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.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Moping Around

It was a beautiful day today. Summer-like temperatures returned, but the sun was pleasant, and not uncomfortably hot. A good day to be out and about, enjoying the warmth laced with a cool breeze playing its leaf harp through the trees.

But I've had "the mopes" today. The mopes, a dictionary tells me, is having low spirits; having the blues. I don't know why. It just descended on me like a dense fog, and it hung over me with it's depressing dampness.

To be moping around, I read, is to be gloomy and dejected. Ah, yes, that definition fit me well, today.

A dog never mopes around. He lives in the "now" and enjoys the moment. If during a walk, he happens to come upon a little creek in the woods, he plops in and cools off, then shakes himself and is off and running, following all the exciting scents the woods abound with.

A cat never mopes around either. If he comes upon a fallen log in the woods, well, he uses it as a scratching post! What could be more perfect than that, for a cat?

And does a squirrel mope? Nope. He is too busy looking for something to munch on, and relishing his find.

And trying to get these pictures to look right, in here, helped me forget the mopes. Now I'm just frustrated! Oh, well, tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Country Critters-Oh My!!!

I'm an early riser, and this morning as I made my sleepy way to the sink to rinse my coffee pot before making my morning coffee, I happened to notice a pair of tiny eyes peering up at me from the bottom of the sink. Eek!

"Little froggie, how did you get into the kitchen sink? I almost turned the faucet on, and flushed you down the drain," I said, reaching down and capturing the tiny jumper from his sink prison. Then I placed him in a jar, until daylight broke, and traipsed down to the pond to release him.

How did he get in my sink? A good guess might be that he was carried into the house by one of the cats, the night before, and somehow managed to escape from said cat's mouth and hopped away and hid until he somehow landed in my sink. Many a times out in the yard, I have rescued little frogs from a cat's mouth, and carried them back to the safety of the pond.

But little frogs in the sink do not cause a big problem. Of course, I didn't appreciate the tiny critter wetting himself right in my hand, but I figured he must have been pretty scared and couldn't help himself!

On the other hand, critters under the hood of ones car can cause big problems! Especially, when it's hotter than heck, and one suddenly finds the fan of the car's
air conditioner clanking like heck, and not cooling things off too well. That's what happened to me, heading to town one scorching hot day, recently, and heading home was even worse, so I called the garage and asked them if they could check things out as soon as possible.

"Sure, bring it in tomorrow morning, and we'll look at it," some guy informed me. And the following morning, bright and early, I was in there waiting to hear what the mechanic had to tell me, fearing a major repair possibility. After an hour or so, my mechanic at the garage came in and told me my car's air conditioner fan was working just fine again, and I would be as cool as a cucumber on my way home.

"What was the problem?" I asked.

"A chipmunk, Ma'am. He made himself a home under your hood, and discarded all the shells of his lunches in your air conditioner's fan." He showed me a pile of hickory nut shells, and half eaten acorns that they had cleaned out of it.

" I went ahead and sprayed real good under the hood with pepper spray. I don't think that critter will be back there anytime soon."

"He wasn't under there when you sprayed that pepper spray, was he?" I asked a bit anxiously. Although I didn't want a cute little chipmunk under my hood, I didn't want him hurt, either.

"No, Ma'am. He wasn't there," the guy said, giving me the bill and walking away, shaking his head. I wonder why?

And, would you believe just a week or so later, another critter decided that my car was a good place to live in? Suddenly, mouse droppings were evident in several areas, and when I opened my glove compartment, I found the chewed up remains of my car insurance papers that a mouse must have deemed tasty! My son suggested mouse traps, but I nixed the idea.

"I don't want to have to be removing dead mice. Isn't there a more humane way of getting rid of them?" I asked.

So he sprinkled generous amounts of moth ball powder throughout the interior of the car and trunk. I don't know if the powerful smell got rid of the mouse or not, but it almost got rid of me! Well, at least it felt like it would. Phew!

Oh, I do have one more story, a big blacksnake in the bathroom, but since I consider snakes varmints, I'll save that for another time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nice Surprises In My Email!

