What could be more quintessential than to read with a child? Some of my most memorable times captured these moments. My newest book, Will You Read with Me? explores, in rhyme, the imagination of a child as he travels on a journey of discovery to find the best place to read. A page is included where the child can write or draw their own favorite place to read. an excerpt:
Let’s read in a tree.
just you and me.
Ask robin red breast,
may we sit in your nest?
Oh no tweeted she,
There’s not room for three.
It would not be best
to read in a nest.
Signed copies available on my website or from major retailers.
I am a Christmas stocking hung on the fireplace mantle. I see my owner alone, pondering her future. Last night the house was filled with gaiety everywhere. The people ate for what seemed like hours. They opened gifts, and I was as curious as they were to see the oohs, and ahs as each recipient opened their own special present. The children were especially excited to play with something new. I am amazed as I have watched these children grow, for I am a treasure that has been in my owner’s life for twenty-five years. I have seen much as each Christmas I have been placed in a prominent spot and filled with goodies. However, this year is different. This year I and my owner are all alone on Christmas morning. She is sad, I think, not sure of what she should do this year. I hear a knock at the door and she answers it. There stands her daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren, still in their pajamas. They bring in breakfast and more gifts. I am surprised to hear them say, “Mom, we knew you should not be alone today. We planned this all along.” I am relieved as I see my owner’s face turn from sadness to joy. In a few weeks I will be put away, but this break from tradition was the best Christmas ever! I am a pleased Christmas stocking.
FLYING COFFEE CUPS
It started out as one of those ordinary mornings. You know: drag yourself out of bed, take care of the necessities, and head for the coffeepot. Up until then, everything went as usual.
I poured a cup of hot brew, savoring the energizing smell, and headed toward the table, when the cup suddenly flew out of my hand as if it had sprouted wings. Horrified, I watched as the airborne cup bounced off the kitchen counter and disappeared over the side as if on a kamikaze mission. I waited for the sound of breaking glass, but silence ensued. As I surveyed the scene before me, it seemed the coffee had expanded while in the air.
Traces of the hot beverage dribbled down the white kitchen wall that formed several puddles on the tiled walkway between the kitchen and family room. To mock me, the cup lay on its side in a pool of brown liquid on top of the trashcan. In an instant, my off-white verticals were redecorated with irregular brown spots that matched brown dots on the back of my sofa. A new fashion statement it wasn’t!
A beautiful, sunny, cloudless day in Arizona welcomed us as we drove toward the Hopi Indian Reservation, accessed by travel through the Navajo Indian Reservation. The spectacular scenery consisted of flat land with an occasional butte jutting up to lace the landscape with colors almost beyond description. We were on our way to volunteer at the Hopi Indian Mission School in Kykotsmovia, Arizona. I would be tutoring; my husband scheduled to do maintenance and repair. The sun began to set as we neared our destination and it cast eerie shadows over the buttes. As if to provide a backdrop to the grandeur, a distant mountain range with snow-covered peaks captured our attention.
There were no homes or any other signs of life until we approached the town and school grounds. There the colorful beauty turned to bleak desolation. Unexpected gusts of wind rocked our fifth wheel, home for the next month. The few dwellings we observed resembled shacks. Car tires piled on top of the roofs served as protection against the constant turbulence. Later we would learn…
This is an excerpt from a story in my memoir. It also won first place at the Appalachian Heritage Writers Symposium this past June. There to volunteer, the experience changed my life in more ways than I could imagine.
“Don’t run through the sheets,” mama warned. Everyone knows if you tell a child not to do something, that something is exactly what he or she will want to do. I am no exception. The fresh smell of sheets beckoned to me every time. I often wondered who declared that laundry had to be done on Monday. A clue perhaps the seven embroidered tea towels held by fourteen wooden clothespins that indicated the main chore for each day of the week. Monday’s towel showed a young lady with a wash basket and every yard in my neighborhood indicated compliance.
This is an excerpt from Running Through Sheets, a memoir, available soon.
The TV series “Turn” about the revolutionary war, reminded me that men and women have reversed roles. Back then, men wore wigs, sometimes with elaborate curls, adorned with ribbons and bows, topped by fancy hats, with plumes. Despite the ruffles on the cuffs of shirts, the short pants, and long stockings men walked with determined steps and demonstrated authority. Women wore long dresses and were covered except for the tops of their bosoms exposed enough to declare femininity and perhaps a tease. There was no question who was male or female. Today young men walk in a strange way to keep their pants from falling down with underwear exposed for all to see. Many have become sissified, no longer men of valor. Young women expose almost all leaving nothing to the imagination and many have assumed the role that once belonged to men. At times one cannot tell the difference between the two. Decorum has been lost. Do not get me wrong, I am not a proponent of women barefoot and pregnant under the dominance of men. I see nothing wrong with women having careers or achieving success. But, on the other hand I love when a man opens my car door, holds a door open for me, helps me with a package, removes his hat in respect, or stands when a lady enters the room. Call me old-fashioned, but I enjoy being a woman. My desire is that men would return to being real men. How many would agree?
Not again we cried en masse,
And the heavens wept
Powerless to ease the pain
Unable to cleanse the crimson stain.
Creation mourned the loss.
Majestic mountains bent low
Quietly they came, drawn by unseen hand,
Expressions of love try to understand.
Common bond uniting, why ,why we ask?
To find an answer no easy task.
But truth emerges from the stained way.
Though evil intended to rule the day,
Good will prevail, wrongs will be right,
Tears wiped away, dark into light.
Life will go on after it’s kind.
All in God’s time, all in God’s time.
