Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Delays

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas . . . Wait! This is no dream! We actually have a White Christmas! There is at least four or five inches on the ground and it is still snowing! Yippee! This is so fun! It was raining yesterday morning at home and most of the drive up here. Just after we had unloaded, the sleet started to be mixed later with snow. By 5:00 there were big, fat, feathery flakes floating down.:) Oh, I just love snow! It kept snowing all evening and this morning it started again. No snow until Christmas Eve and then a White Christmas! We will be heading out to Parkville tomorrow. I'm sure we will have a wonderful time. This will be the 26th year of going there for Christmas. And, all Mom's side of the family will be there. Even my aunt who broke her arm on Sunday and had to have surgery on Tuesday.

And yes, I will have something to post on the 1st. Well, I think I will. I just realized that all my stories are on the computer at home. I'm sure I can post something. Maybe I'll write a new short story while I'm gone which I could post. But that is later. Now it is time for my latest story. Enjoy it whenever you read it. Merry Christmas, and as Tiny Tim says, "God bless us every one!"

Christmas Delays

“Great! Here we are in a ditch! This is the third delay this morning!”
A merry peal of laughter was the only response his wife gave him for a minute.
Dave Quincey tried to frown but instead smiled wryly at his young, dark eyed wife. “At this rate we won’t make it to your folk’s house until New Year,” he grumbled good naturedly.
“Oh, Dave, I couldn’t help laughing. This is the fourth, not the third delay. First the alarm didn’t go off, then you got stuck talking on the phone, or listening rather, to a patient, then we had a flat tire and now we’re in a ditch.” Here she broke off to laugh again.

It was Christmas Eve; the sun shone brightly on the snow covered trees and fields. This was Dave and Linda’s first Christmas together. Not only that, but Dave had received a notice to report to the Medical Corps for service by the 10th of January. The young couple knew well that it would only be a matter of time before Dave was sent overseas or to the Pacific to join in the war against the power hungry Nazis and Japanese. They were determined, however, to make this a joyful Christmas, and had promised to spend it with her parents and siblings who lived hours away. They had planned to leave first thing in the morning, but first one thing and then another had delayed them. Now it was early afternoon, and they still had several hours left to travel.

Dave sighed. “Did you tell them when we would be there?”
Linda shook her brown head. “I didn’t know if you would have calls to make today or not. I said we’d be there before Christmas. If nothing else, we could get out and walk.” Her eyes twinkled.
Dave grinned. It was impossible to stay upset with a wife as merry as his.
Just then a truck slowed down and stopped in front of them. The driver got out and came back to their little car. “Do you need a hand?”
“A pull would be more helpful I’m thinking,” Dave replied.
The truck driver laughed. “I’ve got a chain. I’ll have you out in no time. Just wait there.”
True to his word, within five minutes the truck had pulled them out of the ditch. With a hearty thanks and an exchange of Merry Christmas! they went on their way.

“I can’t believe we are actually going to spend Christmas with my folks,” Linda’s voice showed her excitement.
“Now Honey,” Dave spoke gravely though the corners of his mouth twitched, and when he glanced at his wife, his eyes twinkled. “Don’t get too excited, we have three more tires that may need changed.”
“And miles of ditches to get stuck in,” she retorted gaily. “Oh, I didn’t tell you that the boys are planing a snowball fight if the snow doesn’t all melt. I have a feeling you’ll be initiated into the Stephens Sibling Secret Society sometime during our stay.”
“And what might that be?”
Linda shook her head with a laugh. “Oh, I can’t say. I just thought I’d give you a little heads up warning so to speak.”

The car continued down the snowy road filled with merry talk, bright laughter and many an affectionate word. After a time, the sun which had been shining so brightly in its effort to melt the snow, disappeared behind a large bank of clouds that were piling up in the west, and the temperature began to drop.

“I wonder if we’ll get more snow,” Linda mused, her eyes on the clouds.
“We already have snow. What would we do with more?”
“You never can have too much snow for Christmas.”
Dave grunted, his eyes on the road before them. “I’ll remind you of that when we get caught out here in a blizzard.”
“A blizzard!” Linda’s ready laugh sounded again. “Then we’ll head to that little house over there and seek shelter for the night. It is such a small house. See, Dave?”
Dave glanced over and then nodded. “Yep, I saw. It looks rather abandoned to me.”
“Perhaps there will be a light on the other side where it is closer to the road.”
Dave didn’t reply as he eased the car around the curve in the road, eyes searching for hidden patches of ice, for with the cold deepening, ice was beginning to form once more.
“There! I told you there’d be a light! A candle in the window. I love candles in the windows. They make a house so inviting.”
Now that the road was straight again, Dave ventured a glance. At that moment the wheels of the car hit a hidden patch of ice and began to slide. With strong hands on the wheel, Dave fought to gain control, but in vain. The car turned around and plowed straight into a large snow drift.

“Great! Now what!” Dave sighed.
Linda couldn’t help a little laugh. “We could try to dig it out, or we could just stop and have a snowball fight.”
“Honey, aren’t you even a little upset about being delayed for the fifth time today?”
Linda looked surprised. “Why should I be? It wasn’t your fault. Besides, I haven’t had this much fun since I went camping with my Girl Scout Troop and a huge rain storm came up.” She chuckled at the remembrance. “And I couldn’t think of anyone I’d rather be stuck with than you.”
“Darling, you always see the silver lining. I don’t know how you do it, honestly. If it weren’t for you, I don’t know what I’d do.”
“And,” Linda retorted brightly, “if it weren’t for you, I’d still be at home helping to get supper on the table.”
Dave leaned over and kissed her.
“The question is, what are we going to do now?”
“Why walk over to that little house and ask for a shovel to get our car out.”
“Or we could just ask if they have a horse and sleigh we could use,” Dave added dryly.

Soon Dave and Linda were tramping through the snow towards the little house.
“It doesn’t look as though anyone has been out since the snow fell two days ago.”
“That’s a pity,” Linda said. “No one to make a snow man or snow angels.”
“Perhaps no one is home.”
“Oh, someone is there, I see a whiff of smoke from the chimney.”
Dave assisted his wife up the slippery porch steps of the tiny weather beaten house and knocked.
In a moment the door was opened, and a pale, tired looking woman looked out.

“We’re sorry to bother you,” Dave began, “but our car is stuck in a snow drift, and we were wondering if you had a shovel we could borrow to try and free it.”
“Come in,” the woman offered opening the door wider. “I’ll see if I can find one.”
As she shut the door behind her two visitors, the woman suddenly leaned against it and pressed a hand to her side and her eyes closed momentarily. Linda noticed that the woman appeared very pregnant, and she glanced at her husband. Dave had also noticed.
“Ma’am, are you all right?” he questioned. “Here, let me help you to a chair, you shouldn’t be standing.”
“I’ll be all right,” the woman gasped as she sank into a chair. Both hands pressed on her stomach, and her breathing was rapid. “The baby has been trying to come all day, but I can’t get out . . . to the hospital.”
“Linda, I’m going to get my medical bag.” Dave glanced around the dim room, noticing its bareness, three small children huddled close to the stove, and a bed in the far corner near a cold fireplace. “Help her to bed. I’ll be right back.” With that he was gone.

Linda introduced herself and found out the woman’s name was Alice. Her husband was somewhere in France. The three children spoke not a word but stared wide eyed. After Linda had helped Alice to the bed, she asked about wood for the fireplace.
“We don’t have much left,” Alice whispered. “I haven’t been able to go get more, and Teddy isn’t old enough to send.” She moved restlessly. “What we have is through that door.” She motioned toward a door near the stove.
In a very few minutes more, Linda was building a fire, and Dave came in. He pulled his coat off and rolled up his sleeves. Noticing a curtain hanging on a wire stretched across the room, he pulled it shut to try to warm up the makeshift bedroom. Motioning to his wife, he stepped to one side.
“Honey, I brought the basket of food in. Can you heat up some water and give the children some food?” The youngest child had begun to cry when she could no longer see her mother.
Linda nodded with a smile. Her experience of being the oldest in a large family stood her well now. Before long she had found out that Teddy was four years old, and he took care of his brother and sister. Bobby was three and Lori was only one. Lori cried for her mother until Linda opened the basket of food and put a cookie in her hand. While the kettle heated, Linda settled the three children around the table and began to make them some supper. Teddy informed her that Mama hadn’t gotten them any and added with childlike frankness,
“Mama didn’t eat today either ‘cause she wasn’t feeling good. But did you know tomorrow is Christmas?”
“I did know that, Teddy.” Linda smiled.
Bobby had to tell his bit of news. “Daddy is gone away so we not have a trismas tree.”
“That’s okay,” Linda assured him. “You can have Christmas without a tree.
Lori began to cry. Her cookie was gone. She was still hungry. Linda set a plate of food before each child and then stepped to the curtain to tell Dave the kettle was hot.
Dave turned at sound of her voice. He spoke softly. “Make her,” he nodded toward the bed, “a cup of tea, and then can you handle things here a few minutes? We need more wood than we have. And don’t worry,” he added with a smile at her concerned look. “The baby isn’t coming yet.”
His wife nodded.

