It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

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Saying Goodbye is Hard

Posted by mcm0704 on August 16, 2017 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with a thoughtful piece about saying goodbye to things and people and pets we love. I almost didn’t post it because it made me cry when I read it. I could have used last week’s Home Country column, which was humorous, but this one fits my state of mind right now. I have been saying goodbye to some of my animals. My goat, Lucy, died. Banjo and Marie, the horse and sheep, went to a new home, as did my dog Hannah. I only had her for a couple of months, but I got quite attached to her. She did go to a good home out here in the country, where she will be much happier than going to the city. So that makes me feel better about my decision. Still, I miss her.

Sometime in the near future, I will be saying goodbye to Grandma’s Ranch, which has been my home for 16 years now. I hope I can do all that with the grace that Aunt Ada exhibits. We can wallow in the sadness all these “endings” create, or we can move on with a pragmatic attitude. Which doesn’t mean we ignore the sadness. We feel it. Cry a little. Or cry a lot. But then we step out of that dark place into a new place, a new adventure.

That’s what I am trying to do.

Desdemona died sometime in the night. Aunt Ada had had the cat since she was a tiny kitten, and she was naturally heartbroken. So was Boots, Desdemona’s partner in crime and play and food and everything else that makes life worthwhile for two old cats.

Image courtesy of Pet Bucket https://www.petbucket.com/blog/

Through her tears, Aunt Ada wondered if she could’ve noticed something or had done something differently that would have given Desdemona back to her for a while longer, but there just wasn’t anything. The cat had looked good at bedtime, and was gone before the sun came up.

What if? Well, what if she’d done this or that? Would it have saved the cat? No, of course not.

Even if your heart is breaking, you have to look at things logically. Cats get old and cats die. So do people. Aunt Ada Sandiford is old. Very old to some ways of thinking. But she still putters around the house and does her own shopping and cooking. She makes it to church every Sunday, too. Years ago she sang in the choir, but she stopped doing that when she discovered her voice had gotten old.

So she called a good friend and asked her if she would look after Boots if she died before he did.

There, that was something I could do. And she went quietly out in the back yard with the shovel and said goodbye to her old friend Desdemona.

Sometimes there’s nothing left to say except I love you.

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Brought to you by new book The Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List. Look for it at LPDpress.com

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Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us.

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Book Preview and Excerpt

Posted by mcm0704 on August 14, 2017 |

Today I’d like to introduce you to S.L. Smith, the author of several mysteries in the Pete Culnane Mysteries series. I just love her photo with the Calabash pipe, ala Sherlock Holmes. When I did a Google search for the correct name of the pipe, I discovered that the that particular pipe choice for Holmes was made for the stage. I can see why. It does have a dramatic flair to it.

Mistletoe and Murder is the fourth book in her mystery series, and she is sharing an excerpt with us today. Read on and enjoy…

Auld Lang Syne with a Twist

BLURB – As Collette Hammond orchestrates an elaborate New Year’s Eve wedding reception for her brother in St. Paul’s historic Union Depot, she never anticipates the evening might end in her own mysterious death. She collapses just before midnight. A fresh needle mark suggests narcotics. St. Paul police detectives Pete Culnane and Martin Tierney are called away from their holiday celebrations to investigate, launching a trip through a labyrinth of intrigue and deception.

“Like its title, Mistletoe and Murder is a story that combines elements which might, at first, seem at odds. But S.L. Smith delivers a tale that interweaves both the bright promise of this iconic season and the dark reality of what it can deliver, especially where police work is involved. Smith understands the territory and mines it to good effect. For those who know the Twin Cities, there’s extra delight in tracking the action across familiar terrain. Don’t wait until Christmas to open this one.” William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author.

EXCERPT – Tonight, Colette rang in the New Year like there was no tomorrow. Little did she know that, for her, that was indeed the case. Had she known, she would not have spent her final hours this way. She loved her brother, and she loved to party. Just the same, she had a long list of things she intended to see and do before exiting this life for the something … or nothing … that lay beyond. She had her heart set on traveling to Australia and New Zealand to bask in the lingo and marvel at the scenery. She intended to walk at least a mile on the Great Wall. She planned to learn to play the violin.

She knew not the day, and she’d never have pegged these as her final hours. Confident she’d be on this earth for at least a few more decades, she spent little time thinking about, fretting over, or preparing for an afterlife. Some time down the road, perhaps. For now, she needn’t worry—or so she thought.

