Category Archives: Holidays

The Small Joys in Life

 

I decided not to neglect my blogs anymore. Writing is one of the sure things that bring me joy. I’ve not spent a lot of time doing it lately because I have let other things get in the way of my joy. Funny how we do that sometimes. We worry about our spouses, our jobs, our children, or our parents. Perhaps the worry is for our pets, or the bills, maybe even the housework (okay not the housework; no one said that, ever).

We live in this world of instant gratification. Sometimes we forget the value of the simple things that might not seem like much, but they really are important. That first cup of coffee in the morning. Being cuddled up on the couch in a pair of worn jammies. A journal and a pen in hand. The cat laying close by. The warmth of the sun shining through the window. A good morning greeting from a child. So many positives to be thankful for.

Our neighbors have begun putting up Christmas decorations. I love seeing the red bows pasted on the window sills of their house. It reminds me of the season.

The leaves have covered our lawn. I’ve raked them no less than three weekends in a row. Today I look out and see that the trees have dropped leaves and covered the lawn yet again. We compete with the squirrels to find the hidden treasures underneath all of those brown crunchy leaves. This year the pecan trees brought forth a huge harvest. My mouth is watering for the famous Captain Morgan’s Pecan Pie. 

With the holidays upon us I consider the people who struggle during this time of year. The struggle is real because I experience it too. I have such high expectations of what the holidays should be. I set myself up for failure so often because when they don’t turn out the way I portray them in my mind, it turns into a huge disappointment. It depresses me. Sometimes I start my depression even before the holidays arrive. Tall Cool One reminds me I am not in control (sometimes I hate that truth). I am learning to just be thankful for the things I have and the things I can control. It is a slow process but a sure one. It is a reminder… joy is an attitude. What are the small things that bring you joy?

Vacation



As the lazy, hazy days of summer draw near, for most students summer vacation has started early. I am reminded of the infamous English assignment at the beginning of the school year. “What Did You Do Over Summer Vacation?” It was one assignment we could pretty much bank on every year from the third grade on. I remember thinking my essay was going to be boring. All the other kids did way more fun stuff than me. They went to Disney or Daytona Beach or the Grand Canyon. I spent my summers at my Mimi and Papa’s house in Norway, Maine. No internet, no cable TV, no air conditioning, no swimming pool! Heck there wasn’t even a color tv until I was about 13 years old. How could a kid today ever survive that kind of summer?

One summer, after direct instruction from my grandfather not to, I went in the garden barefoot. I stepped on a rusty, old spike. (Ouch). It went right through my foot. For the next week or so, I spent soaking my foot in a bath of hot, purple water. That was kind of a drag. Another summer I peeled the whole top layer of skin off my back after swinging too close to the tree on a tire swing. Again, my Papa told me not to do so. He took the tire swing down after that and put up a regular swing. Of course this was at the instruction of my grandmother. That was fun. I could stand up on the board and pump my legs so the swing would go really high. In fact, at one point, I had it so high it went right over the clothes line. Those rope burns on the back of my legs only lasted a few weeks. It was all cleared up by the time school started.

Ah, yes the fun days of summer. Bee stings, cuts and bruises were typical. We’d drink iced tea or lemonade that was so sour it would put a pucker on your lips. We’d pick fresh vegetables from the garden and have cucumber and mayonnaise sandwiches out at the picnic table in the afternoons. At night, we would run through the tall grass and catch fireflies to see who could make their Mason jar light up the brightest. We’d take white handkerchiefs and wrap them with rocks then toss them up in the dark sky just to watch the bats dive bomb them. Now that was entertainment.

What would kids write about now? “I spent my summer in quarantine” or “I spent my summer posting videos on YouTube”.  Do you think they would take the time to hand write an essay? Would they even know what cursive writing is? I remember disagreeing with my son about his math homework fifteen years ago. He would always insist that it was okay for him to do it in pen.  He told me that when you are left-handed, writing with a pen is much easier than with a pencil. When I was in school, math was to be done in pencil, English in pen — blue or black ink, no exceptions, and always in cursive. Red ink was unacceptable, ever. My, oh my how things have changed.

I hope kids will have fun and memorable summer vacations just like I did when I was growing up.  Now that I think about it, mine were not boring at all.  Those kids that got to do all that fun stuff are the ones who really missed out. Mine were the best vacations ever. 

2 Timothy 3:1 … in the last days perilous times will come. We are closer than we know.








Welcome to the A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year I think it will bring a lot more people together with this crazy pandemic. Being quarantined means people will flock to the web looking for things to do. This is a great way to meet new friends/contacts. Maybe you will read something new, find a new hobby, or just be entertained by some random musings. Whatever the case may be, stay safe, drink plenty of liquids and enjoy the trip.

Unicorns

You didn’t really think it was going to be unicorns did you?   ☺  The thing about Unicorn cookies, you can make any flavor you like… it’s just a package of gelatin!

 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 3 oz. package of cherry flavored gelatin
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tbsp. lemon rind (optional)
2 eggs
1½ tsp. baking powder
2 cups flour
1½ cups cooking oats
Preheat oven to 375º. Place rack in center of oven.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter, gelatin and sugars together until fluffy. Add eggs, orange rind and cherry extract and beat well. Combine flour, baking powder and cooking oats together and gradually add to mixing bowl, beating on low and scrapping sides of the bowl until mixed well.