With a cup of tea in her hand, Linda glanced at the children who were busy eating and then slipped through the curtain over to the bed. Alice opened her eyes.
“The little ones?” The question was low.
A smile flashed across Linda’s face. “Are just fine. They are eating supper now and quite content. Don’t worry about them. I’m used to children. There was a whole parcel when I was growing up.” Gently she brushed the hair away from Alice’s pale face and raised her head holding the steaming cup of tea to her lips. “When was the last time you ate?”
The answer came slowly. “Last night.”

All was still then. The only sounds were the fire crackling in the fireplace, the noise of spoons at the table and now and then a thud of wood being set down. After a few minutes in which Alice seemed to doze off, Linda slipped back to the other side of the curtain. Dave was just coming inside. He carried a small evergreen in one hand and a bag from the car in the other. Linda’s smile when she saw him was very bright, and the children stared in astonishment.
“She seems to be sleeping,” Linda whispered in answer to Dave’s nod of the head. “And Dave, she hasn’t eaten since last night.”
Dave frowned. “I’m afraid this is going to be a difficult birth, Honey.” He set the tree in an empty bucket and handed his wife the bag. Then with a smile for the children, he stepped back to their mother.

The children greatly enjoyed the decorating of that tree. From the bag, Linda brought forth some gilded pine cones, gay buttons and bright red yarn. The yarn was intended for a sweater Linda was knitting, but she decided the tree needed it more than the sweater. Dave opened the curtain a little that Alice might watch for a few minutes.
Teddy paused suddenly and asked, “Where’s my stocking?”
“And mine,” Bobby whispered.
Lori just stuck her fingers in her mouth.
Their mother heard and in a voice filled with emotion, whispered to Dave where they were. He brought them out, and Linda helped the little ones hang them up.

It was growing late. The sun had long since gone, and the stars shone brightly in at the windows. Dave made another trip out to the car to bring in a few more of their things, for they wouldn’t be leaving that night. Linda sat in the rocking chair with Lori cuddled in a blanket in her arms while the two little boys sat at her feet. In a soft voice she told them the very first Christmas story of all. After that she began to sing. One Christmas carol after another filled the little house with its sweet sound of peace, joy and good will.

As the boys began to nod, Dave, who had been standing by the partially opened curtain where he could keep an eye on his patient and his wife, came and tucked them into a makeshift bed on the floor beside the stove. Lori whimpered when Linda made a move as if to put her in bed as well, so with a smile, she settled back and continued rocking, her thoughts drifting back to the days of her childhood.

“Linda!” Dave’s low but intense voice roused her some time later. Instantly she was wide awake. Quickly she placed Lori between her brothers, tucked the blanket around them and then hurried to the bedside.

It was a long, difficult time. Linda could tell by the firm set of her husband’s jaw that things were serious. All she could do was follow orders quickly and to pray. Never once did she stop praying. Dave too was praying as he worked. This was by far the hardest delivery he had done outside of a hospital.

At long last, just as the distant city bells were ringing out the Christmas morning, the baby arrived. A girl. Dave didn’t hear the bells, but Linda did.
When a pale Alice reached to take the flannel bundle from Linda, she asked softly, “Did I hear the Christmas bells ringing?”
Linda nodded. “Your little girl has come on Christmas morning.”
Alice gave a tired smile as she snuggled the tiny bundle in her arms and gazed into the sweet little face. “Christmas bells. You are Mama’s little Christmas Belle.”

Some time later, when Alice had fallen asleep with her new little daughter nestled in the crook of her arm, Dave and Linda slipped out to the porch. The stars were still bright in the heavens and the moon cast a silvery light over the snow. Dave looked down at his wife and smiled. He received an answering smile as he folded her in his arms; their lips met in a long kiss.
“Dave, aren’t you glad now that we had so many delays?” Linda whispered.
A puzzled look crossed Dave’s tired face. “What do you mean?”
“If we hadn’t been delayed so long, that patch of ice might have melted, and we wouldn’t have stopped . . .. What would have happened?”
Dave cringed, “I don’t even want to think of that, not on Christmas Eve.”
Linda gave a soft little laugh. “Honey, it’s Christmas Day. The baby came right as the bells were rung. Merry Christmas, Dave! Merry Christmas. We may not have made it to my folks’ home, but we helped make this home a happy Christmas because of God’s Christmas delays.

I hope you enjoyed it. What did you think of it?

A Christmas Story Part 3

It can't be Friday already! It just can't be! Our Open House is tonight?! Somehow I lost a day this week so I keep thinking it is Thursday. Tomorrow must be Friday. And whatever the day, Christmas CANNOT be next week! That is just impossible! Does anyone one else feel that way? I am certain that it was Christmas only a few months ago. If it is almost Christmas, that means that the year 2009 is almost over! Good grief, what a thought.

As you may have noticed, I don't have my book ready for all my test readers. Mom has been busy helping J with Light of Faith things and hasn't had much time to work on it. Hopefully she can get it done in January. At least I got my part done. At least what I could do now.:)

I should add that next Friday is Christmas, but I will still be posting. That is because we will be having our Christmas on Christmas Eve morning after which we will drive to KC to my Grandparents' house. So, on Christmas Day, while Grandma & Grandpa are at my aunts' we will have a nice quiet morning. That means I can post. And since it will be Christmas, what better thing to post that day then my new Christmas Story. I just finished the last corrections last night. Mom said it must have been good because she cried. And that is all I will tell you about it.

This is the last part of "A Christmas Story" so enjoy it. And by the way, don't forget to check out Andrah's blog and leave a comment on her giveaway.

A Christmas Story Part 3

Jack looked at Jon. And after a pause, Jon spoke, “We aren’t having a Christmas this year.”
“Not having Christmas!” I echoed in unbelief. “Why not?”
“Well, because Dad got hurt last month and can’t work, and Mom can’t work because she is going to have a baby, and Dad says we won’t take charity from the government! We just won’t have Christmas, just like we don’t have heat in the house, and we won’t have a big meal tomorrow either.”
I stared in astonishment. Never in my life had I known someone in that situation. “You don’t have heat?”
“Well,” Jon corrected himself. “We do have some small heaters, so it isn’t freezing, but the furnace can’t be turned on because something is wrong with it, and it might blow up or something if it gets turned on before it gets fixed. But that is okay. We don’t freeze. And,” Jon added hastily as though to change the subject, “Mom said to tell you thank you for getting us that tree. She almost cried when we brought it in. So we will have some Christmas. We just will skip the gifts. I don’t mind.” And Jon straightened his shoulders manfully.
“I don’t mind either,” Jack said, standing tall beside his brother.
I didn’t have time to say anything even if I had known what to say, for Dad’s whistle was heard then breaking the stillness.
“Merry Christmas,” I called back over my shoulder as Sir Prince and I headed up the hill towards home and supper.

