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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Teresa's 39th birthday tribute

Teresa, we miss you very much. I remember when you were born. Your dad held you in the hospital room and fell in love with you immediately. You were so tiny. less than 7 lbs. You were my tiniest baby. We looked you over and were mesmerized by your tiny toes and fingers, your dark hair..and so much of it! You were so beautiful.
You grew to be an adorable little girl. You were so much different than your sister, Becky. She was a girly girl. You were like a little tomboy. You loved sports and playing outside with the boys, even though they weren't always very welcoming. Who wants a baby sister tagging along, anyway. But that never deterred you. You found a way to fit in as best you could.
You were very accident prone. I remember a large plate glass window breaking and you received a nasty gash on your upper arm. You carried the scar from that the rest of your life.
On the school playground, in 4th grade, the teeter totter came down on your knee and gave you a 4 inch gash across the inner fleshy part of your knee. I don't even remember how many stitches it took to sew you up. I couldn't watch. Another scar for you to wear your entire short life.
As a teenager, you loved playing sports. Volleyball was one of your favorites. Every time I go to the Jr. High School I look for your name on that wall for your perfect serve game. We are so proud of you for that.
Basketball was another favorite for you. It was maybe a little harder for you, but you were aggressive and a good guard. We loved going to your games and watching you. You loved playing with the Francis kids. You messed up a leg playing there. It didn't keep you down long, though.
Softball was your favorite, though. Unfortunately, it was rather dangerous for you. One game, while we were in California, left you with a broken fibula. Surgery involving a plate and screws and then removal of the hardware left you with more scars on your leg.
You were independent, but needed help. You had a child while still in high school. No one could ever love a baby like you loved yours. You gave up on a lot of social activities and events to care for your child. She became your life. Grandpa and I tried to help as much as we could so you could have some social life. We all loved little Regan more than life.
We were proud of your studies to become a nurse. You were working full time, going to school, studying every evening while caring for Regan. I know it was so hard for you. But you wanted to do it. We were so proud when you took your State Board exams in Topeka. That was on February 15, 1999.
On the 20th, you stopped by the house to ask us to check out your furnace, because your pilot light kept blowing out. It was so dark outside that we asked you and Regan to stay with us. We promised to check it out that next day. You were angry when you left. If we had only known that would be the last time we would see you...ever.
The phone call at 4 a.m. woke us up. We immediately got up and headed to Clyde. We could see the orange glow in the sky and dreaded to see what we knew was coming.
The fire department was struggling to get inside the house because the flames were so high and so strong. Their equipment was malfunctioning. But it was too late, anyway. When they came to tell us they had seen your body through the bathroom window, they had tears in their eyes.
We drove home, woke your brothers and told them what had happened. They drove over to see for themselves what they could hardly believe. We prepared for the onslaught of well-meaning family, friends, and neighbors we knew would be coming to our home. We called Becky, who was with Rusty in Colorado. It was one of the saddest days of our lives.
We buried you on my dad's birthday. I took off about 3 weeks from work. We were busy that entire time, writing thank you notes and cataloging all the cards and gifts. Becky told Regan about her Mommy going to Heaven. Regan, in her 3 year old innocence, told Becky that it was ok that Mommy's in Heaven, because that's where the doggies are. She had just wanted All Dogs Go To Heaven.
Your short life was a blessing to us. We are so proud of you, and we cherish your daughter and now your granddaughter. I think you would like Tim, Regan's husband. And I know you are watching over all of them and us. Thank you, Teresa. God bless you and keep you. We love you. Mom.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Loving and Patient? Who, Me?

BRRRR!!!  The thermometer reads 39 degrees right now, but it feels like about 10 degrees.  The air is moist and rain is predicted.  This house is drafty.  The windows don't fit quite right lately.  I wonder if all the earthquakes we've had made the house settle?  Or is it just old houses settling like they normally do?  Either way, it is very inconvenient.

