Saturday, July 19, 2014

The word of the day… dismayed

     This morning I’m running on three hours sleep. I’m not sure why sleep didn’t find me late night; it just wasn’t looking very hard. So, it will be a lost day. Do you ever have a lost day? I’ll get sleepy in about an hour, go sit in my comfortable chair, and be out like a light in less than five minutes. Right now, I’m drinking half-a-cup of coffee and pondering the word ‘dismayed’. That was the scripture verse in my e-mail this morning.

 Isaiah 41:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

     All of this applies to me today. I’m tired. Being tired brings a sense of the following, distressed, disappointed, in tears, saddened, and troubled.  I could also throw in weary. It’s awful to wake up more tired than when you went to bed.  I think part of it is the sadness I’m feeling watching the world going haywire.
     There are so many tragic events happening right now. A person could get to the place that they wouldn’t want to step out of their door. So, to read this morning exactly what was needed for the day ahead of me, I’m thankful.
     It’s hard not to be dismayed. Even the word is strange to my ear. I don’t remember the last time, if ever, I said to someone, “Don’t be dismayed. Everything is going to be all right.”
     I have said the latter part many times because the thing that comes to dismay us eventually passes; it’s the passing through part that troubles. If I do rally enough today to do some writing, I’ll put this mood to good use. I’ll go to the story that has the character in the midst of their dilemma. They will understand how I’m feeling today. I find that on the days that I write with whatever I’m personally feeling, my characters are more colorful, honest, and relatable.
Here are a few of the books I’m working on.

For insistent, from Brook of the Willows

     Wilber ran his heart out. He ran so far into the forest that stood across the open fields of the small community of Waverly Port that he ran onto the bank of the brook. Wilber couldn’t run any further. He was heaving and gulping for air. As he lay on the bank about to draw his last breath, he heard the soft flutter of the Angel’s wings.
     She gently drew the little rabbit into her arms and cradled him close to her hoping that her life would flow into his limp body. However, it wasn’t to be. The angel knew now why she’d been sent in such a hurry to the dying side of the little rabbit. All she had been told was his name and that he was very special to God.

Or this one, from Fallen, Broken, Mended

    There’s nothing louder than awkward silence; A silence that screams words only heard by the heart. Martha Donnelly heard the screaming and wondered if it was her own. If having to make the decision to put your nineteen-year-old son on life support wasn’t horrendous enough, taking him off was unspeakable.
     Martha’s heart became in tune with every rhythmic hiss that accompanied the ventilator sustaining Chris’ life. Unplugging it would be like unplugging her own heart.
     As she watched the rise and fall of his chest, she couldn’t help but remember all the times he ran breathless into the house to tell her the latest astonishing thing he’d found out or drag her by the hand to come look at another of his contraptions.
     Nothing that housed wires, gears, or tubes, or had wheels was safe from his imagination. Several times Martha was startled by her potted plants walking around the room seemingly on their own. Latter she found out that Chris had rigged an old vacuum cleaner motor under a wooden box on wheels that he controlled by remote from the other side of the room.
     Martha had seen every imaginable object take on a life of its own. Now here she sat wishing that someone would walk through the door with the wherewithal to give Chris his life back.

Or this book of mine that is in progress, Casualty of Love

     Brenda Marshal made it barely ten feet from the front porch before she fell to her knees and heaved her guts out. It certainly wasn’t a very well mannered way of putting it, for sure. Nevertheless, it would be the only way she would ever be able to describe what she did the day that her whole world crumbled down around her.
     Her mind couldn’t focus on the chain of events that had unfolded in her household that morning and her body had finally protested. All she remembered screaming was how could someone keep living a lie all those years? Her mother’s answer was as matter as fact and controlled as all her other answers.
     “Brenda, because the wealthy can hold to lies as truth to save face at all cost. It’s just the way it is. They believe the lie until it becomes the truth.”
     “Grandmother knew the truth all these years and she never told anyone?”
     It was in that moment that Brenda realized the worst possible truth about her own mother. Her Grandmother had told someone and that some one had become party to the family lie.
     “Brenda, dear, you have to try and understand. What were the chances of this ever happening?” stated Caroline Marshall.
     Brenda remembered whirling around at the nursery window at the hospital and grabbing her mother by the shoulders. She was sure she’d left bruises on her pale upper arms. She remembered slowly enunciating each syllable of her words in her mother’s face as she jerked her toward the window forcing her to look at the newborn baby in the adjacent basinet.
     “There is the chance, mother.”
     She still couldn’t comprehend the detached look on her mother’s face as she glanced at the infant through the glass. The child was the casualty. There might have been a slight trace of pity, but it only lasted a second. This event was like everything else in the Marshal household. If it didn’t fit his or her schedule, taste, or lifestyle it was ignored, overlooked, or simply dealt with by someone else who was paid to take care of it.