Momentarily, the consequences of her procrastination would be between her and her maker. She’d planned this party. Did that mean, in some perverse way, she’d planned her demise?
. . .
Beverages flowed freely before, during, and after the meal. Colette kept up with the best of them.
. . .
In addition to celebrating Demetrius’s wedding, guests spent tonight preparing to ring in the New Year. Some used this as an opportunity to drown regrets about a year of failed attempts to better themselves, while preparing for another shot at the golden ring.

This was Demetrius’s second time around. Colette believed he’d regret this marriage as much as the last one. Just the same, she knew sharing that opinion wouldn’t change his mind. It would, however, change their relationship—at least in the near term. For that reason, she set aside her feelings and helped with the arrangements. She always did that. Nothing, not even a gold digger, could come between her and Demetrius.

During the final seconds before midnight, Colette took center stage. Ordinarily, she reveled in the attention. Not tonight and not this type of attention.

For the last few hours, Colette danced and drank, but not in that order. Shortly before the crowd commenced singing “Auld Lang Syne,” she began slurring her words. Soon her words became unintelligible.

Most of the guests pretended not to notice. Many observed that Colette seemed unusually thirsty tonight, so this didn’t shock them. Unfortunately, what followed raised greater concern, but failed to set off any alarms.

Colette began nodding off. Repeatedly, her chin sank and rested briefly on her chest. That would have been surprising if she was seated at the time. She wasn’t. She did it while standing and talking with several people. Suddenly, without warning, she teetered and slumped to the marble floor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR –  A lifelong resident of Minnesota, S.L. Smith was born in Saint Cloud and attended Saint Catherine University in Saint Paul. During her thirty-two years with the state department of public safety, she worked with law enforcement and fire officials at the state, county and municipal levels.

All three of her previous books include a social issue. In Blinded by the Sight, it’s homelessness. For book two, Running Scared, it’s the impacts of a failing marriage on the kids. Book three, Murder on a Stick, addresses a plight faced by many of the elderly. Smith is a member of Sisters in Crime.  You can find out more about her and her books on her WEBSITEand you can see the BOOK TRAILER on YouTube.

BUY LINK – Amazon

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No Generational Gap In Values

Posted by mcm0704 on August 11, 2017 |

When I read the following that came to me as a press release from Queendom.com, I found the results of the survey quite interesting. From one generation to the next, we curmudgeons have often said there is no hope for those that follow us, but there is actually a lot of hope. I knew that just from interacting with young people for the past twenty years, but it was nice to see that validated in a study.

Before moving on to the intellectual stuff, we might want to start our day with a fun meme. Enjoy….

A new study by Queendom.com comparing the ideals and principles of Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers reveals that these seemingly contrasting cohorts actually have very similar values.

The media have often cast Millennials as selfish, self-entitled, and self-absorbed, and driven by egocentric values, like money, status, and recognition. Research from Queendom.com, however, indicates that the “Me” generation is very much a “We” generation. Not only do they venerate values like family, community, and hard work, they also share 9 of their top 10 values with Generation Xers and Baby Boomers.

Analyzing data from 744 people who took their Values Profile, researchers at Queendom looked at each cohort – Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers – individually in order to determine how each group scored on the 34 values assessed on the test. What researchers discovered was that despite age differences, the three groups differ very little in terms of their value system. Here’s how each group scored on the top ten values:

(Note: Scores are based on a range from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the more important the group considers the value).

Family & Friends

  • Score for Millennials: 78
  • Score for Generation X: 75
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 76

All three groups value their relationships with friends and family, and derive a great deal of joy from being surrounded by those they love

Empathy

  • Score for Millennials: 78
  • Score for Generation X: 80
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 82

All three groups consider empathy essential in order to recognize, understand, and relieve the suffering of others.

Hard Work

  • Score for Millennials: 77
  • Score for Generation X: 76
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 78

All three groups believe in the value of hard work, and admire people who also uphold this value. They consider it important to put in a dedicated effort into everything they take on

Acceptance & Belonging

  • Score for Millennials: 77
  • Score for Generation X: 73
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 75

All three groups consider it important to be a part of a team, personally and professionally. They value a variety of opinions and want others to approve of and support them.

Altruism

  • Score for Millennials: 76
  • Score for Generation X: 78
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 78

All three groups consider it a priority to come to the aid of those in need, and show a strong desire to offer their time and resources to help others.

