Thursday, December 27, 2007

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I hope many of you saw the beautiful full moon on Christmas Eve. I tried to take photographs of it that would do it some justice, but it was difficult, since I was leaning out the sun room window, and was hampered by some tree branches. I even saw, Mars, right below the moon, but it doesn't show up in the pictures.

I should have gone outside and stood in the middle of the field, to get some clear shots, but earlier I had heard a pack of coyotes howling near-by, and thought I'd better not chance it.

Christmas 2007 was merry and bright and blessed with family and good friends. Not all my family was here in person, but we were together in our hearts. And we spent some time visiting by telephone.

Oh, and there were presents galore; my kids and grand kids like to spoil me. I am very blessed, because at some time in our lives, there were difficult circumstances, but it has only strengthened us as a family, and I thank God for that.

Christmas morning church service was more beautiful than ever, and brought me to tears, as it always does. Joining the choir and the congregation in singing the beautiful Christmas Hymns, I thought back of Christmases when I was a child; Christmases when my children were small, and the celebration of the birth of our Lord, and as usual, I was overcome with mixed emotions: Nostalgia and Joy!

But Christmas 2007 is over, and now I'm looking forward to 2008. I hope everyone had a joyful Christmas, and may the New Year bring countless blessings and many good surprises to each and everyone of us!
(I love good surprises, don't you?)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Unexpected Gifts

When we arrived in the refugee camp in Austria, after fleeing our war-torn country Hungary
just a few weeks before Christmas of 1947, I was 11 and had become resigned to not having much.

The refugee camp, with its wooden barracks, and dusty lanes, was pretty drab. But we had a warm place to sleep, warm food to eat, and were outfitted with warm clothes donated towards the refugee effort from various generous-minded countries like the United States, Canada and Great Britain. So we considered ourselves pretty fortunate. Plus we had some of the most beautiful views available, free to anyone who wished to look, since the camp was located in one of the most scenic areas of Austria-Carinthia.

As Christmas approached, the refugee camp school I attended made plans to help us celebrate the holiday as a group. In the barracks where we lived, our private spaces were tiny cubicles, where we slept. There was no room for individual celebrations. But the school had a large auditorium, where a donated Christmas tree was set up. We children created hand made ornaments, which we used to decorate the tree. There were even candles on the tree, to be lit on Christmas Eve–just like in Hungary, before the war. We stayed busy rehearsing a school play that was to be presented on Christmas Eve. I had a small part as the angel who announces the birth of the Savior to the shepherds. I was very pleased and excited about the part.

On Christmas Eve afternoon, my grandparents and I decided to take a walk to the small town of Spittal, just a few miles away from the camp. Grandfather felt that even though we had no money to buy anything, taking in the Christmas sights and smells would be worth the walk. The town's cobbled streets, with its many small shops were decorated with fir branches, and small trees in shop windows glowed with lit candles. People were hustling and bustling, getting last-minute things for the holiday, and wishing each other "Froliche Weinachten."

We stopped in front of the bakery, and inhaled the delicious smells coming out of it each time someone opened the door. I gazed at the napoleons, displayed in the window, my mouth watering. "Oh, they must taste so delicious," I said wistfully.

"And that poppy-seed cake looks wonderful, too," Grandmother sighed.

"Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea," Grandfather said sadly. "Now everyone is hungry for something they can not have."

"But who is to say that you can not have a napoleon, or some of that poppy-seed cake?" a voice behind us asked. As I turned around, a woman in a fur coat and hat took my hand.

"Come on, let us all go into the bakery."

"Oh, no!" I protested, trying to pull my hand out of hers. But she wouldn’t let go, and inside the bakery, bought a large napoleon square and a horseshoe-shaped cake just for us.

"Froliche Weinachten," she called out merrily, then disappeared into a crowd of people. A Christmas angel in a fur coat!

On the way back to the refugee camp, as I sank my teeth into that delicious, custard-filled napoleon and got powdered sugar all over myself, I felt very blessed. Although we lived in a refugee camp, my grandparents and I had much to be thankful for.

That evening, Christmas Eve, the candles on the community Christmas tree were lit, and all the adults came to watch our Christmas play. Everyone remembered their lines, and the choir sang some beautiful, Hungarian Christmas songs. Many people had tears in their eyes. And if that wasn’t enough, each of the children were given a present from underneath the tree.

When I opened mine, I found a pair of pink, fuzzy mittens and matching scarf in the box, and inside one of the mittens, there was a little note, written in English: "Merry Christmas from Mary Anne in Buffalo, New York, United States of America." Imagine that! A gift from a girl all the way in America! I wondered how old she was, what she looked like, and what she liked to do. I couldn’t help but think of her as I drifted off to sleep that night.

When I awoke on Christmas morning, the sun was shining brightly. I heard noises coming through the thin wooden boards of the barrack.

"Good morning, sweetheart. Merry Christmas," Grandmother said cheerily.

"Why is there so much noise out there already?" I asked sleepily, rubbing my eyes.

"Well, I guess some early rising children are enjoying all the newly fallen snow."

"Oh, did it snow?" I asked, leaping from the cot and reaching for some warm clothes to put on. "How wonderful! Where is Grandfather?"

"He and some of the other men are shoveling some paths, so people can go for their breakfast, and then to church."

Within seconds, I was out there, too, marveling at nature’s power to turn a drab refugee camp into a pristine, winter wonderland!

Soon, the surrounding, snow-covered hills were filled with squealing Austrian children, sledding down those hills in their new Christmas sleds, or flying down on their new skis. Meanwhile, refugee camp children built snow men, had snowball fights, and made snow angels, squealing with just as much delight. Nature's gift of snow was free for everyone to enjoy!

As I stood there and gazed at the beautiful snow covered mountains, my heart filled with joy and I said a quick prayer of thanks. For those few days in 1947, it didn’t matter that we were in a refugee camp. From the angel in the fur coat who bought us pastries, to the candles on the Christmas tree, the joyful school play, the unexpected presents, and the fluffy white snow, God had made our holiday extra special.


Have a Merry and Blessed Christmas, everyone! Thank you for visiting and reading my little story. God bless you!

"Unexpected Gifts" was first published in, Whispers from Heaven Magazine, in 2002. Copyright by Renie Burghardt

The picture of the snow covered mountains is of a mountain range in Carinthia, Austria, courtesy of

My Two New Awards

It's a mild but rainy Thursday morning in the woods. I thought it's a good morning to show you my two newest awards. They are both from sweet, Karen at Karen's Korner. Thank you Karen for the beautiful "Your Blog is a Treasure" award and the cute "Bodacious Blog" award. I appreciate you thinking of me, and will post these awards on my side bar after Christmas, along with the other three awards waiting to be posted. In turn, I would love to give these two awards to all the wonderful friends that take time out of their day to visit here. You are all Treasures, and you're all Bodacious, and I am thankful for your visits and comments! Please pick them up, if you'd like to have them, and display them on your site.

Tomorrow morning I will attempt to post my Christmas blog. Have a wonderful day, as you are getting ready for the holiday.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

No Snow In My Neighborhood!

The weather predictions for Saturday were ominous, with freezing rain and snow in the forecast. Well, we had torrential rains all day, but by the time the temperatures dropped to freezing, late at night, most of the moisture was gone. Oh, we did get a dusting of snow, but that melted as soon as the sun came out this morning. So, no snow in my neighborhood, to take beautiful pictures of. (Thank goodness!) But it was a beautiful, sunny day, and I decided to take some pictures anyway.