It was a beautiful day today, and I was out enjoying it with friends. When I got home it was early afternoon, and first I rushed to do my outdoor chores. Finally, I was able to come in, turn on my PC and check my email. And there it was. An email from a Sister Joanne, who informed me she served as archivist for the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. Wow, really?

Sister Joanne wrote that she had read my story in the September issue of Catholic Digest.

When I wrote the story, I had purposely left out the name of the city and school I was writing about. I did, however, name the order of the sisters who taught at that school-The Sisters of the Humility of Mary. And in the story I wrote about one of the good sisters at that school who changed the life of a young refugee girl; a mousy, haunted, shy girl, classified as a "displaced person," who longed to be like her carefree, American counterparts. And with the good sisters help, she graduated as the confident, young American girl she longed to be, in 1955. Of course, that young D.P. girl was me.

Sister Joanne correctly guessed the city and school I was writing about, and wanted to verify everything, including the good sisters name, so she could add it all to the archives. What a very nice surprise.

A couple of months ago, I had a nice email surprise as well. That one was from an old soldier named, Emmett, who lives in Texas. He had read a story of mine about coming to America on the U.S.S. General M. B. Stewart in September of 1951. And it seems that Emmett and I were shipmates. Well, not at the same time, but shipmates, nevertheless.

He told me he was on the U.S.S. General M.B. Stewart in 1945, as a young soldier on his way to the South Pacific. He said he imagined I looked more forward to my journey on that ship 6 years later, then he had. Of course, he was right. I was on my way to a new life in a new country, he was on his way to danger! But he made it back alive, and married his childhood sweetheart in 1951, the year I came to America with my family, with hope in all our hearts. Emmett and I continue to correspond as he tells me his war stories, and I tell him mine. A fair exchange with an old soldier; a shipmate of sorts.

Freelance writing may not bring great riches, but it has its rewards!

Monday, September 10, 2007

September 11, 2001

A day of silence-

to remember, to reflect, to pray.

God bless the Unites States of America,

Home of the free and the brave.

Madeline L'Engle Has Died

One of my favorite authors, Madeline L'Engle, passed away last Thursday at the age of 88, in a nursing home. Her most famous book was "A Wrinkle in Time," which won the acclaimed Newbery Medal in 1963, for best American children's book, and has become a children's classic. She often wrote about how many rejections she received for the story, before it was finally published.

Madeline L'Engle wrote more than 60 books, including poetry and memoirs. In some of those slim memoirs, (and I own several of them,) Madeline wrote about writing, family, friends, and her Christian faith.

She will be sadly missed by many, but her books will continue to entertain, inspire and enlighten children and adult readers for many years to come. R. I. P.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I Blame It All On Spam!

Yesterday started out as a pretty good day. I did a little of this and that, exchanged emails with a writer friend, and with my daughter, spent some time outside, enjoying the light rain falling, came inside again and checked my email. After all, by then at least an hour had gone by since I had last checked it. A lot of emails can come in during the course of an hour. And guess what? There was a lot of email, most of it nasty spam, trying to sell me all kinds of wonder drugs, (that shall remain nameless,) to cure what ails me, and I'm not even a man! I HATE SPAM!

But wonder of wonders, there among all that spam was an email from Teri P. of Chicken Soup for the Soul, with an attachment. That meant there was a permission agreement to be signed and faxed back to them, for another Chicken Soup for the Soul Book. This one for Chicken Soup for the Soul, Celebrating People Who Make a Difference in the Lives of Others.

Now any writer who has gone through the submission process for a Chicken Soup book, knows the process. Stories are first read and rated by designated readers. Then the highest rated stories are passed on to more readers. Finally, a certain number of the highest rated stories are the finalists. At that point, Chicken Soup sends out an email informing the writer he/she is a finalist, and to please print, sign and fax back the agreement by the set date. Woo Hoo, I was a finalist again, and with a little more luck, this latest story would make it into the book.