It's just me and the two dogs tonight.  Dennis rode with Becky to a ballgame our granddaughter is playing in.  We had talked about going out for supper, but Karsyn comes first.  I had bedding in the washing machine, and I've been fighting off a cold, so I'm remaking the bed, then I'll climb in and enjoy a good book.  I don't get a chance to do that very often.  Supper consisted of a cheese sandwich, peaches, a cup of yogurt (key lime pie flavor) and lemon pudding.  Quite a variety of flavors, but it was satisfying.

Sometimes I just enjoy being alone for a little while. I can always find something to do. I do enjoy having Dennis around since he retired.  Last night he made supper and this morning he fixed breakfast while I was in the shower.  He takes me out for meals and shopping several times a week.  He spoils me rotten.  

Yesterday, I was watching a video on Facebook.  I wanted to share it with Dennis.  He was watching a rerun of one of his favorite tv shows. I turned the volume up a little and turned the screen around so he could see it.  He reminded me that I need to use my earphones with the computer.  He wasn't interested in watching the video.  I confess I was a little peevish about it.  I didn't say anything, but I did glare at him, then put my earphones back on.   A while later, he asked me what he did to make me mad.  I told him that maybe I should get him some earphones  for the tv, so I wouldn't have to hear it.  He replied "but you are using the computer."  He missed the whole point.  Oh well!

We get along very well.  Sometimes I get irritated when I have to pick up after him, or if he criticizes my cooking, which doesn't happen very often at all. Sometimes I get frustrated because I have different ideas about how to spend our money, what little we have.  But I try to stifle the urge to be nagging and critical of him.  Why?

Because I don't know how long I'll have him around, and I don't want to spend the time we have left fighting.  His cancer is in remission so far.  But the cells are still there. His cardiac doctors say his heart is in good shape since  he had his bypasses.   The diabetes is a constant struggle for him, and he gets so frustrated because even when he eats very little at all, his sugars stay out of the normal range.  He is terrified that the surgeons will have to start amputating limbs.  He has enough on his plate.

So, I will continue to love him, and try to keep him happy as I can. No one is more generous than Dennis Barnes.  He is a soft touch for sick and abused children, and animals.  We give to several charities on a monthly basis.  We support veterans' organizations, children's hospitals, and other charities, as well as the Church.  We'll never have much money, but we can sleep at night.

Love is not unkind. It is never selfish. It serves to protect, not imprison. Let me be perfect in my love. Amen.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year, New Beginnings

Yesterday, January 1, 2017, we began a new year.  With the new year, we get a chance to make new beginnings, continue that which works, and eliminate that which doesn't.  So I'm thinking about which way I need to go from this point onward.

No, I'm not planning on getting a divorce, or quitting my job.  I love my husband, and I love my job.  In fact, today is our forty-sixth wedding anniversary.  Our relationship is stronger than it ever was.  Rather, I'm trying to decide what priorities to set in my life from this point forward.

One of my resolutions is to get my house back into shape.  Since we closed our store "Eagles Nest Boutique", I brought a lot of the unsold merchandise home with me, and it is stashed all around the house.  I want to make a concentrated effort to find homes for most of it.  A yard sale may be in the future.

I have not been working on my art or my writing much at all in the past year.  I hope to renew my interests in both.  I have family who are asking why I never paint anymore.  They looked forward to seeing new paintings and drawings.  My house is so small that there doesn't seem to be much room to set up my paints and canvasses.  Perhaps once I get rid of the store stuff, I will have a little more room for my art.

My writing has also been neglected.  I have a novel that is almost finished in rough draft.  It is time to finish that rough draft and start editing it.  Then I can see about publishing options.  Space is not the problem here.  It's motivation and concentration.   I am resolving to start writing almost daily this year.  It might be on this blog, it might be newspaper articles for the library, or it might be short stories, or my novel.  I want to write some books for toddlers too.  

I want to work on improving my health this year too.  I need to walk more.  Back pain has been a huge issue for me in the past few years.  If I keep getting the back injections that are so helpful, I may be able to get back to walking short distances again.  I would love that--to be able to go for walks with Dennis, to ride bicycles with my granddaughters, to be able to shop with my daughter.  I'm praying for a little relief for my back so I can renew my exercise routines.