The small pond is at the northern edge of the field. It isn't a fancy pond, it is a wildlife pond. Behind the pond are the woods. The pond, field and woods are a nice habitat for the wildlife that live around here. And the birds always find water to drink or bathe in.

The field is east of the house, and it is where the deer and wild turkeys like to congregate. Behind the field are some more woods.

The grass is brown nowadays, and some of the oaks which hang on to their leaves until spring, are somewhat drab, but I like my snow-less landscape. It has its own "rustic" charm.

Of course, it never fails. Whenever I'm outside, the deer appear. Here is a doe and her teen aged fawn, posing for me nicely.

And here comes another doe with her twin fawns. The fawns will hang out with "mom" even after she has new "kids," next spring, and even after they give birth to their own young. The bucks stay with "mom" for about a year, after that they join the "boys," who usually hang out together in the woods.

I hope you enjoyed my "snow-less" pictures.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rustic Charmers of the Past

Tucked away in a corner of our small town is the Heritage Homestead, with it's rustic charmers of the past. Since today was the first rain free day in a week around here, I decided to snap a few pictures of them. Above is the Patterson Family Cabin, built in 1867. This cabin was located out in the country originally, near where I live, but was moved to town to grace the, Heritage Homestead. Decorated with festive red bows for the holidays, I hear it is the place where Santa will be visiting with the local kids, Saturday, after our Christmas Parade.( If Mother Nature cooperates, that is. Rumor has it that we're in for some nasty weather by Saturday; a rumor started by our weatherman!)

This rustic little log cabin reminds me of, Laura, and the clan from the Little House TV series!

Of course, on every homestead of the past, there always was a rustic log barn as well. This one was built sometime in the late 1800s, sports some hand- hewn logs, and is an oldie but goodie!

The side of the barn sports a "garage" of sorts, for the buggy. It looks like it's waiting to be hitched to the horses, to take the family to town.

Behind the barn and it's neighboring Blacksmith Shop, some old farm machinery is on display. Of course, I should have zoomed in on them, so they could be distinguished as such, but maybe you'll take my word for it. There is some old farm machinery back there!
The last photo above is of the old Blacksmith Shop. The owner and long time resident blacksmith, Tom Kennon, operated his shop into the early 1980s, when he was already quite elderly. I hear he was a man who loved his job!

I hope you have enjoyed this peek at some of the rustic charmers in our area. And I hope everyone is well, and ready for Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Remembering A War-Time Christmas

This little story was first published in Midwest Living Magazine in 2001, when it was one of the winners in their Christmas Memories contest. I hope you enjoy it.

In my homeland of Hungary in 1944, World War II played havoc with everyone’s lives, especially during the holidays. My grandparents, who were raising me, and I had traveled by horse and wagon throughout the countryside searching for safer surroundings, along with hundreds of other people.

In December, after settling into a small house in a city , my grandmother, who didn’t want me to be too disappointed, told me we would have to observe Christmas mainly in our hearts that year, without a tree or gifts. But I prayed to God every night, and had much hope in my heart that our Christmas would be special, just like it had been in the past, when things were still good in our country. At age eight, I still believed in the magic of Christmas!

Air-raid sirens sounded frequently at night in that time of fear and strife, often forcing us to sit in the dark, praying, until danger passed.

However, Christmas Eve arrived quietly, with no war-planes buzzing, and no air-raid sirens going off. And somehow, to my great surprise, my grandparents had managed to get a small Christmas tree, and set it up ablaze with candles and a few strands of tinsel and sweets, in our tiny parlor. And wonder of wonders, there were even a few presents, with my name on them, under the tree. The Christmas Angel had come, despite the war, bringing gifts from the Baby Jesus, like on other Christmas Eves in the past.

That night for supper, we ate noodles covered with poppy seed and honey, the traditional Christmas Eve supper, then gathered around our glowing little tree to quietly sing Christmas hymns, and Grandpa read the story of the first Christmas, from the Bible, as he had always done in the past.

Then I opened my presents, and I found a bright red scarf, mittens and a jaunty, upturned hat just waiting to be tried on. (Years later, I learned that my grandmother had unraveled one of her old woolen sweaters, dyed the wool a bright red and crocheted my gifts while I was at school.)

I went to church that Christmas morning with a joyful heart, wearing my bright red woolens, and I thanked God for giving us a very special Christmas, despite the war.

There have been many wonder filled Christmases since that Christmas of 1944, but none have been quite as special as that humble, war-time Christmas!
Peace! Love! and Joy! to everyone this Christmas!
A War-Time Christmas, Copyright 2001 by Renie Burghardt

Thursday, December 6, 2007

December Sunrise in the Woods

There was a beautiful sunrise in the woods, this morning, so I braved the chilly temperatures (24F) and took some pictures of it.

December 6th is the Feast of St. Nicholas in Europe. In Hungary, we called him Mikulas Bacsi. Santa Claus was not a part of our Christmases.

Mikulas Bacsi came on the Eve of St. Nicholas, dressed in the robes of a bishop, with a red miter on his head, a staff in one hand and a sack full of small presents in the other. He didn't come on a sleigh, pulled by some raindeer. He was accompanying by a scary "Devil" boy, or Krampusz, in a black costume, complete with horns and a long tail. He usually held a switch made of dry twigs, ready to smack any "naughty" children.
Each "good" child received a small gift and some sweets from Mikulas Bacsi.

I like the American Santa Claus better!

Christmas cheers and blessings!

Monday, December 3, 2007

My Christmas Partridge

This is my little ring necked dove, posing for me as my Christmas partridge. Isn't he cute?

In 1987, my friend Vivian, who raised these sweet doves, gave me a pair of them as a gift, along with a sizable cage built by one of her sons. They were so cute, and I loved their cooing and giggling, and docile, sweet nature.

Luckily for me, the two doves turned out to be two males, so I didn't end up with more partridges than I could handle! And the two were great friends and cage mates for 18 years.

Unfortunately, one of the doves flew over the Rainbow Bridge, almost two years ago, at the age 18. It was sad to find him one morning, fluffed up at the bottom of the cage, no longer breathing.

I worried about my remaining little dove. Would he be lonely by himself? Thank goodness he seems to be doing very well on his own, still cooing and laughing, at the ripe old age of 20!

Here he is sitting in my fern plant, as my "Partridge in a Fern Tree, " cooing a Merry Christmas, to everyone!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Twelve Questions Of Christmas

Hootin'Anni is hosting a wonderful Christmas Meme. Here is what she said about this meme:

For the holiday season, I've started a meme. "The Twelve Questions of Christmas" If you'd like to participate, I'd be honored to have you join in the fun. If you'd like, you are welcomed to use the meme header graphic!

To get into the spirit of the season, I have decided to participate. Thank you, Anni ! So here are the questions and my answers:

1. Christmas is Joy. [fill in the blank with ONE WORD]

2. In memories, what was the best part of your Christmases past?

Seeing my children's faces on Christmas morning, going to church as a family, Christmas dinner with the family, were all a wonderful part of our Christmases.

3. Was Santa ever good to you? [describe how and what]

On my first Christmas in America in 1951, Santa brought me a very special gift, a tiny orange tabby kitten! Since I had lost my 19 year old cat on Christmas Day in 1945, I was overjoyed with this special gift in 1951.

4. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both?

We always opened gifts on Christmas Day morning, when my children were little, but these days, I often open mine on Christmas Eve, like I used to as a child in Hungary.

5. Is there something you make each and every year? [craft or recipe]

We used to bake lots of Christmas cookies and breads and cakes. But my kids' favorite were the Walnut Butterballs, or Snowballs, as they used to call them.