Stability

  • Score for Millennials: 75
  • Score for Generation X: 72
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 71

All three groups value and thrive on structure and dislike ambiguity. They prefer to plan ahead and approach goals and problems in a methodical, step-by-step manner.

Community

  • Score for Millennials: 72
  • Score for Generation X: 72
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 76

All three groups are (or consider it important to be) highly involved in their community and its social causes. They consider it essential to speak out against injustice.

Ethics & Morals

  • Score for Millennials: 71
  • Score for Generation X: 73
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 78

All three groups believe that living their life according to certain ethics and principles is vital. They know what they stand for and recognize that aligning their goals with their principles is crucial to their happiness.

Innovation

  • Score for Millennials: 70
  • Score for Generation X: 68
  • Score for Baby Boomers: 72

All three groups advocate innovation, and believe that it is essential for the world to continue to progress and advance new theories, ideas, and inventions.

According to Queendom’s study, these three generations only differed on 1 of the top 10 values. Whereas both Generation X and Baby Boomers valued Intellectualism – the pursuit of knowledge and the desire to expand their intellectual horizons – Millennials valued socializing and the desire to expand their social network. Given that Millennials have grown up in a highly technical age that revolves around social media, this did not come as much of a surprise to researchers.

“Our values are very much a function of the era we grow up in – the social, economic, and global climate,” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests, the parent company of Queendom. “However, what our study has revealed is that very little has changed since WWII, in the sense that people from that generation and those who came later still place more emphasis on the importance of ‘wholesome’ values, like family, community, altruism, and less on money and power. When it comes down to it, there really is no generation gap when it comes to what we value…just perhaps different ways of fulfilling that value. Whereas their parents may have marched the streets to protest an injustice, for example, Millennials are harnessing the power of social media to promote causes they believe in. Different approaches, but both based on the same good intentions.”

That’s all for me for this Friday, folks. I have a busy weekend ahead with packing up things and getting ready to put my house on the market. What are your plans? I hope they involve more fun and less work than mine. Be happy.

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4

Dreams Don’t Expire

Posted by mcm0704 on August 9, 2017 |

Slim Randles is today’s Wednesday’s Guest with another short essay to make us stop and think a moment. I am never sure which I like more, his humor or his more serious columns, but they are both good, and I am glad that he shares them with us so freely. His Home Country columns are syndicated in hundreds of newspapers across the country, and he shares them here for just the cost of running the short ad that follows each one. What a deal!

Dreams can be elusive. Sometimes we wait a long time to have one come to fruition, and sometimes they don’t happen at all. What we learn from this story about Harvey, is that we have to take some kind of action to make a dream come true. It doesn’t happen just by wishing and dreaming.

Please grab a cup of coffee and a sweet roll and enjoy the read.

“You don’t mean it!”

“Sure as I’m sittin’ here, Doc,” Herb said, putting an extra swirl to his coffee and cream.

“Flying lessons?”

“Yessir. Said he wanted to do it before he got old. I know. I know. He’s already old, but still, he’s up about every weekend now, buzzing around.”

“That’s just nuts,” Doc said, “I know for a fact he won’t see 70 again.”

“True enough, Doc, but you know they aren’t letting him take the plane up by himself.”

“Thank goodness for that. But what in the world made him want to fly a plane?”

“When I asked him that, he said it was the war that made him sign up for lessons.”

“What war?”

“Vietnam. He said he was a ground pounder in ‘Nam and always envied those pilots who got to do their fighting with clean, dry boots.”

Harvey always was a kind of strange one around the valley here. Kept to himself, mostly. Worked down at the gas station gun shop until he hit retirement age. No one better at fixing a flat or doing an oil change.

But he was always on the quiet side. He’d ask about you and your family, but didn’t really have anything to say about his own life.

But now he’s up there every weekend, looking down on the rest of us from the driver’s seat of a Cessna.

“Vietnam was a long time ago,” Doc said.

“That’s what I told him too, Doc. But he just smiled at me and said, ‘Well, Herb, there’s always next time.’”

Evidently dreams don’t come with calendars.

 

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Great coffee at home. Full and free directions. Look up MateoJo.com

~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here on the blog, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us.

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22

Shift Happens

Posted by mcm0704 on August 7, 2017 |

As someone who resists even rearranging the furniture in a room, imagine how hard it is for me to deal with a major change.