Scoop by tablespoons on ungreased cookie sheets two inches apart. Bake at 375º for 12 minutes or until lightly browned on edges. Cool one minute then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Yield 5 dozen 1½-2 inch cookie gems.

Food for Thought:

Use any flavor gelatin for Unicorn cookies.  Unicorn Cookies come in all colors and flavors.  You could even make several batches and mix them all together. 

Welcome to the A-Z Blogging Challenge.  This year I think it will bring a lot more people together with this crazy pandemic. Being quarantined means people will flock to the web looking for things to do. This is a great way to meet new friends/contacts.  Maybe you will read something new, find a new hobby, or just be entertained by some random musings.  Whatever the case may be, stay safe, drink plenty of liquids and enjoy the trip. 

ICONIC



So when I think of an icon, I think of those little squares on my phone that I have to press to open an application. Sometimes I hate those things because they often ask me for a password that I can’t remember. When I think of iconic I think of something considered important. The definition of iconic out of my eleventh edition Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is this: “a conventional religious image typically painted on a small wooden panel and used in the devotions of Eastern Christians.” How ironic that the word iconic was brought to my attention on Good Friday. (Thank you, Michael)

I wanted to take a look and see what the world considers iconic. As I was scrolling through the history of pictures tagged to be iconic it struck me oddly because anything and every depending on who you are could be considered iconic. The definition for iconic changes as does the times we live in.

One thing that never changes and that is God’s love for you. Good Friday is iconic to remind us that our amazing Father sent His One and Only Son to die on the Cross for us. Not just for me, not just for you, but for everyone and anyone who accepts His gift. A gift so great that every human should want to accept it. Some people may not choose to accept the gift He offers so freely. Do not be ashamed of the things you have done. He will wash away your sin like a blanket of new fallen snow. He’s knocking at your door. Can’t you hear Him? Let Him into your heart.

May God bless,






Welcome to the A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year I think it will bring a lot more people together with the epidemic going on right. Being quarantined means more people will flock to the web looking for things to do. This is a great way to meet new people. Maybe you will read something new, find a new hobby, or just be entertained by some random musings. Whatever the case may be, stay safe, drink plenty of liquids and enjoy the trip.


FLASHBACK

Think about last year right around Labor Day weekend, or maybe even Christmas time. Flashback to the things we were doing, activities we enjoyed, trips we took.  Think about the  visits to the grocery store that seemed trivial just such a short time ago.

Flashback to the days of walking into the restroom and seeing the sign that encouraged employees:  ‘Employees must wash their hands before returning to work’. I remember seeing so many people in these rest rooms that never paid attention to the signs. I guess they thought because they were not employees it didn’t pertain to them. 

Flashback to the days when toilet paper and paper towels filled at least a whole isle at the grocery store. The days of going in and picking up the weekly supply. The days of not having to stand in line and wait to be let in the store.  The days of not being allotted one package to each customer as if we lived in a communist country.

Flashback to more important events. Fellowship on Sundays and hugging fellow believers. Visiting your elderly parents at the nursing home without concern of spreading a sickness to them. Sunday afternoon dinners with your grown children and having all the grand kids run around the house. Just plain getting together with family and friends for cookouts and fun times.

My flashback is September last year … I seriously hope we get to do it again.



Flashback to a time when our world once was different. What are we going to do to make sure things don’t get worse? Do your part. Listen to our leaders. Don’t ignore what is happening.





Welcome to the A-Z Blogging Challenge. This year I think it will bring a lot more people together with the epidemic going on right. Being quarantined means more people will flock to the web looking for things to do. This is a great way to meet new people. Maybe you will read something new, find a new hobby, or just be entertained by some random musings. Whatever the case may be, stay safe, drink plenty of liquids and enjoy the trip.

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgis Night is celebrated on the eve of May Day. April 30th, the eve of the feast of Saint Walpurga or Walpurgis Night is thought to be a time in which witches are held to ride to an appointed rendezvous. German folklore tells of the devil and the witches holding a riotous festival on the Brocken Peak in the Hartz Mountains awaiting the arrival of spring.

Walpurga was a British nun, who went to Germany in the 8th century. She was said to have cured the illnesses of many local residents. After her death, it is said a healing oil trickled from the rock tomb of which she was encased. After her death she was glorified as a saint. It is coincidental that the date of her canonization is the same date of the pagan celebrations.

It is said that farm animals were let out to graze and bonfires were lit to scare away the predators. There was also singing and dancing, and gun fire, ringing of cow bells and screaming and yelling was not unheard of. Other festivities included drinking alcoholic beverages, dressing in costumes, eating nettle soup, and partying while dancing into May (“Tanz in den Mai!”). These celebrations still take place in some parts of the country.

May Day is celebrated in the United States on the first day of May by filling small baskets with flowers or treats and leaving them on a neighbor’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The receiver will try to catch the giver and once caught a kiss is exchanged.

Hope you have enjoyed this small tidbit of information for the W-Blog today. Be sure to check out some of the other great bloggers taking part in the W-Challenge today.

W

Christmas Stockings

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The Christmas Stockings

Well, it’s that time of year when we dig out all of our stuff: Christmas decorations, Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas recipes, Christmas cards, Christmas movies, Christmas books, and my favorite, the Christmas socks. As I dug mine out of the storage box and smiled at how they made me feel to put my little piggy-toes in them at Christmas time I recalled a story about two brothers named John and James.

