Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Make Memories, Not Headaches

May I be the umpteenth person to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, 'cause I'm sure I'm not the first!

Are you ready? Shopping done? House decorated? Gifts wrapped? Cards addressed? Cookies baked? You know the drill. I’m happy to say that I’ve accomplished most of that; however, my cards are unfinished, the flour and chocolate chips still sit in the cupboard, and the outside laser lights still sit in the shed. All in due time, folks, all in due time.

Since we move slower these days, I’m surprised at what’s already been accomplished. If the rest doesn’t get done, so be it. I have it on good authority that Christmas will come whether or not I have dozens of cookies made!

We’re having fun watching Shadow and Charlie goad each other. Charlie flies over Shadow’s head, then Shadow barks at him. One runs around the house and the other flies around the house. Between the barking and chirping, there’s never a dull moment around here.

May your Christmas or Hanukkah be spent with family and friends making precious, meaningful memories and stepping back to remember what’s important.

Quote of the Day: Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. Peg Bracken

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Children Can Do the Darndest Things!

My tip for today is: if you’ve tried for a long time to do something to no avail, ask a child.

As you know, I acquired my parakeet Charlie over a year and a half ago. Since that time, I’ve tried to finger train him, but all he would do is shake and tremble and avoid my finger like the plague. I’ve been patient, I’ve checked out the internet on how to train a parakeet, I’ve talked, cooed, and cajoled him. All to no avail. Those two ounces of feathers outwitted me at every turn.

Three weeks ago, my eleven-year-old great grandson, Aiden, came over and headed straight for Charlie’s cage. I warned him to be careful and that he could stick his finger in the cage all he wanted, but there was no way Charlie would get on it. I continued to talk to his grandparents, Cyndi and Bill, about Stewart getting out of rehab the next day and making sure my home was ready for a wheelchair and other paraphernalia.

As we talked, Aiden came waltzing into the kitchen with Charlie on his finger. To say I was astonished is putting it mildly. We transferred Charlie from finger to finger—Cyndi’s, Bill’s, and mine, and Charlie acted as though he’d done this for years! In an hour’s time, Aiden had finger trained Charlie, something I couldn’t do in eighteen months. I can now get Charlie on my finger and bring him out of the cage just like a real pet. Thank you, Aiden! Never underestimate the power, patience, and persistence of a child!

Since this is after all a writing blog, let me add that I was at a craft fair Saturday offering Saving Lou for sale. Much to my delight, I sold all but two of the books I’d brought.

FYI: I’ll be at the Cleveland High School Craft Fair on December 1, selling Willard Manor. If you’re in the area, please stop by.

Quote of the Day: Children are not only innocent and curious but also optimistic and joyful and essentially happy. They are, in short, everything adults wish they could be. Carolyn Haywood

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Back in the Game

Back in the Game
Have I got a book for you! It’s called Back in the Game and is written by a good friend of mine, Detective James E. Lewis. Lewis’ book is fiction, based on his career as a detective. I read the book and found I couldn’t put it down. Talk about a page turner! The action moves fast, the dialogue is superb, and humor is ever present.

I’m proud to have Jim Lewis sitting with me today. Tell us a little about yourself, Jim.

JIM: I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and joined the Marines Corps right out of high school in 1965. I served until 1971 after two tours in Vietnam. I continued my military career in the reserves, entered college, and in 1975 married my wife, Marilyn. In 1977 I was hired on at the Louisville Police Department and then became a dad that fall. It was a big year! I retired from the military in 1991 and law enforcement in 2011.  My son, Dr. Robert Lewis is married and moved to North Carolina in 2012. When my first granddaughter was born, we moved to Cary, NC.

How long have you been writing?

JIM: Well that depends on who you talk to, but I started telling police and military stories years ago. Friends and family kept encouraging me to write down my stories, but I just started thinking about actually putting the stories into book form when I signed up for a writing class at the Cary Senior Center. It’s been about six years now and I’m still learning what I don’t know.
What type of writing do you do?

JIM: I enjoy telling stories about characters I’ve met on the street, both good guys and bad guys. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. I’ve included everyone from a US attorney, local police, FBI, DEA and a homeless wino with PTSD. Throw in a hooker or two and you can find a book.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your book?

