Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas Magic

By now you are probably in the midst of shopping, baking, decorating, addressing cards, and everything else it takes to bring joy to yourself and others at this time of year.  For us, we have the tree up, that's a start.  Christmas is my favorite time of year, for many reasons.

First, I love the lights and decorations that bring a home or street alive with their twinkling bulbs that break through the darkness.  In January the world goes back to being bare, but for this one month, lights turn our world into a starry wonderland.

Second, I love the music.  For over seventy years I've heard and sung the familiar Christmas Carols so now they are as much a part of me as my heart beat.  My favorite for years has been I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day with its stanza: 
               Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
               'God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
               The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
               With peace on earth, good will to men.'

Third,  I love the smells of Christmas.  From the fir trees, to the gingerbread men, to eggnog, to the scent of bread dough rising.  These smells all bring back the cozy comfort of home.

Finally, I love the smiles and cheerful greetings of everyone I meet in December.  For in the smiles and cheerfulness one gets a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, that little babe born in Bethlehem did indeed bring peace on earth goodwill toward men.  For one month a year anyway.

In the spirit of Christmas, I wrote the following:

Christmas Magic
                Linda Loegel

The two-year-old toddles across the room
And claps his chubby hands in delight
At the wondrous sight of a Christmas tree
Draped with a hundred twinkling lights

The old man in his nineties
His heart bursting with joy 
Closes his eyes and mouths the words
To the carols sung by neighborhood boys

While she arranges the nativity scene
The new mother cradles her son
Feeling a special bond with Mary, now
Kneeling beside her precious one.

The ten-year-old rolls out the dough
Flour and cinnamon all over her face 
She adds sprinkles, candy, and icing
And laughs at the cookies she’s made

The woman’s pen  poises over the cards 
Addressed to her dearest friends 
Each person’s name brings a smile to her face
And a remembrance of a special time and place

At this time of year we celebrate 
The gift of sounds, and smells, and sights 
That brings the magic of Christmas
To all, and to all, a “Good Night.”

Merry Christmas to all of you, my friends and family.

Today's Quote:  I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  Charles Dickens--A Christmas Carol.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Thanksgiving interview with Susan Burns

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  I hope you’ll be spending the day with family or friends, but whether you do or don’t, please take the time to count your blessings. 

I am so thankful that for the first time in many years we’ll be spending Thanksgiving with family!  My daughter Cyndi and her husband are now living in North Carolina, about fifty minutes away from us and we are invited to their house for dinner next Thursday.  There will be a large group of people there making the day feel even more special.  A far cry from Fred and me cooking a three pound chicken to celebrate, or, going to a restaurant for dinner.  This year will be real.

I am also thankful that I have so many writing friends.  These writers all enjoy the thrill of putting words on paper and some have gone so far as to get published.  It has been my pleasure to introduce you to some of these published writers, including today’s guest author, Susan Burns (pen name: S.B.K.Burns).

Welcome, Susan. Tell me a little about yourself.  I live in sunny San Diego and am married to my mechanical engineer husband, Chief Science Officer of a hybrid-electric transportation company. We have a twenty-year-old son who works with him to pick up Dad’s knowledge.

How long have you been writing? Since I was a kid, but full-time for about five years.

What type of writing do you normally do? I write mainstream romance, mostly paranormal, with lots of sexual heat. My most recent release is Entangled. 

Give us a brief synopsis of Entangled. Like my other books, it has themes of both science and romance. The science theme involves a plot where a Stephen Hawking type wheelchair-bound scientist invents a time machine, a quantum computer that uses quantum entanglement to bring him back in time to a ten-year-old Scottish boy from 1717. Problem is, to accomplish what he must, the boy must die.

The romantic plot takes hero, Taylor, and heroine, Dawn, into the past where they intend to stop the scientist, Taylor’s brother.  Instead, hero and heroine become entangled in their emotions and each other, causing a time quake that may change their future so much that they never existed.

What prompted you to write this book? I like blending science (the quantum computer) and spirituality (past life regression), the two ways into the past; each team, scientific and spiritual, trying to stop the other back in 1717 Scotland.

How long did it take to write Entangled? Six months, as part of our local San Diego chapter of Romance Writers of America which each year challenges us to write a book in six months.

Do you have a favorite line from the book? “I’m sorry. I hope you don’t think me rude,” Taylor said, “how I barged in here, seducing your parrot and invading your video collection.”
     Had he just used the words seducing and invading in the same sentence?
Is it published and, if so, when and by whom? Entangled was released by Black Opal Books on September 21, 2013.

How can my readers get a copy of the book?