As we sat eating a little while later, I didn’t hear the conversations going on around me. All I could think of was Jon and Jack and their sisters and no Christmas gifts, none at all. What would that be like. No money for heat. No money for gifts, not even the smallest. No money for a big dinner. Did they have money for much food at all? Perhaps it was because of not having heat that I was never asked in. That must have been why Jon and Jack were so anxious to earn money by shoveling the snow.
“Rich,” Dad’s voice broke into my thoughts, but only enough to turn them into a new direction. Rich! I was rich, I had plenty of food, more than enough actually. A warm house with no worry about the furnace blowing up. Christmas presents. I knew there would be many of them. I even had extra spending money.
I jumped. Everyone was looking at me. “Sir?” I asked looking at Dad.
“You have hardly touched your food, and you haven’t answered a single question asked you tonight. Are you feeling all right?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Yes sir, I mean no sir, I mean I’m fine, but Dad, isn’t there something we can do?”
“What are you talking about, Rich?”
I told them all I had just heard from Jon and Jack about them not having a Christmas. Everyone listened in silence. And even after I had finished no one spoke. It wasn’t until Mom and Maggie and Tillie were cleaning up the kitchen, and Dad sat in the living room with the twins on his lap, that I came in with my idea.
“Dad,” I spoke a little hesitatingly at first, “can I give my presents to Jon and Jack?”
Dad looked at me. “All of them?”
I nodded.
“You don’t even know what they are, do you?”
I shook my head.
Dad was quiet. “Son,” he said at last, “Why do you want to do this?”
I sat down before the fireplace and looked into the flames. It was rather hard for me to put it all into words. But I knew I had to try. I had to make Dad understand. “I was thinking about the song “What Can I Give Him,” and I already gave Him my heart, and when I heard about Jon and Jack, the verse we memorized earlier this year came to my mind. The one about doing things for others is doing things for Christ. And, well, I already have so much, food, heat, toys, a dog.” Sir Prince had come over and lain down beside me with his head resting on his front paws. “I really don’t need anything else,” my voice trailed off, and I turned to look at Dad.
“Do you want them to know you gave up your gifts for them?”
Nothing else was said. Mom and the girls came in then, and with only the light from the Christmas tree and the fire, Dad opened the Bible and began to read the very first Christmas story, beginning, “Now it came to pass in the days of Herod the king that all the world went to be taxed.”
I sat and listened. Somehow it seemed more real to me that Christmas than it ever had before. When Dad finished reading, he told the others what I wanted to do and asked if anyone else wanted to do the same thing. Maggie did, and so did Tillie, probably because Tillie always wanted to do what Maggie did. The twins of course didn’t know. Mom said she would give some things too, and then Dad asked if we were all willing to give up our big turkey dinner with all the fixings. I looked at the girls, and they looked at me. As one, we said, “Yes.” It was decided that if we had made something for someone else, that would be kept, but anything else would go.
We all hurried around. Dad got a few boxes and paper bags. Mom got the food ready. Dad helped us all pack the gifts. There were no labels on the gifts yet, so as Dad told us what was in each gift, we wrote who it was for. We didn’t put who it was from. At last everything was ready. Mom and Kelly and Kaylee stayed home, but the rest of us, each loaded with a box or bag, and well bundled up, started out into the cold snowy Christmas Eve night. Tillie kept giggling, and I was afraid someone would hear us. Quietly we approached the Lee house. We could see the lighted Christmas tree shining in the window. With great caution we set the things down before the door. Dad had said I could ring the bell after he and the girls were out of sight.
Giving the doorbell a quick push, I jumped off the porch and raced for the bushes where I could hide and watch. The door opened and Mrs. Lee looked out. She seemed about to close the door when she noticed the bags and boxes. With a cry she turned to someone inside. I didn’t wait to see more, but quietly slipped away home.

That night as I lay in my warm bed I didn’t feel sad about giving up those gifts and not having many to open in the morning. Instead I had a warm feeling of doing what was needed. I looked out the window and saw a bright star shining through a break in the clouds. I hadn’t done this for me, or even for Jon and Jack, I had done it for Christ who had given His all for me.
I’m sure there wasn’t a happier boy that Christmas Eve night than I was, for I had found out the true meaning of Christmas.

The End

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Hi everyone!
I know it is not Friday, but I had to tell you about this giveaway Andrah is doing. She has made this cute headband and is going to give it away! But, not only did she just make one headband, she has made a whole bunch of headbands, and they are all creative and unique. This could be the perfect gift for some sister or niece, friend or cousin. You should also check out her bags! I had her make me a bag, and I just LOVE it! I really don't know how she does it, but she has a special gift of creativity. So, be sure you check out her blog and leave a comment!

You can also use the button on the top right of my blog to get there.
Have a great day!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Christmas Story Part 2

Good grief! How can it be Friday again? I mean I just posted the other day, didn't I? Life has just been so busy that the time is flying faster than normal.:) We have the house decorated, I've been sewing some, writing some and have had two Story Times. We haven't done any holiday baking yet as S is very busy sewing. (Yes, I know, she is always sewing.)

Well, I guess I'll just post the next part of the Christmas story as I really can't think of anything else to say. Hmmm, I wonder where I left you in the last part. . . Not that it really matters as I don't think anyone has read it anyway. By far the most popular posts are "Meleah's Western." I wonder why?:)

A Christmas Story Part 2

It had started snowing when we got outside again. They weren’t big flakes, but it was snow. Sir Prince barked at the flakes. I think he was excited too. We ran down the hill to the end where the street turns and winds back up to the main street. Back behind Mr. and Mrs. Myth’s house is a bunch of woods. They own it, but have always told me I could go there whenever I wanted. I like walking in the woods when it is snowing. The three of us walked towards the woods. The wind wasn’t blowing much anymore, and we could talk.
“Do you have a Christmas tree yet?” I asked.
“No,” Jon replied. “It costs too much money to get one this year, Dad said.”

I tried not to look surprised. How could you have a house that smelled and looked like Christmas without a tree? Surely there was some way to help. I thought of the little money I had saved. Would that be enough? But I knew it wouldn’t. Even a small tree costs more than I had saved. Suddenly I stopped short. Of course! “Why can’t we find a tree for you here in the woods? Do you have things to decorate it with? I’ll go ask Mr. Myth, if you think your mom would like it.”
Jack’s face lit up, and Jon said, “Like it? She would love it! I heard her tell Dad she had never had a Christmas without a tree before. Do you really think Mr. Myth would let us?”
“Sure he would. I’ll be right back,” I called over my shoulder as I raced away to the house with Sir Prince barking at my side.

Mr. Myth said he would be glad to have a Christmas tree cut from his woods. In fact, he came with us and brought a saw. We found a perfect one. It was a little heavy for us to carry home, but we managed. I didn’t have time to see what Mrs. Lee said about the tree, for I saw that I would have to hurry to get ready for caroling on time.

Every night starting on the 15th, my family goes caroling, as I think I mentioned before. Dad and Mom have great voices and have had us singing for as long as I can remember. Dad sings bass and can hit those really low notes that almost seem to be a growl. My voice hadn’t changed at that time yet, so I sang the tenor an octave higher. Mom usually sang the alto while Maggie and Tillie sang soprano. Sometimes Maggie and Mom would switch parts, but Tillie always sang the melody. She couldn’t sing anything else. Of course the twins couldn’t sing at all, but they tried and no one minded their off key efforts. The first night of caroling we always go to a nursing home first and end at Grandma and Grandpa’s for a late supper. I didn’t have time to tell anyone about finding the Christmas tree for the Lees when I got home, for it was a rush of getting ready and the frantic search for Tillie’s new shoes. It was still snowing when we left, and we sang “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” and “Jingle Bells” all the way to the nursing home. The singing went well that night, at least as well as it usually does on the first night.

When we woke on the 16th, the snow had stopped, but there was about three inches on the ground. Enough to try my hand at shoveling. I took my sled along for the Michaels have a great hill behind their house for sledding which they let anyone use as long as we don’t tramp on the flower gardens near the house. Jon and Jack came and helped shovel snow, being quite as eager as myself about this way of earning a little extra money. We split all the earnings. With three of us working it didn’t take long to clear all the driveways down to the Michael’s. There we took a break and went sledding. I went so far on my sled that last time that I ended up in the creek. It was cold! That put an end to the sledding for the time at least as I had to go home for dry clothes. Mom made me stay home that afternoon so that my voice would be okay for singing that night.

The days came and went rapidly, more rapidly it seemed than before, for I had some boys to play and work with. It didn’t snow anymore until the 21st, and then not more than another inch, but the previous snow has stayed on the ground. We had caroled every night, saving our own neighborhood for the 23rd which was the last night we sing. On Christmas Eve we all stay at home and read the Christmas story.

It was snowing again on Christmas Eve morning. This time large heavy flakes fell and covered all the ground that had dared to show itself again. It also covered the driveways and sidewalks. I knew it would be useless to try shoveling snow while it was still snowing, but I felt I just had to get out of the house. The girls were busy in their room with last minute secrets, the twins were reading stories with Dad, and Mom was in the kitchen. Calling Sir Prince I headed out into the world of white. For a while I just wandered about the neighborhood. I figured Jon and Jack would be busy with their own Christmas preparations, so I didn’t go over. I must have been out for over an hour before I heard Dad calling. The hot lunch Mom had prepared was delicious! It really warmed me up. After I had helped with the dishes I went back out. I just couldn’t stay in, and for some strange reason, my steps wended towards the Lee home. As I rounded the corner, I saw Jack sitting on the porch steps looking rather forlorn. Sir Prince whined, and his tail began to wag.
“Merry Christmas, Jack,” I said.
Jack looked up.
“Where is Jon?”
Jack nodded back towards the house.
Jack was usually quiet, but I hadn’t noticed just how quiet until now, for Jon had always been there to do his talking for him. “Oh, is he getting the last things ready for Christmas?”
Jack shook his head, but didn’t speak.
Funny, I thought. Out loud I said, “Well, come on, let’s build a snowman.”
Slowly Jack came over and began to help me, but I could tell his heart wasn’t in it. We had gotten only the base of the snowman constructed when Jon joined us. He too seemed quiet. The snow continued to fall as we erected that snowman. When we finally finished, we all stood around and looked at it. True it wasn’t one of those perfect snowmen you see now in movies or in books, but it was a snowman.
“When do you all open your gifts?” I asked. “Tonight or in the morning?”
Jack looked at Jon. And after a pause, Jon spoke, “We aren’t having a Christmas this year.”