I am also a person who puts down deep roots in a place, so it is hard for me to pull them up and go to another city or state. The heel marks between Dallas and Omaha, NE when my husband’s job took us there, was not just because I was reluctant to leave my kids. I was reluctant to leave my house, my friends, my church, my comfort zone and go to a strange new place.

The move from Omaha back to Texas was not quite as hard, as I was coming back closer to my kids. Plus, I was going to live my childhood dream of a place in the country and having my very own horse in my very own back pasture, who would greet me in the morning with a nicker when I went out with a cup of coffee.

Banjo did say a cheery hello every morning for the past 15 years, but it was not always a greeting of affection. More often, it was a reminder that I needed to go to the barn and get his hay. He was motivated by food.

Now Banjo is gone, as are all my other big animals. A very nice man bought Banjo, and took the sheep, Marie, who was Banjo’s pasture mate. They will both have a good home with that man for the rest of their lives. He promised they would not end up at market, and a man’s word is as good as gold in the country. So even though I cried when they left, and still get a lump in my throat when I go outside, that grief is tempered with the knowledge that they will be well taken care of.

The animals are gone because I made the difficult decision a few weeks ago to sell my property and move to the Dallas area to be closer to my kids – and closer to doctors that I need to see there.

This has all been very hard emotionally as I waver between thinking about how much I will miss this place in the country, my animals, and my wonderful community of friends in Winnsboro, and believing that this is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do, and the way some things have fallen into place so quickly, only affirms that for me.

Still, the change is hard and knowing that I am not the only one who struggles with change, I did some Internet browsing and happened upon this article at the Harvard Business Review Ten Reasons People Resist Change by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She is a professor at Harvard Business School and chair and director of the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. 

The article addresses change in the workplace, but many of the points can be applied to any kind of change.

  • Loss of control
  • Uncertainty
  • Everything is different
  • More work
  • Loss of face

That last one made me pause a moment to see how it applied to my situation.  Kanter explained that:

“By definition, change is a departure from the past. Those people associated with the last version — the one that didn’t work, or the one that’s being superseded — are likely to be defensive about it… Leaders can help people maintain dignity by celebrating those elements of the past that are worth honoring, and making it clear that the world has changed. That makes it easier to let go and move on.

When I move from this place, it will be a departure from the past. My face will no longer be the face of a country woman or Theatre Director at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts. Everything will be different and there is a great deal of uncertainty about what my new face(s) will be.

I know a lot about the importance of rituals in dealing with tough emotional situations. Most of that I learned when I put on a new face as a hospital chaplain in Omaha after leaving my old face as homemaker in Dallas those many years ago. But if I had not made that move, I would not have experienced the growth as a person through Clinical Pastoral Education, as well as the blessings of working in a hospital ministering to the sick. Nor would I have met so many friends in two writers’ groups, most of whom still share contact with me.

So I will perform some good-bye rituals when I am leaving my place and try my best to focus on the future and what adventures will await me down the road.

How do you deal with change? With moves? Is it easy for you, or a challenge on many levels? Please do share, and have a great week.

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Come to the Table

Posted by mcm0704 on August 2, 2017 |

Instead of the usual Wednesday’s Guest post, today I have something to share from a wonderful poet and musician, Joy Harjo

A Facebook friend posted the poem about the table the other day, and when I read it, I thought of all of the gatherings at table that I was blessed to be part of – as a child and then later as a mother. What Joy says about the importance of table is so true. My husband and I knew that, and our family dinners were sacred. No television and nobody was excluded. And dinnertime lasted long past the last scrap of food was devoured. We sat and talked and joked and laughed, and talked some more.

Those were good times, and I firmly believe they are what made our family so strong and so connected.

Before I post the poem, I thought you might like to know a little bit about Joy Harjo. She was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Myskoke Nation. Also known as the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Her seven books of poetry includes  How We Became Human- New and Selected PoemsThe Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses. 

She is also a musician, blending jazz with Native American music as a singer and a saxophone player. Her books and her music have garnered many awards, and she is a favorite performer at numerous venues across the country.

 

Perhaps the World Ends Here

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

:: Joy Harjo ::

If you enjoyed this poem, I encourage you to visit Joy’s website where you can find out more about her and sample some of her work. Have a great HumpDay. 

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2

Sweet Summer Love

Posted by mcm0704 on July 26, 2017 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with a touching essay about summer and love and how it can last a long, long time. 