What do you do besides write? Like most published writers, I  spend most of my time outside of creative writing in revising each novel three or four times for my editors. I work with a group of artists on book cover art and comics. And I have a blog site, under construction, in which I post my musings about a possible language to link science and spirituality, called The Union of Opposites (

What else have you written?  Among others, Getting Them Up, is a coming-of-age story of a young male scientist who is abducted into a world of giant reptilian women with questionable motives, who run a hospital ship to presumably cure human diseases.

This year’s RWASD Challenge novel is a sequel to Entangled, more of a mainstream steampunk called Fly Like An Eagle.

An inspirational holiday short sci-fi story, Lost and Found, is available as a Kindle version.

What is your advice to would-be writers?  It is so much better to write poorly than not to write at all. You can always edit the poor writing and replace it with gems. In other words, never edit while you’re wearing your creative cap. It will shut your creative self down faster than a put-down followed by a colorful expletive.

What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?  That it takes a village to write a novel. If you are lucky enough to get any criticism, at first take it to heart and then modify your work. Once you’ve written five novels or gotten a publisher to send you a contract, know your voice and be selective in the criticism you take.

And, something I learned from you when you, Linda, were presiding over our Alpine Writing Group in California: always be gracious, no matter whether or not you’re going to take the criticism.

Thank you, Susan, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you and everyone!

Quote of the Day:  Come, ye thankful people, come/Raise the song of harvest home/All is safely gathered in/Ere the winter storms begin.  Henry Alford.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Veterans and Hamburgers

Hi from sunny North Carolina.  The leaves are turning, the mornings are brisk, the sky is blue, and the temp is in the 70s by afternoon.  Just a little touch of Heaven here.

My daughter and son-in-law moved down from Connecticut to North Carolina last weekend.  They live in a gorgeous house on six acres of land, with their own pond and dock, in the little town of Lillington.  They are about fifty minutes south of us which is a lot closer than when they were ten hours away.  Now we just take a nice country drive and we’re at each other’s house.

We had one noticeable change from El Cajon last week.  On Thursday we had 13 trick or treaters come to our house, compared to the 140 or so we had in California every year.  We planned for 50 kids; consequently, we have a bunch of candy left over.  Oh dear, whatever will we do with it?

Since next week is Veterans’ Day, I’d like to tell you about a park here in Garner.  It’s called Lake Benson Park (it borders Lake Benson) and is just minutes from our house.  Within the park is the Garner Veterans Memorial which was dedicated on May 4 of this year.


The memorial is a citizen-driven project with pillars representing every war since the country was founded. Each brick in the walkway is in honor of a veteran.  The Garner Veterans Memorial is one reason why Garner was chosen, along with nineteen other cities in the United States, for the All-America City award. This memorial is both peaceful and beautiful and a fitting tribute to all of our military, past and present.

It is my pleasure to announce that the third book in my Cranky Seniors Series is now published and available on Kindle for $2.99.  It is called Hamburgers and Headaches and depicts the highs and lows of Fred and me owning a restaurant.

Happy Veterans’ Day.

Quote of the Day:  If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind, whom should we serve?  Abigail Adams

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own.

Hello again from North Carolina. Now that the rush of moving is over and we’ve seen our first deer in the backyard, I’m able to get back to the subject of writing. And today’s subject is very interesting. 

I have with me author and friend, Margaret Harmon, who just published her latest book, The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own.

Welcome, Margaret, and thank you for being here. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi. I live in Pacific Beach (San Diego), California. I’m married, my husband is a retired college professor and dean, our daughter is a voice actor and our son is a professional photographer.

I assume you’ve been writing a while, when did you start to write?

Just before my fifth birthday, I decided to become an author (kids don’t care about newspapers)—and was expelled from Kindergarten for reading during naptime! But school got better, and a superb high school journalism teacher showed me the appeal of writing feature journalism.

What type of writing do you normally do? 
Over the years, everything—novels, humor, essays, short stories, poetry. I was Books Editor for HERSELF MAGAZINE and over 200 of my short pieces have been published. But fables are the perfect form for me. First, I’m an idea writer. My favorite thing is discovering a Truth about life, and I love short, tight, bizarre writing. There is another thrill to writing fables: I figure out what’s holding me back in my life—and create a character who helps me free myself—and then hear someone say she is that character! The character has freed her. Readers take fables personally. That’s the whole point, really.

Give us a brief synopsis of The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own.

Twenty-two brand new heroes, villains, and earnest strivers seek health, fulfillment, and love in our world that’s scorched by greed but trembling with opportunity. These are fables we read when the children are asleep.
· Idealistic architect Zoe creates an eco-building so perfect that it may save the planet—if she can protect it from the people living in it.
· Health food expert Myrna decides to rescue her husband from a nutritional wasteland. But Stanley’s a big man who likes ice cream.
· The Second-best Juggler in the World buys a magic lamp and frees a genie we’ve never seen before.
 Ray Bradbury called my fables “Fantastic!”

What prompted you to write this book?