JIM: Conway, still packing away things from his police career, is attempting to fill his retirement day. Walking to get coffee in the middle of the city, only a few blocks from his home, he makes a new friend in the form of a wino, begging money at a bus stop. Learning he had been in the military, Conway nicknames him the Colonel. Together they stop a robbery while trying to have lunch, steal a breakfast from the Holiday Inn just to see if they can, deal with the secret service, help the police clear a killing, do what they can to make the DEA and FBI look foolish, help the marshals catch a drug dealer and put a lawyer in jail. All they wanted was coffee; they weren’t looking for trouble, trouble just seemed to come looking for them.

How long did it take to write it?

Det. James E. Lewis
JIM: That’s a good question. If you count the 36 years in law enforcement, including time undercover as a street person as research, the last five years of learning how to write a book, and the months of thinking that no one will want to read my book, a long time.   

Do you have a favorite line from the book?

JIM: It’s when the Colonel says, “Well, let me tell you something smart ass. Drinking is a very demanding profession and at my age I can’t hold down two jobs.”

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

JIM: It was published by CreateSpace, on May 14, 2018

How can my readers get a copy?

JIM: It’s available on Amazon. Search “Back in the Game” and Lewis.

What do you do besides write?

JIM: I enjoy playing golf and visiting with my granddaughters as much as I can. Nothing comes ahead of time with my girls.

What is your advice to would-be writers?

JIM: First get yourself a glass of wine, maybe two. Then sit down and tell your computer a story like you’re talking to an old friend. Don’t worry about grammar, just tell your story and enjoy a glass of wine with a friend.

What do you wish you knew when you started writing?

JIM: I wish someone had advised me to start with a glass of wine and think of my computer as a friend. All joking aside, I wish I had known that everyone you meet has the potential to be a character in your book.

What’s next for you?

JIM: I’m currently working on a sequel to Back in the Game as well as a book on a cold case that continues to challenge me to this day. I also occasionally write children’s stories for my two special little girls to enjoy.

If you want a peek into what really goes on behind the scene, buy this book. It will give you a look at the day-to-day workings and musings of the people who keep us safe on the streets. Be aware that you may find a change in tense or other grammatical mishap, but if you pay no attention and just enjoy the story, you won’t be disappointed. Detective Lewis is a born story teller and his characters like the Colonel, Seven-Eleven, and Charlie will live with you long after you put the book down.

Quote of the Day: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”  George Orwell

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Florence, Stewart, and Danny

Sorry for the delay, folks. I could blame it on Hurricane Florence and say that I’ve been so busy dealing with water and wind damage that I had no time to write a blog. However, that wouldn’t be true since I never even lost power and there was no damage whatsoever to my home and property. And I’m mighty thankful!

I could blame the delay on Stewart still being in rehab and my spending three to four days a week driving to Raleigh to visit him for these last six weeks and counting. That would be a lot closer to the truth. But even with that, I could have found time to write a blog and let you know I wasn’t floating down the Cape Fear River on my way to the Atlantic. No, I’ve just relished my days home alone in peace and quiet. Boy do I sound like my dad; all he ever asked for was ‘peace and quiet.’ Seriously, when you’re on the road every other day, staying home seems like a gift from Heaven. No place to go, no schedules to keep, nothing to do; so that’s just what I did. Nothing.

After the first couple of weeks, I actually got back to writing, working on my latest novel, Remaking Danny. Danny is always waiting for me when I get home; sometimes I spend time with him and sometimes I can’t find a creative bone in my body, so I leave him alone in Buffalo, putting out fires and waiting to find out what he’s going to do next. Ha! He thinks I’m going to tell him what to do next when actually, I have no idea; I leave it up to him to tell me what he wants to do next. I like surprises and I’m always rewarded with a surprise at the end of a chapter when I see where we just went together. Usually it’s not a place I would’ve thought of on my own.

And that, my friends, is why I don’t outline my stories. I have a vague idea of what might happen down the road, but each time I sit down to write, I haven’t a clue where the story will take me. Friends in my writing group say, “I can’t wait to see what happens next!” to which I reply, “Me either.” ALL of us have to wait until next week to see what happens.