Bert and Maizie were down at the swimming hole on Lewis Creek the other day. Saturday it was. The sun was bright hot and these two lovers had found a nice patch of shade near the tire swing tree where they could sip iced tea and watch the youngsters.

The little kids were in the shallow wading area, some in underwear, some in none-derwear, and all of them squealing and splashing. The kids who had turned 13 or 14, however, waited their turns at the tire swing. One by one they swung out, flashing in the sun, arching and stretching and knifing into the water. The boys wanted to be seen and impress the girls, and the girls … well, same thing.

It is coming a time of muscles for the guys and curves for the girls, and fun watching for those who aren’t that curvy or muscular any more. Like Bert and Maizie. Maizie looked over at her husband of 40-some years and smiled.

“I can remember,” she whispered.

“There was a time,” he smiled and nodded back at her.

And when he looked at her, he didn’t see the settled body that plumped there after all the children and grandchildren. He saw the girl, Maizie, who almost took flight and jackknifed into the deep part of the pool, and he could remember her coming up to the surface and shaking the water out of her long hair and smiling with the simple joy of being there and being alive.

And when Maizie looked at her husband, she wasn’t seeing the puddling of his body and the gray hair and the wrinkles. She saw the dark hair and the flashing eyes, and the muscles that carried him out into space and took him straight down into a cannonball that got even the old folks wet.

Maybe this is how it started for Bert and Maizie.

And she reached over and took his hand and he gave it a squeeze. There has always been a lot of love at the old swimming hole.

——–

Now, a word from the sponsor of these great, free columns: For a great cup of coffee at home, check out MateoJo on Amazon.com.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us here.

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0

Monday Morning Musings

Posted by mcm0704 on July 24, 2017 |

I’m back! Did you all play nicely while I was gone?

The two-week drama camp was amazing, and the performances were outstanding. Here is a picture of just one of the scenes. The show title was “Mayhem on Market Street,” and the story involved thievery, mischief, and a search for a mcguffin. One of the parents made the booths for the kids, who then decorated their booths and gathered the items to sell at their own version of a farmer’s market.

As if great performances to sell-out crowds was not enough to mark my final days as camp administrator, the camp leaders and volunteers made this awesome t-shirt for me.

Needless to say, Sunday was a bittersweet day for me as the cast party wound down and everybody started to leave. Parents and kids hugged me and thanked me for the years I organized the camp, and when they were all gone, I just sat in the empty building for a few minutes, absorbing the remnants of excitement that still wafted through the space. That was my last hurrah as Theatre Director at the Winnsboro Center For the Arts, and it was a good one.

ADVICE FOR HEALTHY LIVING

I receive a regular newsletter from Kab Benefield, a Kitchen Craft distributor, that is filled with good suggestions, recipes and tips on healthy eating. I thought I would share a few of the tips that were in the last newsletter:

Make it a habit to read the “Nutrition Facts” on product labels. Learn how to decode them and read between the lines.
  •  Check the ingredients. Ingredients are listed according to their amount in food, with the first three or four making up most of a given product. If sugar or fat are listed here, chances are it is not a healthy choice.
  •  Watch out for jargon. Labels are rarely so straightforward as to state simply fat or sugar. This is why you need to keep an eye on other names for fat (such as hydrogenated vegetable oil, coconut or palm or other oil, lard, shortening, lecithin and cream solids) and sugar (also know as corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, malt, maltose, molasses,etc.).
  •  Pay attention to serving sizes. This is one of food manufacturers’ biggest tricks. A small bag of chips or cookies represents one serving, right? Wrong! There may be as many as four servings in that bag. Check the label, and do the math.
  • Don’t squander your hard-earned dollars on foods that promise to make you thinner or healthier or happier. Packaged, processed foods with alluring labels are not the answer. If the claim is low-fat, they’re often packed with sugar and calories. Low-carb? Check the fat content.

That’s all for me for today, folks. I really need a day of rest after the whirlwind of the past two weeks.

But before I go, I want to tell you about the StoryFinds Beach Reads Contest to win an Amazon gift card and some awesome books. I am pleased to be sponsoring the contest with my romance, Play it Again, Sam – a perfect beach read. Check it out! http://tinyurl.com/ya95ezep

Have a great start to your week. 