I want to do a great job at the library. I've not heard any complaints, but there are aspects of the job where I know I haven't been able to achieve much progress.  I want to change that.  I have so many displays I want to make, programs I want to initiate, housekeeping chores that need done, and so much more.

I want to be able to divide my time between family, job, and work, while maintaining some equilibrium.  I want to keep my faith in God as a priority, and find ways to serve Him more selflessly. 

The above resolutions are achievable, if I keep my priorities straight.  If I stop wasting time on Facebook games, or at least keep them to a minimum.  I'm going to print out my resolutions on a poster, and place it on my computer desk.  I'll enlist Dennis to remind me of my family priorities.  The library board has already listed priorities for me, and our board meetings help to enforce them.

Lastly, I'd love to wish all my readers, family and friends a very happy New Year, and I wish the coming year to be safe, healthy and full of wonderful experiences and faith.

Happy New Year!

Friday, October 21, 2016

F2K nearing completion--what next?

I have completed my F2K lessons through lesson 6, and offered feedback to most of my classmates, enough for certification of completion.  The contest is still going on, and I have no illusions that I will win.  There simply are too many extremely talented writers in my classroom alone who will earn the right of best in class.  But that's ok.  I'm proud of every one of them.

My next project, when I can find time away from the library, will be to finish my 10+ year old YA novel, A Door in Time.  I thought about using it for NANOWRIMO this year, but my novel is no where near 50,000 words and probably never will be that long. So I'm just going to flesh my story out and edit as needed and then go for the marketing and publication.

I'm hoping to complete the rough draft at least by the end of the year.  This winter, I can work on the edits and rewrites, and then hopefully by next spring, I'll be ready to find a publisher.

My library job is coming along, however, I'm finding that doing most of the work by myself means I'm working a lot of unpaid overtime there.  Today I was there from 9:15 a.m. until 6:15.  The hours officially are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays.  So I will just turn in the regular hours, plus a couple perhaps.  

I hired my granddaughter to come in and help me with the cleaning. She swept floors and vacuumed carpets today.  Dennis gave her $20 for helping me.  I had planned on paying her something from my paycheck, but he is generous to a fault and always beats me to the punch.  I think I'll keep him.

We are watching Karsyn and Whitley, and their pets, again this weekend.  Whitley stayed for supper tonight of Lil' Smokies and eggs, and toast.  Tomorrow, Dennis is taking all the younger grandkids except Maliyah to Salina to shop for western wear.  Then they will eat at Coyote Canyon and go to the Rolling Hills Zoo.  I would love to go, but I desperately need to catch up on my housework, so I'm staying at home.  Maybe I'll get a chance to do a little writing if I work hard in the morning. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

A country wedding

Recently, Dennis and I attended the country wedding of our niece, Shanae Thompson and her husband, Bret Spears, of Scandia, Ks.  The wedding was an outdoor affair, located on top of the hill behind my mother's house.  

Everyone gathered at my brother, Tom's home, and parked in the pasture.  From there, we were transported by hayrack pulled by tractors to the altar site near the summit of the large long bluff, which borders the Republican River Valley, a mile east and a mile south of Norway, Kansas.

A soft rain fell on the guests, as we waited for the wedding to start. Umbrellas were popping open everywhere. I had two umbrellas, which were taken by granddaughters to use. I shared one with my daughter, Becky, as we sat on planks stretched over hay bales near the altar, which consisted of a table with their picture in front of a PVC construction with white curtains blowing in the wind.  Very simple, with sunflowers in little vases as decorations.  It was all very quaint, but with the stunning view from the top of that tall hill as background for the ceremony.

Casual wear was the order of the day, with most of the men wearing their blue jeans and button down shirts, and the women wearing print dresses with cowboy boots.  The bride looked stunning in a traditional long white gown with lots of ruffles.  Very feminine, it was not quite what I had expected from her, as she has been a lover of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor sports.  But she was gorgeous.