John, the older of the two, and James played on a little league baseball team many years ago. Even though the two played on the same team they both were in competition with each other, always trying to be better than the other one. James could hit a home run like it was nobody’s business, and John could pitch strikes all day long. James couldn’t run, and John couldn’t catch, but the coach always did his best to help each of them excel at what they did best.

One Saturday afternoon game, it was the bottom of the ninth, and the brother’s team was down by two runs. There were two men on, and James was up to bat. John was coaching at third base. If James could hit the ball far enough into the outfield he could have plenty of time to run the bases and make it to home base. He stepped up to the plate and the crowd was cheering him on while others were making fun of him because they knew he couldn’t run that fast. He whacked that ball as hard as he could, and it flew right out into the bushes at the edge of the outfield.

“Run! Run!” everyone was yelling.

James took off running, tagging first base, while the outfielders were searching frantically in the bushes for the ball.

“Run! Run!” James kept on running. He tagged second base.

The crowd started yelling more and clapping. “Throw it! Throw it!” and “Run! Run!”

John saw the outfielders throw the ball into the short stop player. James kept on running.

“Run, James! Run!” John waved James past third and onto home plate.

James was running and the short stop player threw the ball. James was running so fast, and the ball was coming so much faster. Instead of the ball going into the catcher’s glove it hit James right in the head, and knocked him out cold. He ended up in a coma and after six days, his parents took him off the life support and he died, without ever waking up.

John grew up always feeling responsible for his brother’s death. Even though he married and had children of his own, he missed so much of their lives because he spent more time in the bottle than he did at birthdays and other memorable occasions. Eventually his wife divorced him and he grew into a lonely, grumpy old man.

One Christmas Eve, John was by himself, as usual, when a knock came on his door. It was one of his grandsons. Ironically it was the one named after his brother, James. He came in with a book in one hand and a thermos in the other.

“Grandpa, I have to share something with you before it’s too late.”

The old man gruffly said, “I don’t want to hear it.”

James was persistent and he took two mugs down from the cupboard and filled them with hot chocolate from the thermos.

Then he opened his Bible, and he spoke.

“One night there was a bright star which guided three men who were the three wise men to the birth of Jesus, who later in life became a carpenter and would be known as a fisher of men and souls. He had twelve apostles who spread the Word of Christ. But on one black day of hatred, envy and death, He was crucified. He shed His blood for us to purify and save us. He rose and is now in Heaven seated with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He did all of this because of His great love for us.”

“Grandpa, everyone says you’re a mean old man because of what happened to your brother. What happened to him is not your fault and Jesus loves you and forgives you. You don’t have to feel like it’s your fault, just talk to Jesus and tell Him how you feel.”

Of course John, being the grumpy drunk that he had grown into wasn’t going to listen to what anyone had to say and he kicked his grandson out of his house and told him if he was going to preach to him not to bother coming back again. That night, John died in his sleep.

There is a lot more to that story, but that is enough to make us contemplate what we are holding on to this Christmas. As I started to write out our Christmas cards, I thought about whom I had to forgive and who I needed to speak a kind word to. There is so much stuff that gets in the way of our lives that sometimes we lose sight of the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas. It is not about the stuff. It is not about whether or not someone acknowledges the kind things that we do. Kindness can go unnoticed for a lifetime.

This little baby boy born in a manger came to live a sinless life only to die a brutal death on a Cross in order for us to have eternal life. We celebrate His birth for that. When we get “wrapped up” (no pun intended) in all the other stuff, when we forget to forgive someone, when we over eat or over drink or over spend, or when we get so involved in the materialistic things of the season, we lose sight of what is important. This year when you dig out your Christmas stockings think about why you are wearing them and remember WHO the celebration is all about.

 

Thanksgiving — Day 6: F-Words

f-words

Day 6 of Seven Days of Thanksgiving
F-Words
Day #6: Seven Days of Thankful Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: the act of giving thanks; a prayer of gratitude to God.

For Thanksgiving, a little ditty with some F-word fun,
Have faith and give thanks to the Father, Holy Spirit, and Son.

Don’t forget about your family and friends,
Forgive a debt and make amends.

Do something fruitful; feed the famished,
They’ll be grateful, and may even feel lavished.

During this fellowship, please try to remember
Life’s hard for some in November and December.

Realize some people are bearing a façade,
Don’t find fault, it’s never been outlawed.

The fact is, some people have issues, and are fearful,
Do them a favor and don’t ask, just be cheerful.

Ignore the temptation of the family feud,
Let them say what they want, it’s best to be shrewd.

Count your blessings for freedom in all your activities,
And please do enjoy all of your holiday festivities.

Thanksgiving — Day 5: Koinonia

Twelve Days of Thanksgiving
K is for Koinonia
Day #5 of Seven Days of Thankful Thanksgiving

koinonia2

Thanksgiving: the act of giving thanks; a prayer of gratitude to God.

Koinonia: community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy. Koinonia can therefore refer in some contexts to a jointly contributed gift.

Let me be honest with you; I had a hard time with this word. It left a bad taste in my mouth. When I first learned about Koinonia it was not like it was explained to me. Church uses it as a way to get people to come together in small groups because Koinonia is the way Jesus wanted people to be. Unfortunately, and I’m saying this from my own experience, Koinonia is all well and good as long as you are in the small group and participating. As long as you are in their face, Koinonia is great. But the minute you miss a meeting or become AWOL, your Koinonia is over.