These are tough times with challenges humans have never faced before—on top of the need we always have for creating a self and a family. Our options are fascinating; our choices are crucial. A fable is a tool for testing life strategies. It works by creating a character who lives by one strategy 100% so we see what happens to her. If she succeeds, we consider using the idea. If she fails, she warns us away from her disastrous idea.

How long did it take you to write Genie?

Eight years, but a few of these fables have been germinating for twenty years. Fables take forever to write because they’re surreal, yet must be 100% true psychologically. They entertain, but have to deliver a truth we can use. And the sound and rhythm have to work for reading aloud. I also illustrate my own books, which takes time. But I love it.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?

Yes. "A woman named Nina knew exactly what she wanted."

Is your book published and, if so, when and by whom?

It was published on August 20, 2013, by Plowshare Media of La Jolla, California.

How can my readers get a copy of the book?

Any bookstore can order it. Amazon and Barnes & Noble carry it as a trade paperback and e-book. Visit Plowshare’s web site or mine for more information and for Questions for Discussion for book clubs.

What do you do besides write?

Ballet and beach-walking. Acting in La Jolla Playreaders. We see a lot of theater. My cello is fun. I love languages and accents—and who we become when speaking a different language! I taught French and lived in France for a while. I taught college English composition, and we lived in England on a Fulbright Cultural Exchange. In the Yucatan, learning Maya was fascinating. It’s too long a story, but “Tennemit tana Maya” is “I do not speak Maya” in Maya. (The word “Mayan” annoys Maya people. It’s an English adjective form, not the correct spelling of their language or people.)

What’s next for you?

Another book of fables—this one with illustrated maxims. It will probably be for the “eighteen percent.” If you’ve read The Genie Who Had Wishes of His Own, you know who they are. A lot of people are identifying themselves as members of the “eighteen percent,” so we probably need that book.

What is your advice to would-be writers?

Write what you love best—for three reasons.
· The more fun we have writing, the more fun readers have reading our work.
· Focusing on our favorite form helps us master our favorite form instead of scattering off. Life is short.
· Very few writers make a living at it, so write what you believe in and what enriches your life. 
My last question. What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?

I wish I’d had the self-confidence to play the literary game full on. There are two games—literary and bestseller. We have to play the one that fits us.

Thank you, Margaret. It’s been a pleasure to have you here today.  I wish you the best in your writing future.

Today's QuoteWe don’t live as we wish, but as we can.  Terence

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting Settled

Hello from Garner, NC, a little town just outside Raleigh, to the south.  We have been in our new home for two and a half weeks; bought almost all the furniture we need; unpacked almost all the boxes; and now we’re starting to develop a rhythm of daily living.  We do need rocking chairs, though.  Nearly every house down here has a porch with rocking chairs; we have a front and back porch, but no rocking chairs, yet.

We’re still learning our way around town, Fred much more so than I.  I’ve taken a solo drive to the store three miles away and considered it quite an accomplishment.  There’s no better way to learn an area than to drive it yourself.

This constant togetherness is strange.  He has no friends yet to golf with, even if his arm were good enough to get back to golfing.  I have no meetings to attend.  Thank heavens I have my office where I can close the door, turn on my iPod, and retreat into my own world.  We did go to the movies the other day to see Gravity.  A terrific on-the-edge-of-your-seat movie.

I’m trying something new with this post--using Mail Chimp for sending it out.  If it works like it should, it will make sending these to you much easier.  If you encounter a problem, please let me know so I can fix it.  

It’s very possible some of you didn’t get my last post and if that’s the case, when you read this one, drop down a bit and read the column entitled “We Have Arrived.”

Be on the lookout for my third book in the Cranky Seniors Series, Hamburgers and Headaches.  Coming soon.

Today’s Quote:  What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life's pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.
Joseph Addison

Sunday, September 22, 2013

We Have Arrived!

We have arrived!  After a week of driving across the country then spending two weeks in a motel waiting for our furniture to catch up with us, we are now in our new home in Garner, North Carolina.

The house isn't crooked, just the picture-taker's angle.

Our furniture arrived in a pod on Friday and movers unloaded it yesterday morning.  Fred and I spent the rest of the day unpacking box after box after box until exhaustion forced us to quit.  By nighttime, we could find the kitchen, the bed was made up, and, thanks, to Direct TV and Time Warner, we could watch television and work on the computer.  Not bad for the first day in our new home.

ATTENTION:  Our new address is:  4908 Seminole Lane, Garner, NC  27529.

OUR NEW EMAIL ADDRESS IS:  Please make a note of it as we changed from Cox to Yahoo.

We had, for the most part, an uneventful trip from California to North Carolina.  We DID do a little sightseeing in San Antonio where we saw the Alamo and took a pleasant boat ride along the Riverwalk.  We had great weather the whole week and made good time; Fred was able to drive about four to five hundred miles a day which is more than we had planned on.