With all the talk about ethnicity and political correctness, I got to thinking. Now that could be dangerous! I was born on Long Island, New York, and I grew up in one of the best places to discuss the above. My neighborhood was very diversified. We had Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and others. A French family lived next door, and my high school was integrated. No one gave much thought to our differences; after all we were all people. I played with dolls of all nationalities, and no one questioned. My mother made lamb stew (our Irish heritage), Sauerbraten (our German background), roast beef and Yorkshire pudding (the English side), and our local bakery made Dutch rolls that were wonderful. (If anyone knows where I can find these do let me know). But I digress. We ate pizza, Chow Mein, and bagels on a regular basis. One special treat was going into the city, where a variety of ethnic delights awaited. I remember Luchows, a famous German restaurant, where my grandfather was Maitre d, or for a more casual treat the Horn and Hardart automat was a favorite. Interesting foods were displayed behind glass doors and the patron deposited the appropriate coins into a slot and the door opened. Their macaroni and cheese was the best. Nedicks was another special place, and Nathans for Coney Island frankfurters (hot dogs) smothered in special sauce with curly fries on the side brings back special memories. I am quite sure political correctness would not have been in my vocabulary. Correct meant you treated everyone with dignity and respect. We were different, and rather than judge people by their differences, we learned from each other. I believe I am well rounded because of these experiences. I moved to Florida in my thirties and I encountered an unfamiliar world. While not the Deep South, the word prejudice became a part of my vernacular. Tennessee became home and although I encountered some people with long held prejudices, I observed that times were changing. Acceptance was on the rise. Sadly, another unreasonableness has occurred. What’s more it is sweeping the country. I wish I could say it is good, but it has brought another prejudice called political correctness. Words like diversity awareness and training are bantered about. Instead of allowing folks to choose their associates, we are forced to accept this new way of thinking or face grave ramifications. I don’t know about you, but this has had the reverse effect on me. I wonder why I cannot draw my own conclusions about people. The bottom line is I like some people and I do not like others. It’s not based on any bias, but on common interests, etc. I want to make my own decisions about whom I will interact with. Please don’t dictate to me about rights. I support the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights as written. I don’t see anything in those documents that says I have to accept everyone. It also does not say everyone has a right to a house, a car, insurance, etc. However it does say we all have a right to work so we can purchase the above. That’s a topic for another day.
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about media. We discussed how much the way we communicate has changed. Downloading a book seems to be the way to go for many people today. I have a notepad with that ability, but every time I have thought I might give it a try the desire to hold an actual book in my hands stops me. I love the feel of a book, to turn the pages instead of sliding my finger across the face of the notebook. Perhaps the resistance is because I am a writer. I have a shelf full of books from my childhood, some with covers torn and others with pages brittle, but they are treasures from the past and full of memories. I can remember how old I was when I read most of them. They cannot be deleted when I’m done reading, or when my kindle or nook are full. There’s just something about a bookshelf full of books that brings me a sense of satisfaction. You can tell so much about a person by looking at what they read. I suppose I might adjust in time. I did when records became eight tracks, then tapes, then CDs/DVDs, and when floopy discs gave way to discs and when my desktop became a laptop and now I mostly use a notebook.
I remember a time when if we had something to commuicate we talked in person. But you had to walk or get in the car to do that so it became quicker on the phone, even if they lived across the street. My parents had a party line phone, which meant if someone else was talking you had to wait your turn. That would probably drive today’s instant generation into a nervous breakdown. Then we had a one party phone, but it was still attached to the wall so some brilliant soul invented long cords which stretched into another room. Great for multitaskers or mothers for short! Soon we got portable phones so you could actually take the handset with you and tuck it under your ear while managing family matters. E-mail became a must if someone wasn’t home. Voice mail was better yet. You could actually leave audible words. Cell phones were next and they are great when you have service, and they do offer lots of other conveniences besides being a phone. Still it’s kind of nice to be unreachable at times. I often see people with a phone on their ear as if it were an appendage. Are they so important that they must be in constant contact with someone on the other end of the line? E-mail has become passe for the current generation and texting is the rage. This evolved to short cut texting. I must admit I don’t like it. I don’t always understand the shortcuts. When someone agrees with you, they might just text K. I had to ask the first time what that meant. For those of you who are not in the know it means OK. How much longer would it take to text OK? A nano second? Or better yet to pick up the phone. I miss hearing a voice. I bought the bill of goods that all of these improvments were to save time, but then why does it seem I never have enough time? Sigh, progress. I think I’ll just go and read a book. From my bookshelf of course.
These are probably the hardest words to write because mere words cannot convey the pain I feel in my deepest parts. My heart and prayers go out to those who lost children and loved ones in the school shooting. Children are not supposed to proceed parents in death. But should we be surprised? As long as we have little regard for human life people will kill. It’s done everyday with abortions. These innocent babes also had a whole life before them. As long as our society accepts violent video games and television programs, as free speech we become desensitized to violence. As long as we continue to move away from Judeo-Christian morals and condone blatant immorality, calling it political correctness, we will become more degenerate. As long as we strive to remove all mention of God in our society we will see the escalation of events like this. As long as we do not provide help for those who exhibit abnormal behavior the unthinkable will occur. And while we must report these horrific deeds we ought not obsess on them day and night because there are others who crave the same attention and will act accordingly. As long as we call wrong acceptable and right wrong we should not be surprised. Nikita Khrushchev said “We will bury you from within.” And he was right. Indeed what he spoke of was moral decay and every great nation has fallen because of it. Gun control is not the answer. What we really need is God control!