I know the old saying of “You have to be a friend to have a friend”. But in my experience I’ve found that more people will let you be their friend, more so than they want to be one. I’m sure you have experienced it. Most people would tell me I have to give them the grace that they need, but I don’t look at it that way. Don’t use the need for grace as an excuse to be a lazy friend, relative, companion, etc.

Koinonia can be a wonderful thing in its context. “Jointly contributed.” It’s not one-sided and it’s not out of convenience. It’s not all about the church either. I have more Koinonia with my un-churched friends than I do with the Christ followers. It’s what you have when you come together with family and friends during the holidays, and you share with each other.

Who can you extend the act of fellowship with this Thanksgiving? Don’t wait for someone to come to you, go to them.

Thanksgiving — Day 4: Need

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N for Need

Day #4: Seven Days of Thankful Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving:  the act of giving thanks; a prayer of gratitude to God.

Need is something that is a requirement not a desire-ment.

Need verses greed; an interesting concept.

Internet, cell phones, computers, laptops, iPods, iPad, Notebooks, Kindles, and so many other technological gadgets that most everyone has at least one of, and some people have one of each. How many televisions do you have in your house? How many houses do you have?  How often do you go on vacation?  How many vehicles do you have sitting in your drive-way?  How about boats and jet-skis and hot tubs and swimming pools and campers and motor-homes and dirt bikes and four-wheelers and snowmobiles?  How many pairs of shoes and clothes are in your closet that you don’t wear?  How many times do you go out to eat, or stop for a coffee, or a soda in a week, or even in a day?

Living down to our need instead of up to our greed can make a huge difference in our perspective on life.

The next time you think you need something, reconsider. Do you really need it or is it something you can do without? What kinds of luxuries can you give up?

Being Successful as a Writer

Being A Successful Writer

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I lost my way for a short time. I got involved in the social media thing … you know the Facebook novel promotions and that sort of thing that ‘people in the business’ say is what you need to do. Quite frankly, I think ‘people in the business’ are full of shit. They want you to think they know what they are talking about. But if they are so good at telling you how to sell books, how come they aren’t selling their own? Why are they writing articles on “HOW TO DO IT.”? How come there are so many authors turned into publishers? I don’t really think a good publisher can also be a good author and vice-versa. Just my opinion. Personally, I think when that is done, someone is looking for a way to make more money because they suck at being an author or they suck at being a publisher… they can’t be good at both. It’s not a job you can multi-task well.  They’re in it for the wrong reasons.

Those book promo sites on Facebook are people doing the same thing. Sell the book. It might get one or two sales, but that’s not the place you want to put your time and effort into promoting and selling your books. I thought I had to do what everyone else was doing because “they said” that’s what you have to do to be successful. I can tell you right now, I’ve been doing this writing thing for a lot of years. If you ask me if I think I’m successful at it, my answer would be, “Yes, I’m very successful at it. I’ve written millions.”

Does that mean I’m successful at making money at writing my millions? Well, not exactly. That’s a whole new nonfiction novel — which I don’t do. You see, the way I figure it, there is success in writing and there is success in making money. So far as I can tell, the two don’t really go together, unless, of course, you are Stephen King. I like to tell people I’m not in it for the money. But that’s kind of a lie because who doesn’t want to make money? It would be a sweet gig if I could make a lot of money doing what I love to do. Right now that doesn’t seem to be the case, but I’m too old to find a new hobby as so many people like to refer to my addiction that I have with writing.

Seriously though, I’m in it because … well if I don’t write I get really moody and sometimes I need to do it to vent. It’s almost like an addiction to, say, cigarettes. I can use that as an example because I quit that habit – in fact next month will make eight years. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve slipped up quite a few times since then and had me a clove cigar every now and again. I will probably continue to slip up every once in a while, but I don’t have that nagging desire to go have a smoke every hour or so like I did for 22 years. Now writing, that nagging desire is there even in my sleep. I do some of my best writing in my sleep. I don’t think I could ever give it up. I’ve tried, but it just keeps coming back to haunt me. I have to get those ideas and thoughts down.

So I have published a few books and am working on a new novel and a holiday cookbook. I’m also looking for new innovative ways to promote my writing. That’s the hard part of the business. In a few days I’ll see that some of the followers on social media will suddenly be doing the same thing with a holiday cookbook or something to that effect. If you are good at what you do, people are going to try to duplicate you. The way to find out if you’re successful is when you look around and see others copying what you do … this means they are watching you. This means you are good at doing what you do. It’s like that saying on the Mike’s Hard Lemonade label, “If you’re gonna be original you can count on being copied.”

Not that I’m original, there is nothing new under the sun. I just look for innovative ways to make old shit look like new shit. When people copy you, accept it as a compliment and move on to the next task at hand. People can write about the same topic as you, but they can’t write like you. You are an original writer and no one can take that away from you. Do what you do and don’t worry about anything else. If you were meant to be successful at making money, you will make lots of money. If you were meant to be successful at writing, you will write a lot. If you were meant to be successful at making lots of money from writing, well you have one hell of a talent!