However, I decided to dilly dally and get back to the email in the next day or so. I had nice Sunday plans, so Monday would be a good day to take care of the business of important emails from Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Meanwhile, more spam arrived that I kept deleting, and deleting, and when later I looked for the email from Chicken Soup, it was gone! Vanished into cyber space, no doubt with the spam I had so dilligently deleted! Oh my gosh, what would I do now? My evening was ruined, my Sunday would be spent worrying, my life as a writer was in jeopardy, (well, a little drama here!) and it was all because of the darn spam! I HATE SPAM!

I tried to find out if I could somehow un-delete a deleted email. But no such luck for this tech dummy. Finally, I searched my address book and found the email address for D'ette C. I worked with her on the last two Chicken Soup books. Maybe, just maybe she could help me. So, last night I emailed D'ette, apologizing profusely for bothering her, explaining my situation, and begging her to help me, if she was able to. And guess what? A little while ago, D'ette replied, telling me it was no bother, and they were always glad to help their contributors, in any way they could. And I now have Teri's email, and sent her an apologetic letter explaining to her what had happened, and asked her if she could re-send the information and contract/permission agreemnent. Hopefully, I will hear from Teri by tomorrow, and can finally complete the process as a finalist for the new Chicken Soup for the Soul, Celebrating People Who Make a Difference in the Lives of Others. Meanwhile, I'm keeping my fingers crossed! Whew, a long rant, but I'm glad I got it off my chest. Wish me luck! And did I tell you that I HATE SPAM?

Post Script: Monday morning, Sept. 10th--The email from Teri Paluso just came in. I'm back in business!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

They're Back!

There are several large oak trees shading my deck. These oak trees are home to numerous walking sticks. Every year as Fall is approaching, walking sticks start climbing down from the oak trees, and moseying along on the railing, on the siding of the house, on the barbecue grill. Well, they're everywhere! And because I usually have the glass door open where dogs and cats can go in and out when the temperature is pleasant, walking sticks come into the kitchen at times. Sometimes, they come in carried by one of the cats! Those I try to rescue, if it's not too late. And if they lose one of their legs, they can grow a new one.

I have at times kept a walking stick among my house plants, where it did well for a short time. But, because their life-cycle is usually a year, and when they climb down from the oak trees, their time is almost up, life among my house plants was short lived.

Walking sticks are not a pest to farmers or ordinary people. They're peaceful insects feeding mainly on oak, berry, cherry and a variety of other leaves. Their days are spent motionless hanging from leaves and branches, waiting until dark to feed, disguised as a stick or a leaf.

Walking sticks lay eggs that fall to the ground, the eggs usually spending winter beneath a pile of dry oak leaves. They hatch in the spring and climb up the oak trees, and spend their time munching and growing to adulthood, laying their own eggs, coming down and expiring, completing their cycle of life.

And they're back again! I like walking sticks, though it makes me a little sad that their time is almost up. But Nature's plan can not be tampered with.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sweetness, Sadness and Blessings

There once was a playful, little black puppy that used to love to play with a sweet little girl who came to visit me from
the city. They would run up and down my driveway, without a care in the world. But that was a long time ago. The little black puppy, grew up, grew old, and sadly, finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge recently. The sweet little girl grew up and is now a senior in high school, who has chosen her Nana (that's me!) to write about as the person she most admires. A sweet blessing!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Singing in the Rain!

"I'm singing in the rain, Just singing in the rain.
What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again."

Yes, it's finally raining, and I was out there singing and dancing around, while the dogs ran around me, yipping happily. Well, until the rain got rid of all my curls, and my wet hair hung limp, like a wet mop! Then I came back in, dried my hair, and sat down at my laptop, which is right by the window looking out at the pond. I can rejoice in the rain from in here, while finishing "Grist for the Mill," and enjoying the pleasant view.
This rain today is just a drop in the bucket; everything is extremely thirsty. But it's a start, and more rain is in the forecast for the next several days. Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Que Serra, Serra

I missed an anthology deadline the other day. I had forgotten all about it, until a young writer friend reminded me of it today. Yikes! So what did I do? I wrote a story for it anyway, and sent it off three days late. If it gets rejected for being late, well, at least I tried, and maybe learned a valuable lesson. And if I get lucky, and it gets accepted, I will be thankful.

