Friday, December 25, 2009

A Little Late, But Better Late then Never!

With a picture of Eileen (on the left) and me doing some last minute Christmas shopping at the mall recently, I came to wish you all a somewhat belated Merry Christmas. I hope it has been merry and bright and very blessed! And I hope the new year brings us all Peace, Love, Contentment and Good Health! Happy New Year, everyone, and God bless!

Blessings from the woods!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday to Me!

The good Lord has blessed us with many beautiful sunrises this month, the one above is from yesterday ( Sunday) morning, taken from my open kitchen window. I thought it would be the perfect image to go with the short Thanksgiving greeting I have for all of you.

This Thanksgiving Day, let us be mindful that by opening the heart and mind to focus on gratitude, we unleash a treasure of unceasing good that's waiting to overflow into our lives, and by giving thanks, we're given even more to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Rejoice in all your blessings this Thanksgiving.

And guess who also has a birthday this week? Actually, on the 25th, the day before Thanksgiving. The little girl in the picture-me. This is the only picture I have of myself as a child. All the other pictures were lost because of the war. My dear Grandma somehow managed to save this one by sticking it in her prayer book, and keeping it in her pocket through thick or thin! The picture was taken in 1938, when I was 2 years old. Eeek, really? But how can I be just 37 then? Ha! Ha! That would actually be 73, wouldn't it? But hey, I'm thankful that I made it to 73. At this age, each new year is a gift I'm very thankful for !

My wonderful family is arriving early this afternoon, to spend my birthday and Thanksgiving with me, and for that I am especially thankful. We'll be taking lots of pictures while they're here.

Thank you so much for visiting. Thanksgiving blessings from the woods!

Hurry, Enter Nonna's Christmas Give Away!

Patti at Nonna's News is having a fabulous Christmas give away. It's a beautiful Christmas cookbook "Christmas in the Country." Hurry over to Nonna's News, to find out more and enter the give away. Good Luck!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Refugee Camp Princess-- Lives on at Story House!

Guess who this is? Yes, it's me at age of 16, wearing my dancing clothes and shoes! Dancing was my life back in the good old, nifty fifties! Dancing helped me forget that just a couple of years before, I had been living in a refugee camp, as a DP girl of World War II.

I had forgotten about this picture, and the story that it accompanied. But both live on, on the web, where they fist appeared in 1998!

A few days ago I received an email from Richard Loller of Story House, which said---

-"Renie,We are featuring your story on our home page this week.Best wishes,Richard-- *******************************************************************************************THE PRESERVATION FOUNDATION, INC.Richard Loller, Publisher A Nonprofit Corporation Preserving the extraordinary works of “ordinary" people.preserve@storyhouse.org 269-2433800 228-8517We are a 501c3 corporation. Donations are tax exempt."----

Wow, Really? I had no idea that Story House was still there. So I clicked back, and yes, there it was, along with the picture I had sent to go with the story, since I didn't have a picture of myself from the refugee camp.

It was 1998 when I had gotten my first computer, and I wanted to be a writer. And I found out about a contest Story was having for writers, and wrote "A Refugee Camp Princess," just for that contest. It was my first ever attempt at such a contest, so imagine my surprise when my story won first prize in non-fiction, and I received a $100 dollar check for it! I was delighted that my story won, for it gave me the much needed boost to keep writing.

A little later, I rewrote the story and titled it "Discovering the Joy of Giving." And it went on to be published over a half a dozen times, including in Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul 2, Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul, (yes, Chicken Soup reprinted it) Whispers from Heaven Magazine, Chocolate for Women anthology series, and just recently in Pure Inspiration Magazine. So the story has made the rounds, and did quite well, for which I am so grateful.

Before I make this much too long, I will put the link here to the old story, just in case any of you would care to take the time to read it. And if you do, I hope you enjoy it:

In a follow up email, Richard also said:---
Yes, it's still there. That's the purpose of our web site. To Preserve such stories for future generations. I don't doubt it will be there when Chicken Soup and all the rest have long been out of print. For it's a great one.

Good luck.