Road Trip

 

Sunday August 31, 2014 Road Trip — NASCAR

4:38 am: I wake up and notice it’s still dark outside. I roll over to squint at the clock and see that I need to sleep a little longer and fluff up my pillow to get comfortable. My eyes are heavy but I’m excited. I can’t sleep. We’re going to Atlanta today for the NASCAR race. I just lay in the bed waiting for it to get light outside.

5:47 am: The two cats bounce on the bed. It’s time to get up! They want breakfast. Yeah… I can’t wait. I’m very excited. Tall Cool ☺ne has been to NASCAR before. I have not. We are half-packed. We’ll have breakfast, load up the truck and be on our way. It is 77º already, but no rain in sight.

7:36 am: Yellow grits, over-easy eggs, Italian sausage, whole wheat toast. A big breakfast for a big day ahead. Let’s go.

11:10 am: Finally on the road, headed south. I keep track of road kill to occupy my mind.
• 4 possums
• 2 skunks
• 8 armadillo’s (not counting the one outside our drive-way)
• 1 turkey
• 1 big black bird
• 2 raccoons
• 4 un-identifiable

12:16 pm: There are sprinkles on the windshield. I thought there was no sign of rain. Oh, but wait, it’s just a clearing off shower. A few minutes later we roll over the state line into Georgia. Yippy.

3:30 pm: We arrive at the hotel and get settled. We go to the ice machine to fill up the cooler. It will be good to have an ice-cold adult beverage at the track. We meet a woman filling up her ice bucket too. She and her husband are also headed to the race.

4:10 pm: We find a neat little restaurant named Hamburger Mikes for some chow before the race. Fried fish sandwich with onion rings for my hubby and I have a chicken Caesar salad that’s actually very tasty. But the fish sandwich was so much better. Wish I got that instead. Oh well. We each had a Bud Lite to wash down supper which was very smooth with the meal.. Not a bad meal for $32 bucks and that’s including the 25% tip. The service was excellent, very friendly people (even the chef came over to ask how everything was…twice). The bathrooms were spotless, and the food was delicious. Can’t get much better than that.

5:50 pm: We arrived at the track and after driving past row after row after row of vehicles to find an empty parking spot, we walked for what seemed like three or thirteen miles. Poor Tall Cool ☺ne carrying the cooler full of beer. It had to have weighed 50 pounds or more. We made it to the gate and after our coolers were inspected we found out we were on the wrong side of the track. Imagine that. Fun though. We got to get on a school bus and ride all the way around the track with a whole bunch of hot sweaty people. Thank goodness we were in the front seat with the fan blowing on us.

6:30 pm: Finally made it to our seats on the bleachers. Really good seats. It was still about 90º or more outside, but there was a warm breeze.  The band was really good, kind of funny because they were singing Rosanna by TOTO and they pretty much faked the lyrics. Comical to watch. Their dance routine was pretty cool too. Our seats are good because we aren’t sharing with stinky-drunk-fat-ugly people (you know the type).

8:10 pm: Lap 31 — the sounds are loud but we have ear plugs. The scent of the track and the fuel waifs up as the cars go whipping by and it is so cool. I L♥ve it. I’m hooked.

8:30 pm: Lap 52 — a donation bucket came around for some children’s charity (I didn’t catch the name… maybe there wasn’t a name). I noticed the hole in the bucket was the exact same size as a can of beer. Hmm, I wonder if anyone has ever done that. I did not notice anyone putting money in the bucket, but it being as big as it was, they must get a lot of donations.

I have noticed that there are no damn crashes yet. Kind of a boring race. People watching has been hilarious. I’ve got a bunch of new characters I can’t wait to use. A dude carrying a stick that has cotton candy and popcorn attached to it is strolling up and down the bleachers. On the back of his tee-shirt it reads POPCORN $4.00 and COTTON CANDY $5.00. Too bad they didn’t do that with ice-cold beer or water, not that we needed to buy any. A lot of the characters around us were running for beer, quite often too. We have a full cooler. We probably should have sold some of the beers and made a few extra bucks.

11:15 pm: Lap 298 — A yellow flag is out to clean up some kind of debris on the track, I think? Not sure, I didn’t see a crash. I have noticed that the cars, like in pictures, look so much better on television than they do for real. Kind of like the track… it’s so much bigger when watching it on tv than sitting in the bleachers.

12:25 am: The end has arrived, the… Kasey Kahne wins, does burn outs as the fireworks are displayed.  Now it’s time for us to find our way back to the truck, which, oh yeah, is parked 80 miles away from the track. (Just kidding). The people pour out in droves, but it goes quite smoothly. Impressive. Even the port-o-john wasn’t a bad place to stop to pee on the way out.

 

It was such a great experience. Seeing all of the people in the parking area doing tailgating, and everyone seemed to be quite friendly. There were no crashes, which meant no one got hurt. It was fun. Exhausting, and I can say I don’t think we could do it every weekend or even once a month, but once a year, yeah! I’d go for that.

If you’ve never experienced a NASCAR race, go do it. It’s so very COOL!

Labor Day Weekend Deals

 

Blackhorse LDP

 

Labor Day Weekend 2015 Satellite Dunyasha collides with asteroid FF-13. All of the New England states plus some of Canada are affected by an electro-magnetic pulse. NASA knows nothing about the satellite — or so they say, which happens to be Russian owned. Sergeant First Class Jon Hunter is on a mission but Captain Carlin is bound and determined to keep his part in the situation a secret.