Last part to be posted next week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Christmas Story Part 1

Well, today is the day, Friday, December 4, 2009. Mom and I leave to in about an hour to pick up the Cass girls. Today we might get a little decorating done, but this afternoon we pick out our Christmas tree, cut it, and bring it home. And tomorrow is the official decorating day here at the Morris home. The Casses have come down to help us decorate every year since J & M got married. It is always so much fun and it looks beautiful afterwards. :)

The story is part one of a Christmas story I wrote last year. I would like to write another Christmas story this year, but we'll see if I have time. Anyway, I should go ahead a post it so that I can get a few other things done before I have to leave. Enjoy the story!

A Christmas Story

It was the Christmas I was eight. I remember it as clearly as though it were last week. We lived in a quiet neighborhood with mostly older people and a few young married couples. We weren’t rich as some people might think, but we weren’t poor either. My four sisters and I were the only children around. That is until that Christmas. I was the one who found them.

I had been out for a tramp with Sir Prince, our big collie dog. Mom and Dad let me wander the neighborhood if Sir Prince was with me. I didn’t get into mischief, and I suppose it was a way for Mom to get me out from under foot. Being the only boy was a little hard at times.

That fall I was able to earn some spending money by raking leaves for people and sweeping their sidewalks. But I had spent most of the money already on Christmas gifts for the family and neighbors. I was hoping it would snow that day that I saw them. I thought if it would snow I could shovel it like Dad does sometimes. I had helped him last year and knew how to do it.

Anyway, I was on the other side of the street about five houses down from ours. The road winds around, and so you can’t see this house from ours, otherwise I might have noticed earlier that they were there.

It was an old house. No one had lived in it for as long as I could remember. The neighbors took turns mowing the yard and trimming the bushes to keep it looking nice, but that was it. I used to wonder what it looked like inside and if anyone would ever live in it. Well, that day as Sir Prince and I were running down the sidewalk, we came to a sudden halt, for there were two boys out in the yard of the empty house. They looked about my age. I couldn’t tell if they were twins or not; they were different sizes and one had darker hair than the other. They weren’t really doing anything just kind of walking around and looking. With Sir Prince beside me I came closer. The boys stopped, and we looked at one another.
“Hi,” I said. I didn’t know what else to say.
“Hi,” was the reply. Then we were silent again.
I tried again. “Where do you live?”
“Here? Did you just move in?”
Two heads nodded.
“But I didn’t see you yesterday, and I walked by then.”
“We just moved today,” was the answer.
“Oh.” Another pause then I remembered that I ought to introduce myself. “I’m Richard Harlen Philipson, but most people call me Dick or Rich.”
“I’m Jonathan Stuart Lee,” replied the taller of the boys. “You can call me Jon. And this is Jackson Forest Lee, but we call him Jack.”
Jack nodded, and we all fell silent again. I think we would have stood there in silence until Mom called me if it hadn’t been for Sir Prince. He had been sniffing around a little bit while we were talking. Now he came over and offered to shake hands with Jon and Jack. Sir Prince usually doesn’t do that on his own. That broke the ice, so to speak, and we began to talk.

I found out that they had an older sister and two younger sisters. They were almost the same age as mine. Jon and Jack weren’t twins, but they were both eight. Jon was ten months older than Jack, so for two months they are the same age. December is one of those months. I thought that was funny. By the time Mom did finally call me, we had become friends. Well, sort of. They were pretty quiet about their family life. But I guess you just don’t go telling any stranger that comes around all about you the first time you see him.

I was eager to tell my family about Jon and Jack that night at supper. Dad was glad to hear someone had finally moved into that old house. Mom said she would have to make some bread to take over, sort of as a welcome to the neighborhood gift. I couldn’t tell if Maggie and Tillie were interested or not. They didn’t say much. As for the twins, at only two, they didn’t even understand. I couldn’t wait for the next day.

I had to wait until Mom had the bread done the next day before going over. We weren’t invited in, but Mrs. Lee seemed pleased with the bread. The boys were busy, so I had to play alone again. It was the 5th of December when I found them, and they couldn’t play again until the 8th. One of those days was Sunday, and Dad doesn’t like me to run around on that day.

On the 8th, Mom and the girls were busy decorating the house. I kept getting in the way, so Mom said I could go outside. I went down to the Lee’s and saw Jack outside. Jon soon came out, and we walked around the neighborhood. I told them who lived in which houses and things like that. As we went by Grandma May’s house (She really isn’t my grandmother, but she likes to be called that.), she opened the door and asked us if we would be so kind as to try some cookies she had just baked. She said she was trying to decide just which cookies she should take to her church Christmas bake sale. She had five different cookies, and we tried them all. We finally decided on a chocolate almond crunch cookie as the best. It was getting late when we left, and Jon and Jack had to go home.

That night we decorated our tree. We had gotten it a few days before, but hadn’t had time to decorate it as Dad had to work, and we always decorate it together. That is the only part of the decorating that I like. I just don’t seem to get how to put the lights and garlands and ribbons and berries on the windows, and stair rails and things like that. I either end up watching the twins, or if they are napping, I go outside. The girls were very busy with secrets and such. So was Mom. I didn’t have to worry about Christmas gifts as I had already gotten them. In fact, they were already wrapped and hiding in a drawer under my socks. I figured that no one would think of looking there if they were trying to snoop, not that anyone does that in my family as we like to be surprised.

The days of December flew by. I spent as much time as I could with Jon and Jack. The funny thing though was that I was never invited in. I supposed they were still trying to get unpacked and settled and didn’t want another boy underfoot. At least that was what Mom said. Almost before I knew it, there were only ten days left until Christmas.

December 15th is always a memorable day because that is when we start caroling. But this year was a little different. It was cold and cloudy and looked like snow. It smelled like snow too. At least that is what Dad said. I was hoping for snow, so were my sisters. I met Jon and Jack outside their house, and together we went for a walk. It was almost too cold to talk, for there was a biting wind. We were going down the street when Mrs. Jones called to me.
“Dick! Can you boys come and help me, please?”
Mrs. Jones is young and pretty. I don’t usually notice the color of hair, but even now I can picture it. It was a reddish blonde and curly. I had become good friends with Mr. and Mrs. Jones in the 8 months or so they had lived there. Mrs. Jones seemed so eager for assistance. I was willing to help, and the others were too.

We crossed the street and hurried up the steps. I told Sir Prince to wait for us on the porch. Mom lets Sir Prince inside our house, but most people don’t like dogs in their houses, especially big dogs like Sir Prince. Mrs. Jones hurried us through the small entryway and into the living room.
“You see,” she said, pointing towards the corner. “I have a problem. The Christmas tree is leaning and shaky, and I’m afraid it will fall over. I wanted to decorate it before Dan gets home, but I don’t want it to fall. Can you help?” She looked anxious.

I didn’t think of it until later, but then it struck me as rather a funny thing to ask of three eight year olds. Most people would as soon trust a five year old. But I didn’t think of it then. I just saw the problem and set to work. I remembered that our trees sometimes did that, and Dad had to tie them up. In a few minutes I saw how to fix it, and in no time at all it was fixed.
Mrs. Jones was so excited that she gave a little squeal. I guess I should excuse her as this was her first Christmas since she was married. She gave us some cookies and hot chocolate before we left. . . .

To be continued next week.

Friday, November 20, 2009

One Thanksgiving

It is the day after Thanksgiving, but we are having our thanksgiving today so that J&M can be here. Here is in Kansas City and Mom's parents. The ladies of the family are planning a shopping trip to Joanns this morning. J&M should be here sometime late morning as we are going to eat about 2:00.

I wondered if I'd get any comments after Part 10 of Meleah's Western.:) I love reading them, so I hope you keep it up. If I were to post the western more often, I think you would get tired of commenting, so . . .:) By the way, I had my notebook up here for Meleah's Western and Grandma read it. She enjoyed it and, like the rest of you, she wanted to know what came next. Dad also enjoyed reading it. Grandma said she didn't know how I could describe everything and everyone so well. I don't know either, but it sure is fun.

Okay, so Part 11 is not being posted. This story was written like some others, from a calendar picture. Hannah Cov. and I decided that I would pick the assignment and she would pick the picture. Then we would both write a story. This is my story. If you want to read Hannah's, you'll have to ask her for it.:)

Characters: 4
Number of Words: 1,000 - 1600
Tense: 3rd
Time to Write it: 2 weeks
Special Instructions: must take place in two days.