Walnut Butter Balls /Snow Balls
1 c. unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sifted flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tasp. salt
1 c. finely chopped walnuts
powdered sugar

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Sift together flour and salt and add to creamed mixture. Mix well to make a soft dough. Stir in walnuts. Shape into 1 inch balls. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 about 12 to 15 minutes until slightly brown. While cookies are still warm, roll in sifted powdered sugar. Makes 4 dozen cookies. Enjoy!

6. What is your favorite five[5] Christmas songs/hymns?

I love them all, so it's hard to chose, but the top five would be:

1. O Come All Yea Faithful (Adeste Fidelis) (It always moves me to tears.)

2. Silent Night

3. O Holy Night

4. What Child Is This

5. I'll Be Home for Christmas

7. Is there a new tradition for Christmas since your childhood days?

Christmas in Hungary was very different from here. So all the traditions we followed here, are different, except for always going to church on Christmas Day.

8. Describe one of your Christmas trips. [whether it's across town or across country]

When my children were young, we often spent Christmases in Florida, where they swam in the pool or ocean, while Christmas music played in the background. It was enjoyable, but we missed Christmases at home.

9. Do you have a special Christmas outfit to wear for the day?

Not really, except I try to wear something red and festive!

10. Have YOU or any of your family members sat on Santa's lap?

Oh, my yes! Santa's lap was a Christmas season tradition!

11. What is/or will be on your Christmas tree this year?

Old ornaments from years ago, along with some newer ones acquired more recently.

12. Do you/or have you decorated your yard for Christmas?

When the kids were young, we always decorated the yard, and had lights on the bushes around the house, but these days, I don't do any of it, except for the Merry Christmas sign. The colorful birds that come to the feeders, and the deer and wild turkeys around here are my wonderful live decorations. And I always have special treats for all of them on Christmas.

If you would like to participate in The Twelve Questions of Christmas Meme, just follow the link to Hootin'Anni's blog, and then follow her instructions.

Christmas Blessings to one and all!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Another Special Award!

My dear friend, Leann has just given me this very beautiful award. Here is what Leann said, "here is a award for renie; its a "you made my day award..from the eagles nest. "
Leann, I'm honored to receive your beautiful award. You are a talented photographer, and a very special lady. Thank you very much, and God bless you!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Two New, Very Cute Awards

Karen at Karen's Korner has graciously passed on to all her blogging friends, including me , these two new , very cute awards that she had received. Karen is a true blue blogging buddy and friend. Thank you very much, Karen.
I would love to pass this on to all blogging buddies that come and visit and comment here. I appreciate every one of you!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Sad Part Of Living In The Woods

A sad entry today about a terrible incident that happened here this morning. First of all, I was still a bit depressed about my daughter and family leaving. That usually takes a week or so to recover from. And as I was outside performing some morning chores, thinking how much Hannah liked to help me with them when she was here, I heard a terrible noise coming from the woods behind the pond. Some animal crying out for help.

I had never heard that sound before, so I didn't know what it was, but I did know it was a cry of distress, and it wasn't in the distance either.

I picked up my walking stick that I like to carry with me when walking in the woods, and made sure my phone was in my pocket. Then, accompanied by my now barking little mop of a dog, Midgie, went running towards the sound, which had by then turned into screams of anguish.

As we reached the woods, I saw them. Two coyotes tearing at the flesh of a still living, but badly hurt young buck. I screamed at the coyotes and waved my stick, and at the same time ordered Midgie, who was about to go after the coyotes, to stay by me. I didn't want her to think she could chase the coyotes away on her own. You know how small dogs sometimes think of themselves as mighty dog.

Fortunately, my screeching and stick waving scared the coyotes off, and the young buck laid there, bloody but still alive. I wanted so badly to help him, but I knew there was nothing I could do for him.

With tears streaming down my face, I called our Game Warden, and could barely talk from the sobs that overtook me. He told me he'd be here in 15 or 20 minutes, and of course, he was.

When he arrived and we walked to the woods, I asked him to please wait until Midgie and I were back in the house before he did what he had to. But, of course, we heard the shot that finally put the young buck out of his misery.

Apparently, the buck had been shot by a hunter, but got away, and made it to my woods, somehow, until he collapsed, and was found by the coyotes.

So, I have felt quite sad all day, and thought finally, maybe if I write about the incident, I will feel some relief. Nature is beautiful but cruel at the same time.

Lord forgive me for thinking badly of hunters and hunting. I know it's necessary, but at this moment, there is hate in my heart!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Birthday Week and Gifts of the Heart

Besides Thanksgiving, this is also birthday week at my house. First, Nichole's birthday on the 20th, then mine, on the 25th. So in honor of birthday week, and since writing something new this busy week, is impossible, I thought I'd post an old birthday story, instead. I hope you enjoy it. An the photo is of me at 2 years of age. It's the only photograph of me that survived the war with us.

A Grandma's Gift of the Heart

My eleventh birthday was a week away when we arrived at the refugee camp in Austria on that cold November day in 1947. My grandparents and I had fled our Soviet-occupied country of Hungary with only the clothes we were wearing.

To frightened, cold, and hungry people like us, the displaced persons camp was a blessing from God. We were given our own little cardboard-enclosed cubicle in a barrack, fed hot soup, and supplied with warm clothes. We had much to be grateful for. But as for my upcoming birthday, I didn’t even want to think about it. We had left Hungary without possessions or money, but we were still alive. That was the important thing. So I put birthday presents and celebrations behind me.

My grandmother was the only mother I had ever known because her only child, my mother, had died suddenly when I was just a few weeks old. Before World War II intensified, my birthdays had been grand celebrations with many cousins in attendance and lots of gifts.

My eighth birthday had been the last time I received a store-bought gift. Times were already hard then, money was scarce, and survival our utmost goal. But Grandma had managed to pawn something so she could buy me a book. I loved it! Cilike’s Adventures, a wonderful book full of humor and adventure, had transported me many times from the harshness of the real world to a world of laughter and fun.

On November 25, when I awoke in our cardboard cubicle, I laid there and thought about being eleven. I was practically a grown-up, I told myself, and I would act accordingly when my grandparents awoke. I didn’t want them to feel bad because they couldn’t give me a present. So I dressed quickly and tiptoed out as quietly as possible. I ran across the frosty dirt road to the barrack marked "women’s bathroom and shower," washed, combed my hair, and finally returned to our cardboard sleeping quarters.

"Good morning, sweetheart! Happy birthday," Grandpa greeted me cheerily.

"Thank you, but I’d just as soon forget about birthdays from now on." I squirmed in his generous hug.

"You are too young to forget about birthdays," Grandma said. "Besides, who would I give this present to if birthdays are to be forgotten?"

"Present?" I looked at her in surprise as she reached into her pocket and pulled something out.

"Happy birthday, sweetheart. It’s not much of a present, but I thought you might like having Cilike back on your eleventh birthday," she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

"My old Cilike book! But I thought we left it behind," I said. I hugged the book to my chest while tears of joy flowed down my cheeks.

"Well, it almost was," Grandma said. "But when we had to leave so quickly in the middle of the night, I grabbed it, along with my prayer book, and stuck it in my pocket. I knew how much you loved that book, so I couldn’t bear to leave it behind. I’m sorry it’s not a new book, but I hope you like having it back."

"Oh, thank you, Grandma! Having Cilike back means so much to me. So very much." I hugged her again. "It’s the best birthday present I ever received!"