Blackhorse 2015 is Crackerberries premiere novel. A military thriller with many controversial topics bedded inside. Read this book with a clear mind because there are many situations and several characters. Soldier training isn’t what it used to be. While reading this controversial story about conspiracy, racketeering, and treason going on within the United States Military, you won’t want to miss anything the government is covering up.

Here’s what people are saying about Blackhorse 2015:

… ideal for all readers to discover that all is not discernible in the government, like the military.

 

This is one of those books that doesn’t shy away from controversy. The characters are all well-drawn and bring you into their world and experiences. The author is exceedingly knowledgeable about the military and its application in this story is well-crafted.

 

This book will make your little hairs stand up on your arms.

 

The author does an amazing off beat way of revealing the plot one view-point at a time. As it unfolds you come to understand how the government can so easily manipulate us all.

 

A book that will stand on its own in a field with Clancy, Sanford and Patterson

 

…the suspense and political intrigue was such a draw that my filter bleeped out the language as I read. An appropriate story line for the current times and governmental cover ups that seem to be exploding in the news even faster than in the Bush-era.

 

In Blackhorse 2015, the author Crackerberries tackles this inner sanctum with the authority of someone who’s watched it all up close. She doesn’t give the reader any reassurance. Dark deeds are exacerbated by dark motives. And personal grudges are added into the stew of clandestine goings-on at a base on a Pacific island – the very existence of which is enough to make us worry.

 

When I read the synopsis of the story I was intrigued. This book certainly has its place in today’s history. If you think our government doesn’t have a lot of “things” going on that we will never know about your head is in the sand. This is Crackerberries story of one cover up that is highly possible today.

 

Every day, we hear of government cover ups that seem implausible and yet, they happen. The sub-plots add an element of humor which serve to highlight the darkness.

 

Just click on the book, add to cart and apply discount code TEBA75A4 for 25% off the printed version. Blackhorse Kindle

 

Canning with Crackerberries

Want to know what you will find in this book? Pickles, relishes, tomatoes, preserves, jams, jellies, and whole chapter of hodge-podge recipes. Recipes that have been passed down through they years. Just like grandma used to make.

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This book is dedicated to the men and women who toil in their gardens and sweat in their kitchens and labor over the fruits and vegetables their hard work has produced.

Here’s to you!

Love your harvest!

Printed version will be available soon, but if you just can’t wait, the Kindle E-book can be purchased HERE.

 

 

 

Who’s Coming to Your Cook-Out?

bean fire                             grilling sp

“The beers’ on ice, the tea is extra sweet and the grill is smoking. Plenty of burgers, hot dogs and chicken for everyone so make sure you have a big appetite. But save room for dessert because your grandmother has made an apple pie, banana pudding and strawberry shortcake and a whole table full of cookies.”

My grandfather could get anyone excited about anything, even the simplest things. My grandmother said he could lure a hibernating bear in with his cooking on the grill.

We never knew who would show up for the afternoon cook-outs. We just did whatever we were told: go get the ice from the big freezer in the barn and restock the buckets of beer, go in the cellar and bring a few more jars of bread and butter pickles that were canned the year prior. We always had plenty to keep us busy and out of trouble.

I always watched to see who would show up. Sometimes it would be the rich people from the other side of town just coming over to make fun of what my grandfather was doing. Most times it was just relatives and good friends. They came, arms filled with bowls of potato salad, macaroni salad, watermelons and many other mouth-watering treats.

Today the first visitor was a bony older man with wispy, thin white hair. He was dressed in white from head to toe; white shirt, white pants, white shoes and he even wore white gloves. My grandmother told me that he dressed that way because he worked on type writers and it was very important that he keep clean so when he went to work on them, there would be no dust or anything to ruin the keys. I think she made that story up. He was just so strange-looking and I never noticed him eat a thing.

An hour later while making a trip to the barn to fetch some more ice I saw a little girl named Cecilia Pinto. She always wore out-dated ragged clothes and she looked like she didn’t own a comb or a brush. Everyone made fun of her at school and no one wanted to be her friend (me included). Some people said she got lice and after that she never had any friends. She was with a man somewhat skeletal with a drawn in face. He wore a green Army coat and his hair was stringy but combed back with some sort of Brylcreem or something similar. He was a strange cat that would walk and stop every few feet or so and put his index finger up to an imaginary chalkboard and he would seem to be carrying the numbers of some complex math problem. For me I thought quite interesting to watch him but didn’t want to be caught staring so tried my best not to.

As I was stuffing my third hotdog into my face I saw Bobby. He was known around town as the freak of freaks. He had Tourette syndrome and would go off at a moment’s notice on a tirade of explicit language filled with vehement. I thought it was funny. He walked around town always in a hurry and occasionally he would look back and brush away the imaginary people he seemed to constantly have following him.

My grandfather walked up to every one of these eccentrics and made each and everyone feel welcomed and at ease. He offered them the comfort of his home and did not judge them for their idiosyncrasies. I thought they were a wayward group of minorities and I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. They were just weird.

Later that day after everyone went home; my grandfather asked me what I thought about our special guest. I didn’t know what he was talking about. “What special guest?” I scoffed. “We didn’t have any special guest!”

“Oh, but we did,” my grandfather spoke with such wisdom. “Today, Jesus visited our cook-out.”