One Thanksgiving
Rebekah Morris

“Girls, you want to explore the old trail tomorrow morning? The one Dad and I found while hunting.” The speaker was a tall, slim young man of about fourteen. His dark skin and straight black hair gave proof of his Indian ancestry.
Jessie looked up. “But tomorrow is Thanksgiving.” She hesitated. “When would we go?”
Cassie raised her head from her book. “Let’s go early! Real early.” Her black eyes flashed with excitement. “Say we can go early, Steve!”
Her brother grinned. “Why don’t we leave at 5:00. That’ll give plenty of time to be back before Mom needs your help for the 2:00 dinner.”
Suddenly Cassie seemed to have second thoughts. “Would it be just us three?”
Steven nodded.
“Couldn’t we take Major?”
“No, he’d scare off anything worth seeing, but I’ll take my gun, if you want,” Steve told her.
“But . . .” Suddenly all the stories she had read of danger came back to her mind and she shivered.
Thirteen-year-old Jessie was growing tired of her sister’s timidity. “Cass, one would think you weren’t a direct descendent of a great Indian chief.”
Thus chided by her older sister, Cassie took a deep breath, squared her slim shoulders and lifted her eyes to meet those of her siblings.
Steven chuckled, “That’s the spirit, Cass. We’ll make you a brave Indian yet. Now, do we pack food for our little expedition or attempt to eat before we leave?”
Both girls were for packing it.

It was cold and nippy when the three adventurers gathered by the back steps the following morning. Cassie was shivering with excitement and cold while she clutched Jessie’s hand tightly. Inspite of her ancestors, she admitted to herself that she was just a little bit scared.
“Are you both ready?” Steven’s whisper broke the silence.
“Yes,” came the equally quiet response.
Cassie cast a quick look back at the lighted kitchen windows knowing their mother was there at that moment putting the turkey in the oven. For a moment, only a moment, she wished she hadn’t suggested they go early. At least Steven had his gun. It was so dark, she couldn’t see her hand in front of her face.
“Steve,” she whispered, “can’t we turn on a flashlight?”
Steven’s voice replied from the other side of Jessie, “No, you’re eyes will grow accustomed to the darkness.”
For several minutes no sound was heard but their soft footsteps and the crunch of fallen leaves.
“Careful now, it’s the barbed wire fence. I’ll lift the bottom of it up, and Jess, you crawl under first. Careful,” as Jessie let go of his arm and dropped to the ground without a word, “make sure you stay low.”
“I’m through.”
“Okay, Cass, now you.”
“But I don’t know where to go,” her voice was a whimper.
“Come to my voice. There, I’m right in front of you. Drop down and crawl under to Jessie.” Steven’s soft but fearless voice seemed to inspire Cassie with courage, and she obeyed without a word. Steven was also soon over and joined his sisters.

“Now we must move in single file as the path is only a deer trail.”
“Won’t you run into a tree without a light?”
“Indians can see in the dark, Cass,” was the reply.
Cassie glanced around. To her astonishment she discovered that she too could see the dark outlines of trees and of Steven and Jessie before her.
“I am the great granddaughter of Chief Strong-Arm, and I must be as stouthearted and brave as he.” The thought nerved Cassie to only flinch when a twig snapped somewhere off to her right. A tingling sensation crept up her spine at the thought of what might be watching her at that moment. She wondered if Jessie had heard the noise. Was she scared? She wouldn’t ask, for she didn’t want to break the silence.

On the threesome moved with a steady pace. Cassie marveled at how confidently Steven led them up and down hills, not pausing when the trail twisted and curved. “He is as all Indian braves should be. They must find their way in many a darker night than this. He is leading us to a powwow with other great chiefs. Or, no,” Cassie frowned in the darkness. “he is leading us to safety, for some other tribe wants to carry Jess and me off as captives.”
Her dreaming was interrupted by the sudden halt of Jessie and Steven. She glanced up in time to see a large, six-point buck pause motionless no more than five yards from them. For only an instant he stood there, then with swift leaps, he disappeared into the morning dawn.
“Oh, how pretty!” Jessie breathed.
Steven nodded and once again set off.
The light of the coming dawn was giving them enough light to see though a morning mist hung about them.

“Here we are,” Steve’s voice broke the quiet.
“We’re at the old bridge,” Cassie sounded surprised.
“Yes, and just past it, around that farther bend, we will find the old trail. It is on the right of the path. Cass, do you want to lead?”
With a toss of her black hair she stepped out in front. “Everything depends on me now,” she thought. “I must find the only path to safety and not let the enemy see or know.” With great caution she crept forward, her black eyes darting everywhere.
Behind her, Steve and Jess exchanged amused glances, and Steven tossed an acorn at her
“Come out of your dream world, Cass, and let’s get going.”
Cassie sighed. Why did they have to ruin the most exciting part of the adventure? Well, she’d save it for another time.
“It is so quiet out here,” Jessie breathed, “and so still.”
Nothing more was said until Cassie halted and pointed towards a faint opening in the woods.
“Good job, Cass, you’ll make a tracker after all.” Steven grinned at his youngest sister and shifted his gun to the other arm. “Jess, do you want to lead?”
Jessie shook her head.
Cassie hesitated and began to shake her head.
“Are you losing your nerve?” Steven couldn’t resist teasing a little.
Cassie grinned. “Indians don’t explore an unknown path without a weapon. Now if you’ll give me the gun--”
“No way,” Steve interrupted. “Dad would skin me alive if I did.”
“Then you lead Steve,” Jess broke in.

The path was faint and narrow. The three children moved down it carefully, ears and eyes open for any sign of wildlife. Here and there they spied turkeys or deer, and once Jessie spied an owl, but it flew off before the others saw it. All at once Steven stopped and listened.
A faint sound was coming from their left. To Cassie’s imaginative mind it sounded like the call of their Indian foe!
“It sounds as though someone is moaning,” Steven whispered. “Come on.” He deliberately stepped off the path in the direction of the sound.
“Steve!” Cassie’s hushed call made him turn his head. “It’s a trap. They want your scalp!”
Steven’s black eyes gazed straight into those of his sister. “Cut out the pretending, Cassie. This is for real.” Then he once more set off toward the sound, his sisters following.
Each passing moment brought more light although the sky remained cloudy and the mist hung heavy. The moans grew louder, and suddenly through the trees the figure of a man lying on the ground was to be seen.
“Hello,” Steven’s voice broke the silence.
The man raised his head and looked at the three who had suddenly appeared before him.
As the man didn’t speak, Steven spoke again, “Are you hurt?”
The man nodded with a groan and let his head fall back. “I was out huntin’ a few days ago, and my gun backfired and knocked me clear down the ledge yonder an’ I ain’t been able to get farther’n this.”
By then Jessie and Cassie had drawn near, and Steven was kneeling beside the stranger. He introduced himself and his sisters.
“I’m Sam,” the stranger told them. “An’ I’d be much obliged if you could help me.”
Steven and Jessie went to work bandaging, as well as they could, Sam’s arm and head and putting a splint on his leg.
“If I had some crutches, I think I could make it to the path.”
“Here, lean on me,” Steve offered. Then with Steven on one side and Jessie on the other, they set off for the main path, Cassie leading the way. All dreams of enemies had vanished from her mind leaving only one thought. “Find the path.”
To her own surprise, she came out on the path right beside the old bridge.
“Here,” Steven handed Jessie his gun. “You and Cass wait here with Sam while I run home and get Dad.”

Before anyone could protest, Steven was gone. The girls made Sam as comfortable as they could, and Jessie pulled out a small pack of jerky.
“Here,” she offered, “eat. And here’s water.”
Sam accepted them gratefully.
“Where are you going to have Thanksgiving dinner?” queried Cassie.
“Thanksgiving? Nowhere. But I didn’t know Indians celebrated it since us white men took your land.” Sam looked curious.
Jessie spoke softly. “Yes, they took land, but if the white man had never come, we would never have learned of Jesus Christ.”
Sam gazed at the colored leaves around him, then at the two dark, yet beautiful faces near him.
“Wouldn’t you like to have Thanksgiving with us?” Cassie asked.
Sam nodded, and all three fell silent.

It wasn't the best story, but that is how it happened.

Meleah's Western Part 10

Dear me, no one commented at all on the last post. I guess they just were too sad to know that the CMA class was over. :) But all good things must come to an end sometime. Or at least I have been told that. It was rather nice to not have to go anywhere on Tuesday evening. I also taught my last writing class for this year on Wednesday. I seem to be in the finishing mood now for I also finished a short story that I will post next week. Now that so many things have been finished, I have gotten to read more.:) I believe I'm on my fifth book this month.:)

Now before you read Part 10 which some of you have been longing for, I'll give you a brief update on my book. I finally finished reading it and now Mom has it. She has suggested a few changes so far, but we'll see how things go the farther she gets into it. Also, after talking with Jimmy some about publishing my book, it looks like I will be doing it differently than I had originally thought. But of course my "test readers" have to read it first.:)

But you, my readers, have probably skipped this and gone straight to the story. Be sure to tell me what you think. And no, the next part is not written yet.