The gift of that old book was a miracle, to me, and I realized that day that God had blessed me with a wonderful grandmother, whose love would always see me through the hard times. And most importantly, she taught me that gifts of the heart are always the best gifts, because they truly are gifts of love.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Bit of Good News

I have a bit of good writing news to share. Two new articles online have just been posted.

Paprikash Soup- A Hungarian Comfort Food, is up, here:

And my old essay Changing Course-Living Alone, is posted here:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessings!


For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food,

For love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating the holiday.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy 18th Birthday, Nichole!!

She is lovely and she is smart, and extremely nice, too. She is and has always been my Honey-Bunny! She is my oldest granddaughter, Nichole, and Nichole is celebrating her 18th birthday today!

Happy Birthday, Nichole!

I love you, and am very proud of you!

Have a wonderful day on your special 18th birthday, and I will see you tomorrow here, and we will continue celebrating together!

Love you a bunch!


Monday, November 19, 2007

My Special Gift from Audrey!

My sweet friend, Audrey has presented me with this beautiful, I'm Fabulous award! I am awed and honored to receive this special award. Thank you very much, Audrey. You are pretty fabulous, yourself.

There are so many Fabulous blogging friends who deserve this award much more than myself. However, I am passing it on to three of them, this morning.

First, to my old friend, Mary, who already has oodless of awards on her writing nook, but this award is for her that is also fabulous and deserves this lovely award.

And to Leann, who has a big heart and a loving soul and is one of my favorite ladies in blogland.

And last but not least, to Karen, who is a new blogging friend with wonderful Christian, family values and a friendly spirit.

Congratulations ladies! I hope you enjoy your well deserved award.
And forgive me if I'm not doing this as professionally as I should. I'm a slow learner!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Falling Leaves and Turkeys Gobblin'!

Since my little camera is cooperating once again, I thought I'd post first, this photo I just took of my front yard. The leaves are covering most of the front, and most of my driveway as well, even though there are still plenty of leaves left on the trees.
Just think of all the fun my visiting company will have next week, raking leaves! LOL.
And in the field, wild turkeys are gobblin'. Since, like the deer, the turkeys show up in my field regularly these days, my granddaughters will enjoy seeing them.
Deer season ends Sunday, thank goodness. Peace and quiet will return to the woods. Until the girls get here , and fill the woods with whooping and laughter.
Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm Confessing!

Okay, while my little camera is refusing to transfer pictures to my PC today again, I had to come up with an alternative subject to blog about. So, I decided to do some confessing, with a recent, perturbed looking, confessing type of picture of me to go along with it. Haha! I'm in a silly mood, so why not?
Ten days ago, I sold a short inspirational piece to, True Confession Magazine, for their, That’s Incredible Department. I even forget what the title of my piece was, and I can’t seem to find my record of it. But it will be published in January 2008, so I guess I will find out what it was when I see it in print. (Got to read that Organized Writer book, one of these days!)

I have written for the Confession market many times. I have had stories in various Departments like, How I know I’m in Love, The Life I Live, My Moment With God, Women Are Wonderful, The Experience of a Lifetime, etc. I have, in the past, even written full length confession stories. But I usually don’t like to tell people about my secret life as a confession writer. Not because the stories are risque, in any sense, but because people think of them that way. But to a freelance writer, they are just another paying market!

I remember when I sold my first, full length confession story, and debated whether I should tell my writer friends about it, at the monthly meeting I used to attend. This was ten years ago, when I was a youngster of 60, and most of the other members were my seniors by several years. Would they be shocked or happy for me, like they were when I sold something to Chicken Soup, or Good Old Days, or Angels on Earth, or Guideposts ?

So I went to the meeting with a copy of the contract from True Confession, and after everyone had a turn to read their latest piece of writing, I announced nonchalantly, "I have a surprise for all of you."

"Oh, did you make another sale?" one of the more enthusiastic members asked, excitedly. "What did you sell, an article?"

"Yes, I did make another sale, but it wasn't an article," I replied.

"Oh, was it a short story," someone else asked.

"No, it wasn't a short story either. At least not a traditional short story," I said, finally showing them my contract.

"Why, this is a contract for a confession story! It says here, it will be published in October, for a payment of, $195. Isn’t that wonderful, girls?" the enthusiastic one said, all a tither.

After more questioning, the girls wanted to know how they could try their hand at a confession story, too.

"Go to our local Country Mart and buy several Confession Magazines. Read them thoroughly, then try writing one of your own," I told them. "That’s what I did."

"Buy a Confession magazine?" our oldest, most timid member said, in a shocked tone of voice. "This is a small town, what if someone should see me?"
Everyone chuckled at her remark, but that’s exactly what they all ended up doing, after I reminded them that most of us have been around a long time; we should have plenty to confess!

A confession story can be about anything true to life, and although written in the first person, it is always fiction, and it's written anonymously. The Department pieces are short, inspirational non-fiction, and the writer gets a tagline with them. All the Confession magazines have monthly Department sections that pay rather well for these short, inspirational pieces. Check them out and you may be confessing too!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Everybody Loves Somebody, Sometime

I thought I'd finish the week on a lighter note, and show you my Dean Martin singing replica doll. He was a gift from my son, Greg, who knows that I have been a big Dean Martin fan since I was a teenager in the fifties.

Oh, how I swooned and mooned over Dino, back then, and bought all his records, and went to see all the silly movies he was in with Jerry Lewis. I considered myself his number one fan!

In the second photo you see, I placed some beautiful girls around Dino, because he was always surrounded by beautiful girls on his TV show! (TeeHee.)

The doll sings two songs, when his button is pushed. Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime, and That's Amore. My two younger granddaughters love to push Dean's button whenever they come for a visit. And as Dean bursts into song, his head moves from side to side, as does his hand holding the mike. He really kicks up the dust. Of course, that's because I forgot to dust his stand, before I took the picture.

In the mid-70s, I was invited to be the guest of a local disc jockey friend, at a snazzy night club in our city. The attraction that night was to be Frank Sinatra Jr. So, of course, I went. Frank Jr. sang nicely, sounding a lot like his famous Dad. During his break, Mr. Sinatra Jr. actually came to our table and sat down to chat a bit.

"A little bird told me you're a big Dean Martin fan," he said, smiling at me.

"Uh, yes, I am," I replied, somewhat flustered. "I'm his number one fan!"

"Well, I happen to know Mr. Martin personally. He is a good friend of my father's. And when I go back to Hollywood, I'll tell Dean all about his cute number one fan."

I blushed and thanked him for his remark, and then thanked my disc jockey friend, because I knew he had planned the whole thing. It was all kind of exciting. But the really exciting thing was yet to come

Actually, it came almost two months later, in the mail. For there was a large, padded manila envelope addressed to me from Dean Martin, Hollywood, California! And inside the envelope was a personally autographed photo signed, "To Renie, Always, Dean." I whooped around so loudly when I saw the photo, that my three kids came running, thinking I had gone stark raving mad! In a sense, I had.

It was kind of fun remembering Dino. I listen to his CDs often, to this day. He was my first singing idol. Although my autographed photo got lost somehow, when I was moving from the city to the country, I love my Dean Martin replica doll, and I will always be Dean Martin fan!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Seven Random Facts Meme

My old friend, Tina, at Tina's Odds and Ends, has tagged me for the Seven Random Facts meme. So here it goes:

My mother died when I was just a few weeks old, and my father was away because of the war, so I was raised by my maternal grandparents. I've always had a sense of loss, for never having known my mother, or my real father, for that matter. But my grandparents were wonderful substitute parents.