Following the ceremony, we all rode the hay racks back down to the house, and everyone drove their cars to the Community Room in the Norway Gym.  It was the gymnasium where I had played basketball while in grade school, where I served as cheerleader in eighth grade, where we did physical education, and where countless family get togethers have happened since the school closed many years ago.  I would not have recognized it if I hadn't known where I was.  

Tables running the entire basketball court were covered in glistening white plastic tablecloths, with candy kisses and miniature Reeces Peanut Butter cups along the middle of the tables, which didn't last long, as everyone was starving.  The aroma of foods cooking made everyone's stomachs growl and twist with hunger. 

Chandeliers made from wagon wheels, and mason jars covered with tinsel, were hanging from the basketball goals, which were tied up at each end of the court.  I know, it sounds cheesy, but they were really quiet beautiful.  I couldn't get a picture of them, because they were so bright in the darkened room that they looked like balls of fire.  Little vases and jars of sunflower blossoms adorned the tables.  

There was a meal served with several kinds of meat, and other goodies.  However, Dennis was getting antsy, and didn't want to stay for the meal or the dance.  So we said our goodbyes and left.  I wish the new couple every happiness and a long life together.


Today is the second day of my vacation.  I had planned to work today, but when I talked to Lee Ann, the other librarian, she said she could handle it today and told me to just enjoy my time off and not think about the library.  I don't think she realizes how much that place has gotten under my skin and into my heart.  I'll probably wonder how it is doing all week.

We've been busy packing and getting ready to leave tomorrow morning.  We have been watching the weather, which has been crazy this week. Just about 8  miles east of here a big tornado touched down and did some damage.  There have been videos tracking it from south of Salina, Ks. up as far north as Palmer, Ks. and possibly beyond.  I haven't heard of anyone being hurt or killed, but I know there has been property damages.  We only had a few branches from our Sycamore tree fall into our yard, and that happens every time we get a slight breeze.  I call it our Sick-a-more Tree.

To the east coast and south, Hurricane Matthew is currently wreaking havoc, with hundreds killed in Haiti and the Bahamas.  Property damage from winds, and flooding will be in the millions, if not billions.  I keep praying for the people who live in those areas.  My sister-in-law, Linda Tuberville, lives in Florida, but one of their sons says they are safe in Phoenix, Az. right now, so that is a relief. Other friends in the region have posted on Facebook that they are safe, so I am happy.

In the northwest, where we planned to go, snow and ice have been falling.  We are hoping that will clear up so we won't be stuck in a snow drift somewhere.  We are taking Becky's two youngest daughters with us, so that will be quite an experience.  I hope they don't get too bored with old Grampy and Grammy.  We plan to take them to Mt. Rushmore, Chief Crazy Horse Monument, Devils Tower, and other area sites.  Then we hope to go on to Yellowstone Park and share those experiences with them.   I'm praying we can make it a safe and fun trip for the girls.

Anyway, I need to finish my laundry, so I don't have a pile of sour, moldy clothes when I return.  Have a safe and beautiful week, my friends!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

F2K Continues--help requested

Hello Readers,

Today I'm going to post some of my writings for F2K.  It involves a couple of story lines I'm trying to develop. I can't decide which one I will complete for Lesson 6. We are on Lesson 4 now and Lesson 5 is ready to post.   Feedback is welcome.

The first story is about a ghost in the Jefferson Library (fictional).