Between my fingers on the keyboard, Danny, and Divine Inspiration, a book gets written. I pray for inspiration when I sit down and I’m seldom disappointed. The good Lord helps me write a book I’m proud of and that I hope gives life lessons to my readers. All ten of them. (My books aren’t exactly on the best selling lists!) But I have fun and that’s what counts. As I tell people, writing keeps me busy and out of trouble.

Now if I could only think of a blog subject.  😊

Quote of the Day: “The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.
The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.”
 J.K. Rowling

Monday, September 10, 2018

Good News, Bad News

The good news is Saving Lou is now an audio book! You can find it on Type in Saving Lou and you’ll find it in print, ebook, and audio. It can be downloaded on your phone, tablet, or computer. It’s the story of Lou Dyson who considers himself a failure until a most unlikely person convinces him otherwise. Relive the awe of the 1939 World’s Fair and feel the heat of the South Pacific battles of WWII.

Some more good news is that Stewart has come through hip replacement surgery. This post is very late because I’ve been a bit busy spending time at the hospital and rehab visiting him.

His ordeal has had more ups and downs than San Francisco streets, but he’s in rehab kicking up a fuss to get out and get home. After three surgeries and a dislocation of his new hip, all in two weeks, he’s been through the mill and showed the mill who’s boss. Now he has to learn to use a walker, dress himself without bending over, and a myriad of things we take for granted as we blithely go about our day.

More good news is that he hasn’t had a cigarette in three weeks and, at this point, doesn’t miss it. Being loaded with drugs helps, I’m sure.

The bad news is about a girl named Florence. She’s hot and wild and headed straight for North Carolina. My hope is that I’m far enough inland to only suffer a day or two of rain, but time will tell. Charlie and I are ready to hunker down and wait out the storm. Wish us luck.
Until next time, stay dry and safe.

Quote of the Day: God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform. He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. William Cowper

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Hometown Nostalgia

Do you remember the play Our Town? It was about George and Emily who lived in the small town of Grovers Corners, New Hampshire.

I grew up in a small Vermont town called Springfield where I played in the woods, rode a bike (unsteadily and dangerously), picked fresh tomatoes from the garden, walked with my sister to the general store for a soda and Devil Dog, and went trick or treating on streets where the elderly couple at one house left goodies in a basket by the door expecting kids to be on the merit system. Then I moved to Connecticut and lived in a small town called Fairfield. My kids grew up in the small town of Newtown, CT. I now live in a small rural town in North Carolina called Angier.

I say this because for thirty years I lived in California in San Diego County in a “city” called El Cajon. You see, California (at least Southern California) has no towns, only cities. If where you live isn’t a designated city, it’s considered an “unincorporated area.”  What a warm and fuzzy term! Can you imagine Thornton Wilder writing a play called, “Our Unincorporated Area?” I can’t either.

When you have no towns, you have no town halls, no town meetings, no hometown to be from. The whole cozy idea of a town, the place where you grew up and knew your neighbors, vanishes.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey grew up in Bedford Falls and made an impact on the townspeople. Note he didn’t make an impact on the citiespeople!

There’s something familiar, comforting, and even magical about a town. Just the word “town” elicits images of friends, trees, brooks, general stores, fireworks, and picnics. Hokey maybe, but real nevertheless. Though times may have changed, we still long for a place where life was simple and easy and we were a part of it—a part of Our Town.

Tell me about YOUR town.

Quotes of the Day:  

There are things about growing up in a small town that you can't necessarily quantify. Brandon Routh

 God made the country, and man made the town. William Cowper

A small town is a place where there's no place to go where you shouldn't. Burt Bacharach

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


"Mister Bluebird’s on my shoulder, it’s the truth, it’s actual, everything is satisfactch'll. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay . . . my oh my what a wonderful day." (From Song of the South)

Whoever coined the term “The bluebird of happiness” knew what he was talking about. I have bluebirds around my home and I smile every time I see one. They have brought me more happiness in the last eight months than any other of God’s creatures (other than my parakeet Charlie who also enjoys the bluebirds).