Best wishes,


Well, and thank you, Richard for your kind words and for featuring my old story, and for knowing that it will live on, on the web!

And thank you all for visiting and reading, and putting up with my reminiscing.

Have a wonderful rest of the week.

Blessings from the Woods!


Friday, September 11, 2009

We Remember 9/11

We will never forget! God Bless the United States of America!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hello, Anyone Out There?

Hello, anyone out there in blogland? It's been over a month since I last posted, so I thought I'd do a little update before you forget I'm here. You know the "out of sight, out of mind" theory. :-)

I have been enjoying summer by gallivanting here, there and everywhere. How has your summer been? It's hard to believe Fall is just around the corner.

The caravan of horse and buggies came down my gravel road again last week, so I thought I'd post a few pictures.
Here some of them come. There were 15 wagons, buggies and people on horseback altogether, and I'm just posting a few, of course. These folks are members of the Maynard, Arkansas saddle club, and go on these outings in the spring, summer and fall. In August is when they come down my road and I am glad they do. We need a little excitement around here, now and then.

And if the Good Lord be willing, we'll see them again next year.

Two Sundays ago, church friends Margaret and Jerry invited Eileen and me to a huge buffet fifty miles from home, as their guests. Our waitress was nice enough to take this picture, and I will just say, all the eating out I have been doing lately is plumping up my cheeks!

Well, I know I posted this on Facebook, but not here on my blog. This is the newest book I have a story in. Isn't it a beautiful little book? Actually, it's a collection on favorite childhood recipes and the stories that go along with the recipes. I am pleased to be included in this book.

Last, but not least, blogging buddy Brenda's sweet husband Bob made the nicest comment on my story in the latest Chicken Soup book on my last post, below. For a writer, whether it comes in an email, in a letter or as a comment in my blog, this is the kind of feedback that is worth it's weight in gold:

Uncle Bobby said...

Hi Renie. I am Bob Vornberg, Brenda's husband. Our granddaughter Maddie stayed with us overnight, and this morning as we played with her in the family room, I picked up the new "Chicken Soup" book and read your story on page 256 -- "Making the Best of the Worst of Times". As I looked down at our Maddie and pictured in my mind the scene you were painting, the example and lesson of your Grandfather made a very strong impression on me. I had a real sense of his spirit - not speaking to me in words - but as a role model, which he surely must have been for you.We have a young willow tree growing in our back yard, and whenever I look at it now, I will be reminded of your Grandfather - and it will remind me to try to be a role model to Maddie. I believe that God provides these "connections" for us if we are open to them. Please know that the spirit of your Grandfather is alive in our hearts. Thank you.

Thank you, Bob, for your touching comment. Yes, my Grandfather was a wonderful role model, as was my Grandma, and I have tried to keep both of their spirits alive in my stories.

Well, I made this post long enough to make up for all the posts I have missed in the past month. Now, it's time to go and gallivant some more.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Blessings from the woods!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

4th Of July-- Celebrate Freedom!

In September of 1951, I was 14 and on a ship that was taking my family and me, and hundreds of other refugee's of World War II, to America. On the tenth day of our journey I was out on the deck before dawn.

I remember gazing sleepily into the black distance, becoming slowly entranced by the trillions of lights out there on the dark horizon. It looked like a fairyland. It was my first look at America! Then, as dawn broke, someone in the crowd shouted, "There she is! There she is! The famous Statue of Liberty!"

Mesmerized, I gazed upon the vision of that grand lady with the torch rising magnificently out of the sea. From my vantage point on the ship, she seemed to hold her torch higher and higher on the New York skyline. I was overcome with emotion and could almost hear Lady Liberty saying the words I had learned in English class at the refugee camp school: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." And it seemed like she was speaking directly to me. That vision is indelibly etched in my memory.

And a few years later, when I became a proud citizen of my new country, I finally gained full membership in American society, and had the right to vote. And by pledging allegiance and loyalty to my new country, I became a proud American by choice!

(This is a short excerpt from my story "Two American Ladies" which was published in Mature Living Magazine" in 2004.)

Yes, I will be out there, celebrating freedom this 4Th of July.