The Spirit of Jefferson Library
I met the Spirit of the Jefferson Library when I closed.  A sudden chill resulted in goose bumps on my arms, and I felt a waft of foul air pass in front of me.
The day started with a sudden storm, dumping almost an inch of cold rain.  The wind blew eddies around on the street, picking up fallen autumn leaves and creating little tornadoes that swirled around.  After the storm ended, the library smelled dank and sour.  Buckets sitting around on the floors began making music as rain drops, having soaked through the roof and ceiling fell into the buckets, strategically placed during prior storms.
The patrons didn’t make much fuss about the drips. After the first drop fell on them or the table, they calmly moved a few feet away and quietly resumed their reading or studying.  A few minutes before closing time, they closed their books, filled their book bags, and left for the evening.
I re-shelved the last book and started toward the desk to retrieve my purse.  I gasped as the lights suddenly went out.  I looked around toward the front door, believing it was a patron playing a trick on me.  It was dark, but still light enough that I could see that no one stood by the front door. 
“H-hello?,” I called out, looking around me in every direction.  “Is anyone there?”
Dead silence. 
“The library is closing,” I continued, while edging toward the desk and the phone.  “If you need a book, please come back tomorrow during regular library hours.”
A book slammed to the floor from the shelf directly behind me.  I screamed and whirled around.  The book lay opened, its pages parted in the middle.  I could see a passage in the book had been circled in red permanent marker.  I picked the book up and carried it to the desk.  Flipping a light switch to the on position, I was horrified to find it didn’t work. Maybe a bulb burned out.  
I grabbed a flashlight from under my desk.  A quick glance around with the light revealed no living person in the room with me.  I used the light to read the passage in the book.
“This place is not your home. You must leave at once.  Staying here may result in your death,” the passage read. 
Oh my goodness.  My heart was beating so fast and so hard, it felt like it was going to climb up my throat and jump out of my mouth.  My stomach felt queasy.  I was sweating profusely.
Suddenly, an apparition in old clothes, like someone from another century, appeared in front of me. The odor of death was all around me. The ghost didn’t say a word.  He just extended his long raggedy arm and pointed to the front door.
I obeyed.  I called the library the next day and resigned.  No one seemed surprised or argued.

The Spirit of Jefferson Library may still be there today. I know I won’t be.

1.    Buckets sitting around on the floors began making music as rain drops, having soaked through the roof and ceiling fell into the buckets, strategically placed during prior storms.
2.    A sudden chill resulted in goose bumps on my arms, and I felt a waft of foul air pass in front of me.
3.    I gasped as the lights suddenly went out. 
4.    The pall of death was all around me.
5.    The tang of blood filled my mouth after I bit my lip. 
6.    Suddenly, an apparition in old clothes, like someone from another century, appeared in front of me.
7.    The room seemed like a large cavern, with high ceilings and tall windows.
8.    I looked around toward the front door, believing it was a patron playing a trick on me. 

The library takes on a different atmosphere at night.  Crickets sing their songs in the silence of empty rooms.  The faint essence of perfumes worn by patrons earlier in the day wafts in invisible clouds over the tables.  A chill comes over the room, as the Spirit drifts among the shadows.  A metallic flavor fills my mouth as my fear overtakes my senses.  The hours seem to drag on forever until morning. The rooms seem so big and empty.

This will sound a little out of sequence. That's because it is.  It is actually 2 different lessons that I am planning to combine for a short story.  It will be placed into an appropriate order before it is posted as a complete storyline. There will be more description, and more details, as well as a story arc.  For now, I'm just collecting the words and getting them on paper.

The second story line is about a telemarketer call gone badly.