I was surprised how well the story flowed, and I didn't have too much trouble with it, even though there was the stress of getting it done quickly. Two hours later, The Well Fertilized Baby, was finished, and on it's way through the email. Whatever happens now, happens. Que Serra, Serra!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Good Food, Good Fun, And Good Company

We have a beautiful winding river in our area, that everyone can enjoy, and that is what I did today-enjoyed my time on the river. Whether going down the river in a jet ski at 40 miles per hour-whee-or floating at a leisurely pace, it's a wonderful experience. Good food, good fun, and good company made today especially nice.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Brother and Sisters, Chicken Soup for the Childs Soul

Two new books just released by Chicken Soup for the Soul that I have stories in are:

Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating Brothers and Sisters There is no other family relationship quite like it! Rivalry, competition, camaraderie, love, and support--all are found in thebond between brothers and sisters. Reflecting on the nuances of this special connection, Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrating Brothers and Sisters is filled with heartfelt stories that honor this unique relationship.
My story is entitled "You're Too Cute To Be A Boy"

Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul Through this collection of heartfelt true stories about family ties, helping neighbors, and lasting friendships, children will see how other kids their age have learned valuable lessons from the choices they've made--and most of all, they will realize that they are not alone indealing with some of the difficult issues in their lives; such as the loss of a loved one, accepting and respecting others, taking responsibility fortheir actions, coping with fitting in, or learning to make friends.
My story in this book is "The Joy Of Giving."

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Sad Sunday Surprise

A somewhat sad Sunday, as Father Mike announced that he would be leaving us in a couple of weeks, and a new Shepherd of the Flock would be taking over our spiritual care. It was a surprise to everyone! I hate to see him leave; I've grown accustomed to his caring, gentle ways. I'll never forget when he made the announcement last November right in church that "our famous writer Renie Burghardt is having a surprise birthday party downstairs, please stop in to wish her happy birthday." I almost fell over in the pew, when I heard him, and everyone turned to look and smile at me. However, my daughter was peeved at Father Mike for giving away the surprise before they got me downstairs on some ploy, so they could all yell "surprise!" My friend Jan then made the remark that Father Mike should be spanked for spoiling the surprise. And Garnet burst out laughing, while Eileen looked at Jan with a disapproving frown. Jan is bad! Actually, he didn't really spoil it, for it was a nice surprise to have him announce it to the entire congregation. However, today's surprise was sad. I will miss Father Mike!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Oh, What A Beautiful Day!

Finally, August is history and September is here! And it was a beautiful first day of September. Sunny, mid-80s, with a breeze that tickled my wind chimes all day, and gave me a chance to be outside, listening, feeling, enjoying. Of course, I should have been writing, instead of be-bopping around, but it has been so long since I could be outdoors for longer than ten minutes, that I decided to enjoy it. The two dogs, who also dislike the hot weather, were happy, too, chasing sticks, walking in the woods, with their noses to the ground, smelling for wild things that may have been around.

Actually, I did work on Grist for the Mill, early this morning, so I made some progress. The heroine, Liz, has discovered something astounding,
so she is excited! But she will have to stay where she is for now, this is Labor Day weekend, there won't be too much time to work on the story.
But a good time at the cabin on the river is in the works for me. Happy Labor Day!

Links To A Few Of My Articles

I thought I'd put up a few links to some of my online articles.
Finding The Strength To Overcome With Prayer

Sometimes a Writer Just Gets Lucky

Alone Doesn't Mean Lonely

Messages From the Old Homeland

There are many more, but I have to find them first!

Writes With Feathers Blog

A wonderful blog about birds and animals written by my friend, the bird lady of Alabama, Anne Watkins. Anne has been a cyber writing friend since the late 90s when we both wrote for a site that shall remain nameless! Anne is a talented writer, with oodles of writing credits, and the author of The Conure Handbook, of which I have a gifted, autographed copy of! Visit You will be glad you did.