Part 10

Ty stared at his friend. Could this be true? Was this one he was to find his “baby sister”? If Carson, who knew about her for so long, hadn’t be able to find a trace of her, how was he expected to? Where should he start? Who was the family she was with? So dazed was he with this story that he gave no reply to his older companion’s heart wrenching cry for help.
Carson had buried his face in his hands and now sat silent and motionless.

Outside, the sun climbed higher and higher, doing its best to melt much of the snow before it must slip behind the mountains once more. A lone rider was slowly wending his way through the woods on the now slippery trail. Pausing often, he looked about as though to make sure he was still on the trail and had not missed it. His horse’s breath made little clouds of steam in the still air.

Inside the cabin, with a sudden shake of his head, Ty squared his shoulders and drew a deep breath. This was no time for endless puzzling. Now was the time to work out a plan if possible.
“Carson,” Ty began. “What was the family’s name that took . . . her?” He couldn’t quite decide what to call this new found sister of his.
Carson lifted his head; he spoke slowly, “I don’t rightly remember. I know it started with West, but I ain’t been able ta recall the rest of it.”
It was Ty’s turn to frown now. This made things even more difficult. How was one to find a girl after all these years without knowing the last name? He tried again.
“Would there be anyone back near where ya was livin’ that might know?”
“There’s no tellin’ what some people might remember, an’ it’s no tellin’ if’n any a the same ones is still there. After all, Ty, its been a dozen years since I was back that way.”
“Still, it wouldn’t hurt ta check.”
“No, I reckon not. Ya ain’t aimin’ ta go there alone are ya? How’d ya know who ta ask?”
“I don’t know rightly. I was thinkin’ a going alone if’n you’d stay here with Sally. Ya know I can’t stay. If they was ta get wind--”
At that moment a voice sounded behind him. “I told ya once, an’ I’m tellin’ ya again, you ain’t goin’ nowheres without me, Ty Elliot. Now ya jest get that inta yer head.”
Both men turned. Sally stood there, hands on her hips and chin squared in stubbornness. Her blue eyes flashed with determination.
“Sally, it ain’t gonna be for long. I can leave after dawn tomorrow an’ I’d jest be checkin’ ta see if’n anyone knows about--”
Sally cut him short. “It don’t matter ta me how short a time ya aim ta be gone, Ty Elliot, I ain’t stayin’ behind.”
Ty tried to reason with her, but she remained firm in her obstinacy. If he was going anywhere, she was going too. Nothing would change her mind. She stood there before him with arms crossed and a set to her mouth that reminded Carson of long ago.
At last Ty gave in to the inevitable though he did so with great reluctance. No one spoke for several minutes after Sally joined them. It was she who broke the stillness.
“Ty, who is she?”
Briefly, Ty filled his sister in on what was known. Carson sat still, gazing before him at nothing while he listened to the story and wondered again if it were even possible to find a trace of her.
“Carson,” Ty questioned when he had finished. “If Sally goes along, what do you plan ta do?”
“Do? Why I reckon I’ll go along with ya. Ain’t got any other place ta go that’s a needin’ me, an’ I might be a use ta you. ‘Sides that,” his voice dropped and his gaze fell, “I ain’t gonna feel quite easy in my mind ‘till I see my little girl once more.”

Sally stood up. “Well, now that it is all settled, when are we goin’ ta leave? Ya know ya can’t stay here all winter; someone’s gonna find out yer here.”
“I know, Sally, I know,” Ty interrupted.
“We’ve got ta leave soon, Ty. If they were ta--” She couldn’t go on, for Ty had placed his hand over her mouth.
“Hush that kind a talk, Sally,” he ordered. “I reckon we could light out at first dawn. What da ya say, Carson?”

Carson made no reply but held up his hand for silence. A dead stillness settled over the cabin; even the fire seemed to feel a need for quiet, for the logs ceased to snap. Sally fairly held her breath, straining her ears for she knew not what. Yet, try as she would, she could hear nothing. She glanced at Ty as he stealthily rose and drew his Colt repeating pistol from its holster. She reached out a hand to grasp him, but he glided past her outstretched fingers. Carson too had risen and held his rifle at the ready.

The sun, now nearing noonday, shone with blinding splendor on the remaining snow banks. The two men stood waiting. To see out the one window would have exposed them to whatever or whoever was approaching. Sally could hear it now too. Steps of some sort were nearing. They were not slow and cautious, but advanced in a sure tread. Now they could hear the faint jingle of a harness. The visitor halted in front of the cabin.

Sally cowered back against the far wall pressing her hands over her mouth to keep back the scream that rose in her throat. Ty’s face was set. Had it come to this already? How did they know he was back? His eyes narrowed. They would find that they couldn’t always have everything their own way.
The stillness was broken by a deep voice from without. “Elliot! Sally!”

Any questions? Comments? Are you tired of this story yet?

Friday, November 13, 2009

CMA Report #8

Friday has come again and with it another busy day. I know there will be some of you who won't read this until later as you will be at the AGC Reunion.:) We should have fun.

I did get quite a bit done on my book this week. I am finally nearing the end of it. After thinking about it, I don't think I'll be able to get the exam copies out to people before Christmas. I still have to finish my part, then Mom has to read the 245 pages and put in her corrections, comments and suggestions. Then I have to take the 245 pages back to the computer to add, change and correct them. After that I have to get the layout to look okay and then print the copies. I am still trying to figure out which publishing house to use to publish it. Also, I am in need of an editor. Does anyone know of any?

But enough of my book and on to my report. There are not nearly as many pictures as last week.:) Enjoy!

CMA Report #8

Welcome to all of you who have joined me for this very last class of Joplin’s very first Citizen’s METS Academy. This class was a little different than the others as it was thrown together at the last minute so to speak because some of us insisted on one more class. The topics were Emergency Preparedness and Tactical Paramedics.

Arriving at class about our usual time, we discovered only Ed was there. Shortly afterwards, Mandy and Lynn came, followed by Paula and Roger. They had brought a large Thank You poster for Marc and the others who had assisted with the CMA. We all had to slip out and sign it. Frankie came and we headed to get our food. Marc had gotten a cake as well. Marie couldn’t come, and John and Stephanie never showed up though no one knew why.

Nice cake, huh?

While we were eating, we watched a slide show that Jerry had put together that day of pictures from the class. There were some pretty funny ones.

When we were finished, Marc had us introduce ourselves to Keith who is Joplin’s director of the Emergency Management something-or-other. He spoke about, surprise! Emergency Preparedness of all things. (Okay, so you really weren’t surprised.) I did find out some interesting things.

Did you know that the “tornado sirens” really aren’t tornado sirens? They were originally put up in the 1960s for nuclear warnings. Then someone decided to make use of them for wind warnings. They get turned on if the winds are 70 mph or if there is a tornadic storm.

Did you know that more people die from flooding than from tornados? That is because people can’t seem to keep from driving over low water bridges that are covered in water and they get washed off them. (So, those of you who drive, I myself am excluded, don’t drive over places where you can’t see the road because of the water.)

Did you know that Joplin had a shelter (It is the police station and jail now.) that had enough food and water for 130 people for thirty days? We wondered how they decided which 130 people got to be there.:)

Not only did Keith talk about natural disasters, he talked about hazardous disasters. Those are mostly from trucking accidents while transporting chemicals. Did you know that one of the scariest trucks with chemicals is a Wal-Mart truck? I didn’t know that. The reason is that they can be transporting hundreds of Coleman lanterns, and as they are separate with each one holding only a gallon of fuel, they do not have to be labeled as hazardous. (Hmmm, that is interesting.) Also, the smaller the truck is, the more dangerous the stuff being transported is.

There was quite a bit of talk about people who, when the sirens go off, go get the camera to take pictures and then load them onto the Internet instead of taking cover. Also the fact that many times the sirens don’t go off until the storm is on you because of how long it can take to get the warning out. I didn’t mention that sometimes we don’t even bother going to shelter as we have no basement. (Don’t tell anyone that.)

After Keith left, Scott got up. He told us he wasn’t supposed to be the one to talk, but the other guy got called out. He is a “tactical paramedic.” (Ever hear of one of those before?) He explained that they are the paramedics who go with the SWAT teams every time they go somewhere. (If you didn’t get to read about the SWAT teams and would like to, let me know and I’ll send you the report of it.) He said that they get about forty hours of training. They have to learn how to start an IV in the dark, find and bandage bullet wounds in the dark, disarm wounded police officers without getting shot in the dark, as well as make the guns safe. (Sounds rather hard to me.)