“No-saar!”

“Oh, but yes, He did, more times than I think you realize. You see, he was the man with the wispy hair, the little girl who didn’t own a comb, the counting man, the man who spoke obscenities’.”

Isn’t it interesting how people can exist in the background of our survival and we can live our lives not even acknowledging them or giving them the time of day? They stick out in our mind and we remember them, not for anything great that they have done, but for who they were. Nevertheless, we shy away from people like them because they are not like us. They are different.

Our human nature is to crave attention and appreciation. We all crave to have a pat on the back or an occasional “Atta-boy”. The people mentioned above got plenty of attention, but not appreciation; laughed at, pointed at, ridiculed, made fun of, mocked. Most likely not the attention they craved.

My grandfather spoke with such wisdom. “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained angels, that’s Hebrews 13:2,” he recited from memory. “Obedience to His word will gain us much wisdom and knowledge.”

I couldn’t wait for the next BBQ!

Fabulous Fiction Fridays: Chrystal Vaughan

chrystal

 Dead in the WaterSideshow

Fridays are for Fabulous Fiction Writers and today we are celebrating with a bang because it is also Independence Day. Please welcome my guest, Chrystal Vaughan.

Me: Hey Chrystal, nice to have you here. Glad you could come with it being a holiday. I won’t keep you long because I know you have family waiting for you to do the big BBQ and cook-out thing. So tell us what do you write?

Chrystal: I write paranormal horror and sometimes paranormal YA; actually I write a little bit of everything but typically not erotica though I might change my mind on that ha-ha.

Me: Oooh erotica sounds like fun. Now I’d like to ask what inspired you to write a book.

Chrystal: I have been a writer since I was very young. Dead in the Water was inspired by my students (I work in a high school).

Me: You work in a high school? It takes a special person to work with students and have the patience for teaching. I applaud you for that. Next question, two-part: What is your favorite part of writing and what is the most difficult part?

Chrystal: My favorite part of writing is the creation of new people and their worlds. I love when the characters decide to break out of the mold I have created for them and take off in different directions than I’d planned. The most difficult part of the writing process for me is editing and marketing. Editing is a necessary part of writing but I enjoy creating over editing. Marketing is the worst part for me; I’m really not a salesperson.

Me: I’m there with you as far as the editing is concerned. Not much fun doing that. So how long does it take you to write a book?

Chrystal: It took me about a year to write Dead in the Water, my second book. That doesn’t include editing, publishing, or marketing.

Me: And why did you choose to write books from the Young Adult genre and why not anything else?

Chrystal: Actually, Dead in the Water is my only Young Adult novel. My other two books (Sideshow, out now, and Conspiracy of Ravens, due for release very soon) are both horror novels for adults.

Me: Conspiracy of Ravens, that sounds really interesting. How was the impact (or desired impact) of your book on the Young Adults, like your students?

Chrystal: I wrote Dead in the Water for my students at the school where I work. I wanted to write something for them that was appropriate but also entertaining, something that my little sisters could read (they are teenagers and pre-teens) without too much graphic content or language.

Me: What was your favorite scene or character to write?

Chrystal: My favorite character is Evalyn (Eva) Dunbar. She is such a typical teenage girl, particularly in my neck of the woods. I love how she blossoms from an introvert who thinks of herself as a freak into a young woman in love.

Me: She sounds like my kind of character. If you gave one of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

Chrystal: In the book, Eva does speak for herself, and so does her boyfriend Jesse. I think I would give Natasha (the antagonist) the chance to speak. I’m sure she would apologize for what she did to Alex and for what she tried to do to Eva. Natasha had a very hard life; that doesn’t condone killing anyone, but it helps to understand some of the reasons behind her actions.

Me: Well, Chrystal, it has been a pleasure having you here. I know you have big plans for later today, so I won’t keep you much longer.  Can you give us a hint as to what Conspiracy of Ravens is going to be about?

Chrystal: Sure, here’s a link to the trailer:

Me: Fabulous, now grab yourself a burger or a cocktail on your way out. There’s always something to eat and drink around this joint. One more thing before you go. Could you give us a list of where to find you on social media and to purchase your great books?

Chrystal: You can purchase all of my books at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=chrystal%20vaughan&sprefix=chrys%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Achrystal%20vaughan

You can purchase Sideshow at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sideshow-chrystal-vaughan/1117375038?ean=9781492935629

You can purchase Dead in the Water at Amazon and Solstice Publishing:
http://solsticepublishing.com/dead-in-the-water/

I’m also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/chrystalwrites), Twitter (@TheChrystalShip), and Goodreads (Chrystal Vaughan). You can find excerpts and book information on my blog at http://www.mermaidsandmayhem.blogspot.com.

Me: Great, thanks again for being one of my Fabulous Fiction Friday Authors. I sure do appreciate you taking the time out of your schedule. Have a happy and safe 4th!

Happy Birthday

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Happy Birthday to me. I wasn’t going to write a blog about me on my birthday, but then after I thought about it I decided, why the hell not? It is my birthday after all and why shouldn’t I celebrate me? I like chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, but in order to maintain this womanly figure, I’ll skip the cake and eat a nice salad with homemade salsa instead.

I’ve also decided that I will add a memory that I have of each person that writes on my Facebook wall. Let’s just say it’s my gift to you. If you don’t read my blog, then I guess you won’t know.

