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE in September 2012. Zumaya Publications published her women’s fiction title, SECOND CHANCES, in July 2012. She has six more novels scheduled to be released in 2013.
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, December 5, 2012

Hanging Out

Hanging Out

Today's Guest is Marilyn Celeste Morris

"Handy Dandy Retractable Clothesline" the blurb on the package proclaimed.  Modern machines are wonderful, I thought as I stopped dead in my tracks at the hardware store, but sometimes a gal just wants to hang the white stuff out to dry --- sheets and pillowcases and other white things simply cry out for a clothesline.  Homes today do not automatically come with a clothesline in the back yard, as they did in the Olden Days -- I had a clothesline when my kids were in diapers, and I loved it.  (The clothesline, I mean, not that my kids were in diapers.)  But I digress.  We were in praise of clotheslines and I was in search of one I could Do (It) (Your) myself.)

"Installs in just minutes with simple tools.  Saves Energy."  Fine, I thought.  I'm all for saving energy.  But I wasn't too sure about the "Installs in just minutes with simple tools."  I am, shall we say, “technologically challenged.”  Nonetheless, I began, and soon, with the help of a hammer, screwdriver, a lot of sweating and, unfortunately, a lot of swearing, I had not one, but two clotheslines stretching from the corner of the house to the fence. 

As I washed a load of clothes and hung them outside on my New, Handy-Dandy Retractable Clothesline, I thought about my grandma and her clothesline.

Boy, did Grandma have a clothesline.  It stretched from one end of West Texas Back Yard to Infinity, its sagging middle propped up by a long wooden stick jabbed in the rock hard dirt.  All the visiting grandchildren quickly learned to avoid The Stick as we raced in and out of the billowing sheets, towels and Grandma's voluminous "bloomers."  Occasionally, however, some cousin or two would knock the prop loose and send all the clean laundry tumbling to the ground.  For sure, we were all in trouble, and Grandma would stand over us until we had gathered every last stitch for a re-washing, and whoever was responsible for Knocking out the Stick was royally shunned, and especially suspect on wash days.

Wash Days were always on Monday.  I have often wondered, “Where is it written that all laundry should be done on Mondays?” Does the phrase "Blue Monday” have anything to do with the "bluing" substance added to the white clothes rinse water? 

Grandma made sure that various and sundry kids, aunts and an uncle all had their part in this chore.   As I recall, a male cousin was responsible for building the large open fire in the back yard and placing the large black kettle over the fire. Several of us trudged to the well and carried back seemingly endless buckets of water.  Next, we carefully shaved a large cake of lye soap into the boiling water, a job I particularly avoided, since lye soap will take the skin right off your hands.  I preferred instead the job of stirring the mixture with a broom handle.  Swish, swish, I stirred as vigorously as my young arms could manage.  This stirring job became more difficult, however, as Grandpa's heavy work clothes were added; then I relinquished the stirring to a larger cousin or two. 

Rinsing came next, in a galvanized washtub, and wringing the clothes by hand took great determination, if not actual strength.

If we thought wringing the laundry was hard, so was the actual hanging the laundry on the clothesline.  We quickly assumed a rhythm, all of us grandchildren:  bend, select laundry, reach, pin, move the pin bag, bend, select, reach, pin, move the pin bag. I liked hanging the white sheets and towels, which would later become great hiding places from my unruly cousins. 

Almost as much fun to see hanging on the clothesline were Grandma's voluminous "bloomers," which, when filled with a strong West Texas wind, tended to act as much a sail as the sheets, and seemingly almost as large.  And finally, at the bottom of the basket, came the most dreaded chore:  Hanging Grandpa's overalls.

I prayed for a mild breeze, or no breeze at all, because Grandpa's overalls, besides being heavy when wet, sported huge metal buckles, which, even in the slightest breath of air, slapped at my face and arms.  I considered it a huge accomplishment to have hung the laundry without sustaining major damage to my body. 

Washing completed, we grandchildren celebrated by racing in and hiding among the pristine sheets, the flapping towels and yes, even the billowing bloomers, inhaling the clean, fresh smell.

Returning to reality, I stood back and gazed at my laundry firmly attached to my new Handy Dandy Retractable Clothesline and pronounced it Good.  Thrilled with my accomplishment, I resumed my other weekend chores inside the house, returning later to bring in the laundry. 

I had evidently failed to latch the pulley mechanism.  I gazed in utter astonishment at my immaculately laundered sheets, towels and -- bloomers -- lying in a tangled heap on the ground. 

After all these years...I had Knocked Out the Stick. 

 A Little Bit About Me: 
I was born in Alpine, Texas in my grandfather's Southern Pacific Railroad section house.  The railroad company soon abandoned this part of the operations, so I was left without a "permanent" home. At the age of eight, I received my very own orders from The War Department to journey to Seoul, Korea, to join my father in the US Occupation Forces. We were isolated in a military compound with little to do, so I turned my attention to writing.  My next overseas assignment was for three years in Linz, Austria. Out of these experiences sprang my first novel, The Women of Camp Sobingo and  my autobiography,of sorts, Once a Brat, Always a Brat, described as part memoir, part therapy session. Other books quickly followed, as I retired from Corporate America, and at last I could do what I always felt I was born to do: Write. 
I am single, live in Fort Worth TX and have three grown children and five grands. 

Marilyn Celeste Morris, Author, Editor and SpeakerFive novels, two non fiction books. All available on 
and at 
Vanilla Heart Publishing:: And now, free reads first four chapters of all my books: