Thursday, March 31, 2011

Book Blurb/Tree Flower

Oh, it's Friday again. That means Lisa has us all doing book blurbs. Mine is below. My story is fiction but historically correct in that Chief White Hair and his band of Osage did live on the banks of the Neosho in southeastern Kansas in the early 1800's. The Osage were known for gaming, gambling and months of hunting. The women did the work including saddling the horses for the men before they went off for hunting. Wow, a great life--for the men!

The book blurbs have to be 150 words or less and based on the picture she gives us for the book cover.For full rules go to:


Tree Flower

Peter Kinnal left St. Louis in 1823 with one thing on his mind, furs. He was determined to own his own livery business and needed a financial stake. Heading west with guns and traps, he was determined to acquire a load of valuable pelts.

But he found himself laid up in Chief White Hair’s camp on the Neosho. After an accident with one of his own traps, he was coming out of deliriousness with help from the tribe’s women. Why they didn’t kill him and take his scalp he didn’t know. How he was going to get on with his mission, he’d no idea. But what he did know was that the sight of bronzed skin Tree Flower made him weaker than his healing leg.

Was his future gaming with warriors, hunting between the Osage and Neosho Rivers, living with a red woman or would he see St. Louis again?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Few Thoughts

Wow, back down to true freezing last night. This day was to reach 50; it never did. The skies remained dark and as steely gray as the winter squirrels that scramble across the bare tree limbs. DH looked out today and commented, “I really think after THIS brush with winter, we will have smooth sailing for nicer weather.” Ah, pardon me, but I wonder; I never commented.

The present issue of Looking Back, a memoir type magazine published by DRG ( a house that also publishes Good Old Days)has an article I wrote about cutting hedge posts. The byline has my husband’s name since the magazine wanted first person stories and the story was his experience. I let him have the byline, but I cashed the check!
The hedge, otherwise known as the Osage Orange is native to middle America where the Osage and other natives used the sturdy wood for making bows. The wood is hard and lasts well, and that is why it was used later for fence posts. The tree grows with small trunks or multi- trunks so when planted close together the trees form fences themselves for confining cattle and livestock.

When first cut the wood has an orange cast but darkens as it ages. For example, the first two shawl pins in this fan are made of hedge from DH’s family farm. When they were first made they had a lovely orangey glow, but now at two years old, they have darkened and can hardly be deciphered from the oak and cherry woods.

I recently signed a contract for a romance for the May True Confessions after a call out. I was pleased to see Dorchester back on track and functioning again. Now the last couple of days the word is out that the publishing company is being put up for sale. In today’s publishing market, I think that is a doubtful proposition. Now I am wondering if my story will be printed, if I will paid. If anyone sees the May issue of True Confessions on the stand with a story including a lovable mailman, please let me know!

While I have no experience with this market, I see that there is an ongoing call out for essays from women about changes in their lives. If interested in writing a personal essay about the changes you have faced in your life stages, go to for more details and submission guidelines.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tea Cup Tuesday/Mismatched!

Low and behold, I saw snow when I opened the drapes this morning. Not much which was a relief for sure! It is cold and dark and wet again here, is to rain all day. I am NOT thinking about it though.

I have been pretty lame about posting for Teacup Tuesdays. I haven't had a thing to show! But a couple of weeks ago, a quick dash through a few aisles at the local flea markets got me some goodies-cheap ones.

The first is a very pretty bone china cup and saucer numbered and stamped Queen Anne. When I took it to counter, I told my friend I thought the plate and cup were mismatched. She thought the cup was just an open rose. Well, I got home and found out they are both the same china company, both Queen Anne, but a different number. It doesn't matter because I think they look fine and I got them for a song!


The other cup is a dandy too. There is no saucer but it was lidded. I looked  hard and thought these were not quite the same but an excellent fit. I brought it home and decided for sure that these two pieces were never meant to be together. However, they fit nicely and present an interesting look. It is marked Noritake, Japan.  I only paid $2 for the set and an sure I can use it somewhere, somehow if for nothing more than nuts or sweetner packages.

For a total of $5 I had a great day!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Melancholy Wild Rice; Another Goodbye

One of Jackie's Hummels that she gave me. So appropriate for me...a boy, a book, a dog!

Again, I have to say goodbye to someone in my life.

Russ and Jackie moved across the street when our boys were about eight and twelve. The first thing Russ did was to advise them how to ride their bikes more carefully on our busy street and to put on a show with his bull whip. The boys were impressed with the loud snap like a pistol that came from the popping whip on the driveway. It wasn’t too long before Russ “hired” first one son and then the other for mowing, weed eating, leaf raking, fence painting and snow shoveling. He could have hired cheaper or faster, but he became their first boss and brought to mind that “it takes a village” as he helped form our kids character and appreciation for hard work, for a job well done. For nearly a quarter of a century, they were our neighbors and friends.

When Russ began to fail, Jackie took over more and more trying to keep things going. She only stood 4’11” or so, but she became driver as well as navigator of their huge motor home. She would head them out towards Arizona every March with only a top knot of gray curls showing over the steering wheel. As Russ began to have frequent falls here at home, my guys would go over and help right him like a toy soldier that had fallen in a sandbox. He was a large man so it wasn’t always easy.

That last Christmas was warm and all their kids and grandkids were home. Everyone dressed in red warm-up suits and took pictures near the river birch on the front lawn. I watched out our picture window, waved, and shed silent tears because in my heart I knew it would be their last gathering. I was aware of his increasing weakness, the passing that was beginning to occur. He was gone by spring.

Jackie was strong and independent, but losing Russ took a toll. She forged ahead, doing the best she could dealing with her own health issues, a rugged economy on a fixed income, and loneliness. Eventually, she found a companion in an elderly friend who had lost his wife too. They began to spend time together, neither hearing well and age slowing them down only a bit. However, they never stopped. At 90 Ray drove them to Florida, Alabama, and Texas. She showed him the favorite fishing spots in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada that she had Russ had found. She always brought home wild rice from the North and shared it with me. Ray’s Escalade loaded up and headed out regularly for their adventures. In between their trips, she camped all over the country with her New York sister; both women were in their 80’s.

But a few months ago, Ray died and Jackie lost some of her heart. Her health deteriorated and she decided to sell the house and go into assisted living in Wichita near some of her kids. She put the house up for sale and arranged for an auction. The market forced her to continually re-price the house, trying to get it to move. The auction was sad as we stayed all day watching her things of many years being pawed over, sold for a song.

She called one day this week and told me the house had sold, that she should have a check the next day. Then in a couple of days her daughter called and said her mother had died.Jackie had struggled through selling that house to get things settled for her daughters. Then she went to the hospital with issues, asked for her pacemaker to be turned off, her medicines to be stopped, and called her daughters to gather around where she died with them near her bed. Jackie died the way she lived, with fierce determination and a thought out plan. Like Frank Sinatra’s song, she did it her way.

The girls found a sealed envelope their mother left for them with some last details and instructions. One of those instructions was to make sure I got any wild rice left in her apartment. I can’t believe that in those last few hours, Jackie thought of me and wild rice. As she died, the new family was moving into her house across the street. Whatever will be will be now, but I will miss her Christmas poinsettia that she always toted across the street for me during the holidays, the salmon she shared after fishing, even the calls for help, and I will never see wild rice quite the same again.

Saturdy Centus/ Heat in the Kitchen

Today I overslept and then awoke to rain, cold, and a funeral.  I opened up Centus and groaned when I saw I am not a chicken was the prompt--it had to be used in rhyme! I couldn't face this on such a dark day, but I rallied and gave it a try anyway. Leave it to Miss Jenny to perk up the darkest of days!

If you want the complete rules for entering the Centus fun, go to Jenny's blog at for details. Below is my own effort, weak at best, but at least I managed something today! Prompt is highlighted.

Heat in the Kitchen

Truly, I am not a chicken

When I am in the kitchen.
I use a cheese that is bleu
Or bravely dash in some wine too.

I will swirl in some basil or thyme
To any old recipe of mine.
Onions and garlic I’ll dice
For use in soups, casseroles, and rice.

I pause when reaching for red pepper
To make a hot and chili flavored supper,
Because hubby simply doesn’t savor
Zest and zing of such fiery flavors.

Then I go ahead… sprinkle in sizzling spice
Once in a while this chick tires of eating nice.
So I brave up to hubby’s bitchin’;
This chick takes charge of tastes in her kitchen!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Blurb for Lisa

After missing Saturday Centus last Saturday, not producing any great writing this week, and now facing the return of winter, it hasn't been an great week. But now it is time for Lisa's Friday Blurb...hey, some fun again. She has a newly designed badge and way to go Lisa...a tea pot is included! For full details, go to Lisa's blog ( where she posts a picture as a prompt for the book blurb. Below is my effort!

Doors to Tomorrow

Would she? Should she? How could she?

Katie Plano wanted change in her life, but she was a coward. She’d spent her entire lifetime going through the right doors of life, making safe decisions, doing the expected. She’d earned her college degree, prudent and predictable in education, and taught harmless first graders. She’d married the track star, birthed a precocious child, drove a gas saver car, and jogged regularly. Now at 49, she felt as empty as a rain gauge in a Kansas July.

Cal, her accountant husband, didn’t abuse her, deprived her of nothing, but he was boring. While he never criticized her, he seemed to just assume she would be there after school and on weekends like the newspaper on the front porch. She knew Cal loved her, but she wanted to be IN love again.

Hand on the doorknob of change, Katie entered.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Freeze? Again?

Oh, rats! The temperature is falling and frost warnings are out for tonight. Rain is on the way, a wintry mix is possible for the weekend. The almanac says our area is to have a snowstorm between the 24th and 28th. Oh, golly, oh gee....I was DONE with winter. But tonight I dragged in the fern, shut the drapes, turned up the furnace and now grumble.

I made a run to Wal-mart this morning so cooking supplies would be in for nasty weather. Tonight I made a new dish, Pushpa's Curry. I am not overly fond of curry, but this recipe was easy and fast and tasty. Although the original cook used lamb or monkey in the recipe, I don't care for mutton and the monkey market was closed today! It uses coconut, peppers, peas, and curry among other things. I found the recipe on my friend's new blog, Grandma's Orchard. Find the recipe and visit Kathleen at

I added a new Greek salad to the meal which was as good as Pushpa's Curry over rice. Really, I think any salad can be Greek when you toss in feta cheese, Kalamata olives and shake up a biting oil and vinegar dressing. I am so ready for fresher vegetables and salad fixings. I did find some nice radishes today. But oh, some nice tomatoes and cukes and food grown in real dirt...doesn't the idea of seeing the Farmer's Market again sound good! Until then, I guess I will keep those bean pots and vegetable soups going for the weekend. If it is cold outside, it will also still be tea and toast weather too. Bring on the butter! These hips can take it!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Book List

Do books bother you? I mean do they call to you, tap you on the shoulder, pull at your hemline like a toddler with sticky fingers? Do they send out sneering stares when you aren't reading them? To me, a stack of books can be like a boiling pot of water. The bubbles just roil and roll until you tend to the pan with pasta, or cereal, or just by turning down the fire. My office has a stack of books like a hot pan that is bugging me. I am hurrying but reading takes time--and some quiet for escape and concentration!

The book club is sending me their suggestions for next year right now. Oh, some look so good! But I can not think about them yet. We will study the list together and then weed it down to a manageable ballot for voting. That always takes us a lot of talk to reduce the first big list down to a ballot. We will do that the first week in April, but we will also discuss Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout. I fear my pals might not care for this book. I loved it! I read it once and then re-read it again this last week for book club. Olive puts me in the mind of Maxine of greeting card fame. She can be quite hateful and wicked in her remarks. But that is the reason I like this character. She is the best and worst of us all; none of us are entirely one side of the coin. Olive was a teacher in her life's work and yep, she scared some students and some hated her. Yet there were some who really "heard" her and learned life lessons as well as math. If you haven't read this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, give it a shot. I love Stout's presentation of Olive and her community in mini stories as opposed to chapters. I wish I could write so well!

I have also read Noah's Compass already for May book club. This is a novel by Anne Tyler, an author who writes in a very understated style. At first, I wondered if the story would ever go anywhere as it seemed to limp along in the first chapters. While the book never takes off to be a road burner, the story unfolds gently to leave the reader with a lot to think about. It was a pleasant and worthwhile read for sure.

Now I am reading three books at once. I try not to do this, but sometimes I just fall into to books and can't choose between them so I start them all. It is like looking at a menu in a nice restaurant. How do you decide between luscious and healthy salads, interesting ethnic entrees, or delicious specialties of the house? Well, you can't eat them all at once, but you can read bits and pieces from good books a little along.

I can not remember how I found the poet Anita Skeen, but I ordered her book Never the Whole Story. I like poems that have lots of emotion, many visual details, are about everyday experiences or feelings. Some of Skeen's poems have that lovely slice of life feel of Jane Kenyon's work. Listen as she captures the essence of buttons from her poem about the Button Bag. Can't you just feel these buttons?

                    They have all been somewhere, thumbed by someone.

                    Shoved through a woolen hole, slipped from a silk slit.

I am also reading about poetry in Disguised as a Poem by Judith Tannenbaum. This is non-fiction about the author's teaching poetry in San Quentin during the 1980's. She is honest that she learned as much as she taught. I think I would like to be involved in a program such as this Arts in the Prison one.

Also on my reading table is The Enemy Among Us by David Fiedler. This is also non-fiction about the POWs in Missouri during World War II. I live right between two of the busiest camps that were in the state. Another was south of St. Genevieve. It is so interesting how the POWs fit into Missouri life, what they left here in the way of cultural exchange. Did you realize  Missouri had POW camps? There were a total of 400,000 POW housed in the United States during the war years.

Rain is in the forecast so maybe I can weed my way through these books as there is a whole other stack in the closet that are new titles waiting for attention. I can hear them begin to moan and cry for me!

Monday, March 21, 2011


The only thing as good as seeing the grandkids is seeing the granddog! Storm came for the weekend while Second Son went to a St. Louis wedding. We hadn’t seen her since Christmas. She arrived on Friday night and we all ate Taco Town and watched movies together.

Saturday morning DH went off on a fence project, Second Son headed for St. Louis, and Storm and I went shopping. Of course we visited her favorite place afterwards, Sonic. Storm loves Sonic cups with icy water. We had hot dogs for lunch, but the gal had to hold the tray a minute until Sonic could get her first slurps of ice. She was so excited to see HER cup coming.

A thunderstorm blew up and we returned home for baking and reading, snatches of quiet afternoon. Then in the evening she chased a cat and trouble hit. In running she hurt her leg, a leg that had been tender during the winter. I worried and stewed all night long, and by morning I was a wreck since Storm wouldn’t use that hind leg. DH, in his farm wisdom that means animals take care of themselves and his male wisdom that means be manly tough and walk through any pain, said ignore it and the trouble would go away. But I could not stand it and took her to Doggie ER. Thank heavens for such a thing!

Storm has torn ligaments and needs surgery. The vet said it is not uncommon in dogs. She needs rest and to let the inflammation go down before doing anything. Son took her back to Wichita after getting over the shock. And being a typical male, he asked, “What will this cost?” I don’t know, but I do know Stormy is worth any and every dime. I love this dog.

I so miss having my own dog. This is the longest time in my life with no dog. I had one as a child and never was without the companionship of a dog until a few years ago when our 17 year old rescued dog faded away. I even had a dog for a while in college, sneaking him in until the landlord caught us. By then my dad loved the dog from weekend visits and took him for me, giving the dog a good home. However, feeling this terrible sick heart for Storm reminds me that the responsibility of a dog is great. I treat my dogs like family and therefore I can’t leave them outside in the cold, let them hunker in a dog house in the rain, leave them in a kennel while I travel. They sleep in my room and have been known to be on my bed. My dogs own me, body and soul. I wonder if I have the juice left to be a good dog owner? Well, the question is rhetorical at the moment. I can’t think of anything until Storm is running on all four again!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Taste of Spring

Holy Moley! It was 70 degrees here today and tomorrow it might hit 80! What a gift this day was after Monday’s frigid temps and a snow flurry. The robins were out checking for new nest real estate. Nothing like robin riffs floating in the air. In Missouri a certain number of robins stay for the winter but move to hedge rows and forested areas where they feed on fruits. But this time of year, they and their migrating cousins return ready to dive into moist earth for the gourmet meals of worms. I am glad they are back and wanted to turn over the bird baths for their water. But DH said we need to wait for at least two more weeks. Well, I guess if the almanac is correct, we have a big snow again near the 24th—next week!

But today was the last of winter Bible study and all of us were glad. Heavy Matthew was wearing thin with us especially with the sun shining today. After Bible I did a darting around Wal-Mart for some food items. It seems that food never ends at this house. Our new favorite is a parfait glass of fresh pears, blueberries, and strawberries topped with lemon yogurt. It is refreshing after pots and pots of those winter soups.

Then I spied Lowe’s Garden Center was open across the street. I could not make the car go on by; the wheels turned into the lot, and I had to steal some looks. Oh, I wanted to bring so many things home, but I didn’t dare. However I did get some pansies to replace the Hens and Chicks that my mean squirrels dug up and ate this winter. There is not ONE left. I welcomed the pansy faces for color and know they can take the cold. I also bought one fern to start the season because I know they too can survive down to 28 degrees. And I can bring in one mere fern for overnight if need be. Today I needed the new life on the deck.

My friend had just given me this delightful bench she had bought and changed her mind on using herself. I have such nice friends, and they contribute many things to my deck. I think of my deck as a communal outdoor living room! Can’t wait until it is tea time out there too!

I carried out some books today but never got a thing read. Distractions of all kinds kept my mind busy and the warm sun—well, it gave me spring fever. However, I want to tell you about a new publication that was in my mailbox that I know I am going to love when I get to it. Someone posted on their blog about submitting to First Line. They are now open for submissions until May, 2011. They give you the first starter line and you finish a piece of fiction for them. For full details go to My issue cost $3 and the first line of all the pieces in the pages is “Sam is a loyal employee”. The publication is just the right size for sticking in your pocket and taking along or maybe reading on your deck.         

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Passing the Baton

March brings on its own agenda. There is the washing the undercarriage of cars to swish away the salt and cinders of winter. There are the endless basketball games called March Madness for a very good reason! I have to schedule any television use and arrange meals around those dribbling teams. The games don’t interest me a bit, but I use the time to cram in reading one more good book from my winter reading list. Then there is the nightmare of taxes that have to be worked up in March. Every year that season activity starts in March with one DH’s questions. Something that goes like, “Where is that little scrap of yellow paper I wrote some numbers on last summer and said I wanted to keep for 2011?”

Every season brings us humans some new compliant. We put away the snow cries only to replace it with moans about wind, tornadoes, and spring showers. Today was a beauty though and you could see folks stepping out on porches, walking out to the corner posts of fences, gazing up into the sky wondering how long the exquisite weather would last. I too sauntered out in the yard where I spied these tiny lilac buds showing the teeniest bit of purple waiting to unfurl when spring truly arrives. I saw the lilies pushing up, a wee tad of new mum leaves at the base of brittle plants from last fall, and the maple trees are loaded with minuscule leaf buds that will terrorize us in the future with helicopter seeds. I took down the snowman flag and replaced the winter scene mailbox cover with an Easter bunny one.

Then I came inside and worked with a spring cleaning mindset, although to look around one would wonder what I had done. I cleaned one laundry room cabinet bringing the deck place mats and some flower vases a little closer to the front. Then I tackled my office closet where I finally trashed the rest of my teaching supplies. I had weeded and cleaned them before, but today I accepted that a once so important part of my life is gone-over for good. I filed in that now empty container my published writings which had grown like Topsy and was spilling over my desk drawers. When I actually gathered it all up to file, I was shocked to see what I had produced. I hope when my children have to weed that closet again someday, they say, “Well, golly, that woman was in that office WORKING!”

Then in the middle of the afternoon I had to stop my weeding and cleaning, don a black suit and join another friend to say goodbye to our friend Callye. We met Callye at Welcome Wagon, let’s see, about 30 years ago. She was fun, laughed a lot, went to my church, and was older than we were. We raised kids as she faced a retiring husband who became ill and died. My friend and Callye reconnected as widows, sharing burdens of being alone. Callye moved to a duplex, joined a bridge club (oh she was serious about bridge!), and began to date a man from church who ended up breaking her heart.

I began to include Callye in some tea parties here. Oh, she always came carrying her delicious homemade cinnamon rolls though she was told to bring nothing. Once she had three of us at her small place for a mini tea party. No matter where Callye was, there was laughter. Italian Catholic from the East Coast she brought LIFE with her when she moved here years ago. The last couple of years, we have lamented that we did not have tea parties often enough, that we needed a new dose of Callye, that we would make time soon. We waited too long.

Callye was hit by a malignant brain tumor and before anyone could even deal with that news in this horrid winter, she was gone. Today Father Bill recalled that Callye had started some social concerns activities at the church, and when she got some years on her could not do what she once had done in the projects. She said to him, “Time to for a change. Time to pass it on.” Father Bill said Callye knew that our lives were like a race where runners handed the baton to the runner passing them. She knew when it was time to pass the baton but still relished living in wahtever new stage life gave her.

I came home to Cindy Dagnan’s newsletter where she said that she had already decorated for spring and is cleaning and weeding for the new season…yet she mourned tossing out her children’s too small clothes and outgrown toys because this meant an ending as well as a beginning. Her children were growing up. Cindy also included her monthly scripture verse which was: “We are merely moving shadows and all our busy rushing ends in nothing…and so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.” Psalm 39:6a,7 NLT

Callye we will miss you, but you taught us not to miss you in our tomorrows but to relish the memories of you in our yesterdays. Thanks for teaching us how to pass on that baton too.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book blurb/Leaving Trees

This writing a book blurb isn't at easy as it sounds. Maybe I will get better if I keep working with Lisa's Book Blurb Friday. Today I can't get Blogger to even cooperate with posting the picture. So for info on Book Blurb Friday, other writers' enteries, AND the picture this week, please visit Lisa at Writing in the Buff.

Leaving Trees

From the wagon’s bench seat, she looked back for a last glimpse of hickory, Osage orange and sycamore that lined the creek bank. Her baby was buried under spreading branches of the tall oak. She knotted her kerchief and faced west as Asa said, “De war over. We leaving these Missouri trees for good, Maizey.”

With that, they headed for the Kansas plains near the Solomon River where she heard there wasn’t a tree to be found. How could they live in a hole in the ground? How would she survive summer heat without green leaves to shade her nappy head? No branches for birdsong, no squirrel chatter overhead, not even dead leaves for snakes to hide under.

So much would be different now, including freedom, in the new Black settlement of Nicodemus, Kansas. But she rode out to meet the challenges leaving behind her beloved trees.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tea Cup Tuesday/Limoges

It is Teacup Tuesday Time again....please visit Martha to link your own tea cup today!


One day last week, DH and I had a long day after a sleepless night. We put 200 miles on our bodies taking care of extended family business. It was stressful but all came out well. In the one lone hour between two appointments, we killed the time in a ratty little flea market that looked more like a many times run garage sale. I should not even have been looking because I don’t “need” more, but there it was on the shelf. It didn’t catch my eye, but the 25% off sign did so I looked closer. The cup was pretty, and I love pink roses, but I had several at home. Then I picked up this delicate bone china to see its mark was Limoges, France. Well, I had to have that since I had no Limoges representative in my stash of cups!

Nearby was another pink rose plate from Bavaria. It was so cheap and works with the cup too if necessary so it came home.

One more piece traveled back to Missouri too, and I am not sure why. The aqua border is not a color that speaks to me, but the interior of the tiny plate had some nice blue shades. It was when I picked it up that I was sold. Something about the solid feel in my hands was comforting. It too is bone china by Royal Worchester from the early 1960’s. A little big for a butter pat and too small for a saucer, what was this dish used for? Could this be an ash tray?

The weather still has chilly days, and wind and rain will be March marks. But I stand at the sliding door, my eyes lingering over the table, chairs, and empty flower pots on the deck. Oh, I hunger for nice days and a tea party soon!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Saturday Centus/Decision

How can another week be gone again? But it is and that means Saturday Centus time once more! The prompt this week is everything depended on this single card. It did not take me too long to picture the card and the scene came even faster once I put Charlie's name to it.Charlie was one who answered call, but he came home never erasing the horrors he saw there.

For full Saturday Centus rules, visit Jenny's site at:


Charlie’s sweaty palm made the heavy paper curl in his fist. Everything depended upon this single card. He flipped his longish locks back of his ears and watched the fire build, heard the rants and chants.

Scenes of Lincoln’s portrait in the fifth grade classroom, the words “country tis of thee”, the photo of Dad standing on a tank in bombed Berlin, and Fourth of July sprays of color showering the night sky flooded his head. Suddenly someone threw in the flag and cheers roared.