While spending some time at our little cabin...

On a beautiful river....

And cruising around in a jet ski even. Weather permitting of course.

I hope you'll be celebrating freedom as well, this 4th of July. God Bless the USA!

Thank you for coming by. Have a wonderful weekend!

Blessings from the woods.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Should I Blog About Today?

Oh Me, Oh My, What Should I Blog About Today?

Should I blog about the crane at the pond?

Or the goldfinch at the spring, contemplating a cold drink?

Or maybe about some of the pretty blooms in my yard?

Like my lovely sunset orange rose, that I just planted this spring?

Or the beautiful, tropical hibiscus, that is putting on a show now?

Or better yet, should I blog about the new picture my daughter emailed me of Nichole, on the left, who is home from college for the summer, and Hannah, her twelve year old sister, who is happy to have her older sister home? Of course, their Nana loves to see pictures of them!

Or should I blog about the weather? Last winter, I vowed that I would never complain about summer heat, ever again. But guess what? I'm complaining! We've been in the upper 90s all week! It's just too darn HOT!!!!

Of course, the heat limits my outdoor activities to early mornings, or evenings, just before dark sets it, and that's a bummer for an outdoor person like myself. The rest of the time I'm dashing from the air conditioned house, to the air conditioned car, to air conditioned stores, air conditioned restaurants, air conditioned church, etc, etc. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

I hope your weather is cooler. Thank you for coming by. Have a great weekend!

Blessings from the woods!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Fred, catching some zzz's.

Patiently waiting for a treat!

Can you guess what this critter is?

Sticking close behind Mama!

Glowing eyes outside my kitchen window!


The newest Chicken Soup for the Soul has arrived, with my story in it! Yay!

I hope you're all doing well. Thank you for coming by.

Blessings from the woods!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Six Important Things That Make Me Happy.

Reader Will tagged me for the Six Important Things That Make Me Happy meme. Since I haven't done a meme in some time, I thought I would do this one. So here it goes:

1. My Christian Faith makes me happy. I love the Lord. and am thankful to Him for my many blessings.

2. My family and friends make me happy. To have them in my life is my greatest blessing.

3. Nature makes me happy. As a destitute child in a refugee camp in Austria, where I lived for four years, I learned to love nature. I used to escape that drab camp, with it's rows and rows of old army barracks lined up like soldiers where desperate people just existed, and sit by a beautiful river, gazing up at the mountains in the distance, and dream about a better life in the future. That river and those beautiful mountains gave my heart hope and saved me from despair. Nature has been my joy and solace ever since.

4. Animals make me happy. I love all animals; my dogs and cats, and all the beautiful, or not so beautiful creatures that share these woods with me, like the opossum that comes every night for his hot dog treat!

5. Writing makes me happy. I am a writer who has suffered many hardships, saw much destruction and tragedy as a child of World War II in Hungary. At the same time, I experienced some genuine miracles during those times as well, saw people rise above and survive many hardships, and was also the recipient of much compassion and kindness. Those experiences shaped me into the person I am today, and inspired me to write about them many years later, finally taking away their haunting power over me.

6. Living in the United States of America makes me happy. This wonderful country, Home of the Free, Thanks to the Brave, has been my home for 58 years, and I'm so blessed to be here. We can never forget that Freedom is Not Free! Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy. We honor their memory this Memorial Day.

There are many more things I love, but we were to list only six. However, I will sneak in one more, I love my pink roses, in full bloom right now!

I will not tag anyone else for this meme, but if any of you would like to join in on the fun, let me know. I would love to come and read your answers.

Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Blessings from the woods.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Two Oldies in Blue! A Little Update

Hello Friends in Blogland! I thought I'd do a little update and say Hi. It's been a little while since I did. I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I certainly did. I received cards and gifts and phone calls and was treated to a delicious Mother's Day dinner by my younger son, Greg. Of course, Eileen was included, because she is my best friend and she is also Greg's honorary aunt!