I have been blessed with two great sons and a wonderful daughter, and three beautiful granddaughters, and I'm ever thankful to have them in my life.

I dreamed of living in the country for most of my life, and finally realized my dream in 1983, when I moved to the country. I have loved living in the woods the past 24 years.

Hiking in the woods is a favorite past time, and I've had some adventures while doing it. I have gotten lost in my woods more than once, until my son Greg gifted me with a compass!

I have a wildlife pond near the house that I love. The wild creatures that live around here love it as well. But 4 years ago, when my cat, Orie, was just a half grown kitten, she ventured onto the thin ice of the pond and fell in, when the ice broke. And I fell in as well, trying to save her. It was a miracle that we both made it out alive, and didn't get pneumonia! Now, when there is ice on the pond, the cats stay in the house, no matter what!

In December of 2005, I slipped and fell in the back of my house, in some newly fallen snow and broke my hip. It was late afternoon, and the temperatures were frigid. Since I had forgotten to take my cell phone along, like I'm supposed to, I had no way of calling for help. But through the power of prayer, I made it back into the house by crawling for over an hour, and was finally able to summon help. I have recovered well from my ordeal, and am able to continue to live in my woods. Thank you, Lord!

My faith, my family, my friends, and my animals are my greatest blessings.

Thank you, Tina, for tagging me. It was fun.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Golden Autumn Afternoon

Yesterday turned out to be a golden autumn afternoon, so I went outside with my camera, to capture some of the gold in my woods before it's gone. And while I was out there snapping pictures, some curious deer came out of the woods and stood around watching me the entire time.
So, I snapped a picture of them as

Because of the extremely dry and hot August, I was afraid we wouldn't have the usual beautiful colors this fall. I'm pleased that I was wrong.

I've read that the best conditions for a good showing of color are the right amount of moisture and falling but not freezing temperatures, and these we've had in the past week or so. And surprisingly, dry weather, increases the sugar concentration in the sap.

The brightest fall colors occur when dry, sunny days are followed by cool, dry nights. An early hard frost, which is in our forecast for next week, will kill the leaves before they have a chance to complete their final shut-down. So, a beautiful display of color depends on a magical combination of sunlight, soil nutrients, and cool nights.

The poem by one of my favorite poets, Edna St. Vincent Millay, captures the feeling of a golden autumn afternoon perfectly:

God's World

O world,
I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists, that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
And all but cry with colour!
That gaunt cragTo crush!
To lift the lean of that black bluff!
World, World, I cannot get thee close enough!

Long have I known a glory in it all,
But never knew I this;
Here such a passion is
As stretcheth me apart,--
Lord, I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year;
My soul is all but out of me,--let fall
No burning leaf; prithee, let no bird call.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Country Roads

Country roads , Take me home, To the place, Where I belong!

This is the road to and from home. I have lived on this country road for over 20 years. The view you see is to the North, taking me to connect with the highway to town. Of course, it's only a two lane highway, thank goodness. I don't think I could navigate a freeway anymore. It has been quite some time, since I have driven on a busy freeway.
My country road is hilly and scenic. A pleasant drive in all seasons. I took this photo yesterday, and as you can see, we still have a lot of green on the trees, although the colors are moseying on in.
I love my country road!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sinister Messages

It started out as a cool fall morning, with the promise of sunshine, (well, at 5 AM it was still dark) and also the promise of a nice day to be spent enjoying the fall colors, lunch with friends, and some light shopping.
I turned on the computer, made coffee, and then carried my coffee cup to the sunroom, where my laptop resides.

I am still on dial up, believe it or not, but not for long. Finally, high speed Internet has become available in the boonies, and I am to have it very soon. But I digress. I sat down by my laptop and clicked on "connect" and it made all the usual sounds as it dialed in, and finally said "you are now connected to so and so net." But it wasn't so and so net that appeared in the dial up box, it was something sinister. A pitch black page showing two hands holding up a severed human head! That was followed by a scary, threatening message written in large red letters, which were dripping blood! Pictures of some famous terrorists were also included, and more threatening words about changing "your" ways or facing the consequences.

I sat there dumbfounded, thinking that the sinister, threatening message was directed at me. I was scared. I was stunned.

I disconnected and dialed my ISP's number. But I could only get the recording saying tech support was serving other customers, and I should leave my name, number and message and they would get back to me. I left three messages in the next couple of hours, while the sinister message was still there, every time I dialed in again, frightening me even more every time I saw it.

Well, I finally gave up calling my ISP and got ready to drive to town to meet my friends. The 20 minute drive is always pleasant, and I never tire of the hilly, wooded scenery along the way. But today, I didn't see the hills with the trees of brightly colored leaves, I only saw the image of the two hands holding up a severed human head. I didn't turn on my favorite radio station. I didn't wave to the occasional car that was driving past the other way. My mood had turned as dark as that page with the sinister message.

I didn't want to ruin a fun lunch by discussing what had transpired, but I did finally mention it. "I hear so many bad things about computers, I'm glad I don't have one," someone said. "Call the law," someone else suggested. "I'd be scared stiff, if I saw it on my computer," etc.
The mood was not good, and lunch was not fun like usually.

When I got home, my caller ID showed three messages from my ISP. I called them back right away.

"It was hackers that got in here. Everyone had the same message. It wasn't meant strictly for you," Michael, the tech guy, reassured me, "And we have reported it and removed it. " I was relieved that
I wasn't the target. Yet, I was the target. We all were. Sinister scare tactics had penetrated even our peaceful, rural area. But we can't allow sinister messages to frighten us, can we? We will not allow it. There is still much beauty in the world, and good caring people are everywhere. And tomorrow, I'll be outside with my camera, taking pictures of some of that beauty.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

She's sugar,
And spice, (Oh, yes, lots of spice!)
She's everything nice,
She's Hannah, my granddaughter.

She loves horses, and is quite an accomplished rider.

She also loves to ride the 4-wheeler with Uncle Greg, when she comes here for a visit.

And to play with the cats and dogs. My little mutt, Midgie, loves to ride along on the 4-wheeler with her.

Hannah will be celebrating her 11th birthday tomorrow, October 27th.


I love you, and wish I could be with you on your special day. Have lots of fun celebrating, and I will be seeing you very soon!

Love always,



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two Special Blessings!

I finally figured out how to use my camera, now I have to learn how to take better pictures and how to post them correctly. So this is a test, to see how these turn out. The first picture is of a white squirrel that appeared around here this summer. At first, I thought I was seeing a mirage. But then the mirage moved! He is quite large, and the gray squirrels seem to think he is just like them, for they get along quite well. But he is different; he is my special gift from Nature!

White squirrels are very rare in our area. In fact, The Conservation Department told me this is the first time they have ever heard of one. The picture could be much better, and I have several others that could be better as well, but I'm hoping I will improve, as I get more acquainted with my new camera. The white squirrel isn't as bold as the gray squirrels. He is very cautious, and runs up an oak tree as soon as I try to get a little closer. But he has to be cautious, his color makes him more vulnerable to predators. Seeing him every morning fills me with joy!

The second picture is of Dottie, the doe. I have known Dottie for almost 5 years now. The first time she appeared in my field, she looked like she was going to die on the spot. A walking skeleton, with a lump on the side of her face, followed by a tiny fawn! It broke my heart to see a deer looking like that. Do you see the lump? It's quite visible. I have cared for her as well as I could, at first feeding her soft things like whole grain bread. It took a while, but she began to gain weight, and is now a healthy looking girl, each spring proudly bringing along her newest fawn to show me. I don't know what the lump is, but she has lived with it all this time, and seems to be healthy and well these days. Dottie's presence puts joy in my heart as well. In fact, both of these animals are my very special blessing!