I have three birdhouses on my front porch—one pink, one yellow, and one blue and I have two birdhouses on poles in the backyard. The pink birdhouse is right in my line of sight when I sit at the computer. A few months ago, I watched as Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird checked out the pink house to make sure it was suitable for raising a family and, determining that it was, they flew in and out of it bringing with them bits of grass and straw.

Not long thereafter, Mama went in and stayed awhile and occasionally Papa would bring her a takeout dinner of a juicy worm. A few weeks later, I noticed movement in the round opening of the house and realized the babies had been hatched. At that time, Mama and Papa were kept busier than one-armed paper hangers, bringing food to the voracious little ones. Every five minutes, they would fly over together and take turns standing guard while the other stuffed food down the little ones’ throats.

More and more as I saw tiny heads popping up when Mama and Papa came into view, I prayed I would get to be present when the babies exited the nest. Every time I left the house, I entreated them to stay where they were until I got back. I surely did not want to miss their entrance into the big world.

Mother’s Day. Stewart, Cyndi, Bill, and I arrived back at the house from eating out and were sitting in the living room talking about everything but nothing in particular. As was my habit, I looked outside toward the pink birdhouse and noticed a baby bird’s head filling the opening. Then the baby leaned out and I was afraid it was going to fall out. The four of us sat mesmerized as we watched the baby lean further and further out of the doorway. Mama and Papa were nowhere in sight, at least not from what I could see, but I have a feeling they were close by encouraging their little one to take his first step.

As we sat entranced, the baby leaned out past the point of no return, started flapping his little wings and flew off. Then a second baby appeared in the opening, leaned out far, and flew off. On Mother’s Day yet! This was a gift only God could provide and He made sure I received it when I was home and able to watch. What an absolute thrill.

The babies appeared to fly downward, so Cyndi and Bill ran outside to see if they had fallen to the ground, but no, they were up in a tree acting like real grown-up birds.

The birdhouse remained empty since then, but now Mama and Papa are back, building a new nest and the cycle continues. God is good.

Quote of the Day: Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth. Martin H. Fischer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Penny is a Penny is a Penny

Is a penny just a penny?

I have an Indian head penny dated 1907. In the last one hundred eleven years, what do you suppose this penny has seen? 

This coin was minted just a few years past the turn of the century and might have joined nine more cents so a housewife could buy a box of Corn Flakes. Did it later sit in a child's sweaty hand to be traded for a tiny wax bottle of syrupy liquid or perhaps a stick of bubble gum?

Since this penny preceded World War I and World War II, one can only image where it has been and what it has seen and who has handled it. Has it been in the hands of a president? A beggar? A housewife? Or a movie star? Was it thrown into Italy’s Fountain of Trevi to make a wish come true, then gathered to give to the poor and eventually end up back in the United States to carry on doing good deeds?

During the Depression years, how many people were happy to clutch this penny in their fist? Did a young boy gleefully receive it as a tip for delivering newspapers announcing the end of WWII?  

In the Happy Days of the Fifties, did it sit snugly in a teenager’s penny loafer? As the economy progressed, was it cast aside as insignificant, or stuck in a glass Mason jar with a hundred others and later lovingly dropped in a five-year-old’s piggy bank? Was it handed to a child on Halloween who held out a box for UNICEF?

If this penny could talk, would it regale us with stories about the invention of moving pictures, automobiles, modern airplanes, computers? Did it wind up in the pocket of an astronaut who walked on the moon?  

Think of how the world has changed since 1907 and yet this penny still stands steadfast. We are not the same as we were twenty years ago; yet, this penny is just as valuable and spendable now as it was 111 years ago. It might even now be worth a little more than one cent.

The next time you see a penny lying in the street, don’t ignore it. Give it the recognition it deserves for the places it’s been and the people who’ve been happy to hold it and who may even feel it’s a heavenly sign from a loved one. Every penny, like every person, has a story to tell. Listen for it.