The Butcher

The phone rang, waking me up from a deep sleep.  At first I thought I was dreaming, and the phone’s ringing seemed to be in the dream, so I ignored it.  Eventually, I realized that I was awake, and I sighed as I reached for my phone.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Gloria? Gloria Evans?” A male voice on the other end of the line boomed into the receiver.  I pulled the receiver away from my ear and winced.  I didn’t recognize the voice.
“Yes? Who’s calling please?” I asked.  Dang! Surely not another telemarketer!  I’ve already had four of them call this morning.
“This is James Edwards from Publisher’s Clearing House.  You are the lucky winner of a new Vizio sixty- inch television!  Congratulations!”
“I’m confused. How could I have won a TV set when I didn’t enter the contest?” I frowned, rubbing my eyes. “I think you must have made a mistake.”
“You are Gloria Evans, aren’t you?  That is the name that was drawn earlier today in our big give-away contest.  Will you be home this afternoon, so we can deliver  your new TV to you?” The booming man continued his spiel.
“I already have a TV, and I don’t need a new one.  Give it to someone else. This is not a good time for me,” I argued.  Man, I hate telemarketers!
“But you are the rightful recipient of this one.  We must deliver it or be out of compliance with sweepstakes law.  Now, your address is 222 Westside Boulevard, is that correct?” Mr. Boomer aka James Edwards continued.
“I’m not giving you any personal information about me, including my address. Heck, you could be a murderer or rapist looking for a way to attack me.  Please leave me alone!”  I pleaded.
“Oh, come on, you don’t really believe that, do you?  How silly!” Boomer began laughing into the receiver.  His laugh sounded like a donkey braying.  If I hadn’t been so angry with him, I would have laughed.  Instead, I just grew more agitated.
“I don’t know you. I didn’t order any television, and I didn’t enter your stupid sweepstakes!  Now, please leave me alone
 “Your daughter knows me.  Don’t you, Lisa?  Do you want to talk to Lisa?”  I could hear my daughter’s voice in the background.
“Lisa? Is that you?  Where are you, Sweetheart?” I cried into the phone.
Boomer came back on the line.  “Just don’t you worry your pretty head about where Lisa is. She’s safe with me, now. But how long she remains safe will depend on how fast you can come up with one million dollars to, shall we say, buy her freedom?”
“You bastard!  How dare you kidnap my daughter!” I screamed into the phone.
“Now, now, is that any way to talk to the person who holds your daughter’s life in his hands?  Oh, and by the way, my name is not James Edwards, either.  You can just call me Butch.  Short for Butcher.  Got it?”

The next part of the "lesson" involves conducting a job interview with one of our characters.  I chose the Butcher.  It goes like this:

“Hello, may I help you?”
“Yes, Mrs. Barnes, I am here to apply for the role of the Butcher in your movie about the kidnapping.  I have my resume here for you.”
“Thank you, Mr. Jamison. Please have a seat.  Well, now—you do have a criminal record?”
“Yes, I do. Why? Does that make a difference?”
“Well, that depends.  What did you do?  Did you serve time for your crimes?  Are you free to work for me, now?”
“I’m no angel.  When I was fifteen, I killed a man who raped my sister.  That son of a bitch deserved it.”
“Why didn’t you let the police handle it?”
“Ha, ha, lady, have you ever had a family member raped and seen how the police handle crimes like that?  By the time she was done, she felt like she had been raped multiple times by multiple people.  They let that SOB get off with two years in a minimum security prison.”
“So when did you kill him?”
“The day he got out of the joint.   I was waiting at his house and broke his neck like a pencil. It was very satisfying.  But it didn’t bring back Sissy’s innocence.  I wished I could have killed him again and again and again!”
“Ok, let’s move on.  What have you done since then?”
“I served fifteen years for killing that jerk, then when I got out, I got a job as an auto mechanic in a small town filling station.  I was always good with a wrench and pliers.”
“I’m sure you were. What makes you want to apply for this job?”
“I always thought acting would be kind-a fun.  I think I could really get into this role and become one with the Butcher.  I could think about what happened to my sister, and get angry all over again, and that would give me the rage needed to act out a role like this.”
“Um—you realize this is just a movie?  We aren’t actually going to hurt anyone?  Do you believe you could control yourself, and not hurt the other actors?”
“Sure.  Remember, my sister was hurt. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone like her. That’s exactly why I’m perfect for this role.”
“I’m confused, Mr. Jamison.  First, you say you want to get back your rage from your sister’s violent rape, then you say you can control that rage, because of your sister’s rape.  That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I need to know that we can trust you to do a good job of acting, but to be always in control.  How can you guarantee you won’t act out again?”
“You know, it’s bitches like you that keep people like me oppressed and unable to keep a job.  I came here in good faith, and want to do a good job for you.  But I’ll never be up to your standards, so screw you!”
“Mr. Jamison, I don’t think this job is right for you.”

Ok, now you may chop it to pieces. Please keep in mind that these are disjointed because they are snippets of the storyline pieced together for individual fiction writing lessons.  What I want to know is which storyline to develop into a full short story?  Hoping for some constructive criticism.
Thank you.