Or perhaps this last one, The Love Experiment

     All Roger Burns could think of at the moment of impact was that when two objects collide the immovable one stands the best chance of surviving. Seeing that he was the moveable object it was no surprise when he flew ten feet into the air and landed on the hood of a parked car. The second thing that went through his mind was, “I wonder what make of automobile I just landed on?” It allowed him to hit and roll to the ground unharmed without leaving a dent in its hood. He’d have to be sure to write the company a letter telling them how body/crushproof their design is. It also wasn’t that strange for his next thought to be that he’d just wasted four bucks on a cup of coffee that was now all over the sidewalk and the front of his expensive suit. His day was off to one frustrating start.
     Once he assured the driver and bystanders that he was all right, he retrieved his scattered belongs, dusted himself off, and headed toward his office. The woman who hit him seemed far more upset than he was. She’d insisted on him taking her insurance information, which delayed him even more.
     Roger Burns was a self-motivated hard-hitting young executive who seldom let anything or anyone get in his way. He was driven.  He’d not always been that way, but life has away of changing a person when they lest expect it. He was the middle child of three siblings in a family of high achievers. He was referred to as the ‘adopted child’ by his sisters. Being the only boy, was supposed to have propelled him to the top of the pile, but once he started showing his true personality, it demoted him.

You see, there are many characters that are in need of the feelings that being dismayed this morning has produced from my lack of sleep.
     If I manage to wake up enough to advance any of these books forward, perhaps in another post I’ll let you know how they are doing. Right now, I’m headed to my chair, turning off the light, hoping sleep will come quickly. 
     Drat… Dragging out these books has wet my writing appetite. My books become like family and friends to me. I can’t leave them hanging for too long of a time. They need me to return and get their lives going again.

Soon, soon… (yawn) I’ll be back. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mortar shells and rockets…

     At seven-fifteen a.m. in my small portion of the world, I was experiencing an unseasonable cool crisp morning. An ever-slight breeze stirred the surface of the pond that lay a few feet from my small patio. There wasn’t even the chirping of a bird to break my quiet mental wanderings this morning. As I sipped my coffee and watched the slight stirring along the edge of the pond where some of the smaller inhabitants were undoubtedly enjoying breakfast, I had a thought.
    The news right now is so full of unrest, sirens going off, and normal everyday life constantly being disrupted with men throwing rocks, screaming and setting fires to the very neighborhoods they live in.  While sitting on my patio enjoying solitude and peace, it made me wonder where my next thoughts were coming from. What I was thinking of writing to post today certainly wasn’t about rockets and mortar shells.
    Recent news reports from Israel have spoken about having a device that has been intercepting incoming rockets long before they find their target. Thus avoiding damage and possibly loss of lives. As I sat barely able to conceive the thought of outward missiles coming toward me, I thought of other destructive rockets that have been launched in my direction when I’ve least expected them, i.e.  A word, thought, attitude, or even one unsuspecting remark when you least expect it can alter your whole day.
    Because I try not to ever be preachy, I only talk about my personal walk with the Lord if someone initiates the conversation and then I still only share out of what I’ve been given throughout my 42 years as a Christian. That is really all I have to give.
    With the thoughts this morning of how grateful I was that I wasn’t running for shelter due to a siren going off warning me of possible danger I realized that I do have an actual internal warning system. One that has gone off many times in my life and when it does it sends me running into that safe place that has been constructed inside of me.

The righteous run into the Lord and are safe. He is my high tower, my buckler and my strength.

When someone opens the door by asking me how the changes in me over the years have come about and I tell them the ways the Lord has taught me personally, they seem amazed. To me it just became a way of life. I saw very quickly that my internal structure was highly susceptible to incoming attacks.  I learned early on that the Holy Spirit was my warning device. Sometimes I only had a few seconds to heed His warning and run into that safe place in me. The place that I’ve come to recognize is under the shelter of the Lord’s wings. No, I’m not saying that I believe that God has actual wings, but I’ve experienced genuine comfort that those words have painted for me over the years. I’ve run into as real a place that I knew held for me a sense of emotional safety; A place where something actually happens within me. That word or thought being sent to me in that moment is real. It’s coming with a purpose to hurt or depress or cause me to stumble but before it hits its target, which is my heart or mind, the Holy Spirit intercepts it. I see it exploded by the spiritual device in me that brings the Word of God up to meet that thought with what is really the Truth. That weapon is defused, caught in midair and doesn’t prosper toward my life.
Have I always heeded these warnings and avoided being hit? No, sadly I’ve heard the Holy Spirit’s gentle warning and didn’t yield.
    Maybe, like my outward world this morning, someone reading this isn’t experiencing screaming sirens alerting him or her to incoming rockets, but another kind of war is being launched toward them. That’s the thing about this busy world we live in now. You can be in the same room, office, home or even sitting on the same pew and sometimes be too self-absorbed to recognize that another person is under attack.These daily sneaky attacks hurt if they find their mark. They can often alter our whole day. The one thing that I guess was put in my mind this morning to share was how grateful and thankful I am to know where to run in times of danger.
    I know where my safe place is. I know that if I heed the warning, I will be safe. Those assailing thoughts or actions that come by unsuspecting means won’t find their way into my heart. Ah, the heart, that’s another whole blog subject. Maybe for tomorrow. Isn’t it amazing that all the heart is, is a muscle? A pump that keeps our blood flowing and yet it seems also to have a hidden mind that I never was told about in any anatomy class I took.
    When I started back with this blog, I wanted to be faithful to write as I’m led. I hope this encourages someone today that if they are being bombarded and don’t think that there is anywhere to find safety I’m here to tell you, there is. Abiding under the Shadow of the Almighty. But I hope this causes you to see that he’s so much more than the Biblical Deity he can sometimes be presented as being.
   My earthly father never once bent down with open arms, encouraging me to run to him when I was afraid, sad or in need of comforting. It took me years to find a Father who would do that very thing and still does to this day. I might be 65 years in age, but I still need to feel the comfort of a Father’s arms encircling me while reassuring me that any rocket sent in my direction this day will not find its mark.
    If you’re hearing the screaming of personal sirens in your life today, I pray that reading this might encourage you where to run. It really works.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Who said that an Old woman couldn't be trained….

     Just when you think that you've gotten into the golden years of being past being told what to do, someone or something comes along and shows you that you’re wrong.
     My current homelife has been teaching me a thing or two. I’ve been Grand Pup sitting. In comparison to me, Tater Bug is about nine to ten pounds of persistence. Me, on the other hand, am about ???? to ???? pounds of procrastination.
Now when persistence and procrastination meet, guess who wins? I pride myself on having reached the age that there are a few things that I no longer should be told what to do. Tater doesn’t seem to see it that way. He’s convinced in his little mind that if he simply sits just within eye-range of me, unflinching, staring with dead-eye determination that I’ll grow uneasy and ask, “What? What do you want?”
At first when he came to visit, I was glad that no other human being was within earshot of me asking him a question as if I was expecting him to answer me. Then the magic happened. Tater talks. Yes, I know, amazing isn’t it? Of course, to the untrained ear it might just sound like a lot of “urphs, umphs, and norphs” uttered lowly and repetitively. But, believe me, it will get one’s attention.
At first, I thought it was his inability to communicate that was the problem, not so. It was me all along. He knows exactly what he's talking about and has had me on a daily training schedule. I now can recognize the following commands. Potty time, playtime, and make room in the chair time.
He seems very pleased with my progress and on occasion rewards me with “wet kisses”. I’m not fond of them, but as I said earlier, he is persistent. So try as I might he manages to land one or two on me.
There is, however, one command that he hasn’t gotten me trained in yet – bedtime. His, not mine. We have heated discussions about this starting around ten p.m. in the evening. It can be a little unnerving being an older person living by one’s self while sitting in a room with nothing but the light of the TV feeling as though someone is watching you.
     I might need to add that Tater is black; quite black, nighttime black. So, catching notice of his eyes in the light of the TV is the only way to realize that he is staring at me –quietly, stealth like.  
He knows that I know what he is saying with his silent watching, “it’s time for bed, let’s go.”
I’ve tried the “talk to the hand approach, the “no, I’m not tired yet and you go to bed if you want, I’m not ready” approach. To which he continues to stare over the top of the toy in his mouth refusing to budge.
He doesn’t seem to care how long it may take to train me, he has time. I think it’s my own fault though, his persistence, because I learned all the other commands so quickly that he knows he’ll accomplish his goal with this one at last.
     Somewhere in my years of learning a little about many things, I thought it was supposed to be the other way around.  I thought we were the superior beings and did the training…Tater must have missed that class.
For now, he seems quite content to give me the benefit of the doubt that I am completely trainable because, he’s been huffing at me for the last ten minutes and has now gone into stealth mode.

Sorry, for ending this post so abruptly, I have to go to bed now. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Brain Exercises

     I’m not much on physical exercise. I’ve watched a lot of it over the years –so you’d think I’d be rail thin. Oh, it doesn’t work that way does it? There are many things that I wish I could redeem for points toward physical fitness that I have remained steadfast to in my life.
     As I sat out on my small patio this morning drinking coffee and enjoying the unusual Ohio morning’s cool breeze, I closed my eyes and went places, did things, became different, disappeared, rode wild horses, swam in a secluded lagoon, walked in a market place and bought peaches, and finally stood on a beach somewhere I’d been taken to by the gale winds of a brewing storm that was now whipping the waves into blue meringue. And that was over just one cup of coffee!
     I realized even more this morning how therapeutic writing can be on one hand and how debilitating it can be on another. Writing is a solitary sport. That is unless you write with another person and I’ve been there and done that. For me it didn’t work because I had far too much time to dedicate to the shared project. I wrote twice as much and the other writer was more than happy to let me do it.
     I loved it though. I could hardly wait for the return email to see what they had added. Sometimes it was hardly worth waiting for. Two or three paragraphs came back to my nearly three pages. I finally decided if I was going to pursue a collaborative writing style it had to be a retired, lonely single person, passionate about writing with better grammatical skills than me. However, the world is a treacherous place these days, especially on the internet.

ALERT ! FYI – people are not who they say they are or even worse have different agendas than what you intend.   Shock! I know.
   So, I create characters that I can trust. If they show up unscrupulous from the beginning, I’m not shocked. If they are a whinny narcissistic problem-laden crotchety old coot, then I know what to expect.  On any given day, anyone can show up at my imaginary door; there’s no limit to the characters who can parade through my living room.
     Most of mine, however, replicate somewhat dysfunctional/normal people. I try to work into my books everyday events, problems, or emotions common to all of us, and be honest about them. (It saves screaming at the TV a lot of times.)
     People do dumb things. I betcha didn’t know that.  They do. They do, think, act, speak and conduct themselves in ways that makes me sit back and scratch my head in wonder as to how can they do these things?
     I’ll never understand mountain climbers who climb without one single support rope. People who swallow sharp instruments, handle rattlesnakes, or eat god-awful foods that I wouldn’t even think of putting in my mouth! (And trust me; I’ve done my share of eating.) And the latest thing that I won’t do, that there isn’t enough money in the world to tempt me is to live in one of the current war-torn third-world countries as an American. “Are you nuts???” that’s usually what I say to the people on the news at night who get killed, captured or lose everything while fleeing for their lives. 
     My feet will stay right here on good old USA soil. I know what you might be thinking; even this good old USA soil is becoming risky to venture out on. You don’t even have to go out with drive-by shootings, home invasions, and telemarketers preying on old people.
    Well, that was a cheery note. Back to my coffee-visions blown in and out of my mind this morning while my Grand Pup, Tater, sits by sniffing who knows what on the breeze.  I wonder what was going through his mind? I’m sure it was a treat he gets when he successfully…well you know.
     So you see I probably did more exercise before ten o’clock this morning than most people will do all day.
Have a good day!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Things we’ll never do again and some that we can’t seem to stop doing…