Quote of the Day:  Whatever your dream is, every extra penny you have needs to be going to that.  Will Smith

Saturday, May 26, 2018

A RemARKable Encounter

WOW! That’s all I can say after seeing the Ark Encounter. This week I had the extreme pleasure of going with my friend, Stewart, to Williamstown, KY where the ark is located.
It's a life-size reproduction of the original Noah's ark set on 800 acres of land and it is absolutely incredible!

You enter the ark via a ramp and railings and get to explore all three decks. There are scooters available for rent, but I walked.  We got there on a week day and although the parking lot can hold four thousand cars and the ark can hold ten thousand people, there were very few people around when we were there, so we had free reign to roam without  a throng of people around. This is Stewart and me outside the ark.

This is the huge door to the ark. We were minuscule next to it. The ark itself is 510 feet long (one and a half football field lengths). It is the biggest timber frame structure in the world and was built by Amish craftsmen.

Growing food for the trip
Pottery for water
The construction of the ark is amazing, all wood, fastened by dowels. Huge round timbers (3 feet in diameter) line the center for support. I tried to wrap my arms around one but could only reach half way. Huge squared timbers serve as beams and supports throughout the ark. Everywhere you go, the word “massive” comes to mind.
Shem's Quarters

Image result for carpenter shop on ark encounterSome of the exhibits show animals in cages and some show Noah's family working in the kitchen, carpenter's shop, or blacksmith shop. All life sized, some animated and some not. One of my favorite exhibits is on the third deck where a ladder leans against the wall and Noah is standing near the top, releasing the dove to find dry land.Image result for noah and the dove on ark encounter

On the grounds there are other activities should you so desire, like a zip line, zoo, and aerial adventure. Should you ever get the chance to visit and experience the Ark Encounter, I highly recommend it. You won’t be sorry.

Quote of the day:  It was truly a mind-blowing experience! Visitor to the Ark Encounter

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Twelve Seconds That Changed the World

Think back. What have you done in the last twelve seconds? Did your last twelve seconds change the world? Could you change the world in twelve seconds? The answer is most assuredly, Yes.

On December 17, 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright changed life as the world knew it. On a sandy beach of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Orville, dressed in coat and tie, left earth’s gravity and flew the first airplane, keeping it aloft for twelve seconds for a distance of 120 feet. The brothers proved that a manned, heavier-than-air, machine could leave the ground under its own power, fly through the air, and land on a point as high as that from which it started.

Three more times that day they took turns flying their aircraft. The second attempt lasted, again, twelve seconds but went 175 feet. The third lasted fifteen seconds but went 200 feet, and the fourth attempt on December 17th lasted fifty-nine seconds and landed 852 feet from where it had begun.

Since then, airplanes have provided transportation to distant places, dropped bombs in wars, broken the sound barrier, and, with a few adjustments, landed men on the moon. What have you done in the last twelve seconds that made such a difference to humanity?

Last weekend, after bringing his dad and me home from a cruise ship, Bill and Cyndi made a detour and took us to Kitty Hawk, NC. I’d wanted to see Kitty Hawk since I moved to this state and was thrilled to know I would finally get there. When we parked the car, we saw a big open field with a monument on a high mound. The Wright Brothers 60-foot white monument atop Kill Devil Hill marks the site of the hundreds of glider flights that preceded the first powered flight.

In another area, a rail spanned a length of maybe fifty feet along the ground. The plane rode the rail with Wilbur steadying the wings until it was airborne. At the end of the rail sits a life-size replica of the first plane, made of bronze and steel and weighing ten thousand pounds. Lying on his stomach on the bottom wing is a statue of Orville manning the controls. In back of the plane stands Wilbur, his arms outstretched having just released the plane’s wings from his grasp. Behind them, is the statue of photographer John Daniels ready to take a picture with his camera affixed to a tripod. Three other men stand by for eternity, witnessing the first airplane flight.

I felt as though I, too, were a witness to that historic occasion as I stood with John Daniels and Wilbur and watched Orville prepare to take control of the sky.

Granted, there were years of preparation that took place before that first moment in 1903, but the actual flight that proved it could be done, took twelve seconds. And changed the world forever.

Quote of the Day: “They have done it! Damned if they ain’t flew!” Witness to the first flight.