“Imagine trying to get a gun away from a fallen officer. In the first place he is going to be ready to shoot anyone who comes near him, and second it is usually dark and he can’t see you well. You have to disarm him and convince him that you are going to help him. You also have to convince him that the only thing you are going to do with the gun is make it safe. You aren’t going to shoot anyone with it.”

The reason they have to do everything in the dark is because even just a little light is a perfect target and only calls for shots.
Scott showed us a You-Tube video of SWAT team training. Talk about intense! He said that when they go into a building or anywhere, he will have two guys in front of him and two guys behind him. He said that was nice as they form a shield around him. They get shot at first. When he gets called, (he showed us that night’s message he had received) he first has to go to METS to get his supplies and his ambulance. Then he goes to the police station where they have a meeting of what they are going to do. He also gets his bullet proof vest, helmet, gas mask and such. He never carries a weapon. He will either drive his ambulance if there are a lot of guys going (then there will be more than just one or two paramedics), or he will ride in the van with the rest of the SWAT team. He told us the hardest things for him would be if they were going somewhere and he saw other victims needing help and he couldn’t stop to help them. He has to stay with the SWAT team. We were told that the most common problems they have are officers who have heat exhaustion. (I would too with over 100 pounds on, plus full head to toe clothing and especially in summer!)

Scott did tell us that one time they were going to a house and his group was sent around behind. They were approaching the house, and no one had noticed the low cement foundation of an old house until the front two guys suddenly both tripped and fell flat. The last two couldn’t help laughing.:) We were alsoreminded again of how well the snipers can hide. I really think I would like to see them, or try to see them anyway.

That was about all Scott had. Marc thanked us for coming to the class, gave us our certificates, and Paula gave him the Thank You poster.

I finally got a picture of Marc!

Marc assured us that it would be put up on one of the walls in that room. Then we all headed out to the bay to take some group pictures.

BR: Me, Paula, Lynn, Frankie, Mandy
FR: Dad, Roger, Ed

It was too bad we were missing three of our classmates as well as Jason, Ike and James. They were all on call. But we got Marc and Jerry with us.

Jerry is the middle one and Marc is on the end
Talk about strange instructors.

We all stood around and talked for a while before heading home. It was only 8:15.
And that brings the Citizen’s METS Academy reports to a close. I hope you have enjoyed them and perhaps learned a thing or two. This has been Rebekah reporting for your benefit. Until another Citizen’s Academy, thank you for joining me.

I received a comment begging me to please post Part 10 of "Meleah's Western." I have it ready and waiting, so be sure you come back next week to read it.:)

Friday, November 6, 2009

CMA Report #7

Well, here it is, another Friday and another CMA Report. There are a lot of pictures on this one as I took 47 that night. Don't worry, I didn't post them all.:)

I have been working some on checking my book as well as writing another "calendar story" to post later. I still have to finish it and write another one that is due by the 15th. We'll see how much I can get done.

Oh, you might want to click on some of these pictures to see them better.:) Enjoy!

CMA Report #7

Once again, welcome to the report from Joplin’s very first Citizen’s METS Academy. This is the hands-on class, so I’m glad you joined me. I hope you are ready for some fun!
Dad and I arrived at class to find Marc there looking for our certificates. He said he had them earlier but couldn’t remember where he put them. Mandy and Lynn had brought soup for supper, and Marie had made four cheesecakes.

We were told to get our food and then as we ate we talked about class. No one really wanted it to end yet, so Marc was talking about having another class next week. (So, I guess this is not the last report you’ll get.) There were many comments we had given about liking the hands-on stuff best.

“So, you’re going to get to do some practicing of a scene, and some of you will be the victims. But we’ll divide into two groups with half driving and the other half staying here.”

Jerry, Ike and Jason were there along with two new faces: Cassie is a paramedic who works there at METS and who is seven months pregnant, and her husband Brian who is an EMT and a fireman. They would be helping later. Once we were done eating (and the instructors were done as well), we split up. Mandy, Lynn, Paula and Roger went with Ike and Jason to drive while the rest of us: Ed, Frankie, Dad, Marie and I stayed. (John and Stephanie weren’t there.) Ed was chosen to be the victim, and the rest of us were sent out to the bay with Cassie who would be our instructor/assistant on the “call.” Brian came out too. Frankie volunteered to be the “on call” person and have the walkie. Jerry was inside getting the “scene ready,” and then he became “dispatch” and called us over the walkie.

Frankie on call

“We have a vehicle collision here at 6th and Virginia. One person ejected from car to middle of road. Unsure if others are in car.”
“METS 10, Copy that.”

And we were set to go. Only, right after that, the real dispatch came on asking about that accident. Jerry informed them that it was just a joke. (Oops. I guess we needed to be on a different channel. Marc did come switch it a moment later.:))

Cassie asked us what we were going to need. No one was quite sure, so she helped us decide. She and Brian also showed us where things were. (After all, most of us had only seen the inside of the ambulance once.) She showed us how to get the cot (stretcher, for those who call it that) out. We got the backboard, air bag, suction bag and something else and headed in.

We found the “victim” lying face down on the floor, excuse me, the “street”. I started taking pictures. Jerry asked where our protective equipment was. None of us had thought of getting gloves.

Oops, don't touch him without gloves!

We all turned around and left the scene. (Maybe it wasn’t safe yet.:)) Back to the ambulance. Cassie told us where the gloves were. She looked at Marie and me and said,

“You will probably need small.” (What? You mean they have gloves that might fit me? They do! Now I can deliver those babies, work in the detective department with the police and all those other things. Or, maybe not.)

Now we are really ready. Back we go with our purple gloves on. Frankie goes up to “Victim Ed” and shakes his shoulder and says,
“Hey, are you okay?”
Jerry: Don’t move him! He was ejected from a car!”

We have to roll him over to check if he is breathing. Brian does the head hold and the rest of us gather around. Cassie says to get the backboard as we will just put him on that. I hand my camera off to Marc so I can get in on the action. Marie and I are ready at the legs while Dad and Frankie have the upper part. Brian counts as he has the head. Cassie keeps the backboard steady.
“One, two, three.” And we roll all together.

Getting ready to roll

Now we need to see if he is breathing. Frankie is ready to do the head tilt, chin lift, but you can’t do that on a trauma patient who might have neck injuries. She has to listen and feel for breath. Nothing. (Ed is a really good actor. I would have been laughing.)

Cassie, Frankie, Marie and Brian get the oxygen things out, and Dad and I are left with the patient. He sort of comes to and moans and moves a little. We have to keep him still and in the same place.

Keeping our "victim" still

Frankie and Cassie start him on oxygen. Dad listens for lung movement while they get ready. We really hook Ed up to the oxygen.

On oxygen

While they are doing that, Marie and I check for other injuries. We didn’t find any. (Pretty amazing after being ejected from a car.)
Brian instructs Marie in taking blood pressure while Dad and I strap Ed on the backboard. Cassie then instructs Frankie on how to check his blood sugar level.
I get the head blocks and the straps. Now he is strapped on.

Jerry then informs us, as we are all going to get the co, that our victim is throwing up. “What do you do now?”
“Roll him toward your partner,” Dad replies immediately.
Jerry starts to laugh. “You must have really been listening.”
Cassie hands Dad the “suction bag,” and we head back over. Frankie, Cassie and I along with another one of the METS personnel who had come in, roll Ed over towards Dad.:)

Dad using the "suction"

Would you like to be held on your side like that?

Marie and I learn how to put the cot down so we don’t have to lift our victim so much.:)
Back by Ed we make sure we are ready. Marc turns to yet another METS person in the room and says,
“You might want to help them as we don’t want any of them hurting their backs.” (I’m telling you they do look out for each other.)

Dad and Jerry are at the head, Frankie is on one side, and I’m on the other in the middle, and the other guy is at the foot. The other guy shows me how to hook the oxygen bottle to the board between his legs so it wouldn’t fall. Jerry counts, and we lift. The cot is ready for him. Once on that, we strap him to it and are ready to head out.

Don't we look official?

Dad and the other guy (nice name) wheel the cot out to the waiting ambulance, and the rest of us gather our bags and follow.

At the ambulance the other guy, Jerry and Dad load the cot.

"Other guy," Dad, Jerry

Then the “medics crew” (that would be us four) and Cassie climb in. She shows us the heart monitor and we pretend to hook it up. During this time we can’t help saying things like: “Now we’ve got to shock him.” “Where are the tubes? We have to intubate him.” That is when Ed wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face. At one point, Dad says,
“We’re going to shock him. All clear!”
We all started laughing as the rest of us were touching Ed.
Cassie protests, “You’re supposed to say, ‘I’m clear. You clear?’ You aren’t supposed to shock your partners.”:)

In the ambulance

At last we take all the straps off and tell Ed that he was rejected by the hospitals so he might as well just get out.:)

Brian was standing at the back of the ambulance, and I almost needed him to catch me. I said almost. I tripped slightly on a strap that was on the floor, but caught myself.