Now that I am able to use my camera, I'll be posting more and more pictures. I hope you have enjoyed the first two.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Magic Potion That Saved My Life

My good friend, Mary, sent me this beautiful Halloween card, and it's most appropriate for my Halloween story, which is about a good witch! Thank you so much, Mary, you are a dear. I hope you enjoy: The Magic Potion That Saved My Life

When I was seven and still living in a small village in my homeland, Hungary, I had a close encounter with a witch. The village was right on the Serbian border, and both Hungarians (which we were) and Serbians lived there. My maternal grandparents, who were raising me, owned the only general store in town. My grandmother ran the store while Grandfather, the towns judge, attended to his duties at the courthouse.

There was an ancient Serbian woman in the village named, Tekla, who lived in a shanty at the edge of town, and was rumored be a witch. People said Tekla had strange powers and could put curses on people who made her mad. They said she made powerful potions and chanted strange-sounding chants, and everyone knew her only friend was her black cat.

Most children were warned to avoid her, which wasn’t hard to do, since Tekla was quite reclusive, rarely leaving her shanty. On those occasions when we did catch a glimpse of her, hobbling along with her cane, a black babushka on her head, we’d run to avoid her, and then tell scary stories that we had heard about her. My grandmother didn’t approve of the stories, and told me often that they weren’t true.

“She is not a witch. She is just an odd old woman who lives differently from most people, so they call her a witch. You don’t have to be afraid of her,” Grandma would say.

Weekdays usually found me in school, but this one day I was in the store. It was raining and I had my nose buried in a book. At noon, after feeding me, Grandma got ready to take Grandpa his lunch at the courthouse, as she usually did.

“Since it’s pouring out there, you might as well stay here. I’ll be back in 15 minutes,” Grandma said. “Everyone knows the store is closed at noon, so no one will come. But you lock the door behind me, and if you get scared, run next door.”

“Uh-huh,” I nodded as Grandma went out the door, and promptly stuck my nose back in the book. My cat, Paprika, was curled up under the counter, snoozing contentedly. The rain continued pounding the roof; the door stayed unlocked.

Suddenly, I was startled by the ringing of the store’s bell. I looked up and saw the bent figure of Tekla, the witch, entering. My mouth fell open, while my heart began to race. I wanted to flee out the back door, but my feet seemed frozen; so I just stood there and stared at her.

“I’ve come to buy some flour and sugar,” she said, breaking the silence.

“We...we are closed,” I said shakily. “If you come back in 15 minutes, Grandma will get what you need.”

“It’s a long walk to the store, and I’m wet and tired. I’ll just sit down on this chair and wait,” Tekla said, lowering her bent frame down and adjusting the knot of her black babushka. .

Paprika, the cat, began to stir. His curiosity had been aroused. So he got up, stretched, and walked around the counter to investigate the visitor.

“Oh, what a pretty orange kitty,” Tekla crooned, breaking into an almost toothless grin. “Here kitty.” Paprika walked over to her and rubbed against her legs, while a bony hand reached down to pet him.

I was still on alert, ready to make a getaway, but the scenario in front of me had somehow mesmerized me.

“I love cats,” Tekla continued. “I have a cat, too.”

Of course she had a cat. A black cat! Everyone knew that.

“Cats are wonderful friends. They never care about how you look, or about the lies others say about you. They just love you for yourself.” And as she uttered those words, she sounded so sad and forlorn that I had the urge to somehow comfort her. So I picked up some candy from a box on the counter and walked over to her. “These are for you,” I said, holding out my hand, even though I felt like giving her a hug.

“You are a sweet girl, little one,” she said taking the candy, her bony fingers touching mine. “Thank you very much.” Just then, the door opened, and in walked Grandma.

“Tekla came to buy some flour and sugar,” I announced to my surprised grandmother.
"I told her she could sit and wait for you.”

“Yes, your little one has been most kind,” Tekla said, raising herself out of the chair. “Now if you could get me what I came for, I’ll be on my way.” When she walked out the door, she looked back and waved her bony hand at me.

The following week, on a lovely fall day, my grandparents and I went to visit a relative in the country who grew grapes. While the adults were busy in the house, I stayed outside and got reacquainted with the resident chickens and ducks. After a while, I came to some stone steps leading into the cellar, so I snuck down those steps and entered the cool, sweet-smelling world of the cellar. There, I discovered something forbidden-fermenting wine filling the air with a sweet musky scent from some barrels lined up like soldiers.

One of the barrels had a long, tube-like object conveniently on top of it. I pushed it into the barrel and sucked up the sweet liquid, smacking my lips in appreciation. Then I sucked up some more of it, and more still. Suddenly, my world began to spin, and then everything went black!

When I opened my eyes again, I realized I was back in my own bed. I could hear people talking to each other in hushed voices, while my grandmother wailed pitifully somewhere in the room.

“She has alcohol poisoning,” a voice I recognized as our doctor's, was saying. “And she is not responding to treatment.

“Someone go get the priest,” Grandma wailed. “I don’t want her to die without the Last Sacrament.”

I realized they were talking about me, and tried to sit up. But I couldn’t move or talk. I seemed to be imprisoned in my own body. Then I lost consciousness again.

I was told later what happened next. Tekla had heard the news that I was dying, so she hurried to our house carrying something. When she knocked at the back door and Grandfather saw her standing there, he almost slammed the door in her face.

“I have a potion. It will help the little one get well,” Tekla announced loudly.

“Go away, old woman,” Grandfather told her gruffly, but Grandma came to the door just then. Tekla told her about her potion, adding, “It will help the little one get well.”

So my desperate grandmother took the jar containing the dark liquid and-despite the objections of both the doctor and priest, administered it to me on the spot.

“It wasn’t easy to get it into your mouth,” she told me later. “We had to pry your mouth open and spoon it in slowly. Then we laid you down again and began a prayer vigil at your bedside.”

The following dawn, I opened my eyes. I heard murmuring in the room and realized people were praying. Then I heard Grandma crying softly somewhere nearby. I turned my head to see if I could see her and realized I could move! I wiggled my fingers and toes. They all seemed to be working again! But what was that strange feeling in the pit of my stomach?

Then, recognizing the feeling, I suddenly sat up and cried out, “Grandma, where are you? I’m sooo hungry!”

“It’s a miracle!” someone in the room shouted, as Grandma ran to my side.

“It’s Tekla’s magic potion,” Grandma said joyously, holding me close. “It worked just as she said it would.” Then she hurried to the kitchen to bring me something to eat.

A few days after my “magical” recovery, my grandparents loaded some groceries, and me, into our wagon, and we went to thank Tekla for saving my life.

When we got to her shanty, she seemed very surprised to see us.

“Thank you for saving my life,” I told her self consciously, looking down at her wrinkled face.

“Yes, we are most grateful,” Grandma said, while Grandfather unloaded the groceries they brought along. “If there is anything else you need, just let us know,” he said.

“Oh, but you are not beholden to me in any way. I was happy to be able to help,” Tekla said.

“People say you gave me a magic potion. Is that really true?” I asked her.

“Well, little one, my potion is just an old remedy taught to me by my dear, departed Papa, a long time ago. He had a lot of old remedies that I have used over many years, and they have kept me healthy for over 89 years.” Then turning to my grandparents she explained, “I mixed the charred pieces of some wood with a little water. Nothing to be concerned about.”