And here we are, two oldies in blue on Mother's Day! I didn't know Eileen was going to wear blue, and she didn't know I was, until we saw each other in church that morning. Imagine our surprise! LOL. Of course, she is more stylish than I, being into more accessorizing and all. She is a New York City gal, after all! (Well, actually, from Rockaway Beach, New York, but that's a part of NYC.) And I hope, Patty, her real life niece in Broad Channel gets a kick out of the picture! All in all, Mother's Day was a wonderful day, although I wish my daughter and older son and families could have been with us.

Otherwise, everything is green and beautiful, the garden is growing by leaps and bounds, and I'm enjoying wearing my jaunty straw gardening hat, one of my Mother's Day gifts from my daughter!

I haven't had much time for blogging lately, and that will be the case for a while longer. But I will try and visit with you all, and wish you a wonderful week ahead!

Thank you for visiting.

Blessings from the Woods!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Guess Who Is Having a Birthday Today?

Guess who is having a birthday today? It's this sweet girl in the picture. Her name is Mckenzie, and she is my youngest granddaughter. Just two weeks ago, when she was here visiting me, she was a little girl of nine, and today she is a big girl of ten! My, how time trots on by, and before I'll know it, she'll be off to college, like her older cousin Nichole. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

We had a wonderful visit while she and her Mama and Dad (who is my older son) were here. And I am sharing a couple of pictures from our visit.

Here she is, showing me a ladybug she found crawling on that stick she is holding up. If you look very closely, you might even see that ladybug!

And here is Mckenzie with her favorite cat, Orio, sitting next to the porch doll she brought me from Branson. Isn't the doll cute? But not as cute as Mckenzie!

Of course, whenever she is here visiting, she loves to go riding on the 4-wheeler. Here she is with her Mama and Dad, in the field. They went on many longer rides, too, up the hilly country roads, where they saw horses and cows, and goats and were chased by dogs!

Of course, she helped with me with some chores, too, read some of my stories in the Chicken Soup books without even being asked to read them, and enjoyed seeing some deer, turkeys, and lots of birds. Her favorite birds were the woodpeckers.

Now, they are all back at home, and I know today they are celebrating big time.

Happy Birthday, Mckenzie. I love you, miss you, and will see you again soon. xoxoxoxo

And Uncle Greg said to tell you, "You're still "IT," Kiddo!"


Thank you for visiting my little birthday tribute to Mckenzie. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Blessings from the woods!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day-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 and develop a sense of wonder about the natural world.

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

We look up 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 or fish 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 some lunch possibilities in my yard.

"Shoo!" I yell at the hawk, making 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, digging for grubs in the field.

"He is strange looking," says Hannah.

I want my granddaughters to see the deer grazing in the field, or drinking at the pond. 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 wilderness 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 can someday enjoy it as well

Thank you for visiting. Happy Earth Day, everyone!

PS. I had a wonderful visit with my older son and family and I will post a few pictures soon. I know Mckenzie is looking forward to seeing them. I did want to add my own small tribute to Earth Day, first.

Blessings from the woods!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Downer, an Upper, and a Little Blogging Break

"Money will buy a fine dog, but only kindness will make him wag his tail." (Or his little stump!) I love this quote!

, The other day I found this old picture of my sweet, good boy Rottie, Oscar/Ozzie, on an old CD. He was my faithful guardian, protector and loyal friend for almost ten years. When he went to doggie heaven in the summer of 2007, it broke my heart. He is buried at the edge of the woods here, and to this day, whenever I pass his resting place, I tell him how much I miss him, because, oh, I do! That is the "downer" part of this post.

Now, to the "upper" part. This afternoon, my older son, daughter in law, and sweet, nine year old granddaughter Mckenzie arrived, to spend a few days with me. Yay!!

So I am now on a little blogging break for a few days, and will see you all again soon.

Have a wonderful rest of the week, friends.

Blessings from the woods!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Little Beebopping and an Award

After a chilly start to the week, our Wednesday was sunny and in the mid-70s. So, after my Wednesday Chinese Buffet day, I came home and changed into my bee-bopping clothes, grabbed my cellphone and my sturdy walking stick, and off the dogs and I went to visit the little creek that lives in my woods.