When we filled up the gas tank in California, gas was $3.85 a gallon.  In Tucson, it was $3.25 a gallon. From that point on, only once did we pay more than $3.45 a gallon.  Here in Garner, gas is about $3.28 a gallon. Do we miss California?  No.  Do we miss our friends?  Yes!

We saw some interesting signs during our cross-country drive.  In Yuma, AZ: Drive Hammered - Get Nailed.  In Lordsburg, NM:  Whoa Partner - No Drinking and Driving in New Mexico.  In El Paso, TX:  Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

In Louisiana we drove across a twenty-mile-long bridge that spanned a huge swamp.  I’ve never seen a bridge so long nor do I know how they could build it in a swamp.  We crossed the Mississippi River at Baton Rouge, LA.  When we drove through the state of Mississippi, we saw well-manicured grass along the highways and a very clean, neat state.  We spent a night in Jackson, MS and the next night in Jackson, TN. In Memphis, Fred was SO looking forward to eating at the Rendezvous, a barbecue restaurant.  Five years ago when we were in Memphis, the restaurant was closed due to the July Fourth weekend.  This time when we got there, it was “Closed in observance of Labor Day” even though it was the day after Labor Day. Some guys just have no luck at all.

Garner is a nice little town with neat brick houses and manicured lawns.  Every home is different and we enjoy driving around seeing houses that are so different from California. Everything is green and fresh looking and the highways are tree-lined as far as you can see.  Since Fred navigates by landmarks, it’s a bit different now when all the landmarks are trees!

We have been in Garner two weeks and yesterday was the very first time we met someone who wasn’t friendly.  We stopped at McDonald’s for two egg McMuffins; the girl taking the money and the girl handing us our food at the drive-thru were both sourpusses.  We couldn’t help but notice the stark difference between them and EVERYBODY else we’ve come in contact with down here.  Since we’ve eaten out a lot, every single server we’ve had has been super friendly.  “How’re y’all doing?  Can I get you anything else? Y‘all have a great day!” and always with a huge smile.  Even the greeter at Home Depot talked with us for ten minutes about how to roast a pig in the ground.  The man who delivered our pod Friday said, “North Carolina doesn’t have a lot to boast about, but we do like people and like to be friendly.” Amen to that!

The sign at the entrance to our mobile home community says: Welcome Home.  We have, in fact, found a “home.”

Today’s Quote:  You can only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
Author Unknown

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This will be the last blog post I write in California.  As of Thursday, Fred and I will be on our way to North Carolina.  

It has been an extremely busy month--deciding what to keep and what to sell, preparing for a garage sale and then holding the two-day garage sale, then cleaning up after the garage sale, and between it all, packing, packing, and more packing.  We have sold or given away everything we don't want to take, which is about half our household; yet, we still have a lot of "stuff" left.  Where it's been hiding all these years I have no idea.

We're having a pod from Pack Rats delivered tomorrow (Wednesday) and we've hired helpers to come Thursday and load it.  When it's fully loaded and locked, we'll be on our way.

One thing I've learned, moving is not for the elderly.  We work half an hour and rest half an hour.  I look forward to the day I can stand up straight again without my lower back crying out in pain.  My arms and legs look like Fred got upset and punched me, but it's just from carrying what seems like hundreds of boxes.  

We're tired, exhausted actually.  And our tempers are short.  It's been hot and humid for over a week which hasn't helped our dispositions.  I haven't been able to sit down and write for I don't know how long and I really, really want to.

Two things keep us going.  The first is knowing that when we get in our vehicle Thursday afternoon, all the packing, all the lugging, all the reaching and bending, will be behind us.  We can finally sit for 2500 miles and enjoy the scenery with absolutely nothing to do.  The second thing is knowing that at the end of our journey there will be rocking chairs on a front porch waiting for us.  I long for those rocking chairs.  They are on the porch of the house my daughter and son-in-law are buying and have graciously allowed us to stay in while we look for a place of our own, somewhere in North Carolina.  

When we have an address and an email address, I'll let y'all know where we are.

In the meantime, we've both been treated to farewell events by so many wonderful friends here. It's going to be hard to leave people that have meant so much to us over the years.  Fred was born here and I've been in California for thirty years.  You make a lot of friends in that time. Heck, I had to say goodbye to my hairdresser today; she's been doing my hair for over twenty-five years.  For some silly reason, she refuses to move to N.C. with us.  

I'll see you on the other side, dear friends; on the other side of the country, that is.

Today's Quote:  To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone. Reba McEntire

Friday, August 9, 2013

Dare I Call it Incredible?

Our move to North Carolina is getting closer and closer.  We may be leaving California as soon as the end of this month!  Yikes!  

