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.