      I must have some DNA in me that makes me tell on myself. Sometimes I think that the books that I write do that also. They say that people who write put at least a little of who they are in each book. Hope I never write about anything odd, people will look at me funny – or funnier than they already do.
     This blog is about things I don’t do anymore that I did do, mostly as a child. (The older one gets the more one reflects on old memories.)
I was watching PBS and a man was blowing large glass marbles. That’s what started me thinking. The more I thought about some of the things I tried to do growing up the more I thought most people who know me now wouldn’t believe me.
     I played marbles. Yes, I sure did. I never had anything noteworthy in my marble bag, except for a large ball bearing. Of course, any marble player worth their salt knows that you don’t ever use that playing in a game that “counts”. A game that counts means that everything you win, you keep.

     Needless to say, my marble playing days were short lived. I lost most of mine to the neighbor kid who knew how to get right down to the level of the circle drawn in the dirt, squint one eye and fire his lucky aggie. Mine rolled like cowards out of the circle, I swear sometimes before they were even hit!
     Next, I dug tunnels in the yard. I made a whole freeway of interwoven roads and deep tunnels the width of my hands. Not having any little cars, I used bottle caps.  My birthday was coming so I put in a request for some little cars. My birthday came and what I got I would have needed a backhoe to dig the tunnel with. It was the largest red plastic corvette. It was about ten inches long and four inches wide. I cried myself to sleep that night. I was so disappointed. The next day I filled in the tunnels and that was the end of my road working days.

     Then an old harmonica was given to me and the light came back into my eyes. I had a goal! I was going to become the world’s best harmonica player that there ever was. I made the dogs next-door bark. I never got the hang of how to keep from spitting all over my own face. Thus, the harmonica world had to go on without me. Yes, I know that this isn't a harmonica.. so maybe that's why I was never good at it!!!

     Then one day something came to the house in a small cardboard box. It was quite sturdy, at the start. Now most people might have just seen a cardboard box, but I saw my next big talent, playing the accordion.
I drew keys down one side and black and white buttons on the other side. I told some of my friends that I couldn’t play in the afternoon because I had to practice my harmonica at the time and then the accordion. My parents just won’t let me play until I do. (Sigh)
     I pushed and pulled on that box until even the sides of it believed that they were an accordion! Oh, what sweet music I made with that box. I had just gotten the sides broken in when much to my horror one day when I went to retrieve it from behind the couch in the living room – It was gone!

     My mother not realizing that she had a budding accordion performer on her hands had thrown it out while I was at school.  I cried myself to sleep that night too.
     There were other attempts at greatness, too many to mention but this last one. I borrowed my girlfriend’s tap shoes for the night. We had terrazzo floors in our house in Florida  (smooth concrete with colored specks in it) so I knew the taps would ring out my talent. They were two sizes too small so that career only lasted less than thirty minutes. I hung up the taps.
     Then I began to fill pages of notebook paper with what I just knew would become great novels one day. I remember writing a short story of this beautiful young girl who went to summer camp and of course she was the one that all the boys wanted to dance with and help her get on her horse for the night ride. As I recall, and its with complete embarrassment now, as the group rode along under a full moon she was the one who sang a song that was popular back then.
     I say embarrassing because at the time we had a paper due in literature class, writing a story about anything we wanted. So having this great love story already in hand, I submitted it as my paper. It wasn’t until after I handed it in and was on the way home that day that I realized that the teacher would be reading this romance!
     I was humiliated for weeks waiting for the notebooks to come back with our grades on them. Only the A+ and her comments about it being very believable saved me from running away from home.
     This one stuck. I still have files filled with books at various and sundry stages. Some I have pulled out and read and can’t even remember writing them or where the story was going. I have seven self-published and several that will be one day soon. But, the sad thing about remembering all the things that I thought I would end up doing have all never come to fruition.
     I seem to lack the DNA to know how to market what I write or the drive to do that part. So there is one common thing that I still do that links all that I’ve tried to accomplish in my life over the years, - cry myself to sleep some nights.

Maybe one day…. (Sigh)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Is there such a thing as a perfect life?

The other day I had, ‘one of those days’. You know the kind; you think you’re headed to do something only to find out that nothing is going as planned. It made me wonder if any one of us comes into this world and never has – one of those days.
I've had months and even years made up of those days. Imagine with me for a minute about a ‘what if’.
What if you’re deposited into the ideal family? Mother, father, siblings all perfectly suited to one another, just waiting on your arrival. Parenting skills are in place. Wisdom to channel all your talents and skills in the right direction with every needed tool, instrument, or instructional mentor available.
You grow from one age to the next completely on track. Your internal directional finder is working properly. All exterior helps are in tune to whom and what you were sent into this world to be.
You bloom into that dancer, artist, teacher, doctor, engineer, poet, sportsman/woman or whatever the DNA within you was programmed to become.
You've been encouraged in all the right directions; given every opportunity to excel. You, being successful in your endeavors was never even questioned. From conception to completion, those around you saw and guided your steps.
You find the perfect job once you've perfected your skills, you meet the person of your dreams, and you become everything as a mate, parent, and person you were supposed to be.
Poof! That was the bubble breaking.What’s more like the truth is that even when we might have been placed into the best family environment, things are never perfect. Somewhere along the line, some one or some thing is going to upset that perfect apple-cart.
          Example tells us that there isn't a perfect life. As our horizons expand as we grow, we see the lives of other people around us with far more opportunities or privilege than we have and guess what – they are not happy. You’d think with all the wealth, power, and opportunities that some people have in the world that they’d be shouting from the rooftops how happy they are.
          Instead, they use what they have been given for selfish gain. Self-indulgence and act like all-round jerks. The rest of us observers question their conduct wondering how it is that they got the ‘goods’ and not the brains to use them.
          There are a few who seem to get further along in their life making right choices, becoming humanitarians, or benevolent givers all the while avoiding pitfalls in their progress. I appreciate those  people who were given more and use it wisely.
          The ones who squander and abuse something I would have given my right arm to have had, I have little or no patience with.
          How the dividing of the pie happens is a mystery. I don’t think any one knows how it really works. There will always be no rhyme or reason behind why one person’s life is full of ‘those days’ and another’s seems void of upsets.
          There’s a commercial, (well actually there are a LOT of commercials on TV) that drive me nuts.
          I don’t mind them on days that I’m mellow, not having one of my days. However, when I’ve been through one where nothing went right, this kind of commercial makes me want to scream at my TV.
          It’s a car commercial. But the content of it has really nothing to do with selling cars. (Normal for most commercials these days) The little girl bounds out of her room shouting, “I’m ready!” she spins around dressed as a fairy with wings, crown and wand. The father looks at her and then has to show her a simple dress that she needs to change into because the day doesn't call for a fairy outfit.
          On the way to school, the girl sighs in the backseat as though her life has ended; her world has come crumbling down around her.
The father pulls up to the stop sign and the ad finally makes since, it’s about saving gas. What in the heck does this have to do with the girl and her fairy wings?
          Here is where it gets totally unrealistic. God forbid that she suck it up and go on to school. Oh, no, the father takes this unrealistic action and the next thing you see is this girl skipping into school, back in her fairy costume. As she skips in her perfect little world, she passes a sign that reads. “School pictures today. ”
          Give me a break! Not only does it make little to no sense about a gas saving car there is NO way that this one kid’s school yearbook picture is going to be in a fairy costume.
          I’m just too tuned into reality. That’s why I love to write. I can’t handle irrational conduct that the world produces and often time sends my way. So, in my worlds (my books) I’m in control of what is right and what is wrong and never the two shall meet. My story, this little ridiculous scenario shows the father stooping down in front of her, lovingly promises that he will take pictures of her in her fairy wings, but today she has to wear a nice dress like all the rest of the children.
          That’s a logical picture. The girl skipping in her wings makes me wonder where Alice and the Cheshire cat are. I’ll have what they're drinking!
          I guess the moral to this blog – story is this; maybe the next time I head into MY day, I’ll wear my ruby slippers, wings, crown, and carry my wand. 
          That should shakeup someone's world!