While I'm still in town, I want to share with you an incredible story.  The name of the book is, Dare I Call it Murder?  A Memoir of Violent Loss.  The author, Larry Edwards, is here with me today.  I have read Larry's book and have to say, it's not a story that you forget as soon as you come to the last page.  This story will stay with the reader for a long, long time. 

Let's get some basics out of the way, Larry.  Tell us a little about your personal life.  

I live in San Diego, California.  I'm originally from Kirkland, Washington, a suburb of Seattle and the home of Costco.  I'm married to my wife, Janis; we have no pets, other than the birds, skunks, possums, raccoons, and rats that populate our back yard.  

How long have you been writing?

All my life. But I became a professional writer in 1983, working as freelancer and later as a staff writer/editor for newspapers and magazines.

 What type of writing do you normally do?

I have been a journalist for 30 years, and I did a stint in public relations, but the past few years I have concentrated on finishing this  book.

Give us a brief synopsis of Dare I Call it Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss.

I unmask the emotional trauma of violent loss as I ferret out new facts to get at the truth of how and why my parents were killed.  In 1977, Loren and Joanne "Jody" Edwards left Puget Sound aboard their 53-foot sailboat Spellbound, destined for French Polynesia. Six months later they lay dead aboard their boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with their 20-year-old daughter unconscious and bleeding from head wounds. 

The FBI named my younger brother as the prime suspect in its murder investigation, but federal prosecutors never indicted him, leaving the case unresolved. 
In Dare I Call It Murder?, I decipher a maze of contradictory witness statements and uncover new facts to get at the truth of my parents' deaths.  I also unveil the devastating impact the tragedy had on the survivors, not only at the time but thirty years later when a dispute over how to respond to a true-crime book by Ann Rule — which contained an inaccurate account of the case — ripped the tattered family even farther apart.

What prompted you to write this book?

The erroneous reporting on the deaths of my parents and the further splintering of my family after true-crime writer Ann Rule published an inaccurate account of the tragedy.

How long did it take you to write the book?

About 12 years, but I couldn't work on it full-time for both practical and emotional reasons.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?

"Based on the evidence lying before me, I believe I can reasonably conclude that Dad did not die by accident, that Mom did not take her own life."

Is it published and, if so, when and by whom?

Wigeon Publishing released the book on July 9, 2013. The book is currently an Amazon Best Seller in both Memoir and True Crime categories. The book won first place in the 2012 San Diego Book Awards, unpublished memoir category.

How can my readers get a copy of the book?

The book is available from several online retailers and will soon be in a number of bookstores in the Seattle and San Diego areas. For a full list of book sellers, go to the Where to Buy page of the book's website:

What do you do besides write?

I am a professional editor and publishing consultant, providing services to other writers and independent publishers. I also am a semi-professional musician and play fiddle in a number of bands that perform old-time, bluegrass, and honky tonk music. In addition, I am a historical re-enactor, portraying a free trapper of the American fur trade era.

What’s next for you?

A 48-hour session of playing Free Cell (or until my eyes and/or index finger beg for mercy). On a more serious note (although I am serious about the Free Cell), I am currently occupied 8-12  hours a day marketing and promoting my book, responding to social media comments and email, and handling the various administrative  aspects of being an author with a newly-released book. Once things settle down a bit, I intend to finish a few short stories and complete a historical novel set on the American frontier.

Can you give some advice to would-be writers, or those who consider themselves writers?

Study and polish your craft. You're probably not as good as you think you are. You can always learn from others, improve, and become a better writer.

What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career? 

How to write well, and to know what I didn't know.

Thank you, Larry, it's been an honor to have you here with us today. I foresee lots of success with your book.

Today's Quote:  Every private citizen has a public responsibility.  Myra Janco Daniels

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lovely Lyrics From a Long Ago Time

Have you ever had a song play in your mind?  At first you just let it play over and over, then you start to think, “Wait, what is this song and why am I thinking of it?”  And then you start to add a word or two to the tune and before long you find yourself putting a phrase here, and a word there, like a puzzle until you have a coherent stanza or chorus.

Lately, I realized I had The Man Upstairs, a 1959 song by Kay Starr, playing in my head.  In about half a day, I had the chorus pieced together.

Have you talked to the Man upstairs
'Cause he wants to hear from you
Have you talked to the Man upstairs
He will always see you through.

That song got me to thinking about other songs from the fifties that were unabashedly about faith and were high on the pop charts.  Such as Frankie Laine’s 1953 song, I Believe.

I believe for every drop of rain that falls
A flower grows,
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night
A candle glows,
I believe for everyone who goes astray,
Someone will come to show the way,
I believe, I believe.

I believe above the storm a smallest prayer
Will still be heard,
I believe that someone in the great somewhere
Hears every word,
Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
Or touch a leaf, or see the sky,
Then I know why,
I believe.