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0

A Nod From Windy

Posted by mcm0704 on July 5, 2017 |

Slim Randles is here again as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. As you read this piece, keep in mind that Windy Wilson likes to fracture words and often makes up his own. Keeps life interesting around the Mule Barn Truck Stop and local environs.

Even though this is the day after the Fourth of July, we can give Slim and Windy a little creative latitude – and longitude. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

 

BTW, this will be the last post for a while as I am going to have more company next week and then my drama camp runs for two weeks. This is a good time to take a break from the blog. Play nicely among yourselves until I am back and don’t forget to go snag a copy of One Perfect Love, the sequel to One Small Victory. The book will be free thru July 8th. In return, I ask that you leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Those reviews help authors more than you might realize.

Grab a piece of cherry pie we had left over from my birthday bash yesterday and enjoy….

 

Windy Wilson was on the prowl, this beautiful Independence Day morning, searching the neighborhood for something to do for others. He decided to let his weekly day helping others come on the Fourth this week, because he was feeling very American.

Let’s see … he thought … I can circumlocute over to Mrs. Hennessey’s and see if her flower garden needs weeding. She’s got very close veins and the sugar diabeets, and getting around ain’t easy.

He headed in that direction when he came across two friends of his arguing over politics. They were standing there in the shade of an elm tree and trying seriously to tear down each other’s theory on how the world, the United States, the state government and the local school board should be operated. Windy stopped and listened to them. Each would look at Windy as each point was made only to see the usually garrulous Alphonse Wilson smile benignly and nod in response.

Pretty soon, the two combatants figured out that Windy was nodding to statements on totally opposite sides of the argument. They stopped and looked at him.

“How do you stand on this, Windy?” one asked.

“I stand as an American citizen,” he said, “on this recompensation of our Independence Day, knowing that our foundling fathers would want it this way. Yes, since this is a special day for all Americans, I am recumbent in the factotum that it is your very basic right to be wrong.”

“Which one? Which one of us is wrong, Windy?”

He grinned. “Well … you both are.”

——

Make your own great coffee at home. Look up MateoJo on Amazon.com

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Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 380 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It features some of the best of the columns he has shared with us here.

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4

Birthday Bash

Posted by mcm0704 on July 3, 2017 |

Happy birthday to me and Happy birthday, U.S.A. 

Company is slowly drifting in to help me celebrate my birthday, and it is always great fun to have some of my kids here with me.

I know it is a day early for a Fourth Of July blog post, but bear with me. I plan to take the rest of this week off, so I had to get the post ready today.

Over the years, the birthday bash has ebbed and flowed, sometimes everyone is able to come to Grandma’s Ranch, and other years just a few. Good thing I have lots of kids. (smile) We eat good food, share good company, and often the day ends with our own fireworks show.

I’ve thought a lot about aging this past year. Mainly because my body keeps giving me vivid reminders of just how old I am, and that nasty Ramsay Hunt has kicked my butt big time. The meds I take to keep the nerve pain under some kind of control, have played havoc with my general strength and stamina, and I have lost a lot this past year and a half.

As I move past another birthday, I’m fighting the image of myself as the little old lady who pauses in the grocery store aisle to look at something, leaving a cart right in the middle. Someone much younger waits patiently for the little old lady to make up her mind and continue on.

I don’t want to be that old lady.

I’d rather be like the one I see outside, working on her property when I drive to town. Often, she is pulling weeds, bent over at the waist, and there are several bags indicating she has been doing that for an hour or more. Other days I drive by and she’s on her riding mower, making her 2 acre front look like a putting green.

My paternal grandmother was a lot like that neighbor. She tended a huge garden on the hill behind her house until she was in her early 90s, and only stopped because a broken hip forced the issue.

When my husband and I first moved here to East Texas in 2002, I thought I would be like my grandmother. I was strong. I was willing. And I loved working on Grandma’s Ranch. I still love it. And my mind is strong and willing, but I don’t know how much longer I will be able to keep up.

But I will try. One day and one step at a time.

And now, before I take the rest of the week off, I want to let you know that to celebrate my birthday, I am gifting readers with a FREE copy of One Perfect Love, the sequel to One Small Victory. The book will be free for 5 days, starting on my birthday tomorrow so grab a copy if you don’t already have one. In return, I ask that you leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Those reviews help authors more than you might realize.

If you are celebrating the Fourth Of July, I do hope you have a wonderful gathering with family and friends. Be safe and be happy.

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