He knew what he had to do and slipped the moist draft card into his pocket and left the rally.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rainy Day Books

Does Blogger giveth and then taketh away? One blogger was gone and then four more appeared. Woo Hoo, how nice to have four new followers. Welcome Ellie, Dominic, Margo, and Lynn!

It is a rainy March day, the kind of gentle rain that moistens things but not enough volume to race in the gutter. I hear cars roll down the street, the wet tires splashing against the pavement. Non-threatening thunder rumbles in the distance and there is something comforting about this moderate rain. Maybe it is making the arms of the earth unfold and cease shuddering with cold chills. The jonquils and crocus might appear and when the rain stops, maybe we will hear birdsong again. I do know the days are starting to grow longer, light lingers later 5:00 p.m. now.

The week has been hectic and trying so a quiet day today was a pleasant reward for all the previous bustle. In addition to four new followers, the day offered an editor nibbling on a story of mine, the mail with an actual handwritten personal note, a phone chat with a friend since college full of nostalgic thoughts, and some blog reading. It all made the day a nice rainy rest. In between times, I curled up with a good escape book. Nothing like a good story on a rainy day!

The last event of the week was book club yesterday. We had missed in February due to snow, so we actually did two books yesterday. Our classic was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie written in 1961 or so. Everyone agreed the book started slow but in the middle they realized they were learning something about the power of manipulation. Group average rated it between a 6 and 7 overall, but all agreed they were glad they had read it.

The second book was Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls. Most readers had read The Glass Castle, the author’s earlier book, on their own. While the book was easy reading and entertaining, everyone agreed that some of the events seemed too stretched to be realistic. Again the group average fell between a 6 and 7. Walls is a good writer; she can tell stories. But she gets so involved in her own tales that they sometimes sneak over to the fairy tale genre.

March usually opens up the book choice discussion for the following year. We take the summer off due to vacations, visitors, and travel so we make up the next year’s reading list before we break in the spring, allowing members to buy their books ahead for the next year. This year we are way off schedule. The members will email suggestions in the next couple of weeks, and I will assemble a list for us to discuss at the April meeting. While the members usually have tons of book suggestions ahead, so many as to be a problem, this year readers have not been so enticed by new books. It will be interesting to see what appears on our list.

Next month we read Olive Kitteridge, a Pulitzer winning novel. It will be a reread for me, but I am still looking forward to it. First I have to finish the new Jodi Piccoult novel and The Lady in the Palazzo, a memoir by Marlena de Blasi about her life in Umbria region of Italy. (She wrote A Thousand Days in Venice.)

What is on YOUR spring book list?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Book Blurb Friday

Lovely here today, but spring is like a petulant toddler leaving her favorite store. She will come for sure only when she is truly ready. In the meantime, Blogger tells me I have lost a follower. That is understandable as there is nothing profound on my blog, but then again, I wish I could be sure there was nothing offensive here either. I would hope that if there ever is anything offending, the reader would say so for a correction or maybe an explanation. I know I can not read every blog every day myself. Maybe a follower just had to “sort and weed” her blog list, but I’ll never know.

So, over at Lisa’s blog there is a new activity as Book Blog Friday started today. She will post a picture and in 150 words or less, readers should write a blog for an imaginary new book from the picture. I think this first picture is a hard one (see at left), and what I wrote is pretty trite. However, I wanted to participate and this was best I could do now, hoping I can get into the swing and do better as time goes along. If you want to participate, please visit Lisa at:

Eye on the Prairie

Successful attorney Samantha Jiles suspected she could be the best cattle rancher in Western Kansas, and when Grandpa Nelson left her prime acres, she finally had a chance to prove it. Sam missed open prairies, wind in her hair instead of soot in her eyes, and she now could go home to sniff real money in cattle.

At the same time, Arch Dunlop of the Double D was gearing up to unseat her dreams. He knew a gal in Jimmy Choos was no match for him and son Darren when it came to ranching, even though she was of Kansas stock. The Double D wanted that Flint Hill pasture for grazing more cattle making them the biggest outfit in Chase County. They just had to convince Miss New York City to sell out.

Would Sam lose her ranch, her heart to the cowboy son, or both?