“I wasn’t concerned,” Grandma said firmly. Then, as we were leaving, I looked back at Tekla and waved. It was the last time I ever saw her, because World War II intensified in our region and we left the area for upper Hungary. We finally were able to flee our war-torn country in the fall of 1947, eventually immigrating to the United States in 1951.

Years later, I was having coffee with a friend, when I told her the story about the magic potion that saved my life.

“Interesting” the friend said, jumping up from the table we were sitting at. “I have to show you something.” She lifted a huge book from her bookshelf and laid it on the table. It was a Medical Encyclopedia. She opened it to the first page and showed me the first entry. “Ancient Universal Antidote for Poisoning.” It listed charred wood mixed with some water as the ingredients.

Of course, today the potion is well known as Activated Charcoal. But in 1943, when I was seven, it was still considered a magic potion that only a select few, like kind hearted witches, knew about.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Community Blogger Award

My friend Mary has graciously and generously passed on to me this beautiful Community Blogger Award. Thank you, Mary, your thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated. And, of course, I'm honored to receive it.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Woo Hoo for Michele!

My wonderful writer friend Michele, has a most touching Quickie up at Common Ties
Congratulations, Michele! Loved your story, Moses or Man. Way to go, and Woo Hoo!
Please go read her story. You will be glad you did.

Thanks for the help in getting the hyperlinks right, Michele. I think I got it this time. :-)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Finding Joy

Early this morning, I was catching up with some of my favorite blogs. So there I was at Mary's Writing Nook, enjoying her always positive, family oriented posts, when I came upon a sweet comment made by Denise, that somehow touched me. Something prompted me to go and check out her blog.

I have felt a bit down lately. Concerns and worries sometimes get in the way of enjoying a beautiful day to the fullest. Then I sang along with Denise, "I've got joy, joy, joy, joy, here in my heart. Here in my heart. Here in my heart..." and pretty soon, joy did fill my heart.

I gazed at the beautiful sunrise, enjoyed the crisp fall air as I filled the bird feeders, and noticed the hickory trees in the field had turned all gold overnight, and were sparkling in the bright morning sun. And suddenly, I was thankful to be out there seeing and enjoying it all. And I thought, even in blog world "seek and you shall find" applies. Thank you, Lord!

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What People Said In The Good Old Nifty Fifties!

My Canadian friend Ellie sent me some sayings from the Fifties. I thought some may enjoy reading these. People worried about the same things that people worry about today, only the price amounts have changed just a tad. Well, maybe a little more than just a tad! -----

"I'll tell you one thing, if things keep going the way they are, it's
going to be impossible to buy a week's groceries for $20."

"Have you seen the new cars coming out next year? It won't be long
before $2000 will only buy a used one." (Anyone remember paying $2000 for a new car? )

"If cigarettes keep going up in price, I'm going to quit. A quarter a
pack is ridiculous."

"Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging a dime just to
mail a letter?"

"If they raise the minimum wage to $1, nobody will be able to hire
outside help at the store."

"When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 29 cents a gallon. Guess we'd be better off leaving the car in the garage" (Anyone remember 29 cents a gallon gas?)

"Kids today are impossible. Those duck tail hair cuts make it
impossible to stay groomed. Next thing you know, boys will be wearing
their hair as long as the girls."

"I'm afraid to send my kids to the movies any more. Ever since they let Clark Gable get by with saying 'damn' in 'Gone With The Wind,' it seems every new movie has either "hell" or "damn" in it.

"I read the other day where some scientist thinks it's possible to put a man on the moon by the end of the century They even have some fellows they call astronauts preparing for it down in Texas ."

"Did you see where some baseball player just signed a contract for $75,000 a year just to play ball? It wouldn't surprise me if someday they'll be making more than the president."

"I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They are even making electric typewriters now." (Thank goodness for laptops now!)

"It's too bad things are so tough nowadays. I see where a few married women are having to work to make ends meet."

"It won't be long before young couples are going to have to hire someone to watch their kids so they can both work."

"Marriage doesn't mean a thing any more; those Hollywood stars seem to be getting divorced at the drop of a hat."

"I'm just afraid the Volkswagen car is going to open the door to a whole lot of foreign business." (And it sure did, didn't it?)

"Thank goodness I won't live to see the day when the Government takes half our income in taxes.. I sometimes wonder if we are electing the best people to government." (Hmmmm!)

"The drive-in restaurant is convenient in nice weather, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on."

"There is no sense going to Lincoln or Omaha anymore for a weekend. It costs nearly $15 a night to stay in a hotel."

"No one can afford to be sick any more; $35 a day in the hospital is too rich for my blood."

"If they think I'll pay 50 cents for a hair cut, forget it."

Maybe some of the older blogger friends will remember these sayings, and the younger ones reading it will say, "Wow, those really were the Good Old Days!" Well, maybe not. But I hope everyone enjoyed reading about what people said in the Nifty Fifties.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Gathering Place

These days I'm devoid of a working camera. Oh, I do have a new digital camera that has me totally frustrated. First, it refused to upload my pictures to my PC. Then, recently it refuses to turn on altogether. I have charged the batteries, but its still not working when I turn it on. I'm hoping the problem will be solved soon, meanwhile I've decided to write about, The Gathering Place. Just words, with no pictures. But if you use your imagination, you'll have a nice picture of, The Gathering Place.

Most people that frequent The Gathering Place, are referred to as "the oldies," or "the senior citizens," or even "the elderly." They call themselves "the young at heart." .

I live about ten miles out of a little town of just under 2,000 residents. There are only a couple of restaurants here, a couple of fast food places, and a sandwich place.

Usually, McDonald's is a gathering place for younger people. Families with kids who come for the Happy Meals. Teenagers as well, but they are more likely to order at the drive up window from their cars, and drive off with their burgers and shakes, with loud music blasting from their cars or pickup trucks, enjoying their kind of fun.

But the "young at heart" of this area frequent our local McDonald's regularly. Some are there every day. Well, except Sundays. That is the day for going to church, and for family dinners, or nice restaurants with big buffet's 40 miles away in a big city of 15,000!

So on any given weekday, The Gathering Place is filled to capacity, and laughter and talk of the "good old days," and discussions of the dry weather, and turnip crops that may yield a poor harvest, just as the summer crops had, abound. Or even discussions of who should or should not be our next president in 2008!. And I must not leave out the grandchildren! Everyone has a picture or two to show, and a sweet story to tell about them.

The Gathering Place is not a quiet place. It's filled with happy noises coming from happy people, who enjoy companionship, coupled with pancakes and coffee, while the young people who work there smile at them, and go around and ask if anyone would like another cup of coffee. Seniors rate high at The Gathering Place, and they in turn seem to agree that it's the place with the best coffee in town.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My Story Is Up On Common Ties

Just got word from Common Ties that my story, The Grand Lady With The Torch is now Live. Here is the link to it:

I'm so excited about this. I hope if any blogger friends read it, they enjoy it.

I've Been Tagged!

Amy Derby has tagged me for the Random 8 Meme

According to Amy, here are The Rules: 1. Link to your tagger and post these rules. 2. List eight (8) random facts about yourself. 3. Tag eight people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them). 4. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving them a comment on their blogs.

So here it goes:

Eight Things About Me (That You May Or May Not Want To Know.)

1. I'm a child of World War II.
2. I lived in a refugee camp for 4 years.
3. I inherited my first pet cat, Paprika, from my mother, who died shortly after I was born.
4. I am very patriotic!
5. I believe in the power of prayer!
6. I love being on the river in a jet ski.
7. I love riding down country roads in a 4 wheeler.
8. I love the TV show, Dancing with the Stars!

As for tagging 8 other people, I'll think about it.

Right now, got to get back to a story that I'm trying to finish before a deadline, or I will have an irate editor after me!

Thanks for tagging me, Amy.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Happy Day

After a good, substantial rain the other day, everything has perked up once again. The grasses are greener, the trees don't look as droopy, and the fawns, after enjoying the freshly rained on grass they munched on, are frolicking in the field, as kids will do when they're happy.

I am happy today as well. Good news in the email, a nice phone call from an editor, and more good news in another email. My cup runneth over. Thank you, Lord!

Next week I will have a "quickie" published on Common Ties. A "quickie" had to be a story told in 200 words. And when I read their guidelines to it, I thought, 'well, one never knows until one tries.' So I tried, but didn't have much hope for it. I'm usually a more wordy writer; I mean how much of a story can one tell in just 200 words?

Yesterday, I received an email from Common Ties that my quickie was accepted, and today, the wonderful Elizabeth, editor of Common Ties called me. It was a pleasure to talk to her! She told me my story will be posted on the site Monday or Tuesday, and said the pleasure was all hers! And she will put a link to my little blog at the bottom of the story. And I will put the link to my story on Common Ties, right here, on my little blog. A fair exchange, don't you think? :-) (If you understood what I was trying to say.)

But the day is ending with even more good news. Just two or so weeks ago I was notified of being a finalist in the new, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Celebrating People Who Help Other People, book. Today I'm no longer just a finalist, my story made it into the book! So I will be going to sleep with a thankful heart tonight. A happy day, all around.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Early Autumn Showings And Pink Roses

Well, it's officially autumn, but around here it still feels more like summer than fall. The dogwoods, however, are lovely already, and the lowly sumac is once again transforming into a fall beauty, with it's blood red leaves. All the other trees are still mostly green, and I'm surprised the leaves haven't turned brown and fallen off altogether from the scorching hot, dry summer.
Autumn usually puts me in the mood for beautiful poetry. One of my favorite autumn poems is a more lighthearted look at this season of "fruitfulness."

By Emily Dickinson

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

Because autumn has just begun, my pale pink rose with the blush in the center is still very much "in town" and doing well, even with the hot, dry summer we've had. Most things in the garden have bitten the dust by now, but not so my rose bush, because I watered it generously mornings and evenings throughout the summer heat. I couldn't bear to let it die.

My grandfather was the gardener in our family, and he especially loved to grow roses. (And I say 'our family' because I was raised by my grandparents.) His favorite rose was a pale pink one, with the blush in the center. My grandmother told me that when she married Grandfather in 1916, he brought her a bouquet of those pale pink roses with the blush in the center, to carry as her bridal bouquet, because they reminded him of the color of her cheeks!
"He was so romantic, my dear, and stayed that way all his life," Grandma often lamented wistfully.

After we fled our war-torn country in the fall of 1947, our only possessions were the clothes on our backs. But four years later, good fortune smiled on us when we were able to immigrate to the United States, where they both soon found jobs. And only two years after that, they had the down payment for a home of their own. After having lost everything because of the war, they were so grateful that such things were possible in their wonderful new country!

The house was an older white colonial, with a picket fence and a nice sized back and side yard. Of course, the first thing Grandfather did once they were moved in was to create a beautiful garden. He grew all kinds of flowers, in every nook and cranny of that yard, and tomatoes and Hungarian peppers galore. But his pride and joy was the Heirloom rose bush with the pale pink roses sporting a blush in the center. And his garden soon became the attraction of the neighborhood, with people often stopping by to admire it.

A year after he passed away, and the house was sold, Grandma picked a bouquet of those pale pink roses and laid them on his grave lovingly, while tears trickled down her cheeks.

So, you can see why I treasure the rose bush in my yard. And once autumn gets more serious and brings some killing frosts, and my rose will be out of town for the winter, I will look forward to seeing those pale pink blooms again, next spring, when they will once again remind me of a very special love.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Dickens of a Cat

A Woo Hoo mail day, yesterday, as I received my contributing writer copies of, A Dickens of a Cat, and Other Stories of the Cats We Love. Woo Hoo mail always warms the cockles of a writer's heart. :-)

A Dickens of a Cat, and Other Stories of the Cats We Love, was published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, September 2007.

Woo Hoo and Yay! Indulging in a bit of revelry here, and doing a happy dance! A book or magazine featuring one of our stories affects us writers like that. However, the cats at my house weren't impressed by all the revelry, but the dogs joined me in my happy dance!

And today, Monday, September 24, 2 more new books arrived that I have stories in-

The Best Teacher in the World, published by Howard Books, A Divison of Simon and Schuster, September 2007.

And The Best Grandma in the World, also published by Howard Books, September, 2007. Both books distributed by Bordon Books.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some Things I Want My Granddaughters To Know

Today was a fun day, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course, since I got home later than I should have, I scurried to get a few chores done. Many hungry mouths were waiting anxiously, thinking I had forgotten them. A little chickadee was so happy that I was refilling the feeder, it "dee dee dee'd" at me joyfully, almost landing on my head!

Since I have had two busy days, with little time for a new blog entry, I thought I'd post an old essay of mine tonight. A shortened version, but one that has been published a couple of times. I hope you enjoy it.

"Some Things I Want My Granddaughters To Know"

I live in a beautiful rural area, and when my three city girl granddaughters come for a visit, I want them to learn more about the natural world.

I tell my granddaughters about the wild creatures that inhabit my woods, fields and pond.

I tell them the names of the birds that frequent the feeders in the summer, or winter. I show them the great blue heron that visits the pond in hopes of catching a frog dinner. They think he is "cool" looking. And so he is!

Later, we watch a red-tailed hawk soar gracefully above the field, and land on a limb of the dead oak, eyeing the chickens in my yard.

"Shoo!" I yell at the hawk, while my granddaughters giggle. I show my granddaughters the beautiful raccoons and homely opossums that visit my yard at night. Sometimes we see an armadillo, too.

"He is strange looking," says Hannah.

I want my granddaughters to see the deer grazing in the field, especially the rare albino doe that is so beautiful it takes ones breath away. And early mornings, I want them to hear the wild turkeys gobbling. If we're lucky, we can catch a glimpse of them, too. I tell my granddaughters about some of the scarier creatures that live around here. Like the huge blacksnake that sometimes finds his way into the chicken coop. I want them to know that although I may threaten the blacksnake with my broom, to discourage him from getting the eggs, I would never harm him. I tell them that the blacksnake, like all the other wild creatures, has a right to his existence, too.

In the woods, I teach them the names of the trees; so they know the difference between an oak and a hickory, an elm and a maple. We look up the names of wildflower’s as well, and when we see butterflies alighting on them, we look them up, too. I want my granddaughters to go outside with me on a clear, starry-night, and learn the names of the constellations. If we are lucky enough to see a shooting star, they can make a secret wish on it. Summer nights, I open the windows so they can hear the chorus of a country night, while fireflies flash their perfect lights.

I want my granddaughters to hear the eerie howl of the coyotes, and be glad there is still enough wildness left, where coyotes and other wild creatures can live their lives. I remind them often that the Creator of all this beauty would be pleased, if they worked toward preserving His beautiful creations, so their own grandchildren could someday enjoy it as well.

Meanwhile, spending time together and creating precious memories, is one of the joys of having grandchildren.