Can you imagine that song being played on the radio now?  Here’s another one.  He by Al Hibbler in 1955.

He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea
He alone decides who writes a symphony
He lights ev'ry star that makes the darkness bright
He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night

He still finds the time to hear a child's first prayer
Saint or sinner calls and always finds him there
Though it makes him sad to see the way we live
He'll always say "I forgive"

He can touch a tree and turn the leaves to gold
He knows every lie that you and I have told
Though it makes him sad to see the way we live
He'll always say "I forgive"

Imagine that!  A pop song telling you not to sin or lie, and to say your prayers!  The songs we hear today tell a much different story.  

In 1954 Patti Page sang a song called, Cross Over the Bridge.

Cross over the bridge
Cross over the bridge
Change your reckless way of livin'
Cross over the bridge
Leave you fickle past behind you
And true romance will find you
Brother, cross over the bridge.

And then there’s He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands by Laurie London, and Wink Martindale’s Deck of Cards.   

Is it any wonder that the “Fabulous Fifties” were Happy Days?  Whatever our parents and teachers didn't teach us, the radio did.  We had values, morals, and a strong belief system that lived well past Sunday morning.  Truly, the "good" ol’ days.

Did I forget a song?  Share your list with me.  I'd love to hear from you.

Today's Quote:  God wants to talk to each of us; we merely need to start the conversation in prayer or meditation and patiently listen.  Mark Victor Hansen.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Birth of a Nation; Birth of Willard Manor

This week we celebrate July Fourth and our country’s 237th birthday.  My how the country has grown!  From a fledgling rudimentary sparsely populated land to a well-connected, highly evolved (invention-wise) nation with all the latest gidgets and gadgets.  Thomas Jefferson would be lost in any office today--from getting there in an automobile, to hearing the constant din of telephones, fax machines, printers, and piped in music, to say nothing of having the world glow before him on a computer screen.  The quill pen in his hand would be useless with no ink bottles in sight.

All of this preamble is a sneaky way of letting you know about my new novel due out soon, called Willard Manor.  Willard Manor is a house, built in 1840, by John Willard, in a fictitious town in the middle of Connecticut.  As the country grows and changes, so, too, does Willard Manor.  Many generations of one family occupy this house over a period of 170 years and each generation “modernizes” it to some extent by adding indoor plumbing, electricity, a telephone, septic tank, and, eventually, a television set.  And along the way, the horse in the shed is replaced by a Model T Ford.

In researching for this novel, I learned many interesting things.  Among them:
How to build lath and plaster walls
The route of the Underground Railroad
When telephones and electricity were available for the masses
When polio was rampant and its treatment
How to build a still during Prohibition
The Civil War, WWI And WWII
The Great Depression
How to grow marijuana.

In reading this book, you will become aware that Willard Manor is a micro version of the United States.  It grows and expands, has heartaches and victories, births and deaths, yet, through it all, it stands strong, ready to face the future.

I will let you know when Willard Manor is available both on Amazon and on Kindle.

Here’s a short excerpt from the book:
“Listen,” said Shelley.  “Can’t you hear the voices?”  
Tony raised his eyebrows.  “Excuse me, but exactly what voices do you hear? Should I be calling the men in the white coats?”
“No, silly, I’m perfectly sane.  I just know this house is trying to tell us something.  So many people lived here over the years, so much has happened, right in these very rooms.  I wish I knew their stories.” 
Today’s Quote:  Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, 'Grow, grow.'  The Talmud

Monday, June 10, 2013

Giving Birth - To a Book

Bringing a book into the world is a lot like having a child (except they don’t talk back to you, at least not very often).  And the book isn’t a tax deduction, it’s actually taxable income, but if you make the piddling amount of money that I do on books, the taxes owed wouldn’t pay the salary of a government flea.

The conception of a book idea is like the conception of a child--through-the-roof ecstatic.  Then the idea grows in your mind as the fetus grows in one’s stomach.

Comes the day you sit down at the computer and type the first chapter and, voila, a book is born.  It’s no longer a wisp of an idea lurking in the back of your mind; it’s right there in black and white.  Wobbly, of course, as it needs a lot of nurturing for it to become a full-grown book.

Over the days, weeks, months, you watch the book develop and grow.  You see it struggle to become independent; to go down a different path than the one you so carefully laid out for it.

And before you know it, the book is ready to graduate and go out into life on its own.  That is when you publish it and it’s out of your hands.  You have done all you can to make it the best it can be.  There’s no more time for tweaking here and fixing there.

I say all this to let you know that my second and latest book in the Cranky Seniors Series has now been published on Kindle.  The title is: Waterbeds and Wedding Vows, begging the question, can two cranky seniors make it past “I do?”  (Obviously we can, because Fred and I are about to celebrate our 18th anniversary.  And nobody is as cranky as the two of us!)