I’ve been thinking about my life through the years. I’ve recalled some of my experiences, the people who I’ve come in contact with. There have been a lot of men and women I’ve met through my years. It has been tough sometimes, easy other times. Lots of different experiences, good and bad, happy and sad.

Sometimes we waste too much of our time thinking about someone who doesn’t think about us for a second. I’ve lived my life so many years thinking that the people I come in contact with should show me the same loyalty and respect that I show them. Finally after all these years, I realize that most people don’t have the same set of standards as I do. I know that sounds conceited and superficial, but aren’t we all to a certain degree?

My sister so kindly put it this way, “…is passive aggressive and attaches a price tag on kindness.” Unfortunately that college education the taxpayers paid for, didn’t teach her the difference between acknowledgement and reciprocation. I don’t expect an exchange in kindness, but I do expect acknowledgement. If you can’t take two seconds to say a simple thank you, then you are not worthy of my friendship. If this hurts your feelings, maybe it’s time to think about the kind of friend you’ve been.  I’ve lived too many years being the friend who keeps in touch, the friend who gives 51 percent, the friend who goes the extra mile, while the other person sits back and reaps the rewards. Relationships (I don’t care what kind they are) are fifty-fifty. It’s give and take on both sides. If you’re not up for the task, how does Mick Jagger put it? “Get off of my cloud.”

My one true friend who has been there through thick and thin, I met in the eighth grade. We started going together on Valentine’s Day when we were freshmen. We were inseparable all through high school. We were babies. Life needed to be lived and we were too young to live it together. He went his way and I went mine and we experienced much life without each other. Twenty six years later we reconnected and all the old feelings returned. True friendship, true love, true respect for each other. It truly was an act of God, and life has not been better.

I don’t like to preach about my faith because I’ve seen too many bad things become of it. Christians praise God for this and that and everything else. It gets so sickening after seeing it so much. People who do that give Christians a bad name. I can share this from experience because I did it. If you know what God did for you, good, live it. Show it. He died on the cross for you, He didn’t say you had to. I’m a sinner, saved by grace. I swear, I drink, I talk about sex. I dress provocatively sometimes. I even smoke a cigarette on occasion. I write controversial shit and there are a lot of explicit words wrapped in sex and drugs and violence. Does that mean I’m going to hell? No, it means I’m real and I’m living life in a sin cursed world.

Today I celebrate my birthday. Today I thank God for all of the people and experiences He has put me in contact with throughout my (almost) half-century life. I am who I am because of the choices I made, and the experiences I lived. There is not one person to blame for anything I have gone through, good or bad. When bad things happened, I had put myself in a situation I should have thought better of. When good things materialized, I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. We all have options in our life. It is up to us to make the best choices for the path we wish to go down.

Now on to bigger and better things. Now on to the next best seller. Check out some of these blogs for an in-depth interview with the emerging author of Blackhorse 2015, Crackerberries.

http://www.ellemarlow.blogspot.com/
http://www.mermaidsandmayhem.blogspot.com/
http://rebeccalfrencl.blogspot.com/
http://getinjohnshead.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/hanging-loose-with-crackerberries-anderson/

Summer Solstice

LET THE SUMMER FUN BEGIN!

HERE’S YOUR CHANCE TO WIN.

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Blackhorse 2015

A new novel from Crackerberries.  Click photo for promo.

 

TAPS on MUSIC

 

Six Word Story Challenge

TAPS on MUSIC

taps

Honors all, north, south, dead, alive.

On The Cross

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Two days before Easter, and “Oh, what a sight!”
Plans and vacations and a last-minute flight

Shopping carts filled with jelly beans and toys,
Preparation for their children’s Sunday morning joys

The children are waiting for the famous Easter Bunny
One more holiday for businesses to make lots of money

Children will search in the morning for candy,
Then dress for church in their finest and dandy

At times, in a church, they talk, “C and E” crowd
They make jokes about them, and laugh really loud.

Talking of people who don’t always attend
What kind of message do they think this will send?

They should be ashamed of talking like they do
It’s poor use of time and brings no good value

God created rules to judge each and every one by,
And He will make good on His promise, when we all die.

Have you ever told a lie, or stolen a pen?
Those are just two commandments out of the ten.

You think God is all loving and willing to forgive,
There’s something you must do in order to live.

Admit you’re a sinner and turn away from your pride,
Give your heart to Jesus, ‘cause for you, He died

Don’t let the pull of the world try to guide you wrong,
Jesus is coming back for us, it won’t be too long.

This weekend when you celebrate Easter at church
Look into the faces of people and search

There is a reason that they don’t attend all the time
It’s not that they’re bad or have committed a crime.

Don’t take it upon yourself to judge
They might come more often, with just a little nudge

For our sins, on the Cross, Jesus did die
What other reason should we edify?

He rose from the dead and defeated death,
All for us to live and have eternal breath

 

 

Artwork Churchill W. Hill, Elizabethton, TN

Easter Bear

ZebraBunny  

Little doggy pursues bunny

Agile, brawny

Ears flip- flop

Hip-pity Hop

 

Witty rabbit seeks out harbor

Barking yawper

Sniffing around

Digging out ground

 

Amusing dog stuns brainy hare

Rabbits all stare

Don’t realize

Bunny disguise