Since these woods are quite hilly, I figured the workout of walking them would help get rid off any excess calories from my meal. Besides, I hadn't been there since last Fall; it was time to find out if Spring had sprung yet along the little creek where little wildflowers like to grow.

It is just a tiny, meandering creek, but I love it and was glad to see that there were a few wildflowers already growing along the bank.
There were some white beauties there.

And some lovely blue ones.
And sparkling yellows, too.

And there was a turtle enjoying the sunshine on his bed of rocks.

Of course, Sid enjoyed a dip in the creek, before we headed back to the house, refreshed by the visit to the little creek, and thankful that there is still much beauty to enjoy in these woods, after our destructive ice storm. I'll be visiting the little creek again, very soon!

And blogging friend Linda of This and That Diary gave me this beautiful award recently. Thank you so much Linda. It is perfect for the Easter Season. And I would love to pass it on to all my dear blogging friends.

Happy Easter! Happy Passover ! Happy Spring, everyone!

Blessings from the woods!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Visit to Tunica, Mississippi

Hi Friends,

Our visit to Tunica, Mississippi was a lot of fun. Just picture two old country gals, used to a larger population of trees and wildlife then humans, suddenly transported to the glitz, glamour, and excitement of Casino life, teeming with people from all over the country. Huge rooms filled with wall to wall slot machines, (where cameras are not allowed!) and other gaming paraphernalia, scrumptious food, drinks, and cigarette smoke. Cough! Cough! (Our choice of drinks were coffee and diet Coke!) A strange wonderland for the likes of Eileen and myself. Greg, of course, had been there before, so he wasn't walking around in an amazed state of mind, like we were. LOL.

But before I show you a few of the pictures, most of which didn't turn out as well as I had hoped for, let me give you a bit more background about this place called Tunica.

Tunica, Mississippi is 35 miles across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tennessee, and just about 180 miles from where I live. Tunica is in northwest Mississippi near the Arkansas and Tennessee borders.

The county was established in 1836, but its history goes much further back than that. The early residents were Native Americans who cleared the heavily forested land and built Indian Mounds. In 1885, the county seat was moved to Tunica where it remains today.

Today, Tunica, Mississippi has ten world-class casinos, over 6,000 all-new hotel rooms and 40 great new restaurants.There is golfing, swimming in luxurious pools, Tunica Lake, and Riverfront Park, where one can indulge in Riverboat Rides, on the great Mississippi! And, Nancy, no, I did not win the jackpot! But then again, I didn't really try to win it. I played one short game on a penny slot machine and won $20, and that was the extent of my gambling.

This picture is of the Gold Strike Casino, where we had brunch. Here were are in the lobby of the Gold Strike, posing for Greg's cell phone camera. No deer or wild turkeys around here, just some high rollers and us. :-)

The ceiling of the Gold Strike was adorned by dozens of beautiful chandeliers, and I just had to take a picture of one of them.

This is the Hotel Entrance to the Hollywood Casino, where we spent most of our time. Eileen and I enjoyed all the movie memorabilia that lined all the elegant hallways, while Greg was off in the slot machine area pushing buttons. He did hit a couple of jackpots!

The landscaping around the Hollywood Casino was beautiful and I especially loved the blooming Magnolia's, although the picture could be better. And everything was Spring green already in Tunica.

Tunica was a nice place to get away to, and if we ever go there again, I might just try to hit the jackpot!

Thank you for visiting. Happy April!

Blessings from the woods, my most favorite place in the world to be!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Strutting their stuff!

The girls seem impressed!

Happy Wednesday!

I'm looking forward to an exciting mini-vacation this weekend!

Blessings from the woods!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Has Sprung! Woo Hoo!

Spring has sprung again
And dear, my dreams are lofty
Come share them with me.
(By me, hehe.)

A few of the colors in my yard greeting Spring.

The resident turtle in my pond knows it's spring, too, as he enjoys sunning himself on his fallen limb perch.

Good riddance to winter! Happy Spring, everyone!

Or Happy Autumn to our friends in other parts of our planet.

Blessings from the woods!