If you don’t have a Kindle, you may be able to go to and order it to read on your computer.  At any event, it is not in print form, only in digital format.  Here is what the cover looks like.

I am now working on the third in the series, called, Hamburgers and Headaches.  I’ll let you know when it’s published.

Quote of the Day:  Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about. Oscar Wilde -  Lady Windermere's Fan, Act I.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Boxes, Boxes Everywhere

Well, our house has been sold.  We’ll still be here for a few months while the short sale goes through, but at least we have a buyer.  There is a SOLD sign posted on top of the For Sale sign outside our house.   We've been here eleven years and that is longer than anywhere I've ever lived my whole life.  Reality is setting in that we really are going to be moving out of this house.  For even more reality, you should see the boxes, empty and full, piled high in our spare room!  The ones that are packed, are going with us.  The empty boxes are yet to be packed, either for a yard sale or for moving.  The bare bookshelves and certain empty cupboards give further evidence that we really are moving.  Or else getting a really good head start on spring cleaning!

For those who don’t know about a short sale, let me explain according to what we've heard and experienced.  Our house is under water, and probably would continue to be for another year or two before we could sell it for more than the mortgage we owe.  With a short sale, and a hardship reason, we can sell the house while it’s upside down and walk away owing no first or second mortgage.  We won’t make anything on the house, but we won’t owe anything, either.  We also, and here’s a biggie for us, have been advised that we do not have to repair, fix, paint, or do anything to improve the condition of the house.  Since Fred and I are financially and physically unable to make any repairs, this is super good news for us.

So why would a bank offer to do a short sale?

Scenario One: The homeowner can’t make the mortgage payments and lets the house go into foreclosure.  The bank now owns the property and, in order to sell it, has to repair, fix, and paint, the property.  They have to advertise the property for sale and maintain it before a new owner moves in.  In addition to losing the mortgage money, it is now pouring money into the house.

Scenario Two:  The homeowner can’t make the mortgage payments because of a hardship and applies for a short sale.  The bank is no longer getting the mortgage payments, but is also not having to repair or sell the property.  The real estate agent sells the property and the new owner makes the repairs.  It’s almost a win-win situation for the bank.

With a short sale, you cannot buy another house for two years.  That’s fine for us because at this age, we’re not about to be starting a thirty-year mortgage.

To add a cherry on top, to keep the homeowner from foreclosing, the government and the bank offer a “Relocation Incentive.”  That means we will get our moving expenses paid!  We couldn't have asked for a better ending to our story as we get ready to close the book on this chapter of our lives and prepare for a new chapter in North Carolina.

Today’s Quote:  Everything happens for a reason, people change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they're right, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together. Marilyn Monroe

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers

While working in the elementary school library the other day, I took note of some of the book titles for beginning readers.  Long gone are the Dick, Jane and Spot books that were around when I was a beginning reader. After all, you can watch Spot run just so long.  Now, the beginning readers have an amazing array of fun books to choose from.  For instance:

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Never Ride Your Elephant to School by Doug Johnson
Never Mail an Elephant by Mike Thaler
Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers by Laura Numerof
The Flea’s Sneeze by Lynn Downey
Never Give a Fish an Umbrella by Mike Thaler.

These book titles would tempt anyone to pick them up and start reading.  And the kids do read.  You can see how much they love books by the way they groan when told the library will be closing for the summer.  Every class period, kids are lined up waiting to check out the book(s) they’re taking home to read. I see this and am encouraged about our country’s future.  Dick, Jane and Spot have left the building.

Speaking of books, I’ve started sorting and packing for our upcoming move.  So far, all I’ve done is one bookcase.  Every book I pick up has to go in one of two boxes--take it with us or put it in a yard sale. It has taken me hours just to go through those few shelves, looking at all my “friends” and deciding their fate. Autographed books by Buddy Ebsen, Mike Huckabee, and local authors, should command a higher price at a yard sale.  And there is yet another bookcase to sort through. A third bookcase contains just photo albums.  Nothing to sort, they’re all going with us.

Today’s Quote:  How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. George Washington Carver

Monday, April 29, 2013

From White Sand to White Snow

April is almost over and with May comes summer!  It can't come too soon, even though I live in an area that never really sees winter.  In the winter months, if I want to see snow, I only have to "Lift my eyes unto the hills" and see white along the ridges.  And believe me, that is as close as I want to get to snow.  In this area around San Diego, people go crazy when snow falls in the mountain regions.  They bring snow back by the truck load so they can dump it in their backyard and play in it.  One day I even saw a truck bed full of snow with a surf board sitting on top.  Not having a shovel, they scooped the snow up with a surf board.  That's Southern California for you!  Even as a kid in Vermont, I hated to go outside and play in the snow.  I haven't changed.