Our next thing was driving the ambulance. Ike and Jason took us out to Memorial Hall parking lot. We rode in the back of the ambulance. On the way there we got rather silly saying that we should go to the back doors (The light was on inside, and we could be seen by those behind us.) and pretend to call for help. Marie wanted a marker to write “help” on the window.:)

Arriving in the parking lot, Jason instructed us on the driving route. Dad drove first with Ed riding. Then Ed drove with Frankie riding. Next it was Frankie with Marie, and last (as I didn’t have a license) I rode with Marie. It was quite interesting.

Ike turned the lights on just for this picture.:)

You probably didn’t know that you have to wear a seat belt in the cab of an ambulance or an alarm will go off that is very annoying. Also, unless you have a special key, you can’t start the ambulance. And it is not like a regular key, it is something else. (Now you know you can’t steal an ambulance very well.)

Back at the station, we joined the rest of the class. Since we had each done a trauma incident, we were going to do a medical one. Ed, Mandy (the other groups’ victim), and Lynn were to be the “medic crew.” Roger really wanted to do a meth house, so he was the victim.

“We have a situation at 6th and Virginia (Sounds like a dangerous place. By the way, that is where METS is.:)) Strange odors coming from house, victim not responding. Smoke coming from kitchen window. Fire en route.”
“Copy that.”

The “medics” came, stopped in the doorway and asked if the scene was safe.
“Yes, the firemen carried him out to the front yard.”

In came the crew with Cassie. Roger sat in a chair and looked at them. He then decides it would be better if he were on the floor since they were going to put him on the floor anyway. (Very helpful unresponsive victim, huh?) They begin to assess him.

Lynn, Mandy, Ed, Cassie

His breathing is slow, his pulse weak and fluttering, his left arm is rather burnt. Roger raises it so they can see. They get him on oxygen or pretend to anyway. Cassie keeps asking Jerry questions about him, and finally says,
“I’d stay away so as not to get contaminated.”
Jerry assures her that the firemen have hosed him down.:)

Paula tells Roger to be quiet a few times as he doesn’t seem to be unresponsive. Now comes a problem. They have to get him on to the cot. Cassie shows them how to first roll him on to a blanket to make the lifting of him easier.

Getting ready to roll

Roger tells them that he will help. Once he was on the blanket Marc says to Cassie,
“Cassie, you don’t need to be lifting, we’ll do it.” We were told again that that is what firemen do, so Brian, Marc and Jerry join Mandy and Lynn. Ed was going to keep the cot steady. All were ready, and one of the guys says to Lynn,
“Don’t use your back. Bend your knees.”

"And lift!"

At last Roger was on the cot and strapped on half sitting up. When he was on, Roger “came to” and began to get violent. He had us all laughing. Jerry told us that in that kind of a situation, you should have a police officer ride in the ambulance with you. Cassie adds that they’ll have a tazer.
After a little more talk, they let Roger off the cot and pack things up.
There was a little more talk about that and then we talked about next week. Marc said they would provide hamburgers and a cake. Paula was the one that said we had to have a cake. We also decided that we all had to wear our shirts next week, and we would get a class picture. Marie thinks there should be several more classes, but as Marc said, we have to stop sometime. One of the medics rolled his eyes when told we didn’t want to stop class. He looked as though he were thinking, “What kind of crazy people are they?”
And that brings this report to a close. Thanks for joining me. Until next week, this is Rebekah.

Will you be back next week?

Friday, October 30, 2009

CMA Report #6

There will be only one more report after this one, so enjoy them while you can. Of course, if the fire department does start a CFA, . . .:) But if they do it won't be until next year.:)

Right now I have a stack of papers sitting on my desk. 245 pages to be exact. It is the very first printed copy of "Home Fires of the Great War"! You test readers will still have to wait for a little while as I have to read through it all, adding things and changing things, then it has to go to Mom for her corrections. After that I have to fix them all and then I can print your copies. You will have to share your copies with others, as I can't afford to print one for each person.:) I still can't believe I have reached this point! It is pretty exciting. I am looking forward to reading the entire thing together as I have yet to do that.

But that has nothing to do with my report. It is a rather short report, but at least there is something. Enjoy it!

CMA Report #6

Welcome back. This is Rebekah, your very own reporter with Joplin’s first CMA class. I am pleased you could join me as we learn about delivering babies.
Dad and I arrived with chocolate mint brownies to go with our fried chicken. We found out that Stephanie had brought mashed potatoes and gravy and macaroni & cheese as well as cookies. A few minutes later, Paula shows up with another pan of brownies. We sure ate well! (Did I make you hungry?)

Ike and Jerry

Our instructors, Ike and Jerry, told us they had a video for us to see, but we could watch it later after we ate, unless we had strong stomachs. To their great surprise, we were all game to watch it while we ate. They gave each other a look of “Okay, if they think they can handle it.” It didn’t bother my stomach at all. In fact, I thought that several of the other things we had seen while we ate were worse than that.

After the video we had a slide show, which Ike talked us through, all on pregnancy and delivering babies. I did learn a lot. (Now, if I can just find some gloves that fit me, I should be ready to deliver the next baby. Any takers? Okay, maybe not quite, but in an emergency, I think I could do it. At least I wouldn’t be running the other way shouting, “No, way!”)

Did you know that there are many people who will call the fire department or the ambulance if they are about to have a baby just because they don’t want to pay the hospital bill?

Did you know that it is becoming a “new fad” to have your baby at home? I almost started laughing at that one. No one in class except Dad and me could figure out why anyone would be so crazy. I mean, don’t they know that hospitals are the best place to give birth? I thought about how not that long ago it was unusual to have a baby in the hospital. (Maybe they don’t know their history.)

Did you know that around the Joplin area at least, there are many people who do not know they are pregnant until they are about to give birth? I don’t know why that is. (I can’t figure out how they could keep from knowing.)

One thing that I really appreciated about Ike was that he didn’t want to call the baby a “fetus”. “It is a baby,” he would say, “and I’m going to call it that.”
Ike had delivered two babies about ten years apart. The last one was during the ice storm, and the mom spoke no English. I can imagine that was rather interesting.
Jerry has delivered about a dozen. He said that one time he responded to a call, and the wife was giving birth in the cab of the truck while her husband was inside finishing watching the football game.

We were told several times that newborn babies were very slippery, so be careful! If they are transporting a woman in labor to the hospital in the ambulance and the baby starts to come, they will pull over and stop until the baby is delivered. One, they don’t want to drop the baby in a moving ambulance, and two, it takes both of them to deliver it.:)

We did have a few short breaks, but as it was a long slide show, it took awhile. Jerry joined Ike towards the end of the talk, and I couldn’t help thinking of Bobby Lee Duke, coach of the Richland Giants. Have you ever watched “Facing the Giants”? Jerry was eating suckers almost the entire evening.:)

We went over proper handling of the baby as it is born, complications in delivery, premature birth, multiple births and the list goes on. Here are a few pointers we were given:
Don’t get in reach of a laboring mother’s hands. She might break your bones.
Never ask a woman in labor if she is sure she is in labor.
Don’t take offense if the woman yells at you and calls you names. She is in a lot of trauma right now.:) Ike said he tells the ladies they can scream all they want. His wife told him it helped.
Act like you know what you are doing even if you aren’t sure. It gives the patient a sense of security. (Now why did I tell you that. No one will trust me now.:))
Don’t drop the baby.:) (Remember, they are slippery.)

We got to see all the tools in their “birthing bag.” Jerry got out a bottle of oxygen, and hooked it up to a baby’s oxygen mask.
Hooking up the baby oxygen mask

Ike decided then that he needed some oxygen so he put the mask on.
I think it's a little small for you, Ike.

Of course Paula and I had the cameras ready.

After the slide show was finished, we did some “bagging.” No, that is not putting anyone in a bag, it is giving oxygen. Jerry wanted to be sure we all knew how so that when we go on ride-alongs, we can “bag” the victim while they do other things. It was very easy.
"Bagging" the poor victim.

We ran a little late this time, but no one minded. As we were about to leave, they got started talking about some of us getting our EMT licenses. Jerry said that in one class he taught (I think he teaches at MSSU as does Ike.) he had a seventy-year-old lady become an EMT. So you are never too old to start. (Thanks, but I think I’ll skip it now. I still haven’t found any gloves that will fit me.)

And that brings us to the end of the report. Thanks for joining me this week. I hope you’ll be back for the last class where we backboard, splint and drive the ambulance. Until then, this is Rebekah.

After the last report I'll post the "chicken pictures" for those of you who are wanting to see them.:)