Fred and I may be heading back to snow country.  Our house is on the market and our plans are to move to North Carolina.  They don't get as much snow as New England, but we will get a bit now and then.  We are both retired so looking for a job is a non-issue.  I can write there as well as here.  And speaking of writing, I told you all that I published Mishaps and Miracles, from the Cranky Seniors Series, on Kindle, and last week I received my first royalty check from Amazon (maker of Kindle)!  The check covered January and February and was for a whopping sum of $11.82, not enough to get rich on, but enough to tell me that people are actually downloading my story and paying for it!  I couldn't be happier!

In about a week, I'll be downloading the second story in the Cranky Seniors Series--Waterbeds and Wedding Vows: Two Cranky Seniors Get Married.  Here's a short exceprt:

Fred’s boss gave us a trip to Cabo San Lucas in Baja, Mexico for a wedding gift, telling us we could stay at his condo near the beach. We took advantage of his lovely offer six months after the wedding.  On Christmas Day we flew down to Cabo and spent a beautiful week. It was certainly a white Christmas--white sand everywhere reaching out to touch the white foam of the sea!  We had breakfast and dinner at a restaurant on the beach with table and chairs outside, our bare feet buried in the sand. A very tacky multi-colored foil Christmas tree was nearby, reminding us that it was, indeed, Christmas. And here we were with warm air, blue sky, white sand, and gentle breezes. What a life.

At one point during the week, I went parasailing and Fred enjoyed time on jet skis. Then he said, “Let’s go scuba diving!  You’ll love it. I‘ve done it before and it‘s so much fun. You get to see things under water you can‘t see from land.”

     I tentatively agreed, even though I don’t like to get my hair wet. Or my face. Or go under water. I’ll go as high in the air as you want, but I’m not fond of going under water. I’ll sky dive, just not scuba dive. Turns out, we needed a doctor’s okay in order to go scuba diving. They called a local doctor and while waiting for his return call, they gave us a quick rundown of the dos and don’ts of scuba diving. Forget learning how to use the air tank and practicing rolling over the side of the boat into the water, I couldn’t even get the rubber jacket on. No matter how I tugged and wrestled with it, that tiny thing was not going on me in any way that could be zipped up.

I turned to Fred and asked, “What have I ever done to you that you should want to put a heavy tank on my back and throw me overboard?”

He ignored my sarcasm and said, “You’ll love it once you get down under the water.”

I said, “No, I won’t.”

As it was, the doctor called back and reviewed both of our medical histories and declared us both unfit to go scuba diving. YES!  God and the doctor were on my side!

Quote of the Day:  Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes to his own marriage, he rarely, or never, takes any such care.  Charles Darwin.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Feel Good Book: An Amish Holiday

After the horrendous events of this past week, I plan to lighten the mood a bit and talk about a book and an author that I have fallen in love with.  The book is An Amish Holiday and contains two stories within its pages.  The first is, An Amish Christmas and the second is  A Plain & Fancy Christmas.

The author is Cynthia Keller.  I know nothing about her except what the last page of the book says: She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children. It must be the Connecticut tie that makes me love her writing.  :-)

I have to assume that at some point Ms. Keller lived among the Amish because she seems to know their ways far more than would you or I.  I like to read a book where I learn something and I have certainly learned a lot from this book.  I was in Amish country once, and saw the horse-drawn wagons stop at a grocery store then move on down the street.  I have to admit I gawked at them.

An Amish Christmas is about a dysfunctional family in North Carolina--mother, father, daughter and two sons--who, through a twist of fate, end up living with an Amish family in Pennsylvania.  We watch them as they learn to slow down, extricate themselves from cell phones, iPods, television, schedules, all the things they once thought were important, and begin to live in harmony with each other and their surroundings.  Here’s an excerpt:

Meg shivered in the cold morning air as she dressed.  Tucking in her shirt, she felt something in one of her pants pockets.  She reached in to discover the refrigerator magnet she had taken from the house as she walked out the door in Charlotte.
    Esse Quam videri.  To be, rather than to seem.
    She stared at it.  The motto had been her inspiration for so long, as she tried to feel the way she thought she should be, rather than just to seem to feel it.  Now she saw it in a completely different way.  These people, Catherine and David and even their young children, had shown her what it meant to be rather than to seem.  They didn’t talk about what they did, how they felt about it, or what it meant.  They knew how to just be.  They knew what they valued: religion, community, work.  They followed those values, and as a result they were completely genuine in everything they did.  

The second story, A Plain & Fancy Christmas, tells of two babies accidentally switched at birth, one to Amish parents and one to New York City parents.  The girls, both named Rachel, grow up feeling out of place; the one brought up in the city longs for a quieter, more peaceful life and the girl brought up in the Amish community wishes she had more excitement in her life.  The girls eventually meet and, well, you just have to read the book to find out what happens.

Quote of the day: The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller